Weekend reading

The new shingles shot, Shingrix, is notorious for having fairly frequent side effects, including flulike symptoms, chills, etc. It’s a series of two, given 2-6 months apart, and is recommended for everyone over 50, so get yours. Despite possible side effects, it beats shingles! (I’ve heard horror stories from people who have had this outbreak.) At any rate, I had my first shot yesterday and now, about 20 hours later, have a bit of chills and a sore arm. Nothing serious, but I’m going to go light on the posts today so I can rest and summon up the energy to feed the many ducks (now about 45!) in Botany Pond.

At any rate, I have three items today that I call to your attention. Coincidentally (?), all are about the dangers of extreme Woke Leftism.  I won’t comment on them except to give a brief idea of the contents, as you should evaluate them for yourself. And I’ll ask readers to share links to things they’re reading online.

The first piece is a long blog post for the Santa Monica Bay Audubon Society by Chuck Almdale, who wrote this post as “Chukar” (but put his name at the bottom of the post, reproduced with permission here). It’s a dissection of the controversy about the upcoming renaming of American birds, one that I touched on briefly in two recent posts.  In particular, my posts and Chuck’s center on the renaming of McCown’s Longspur as the Thick-billed Longspur. The reason? McCown fought for the Confederacy. Almdale gives 13 reasons why the renaming was unwarranted, among which is that there seems to be no evidence that John McCown had slaves or was a racist (there are many reasons why soldiers fought for the Confederacy besides “defending slavery”). If simply fighting for the Confederacy for reasons unknown makes you an Unperson and effaces your accomplishments (and, ornithologically, McCown was accomplished), then we’re going to have to erase a lot of people.

At any rate, Almdale’s piece is long, and veers off into tangential explication of social-justice warriorism and its sequelae, but if you’re just interested in the ongoing bird controversy—148 more birds are going to be renamed because they’re named after white people and therefore “bear the stench of colonialism“—you can read the intro, the 13 reasons, and look at the tweets for and against the change. Who would have guessed that Wokeness would invade the bird community? Well, if it did down knitting, I suppose nothing is immune.

This article from the Times Literary Supplement is unusual in two respects: it’s free and it’s against Cancel Culture (the TLS is usually woke). A poem that appeared in Poetry Magazine was canceled (effaced from the online version and, apparently, with the paper copies withdrawn) because it contained the word “Negress,” even though the poem, called “Scholls Ferry Road”, was simply recounting a term used by the poet’s grandmother. Not only that, but the editor of the magazine apologized cravenly and then resigned. Click on the screenshot to read about the fracas, which is the first part of a two-part column. (The second is about the French writer and filmmaker Alain Robbe-Grillet.)

I think of The Atlantic Magazine as a Leftist organ—not one that would publicize the excesses of the Left, but I may be wrong. Viz., read the piece below by staff writer Conor Friedersdorf. (Wikipedia describes him this way, “In an interview with journalist Matt Lewis, Friedersdorf stated that he has right-leaning views but that he does not consider himself to be a doctrinal conservative or a member of the conservative movement.” But the entry also notes that Friedersdorf has called for the abolition of ICE and and “has praised Peggy McIntosh‘s essay White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.“) 

The piece below recounts a controversy I was unaware of, involving “screen schools” (New York schools that funnel talented students, determined from testing into their classrooms) and, oddly, a white school board member who bounced a black child in his lap during a virtual meeting. I’ll leave you to read about Bouncegate:

So, what have you read online that is interesting and worth calling to the attention of readers? Put the links and maybe a few words in the comments.

 

85 Comments

  1. jezgrove
    Posted August 22, 2020 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    “summon up the energy to feed the many ducks (now about 45!)” – good grief!

    • Posted August 22, 2020 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

      Tell me about it. I can’t feed Dorothy, her babies, or Honey without giving them all something. And try to pick out those eight ducks for special treatment in a milling throng of hungry mallards.

      OY!

      • jezgrove
        Posted August 22, 2020 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

        Ah well, the end is in sight (unlike the bl**dy pandemic)!

        • Posted August 22, 2020 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

          You still have a few years to go! At least ducklings do not need feeding by the parents… moorhens need more parental care.

          • jezgrove
            Posted August 22, 2020 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

            I meant the current duck farming seasons.

            • jezgrove
              Posted August 22, 2020 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

              Season!

  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted August 22, 2020 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    I do not recall any chills but the sore arm was pretty strong for a couple of days. More so than any other shots I have had and I’ve had plenty.

    • GBJames
      Posted August 22, 2020 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

      Same here. I had no chilled but I did take a nice long name in the daytime. I never do that, but…

    • Posted August 22, 2020 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

      Kudos to you Jerry for getting this shot. My wife had shingles. You do not want to mess with that; just about any price is worth it.

