Social Media Dump March-April 2024

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A few days before the Texas primary, I am nervous about just how many Texans will vote for that other guy. I was looking up data about the 2020 Texas primary — Biden got 33.%, Sanders got 29.8% and Warren got 11.4%.

Ian Millhiser about why the courts were never going to save America from Trump:

A written Constitution and the courts that are supposed to enforce it are weak guarantors of a liberal democratic society. The Supreme Court of the United States does not always align itself with authoritarian policies and movements, but it does so often enough that it cannot be counted on as an ally in a conflict between constitutional democracy and something more sinister.

And the Court is particularly ineffective in standing up against figures like Trump, who enjoy broad (if not necessarily majoritarian) political support.

Millhiser is a shrewd commentator on constitutional questions. His books are worth reading too.

These two reader comments (especially the second) sheds insight about how conservatives can be blind to their own racism:

Racism is not about your feelings as a white person. It’s about the simple, brute fact that many rights you take for granted are not enjoyed by Black people in particular, and people of color generally, to varying degrees. For example, most white people can take for granted that if a police officer sees them they will live through the encounter; no Black citizen can make that assumption in the same automatic, don’t-have-to-think-about-it way. None of that has a whit to do with whether an individual cop is “personally racist”—it has to do with centuries worth of assumptions and cultural expectations and a culture of policing that took a century to build. When Timothy McVeigh killed 195 people in Oklahoma City, nobody suggested rounding up all the white people from his part of Michigan or putting every right-wing militia group under 24-hour surveillance. Yet some right-wingers (I’m looking at you, Michelle Malkin) were more than willing to revive the idea of internment after 9/11. This is not something that any conservative I have spoken to even sees as an issue.

This is why talking about people of color being racist is of very limited utility—a Black person (or Asian person. or any other PoC) can hate white people all they want, but they have little ability to make life difficult for white people generally. It is not a situation like physics were you can have equal and opposite charged particles. But this is something that no conservative ever recognizes. Right-wing people simply don’t acknowledge at all that systems can be racist, and even if the entire country was instantly repopulated with non-racist people those systems would still be there.

Discussion of possible outcomes for Trump’s need to post bond for a civil judgment. Also, why aren’t voters outraged by Trump’s behavior?

Many voters aren’t reacting to Trump’s many outrages because they have never heard about them. “What?” you say. It’s been all over the news for months and years. Yes, but a large fraction of the country does not follow the news. Not on TV, not in newspapers, and not on the Internet. They are busy living their lives and politics is simply not important to them. Political junkies (which probably includes most/all of our readers) can’t believe this. But do you follow all the latest developments in sports, music, fashion, and business? Dedicated sports fans probably can’t believe there exist people who don’t have a clue who Caitlin Clark is and dedicated stock market junkies can’t believe there are people who don’t know whether the Dow-Jones index is closer to 20,000, 40,000, 60,000, or 80,000. But these folks exist.

One study shows that only about one-third of the population follows any news. Another study shows that until close to an election many people spend less than 10 minutes per week looking at political news. That’s probably about the amount of time they spend brushing their teeth.

These data don’t show that people are stupid. They just show that most people don’t prioritize keeping up with politics. They have jobs, kids, and bills to pay. What politicians do and say isn’t important until right before an election. Sometimes there is a big story, like a government shutdown that interferes with their lives, in which case they notice, but what Trump said in some rally in far-off Ohio does not register at all. Do you want to know what the biggest news event of 2023 was for most Americans? It wasn’t the wars in Ukraine or the Middle East. It was the Chinese spy balloon.

While I was doing research about the Three Graces (and other mythical themes) in paintings, I came across this unusual contemporary rendition by Terry Guyer. At first, I laughed, but it really is beautiful and well-rendered. (You can buy a semi-expensive poster-size print of it for $150 or so. ) Actually that last link goes to the print on Fine Art America which sells prints of many famous paintings — copyrighted and public domain both — I assume that the artist gets a cut somewhere down the line.

Speaking of art, I’ve been really enjoying the pictorial essays at Most are written by art or art history people. Here’s a nice essay comparing singer Florence Welch to the Pre-Raphaelite paintings she imitates. Here’s a nice profile of Ukrainian-French artist Zinaida Serebriakova. I frequently look for public domain paintings for my ebooks and find a lot of good stuff in Artvee (really fantastic!), Wikicommons and Wikiart. I used to prefer the Art Renewal Center, but they started making it hard to download anything .

Here is a list of Republicans who oppose Trump.

(GIFTED article) A business writer estimates how much TX Governor Abbott actually accomplished with the extra $10 billion he sent on protecting the border with Mexico. Turns out this action only reduced annual migrant crossings by 23,000 (so Texans are paying on average $435,000 for each migrant encountered). “The shame is that these billions and billions of dollars are not an investment in policy, but an investment in politics,”

Using AI to generate tableux about famous cartoon characters. Simpsons in the 1950s. Here’s Family Guy and Southpark. In a year or two these kinds of tableaux will be a dime a dozen. There’s an uncanny valley which is cleverly addressed by making it seem like 1950s nostalgia and using 2 or 3 second clips. Anything longer would seem ridiculous.






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