June 2019

Over the last several months, I’ve been getting back to subscribing to things via RSS feeds in Feedly, and getting into subscribing to things via email in Stoop. Ideally, I’d want to be able to do both of these things in a single app. Add “read it later” bookmarking for random things I find on my own (which I’ve only just discovered I can do in Feedly), and maybe even podcast support (although I only listen to two and currently I just do that through Apple’s native app), and I feel like I’d spend more time seeing what other people have to say about things. There should be a combined inbox of every item from every type of subscription, separate inboxes for each type of subscription, and individual archive boxes for each subscription.

Katie Shepherd has been continuing to push today and gotten a bit more out of the Portland Police Bureau. We’ve gone from “quick-drying cement” in their tweet yesterday afternoon, to a “substance … similar to a quick drying cement” in their press release half an hour later, to “a cup which appeared to have material on it consistent with quick drying cement” in a statement to Shepherd twenty-four hours later.

(Not for nothing but thanks to Shepherd for accidentally managing my sanity today. After driving myself batshit yesterday watching the police’s tweet spiral out of control, I don’t know what I would have done today without someone out there trying to nail this down.)

There still is no source given for the original “received information”, nor any specifics about a lieutenant purportedly seeing this cup, nor about the oh-so-convenient anonymous email they received only after having tweeted the unsubstantiated allegation, making it inherently suspect as a source.

Meanwhile, as pointed out by Alex Zielinski of Portland Mercury, while the bureau made sure to tweet this rumor, somehow they never managed to warn anyone about “alt-right protesters wearing gloves w/ metal spikes on the knuckles, swinging flagpoles like baseball bats, calling on violence against Mayor Wheeler”.

Signal Station Pizza operates out of the former St. Johns Signal Tower Gas Station in downtown St. Johns, Oregon. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.

A gas station built in 1939.

I’ve been focused on the “cementshake” nonsense because it’s important to hold the Portand Police Bureau’s feet to the fire on just casually handing profa an easy propaganda victory that will be impossible to rein back in, even if they later release a statement saying it was coconut flakes.

What I haven’t gotten into is the Andy Ngo assault, and lest I have to deal with the inevitable redcap conflation of my focus on the milkshake lies with support for assaulting Andy Ngo, let me dispense with that now.

Several things can be true at the same time.

Andy Ngo can be a profa propagandist and he can have been seriously assaulted and the concrete milkshake thing can be a lie.

None of these things are mutually exclusive.

(And, not for nothing, I suspect you will find more people on my end of the political spectrum than on theirs who are capable of accepting these three things in their heads simultaneously.)

My view would be that while throwing milkshakes and silly string is a proportional response to a profa propagandist and provocateur, throwing punches while wearing carbon fiber knuckle gloves not so much.

Even outside of any kind of moral argument, what did this assault get anyone? It gave profa a propaganda victory of the kind that sticking to milkshakes and silly string would not have done, and it got Andy Ngo, as of this writing, $114,000 on GoFundMe.

It got antifa exactly nothing.

So here’s a thing we will have to watch unfold over the next several days or weeks here in Portland.

First there was a tweet from the Portland Police Bureau just sort of casually mentioning without even the suggestion of evidence that at the “Shake Back The Streets” protest today they’d “received information that some of the milkshakes thrown today during the demonstration contained quick-drying cement”.

Then, hours later within an hour, this became in a press release “reports of individuals throwing ‘milkshakes’ with a substance mixed in that was similar to a quick drying cement”, still with no indication that any officer had seen these alleged cement-shakes, or even any evidence of them, for themselves.

During these three hours this time, it’s already become holy writ in Twitter’s nazi circles that these cement-shake assaults happened.

Meanwhile, some redcap MMA fighter has been tweeting at the bureau photos and videos taken during the protest of vegan milkshakes being handed out, and photos of a GoFundMe page that’s actually about Slurpees and might not even be related, as if they were some sort of smoking gun or information previously being kept hidden.

