SocraticGadfly: 1/5/20 - 1/12/20

January 11, 2020

North Texas snow wussies turn out

Barely an inch or so of granular snow early Saturday morning? And the results?

  • Old Courthouse museum in Denton never opens.
  • Half the Saturday staff at my normal bank branch don't show up.
  • Area libraries in Texoma don't open.


I think it's three parts.

One is that climate change means younger North Texans have seen less snow, if any, than their parents. And their parents have forgotten it.

Two is the number of Californicators who have moved to North Texas, expecting no snow because they got none in the Southland.

Three is the SUV owners who treat them like precious cars.

Carry on.

January 10, 2020

Are the Millennials ruining Big Bend?

Big Bend is a beautiful place and relatively underexplored, though visitor numbers have generally been growing.

So, what's up with my Millennials dig? Let's ... dig in.

Not all of them, surely. Some of them? Quite possibly.

Two qualifiers, one on Millennials and another on my Big Bend background.

First, I don't think all Millennials are avocado toast touters. Related? I think the continued growth of income inequality has hit Millennials big-time, and that that gap probably tracks race still to some degree, even as Millennials are the most ethnically diverse generational grouping in American history.

So, are white Millennials who don't live in their parents' basement likely to live up to enough of what some might call a stereotype for me to call it a generalization, instead? I say yes, with the note that, as elsewhere in this blog, more than 50 percent true = generalization and less than that = stereotype. YMMV.

Second, me in Big Bend?

First trip was there in 2001. I was there before some asshat in Washington, D.C., decided that Osama bin Laden might invade the US through Boquillas, Mexico, and therefore, we needed to prevent some viejo from there rowing to Merika, rowing visitors across for $5 a pop, putting them on his donkey while wearing his serape and sombrero at $5 a pop or whatever for photos, then pointing them off to the village for northern Mexican food not that different than Tex-Mex. (Give me real New Mexico Mexican food instead, still.)

From 2001-2010, I was there all but two years on Thanksgiving weekend or within a week or two of that. Did one spring visit as well, and a 2011 visit. Got a bit burned out in 2010 after bad placement of my tent at K-Bar primitive and a rare late fall rain got water inside my tent, over my ground cloth.

Family of origin holiday invited, and a move to Deep East Texas, interrupted further visits.

Until this year.

Anyway, I had become a regular, and been a regular long enough to be a veteran.

Besides the scenery itself, one of the great things about Big Bend is having a 104-degree hot spring, and right next to the river to boot. Just hot enough for great late fall or early winter nighttime soaks after a long day of hiking. Fair amount of sulfur, but not enough to stink. I believe a moderate amount of magnesium, surely some of it in magnesium sulfate, or good old Epsom salts, and bits of other minerals.

You either hike about three-quarters a mile from a parking area to see the general store and other things that were there pre-national park days, or about 1.5 miles from the one campground.

Rookies (or others, as I'll note in a minute) shine their flashlights too much when they get to the springs getting ready to get in.

Anyway, at the spring, and a bit after dark at the general store at Chisos Basin, is where I learned from people who were veterans when I was a rookie about good hiking trails, when to go on them, what to look for, etc., then sharing hiking talk.

SO ...

Now we're set up for #OKMillennial.

Well, not quite.

NPS rules are two at the spring:
1. No booze;
2. No getting nekkid.

I think it was the second night of my first visit when I saw a crowd from Hippie Hollow just get nekkid and jump in.

After that, from time to time, if it was earlier in the evening, veterans would ask "what's the clothing situation" or something like that. If I see older couples, or kids of any age, I keep the swim trunks on.

I think once I had to actually do that from 2004 on.

NOW we're set up for #OKMillennial.

In totality on both the night of Saturday/21st and Sunday/22nd, there were about a dozen others in the spring. About what I remember years ago from Thanksgiving time. (The first spring I was out there, I only soaked one night; it was too warm outside, and the second day was worse. Turns out, as I found out after going over to Big Bend Ranch State Park the next day and seeing 100 on a Presidio bank thermometer, it was WAY too warm.)

