Link roundup, 2/28/2017

From The Correspondent: Take a look at the film Shell made in 1991, and then hid, warning of the dangers of climate change.

From Smithsonian Magazine: The greatest escape story from the Holocaust.

From Quartz: Back to The Politics of Crazy again, how our isolation from our neighbors drives declining social capital, undermining democracy.

From The Week: Education genius Betsy DeVos makes another stupid comment about education, this time reinterpreting the history of HBCU’s.

From Wired: ARPA is struggling to protect its green energy projects.

Today’s entertainment provided by Scott Biram

69 Comments

  1. Linda Greenhouse wrote this essay about ‘outsourcing the constitution’.

    It’s about one of the worst inventions ever, private prisons.

    In the waning days of the Obama administration, the DOJ decided to not review contracts with private prisons. However, everybody’s fav prez wants to reverse that.

    Part of her legal discussion makes it clear why who’s sitting in the judge seat is so damned important.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/01/opinion/outsourcing-the-constitution.html

    Private prisons should make all Americans burn with shame.

      1. I swear, is there nothing that conservatives do not seek a profit from? Of course, what is not being said is that because of the massive round up of undocumented people (which will jam the court system making detentions much longer and local holding facilities cannot accommodate), they HAVE to have more lock up capacity.

        What local taxpayers need to pay attention to is how locally funded prisons are utilized. What will happen to regular local detainees? There is so much wrong with this whole push and privatization is just the latest in a string. I listened yesterday to a discussion on NPR about prisons and it is estimated that fully half of those in prison are serving sentences for non-violent offenses. America – our justice system is an injustice.

  2. Not even a full day after the overhyped speech and already Russia is back in the news. The Washington Post reports that AG Sessions had twice been in contact with the Russian Ambassador during the campaign, which on its own wouldn’t be a scandal, except he lied about to his fellows Senators’ faces during his confirmation hearing.

    Drip. Drip. Drip.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/sessions-spoke-twice-with-russian-ambassador-during-trumps-presidential-campaign-justice-officials-say/2017/03/01/77205eda-feac-11e6-99b4-9e613afeb09f_story.html?postshare=8441488419989396&tid=ss_tw&utm_term=.384bafbde4f6

    1. At this point, it makes me wonder who in the Trump inner circle “didn’t ” communicate with Russia? Sessions should have to resign for lying while under oath, or face impeachment. There is absolutely no way Republicans can justify NOT establishing an independent, bi-partisan commission to investigate the Russia/Trump debacle as well as Trump’s conflicts of interest – yes, his tax returns have to be submitted.

      1. That “Armed Service Committee” line is such a crock. So what if he was? He was still a top advisor to the Trump campaign at the time and still lied to the Senate about having any contacts with the Russians. That is all that matters.

      2. Sessions was under oath. It’s as simple as that. It wasn’t just sloppy, it was stupid. For him to try to “spin” the reasons is crap. He should be foreced to resign. What is it that Jason Chaffetz said to HRC? If we find out she has lied to the House Oversight Committee, we will bring charges.

        Well, I’m waiting.

      3. “I don’t see how the Republicans can continue to stonewall an independent bipartisan investigation.”

        Mary,
        They can continue i think because there is very little negative for them. Their base loves all this. And the people, like you and me, who want some action taken on this issue, the Republicans know will not vote Republican. So why should they do anything. They have nothing to loose!

        Also, the next election is 20 months away. Plenty of time for Dems to loose interest. Hell, If a Trump can win the White House, with all his negatives, what with all the women who voted for Trump after all he has said and done about and to women, the Republicans must feel invincible. They run the entire government at this point! They can now pollute as many streams as they want, gerry mander as many elections as they want, suppress as many black voters as they want, cut the EPA as much as they want!

        The list goes on and on!

      4. I think this will be different. For one thing, the media is all over this as is the intelligence community. Potus et al haven’t earned any friends by virtue of how they have treated the people who make our government function. One has to hope that the democratic process will work.

