…sad to say [DOT 5/7/22]

& sadder still...

…so…once again it’s the morning after

A person of interest in the mass killing that targeted a Fourth of July parade in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park has been taken into custody, the Highland Park police chief said on Monday evening.

More than 100 law enforcement officers had scoured the suburb and surrounding areas after at least six people were killed when a lone gunman rained down bullets on the town’s independence celebrations on Monday morning.

Thirty people were injured in the attack, with ages ranging from eight to 85, said Dr Brigham Temple, medical director of emergency preparedness at NorthShore University health center where 26 of the injured were treated. At least four of the injured are believed to be children.

On Monday afternoon, the police chief, Lou Jogmen, identified 22-year-old Robert E Crimo III as a person of interest in the shooting […]

…&…well…that’d be again in more than one sense, even

…& not to be all misery-loves-company but while briefly toying with the idea of trying not to consistently re-use that header image I came across one that I seem to recall being able to consider funny even in the context of a global pandemic that just kind of made me feel crestfallen in what can only be described as a not very productive sort of a way

…&…not to put too fine a point on it…the fact that the murderous malcontent that seems to have been responsible for the deaths in highland park is still breathing this particular day-after-monday…while others conspicuously aren’t

…yeah…I don’t want to wind up just ranting about why the still-breathing apparent waste of oxygen with 47 inked on his face might have taken it upon himself to celebrate independence by depriving some folks of their lives, liberty & any chance they might have had to pursue happiness…or indeed “the sins of the father”

Illinois governor JB Pritzker called the shooting “evil” in a news conference in Highland Park on Monday evening. “If you are angry today, I’m here to tell you to be angry. I’m furious. I’m furious that yet more innocent lives were taken by gun violence,” he added.

“While we celebrate the Fourth of July just once a year, mass shootings have become our weekly – yes, weekly – American tradition.

“There are going to be people who say that today is not the day, that now is not the time to talk about guns. I’m telling you, there is no better day and no better time,” Pritzker said.
Joe Biden, who recently managed to get some moderate gun reform legislation through Congress, said in a statement he was “shocked by the senseless gun violence that has yet again brought grief to an American community” and pledged to do more.

“It’s commonplace now,” [Ron] Tuazon [who][spoke to the Associated Press when he returned to the site of the parade to retrieve chairs, blankets and a child’s bike that he and his family abandoned when the shooting began] said of what he called yet another American atrocity. “We don’t blink anymore. Until laws change, it’s going to be more of the same.”

…but…let’s be honest…I don’t rightly know how much “more of the same” I can take

Last week, David Frum wrote a fascinating article for The Atlantic comparing our current abortion battle to Prohibition, another contentious issue that bitterly divided the nation. After a long, “titanic” struggle, the temperance movement succeeded in imposing a nationwide ban on alcohol — only to have it decline and collapse 13 years later.
Frum was writing about the interconnectedness of restrictive impulses — and how one can be a gateway for others. Restrictions, he seemed to imply, can be complicated. Bigotry is a close cousin of prudence.
So Black people had one justification for Prohibition — freedom from a white people’s poison — but white people had another, racist one — to protect white communities from “imaginary drunken Black mobs,” as Schrad phrased it.

It is no surprise, then, that when Mississippi convened its 1890 constitutional convention to write white supremacy into the DNA of the state, one of the other orders of business was Prohibition.
Now abortion is being restricted in much the same way alcohol once was. There are many reasons for what’s happening; some of the most fervent proponents of the abortion bans can claim religious objections, and others are merely angling for a political advantage or catering to the basest instincts of the American electorate, hoping to force more white women to have children in order to prevent white people from losing their majority status. The reasons for Prohibition were just as numerous and complicated, a mess of interlocking moral and political allegiances. But there is one key difference between then and now: Black people seem to have quickly increased support for abortion rights.
The road to Prohibition, which had some Black support, even though some of its white support was infected with racism, was decades long, but Prohibition itself lasted only a little over one decade. These abortion bans had a similarly long route to fruition, but most Americans, including Black people, do not approve. How long before this unpopular repression also loses favor and falls into decline?

…however much of that might be “same as it ever was”

…& while I am very much not a lawyer…& as far as I’m aware, neither is this lady…I’m a fairly proficient reader…& as reasoning goes I’d dearly like to be able to find more fault with hers than a lack of certification by the bar

…I mean…I tend to consider myself more by way of a consistently-disappointed optimist than a pessimist…but even if it’s true I’m not sure I feel like I’m getting the advertised benefits?