Anyway, not one of the Millennials even thought to get nekkid. Most of the women, by what I could see by flashlight, had things like 1950s swim outerwear, filmy swim bathrobes or something like that over their actual swimsuits.

Whether they just don't know to think better, are that prudish, are that non-prudishly self-conscious or what, I don't know.

I suspect mainly the third. In that case, stop looking at Instagram Influencers whose body pix have been Photoshopped. If it's the first? Step outside the box. If it's the second, stop being prudish.

OK, now, something like avocado toast. Saturday, one Millennial couple brought a campsite propane tank with screw-on burner and pour-over coffee setup. I've brought coffee down before, but I made it at either my campsite or something like the Chisos basin if I had my Coleman stove with me. The coffee doesn't "decay" that much in half an hour of extra time. Plus, they brought, for themselves and friends who later showed up, four-five boxes of what must have been things like Christmas crackers and cookies, probably the type of stuff you get at World Market.

Anyway, within their group, NOBODY talked trail hiking. Maybe I should have intervened a bit, but ... I was semi-disgusted.

The second night's group did talk a bit about their day's events. So did a hippie from Oregon dumb enough to have pot in his car while driving through Texas and getting pulled over for allegedly weaving too much. (Conditions of his bail, of course, include staying in Texas until his trial or other case disposition.)

This was the first time I'd been at Christmas. Maybe old veterans, whether or not Hippie Hollow people, hit the springs at Thanksgiving still.

And doorknob help some of these people if they hit some of Big Bend's challenges. (Never seen a rattler myself, fortunately. Taken a brief stroll toward Anguilla Mesa but didn't push anything. I actually have taken a car on the Pine Canyon road to the trailhead, but per my "veteran" status, that was more than a decade ago; the road might be worse today. Others are. I have not camped at Terlingua Abajo, but one year, wound up camping at a tent/RV site behind the semi-campy restaurant in Terlingua, yes.

For Anguilla, and Bruja Canyon? Check this out.

Learn more about all the major desert hikes here, (I still need to go all the way to Devil's Den) and rim trails here. But not all of you need to be so enchanted as to actually come to the park, and if you do come? Chillax.

January 09, 2020

The 1619 Project AND its opponents are all wet

I'd read bits and pieces from the New York Times' ongoing project to claim that 1619, not 1776, is the real beginnings of America.

Neocentrist mush-pulper Conor Friedersdorf of the Atlantic is the latest to call out the old black lady, citing "enemy of my enemy" support such as World Socialist (who are generally Trots) and Ibram X. Kendi, who bats around something like the black nationalist world. (Contra what you might think on the X, though, he's not a black Muslim.) They can't agree with one another why the 1619 Project is wrong, just that it is. I could tell the others are wrong from reading; I'd read snippets of 1619 pieces and knew it was less than fully right at the time it was breathlessly announced.

So, they're ALL wrong, at least to some degree. Wrong enough to set off a Tweetstorm on my part which I will expand into a blog post.

Let's start!
Friedersdorf may not have directly chosen the header, but it accurately reflects his take. And it's wrong right from the header.

The Somerset decision? Writing from memory, I got the year wrong. It was 1772. But, fear of it was behind fear of Dunmore's Declaration about freeing Virginia slaves once the Revolutionary War started. So, ONE cause? Indeed. WSWS mentioned Dunmore but not Somerset; Friedersdorf mentions neither.

And, I blogged about that issue in much detail, plus a follow-up. It eventually led Reed flak and flunky Doug Henwood to block me on Twitter and vice versa. (Several months before that, possibly not wanting to believe that red states, on average, have less income inequality than blue ones, Henwood got the order backward on state Gini coefficients, not realizing that Utah has the least income inequality in the union.)

Next, let's kick the 1619 Project itself:
Was Lincoln perfect? No, but he did "evolve," and evolve indeed, on race issues throughout his life and through the Civil War. Frederick Douglass knew that.