        Another point, Repubs don’t want to screw up their legislative agenda. They got a taste of voter outrage during the recess and things like this just add more fuel to the fire. In summary, I don’t think Sessions will resign, he won’t be impeached, but this optics surrounding yet another member of the inner circle having involvement with Russia may be a bridge too far to ignore. At the very least, this may help the push succeed for an independent investigation. Half a loaf…well, maybe, one-third, but, baby steps.

      5. Just read this in the Times after watching Jeff Sessions recuse himself. The essence of the article is about Flynn and Kushner post election discussions with Russians to thwart a Russian overreaction to Obama reprisals for their interference in the election…”wait, you’ll have a friendlier administration soon…”

        My biggest concern is can we expect a full on investigation into Russian interference with our electoral process? I am much more concerned about the integrity of our electoral process than I am about who it helped/hurt…what difference does it make now that the electoral college has voted and someone has been sworn into office. Lets hear what they did or confirmation from intelligence that they know what was done and we can prevent it from happening in the future. If a democracy can’t guarantee the integrity of elections, whats the point?

        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/02/us/politics/kushner-flynn-sessions-russia.html

      6. That’s why it is so important to have the Russian involvement investigated by an independent, bi-partisan commission led by an unimpeachable independent solicitor. It cannot be done “in house”, and Sessions can’t get near it nor can anyone on potus staff.

  3. Welp, the ratings are in and, once again, Trump has underperformed President Obama quite significantly, 43 million viewers in ’17 compared to Obama’s roughly 52 million in ’09 and even less than his first official State of the Union in ’10, 48 million viewers.

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/cheats/2017/03/01/trump-s-speech-tv-ratings-down-from-obama-s-first-sotu.html?via=desktop&source=copyurl

    Will Sean Spicer be sent out to humiliate himself once again or will Trump take to Twitter? Stay tuned.

  4. Frederik DeBoer claims that there is no STEM shortage:

    https://medium.com/i-m-h-o/stem-still-no-shortage-c6f6eed505c1

    “I was talking about this issue with a friend of mine, a brilliant PhD student in Electrical and Computer Engineering. We were walking by the quad during one of the big tech job fairs here at Purdue University, where some of the most powerful and profitable companies in science and technology come to entice Purdue students to apply for jobs. Purdue is a good school generally, but its reputation largely comes from its top-flight engineering and computer science programs. Looking at all of these billion-dollar companies spending time, money, and energy on developing elaborate booths, all to attract applications for employment, it was hard not to believe in the notion of a STEM shortage.
    When I mentioned that point to my friend, he laughed and said, “These companies are all trying to get the same 50 students.” This, more than anything, may be the source of the persistent STEM shortage myth: the inarguable value of being a star in a STEM field. There’s little doubt that people at the top of the food chain in computer science or electrical engineering or biomedical engineering, etc., often enjoy fantastic material and economic gain. But this is a banal point: it’s good to be a star. It’s good to be a star engineer in the same way it’s good to be a star musician or a star psychologist or a star writer. What public policy and politics demand is that we pay attention not to stars but to the median person. And the median American is facing a world of stagnant wages, the arbitrary nature of the employment market, and the constant fear of our financial system’s boom and bust cycle. The problem is that by definition, very few people get to be stars. I don’t doubt that the median Purdue STEM graduate is doing well. But Purdue is a top-flight STEM school, and half of our graduates will be below the median, and many who start those majors fail out of them, and the country is filled with schools who graduate STEM students who can’t get jobs. Basing our perception of the employment market on the outcomes of those 50 star students is pure folly.”

    1. Um. No. When I started doing tech twenty years ago, the only companies that hired college graduates were giants and Silicon Valley startups: IBM, the big consulting companies, and a few internet startups. That’s because it’s so expensive (and risky, because of flight) to develop young talent.