A number of studies have shown that optimists enjoy higher levels of well-being, better sleep, lower stress and even better cardiovascular health and immune function. And now, a study links being an optimist to a longer life.
[I]n 2019, the researchers followed up with the participants who were still living. They also looked at the life span of participants who had died. What they found was that those who had the highest levels of optimism were more likely to live longer. More important, the optimists were also more likely than those who were pessimists to live into their nineties. Researchers refer to this as “exceptional longevity,” considering the average life span for women in developed countries is about 83 years.

What makes these findings especially impressive is that the results remained even after accounting for other factors known to predict a long life — including education level and economic status, ethnicity and whether a person suffered from depression or other chronic health conditions.

But given that the study looked only at women, it’s uncertain whether the same would be true for men. But another study looking at both men and women also found that people with the highest levels of optimism enjoyed a life span that was between 11 and 15 percent longer than those who were the least optimistic.
[A] possible reason could be the way optimists manage stress. When faced with a stressful situation, optimists tend to deal with it head-on. They use adaptive coping strategies that help them resolve the source of the stress, or view the situation in a less stressful way. For example, optimists will problem-solve and plan ways to deal with the stressor, call on others for support or try to find a “silver lining” in the stressful situation.

[T]hese approaches are well known to reduce feelings of stress, as well as the biological reactions that occur when we feel stressed. It’s these biological reactions to stress — such as elevated cortisol (sometimes called the “stress hormone”), increased heart rate and blood pressure, and impaired immune system functioning — that can take a toll on health over time and increase the risk for developing life-threatening illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease. In short, the way optimists cope with stress might help protect them somewhat against its harmful effects.

…seriously…the prospect that finding life’s conditions threatening can bootstrap its way to being a life-threatening condition is pretty much the very last kind of irony I want to find myself at home to…so…why am I still typing yet another of these misery-laden posts up?

Research shows optimism can change over time and can be cultivated by engaging in simple exercises. For example, visualizing and then writing about your “best possible self” (a future version of yourself who has accomplished your goals) is a technique that studies have found can significantly increase optimism, at least temporarily. But for best results, the goals need to be both positive and reasonable, rather than just wishful thinking. Similarly, simply thinking about positive future events can also be effective for boosting optimism.

It’s also crucial to temper any expectations for success with an accurate view of what you can and cannot control. Optimism is reinforced when we experience the positive outcomes that we expect, but it can decrease when these outcomes aren’t as we want them to be. Although more research is needed, it’s possible that regularly envisioning yourself as having the best possible outcomes, and taking realistic steps toward achieving them, can help develop an optimistic mind-set.

…after all…it’s not like there’s an easy path to any particular expectation of positive outcomes with a lot of the stuff I end up fitting into these…just take that twitter thread, for example

…that’s…no kind of a recipe for optimism, you might think…but…apparently the kind of optimism that might actually have these possibly life-extending qualities comes with a catch…it needs to be realistic optimism

It’s also crucial to temper any expectations for success with an accurate view of what you can and cannot control. Optimism is reinforced when we experience the positive outcomes that we expect, but it can decrease when these outcomes aren’t as we want them to be. Although more research is needed, it’s possible that regularly envisioning yourself as having the best possible outcomes, and taking realistic steps toward achieving them, can help develop an optimistic mind-set.

Of course, this might be easier said than done for some. If you’re someone who isn’t naturally optimistic, the best chance to improve your longevity entails living a healthy lifestyle by staying physically active, eating a healthy diet, managing stress and getting a good night’s sleep. Add to this cultivating a more optimistic mind-set and you might further increase your chances for a long life.
[This article was originally published on theconversation.com.]

…& if that part about the good night’s sleep is on the money…well…could be it’s too late for me…but I’d like to think the rest of you folks are still in with a shot at a bit of optimistic longevity

“A nation’s character, like that of an individual, is elusive,” Kennedy said. “It is produced partly by things we have done and partly by what has been done to us. It is the result of physical factors, intellectual factors, spiritual factors. … In peace, as in war, we will survive or fail according to its measure.”

What does our national portrait look like on this Independence Day? Many of us see an angry, traumatized face, rather than the radiant glow of the Founders. That’s the odd thing about this hyperpartisan moment: Nearly every American, whatever their political perspective, has a foreboding that the country they love is losing its way.

How great is the danger of national decline? The Pentagon’s in-house think tank, which has the mysterious name “Office of Net Assessment,” commissioned a study of the problem by Michael J. Mazarr, a senior political scientist at the Rand Corp. It was just published, under the title, “The Societal Foundations of National Competitiveness.” It’s hardly upbeat summer reading, but it can be downloaded free online, and it’s well worth the time.

