SocraticGadfly: 5/2/21 - 5/9/21

May 08, 2021

Salute Mother's Day, buy some hooch!

I'm sure it's been this way for years, even decades, but this year, the weekly grocery store circulars for this Wednesday-next Tuesday, including Mother's Day tomorrow, stuck out at me.

When did Wile E. Coyote, Genyus, marketers get the "bright" (in the Dan Denett way?) idea of peddling booze, even if the focus is on wine first, then beer, to celebrate Mother's Day?

Here's my snarky thinking on possible ideas behind that:

FIRST: Hey, dads, get your wife of 20 years drunk, then send the kids to the mall or whatever so she'll screw you for the first time in three months.

SECOND: Hey, dads, buy yourself some on-sale beer in case your wife nags you about an insufficient Mother's Day gift and nags you and the kids about not being appreciated enough.

THIRD: Hey, moms, feel free to drink that whole bottle or three of wine, tell the hubby and the kids to fuck off, then blame the booze.

FOURTH: Hey, single moms, buy yourself the wine, or beer, or whatever, then per "first," send the kids to the mall, then lock and bar the doors, whip out a couple of vibrators while getting drunk and give yourself a great Mother's Day present.

FIFTH: For married/partnered moms? Mom gets wine, dad gets beer. Both get half-drunk mad at each other, have angry sex, get drunker and madder yet, have more angry sex then makeup sex attempts as you get close to passing out, then forget about the whole thing the next morning.

May 07, 2021

Authenticity, Germanness, cultural DNA and appropriation, and Trumpism and German-Americans

As usual in a blog post like this, I'll tie all the threads in the header together.

Let's get started on that.

Muenster, Texas, has a Germanfest spring “Germania” heritage festival, and has had it for 45 years now, consecutively, minus a COVID interruption a year ago.

I recently saw a person who currently lives in the Metroplex but was born in Germany. He had several comments about the authenticity, or lack thereof in his mind, of the Germanness on display at Germanfest.

That started with the pronunciation of the city, noting that auf Deutsche, to use English values for vowels, it should sound like MOON-ster and not MUN-ster. And, on that one, he’s right, or more right than wrong. I pronounced it that way myself the first few weeks I was here, and quickly realized I was basically a party of one. (It actually should be between MOON-stir and MIN-stir with the first syllable kind of swallowed.

 I have seen places that still do an even deeper dive into German heritage. Having lived in Michigan, the town of Frankenmuth comes immediately to mind. Fredericksburg here in Texas, of course.  That said, we’re not in Michigan or the Hill Country, Toto, and we’re also not in Nordrhein-Westfalen. 

He is right about the number of things Germans have contributed to the world as a whole and to American culture in particular. A couple are even more Texas-specific. He said four Germans died at the Alamo and that the chicken-fried steak is a riff on German schnitzel. I’ll take his word on the Alamo, and I can buy the schnitzel idea, as Texas Germans may have adapted Wiener schnitzel, but this isn’t guaranteed. 

Some other things he aren’t necessarily so authentic themselves, though, or, to rephrase, they’re authentic to some ethnicity, but not necessarily that of Germans. 

Budweiser beer? The original is from the town of Budweis, as its called in German. Nice German name. But, it’s in today’s Czech Republic and Czechs call it České Budějovice. In fact, American Budweiser, though it’s continued to fight trademark battles in the European Union, does not own the “Budweiser” name over there. The Czech town actually had two breweries originally; the larger, which had today’s European Budweiser, was Czech-owned in an area of mixed linguistics. Linguistic divisions do not necessary reflect “ethnic” or “subethnic” divisions. See Switzerland, the North Tyrol and many other places. 

Some of the food items at Germanfest have become authentic but weren’t at one time, because they didn’t even exist, at least not in Germany. Potatoes? Almost as iconic in German culture, with German potato salad and other things, as in Irish lore. (My dad says that my great-grandpa Schneider used to end his saying grace prayer at the start of dinner with an immediate transition to “Kartoffeln bitte.”) More than 500 years ago? Not authentic, of course, because they only existed in the “New World.” 

