SocraticGadfly: 2/5/23 - 2/12/23

February 11, 2023

I await Trumpy's 2024 run

Politico, magazine version, says many Republican donors and leaders are actively working against him.

So, where's the fun part?

Trump making claims about "rigged elections," then calling for #StopTheSteal which is actually, of course, #StartTheSteal, when he can't win primaries.

Rethug thought leaders' concerns are real. (Not that Trump's ex-Mini Me, Florida Man Ron DeSatan, is all that and a bag of WHITE corn chips.) They're worried that Trump will again get the nomination while only getting a plurality of votes, but a majority of delegates due to the way GOP primaries are structured, in the process.

Apparently neither restructuring the primaries so that, say, a non-majoritarian winner of a primary doesn't get bonus delegates, nor going the Dems' route of superdelegates, has crossed their minds.

Meanwhile, these putative solons have talked to the likes of Nictating Nikki Haley, Pompous Mike Pompeo and Apprehensive or Pensive Mike Pence and that they allegedly "get it" about not being a spoiler. Well, gee, that's four other candidates, counting Florida Man. Seems like all of them are expecting everybody else to not be the spoiler.

It's also interesting that DeSatan isn't mentioned until more than halfway through the piece. It's as if the solon-oids are either already presuming him the best alternative to Trump, or even more than the others mentioned above, assuming he's not going to listen anyway.

Also interesting is that old Reagan consultant Stu Spencer, in talking to Peggy Nooners about Biden's STFU speech to Congress, claims Trump 2016 was "unbeatable." Not totally. Nooners' own take on the speech is that it was "Trumpian." She also notes the likes of MTG hurt the party just like Trumpy. Spencer goes on to talk about how Kamala is a Cop remains a boat anchor for Warmonger Joe.

February 10, 2023

Climate change book starts well, then goes WAY off the rails

This is an expanded version of my Goodreads review of "Nomad Century" by Gaia Vince.

Nomad Century: How Climate Migration Will Reshape Our World

Nomad Century: How Climate Migration Will Reshape Our World by Gaia Vince
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

An interesting book. No, a disappointing book, with a mixed 4/1.5 star rating.

First, Vince is rightly “hardheaded” that we’re likely to hit 4C by 2100, then reminds us that this is overall global temperature, including the slower-rising ocean temperature. Land temps will surely be higher yet.

From there, it’s into a long history of migration. Next comes a list of benefits of immigration, as noted by international development organizations, etc. Some might be overstated, but not bad overall. But, hold on to that to near the bottom of this.

Then, after an earlier basic discussion, comes info on details of climate change and how it’s going to force migration out of tropical and near tropical areas, and the reasons why — desertification, floods, extreme weather events, and unliveable wet-bulb temperatures.

Then, the clunkers. NO, not clunkers. Just downhill, first mildly, then badly.

Clunker? She talks about how climate change will allow more development of northern latitudes, noting it’s already allowing for more oil exploration in and near Greenland. True. Russia’s already eyeballing massive new offshore in its Arctic. Shell and others may revisit the Alaskan Arctic.

We CAN’T HAVE THAT!!!! And, she nowhere says that.

Then there’s the issue of modern migration necessitating entire new cities. If these are all Westernized cities, there’s more climate-change-inducing energy expenditure. (She even talks about the possibility of building cities in Antarctica.) And, there’s the techno-optimism about how easily this will be done. There’s also the techno-optimism that the economic boosts of relatively small-scale immigration today would come even close to translating to mass migration.

She also has little discussion of climate denialism and minimalism, which is prevalent across the developed world, not just the US. Ditto for climate action minimalism, which is prevalent across the neoliberal “consensus” of non-deniers in the developed world.

Disconnects like this make this a weird book.

But, here, we go from clunkers to straight downhill.

But wait. The techno-optimism gets worse.

She assumes that we can somehow, within just decades, make the global migration much easier when she notes that, in the “developing” world, the rural to urban migration there is fraught and problematic.

But wait. The techno-optimism gets worse.

From there, it’s on to meat replacement. She doesn’t discuss how much energy it takes to make a veggie burger, nor ask if this will scale up. (She also doesn’t note that veggie burgers are higher in sodium than actual meat, and otherwise not totally the bee’s knees on being healthier.) She then goes to lab meat, and assumes, laughably given its many push-back dates, that it’s going to be commercially in play by 2025 or so. I quote: “The next generation of lab-grown meats will reach mass market later this decade.” Having read plenty about delayed launches, and also knowing the humongous amounts of energy it will require to go commercial, I laugh.

