White antiracist hero: “A hired killer fired a bullet right at Cassius’ chest… just as Cassius was unsheathing his bowie knife, which took the hit and saved his life.”

What a story!   Sharing stories like this (that is, white abolitionists who stood up against whites deeply invested in the racist status quo), is probably something that makes racists annoyed.   Like the various assassination attempts Cassius Marcellus Clay survived, or the time a tour group of 60 proud supporters of the status quo casually toured themselves through the barricaded, armored doors of his abolitionist newspaper and percussively redecorated the interior (and in the process reconfiguring his printing press into a special, non-functioning mode).   The stories of white abolitionists are of course only one part of history; but…

How a billionaires boys’ club came to dominate the public square

The world’s richest man, Elon Musk, attacked a publication owned by the world’s third-richest man, Jeff Bezos, last month for reprinting a column published by the world’s 13th-richest man, Mike Bloomberg. The Bloomberg opinion article, posted by The Washington Post, asked whether Musk’s recent investment in Twitter would endanger freedom of speech. “WaPo always good for a laugh,” Musk wrote in a tweet, with smiling and crying emoji. The jab underscored an unusual and consequential feature of the nation’s new digital public square: Technological change and the fortunes it created have given a vanishingly small club of massively wealthy individuals the ability…

Disability advocates: Don’t drop COVID-19 safety measures

With the lethal threat of COVID-19 on the decline, many colleges are relaxing policies to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Disability advocates fear that high-risk individuals will suffer. “Universities aren’t necessarily listening to disabled students,” said Eiryn Griest Schwartzman, who co-founded COVID Safe Campus, an advocacy organization for students and employees with disabilities. “That push to return to normal has persisted. It gets demoralizing, and it gets harder to continue to advocate. And it could potentially result in people stopping their education if they feel like they don’t have the resources to keep going and feel undersupported.”–Inside Higher Ed

NASA astronaut: Russians were ‘blindsided’ by reaction to yellow suits

I posted a while back about the yellow and blue color scheme of the suits worn by Russian cosmonauts who had then just arrived at the International Space Station. This story says all three Russian had gone to a school whose colors are yellow and blue, and that they did not intend the colors to have any political significance. Those suits were likely designed months or even years in advance. So, because I posted something that suggested the opposite, it’s only fair I post this interpretation. In his first public comments since returning to Earth aboard a Russia space craft,…

War via TikTok: Russia’s new tool for propaganda machine

“This is the way they go to war; it’s a central part of Russian doctrine,” said Jim Ludes, a former U.S. defense analyst who now directs the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy at Salve Regina University. Ludes said Russian disinformation campaigns are intended to galvanize Russian support while confusing and dividing the country’s opponents. Russia tailors its propaganda message for specific audiences. For Russians and pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine, the message is that Russia is trying to defend its own people against Western-fueled aggression and persecution in Ukraine. Similar tactics have been used, including by Nazi Germany…

In one small prairie town, two warring visions of America

Great writing and great photography in this story about a small Minnesota town where conservative Lutheran pastor Jason Wolter denies that COVID-19 vaccines work. “You’re lying to people,” he says, “You flat-out lie about things.” Wolter is speaking of Reed Anfinson, his next-door neighbor, who is the editor of the Swift County Monitor-News, “[a] contemplative man who casually quotes Voltaire, he loves newspapers deeply, and mourns the hundreds of small-town papers that have gone under in recent years.” “The easy part is speaking truth to power. The hard part is speaking truth to your community,” said Anfinson, whose wife is a…

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Face of The Enemy (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 6, Episode 14) Troi role-plays as a feared Romulan intelligence officer

Rewatching ST:TNG Troi wakes up, looking like a Romulan. When Subcommander N’Vek tells her she’s impersonating the imperial intelligence officer Major Rakal, and that she’ll be killed if she doesn’t play along, he invites her to use her empathic powers to see whether he’s lying. He’s not. He’s using the assumed authority of “Rakal” to prevent his commander from opening some mysterious cargo containers. Back on the Enterprise, a former Federation officer who defected to the Romulans has re-fected to the Federation, knowing he’ll be court-martialed. (The guy’s name is “DeSeve”… oh, what a tangled web we weave!) He bears…

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Chain of Command, Parts 1 & 2 (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 6, Episodes 10 & 11) When Picard’s reassigned, the new captain’s a grind (there are four lights)

Rewatching ST:TNG Picard is relieved of command and assigned to a special ops mission, as the Cardassians provoke a war with the Federation. The new CO arrives with plans to reorganize every department. Jellico is very hands-on, giving Riker specific details for reworking the shift rotations, and crawling trough the Jeffries tubes with LaForge. He cheerfully shows Troi pictures drawn by his son, but he’s bluntly not interested in listening to anyone else’s input. Instead of actually showing Picard’s team surreptitiously making their way to an illegal Cardassian weapons lab, we get a budget-friendly scene in a bar where the…

Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly, who testified unmasked at a Senate hearing on Wednesday, has since tested positive for the coronavirus, the airline said in a statement.

Kelly testified at the hearing that he believes masks do not add substantial protection to airplane passengers and cited aircraft ventilation systems.

“I think the case is very strong that masks don’t add much, if anything, in the air cabin environment,” he said. “It is very safe and very high quality compared to any other indoor setting.”

The hearing lasted approximately three hours. Five witnesses were seated in close proximity and went most of the hearing unmasked.

Kelly was seated between American Airlines CEO Doug Parker and United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby. Kirby tested negative, the airline said. American said that “Doug is symptom-free, fully vaccinated and getting tested this afternoon.” –CNN Business

So glad to be attending another live theatrical production. @quantumtheatre never disappoints.