Ditto on sauerkraut.

Other things? 

To current German residents, quite authentic, though perhaps not to our correspondent. Currywurst comes immediately to mind. It has a specific invention date of 1949, and was inspired by British occupation soldiers in Germany. Since then, under the influence of Turkish immigration, the sausage for currywurst at many locations its halal-pure, the Muslim equivalent of kosher. 

But, doorknob forbid a German-American admit cultural appropriation. In fact, among European white ethnic and subethnic groups, German-Americans voted for Trump more than any other. Maybe, as with Serbians over Kosovo, there is something such as cultural DNA. It got knocked out of Germans in Germany after 1945, but, if anything, flowered yet more strongly here. On the other hand, per our correspondent, maybe it didn't get knocked out of all Germans, either.

As for promoting heritage tourism? Well, neither the city of Muenster nor our correspondent is allowed to have their cake and eat it on my pages. 

Compared to Frankenmuth or Fredericksburg, Muenster is second-class on such heritage tourism, even as a new move-in to the town wants to build a whole German market and biergarten centering condos and shit around it. (That said, for now at least, said idea seems to have bit the dust.) In other words, to use some German words, said person wants to peddle some ersatz schmaltz with a capitalist bullshit smile painted on it. 

But, since cultural appropriation DOES happen (but not in an SJW tsk-tsk way), said Metroplex correspondent doesn’t get to tut-tut everything in Muenster, either. And, as for tut-tutting “German pizza” (I didn’t try it, or even look for what was on it), our correspondent missed out on something from his heimat: Alsatian flammekueche. And, to finish completing the circle? Some varieties of this product have Munster cheese in addition to fromage blanc or crème fraîche for the sauce. 

Well, the circle isn’t quite yet complete. Munster cheese, and yes, that’s the correct spelling, is named after the town of Munster, in Alsace. (Alsace may be part of France today, but for 1871-1918, and before that was part of the Holy Roman Empire until 1648. It has nothing to do with the German town that was the source of Muenster’s founders.

In short, an authenticity that is frozen in amber is no authenticity. I suspect that for many German-Americans, that's part of being frozen in amber in general.

To move to another culture, is somebody going to call flour tortillas inauthentic? Well, pre-Columbus, they are, just like potatoes for German Sunday lunches.

Back to the complainer one last time.

He referenced other inventions or other Germanic contributions to America and the world.

One was the car. But, Wiki says the first steam-powered "horseless carriage" was invented by one of those damned Frenchmen, Nicholas-Joseph Cugnot, back in 1769.

The second, albeit not by name, was Wernher von Braun. How he got to the US, and of course, the degree of his ties with the Nazis, use of slave labor, etc., were overlooked by our correspondent.

Essentially, parts of the complaint looked like they could have been written by a Stalinist claiming the USSR, or Mother Russia, had invented the radio, TV, etc., Or else by a BJP/RSS disciple of Narendra Modi today.

May 06, 2021

Hats off to Albert Pujols, however old he is

Word has just come out that the Angels will designate for assignment Albert Pujols, aka Phat Albert, aka The Machine, likely leading to his unconditional release.

Let's be honest; that IS what will happen. For anybody to seriously pick him up, it would have to be an AL team flush with money, if they can't get the Haloes to eat most the contract, and to be thin at DH, at a minimum, and maybe there and 1B both. The BoSox are fine overall at these positions. The Yankees are loaded at DH and OK at first. The Jays are solid at both. On paper, here in Texas, the stRangers and Astros could both use some degree of help, but I don't see either one shelling out money for a waivers claim, and most certainly not the Arlingtonites.

(Update: This new post discusses his possible landing spots on the MLB minimum should he clear waivers, with a second update specific to a certain team.

