Reading: Trump was cued to his audience last Saturday

From Trump was cued to his audience last Saturday

CNN noticed that Trump was cued to the local audience last Saturday

“You have good genes, you know that, right?” Trump said at a recent campaign rally. “You have good genes. A lot of it is about the genes, isn’t it, don’t you believe? The racehorse theory. You think we’re so different? You have good genes in Minnesota.”

The President was speaking to a nearly all-White crowd in Bemidji, Minnesota, a city that’s about 80% White in a state that’s even more White.

It’s a small observation but an important one: One we’ve seen before.

The tack of playing racial politics by taking refuge in abstraction has a long history in Republican circles.

“You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘N****r, n****r, n****r.’ By 1968 you can’t say ‘n****r’ — that hurts you, backfires,” the Republican political operative Lee Atwater said in 1981. “So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now (that) you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is (that) Blacks get hurt worse than Whites.”

Trump and his defenders might say that the President was merely talking about genes. But depending on who was listening, he was talking about much, much more.


Reading: White House-CDC tensions explode as Trump contradicts its leadership | Ars Technica

From White House-CDC tensions explode as Trump contradicts its leadership | Ars Technica

Ars details Thursday’s trump conceits in full, but I’m extracting just the health statements with the hope of spreading them far and wide.

But it was Redfield who worked the hardest to promote public health. Holding up his own face mask, he told the committee, “These are the most powerful public health tool we have.” He went on to repeat an earlier statement, that widespread use of masks for six to 12 weeks could bring the pandemic under control. “We have clear scientific evidence that they work,” he testified, saying they’re “more guaranteed to protect me against COVID than when I take a COVID vaccine.” His reasoning was that all vaccines fail to elicit an immune response at a measurable rate, whereas all masks provide at least some degree of protection.

Redfield also injected a large dose of reality when the topic shifted to vaccines. The Trump administration has appropriately begun planning for the widespread distribution of a vaccine as soon as one passes safety and efficacy trials. But the fact that current planning calls for distribution to begin just before the November presidential election has raised concerns about whether the timing might be motivated by politics rather than safety. And there’s clearly going to be a substantial gap between initial distribution and widespread availability.

Redfield decided it was time for the public to hear about the size of that gap. He said initial availability would be in the area of November-December but would only go to high-priority populations like health care workers and the elderly. The majority of the American public would probably have to wait for the third quarter of 2021.


Reading: Gruber: Dickhead of the Week: Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri

From Gruber: Dickhead of the Week: Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri

John Gruber has become my favorite tech critic – speaking truth to less-than-legitimate power.

This is Facebook’s political/PR strategy on this issue: (1) to ask everyone to ignore the plain truth that Apple’s changes to IDFA tracking are for exactly the reason Apple states: to give users control over their own privacy; and (2) to claim that Apple’s actions aren’t hurting Facebook but instead are hurting “small businesses”. Small businesses are taking advantage of privacy invasive user-tracking ad placement, but if their ads are less effective without privacy invasive user-tracking, then so be it, they’re less effective. The idea that we don’t dare do anything good for privacy that might reduce the efficacy of user-tracking ads because “pity the poor small businesses” is sophistry.


Reading: Trump Tells Agencies To End Trainings On ‘White Privilege’ And ‘Critical Race Theory’ : NPR

From Trump Tells Agencies To End Trainings On ‘White Privilege’ And ‘Critical Race Theory’ : NPR

I usually don’t want to be flip about trump’s waste of time, but this one begs for it. The wording of this directive reveals that the training is needed – even to understand the directive.

“All agencies are directed to begin to identify all contracts or other agency spending related to any training on ‘critical race theory,’ ‘white privilege,’ or any other training or propaganda effort that teaches or suggests either (1) that the United States is an inherently racist or evil country or (2) that any race or ethnicity is inherently racist or evil.”

“Structural” is not “inherent.” Discuss.


Reading: AT&T backs Trump plan, demands “neutrality” on Facebook, Amazon, and Google

From AT&T backs Trump plan, demands “neutrality” on Facebook, Amazon, and Google

AT&T is exploiting trump-sown confusion by attempting to re-define “neutrality.”


Reading: The COVID Reopening Disasters

From The COVID Reopening Disasters

This is not just a matter of rehashing old news. The rise of Covid infections at universities, as narrated in Acade, tells us a lot about what we’ve been doing wrong all summer.