But wait. The techno-optimism gets worse.

Next, she calls for an expansion of nuclear fusion. She doesn’t talk about long-term waste. She doesn’t talk about how France, with a top-down national government, used a mix of bullying and bribes to foist that issue on rural eastern France. Nor does she ask about more and more difficulty in mining and refining uranium ore.

But wait. The techno-optimism gets worse.

She believes the British government’s claim to have fusion plants by 2040 and even says, I quote, “The first fusion reactors could start entering grids by 2030.”

Sadly, this techno-optimism would be standard for the modern West, Gang Green type environmentalists, etc. It's no wonder that a Bill McKibben burbles in his blurb. And, that reference to the modern West is the whole point.

For the reality, it's more like this is a version of climate colonialism combined with tech-neoliberalism. For more on that, we go to Nathan J. Robinson's Current Affairs and a piece on just that issue, climate colonialism, by Jag Bhalla. It's a long read, but, the first half-dozen grafs will get you the basics. By 2050, IPCC models and other issues envision none of the Global South catching up with today's Global North on standards of living. To tie to this book? If migration boosts developed nations precisely because those better able to move do so, what about the left behind? Gaia Vince nowhere addresses issues like that. Nor does she discuss the equivalent of reparations for climate colonialism. Assuming many rural migrants in the developing world cannot get themselves moved to the developed world, what is the developed world going to do to help them in their home countries? Again, not discussed.

As for the benefits of migration? There's been many more destructive migrations. Like Europeans coming to the "New World." Or, when more directly done at the point of a spear or the barrel of a gun, invasive war. She mentions Genghis Khan and how a fair chunk of today's world is his progeny. She never talks about how he destroyed thriving civilizations of China, various states of Central Asia and Kievan Rus.

We’re at the point of either willful ignorance or self-delusion, and I grokked the last 30 pages before the conclusion.

It’s no wonder a neoliberal environmentalist like Bill McKibben favorably blurbs this book.

And, now, the mixed rating should be clearer. It’s 4.5 for the climate honesty, 4 for the migration impact honesty, and 1.5 for everything else. Scratch that; I combined the first and second into a single 4-star rating, as while it’s “nice” that she’s that firm on 4C, she’s far from alone. This will get a 2.5 at the StoryGraph, but couldn't go to 3 here.

And, with that, I’ll offer a “recommend against” further reading of Gaia Vince. And, how she got to a position like news editor of Nature, I have no idea.

View all my reviews

February 09, 2023

Did Kyrie spike the #MFFL water at the American Airlines Center?

On Reddit Sunday, multiple Dallas Mavericks fans simply could not accept anybody saying the Kyrie Irving trade was less than fantastic. (I called it "ass.")

The first of three I ultimately blocked had even not once but twice said he didn't like it — before I and others said the same.

On the original post about the trade that had the most comment hits, he first said, and I quote, "oh no."

He later said, showing just how much of a tribalist noob he is:

I honestly would not have pulled the trigger, granted it's VERY hard not to if all they wanted was a 1 FRP and 2 players from a roster where everybody not from Slovenia is for sale. I can't fucking stand Kyrie but I really can't be mad here.

And, after one more exchange, it was "bye." Tribalism 101 on display right there.

I bet the dood buys one of those Kyrie jerseys, only to have to face burning it in 6 months.

Then, a second person, claiming I, but not the first Mavs guy, was too worked up over this, and thinking I was calling them not him (for his icon) "cutie pie" got blocked after two exchanged.

Sunday evening, a third guy did.

Oh, the trade IS "ass." Or as Kevin Pelton more politely put it at ESPN, "risky." My own take was the combo of three draft picks plus not dumping Bertans' contract made it ass. Commenters besides those three couldn't get the idea of the "combination."

Others did, though. A Pellies fan said it was worse than Dell Demps mismanaging the Anthony Davis trade. The comment before was:

Dallas let the "wasting Luka" talk get to them.

There you go.