Update 2: I did NOT have the Dodgers on my Phat Albert dance card; my thoughts.)

That means no shot at 700 homers, and no shots at passing people like Henry Aaron, Willie Mays, Stan Musial or big-head Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez in any counting lists like career runs, RBIs, total bases, etc.

It also makes me wonder how much longer the Tigers will fish or cut bait with Miguel Cabrera, who now officially has the most onerous contract in baseball, although Stephen Strasburg may claim that distinction soon enough.

I will still remember him jacking Brad Lidge, along with the looks of Roger Clemens from the dugout and Nolan Ryan from the Astros ownership box:

That said, per the header? I have long thought he was a year older, at a minimum, than his officially stated age. (And, I'm far from alone in that. A former Marlins GM, I believe at the time that Pujols was using the Phish mainly as chum to get other teams to step up to the plate, wondered about Pujols' age back then. And, I don't doubt that Mozeliak did the same.)

And, as I said four years ago, when he first approached my "Kozma line" named after Pete Kozma? This has been looming for some time, just as happened with A-Rod and will happen some day with Miggy.

In any case, enjoy some career highlights, including his 3 HRs in a World Series game against the Rangers: 

And, hit the Pujols tag for more of my extensive writing about his career.

Because of that extensive rating, I can tell Red Satan that there's no reason to pay for its clickbait "Plus" story about whether he's the best 1B ever or not. He's not. That's  Lou Gehrig.

And, per the second graf above, I also have no need to pay to read a rhetorical question from Red Satan's pay division about whether or not this is the end of the line. It is.

Yeah, it's possible that he clears waivers AND some team then picks him up for the MLB minimum. But ... is he going to go there, when he'll likely play no more than he would have for the Angels?

Pujols says he still wants to play. The Angels essentially honored his desire after it being clear there's no room in the inn in Anaheim.

Per the top dogs in the AL?

It WOULD be weird to see him wearing RedSox togs or Rangers ones, per World Series history. Would be weird in a Stros uni, too, of course. And, following A-Rod's steps at the Pinstripes? Delicious.

And, it's only going to be the AL. He's not playing in the NL, where, except for interleague, he has to play first on a regular basis. Now, that said, I guess AL teams who really think he might have gas in the tank could get in a bidding war about the MLB minimum for his services. He HAS had a long reputation of starting slow, and a week ago, was around .240 on batting and over .700 on OPS.

Returning to St. Louis would be nice and sentimental. But, he's not going ahead of Goldschmidt, not when they also have Matt Carpenter as a cheaper backup 1B.

As for the Angels? It boils down to whether they're better with Taylor Ward in RF and Jared Walsh at !B rather than Walsh playing halfway out of position in right and Pujols at first. And, the answer is likely the former, and Pujols doesn't want to ride pine. Neither did A-Rod at his end.

Arizona continues to out-wingnut Texas, now on vote recount

The Arizona Senate is looking for made-in-China bamboo ballots as part of its hired firm, Cyber Ninjas, recounting Maricopa County ballots from last November. No, really.

That and other things have Arizona's Secretary of State, Katie Hobbs, saying the senate needs to bring the recount into alignment with state law. That's part of a lawsuit settled Tuesday by Hobbs and Arizona Democrats, with details here.
The secretary of state argued some of the procedures “appear better suited for chasing conspiracy theories than as part of a professional audit,” referring to the examination of ballots with UV lights to search for nonexistent watermarks. 
Meanwhile, Hobbs said observers noticed computers left on and unattended at tables used for forensic analysis, a violation of elementary security protocols. 
And Hobbs raised concerns about hiring, pointing to (former state Rep. Anthony Kern, R-Glendale’s) selection toapparently handle ballots despite the fact he is also on the ballot as well as present at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 when it was overrun by a mob and previously fired for dishonesty from a job as a code enforcement officer.
Hobbs also specifically called out her Republican predecessor, Ken Bennett, as part of this. He's part of the recount, and made the bamboo ballots claim, passing on something from Cyber Ninjas.