Reading: Blame Pollyanna Presidents When Covid-19 Plans Fail – The Chronicle

From Blame Pollyanna Presidents When Covid-19 Plans Fail – The Chronicle

Look closely at how universities are handling the pandemic: as a marketing point. There is no plan.

As we see more and more outbreaks on campuses, university presidents and trustees will run for cover, and these kinds of rationalizations for what they did and did not do are going to come in a torrent. They’ll blame students first and foremost for breaking campus codes of conduct, and bring the hammer down on them. For example, here’s what Donde Plowman, chancellor of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, said in mid-August: “We will hold you responsible, and it’s possible that you could be expelled from school, and I will not hesitate to do that if our students are irresponsible.”

But who is being irresponsible here? Many are going to blame the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as it hasn’t provided anything like real guidance to universities and colleges, let alone elementary and secondary schools, to manage risk. We’ve been abandoned by our political leaders as we head into a dangerous period of the pandemic with Covid-19 potentially colliding with seasonal influenza this fall. If we had a real national commitment to testing, many more colleges and universities would be able to test their students, staff, and faculty members with cheaper, faster antigen-based screening tests, and rely on federal support to help them tackle all the rest of what is needed now to keep us all safe.

Even so, if a college’s plan to manage the coronavirus hangs on the behavior of 18- to 22-year-olds, it isn’t much of a plan at all; it’s a house of cards ready to collapse at a moment’s notice. This isn’t to infantilize our students, but to say that a comprehensive response is more than a signature on a campus compact. In states with still-substantial epidemics, there is not much universities can do to prevent outbreaks. There is too much virus, too many people, and too many opportunities for transmission. Furthermore, without testing frequently, outbreaks in this setting will quickly grow out of control — epidemics follow a pattern of exponential growth, and containing them early is key. It’s hard to make the case that reopening for face-to-face instruction can be done in this situation.


Reading: Preserving a way of life by taking care

From Preserving a way of life by taking care

The Guardian reports on lack of masks and social distancing as students return to campuses. Closing bars early, mandating masks, setting $500 fines. It’s not just students; it’s not just a matter of staying away from non-compliant businesses and situations; infection spills over into the community – especially as communities become complacent.

Iowa’s governor, Kim Reynolds, has ordered all bars shut down around the University of Iowa and Iowa State. In Story county, home to Iowa State, 74% of new cases over the past seven days were among people ages 19 to 24, Reynolds said on Thursday. In the same time period, 69% of new cases in Johnson county, the home of the University of Iowa, were in that age group.

“It is increasing the virus activity in the community, and its spilling over to other segments of the population,” Reynolds said.

The best word comes from George Handley, campus council chair at BYU:

BYU, owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has its own rules requiring masks on campus. Requirements for indoor public spaces in town will help people stay healthy and businesses stay open, Handley said.

“This is actually about preserving our way of life, it’s not about destroying it contrary to what some people say,” Handley said.


Reading: A Case of Academic “Both Sides-ism?

From A Case of Academic “Both Sides-ism?

This is a call to co-operate, not co-opt. Power is so unbalanced that moving ahead requires restoring some symmetry first.

while I am sympathetic with its argument, I find Gavazzi’s article inadequate. In the first place, it is a textbook example of “both sides-ism.” Indeed, I was tempted at one point to tweet back that the essay reminded me of calls to both Democrats and Republicans to put the country’s interest before that of their own party, as if both parties were equally guilty of failing to do so. I would argue that — if only because of their greater power — far more responsibility for the gulf between administration and faculty lies on the administrative side.

insofar as boards of this sort appoint campus presidents and their administrations remain beholden to their boards, Gavazzi’s call for mutual understanding and cooperation, however noble, valid, and urgent, will be insufficient to repair our governance structures in the context of the enormous challenges higher education will now face in the wake of the dual pandemics of COVID-19 and Donald Trump. However much one might endorse and applaud calls for cooperation like the one Gavazzi has issued, the harsh reality is that this is a matter of political power. And that power is not by any measure at present appropriately distributed.


Reading: Coronavirus face masks: How should mandates be enforced? – Vox

From Coronavirus face masks: How should mandates be enforced? – Vox