Meanwhile, would Trots be hypocritical? Does the Pope shit in the woods? Is a bear a Presbyterian? 
I once was a member of its Yahoo group. But, for years, I don't waste my time on Trots, any more than on conspiracy theorists.

I promised more on Reed:
Just a throwaway, but fun. (I'll have yet more below.)

Now to Kendi:
I've called out James Loewen for promoting this BS before. And, if you do it willingly, after being called out? You're promoting racism. I don't care if you're black. Stop it.

Friedersdorf is bad enough to get two tweets, even at the 280-character length:
and then:
I easily could have tweeted more about him. Friedersdorf epitomizes everything I don't like about The Atlantic and I'll be fine if Steve Jobs's widow puts him behind a paywall.

Now, back to Adolph Reed (and the Trots).

World Socialist interviewed him about the 1619 Project. He takes the typical left-Socialist and Communist tack of trying to reduce race — and culture — to class.


A study of human evolutionary development shows xenophobia, which often became articulated in race or culture stances, existed long before capitalism. Capitalism may have intensified it, but it didn't start it. And, beyond Marxism being a pseudoscience (it is; crappy philosophy used as the framework for even a marginal social science like economics pushes you into pseudoscience), Reed's take epitomizes one other problem with it — dialectical materialism usually turns into not just reductionism but greedy reductionism. That's why it's funny, until we call it hypocritical, for him to call out critical race theory for being reductionistic.

It's not just Trots, though. Jacobin, whose editorial content sprawls the gamut between DSA Democrats and Sovietskis of some sort, of not necessarily Trotskysts, does the same as Reed and WSWS on capitalism and antisemitism.

I will give Reed credit for cooking the goose of both Kendi and Ta-Nehisi Coates.

I will also say that Reed is almost certainly right in thinking there's an element of capitalist career-hiking here. Certainly with the 1619 Project writers themselves and almost certainly with Kendi. Probably with Coates. I am reminded of the allegedly environmentalist SJW Instagram influencers last year who played High Country News for fools. (Actually, it was about 50-50 between that and a self-own by HCN, which was one of several reasons I quit subscribing.)

Teh stupidz, it burns!

And, when all is said and done, it burns least stupid, by a decent margin with Reed, but only for calling out the capitalist motives. Setting that said, it's a tie for the bottom between him, WSWS in general, 1619 folks, and the likes of Kendi.

No, it's a tie for second-bottom. Friedersdorf's gelatinous crap is still at the bottom.


Now, what do the opponents get right? Even more, opponents that Friedersdorf mentions but that get less airplay?

First is that the first blacks, arriving in 1619, like certain whites, were indentured servants, not slaves. Related to that is that a majority of Virginians at that time were indentured servants but that the majority was white. Nell Irvin Painter, author of "The History of White People" and other books, is one pointing this out. But, all Friedersdorf can do is attack her for not signing the letter against the project, then attack her for why she didn't sign, when instead, it's a reason plausible and logical.

If one wants a "turning point" year or years and bases it on Virginia, per Painter's piece, it would be 1676-77 and Bacon's Rebellion. The ruling class, after eventually putting it down, hardened slavery and made it more race focused, to break the ties between indentured servants, more and more of them white, and slaves, mainly black.

And, that maneuver worked. It eventually led to "poor whites" becoming "mudsills," like President Andrew Johnson and like many Trump voters. I discuss that issue in a full 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 part series.


Update, Jan. 16: At Washington Babylon, Andrew Stewart tries to spin for the project by referencing Gerald Horne. Horne is quoted as indicating 1619 Project is in trouble with "the ruling class." Hey, Stew? Hey, Horne? The Trots and Reed aren't exactly "ruling class." And Painter's criticisms, as noted above, which Stew doesn't mention, are still correct.

Update, March 3: A really not-bad-overall opponents-side piece is from John McWhorter.

January 08, 2020

Texas Progressives watch the Senate race heat up

This corner of the Texas Progressives joins with ALL Green Party leadership, rather than the weaselly split-decision stance of Democratic leadership, in calling out the assassination of Qassim Soleimani and opposing further escalation with Iran.