The feds, namely the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division, have now also weighed in, fearing that federal voting rights laws may be violated, perhaps may have already been violated.

Texas Progs Roundup: Smoke a little more and stronger?

Plenty of good nuttery, and a few items of good news, about and from the Texas Legislature this week, and we had municipal elections and a special election.

Plenty of fun to dive into.

So, let's dig in.

The Gov

Strangeabbott appears to have had a bigger personal hand in the Abbott Blackout's ERCOT pricing sticker shock than previously revealed.

The Lege

SocraticGadfly sees a mix of hypocrisy, unconstitutionality and Pander Bear from Texas Senate Legiscritters.

The Observer has the latest on Briscoe Cain's clownery and other things, like permitless carry. As hinted there, it wouldn't surprise me if permitless carry loses there, even with Danny Goeb's special purpose committee.

Most Texas cops still don't want permitless carry.

The House has passed Senfronia Thompson's three police reform bills. At least one will have heavy uphill sledding in the Senate.

The Lege is perhaps feeling the heat from New Mexico's full legalization and the Okies Lege's talk about going national with its medical marijuana. The House has passed legislation that would give Texas something like a medical marijuana program. Another bill would cut minor possession to a Class B misdemeanor. Still not a Class C, but something.

Texas officials caved to the feds and will release COVID school funding to local districts without clawing back an equal amount of normal state school funds.
Emily Eby tweets about House Election Committee shenanigans so you don't have to. 
Reform Austin celebrates a rare good bill in the Lege. 
The Austin Chronicle reports on an organized legal pushback against the latest wave of anti-abortion bills.

Census and redistricting

Did the Lege's refusal to spend money to spur counting efforts cost it a Congressional seat, as it eventually gained "just two" and not three seats in the Census?
David Beard looks at how the apportionment numbers may affect future Congressional elections.

Off the Kuff looks deeper at that issue, noting how the state of Texas fell short of projections in getting only two more Congressional districts from the 2020 apportionment.
Other Texas

School students in many cultures besides African-Americans may feel their culture is slighted by Texas textbooks. Count Palestinians among them.

Sid Miller, as a private citizen, is suing Biden over his admin's new ag relief program. And, of course, a Stephen Miller lobby shop is supporting the suit. A group of White farmers is also suing. They all of course ignore that (as Shirley Sherrod knew, and her Obama-era nemesis now returned to run Biden's Ag, Tom Vilsack, either didn't know or ignored), that USDA long practiced redlining and other discrimination.


Nutter Lily Bao has lost on her mayoral effort to "Make Plano Great Again."

Another true nutter, Sery Kim, failed to make the runoff for CD6, which will pit Ron Wright's widow Susan and Jake Elizey, as Dems also failed to make the runoff. Dem Jana Sanchez was third; never Trumper Michael Wood was well back.

Other local

The City Neoliberal, Austin, passed Prop B and again banned homeless encampments, but homelessness is still around. (And, that's the worse, not the "dehoused" used by High Country News.)
Texas Highways fellates the third-biggest business cult in Tex-ass and gives us 24 hours in the life of Buc-ee's.


Troy Nehls wants to help Status Quo Joe on police reform.

Florida Republicans now wonder if they shot themselves in the foot on voting restrictions, especially vote by mail ones.


Mondoweiss, in a piece by founder Philip Weiss (which follows several others last week) has the details of Human Rights Watch naming Israel an apartheid state (and arguably a worse one than South Africa).


Fascinating Smithsonian piece here. If you're familiar with what chimeras are, namely a human fetus that has absorbed another in the womb, the discovery that moms can become chimeras from their fetuses is ... fascinating.

May 05, 2021

Glenn Greenwald, David Miranda: Brazilian 1 percenters or 0.1

About a month ago, I blogged about Glenn Greenwald and David Miranda possibly lying about their cause for a recent robbery of their house. As I wrote more, I uncovered more about just how well off they are in their palatial home (profiled there in 2014, and complete with security guard, per this link) in exurban Rio.