Organizers and supporters have been tweeting for days (weeks, for all I know) about the protest and its vegan shakes (not Slurpees). They have a website, and a Facebook page, and a catchy promotional video.

There’s no secret being revealed here by your intrepid investigative journalism, redcap MMA lady.

Anyway, the point is that in three hours they went from “information” about “quick-drying cement” to “reports” only of something “similar to a quick drying cement”, but still without any assertion that they’d seen any of it for themselves.

Keep in mind that the PopMob video for today’s events literally warns that fascist groups like the Proud Boys show up in places like Portland specifically to manufacture propaganda. What are the odds, at this point, that weeks from now when no one is paying attention the Portland Police Bureau will admit these cement-shakes never existed?

But by that time the damage already will have been done by the bureau, and it long since will have become an established fact in alt-right circles and used in American profa propaganda for years.

ETA: Still without any evidence to back the bureau’s claims, NBC News picked up the profa line that we are talking about, essentially, concrete-block milkshakes. Others on Twitter have started pointing out that “quick-drying cement” probably means rubber cement.

Of course, even if it’s rubber cement, not, you know, Quikrete, there’s still been no indication, hours and hours later, as to what the police are basing this information on.

Let me make one thing clear, though: if some wingnut did for some reason try to use rubber cement as a weapon, that’s arguably more of an assault than just, you know, vegan milkshake. There’s just not yet anyone showing this actually happened.

But, and this a thing profa and redcap Twitter (or, say, “reporters” for The Daily Caller) will ignore, the organized PopMob milkshakes literally were being handed out for people to drink, not just potentially to use in a milkshaking. So there certainly was no grand conspiracy of rubber-cement-shakes going on out there.

And so as June comes to a close and the year is halfway done, I seem already to have completed my Goodreads challenge of reading 35 books for the year. This was the same goal I’d set for 2018 and 2017, when I read 37 and 36 books, respectively, by the end of December. While I’ve read an increased number of short stories or novellas this year, I don’t see how that could account for all of it. Not really sure what happened.

The last fiction book finished before reaching the goal was The Haunting of Tram Car 015 (followup to A Dead Djinn in Cairo) by P. Djèlí Clark, and the last nonfiction book was Origins: How Earth’s History Shaped Human History by Lewis Dartnell, which really dragged after it lost focus in the second half, and I admit I began skimming paragraphs near the end.

“The discussion in this race today,” Joe Biden told the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, “shouldn’t be about the past. We should be talking about how to do better. How we can move forward.” This in a speech defending his track record, even, I guess, on busing. So while that quote says “in this race” it just as easily could have said “on race”, and what Biden doesn’t seem to understand is that you literally cannot have a discussion on race in America today without discussing the past—especially when your present isn’t too hot, either.

Rachel Maddow on Friday night had a weirdly contrived premise that every Democratic candidate had at least one moment that went well enough for them to be able to build on. I think there’s a difference between having a good moment in the moment and having a moment that “did themselves some good”, so the framing here was frustrating.

Confoundingly, though, the one moment she picked out of a hat that I want to highlight here is from Marianne Williamson of all people. Yes, the candidate I said was from Neptune.

(Before I go any further, it needs to be said that this is not an overall endorsement of Williamson, either as a presidential candidate or as a “self-help” guru. Much of her kind of thinking is disingenuous as best, dangerous at worst, as this Twitter thread describes.)

Williamson was lambasted all Thursday night by people finding some pretty classic stuff in her Twitter feed and then well into Friday as a result of her closing statement being put to Twin Peaks’ “Love Theme”, but the segment Maddow pulled is one that people should be talking about.

Yes, what Donald Trump has done to these children and it’s not just in Colorado, Governor, you’re right–it is kidnapping. And it’s extremely important for us to realize that. If you forcibly take a child from their parents arms you are kidnapping them. And if you take a lot of children and you put them in a detainment center thus inflicting chronic trauma upon them that’s called child abuse. This is collective child abuse. And when this is crime–both of those things are a crime and if your government does it that doesn’t make it less of a crime. These are state-sponsored crimes.