      Now we are scraping the universities and peeling people away prior to graduation. And these are not for fancy development jobs. It’s for everything, all the way down to sales and marketing. There simply aren’t enough people, even when we max out our H1B options. Our development and expansion is simply happening more slowly than it otherwise would b/c it’s so hard to find people.

      We are at full employment. Period.

      That said, I know a guy a little older than me [trying to be very vague here] who is constantly pushing this line. He’s a fine quality mainframe developer. In his perfect world he would have entered the business 25 years ago with one company and still be sitting in that chair coding the same crap. He has struggled and will continue to struggle.

      He’ll complain for hours about how “there’s no future in tech because of outsourcing.” Well, there’s no future in what he wants to do. You can hire people online to keep up that old code for $10/hour. The market moved. People who made some minimal effort to keep pace are enjoying life in an industry with negative unemployment. Meanwhile people with a union mentality feel like they are falling behind. And they are.

      By the way, that dude loves him some Trump. No surprise there.

      1. I totally concur with Chris. As a semi-retired classical electrical power and control systems engineer, I can attest to the necessity of keeping current with technology. In electrical power systems now virtually all protective relays are using microprocessors. The protective systems are networked. In 1974, when I began practice, everything was electro-mechanical. In industrial control, virtually all the control systems are based on microprocessor control, with many of the sensors networked. Just last week I attended a seminar regarding industrial networking. Again when I began, the control systems were basically electro-mechanical. Actually pneumatic controls were still very common.

        Regarding employment, even for classical engineers (those who build things) there is a significant shortage. The firm I work for is one of the largest engineering consultants in the nation and consistently has difficulty hiring engineers. That is one of the reasons, that currently I am getting a steady stream of assignments, despite only wanting to work on a casual basis. Recently, I turned down an assignment because it would have been essentially full time for 3-4 months. Of course, I have made an effort to keep current with technology.

      2. Hey Chris, get my kid a job! I’m serious.

        He’s smart (takes after his mother). He is graduating with a master’s of science this spring or summer. He had an undergraduate point average of 3.94 and has gotten all As in his master’s program. He is president of his university’s branch of a professional society and is head TA. He has no political affiliation as of yet despite my best attempts to brainwash him.

      3. Objv-

        Here’s a suggestion that might help. I think a lot of universities aren’t conscious of what I’ll call “cross-over” career options – jobs that require a blend of tech/engineering and humanities. Almost any company that produces a technical product, from pharmaceuticals to software, have these interesting jobs for engineers in the sales process. Those jobs will intake people pretty early in their career, often college graduates. If they have some personality and experience with in a tech or science curriculum, they figure they can train them to learn whatever technology the company is selling.

        Sometimes they do presentations or handle technical questions during a sales process. The jobs go by a lot of different titles, but you’ll often see something called a “sales engineer.” Great jobs that offer a lot of flexibility. You can pivot from industry to industry with minimal overlap. You avoid some of the career-narrow that comes from adopting high-expertise in one narrow specialization. And since the jobs are in the sales part of the business, the compensation is consistently pretty good. Worth checking out for an engineering oriented kid who doesn’t mind doing presentations in front of groups or engaging in some salesy stuff.

      4. One thing that I would like to mention regarding many technical jobs and this concurs with Chris, is the importance of being able to communicate both verbally and via writing. Engineering or other technical work is not only doing the technical work, but then that work needs to be communicated to others. That is one role that sales engineers have in marketing. They are able to communicate the technical work to other technical people. In my work, I must constantly be able to communicate both with the younger engineers who are working with me, with peer engineers in other disciplines, with project management and with the client. Throughout my career, I have found that communication and documentation takes a very large percentage of my time.

        This communication is something that much of STEM education overlooks. The emphasis is on the technical aspects and the humanities and communication are de-emphasized. The humanities develop the ability to communicate by requiring reading, writing and other forms of communication. This results in the situation where in most project teams there are the people doing the grunt work and a few others who are directing them. In some of those cases, the grunts are the people who have learned one skill set but have not adapted as technology moves on. In some cases, the H1B people are doing the grunt work. Regardless, the communication skills can not be overlooked.