Let's go better, via the email newsletter of Jay Busbee at Yahoo. After comparing Kyrie to Lindsay Lohan, this:

The Dallas Mavericks are now the latest team — after the Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics and New Jersey Nets — to think that they’re going to be the ones to capitalize on Irving’s phenomenal talent while keeping his infuriating, me-first, team-wrecking tendencies in check. ‌
Others have tried. For all of his accolades, including eight All-Star berths in 11-plus seasons, Irving has exactly one NBA championship, and that came in 2016, when LeBron James caught fire and brought the Cavaliers back from a 3-games-to-1 deficit against the Warriors. Granted, Irving hit a clutch 3 in Game 7 of that series, but regardless of where he's been, Kyrie has always played for himself, the latest example being his demand to be dealt out of New Jersey prior to this week’s trade deadline … or else. ‌
Irving’s departure brings a crashing end to what was supposed to be a new era of basketball in Brooklyn, a superteam that was supposed to set the league on fire but ended up only igniting itself. Kevin Durant’s decision to leave Golden State looks worse with every passing day; he’s all that’s left of the Nets’ would-be dynasty. Like Irving, he asked for a trade; unlike Irving, he didn’t threaten to blow a hole in the side of the franchise if he didn’t get what he wanted. Now KD might just end up out West too, and wouldn’t that be a fine bit of score-settling, if he ended up facing off against Irving in the playoffs? ‌
Assuming Kyrie's calf injury that, coincidentally enough, was going to keep him out of Nets' games through the trade deadline suddenly heals up, Irving now suits up for a Dallas team that sports Luka Doncic, a bonafide superstar, and Jason Kidd, a coach well-versed in the nuances dealing with temperamental point guards, since he was one himself.

THERE you go.

Odds? No more than 50-50 that Dallas re-signs him. IF that happens, 50-50 he forces a trade before that new contract is done. If he doesn't? IF that happens, no more than 50-50 odds he plays more than 55 games a year each of those four seasons.

Oh, and Mavs fans who think there was some "understanding" with the deal? Nope. And, per Yahoo quoting Mark Stein, they're going to let it play out a year. The Lake Show wanted a 2-year guarantee if they made the trade. Can't blame them.

And, boo fucking hoo for Kyrie saying he felt "disrespected" in Brooklyn. He'll be saying the same about Dallas at some point, Mavs fans.

Sidebar: "Can" the Nets expand this to a three-team deal? I posted this on Reddit in part to say, hey, could the Lake Show get back in? (I knew they couldn't, it was a troll.) But, it's also a troll of sort for the Mavs; if the Nets can expand this deal and it only benefits them, it would underscore Dallas paying too much. Obviously, they weren't able to. 

Sidebar 2: After the Lakers move, and especially after the Suns move to get KD, this looks like treading water at best.

As COVID moves to endemic, is there another pandemic lurking?

Teynep Tufekci talks about that in her latest New York Times column, suggesting that we should be ready for the possibility of a new H5N1 flu pandemic.

She references the commercial poultry outbreak, now approximately a year old, that has decimated laying chickens and caused egg prices to spike. She adds that, in Spain, this strain of bird flu spread to mink, and then, the alarming part, showed itself to be apparently spreadible between mink by further evolving to infect upper, rather than lower, respiratory areas. If this did happen, it's the first case of direct mammal-mammal transmissibility, plus, mink's respiratory system is similar enough to ours ...

In addition, when it hit Danish mink farms in 2020, they appear to have infected humans with H5N1 that further mutated after infecting them.

She says that for this, as well as animal welfare reasons that should be obvious, we need to shut down mink farms.

Vaccines, right?

But, most current vaccines are incubated in eggs. Oops.

Older vaccines may still have potency, or mRNA vaxxes could be, perhaps, created for H5N1. But, their limited potency should be clear by now, and thus they should only be a last resort.

She says encouraging voluntary vaccination of chicken farmers and employees, and maybe at hog farms too should be part of our preventative work, and definitely the first step if a pandemic breaks out. What if we get resistance? Do we flip Trump's "essential workers" and mandate vaccines?

She also mentions mass vaccination of poultry and pigs. Great idea. Why doesn't USDA require it?

At her Substack, she offers more thought on H5N1 transmissibility, mink farming lack of ethics and more.

February 08, 2023

Taking stock after the latest ice storm

Another ice storm, another series of failures, tho this one isn't blamable on Strangeabbott, the PUC or ERCOT, contra #BlueAnon. Should Texas be more "hardened" against this? State Rep. Erin Zwiener says yes and wants some of the big budget surplus spent to that end. Of course, that might require the wingnuts in the Tex-ass Lege to admit climate change is real, and covers more than global warming. That's even though state climatologist John Nielson-Gammons has long sounded the tocsin.