He was making 500 large or more per year with The Intercept and surely even more at Substack. Yes, surely even much more, now that Substack's payola has come to light.

In fact, that's chump change from Glennwald's FORMER job. Substack is paying him much, much more, as in $1-2 million per year. And, that doesn't count speaking fees and such like that.

And, as of 2018 Brazilian congresscritters like Miranda got about $16,500 per month — and in a weirdness of corruption, they and other public servants had a 15-month pay year. And, a shitload of perks. More on that shitload of perks here. Yes. So, Miranda makes another $250K in a country with rampant poverty (Brazil's minimum wage, and that's presuming there's just 12 months in the year for the peons, is just over $200 per month and even with purchasing power parity, that's about one-quarter of the US) that you try to avoid by living on rural mountaintop acreage with private security. 

So, by purchasing power parity, Glennwald's $1-2 American is about $4-8 million at Ipanema. Miranda's Congresscritter salary is $1 million US, plus all the perks. If Glennwald really wants to fight corruption, the fight starts at home.

And, I'm not joking in the header. On Brazilian purchasing power parity with all that money, that puts Greenwald and Miranda in the equivalent of the US 0.1 percent, not just 1 percent. The 0.1 percent, as of a year ago, started as a little more than $7 million.
As for Miranda? He may indeed be in a socialist party, but, he's married to you and cosigns your bullshit until he speaks out. And, he may be getting comfortable with the high lifestyle by now anyway.

Remember, he'd probably be nothing without getting lucky on bumping into Glennwald, then letting Glenn play Professor Henry Higgins to his Eliza Doolittle. On his own current dime, Miranda's a Brazilian 1 percenter.

And, let's not forget that this is a man who still lies about his supporting the Iraq War when it was started.

May 04, 2021

Coronavirus Week 56: Herd immunity ruled out, as we're not at the finish line, but some vax-hesitant are crossing

To get even near to something like "herd immunity," both in Texas and nationally, public health experts know that means separating the vaccine-hesitant from antivaxxer diehards and getting them across the finish line.

But, with the continued rise of variants, the slowness of vaccination, etc., experts say herd immunity is not achievable. Within that piece, health experts say that addressing the causes of hesitancy is keye.

Meanwhile, herd-immunity bullshit is being spread at places like KEYE, Austin's CBS and Sinclair-owned teevee.
Dr. Peter Hotez argues that anti-vax aggression must be addressed if we're going to really make progress in vanquishing COVID-19.

Well, occasionally, you get a true antivaxxer to see the light. Heather Simpson got the jab (after getting her 3-year-old started late on her own vaccines). It's a good long read. Simpson wasn't always an antivaxxer, but when trying to have a baby, wondered if vaccines were an issue and wound up diving into the antivax cesspool. Eventually, though not immediately, she became an antivax "influencer." She told the Monthly that she wanted to publicize getting shot up now (as well as getting her kid on course) to make amends.

Ill Eagles are eligible for the vaccine, but for largely obvious reasons, aren't getting it.

The Texas House has removed masking requirements in its half of the Pink Dome. One-third of Dems voted for the measure.

The state still has just one-quarter of people vaccinated. That remains well below the national average.

Rural white wingers and semi-wingers, led by evangelical Christians and their churches, top the vaccine hesitant. In some cases, it's connected with Trump lies about COVID. In some cases, it's connected with rural woo — and yes, the alt-med world is there, just like Hollywood. (And, with some of those folks, it's about their pocketbooks and the woo they peddle.) With yet other evangelicals, it's the "time to die" portion of their quiverfull theology. (The story, interestingly, doesn't mention that Greenville, Tennessee, its focus, was the adult home of Andy Johnson.)

Texas has still not rebounded economically as much as some states.