        OBJV, your son should do fine. He appears to be broadening his perspective by being head TA and president of his professional society. Both of those positions require communications and organization. He very likely will get multiple job offers. I graduated in August and at this time I was just beginning the interview process. I ended up having 5 offers. I do realize that was more than 40 years ago and times have changed, but still the market for good STEM graduates is good.

      5. Thanks for the advice, Chris.

        My daughter did just what you suggested and is currently working for a chemical company in sales and she loves her job.

        She was fortunate enough to have a wonderful advisor in grad school. He pushed her to develop speaking skill so she could give presentations on technical subjects

        After she moved to NM, she joined Toastmaster’s. That helped her as well.

        She’s had five employers since she graduated in 2011. The first three jobs were technical. The last two required both technical and sales skills.

        In contrast, my husband had only one employer after he graduated from college.

        It’s a different world.

    2. Antimule, good article. Both my kids have degrees in science. It’s true, finding a job can be challenging even with a STEM background. The job market in the energy industry is grim right now.

      One of my friends was laid off almost two years ago. She has a master’s degree in computer science and still hasn’t found anything beyond part-time employment. She believes being older and female is decreasing her chances of finding employment. While companies chase after top-notch students at universities, older employees are not always sought after.

      Note: my friend is a liberal who was heart broken when Hillary lost to Trump. She blames many of her employment problems through the years on discrimination against women so she has taken the election results personally. Still …. we are friends. There are many things we enjoy talking about. Politics is not one of them. 🙂

  5. Even as Dear Leader was taking advantage of a Gold Star family last night, there was yet another special election held last night in Connecticut in which Democrats, yet again, seem to have done very well for themselves.

    Up for grabs was control of the state Senate in which Dems have held onto a razor-thin majority. They held onto a Democratic-leaning district, but it was in the single most Republican-leaning district in the entire state in which they seem to made some progress. Despite low turnout (which obviously favors Republicans) Democrats closed what had been a 67-32 rout back in November to a much closer 55-45 last night.

    One time can be a fluke, of course, but this is turning into a pattern. Democrats are doing noticeably better in special elections, even ones they lose, across the country, like in Minnesota and now in Connecticut. Something seems to be happening here.

    1. CT has always been more liberal, but yea, anyway. Two in a row is super! It’s going to take time to pick off these seats especially in gerrymandered districts. No getting around this except to put pressure on the these MoC and make them move more to the center….which might get them primaried…which might help the Dem in the race….Baby steps.

    2. This was shared on FB and permitted for copy and paste. It is true – the recipient and the sender are friends. It is why when you hear all the glowing comments about potus’ speech last night, I still don’t believe him. These are the people I worry about in this administration and, of course, the larger world that is impacted.

      “”So I work at the EPA and yeah it’s as bad as you are hearing: The entire agency is under lockdown, the website, facebook, twitter, you name it is static and can’t be updated. All reports, findings, permits and studies are frozen and not to be released. No presentations or meetings with outside groups are to be scheduled.
      Any Press contacting us are to be directed to the Press Office which is also silenced and will give no response.
      All grants and contracts are frozen from the contractors working on Superfund sites to grad school students working on their thesis.
      We are still doing our work, writing reports, doing cancer modeling for pesticides hoping that this is temporary and we will be able to serve the public soon. But many of us are worried about an ideologically-fueled purging and if you use any federal data I advise you gather what you can now.
      We have been told the website is being reworked to reflect the new administration’s policy.
      *** * *** Feel free to copy and paste, you all pay for the government and you should know what’s going on. I am posting this as a fellow citizen and not in any sort of official capacity.”

