more stars than in the heavens

not in our stars, but in ourselves

buzz buzz buzz roundup

Ho hum, bah humbug, and so on.  Here are things that have vexed, interested, or obsessed me lately.

1. Well, you know, the horrible forward march of this election year is pretty vexing.  The GOP side isn’t really worthy of comment, as usual, but there are some good/infuriating pieces I’ve read in the past week or so about how godawful the Democratic side is.  First of all, there was the mess in Arizona – which wasn’t, of course, the Democrats’ fault, but which led to who-knows-how-many people being forced to decide between waiting in line for five hours and going home, or to work, or to pick up their kids from childcare, or what-have-you.  You know who probably did have the luxury to stand around for an unspecified amount of time?  People with cushy jobs, or retirees, or similar.  You know: people who tend to vote for Hillary, the old and wealthy.  Maybe she still would have won Arizona if the state weren’t so FUBAR, but we’ll never know, probably, and it sucks.  While we’re dragging her, Jeb Lund cut her down to size pretty swiftly today for her fucking idiotic “plan” to defeat ISIS, which is basically “defeat ISIS.” And I hate to link to a second Rolling Stone article, since they had the goddamn temerity to endorse HRC because “now is not the time for a protest vote,” but this – from last week – is actually a pretty good look at how the New York Times fucked Bernie over.  Where the NYT goes, the rest of the mainstream follows, so that’s why we have an unapologetic warhawk currently in the lead, and why the only man who has even the faintest chance of making this country a better place is still treated like a crazy old coot most of the time.

2. One of HRC’s cheerleaders, Jonathan Chait, is a moron who thinks that because he, a white able-bodied heterosexual cis man earning a handsome salary, is doing just fine, everyone else is doing just fine, too, so stop beating the drum for “Marxism”.  Matt Bruenig very easily shuts him down:

He claims Marxist governments are inherently antagonistic to individual rights, but fails to look inward towards liberal governments to see how they have fared in that realm. It was after all liberal America that so loved individual rights that it enslaved a huge swath of its population for 250 years, ran a brutal and explicit apartheid regime for another 100 years, and then carried on apartheid-lite until the present through de facto segregation, widespread discrimination, and mass incarceration. The latter point is even a source of long-standing Bernie Sanders’ dark humor, with him noting that we incarcerate more people than communist China.

Liberal America so loves individual rights that it put together a secret police in the mid-century to infiltrate and disrupt dissident political groups, resorting even to assassinating some of the dissidents. There was also McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee, which aimed to intimidate and marginalize those with anti-capitalist views.

I didn’t have quite as sick of a burn, but I still stand by this:

He flies COACH!

He flies COACH!

3. Now let’s talk about my guy, Bernie.  I love my guy Bernie.  I have donated money to his campaign – my first time ever contributing to any candidate’s election campaign, ever – because I really, really want him to win.  Arizona was a disappointment (and a voting-rights travesty), but I’m glad he did so well in the other two states this week.  I hope he wins all the states on Saturday.  I hope he wins the nomination, in a beautiful instance of David defeating Goliath (or Hilliath).  I hope he wins the presidency.  I hope this election isn’t taking too much out of him, because I like him on a personal level, and want him to be happy and feel good about himself.  Regardless of what does or doesn’t happen, it’s awfully interesting that the Democrats abroad – many of whom are currently in countries that enjoy the kind of “Marxism” Bernie proposes, or countries that would benefit from some less interventionist foreign policy – voted overwhelmingly in his favor in their primary.  Isn’t it funny how people not subjected to the mind-numbingly, soul-deadeningly stupid mechanics of American media tend to evaluate candidates on the strength of their policy?  And isn’t it funny how Bernie, like, actually has policies to offer?  Anyway, I am still and always feelin’ the Bern, and I hope my feelings – intense as they are – somehow manifest into reality.

4. I’ve told you all about Carl Diggler, a parody of a Beltway pundit who just happens to be more accurate than any of the real pundits.  There’s a good interview with his two creators, Felix Biederman and Virgil Texas, on Reply All.  I recommend it.  Also, Biederman and two of his buddies, Will Menaker and Matt Christman, are doing a podcast called Chapo Trap House that I am enjoying quite a lot.  In fact, I enjoy it so much that I’m annoyed with myself for making plans on Saturday night, because I think I’d rather stay at home and listen to them.  Harrumph.  What is the point of having friends, anyway.

5. As I mentioned in my last post, I am attempting to learn Russian, mostly via the Duolingo app.  The big challenge has been the Cyrillic alphabet, but I’m very gradually getting the hang of it. (VERY gradually.) It’s exciting to feel all those linguistic parts of my brain light up again: millions of years ago, in high school and college, I did pretty well with French, but I sort of let it go.  I always enjoyed it, and I’m enjoying learning an entirely new language (with an entirely new alphabet! it’s hard!!!!) Duolingo is pretty good, but if I can offer one critique, it doesn’t teach any rules of grammar.  It just sort of counts on you to figure it out as you go along – which I’m not very good at.  It’s enough of a foundation for me to be able to go learn about the grammar whys and wherefores elsewhere, though, so that’s something.

6. In gym news: I finally have weightlifting chalk and compression knee sleeves.  The chalk will help me and my sweaty hands with deadlifts; the sleeves will help to support my knees when I do squats.  Compared to what the other bros do at the gym, I don’t lift especially impressive numbers – but both deadlift and squat are well over 200 lbs at this point, and I am but a fragile butterfly, so I need all the help I can get.


7. Vladimir Nabokov was a genius.  You all knew that, though.

3 comments on “buzz buzz buzz roundup

  1. You have to wonder how many people simply walked out of line and didn’t vote in Arizona, especially after the MSM called it for Hillary while they were still standing there! What a travesty. The voter suppression law that eliminated so many (what, over half? yep, just looked it up–70% eliminated!) of the polling places favors Hillary for the reasons you stated, as does early voting. People are already (or, ahem, *think* they are) familiar with Hillary, and many of them go and vote before they’ve seen Bernie ads or Bernie at a rally or Bernie covered by local media. Well, anyway, here’s an interesting article about it:

    That Taibbi piece about the NYT Bernie article is. Just. Insane. I can’t even with that. You know, I’m older than you and have been through a few more elections, and so I should perhaps have some sort of perspective and be saying, hey, it will all be fine in the end no matter what. But really, what I feel right now is that we are all so fucked. (Not giving up hope on Bernie, though. Nope. Hey, my 73 year old dad caucused for Bernie in Colorado!) [The list of things I thought I liked or kind of trusted before this election that I now no longer do: NYT, msnbc, Howard Dean . . . the list grows.]

    Good for you on the Russian! I’ve fallen quite a bit behind on my German studies, but I do use Duolingo, and that is the one site I’ve gone back to again and again for practice. It is just so easy to use, and great for dropping in to practice vocabulary and such. You definitely have to go elsewhere for grammar and deeper learning though. has a pretty comprehensive German language section with lots of good info; maybe they have the same for Russian. I also was doing lessons through Germany’s Deutsche Welle broadcasting website; Russian media might have something similar. I’m kind of amazed/surprised by how much I’ve managed to learn on my own, but at the same time if you dropped me down in Germany or Austria right now I’d be pretty useless. Their English will always be better than my German. Oh well.

    • mcwhirk
      March 25, 2016

      That article was very hope-giving, but as you say, this election year hasn’t done much to restore my faith in the mainstream. It might be time to move to Scotland.

  2. wordpooh
    March 25, 2016

    With regards to point 5, somewhere i have a couple of books on the Russian language. Your paternal grandfather took a course in it back in the day.

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