Well done, Harvard

• Congratulations to Harvard for being unafraid to face its legacy of slavery, and even more impressively, to act in deed as well as word with a $100 million commitment to help with the work of “reckoning and repair.” The full report of the committee charged with examining the subject and making recommendations is here.  I’m happy they have joined other universities in acknowledging truth and responsibility. From the report:

“Harvard must set a powerful example as it reckons with its own past. We must pursue not only truth, vital though that is, but also reconciliation. Doing so requires a range of actions—visible and continuing—that address the harms of slavery and its legacies, many of which still reverberate today, affecting descendants of slavery in the community and indeed the nation.

These actions must include monetary and nonmonetary efforts.⁠ Slavery was a system that, through violence, deprived the enslaved of the value of their own labor, creating a persistent multigenerational racial wealth gap that continues to disadvantage descendants of the enslaved. And the legacies of slavery—exclusion, segregation, marginalization, criminalization, disenfranchisement, and more—compounded its damage. The economic and social costs of categorical exclusion from and discrimination in education—not only but perhaps especially at Harvard—are profound.”

2022-04-26T16:36:04-05:00April 26th, 2022|HomeRecommended|

Republicans seem to have no real policy ideas (they want to openly express, at any rate)

• Paul Krugman’s column in the NYT, Republicans Say, ‘Let Them Eat Hate’, is worth a read.  An excerpt:

“...a real and important problem: The unraveling of society in Appalachia and more broadly for a significant segment of the white working class. Yet neither Vance nor, as far as I can tell, any other notable figure in the Republican Party is advocating any real policies to address this problem. They’re happy to exploit white working-class resentment; but when it comes to doing anything to improve their supporters’ lives, their implicit slogan is, “Let them eat hate.”…I’d say that G.O.P. campaigning in 2022 is all culture war, all the time, except that this would be giving Republicans too much credit. They aren’t fighting a real culture war, a conflict between rival views of what our society should look like; they’re riling up the base against phantasms, threats that don’t even exist.

2022-04-19T15:12:40-05:00April 19th, 2022|HomeRecommended|

On smart packaging…

This was an interesting and hopeful description of a biodegradable material with some intrinsic antibacterial activity that in tests outperformed the typical plastic fruit boxes used to package strawberries. It’s composed of a mesh of nanoscale fibers made from zein (from corn gluten meal) and other bio-polymers that can be extracted from food waste.  Cool stuff!  Now if only they can bring it to market – anything to help reduce the burden of environmental plastic is a plus.  It was a cooperative effort from Harvard’s Chan School of Public Health and Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, with a brief description here from the Chan School, and academic paper describing the work here.

2022-04-18T12:59:24-05:00April 18th, 2022|Home, Musings|

Gotta love it (?just desserts)

• It may be schadenfreude on my part, but I gotta love it; as reported by Sandali Handagama at Coindesk:

A non-fungible token (NFT) of Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s first-ever tweet could sell for just under $280. The current owner of the NFT listed it for $48 million last week.

Iranian-born crypto entrepreneur Sina Estavi purchased the NFT for $2.9 million in March 2021. Last Thursday, he announced on Twitter that he wished to sell the NFT, and pledged 50% of its proceeds (which he thought would exceed $25 million) to charity. The auction closed Wednesday, with just seven total offers ranging from 0.09 ETH ($277 at current prices) to 0.0019 ETH (almost $6).

“The deadline I set was over, but if I get a good offer, I might accept it, I might never sell it,” Estavi told CoinDesk via a WhatsApp message on Wednesday.

Let’s see, that’s a net of, oh about -$2,900,000.  Ouch.  Maybe Elon can tweet about it.

2022-04-14T18:50:34-05:00April 14th, 2022|HomeRecommended|

Nice job, Matt…

• Another good, thought-provoking post (Mancur Olson at the End of History) from Matt Yglesias in his Slow Boring Substack newsletter. Some excerpts:

“So along with all the Ukrainian flag pins, the west ought to be taking action on energy policy:
1. Subsidizing the purchase of electric cars and e-bikes.
2. Raising gasoline taxes and using the revenue to cut payroll taxes.
3. Canceling and reversing planned shutdowns of nuclear power plants.
4. Tearing down regulatory barriers to long-distance electrical transmission lines, geothermal exploration, advanced nuclear, and to permitting new utility-scale wind and solar warms.
5. Either outright barring European imports of Russian natural gas or at least placing stiff taxes and quotas on how much can be imported.”


“But despite a ton of big talk from western leaders, we are so far not really doing any of this.”


“It’s not like there is a single Republican Party elected official who is volunteering to give the Biden administration political cover on gas prices and say “look, we can disagree on abortion rights and government spending while also acknowledging that a surge in energy prices is worth it to beat the Russians.” Nor are Biden’s supporters among environmental groups volunteering to give him a pass on supporting domestic oil and gas production or urging him to go all-in on nuclear. The economic war on Russia is half-assed not because each national leader has independently decided to half-ass it, but because all of our societies are experiencing demosclerosis and simply can’t choose to act decisively on the Russia issue. We lack the capacity.”

2022-04-07T15:27:30-05:00April 7th, 2022|HomeRecommended|

What a difference 160 years makes; republicans then and now

From Heather Cox Richardson’s Letters from an American April 6 post:

“During the Civil War, when faced with a mounting debt in their fight to protect the government, the Republicans invented the U.S. income tax in order, as Senate Finance Committee chair William Pitt Fessenden (R-ME) said, to make sure that tax burdens would “be more equalized on all classes of the community, more especially on those who are able to bear them.” Representative Thaddeus Stevens (R-PA) agreed, saying: “It would be manifestly unjust to allow the large money operators and wealthy merchants, whose incomes might reach hundreds of thousands of dollars, to escape from their due proportion of the burden.””

contrast that with:

“On February 26, Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) gave a speech in which he said “We survived the war of 1812, Civil War, World War I and World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the Cold War,” but “[t]oday, we face the greatest danger we have ever faced: The militant left-wing in our country has become the enemy within.” He claimed: “The woke Left now controls the Democrat Party. The entire federal government, the news media, academia, big tech, Hollywood, most corporate boardrooms, and now even some of our top military leaders… They want to end the American experiment. They want to replace freedom with control.””

Someone please stop the insanity.

2022-04-07T12:35:48-05:00April 7th, 2022|Home, Musings|

Linda Greenhouse on the Jackson confirmation hearings

• Once more, Linda Greenhouse in the NYT masterfully opines on Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Senate confirmation hearings (How Low Will Senate Republicans Go on Ketanji Brown Jackson?).  Her conclusion:

“But here’s a judgment I can make with confidence: If and when Senators Cruz, Graham and the rest of them seek redemption for their behavior last week, they won’t find it.”

I’d also recommend Frank Bruni’s writings on the fantastical textings of Ginni Thomas in the Times.  An excerpt:

“There’s no entertaining the thought that a majority of your fellow Americans may not share your views. In an age of extreme narcissism, that’s unimaginable, impossible, phantasmagorical.

If the polls cast you in the minority, they’re wrong. If the vote runs contrary to your desires, it’s rigged. Or those fellow Americans just don’t matter, not like you do. You’re on the side of the angels. They’re trying to shepherd everyone into the abyss.”

2022-04-02T09:57:54-05:00April 2nd, 2022|HomeRecommended|
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