  6. Excellent article on militarism of potus’ agenda. This plays right into the white nationalist movement as well. It explains the huge increase in military spending and affirms his need to be the new Patton. Isn’t it ironic that someone who sat out the Vietnam War due to a “bone spur” has such a need to associate with generals and trumpet war monguering? He truly is a pathetic person but like many small people, when given power, they are very dangerous.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/03/01/the-trump-presidency-ushers-in-a-new-age-of-militarism/?utm_term=.81200b60215d

  7. I hope you’ll all pardon me for this, but I just need to vent my feelings on this somehow.

    Trump has done a lot of reprehensible shit just since the time he started running for president, but he’s never done anything that honestly, truly made me sick to my stomach. Until now.

    As anyone who watched knows, the singular moment of the entire night was when Carryn Owens, grieving widow of fallen SEAL Ryan Owens, stood up for a well deserved applause from the entire chamber, sustained all the more when she gazed up at the ceiling, as if she were talking to her husband up in heaven.

    To be sure, Mrs. Owens deserved every moment of that applause and she should have all the help she’ll ever need for her husband’s giving of the ultimate sacrifice, but the sheer disgust that I felt in that moment is not something I can appropriately put into words. Let us not mince words here. Donald Trump used a grieving widow as a political prop for the glorification of his own ego, and we know this because IMMEDIATELY following the applause, he turned around and clamored about how it must’ve “broke a record”, because of course it’s always about him and perceiving himself and everything he does as being the best.

    And as if that weren’t awful enough, Trump himself refuses to accept responsibility for his role in Owens’ death, instead opting to try and blame it on the Obama Administration, saying, quote: “This was a mission that was started before I got it.”

    It was not. President Obama opted out of putting ground forces in Yemen, instead opting to use drone strikes and the like. It was Trump who gave the OK to send in ground forces.

    …There will be a lot about the Trump presidency that I will be happy to forget about and never look back on, but this is an exception. To effectively spit on a Gold Star family’s grieving widow and use her as a political prop, even as he avoids personal responsibility for giving her her grief in the first place; that is truly a reprehensible low that there will be no forgiveness for, not now, not ever.

    What a miserable, shameless bastard. Truly.

    1. Yes, that was truly disgusting. I wonder if the father of the SEAL talks with the widow of the SEAL, considering they have vastly different views on his death.

      But that was not the only political prop. Please explain to me how telling the planet a woman failed 3rd grade twice does her any good. Or the woman in the wheelchair, being alive because of some magic drugs.

      But as you said, the puppet tyrant is a truly disgusting creature, and nothing it does can be shocking anymore.

    2. Ryan, It’s remarkable how two sides can see a matter so differently. I thought that Trump meant that the extended applause honoring the widow of the fallen SEAL broke a record because both Democrats and Republicans were applauding on behalf of her and her fallen husband – not Trump.

      Washington Post (never a fan of Trump) had this from Van Jones (also not a fan of Trump) as one of their public selections today.

      “Here’s Jones’s full commentary:
      “There are a lot of people who have a lot of reason to be frustrated with him, to be fearful of him. But that was one of the most extraordinary moments you have ever seen in American politics, period. And he did something extraordinary. And for people who have been hoping that he would become unifying, hoping that he might find some way to become presidential, they should be happy with that moment. For people who have been hoping that maybe he would remain a divisive cartoon, which he often finds a way to do, they should begin to become a little bit worried tonight, because that thing you just saw him do, if he finds a way to do that over and over again, he’s going to be there for eight years. Now, there was a lot that he said in that speech that was counterfactual, that was not right, that I oppose and will oppose. But he did something tonight that you cannot take away from him. He became president of the United States.”

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/02/28/trump-critic-van-jones-one-of-the-most-extraordinary-moments-you-have-ever-seen-in-american-politics-period/?tid=pm_politics_pop&utm_term=.cd9b8b00d6d0

      1. Before I say anything else, I want to have it out there that because this is such an emotional topic, let’s just stick to the facts and base our conclusions around that.

        That being said, let’s start from a premise. Whenever Donald Trump boasts or brags about something, it’s always in reference to himself or his brand. That is, first and foremost, what matters to him more than anything else. Look no further than the little skirmish between him and Nordstrom to see that. That started out as a matter involving Ivanka rather than anything dealing directly with him, but of course he couldn’t help himself and had to throw himself into the fray.