Projections, live music, sounds, props, costumes, scene changes, casting, performances… everything spot-on and professional. A moving, deeply relevant story, with lots of flawed characters whose story arcs were rich and engaging. The mystery was well-executed, with subtle details (parallels, echoes, clever misdirection) that amplified the plot twists. Very powerful. I leapt to my feet applauding as soon as it ended.

CNN fires Chris Cuomo

This is what an ethical news organization does when one of its employees becomes embroiled in a conflict of interest. No human institution is perfect, and no journalist is perfect. But Cuomo should have known better, and should have acted differently, and is now paying the price.  CNN said Saturday that anchor Chris Cuomo has been “terminated” by the network, “effective immediately.” The announcement came after an outside law firm was retained to review information about exactly how Cuomo aided his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, when the then-governor was accused of sexual harassment. CNN suspended Cuomo “indefinitely”…

Lies about history in Texas can be traced to the Lone Star State’s own Big Lie: The Alamo

Yet many Texans feel they need the Alamo story. As one of the authors of Forget the Alamo stated, the myth speaks to what many Texans desperately want to believe about their state: that it arose from heroic circumstances, and that there’s a reason Texas is special. This includes the current crop of Republican Texas legislators. Instead of allowing critical thinking and a serious examination of the historical record, Abbott and his allies decided to go the despotic route and unilaterally declare the false mythology is now fact. In a move that critics decry as a pure expression of fascism, the Texas governor requires his “patriotic…

Election ‘distracted’ Trump team from pandemic response, Birx tells Congress

More than 130,000 American lives could have been saved with swifter action and better coordinated public health messages after the virus’ first wave, Birx told lawmakers. “I believe if we had fully implemented the mask mandates, the reduction in indoor dining, the getting friends and family to understand the risk of gathering in private homes, and we had increased testing, that we probably could have decreased fatalities into the 30-percent less, to 40-percent less range,” Birx said. More than 735,000 Americans have died from coronavirus-related complications since the pandemic began, including more than 300,000 since President Biden took office. Birx…

Missouri governor vows criminal prosecution of reporter who found flaw in state website • Missouri Independent

I’m shocked… shocked that a reporter published a newsworthy story about a rookie cyber-blunder made by a powerful government agency. A reporter viewed the HTML code (a one-click process on many web browsers) and noticed that the social security numbers of school teachers and administrators were embedded in web pages served up by Missouri’s department of education. The reporter contacted the agency, and held the story until the problem was fixed. The governor is now calling the reporter a “hacker,” and vowing legal action. “The state is committed to bring to justice anyone who hacked our system and anyone who…

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The Masterpiece Society (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 13) Space Thing Threatens Genetically Perfect Colony

Rewatching ST:TNG When a Space Thing threatens a genetically perfect colony, the wary inhabitants resist Picard’s offer to evacuate. Humans on Moab IV have for two centuries enjoyed a carefully designed society. The charismatic leader Conor speaks glowingly of fulfilling the role he was genetically engineered to hold, while the rigid traditionalist Martin undiplomatically scoffs at LaForge’s blindness. Conor is taken with Troi, who seems charmed by his attention. LaForge and the engineer Hannah strike up a good working relationship, which gets a bit awkward when LaForge gives a disability-rights speech (“I guess if I’d been conceived on your world,…

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Unification, Part 2 (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 8) Spock Nurtures Romulan Peace Movement

Rewatching ST:TNG Beyond stating that he is on “a personal mission of peace,” the AWOL Ambassador Spock is reluctant to explain his presence on the Romulan homeworld. Referring to events depicted in the movie Star Trek 6 (which had not yet premiered when this episode first aired), Spock says he is reluctant to risk any one else’s life on yet another peace mission, but is personally committed to encouraging the underground Romulan movement for an eventual reunification with Vulcan. Kindly Proconsul Pardek discusses with Picard and Spock a future in which old prejudices die out, and promises an audience with…

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Unification, Part 1 (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 7) Picard Questions Sarek about Renegade Spock

Rewatching ST:TNG Informed that the venerable Ambassador Spock has vanished without a word and has been spotted on Romulus, Picard visits the ailing Sarek, who reports Spock’s optimistic hopes to reunify the Vulcan and Romulan people. This was an important theme in the early 90s, with the recent fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the USSR. As a fan of Trek and good acting, I remember being thrilled by the big scene between Patrick Steward and Mark Lenard. It still holds up after 30 years. Following up on information he gained from Sarek, Picard heads to the…

FBI launches flurry of arrests over attacks on journalists during Capitol riot

Imagine that. Nearly six months after the U.S. Capitol riot, the Justice Department has begun arresting a new category of alleged criminals — those who attacked reporters or damaged their equipment as journalists documented the violence perpetrated by supporters of President Donald Trump. The first such charge came last week, when 43-year-old Shane Jason Woods of Illinois was charged with engaging in violence on the Capitol grounds Jan. 6, as well as assaulting a law enforcement officer. Authorities say Woods was caught on video knocking down a cameraman. […] The arrests come at a contentious moment for the Justice Department…

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Ensign Ro (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 3) New Bumpy-nosed Officer Is Stubborn

Rewatching ST:TNG Picard is ordered to accept a bumpy-nosed humanoid officer who didn’t want to be transferred to the Enterprise — but she admits the new assignment is better than prison. A complex plot introduces the backstory of Bajor, which will eventually be the premise for the spinoff series Deep Space Nine — an ancient and noble race of architects and philosophers was 40 years ago displaced by the militaristic Cardassians, with whom the Federation has a political alliance.  Picard empathizes with the plight of the Bajorans, who have grown impatient with the Federation’s vague promises, but his orders are…