One form of hardening? Bury electric lines.

Michael Webber, an energy resources professor at the University of Texas at Austin, said burying power lines underground would be more reliable and may be worth the cost in the long run. “We’re cheap,” Webber said. “And it’s very expensive to be cheap.”

If it's too expensive to do all of them? Require that all new ones be done that way. When I was at a group of suburban papers in the Metromess, cities there were requiring it of new developments. 

As for the claim that it would jack repair costs that much? Surely monitors, similar to those on gas pipelines, would allow for the location of a problem to be isolated.

Sadly, but not surprisingly, friend of Big Oil and Big Gas (among other things) Russell Gold co-signs all the claims that it can't be done. That's despite Denton making news more than a decade ago for its push to do just that, and burying half of them.


Contra wingnuts, Austin Energy does trim trees even if residents get their dander up. And it has been doing so for 20 years. (There was plenty of wingnuttery on Twitter in the wake of the ice storm.)


And, as I noted last week, it IS ice, Yankees.

Texas Progressives talk death penalty, gambling, more

Various environmental groups called on the feds to investigate TCEQ over water quality issues, and the EPA says an informal review is underway.

Living in a major wind farm area, it's easy to think that Chapter 313 was a big boon to that industry. Truth? It was a much bigger boon to the awl bidness.

"Latinx" is a bad enough, #woke in the bad sense, academia-driven neologism. I just threw up in my mouth over "Chicanx," Texas Observer. I stopped reading and your link gets a no-follow. (Among actual politicians who hate "Latinx" is Arizona Congresscritter and possible Senate candidate Ruben Gallego.)

Tex-ass has lethal injection drugs that have gone past their expiration date but still wants to use them. State lawyers for the Department of Criminal Justice have been shady in supporting this issue, but — shock me — the Court of Criminal Appeals has sided with them so far.

Speaking of death, James Harry Reyos, convicted of murder 40 years ago, may finally get his rightful due in court.

SocraticGadfly, from up on the Red, for various reasons doubts the Lege will give people casinos or even a casino constitutional amendment vote. 

Off the Kuff took a look at the varying results in judicial races in Harris County in 2022.

After a short break, Stace returns with a spotlight on a couple of campaign announcements that give him some hope. 

Texas 2036 wants to modernize our state's child welfare system.  

Jef Rouner wonders why some people defend celebrities with such vigor.  

James Revels looks at the plague of police brutality through the lens of Black History Month. 

 Amanda Marcotte digs into the reasons why Republicans keep doubling down on anti-abortion rhetoric and strategy.  

Houston Landing announced itself as a new non-profit news source.

February 07, 2023

The future of Lake Powell, and the whole Colorado

First, per Yale Climate, and rightly so, it will NOT be "solved" by one year of heavy snowpack. (As of Feb. 6, we were at 129 percent of the 10-year average.) In fact, it won't be "solved" within current parameters, period. (The only problem I have with Yale's piece is way too much quoting and referencing of neoliberal Kumbaya environmentalist John Fleck and his partner in neoliberal environmentalism crime Eric Kuhn.)

The key on the good, yet bad, is that Powell (and Mead) are now only at 10 percent danger of "power pool," per a BuRec update. As Bob Henson notes at the Yale piece, this of course drops a sense of urgency among the member states of the Colorado River Compact. It also lessens the possibility of BuRec threatening a banhammer, let alone following through on it, after its fake banhammer last summer.

In fact, contra Kumbaya Fleck, I expect one, or more, lawsuits to be the nudge to a new version of the compact. One lawsuit would be by one individual state vs. another. (Looking at you, Aridzona, vs. California, given early post-compact history.) A second would be by Upper Basin vs. Lower Basin states. A third would be one or more American Indian tribes suing one or more states and/or the federal government.

Bob's piece is creative in some ways. As people who are from the Colorado Plateau and surrounding areas note, evaporation, from both the two big lakes and the irrigation canals, is a problem. And a growing one. So, why not cover them with floating solar panels? Boaters would push back on the lakes, but push back on the pushback. They can steer around. And absolutely on the canals.