The flu season continues to ramp up in North Texas and this corner of Texas Progressives reminds all readers to eat healthy and stay healthy through the winter.

Texas politics

ICYMI (and so did I): Bob on a Knob O'Rourke and Dennis Bonnen led the pack in Texas Monthly's annual Bum Steer Awards. More details on O'Rourke and Bonnen.

Julian Castro decided he needed to drop out of the prez run. Why was he in, and why didn't he try to stretch out just another month or two? See my updated presidential odds and earlier speculation about the endgames of Dem candidates.

The Observer provides a preview of Elections 2020 and one on the development of that big ugly wall.

Nonsequiteuse makes the pro-choice case for defeating Rep. Sarah Davis.

The Texas Signal laments our firearms-obsessed state government.

Meanwhile, via Brains, Cristina Tzíntzún Ramirez is kind of shooting herself in the foot in the Senate race:
Then, weirdly, deleting an Tweet with an endorsement by Susan Sarandon. Maybe too far left?
Maybe even worried, that given Sarandon's past, some people might make her into a Greenie?

That said, Brains and Sema Hernandez? Let me know when you cross the $10K mark on fundraising. Let me know when you're going to apologize for kissing Bob on a Knob O'Rourke's ass before the 2018 general was done and doing so even more after it was done when:


Marijuana prosecutions continue to drop, fueled in large part by the state's legalization of hemp last year.

Homelessness is on the rise in rural and small town areas. It's hard to know how bad the issue is, as it's not really counted in the boonies. That said, rural areas don't have shelters and other services.

Tinslee Lewis' tragic situation will surely be further politicized. Roe v Wade's anniversary is just two weeks away.

Additional Harvey-like storms are just one of the ways climate change will affect Texas. Let's hope more forceful climate scientists than Katherine Hayhoe arise in the state.

North Texas

Will an LGBTQ anti-discrimination ordinance finally get passed by Denton? Supporters hope so. Denton would become Texas' first smaller or mid-sized city (cities, in my urban sociology, are of above 100K population; below that, you're a town) to pass such a bill.


Off the Kuff interviewed Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan and his Democratic primary opponents, Ben Rose and Christian Menefee.


Fort Worth Weekly lists Project Censored's top stories of 2019.

Brains' 2020 update makes a pitch for Sanders' semi-inevitability.

Carlos Sanchez gives Julian Castro's Presidential campaign a fond farewell. (I don't, and I also see Egberto Willies as more and more of a Warren-stanner for explaining away his endorsement of Lizzie Warren.


Hitting the world of sports, SocraticGadfly, after laughing with schadenfreude over the Hatriots, offered his hot take on what Jethro Jerry Jones might do to replace Red Jesus Jason Garrett. Earlier, he tackled baseball, wondering why Cardinals top brass John Mozeliak isn't doing more to improve the rotation.

Texas Monthly also discusses the Cheatin' Astros on its Bum Steers.

Miscellaneous/year in review

Mark Pitcavage remembers the New Year's Eve of Y2K.

Paradise in Hell has 10 reasons to be glad 2019 is over.

The Great God Pan Is Dead lists the 10 best comics of the past decade.

January 07, 2020

Can the Doinks regain the Texas House?

Could the Doinks flip the House side of the Texas Lege? The Trib speculates. My guess is "probably not," but I wouldn't be surprised to see the difference narrowed from the current 83-67 to something like 80-70, which in turn means a Straus (Straus lite) Rethug has a good shot at the speakership. And, it would mean that Abbott, Danny Goeb, and other Rethug wingnuts in the Big House and the Senate would be handcuffed.

And, in the light of Mucus and Bonnen, narrowing the gap would led House Democrats not only help select a Straus Republican, but be in the position of a beauty contest judge, and vet multiple candidates.

If nothing else, at least the Doinks are contesting every seat this year. I know in Cooke County, when I called and emailed the county chair to ask if they had any local candidates running this year (answer is no, but they have two in a contested primary for Drew Springer's seat), he sounded semi-shocked, and pretty delighted, that he was even being contacted.