…although…once again…that doesn’t exactly make this stuff pleasant reading

America remains an opportunity society, in principle, but Mazarr sees growing constraints. He cites the evidence of rising inequality. Between 2001 and 2016, the median net worth of the middle class fell 20 percent, and that of the working class plummeted 45 percent. He notes evidence that in each generation since 1945, children have been less likely to make more money than their parents.

These problems are obvious, but government hasn’t been willing or able to correct them. Mazarr quotes a World Bank assessment of gradually declining “governance effectiveness” in the United States over the past 20 years. It isn’t just a government problem, though. Private-sector productivity has been stagnant for decades, and corporations struggle with bureaucracy and bloat. Universities spend nearly as much on administration as teaching, and administrative costs account for a third of total health-care spending.

…but in common with many of the things that give rise to sayings like “nothing worth doing is easily done”…optimism might be the sort of thing that requires work

Part of America’s DNA is the idea that our problems are fixable. I’m still in that party of optimists. But I found Mazarr’s conclusions chilling. When countries begin to fail, he argues, “it is a negative-feedback loop, a poisonous synergy.” The energy that could reverse decline becomes sapped by mistrust and misinformation. Some people get so angry they want to burn the house down and start over.

…so…maybe listening to folks who know a bit about “doing the work” wouldn’t be a bad idea

…& remember that “hasn’t happened” =|= “never gonna happen”

…after all…they say it pays to “consider the source”

Meanwhile, economic disparity continues to widen. In 2020, Pew reported that the middle class has been shrinking since the early 1970s. Since the 1980s the biggest spike in income has occurred for the top 5 percent of earners in America. The report concludes that over the past five decades — the whole course of our lives for many of us — there’s been a “long and steady rise in income inequality.” Still, despite the popularity of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in the 2020 Democratic primary, a Pew report from the same year said that while a majority of Americans think there is “too much economic inequality” in the nation, fewer than half view this as a top political priority. The report also said that Republicans are likely to blame individuals rather than systemic forces for economic inequality, citing lifestyle choices or that “some people work harder than others.”

But how would our contemporary understanding of politics change if economic justice is in fact a “traditional value”? The indifference Christians on the right often show about wealth disparity flies in the face of thousands of years of Christian teachings. While Christians throughout church history cared deeply about sexual and personal morality, the linchpin of a Christian vision of the social order was the flourishing of the economically disadvantaged. When church leaders across the ages cited evidence of social disorder, they consistently pointed to vast economic inequality.

It’s not news that Christianity, like many other religions, values care for the poor. Throw a dart at the Bible and you are likely to hit a verse about the need to aid the vulnerable, to care for orphans and widows, to love the “least of these.” And most conservative Christians today would affirm the value of individual charity. But what strikes me as I listen to voices across history is not just that Christian leaders called for charity toward the poor but that they also emphasized economic justice. The poor were not simply those masses that we must patronizingly remember in our Christmas giving; they were entitled to material well-being. The rich were denounced as being in grave spiritual danger. Beyond that, the church proclaimed that society — including the government — had a responsibility to rein in greed and to ensure just distribution of wealth.
If we don’t talk about economic justice, if we aren’t passionate about curbing extreme wealth inequality, we are proffering an emaciated view of Christian political engagement, one shaped more by contemporary American discourse than the long history of the church.

…so…I don’t know…but there’s every indication that willful ignorance is a thriving resource to a lot of interests I’d as soon see being as disappointed as I have to admit I feel some days…& I can think of worse things to pursue than some similarly wilful (& perhaps more pointedly, determined) optimism?

To me, the callous cruelty of our founders — at least 34 of the 56 men who signed the declaration also enslaved human beings — is less remarkable than what they set in motion, however contradictory. They initiated a grand, complicated experiment with self-government that made possible abolition and suffrage, worker’s rights and civil rights and women’s rights, however slowly and unevenly. More astounding still, Black people and brown people, the Indigenous and the immigrant, L.G.B.T.Q. people and people with disabilities, all claimed the American project as our own and expanded the circle of inclusion and opportunity.

Our founders bequeathed to us something radical, something unprecedented: the tools with which to build a multiracial, multiethnic, pluralist democracy that extends the privilege of American identity to all.
But I fear we are mired in a culture of absolutism and tearing ourselves apart at the seams.

