This week was Spring Break. I have never been one for “spring break” trips, both because of personal inclination and financial considerations. But, this year, we used the break for the second trip to bring wedding festivities to our family. Members of both of our families met up in Las Cruses, New Mexico, which we used as a base for exploring the Organ Mountains, White Sands, Mesilla, and other local attractions. I would particularly recommend the Zuhl Collection at New Mexico State University, which contained just a spectacular collection of petrified wood and fossils.
The combination of travel and family meant that my break hasn’t been as restful as I had hoped, but it was restorative in other ways. One of my brothers made it to this trip and I hadn’t seen him since before the pandemic started because the last two planned attempts were both disrupted by COVID. Likewise, we were able to visit friends in El Paso and see their first child who was born last year. Despite having every intention of maintaining a modestly productive routine I mostly spent my downtime at our AirBnB reading such that I finished three books and part of a fourth within the week. I can feel the words starting to burble beneath the surface again, but they’re not ready to burst forth just yet.
Now I’m back in chilly Kirksville. Yesterday I finished grading my outstanding assignments and this weekend I will be spending the time between naps putting the rest of my course materials in order for the coming week. In other words, a pretty normal weekend.
This week’s varia:
- Judge Kyle Duncan spoke at Stanford where, conservative commentators claim, he was “cancelled” by student protests. Students did protest at the event by asking him pointed questions, but they also settled in to allow him to deliver his prepared responses when he decided to pivot to question and answer and proceeded to berate the students who asked questions. Mark Joseph Stern suggests that this was Duncan’s intent all along, as an audition that would raise his profile onto a short list for the Supreme Court under the next Republican administration. Ken White (Popehat) is disgusted with everyone involved in the incident. I’m inclined to side with him in the sense that responding in kind to deliberate provocation is entirely counter-productive, which is why I have been developing a non-engagement policy on social media.
- Kate Wagner of McMansion Hell fame has a design column at The Nation. The first installment explores the rise of what she calls “griege” (gray + beige) aesthetic. She argues that it has become the dominant mode because of a confluence of factors, most notably the digital unreality of online realty and that many buyers are looking for an investment and thus are thinking about resale before ever completing the purchase.
- A home Zillow valued at $417,000 on the Outer Banks of North Carolina fell into the sea last week, leaving a 21-mile long debris trail. This marks the fourth such home in the last 13 months. The effects of climate change are already here.
- The Biden Administration is pushing for TikTok to be sold or else face a ban in the United states because of its link to the Chinese Government. This story follows the comments from a TikTok spokesperson, but it also came out this week that the company had used the location data of US journalists to try to determine who had been talking to them.
- Pro Publica has video and a story about the rise of Teneo, a conservative influence group funded by Leonard Leo. I am always struck by the conspiracy-minded nature of these groups, where they justify their own conspiracy by claiming the existence of a preexisting structure among their perceived enemies. Of course their examples rely on faceless archetypes rather than concrete examples because such a conspiracy doesn’t exist.
- Police departments have not been defunded, but, like in many other sectors, large departments are suffering from staffing shortages. This is leading to departments like that of New Orleans to realize that they need to re-tool their mandate so that they can focus on the worst types of crime and other, less dangerous, responsibilities can be passed to non-police agencies.
- Federal regulators saw problem after problem at Silicon Valley Bank more than a year ago, but acted too slowly to correct the problems. Embedded in that same story is a note about how SVB grew expansively after the rollback of the Dodd-Frank regulations. Correlation is not necessarily causation, though, and this story implies that existing regulations should have caught the problem. I am still inclined to believe that there were overlapping causes of SVB’s collapse, including regulatory failure, the particular spending practices of venture-capital funded startups, a sudden tightening of the bond market, and the particular makeup of SVB’s depositors that had an unusually-high percentage of very large accounts that made the bank vulnerable to runs.
- Former President Trump took to social media to say that he expects to be notified of an indictment next week, including in the statement comments to his supports akin to the ones he said on January 6, 2021. The little commentary I’ve seen indicates that this stems from a probe into the Stormy Daniels payoff, but this could well be rampant speculation at this point.
- The city of Newark performed a ceremony to inaugurate a sister city arrangement with the Hindu nation Kailasa, which doesn’t exist. Kailasa was invented by Swami Nithyananda, an Indian scam artist on the run from rape charges.
- A Maine resident is appealing a rejected vanity licence plate “LUVTOFU,” saying that he’s a vegan.
- ChatGPT Starting To Think Journalist Could One Day Be Capable Of Independent Thought (The Onion).
Album of the Week: Jukebox the Ghost, I Got a Girl EP (2022)
Currently Reading: Abdulrazak Gurnah, Afterlives