That said, the price for this would be huge on one or both of the lakes. You'd have to have transmission antennas beaming the electricity to some grid connection, for example. Panels fixed in place over irrigation canals wouldn't have such problems.

Outside of Nevada's conservation — which Bob didn't note was largely a one-off effort — the biggie, especially on the lower Colorado? Agriculture. Sorry, Johnny Peace, but the alleged romance of grazing cows on river-raised alfalfa? De-romanticize it.

For the unknowledgable, Yale then gives readers the nickel version of the Colorado River Compact. They then talk about climate change's impacts — important, as the snowpack numbers are based on just the seven previous years.

The biggie? Can the Compact be saved? Bob says yes, if there's enough flexibility in a highly overhauled new Compact. Color me skeptical, since, per Bob and big snow, the seven Basin states procrastinated past Jan. 31, as I expected, part of the impetus for his article.

That said, there's a flip side to that bathtub ring at Lake Powell, even if the lake itself is never fully restored. 

That's the unveiling of Glen Canyon itself, and its own self-restoration, documented in detail at High Country News by author Craig Childs and photographer Elliott Ross. The recovery of the canyon, with people now knowing about it, might partially replace the recreation dollars of Lake Powell, even as Jim Stiles shudders. Lessening total boating would also lessen fuel burning of the boats, and of driving them to the lake, too.

As for the actual vistas? I'd love to see at least a fraction of the re-revealed natural beauty from before Powell started filling, as in, see it in person wearing my own hiking boots. Ditto on seeing if some of the Anasazi or Fremont or Basketmaker or Archaic ruins, petroglyphs and pictographs survived 50 years or so of inundation.

February 06, 2023

No more Chinese Red ballons?

Here's a blow-by-blow of Biden having the USAF shoot down the Red Chinese balloon, which was, per various updates, not the first on his watch, plus the one(s) on Trump's watch. Will China, per my snarky Twitter:

Send another 90 or whatever Red Balloons to hit the whole 99? 

More seriously, what was Xi Jinping hoping to do here, especially with another one sighted over Costa Rica? How sophisticated was the technology on this? I await examination. Why didn't Biden, or Trump, shoot one down before? Did none of them make it to the contiguous mainland, only Hawaii and/or Alaska? The Wall Street Journal has more on the previous incursions. And, I can't believe, per that link, that Chuck Schumer is dumb e-fucking-nough to give the full Senate a classified briefing on Feb. 15; that's going to be leaked and spun all over the place. Update: CNN has yet more — reportedly, one of the Trumpy-era balloons crossed Florida as well as Hawaii.

And, back on the snark side: Does Trump believe in "real disinformation" as well as "fake disinformation"?

As for the US doing this to China? Highly unlikely. Prevailing wind patters would mean a US balloon would have to cross most of Eurasia, including in all likelihood parts of Russia.


109 more reasons I'm not a Democrat

Per the Clerk of the House of Representatives, that would be the number of Democrat Congresscritters voting yes on a resolution "denouncing the horrors of socialism." 

NOTE: "Socialism," not "Communism."

The bill attacks not only the "obvious commies," but (natch, being sponsored by Florida Woman Maria Elvira Salazar, both Hugo Chavez and Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, and Nicaragua's Danny Ortega.

It also, in its attacks on Stalin, refers to the Holodomor. Here's the first lie, a lie by omission. By percentage of population, the collectivization death rate was higher in the Kazakh SSR than in the Ukraine.

On inflation rate? Dependent on exact survey date last year, either South Sudan or Turkey may be higher than Venezuela. The wingers also ignore that the US has partial responsibility (but not total!) for Venezuela's inflation.

Here in Tex-ass, such non-shockers as Colin Allred, Henry Cuellar, Vicente Gonzales and Mark Veasey. (And, per Kuff, there's already blather about Allred challenging Havana Ted for the Senate in 2024.) To the west, ConservaDem Gabe Vasquez of the southern district in New Mexico. Among names I know from elsewhere? Dan Kildee of Flint. Knew his dad personally; my dad knew him better.

Then there's the "present" Dems, including Peanut Butter (and Eddie Bernice) Johnson replacement Jasmine Crockett, Houston fauxgressive Sheila Jackson Lee, California's Eshoo, and The Land of Disenchantment's other two Dems — Fanta Se's Teresa Leger Fernandez and Albuquerque's Melanie Stansbury. (The Monthly somehow thinks Crockett is a pergressuve.)