I may do one update shortly before primary day; if not, one will follow soon after.

Right now, if you put a gun to my head and told me to offer odds or percentages? I'd say 85-15 the GOP stays in control but 50-50 Dems shave it by exactly those three seats to 80-70.

That said, I'm not native Texan; has there ever been a tie in the House? And, has it blocked a Speaker election, if so?

January 06, 2020

Top blogging of 2019

It was an interesting year this year. No heavy thread of refuting conspiracy theories, unlike my top blogging of 2018. And, several of the top posts, including two baseball-themed ones, came from the last few months of the year.

One post was a repeat from a previous year, and one was a "throwaway" from a decade ago.

Let's start with that.

The most read blog post here in 2019 was "Could an Iranian bomb LOWER tensions?" As a generally erratic President Donald Trump listens to his neocons and tightens the screws ever more on the Islamic Republic, and as our Saudi allies and other Gulf Arab states descend into further butchery in Yemen, and as Trump panders to Zionists ever more while also encouraging antisemitism more (to those who know the history of Zionism, and know early Zionists themselves did that, that should be no shock) it seems that a lot of people wonder if a Tehran with a nuke or two, as much as proliferation is a no-no, might be better than the current situation.

No. 2, speaking of Zionism and antisemitism? That was me defending Ilhan Omar from charges of antisemitism — even as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, no less, shoved her halfway under the bus. (As I also noted there, it wasn't the first time — nor was it the last — for AOC's reality to fall several steps short of her rhetoric.)

No. 3? On to actual racism. And other things of the past at Augusta National Country Club. I called The Masters "A tradition of bullshit unlike any other."

No. 4? After making the Top 10 of 2017, but missing the cut last year, my ever growing biography of Twitter guru in the mind of himself, when alive, and his cultists still today, "Who Is Alan Smithee, aka Actual Flatticus?" (answer: misogynist, possibly racist, abusive Florida lawyer Chris Chopin) is back in the Top 10 this year.

No. 5? Yeah, everybody else doing political blogging wrote about it too. But! My "What's next for Trump after the Mueller Report?" was written from a position that clearly rejected twosiderism. That became more and more of a theme here the second half of 2019, with allegedly outside the box journos, but actually stenos to a certain form of twosiderism, like Aaron Maté, Matt Taibbi, Max Blumenthal, Mark Ames, Ben Norton, Yasha Levine et al repeatedly engaged in.

No. 6? For the first time in years, Texas news cracked an annual Top 10 list. The tragic fall shooting in Greenville, an arrest of someone eventually cleared de facto if not de jure, the omerta that leaves the case still unsolved, and cultural issues surrounding that all drew my attention.

No. 7? Texas news a second time, and in my backyard. I called out the Dallas Observer (which hasn't responded for months, and is one of several things that has led me to look at it with a more jaundiced eye than before) for doing a hit job on a planned wind farm. The site is on the Fort Worth half of the Metromess so why was the Observer writing? The reporter clearly understands nothing about the oil and gas world, and gas motives behind some opposition, to boot. (A follow-up post is coming shortly.)

No. 8? The first of two baseball posts. This was about who the Veterans Committee should and should not vote into the Hall of Fame. Veterans got it wrong, IMO, on not admitting Lou Whitaker and Thurman Munson. They got it OK on Ted Simmons, though Munson should have gone in first. And they definitely got it right on not selecting Dale Murphy.

Skipping a bit, No. 10 was paired. Comparing his career to Dave Parker, Juan Gonzales, Roger Maris and others, I explained in more detail why Murphy is not a HOFer.

No. 9? Connected to Jeffrey Epstein. I looked at some of the various Epstein-related sleaze that is connected to John Brockman, creator of The Edge Foundation and, until this year, its annual "the big question."

January 05, 2020

Who will Jethro Jerry Jones and Stephen Fetchit Jones
hire (we presume) to replace Red Jesus Jason Garrett?