        Now, understandably, one might retort that this was simply a concerned father acting to protect his daughter. Not true. Nordstorm was making a business decision, nothing more or less. It was nothing personal and yet Trump couldn’t help himself because he took it as a personal affront to his brand. That is how important it is to him, so much so that even business as usual is something he can’t let slide if it’s something he doesn’t like.

        And then there’s Trump’s bragging. Really, it should go without saying, but the man is the most self-aggrandizing individual that likely any of us have ever seen. He takes credit for things that he had no actual hand in (look at his boasting of companies bringing jobs to the US, like Japan, despite their having planned to do so well before Trump became president) and even when there’s something he does deserve some credit for, he has to exaggerate the results because it’s never good enough for him (look at his dealing with Carrier).

        All of this taken together points to an ego that’s like a leaking water bottle, one that’s constantly having to be filled with proverbial water (read as accomplishments, legitimate or otherwise) and will never, ever be filled, no matter what he does. This incites him to avoiding responsibility for things that would otherwise damage his incredibly fragile ego (as is the case with his placing the blame for the failed raid in Yemen that killed Ryan Owens on the Obama Administration and then the generals) and doing things that ordinary people would find reprehensible, such as using Owens’ widow as a political prop.

        With all that said, I point you to Trump’s own words as soon as the applause for Carryn Owens finally died down.

        And Ryan is looking down right now. You know that. And he’s very happy, because I think he just broke a record.”

        Those are not the words of a man who knew even the first thing about Ryan Owens. Those are the words of a man who was congratulating himself for what he perceived as a job well done. Ryan Owens’ memory and Carryn Owens’ grief were nothing more than tools to that end.

        Once again, it is all about Trump’s ego. We know where his priorities are, and while that’s not to say he’s a completely heartless monster, other people and their problems are by far secondary when it comes to what’s truly important to him.

      2. Everything is always about Potus. For a man who couldn’t honestly recall when he had last prayed when asked directly, he sure had a bead on what was happening upstairs. Everything he does is contrived. We can congratulate him on giving a speech – FINALLY – without ranting, but shouldn’t this be expected rather than a big, collective, thank god he didn’t go off the rails again?

        Smart people looked beyond the self control to substance and here’s what they are reporting:

        https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/03/the-three-failures-of-trumps-speech/518253/?utm_source=nl-atlantic-daily-030117

      3. And here are James Fallows’ thoughts on the SOU speech.

        https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/03/the-three-failures-of-trumps-speech/518253/?utm_source=nl-atlantic-daily-030117

        And, this scathing, deeply researched article by three literary luminaries in the March 6 edition of The New Yorker:

        http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/03/06/trump-putin-and-the-new-cold-war

        You can’t keep playing games with serious people and not expect them to fight back. Whether it’s civil servants whose careers and personal ethics are being threatened, or newspapers being left out and shunned, or intelligence community members, or generals. You can’t buy respect. It is earned. And, this man and those who he has chosen to advise him in his inner circle, will never get there because every action they take is to promote themselves and their personal agendas. It’s not about America. America is simply a means to an end.

  8. Very good article, from salon of all places:

    https://www.salon.com/2017/02/25/outgrowing-the-cosmetic-left-a-liberal-plea-for-fake-liberalism-to-grow-the-hell-up/

    “After President Barack Obama was re-elected, Republicans did an election postmortem and came up with a strategy to appeal to a broader base. They then ignored it and won with Donald Trump. For the 2016 postmortem, liberals, because we tend to lean toward compassion, blamed the poor. We didn’t phrase it that way, of course. We blamed hillbillies, rednecks, trailer trash, as though this hasn’t always been prep-school code for poor people. How, we asked, could they vote for someone so opposed to their own interests?”