This is important not only because Williamson here is calling out these things for what they in reality truly are but because she bothers to mention the trauma being inflicted on child refugees. Trauma being something that isn’t just there for them right now, in the short term, but will be with them in the long term, possibly if not likely for life.

Trump’s policies, of course, are by their nature traumatic because they are meant to be both punitive and a deterrence.

It’s not just cruelty, it’s sadism, regardless of whether Trump means to have the ghosts of these things we are inflicting upon these children revisit them throughout their lives or whether he simply does not even think about it.

There is no evidence that immigration spreads disease. One recent study in The Lancet found that immigration makes arrival countries healthier. Another review of European studies found that the “risk of transmission” of diseases from refugees and asylum seekers to local populations “is very low”—in fact, that what little risk exists is borne almost entirely by the refugees themselves, on account of being forced to live in squalid conditions.
It doesn’t even make sense as a claim. Tens of millions of people visit the United States every year from all over the world, not counting the U.S. citizens who travel or live abroad. Air, ocean currents, mosquitoes, and migrating animals don’t pass through customs. Even at using the most exaggerated administration estimates, the hundreds of thousands of people trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border aren’t even a statistical drop in the bucket. It is literally xenophobia: an irrational fear of foreigners.

From Immigrants aren’t deadly. Fox News’ lies are. by Jonathan M. Katz

Twitter today was buzzing about automatic faucet sensors (and, apparently, soap dispensers) not seeing black people, reminding me of previous stories about the Kinect not seeing black people and about HP webcams not seeing black people. Each of these stories (some since reportedly debunked) at the time inevitably reminded me of “Racial Sensitivity”, the fourth episode of season one of the late, great Better Off Ted, about Veridian Dynamics’ new companywide motion detectors.

It remains, I maintain, the greatest racism satire American network television ever produced (which I guess could be a low bar and thus faint praise, but I mean it earnestly) and it was written and aired before any of these other real-world incidents were reported.

The series is streamable on Hulu and buyable on Amazon, but dropped off Netflix some time ago, and you really have to watch this episode to experience just how far they take it.

There’s little more important from tonight’s debate than Harris putting Biden in his place.

Already so much the doddering tool, it was bad enough that he was lying when he said she’d mischaracterized what he’d said about segregationist colleagues in the Senate. He was finished—I’m not the only one who tweeted that they’d literally yelled “Finish him!” at the television–by the time she’d excoriated him over busing and he managed to stand there in 2019 and defend state’s rights when it came to integration.

Meanwhile: Buttigieg had a very good night for someone running to be Vice-President; Gillibrand probably kept herself in the race; and Sanders’ closing list of things that need to be taken on or nothing else will change was spot on, but let’s also take on white men by not electing him.

Swalwell might be right on generational change, but he isn’t it; Hickenlooper continues to do the GOP’s work for them, since Democrats literally could run on the Republican Party platform and McConnell, et al, would still call them socialists; neither Yang nor Bennet is worth mentioning; and Williamson was from Neptune.

We are all complicit now.

There’s lots of posturing today on Twitter about how Congress funding safe and sanitary conditions at the camps, or Wayfair providing beds even if they donate the profits elsewhere, is complicity. This posturing is right, of course, but conveniently leaves out something important.

Not funding safe and sanitary conditions or not providing the beds itself is complicity, in the suffering of children.

There is no moral high ground on this matter anymore.

The time for moral high ground was June of last year when we went through all this before and then failed to put an end to the administration’s sadistic immigration policies. All we have left now, all of us, is either being complicit with the camps by funding safe and sanitary conditions in them, or being complicit with not providing children with toothbrushes, soap, or beds.

With the Senate in the control of Republicans, the policies aren’t going to end anytime soon. The camps are not going to be shut down until and unless an inescapable public pressure exists to do so. These kids are not going to be reunited with their parents or sent to the loving care of other responsible adults.

In the meantime, these children need safe and sanitary conditions, there, in the camps we want shut down.

We are all complicit now. We just have to choose which complicity we can live with, until the policy is ended.