Everything right now, it seems, is black or white, all or nothing, perfect or unacceptable. Every venue has become a theater for performatively asserting our own virtue or righteousness, or for denying someone else’s. The so-called microaggressions keep getting smaller, the disproportionate penalties bigger. Nuance and complexity, let alone compromise, are nowhere to be found. In their place is a pervasive, paralyzing cynicism. And in turn, our extreme challenges remain extremely unsolved.

Even among those with whom we largely agree, we’ve normalized intolerance and incivility. Among those with whom we disagree, we shame and cancel. We dehumanize and demonize.

Certainly, not everyone is equally culpable or complicit. To suggest that the people and groups denigrating human rights and human dignity are somehow on equal footing with those of us defending them is wrong. This would imply a false moral equivalence.
At the same time, at least one outcome of the breakdown is clear and present for us all: a toxicity that threatens to asphyxiate our democracy. Across our country, a foul spirit of nihilism has displaced a forgiving spirit of grace.
Our founders knew from experience: The alternative to tolerance was violence, the religious and ethnic strife that had bloodied centuries of European history. Make no mistake: The future could hold the same in store for us.

How do we forestall this tragedy? By rediscovering and recommitting to our American identity, to these truths we still hold: Out of many, we are one — because we believe in what Frederick Douglass called “absolute equality.” We believe in equal representation, equal rights and equal justice; that happiness is a pursuit, not an achievement, realized through self-determination, but also tolerance, generosity and reason.

To be sure, some dismiss this tradition as fruit from a poisoned tree, and the facts are undeniable. The United States’ history as a functioning democracy only began in 1965, when President Lyndon Johnson signed legislation to guarantee the franchise — and even the Voting Rights Act’s protections are now imperiled in many states, as other fundamental rights are thrown into new jeopardy.
One of our hard truths is that, as the poet says, America has never been America. Another truth is that it can be still, and it must be, and it will be — if we renew our fidelity to the values that bind us, both despite and because of our differences.

…I get that it might not sound like much…but…

…words to live by?

[…I’ll try to find a few tunes that don’t entirely undercut anything resembling a point that might have stumbled into view on the way down here]

[P.S. …if you’re wondering what a band thought it was doing naming itself the levellers…wellthe lilac association of that sam vimes story I mentioned in a comment recently had me thinking about the rosemary-based parallel I assume pratchett was at least winking at…which brought them to mind?]



  1. Epic DOT today, RIP. I have nothing to add other than the Federalist Society is a terrorist organization and they’re now running the country. It’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better, if it does get better.

    I need to read up on why Clarence Thomas has the massive level of self-loathing he must have to actively subjugate other Black people, in addition to women, LBGTQ+, indigenous, and all the other groups whose rights he’s dealt, or is planning to deal, crippling blows. I’m guessing it’s some form of mental illness, but I’m not familiar with it.

    • …nor, it must be said, did I…indeed I’m not altogether clear how I stumbled on that thread…but I am something of a sucker for people who appear to have done their homework…so I might be now?

      • I have never read anything by her but I know who she is because one of my friends is a historical romance writer and is in the RWA (Romance Writers of America). I was looking over her bibliography and I think if I were to start reading her I’d begin with Once Upon a Marquess (2015). As it happens, I came very close to being once upon a Marquess, but that was many years ago and he wasn’t actually a Marquess, just a young Englishman with a couple of centuries’ worth of familial land and wealth spread among his various family members.

        • She’s one of my fave authors and her books are amazing!

          Also she’s smart as fuck and when the RWA imploded over being called out for supporting white authors being racist but silencing non-white authors being like “hiiiiii can you just … not be racist?”, she was front and center in the bullshitery of it all.

      • Courtney is AWESOME, @SplinterRip!😉😁🤗💖

        And she *IS* a real honest-to-god-Lawyer, in addition to being a Romance Writer, Cat-owned person, and general-all-around Good-troublemaker & badass😁

        She KNOWS what she’s talking about, in regards to the USSC, since she clerked at the court, for Lady Day herself-Sandra Day O’Connor.

        She *also* nearly ended up clerking for Scania, instead, but thank GOD, didn’t end up selling her soul, and “winning” that poisoned apple!

        She was also one of the MANY who talked about her time clerking for Kavanaugh-mentor & known human turd-bucket/predator, Judge Alex Kozinski


    • …thank you kindly…there was a time that stuff played pretty frequently in my vicinity…but I think I might be sharing that boat of yours…& it did occur to me to wonder whether they might not be everybody’s cup of tea, so to speak…so that’s something of a relief to hear?

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