    “Culture matters. In fact, in politics, it’s all that matters. How many positions would Trump have to change for you to vote for him? When Trump said he’d replace Obamacare with “health care for everybody,” did your mind change? We vote to tell others the sort of person we want to be. That’s why pollsters know who you’re voting for by the music you listen to, the neighborhood you live in and a thousand other elements that have nothing to do with whether or not you read the news. It’s why the next time Beyoncé releases an album or Woody Allen releases a movie, you already know how your favorite websites will react. In art criticism, the aesthetic quality of the work matters less than what our opinion of the art says about us. In politics, the policy doesn’t matter; it’s what our vote says about us.”

    “The rich people who run your favorite left-wing websites aren’t really liberal. At best, they’re progressive fashion police. Constant carping about which movies get awarded, which jokes are acceptable, which millionaire celebrities we lionize isn’t about improving anyone’s lives. It’s about identifying a uniform.”

      1. Life teaches you how to pick your battles. Some, I’ll fight tooth and nail for; others, I can live in the middle. One thing I learned well in my 4 years in office – the world doesn’t stop if your side loses….It may be disappointing, but life goes on.

        Right now, in this toxic environment, the consequences are so great that I don’t know if I feel the same way….cutting preventative medicine, allowing severely mentally ill persons to own guns, allowing manufacturers to dump chemicals and sludge into our streams, racial injustice, peoples’ rights – all people….these are lines which you just shouldn’t cross – along with others, of course….too many to list. I’m not into extremes – on either side of the political spectrum.

    1. I often criticize Chris for insisting that racism is the main cause of Mr. Trump’s ascent, for focusing inordinately on racism, but I don’t consider Chris a “fashionably progressive conservative.” I think he sincerely wants to get to the root of the problem in order to solve it, not to wave it off with fashionable sarcasm. I’m sure he saw a lot of racism growing up in East Texas and understands how powerful a force it can be.

  9. Regarding the article about isolation from our neighbors . . . even if we were to reach out to our neighbors, their brains are already infested with what they see on social media. They will talk to you, but it’s during temporary breaks from social media, or even while they’re on social media, so what they just saw, or are seeing on social media, is still fresh on their brains. You try to have a conversation about mundane things, and the topic always finds its way back to the latest outrage, or to our new president.

    1. What I also see is that we humans still have the tendency to form groups for destructive purposes, to shame people who are different, a sort of lynch mob mentality, except that now we do it remotely, across boundaries, against people we don’t even know, on an even more massive scale, whereas before, we did it on a more local scale, against our neighbors, church members, etc.

      That destructive tendency is still there, but applied in virtual reality instead of actual reality.

      And our country was in a virtual frame of mind when it elected Mr. Trump, with its mind firmly rooted in social media.

      1. Even Mr. Trump lives out his reality on Twitter. Twitter seems to be the home base from which he operates.

        Our new president, and the rest of us, are so enmeshed in virtual reality, and so far removed from actual reality, that we don’t always realize the actual consequences of our actions.

      2. Tutt, politics has become an unhealthy obsession with many people. In my case, it helps to distance myself and spend some time each day on what I truly enjoy.

        Remember, our discussion on reading? It’s still an escape for me.

        I’ve always enjoyed being outside. Every day I take my dogs out on a long walk. Sometimes, I walk with neighbors or my husband or my daughter. Sometimes, I enjoy being all by myself. Yesterday, was one of those days. I had a lovely walk. It was snowing/sleeting and the wind was blowing – no takers on walking except for my pups.

        Sometimes the virtual reality of being in an online social group can become a little stuffy and stressful. I like your idea of spending time in “actual reality.”

      3. OV, the other day I had the sudden urge to do something with my hands besides type — to paint, knit, weave, sew, or sculpt — to create something tangible and pleasing to the eye.

        But alas, I don’t have an artistic bone in my body.

    2. This is a very difficult time, Tutta. We are all feeling it, especially those of us who actually work at trying to be informed, who look at fact-based data. Our conclusions are our opinions but at least an effort is made to substantiate them. Like many here, my circle has shrunk and conversations are less substantive because of boundaries that we establish in order to have relationships. It’s very sad. But, what is the alternative?