The "red Jesus" comes from the brother of a friend, in his snark take on Dallas Cowboys still-technically there but twisting in the wind head coach Jason Garrett. (This is an update of an earlier post.)

First, can Jethro Jerry be any more insensitive? He claimed, when asked first after the Cowgirls were officially eliminated, that he was trying to be sensitive to Garrett by not immediately commenting. Meanwhile, as Tricky Dick Nixon said about L. Patrick Gray, the result, whether intended or not, has been to let Garrett twist in the wind. Last Thursday, a leaker said he was gone. Silence from Jethro and nephew Stephen Fetchit Jones. (You like that one, eh?)

That said, yes, Jerry can be more insensitive. Note his bully-the-players by a one-time kneeling with them over Colin Kaepernick and take a knee. Note his loutish private life, where he outdrinks even Dale Hansen. (And surely outgropes him, per rumors.) Speaking of ...

Rumors then had Mike McCarthy (and others) interviewing with the team. More silence from Jethro and Stephen Fetchit.

So, let's give the rumors credence?

Marvin Lewis? No. That was Jerry's "follow the league rules and check the box" on minority candidate interviews.

Given his reaction to Kaep, no fucking way Jethro's hiring a minority coach. I'll eat Tom Landry's fedora if he does.

In reality, Lewis probably wouldn't be bad.

See, Jethro hasn't had to jump through all these hoops for years. With the city and county of St. Louis suing not just Stan Kroenke and the Rams but the whole NFL for colluding in Kroenke's lies, and Jethro's part in facilitating the Rams' flight to LA, he's dotting his i's and crossing his t's.

And, if he wanted a minority candidate that would appear to Dallas' large Hispanic population plus huge fan base in Mexico? Ron Rivera was available.

Bil Belichick? Forget it. Jones grudgingly ceded some powers to Bill Parcells. He'd never let go as much as Belichick might want. Besides, if Tom Brady leaves the Hatriots? Cheat-a-Check is retiring. NOT going to another team. I'll eat Skip Bayless' fedora if I'm wrong there.

Bill O'Brien is the subject of Texans' fans Twitter angst. He's not being fired. Especially since the Texans took the lead back after their titty-baby fans started whining, and stopped one late drive against an inexperienced Josh Allen taking an impermissble sack. The OT win by a banged-up Texans means that #FireBob goes nowhere.

Somebody who might be interested in the challenge (or might not), is younger than Belichick, and would be a great upgrade? Mike Tomlin. But, I doubt he's leaving the Steelers any time soon.

Mike Zimmer? Being through the Dallas circus before is the main reason he'll stay in Minnesota.

Mike McCarthy is the default guy. Josh McDaniels, if he goes anywhere, will head to Cleveland, where he can pick a GM not named Stephen Fetchit Jones to work with him.

College coaches? Lincoln Riley is not driving down from Norman, no is any other currently active college coach with his success level.

An Urban Meyer might come out of retirement, but no active top tier coach is going to Valley Ranch.

The real problem is that Jethro Jerry and Stephen Fetchit won't look themselves in the mirror. This team hasn't been to a conference championship game since Barry Switzer won their last Super Bowl 24 years ago.


Update, Jan. 6: I didn't step out quite as far on a limb as I could have yesterday when I said McCarthy was the "default guy." Well, according to (I presume) the same leaker or leakers, he IS the guy.

Two notes.

First, is he really that much of an upgrade over Red Jesus? I'd argue not and argue his coaching record says he's not. Only winning one Super Bowl? Only GETTING TO one Super Bowl with Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers as your QBs? This talk about how he's bringing an analytics staff to the team? Shouldn't the "socks and jocks" guy, so brilliant on business matters, have thought of that long ago?

As for his reality? Hasn't stopped Todd Archer at Red Satan (former Dallas Snooze guy) from turd-polishing the legend.

Second, like Donald Trump, on these leaks, has Jethro Jerry been his own leaker?

A day later, Archer continues to fellate the team for the hire without discussing the leaker.