      When you read potus’ remarks where he speaks in such derogatory terms…they “lie”, Obama is behind all the demonstrations and leaked information” – all without any documentation. and without any respect for the office he occupies, and know that this is how it’s going to be for his entire term, it’s depressing. It’s his administration that is requiring staff to dump their phones on tables for checks…his administration that is fomenting hate under the guise of immigration control…his administration that is cutting programs that serve people while building up our military and nuclear programs…This is not a world that offers people stability and freedom from repression and fear.

      I listened to Sen. Oren Hatch be interviewed on CNBC a few moments ago. If you can find the interview on line (Halfway Report was program), my mouth was wide open at his comments…He supports the cuts that are being made to the State Dept – too much waste…ignoring what 120 generals have openly protested in a public response; that Democrats are bent on totally obstructing the president and not giving him a chance!!!!! Again and again he made this comment…that Dems need to just work with them to make changes that this country needs…they need to put aside their politics and do what is good for America!!!!

      It was the most blatant, arrogant, hypocritical statement I have ever hear from a senior member of the Republican Party, and I have a long list. It was absolutely an amazing display.

      Worse yet is that his views are being validated by polls of the Republican base. They are all in.

      Count.me.out.

      1. Mime, a couple of weeks ago 2 dear friends of the family almost came to blows at the dinner table over an argument about politics. I somehow managed to talk BS to confuse and distract them, make them think they were both right, and therefore keep them apart. That’s what my role has been reduced to these days.

    3. This is a very difficult time, Tutta. We are all feeling it, especially those of us who actually work at trying to be informed, who look at fact-based data. Our conclusions are our opinions but at least an effort is made to substantiate them. Like many here, my circle has shrunk and conversations are less substantive because of boundaries that we establish in order to have relationships. It’s very sad. But, what is the alternative?

      When you read potus’ remarks where he speaks in such derogatory terms…they “lie”, Obama is behind all the demonstrations and leaked information” – all without any documentation. and without any respect for the office he occupies, and know that this is how it’s going to be for his entire term, it’s depressing. It’s his administration that is requiring staff to dump their phones on tables for checks…his administration that is fomenting hate under the guise of immigration control…his administration that is cutting programs that serve people while building up our military and nuclear programs…This is not a world that offers people stability and freedom from repression and fear.

      I listened to Sen. Oren Hatch be interviewed on CNBC a few moments ago. If you can find the interview on line (Halfway Report, interview, Scott Walker), my mouth was wide open at his comments…He supports the cuts that are being made to the State Dept – too much waste…ignoring what 120 generals have openly protested in a public response; that Democrats are bent on totally obstructing the president and not giving him a chance!!!!! Again and again he made this comment…that Dems need to just work with them to make changes that this country needs…they need to put aside their politics and do what is good for America!!!!

      It was the most blatant, arrogant, hypocritical statement I have ever hear from a senior member of the Republican Party, and I have a long list. It was absolutely an amazing display.

      Worse yet is that his views are being validated by polls of the Republican base. They are all in.

      Count.me.out.

  10. I worked at Shell’s natural gas trading desk for a number of years. The standard line was to deny the impact of climate change. However at the same time they bragged about their green energy initiatives to save the planet.

    At the end of the day dollars overrode their responsibility to protect the planet. They fight tooth and nail against clean energy but behind the curtain they are working on alternative energy. Shell is investing heavily in fuel cell and even partnered up with Toyota to open a Hydrogen refuel station in the UK last week.

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-02-28/hindenburg-memories-cloud-shell-s-vision-of-hydrogen-future

      1. Mary, I have said it before, and will say it again. Anyone, anyone at all, who contributes to the denying of global warming and fights the mitigation of global warming is perpetrating a crime against humanity, and should be dealt with accordingly.

Leave a Reply