  3. Dragon
    Posted August 22, 2020 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Got my first Shingrix on Aug 4. If I hadn’t been warned about a possible sore arm, I don’t think I would have recognized that it was a little sore. I would have thought it was just a normal ache I sometimes get.

  4. Posted August 22, 2020 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    You do not want shingles; I had them at 43 and I am now 55. It has permanently damaged my nerves and I am very often in pain. I have early symptoms of glaucoma, which my doctor believes to be caused my shingles outbreak. My boss’s mom had shingles and it attacked one eye. She lost her eye sight in that eye. I tell everyone I know who has had chicken pox that they need to get their shingles vaccine.

    • Raskos
      Posted August 22, 2020 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

      My attack was a year ago and it laid me pretty low for about two months – not so much the pain (although it was painful) but the lassitude. From the sound of it, yours was worse than mine – my sympathies. I still get some pain in the dermatomes that were affected, but nothing major.
      PCC (Emeritus) was wise to get the vaccination.

    • Posted August 22, 2020 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

      Nasty! Likewise Covid19 can cause nerve damage. It seems I was lucky. But why does it only affect one side???

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted August 22, 2020 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

        Shingles is the chickenpox virus (varicella, a herpes virus) laying latent in one nerve ganglion, that is ‘awakening’ again. Dermatomes are ‘serviced’ by one ganglion per side, hence only one side.

        For Julia: If your eye is involved, we’re talking Trigeminal nerve, the fifth cranial nerve (n V), a sensory nerve. In the Trigeminal ganglion it splits in three branches: Ophthalmic V-1, Maxillary V-2 and Mandibular V-3. The V-1 branch services forehead, high temple, upper lid and nose, and indeed the eye. The naso-ciliary nerve (a branch of V-1) in particular. If the tip of the nose is involved (Hutchinson’s sign) there is a high risk of ocular involvement (uveitis: inflammation of iris and ciliary body among others) and from there secondary glaucoma.
        Note: the ophthalmic nerve (n V-1) should not be confounded with the optic nerve (n II), the visual nerve.

        For the neuralgia the best treatment is a Stellate ganglion (aka thoraco-cervical ganglion) block in your neck. It blocks the ortho-sympathetic fibers (autonomous nervous system) from firing and stimulating the Trigeminal ganglion. If done in the acute phase it does not only give immediate and definitive (the latter quite mysteriously) pain relief, it also prevents post-herpetic neuralgia. [Personally I think that not offering a Stellate ganglion block in these patients borders on negligence, especially since the pain can be excruciating and debilitating].

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted August 23, 2020 at 11:28 am | Permalink

          As a migraine sufferer I can tell you that the last thing you want is trigeminal myopathy. It is horrible to have that trigeminal nerve pain.

          • Nicolaas Stempels
            Posted August 23, 2020 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

            I’m not sure what a Trigeminal myopathy is, we’re talking Trigeminal neuralgia.
            Migraine is not considered to be a neuralgia as far as I know (but believe me, there is a lot I don’t know)

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted August 23, 2020 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

              Migraine often involves the excitement of the trigeminal nerve. So, for example, when I get a migraine, the pain begins with a stiff neck and then travels up the back of my head on one side and into the eye, check, and jaw. It’s classic trigeminal nerve involvement with migraine.

              So, my comment was having experienced that (4-8 times per month) I have no desire to have anything go wrong with my trigeminal nerve (which includes myopathy which I’m told is constant, terrible pain).

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted August 23, 2020 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

              And I may have misled you as you meant “neuropathy” when I said “myopathy”. I should have just said “screwed up nerves that result in pain”. Happily, I just had (another) nerve conductivity test & my neurologist says I don’t have neuropathy (which I really already knew anyway but it’s nice to have a good test).

    • Posted August 22, 2020 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

      I read your piece on that – virtual hugs! Happy retirement in 9 months! I got retired in the middle of lock-up not that I wanted it. Now feel rather lost… 😕

      • Posted August 22, 2020 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

        Thank you. It must be very hard to be retired before you wanted to be retired. I wish you the best and I hope that things get better for you soon. 🤗

    • Steve Pollard
      Posted August 22, 2020 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

      I’m very sorry to hear of your dreadful experience. I caught chickenpox at 33 and was pretty ill. Since then I have had three bouts of shingles, one of them fairly debilitating, although thankfully nothing for 15 years. I wasn’t aware of Shingrix, and I’m not even sure if it’s available in the UK. I’ll take your advice and get the jab if possible.

      • Posted August 23, 2020 at 11:11 am | Permalink

        You have my sincere sympathy for the pain you have gone through. I hope the UK has a shingles vaccination that you can take.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted August 23, 2020 at 11:23 am | Permalink

      OMG that is just dreadfully awful! I try to urge people to get the shingles vaccine as well just for what you describe…I’m sorry you had to suffer through it instead of being like me and knowing it only through anecdotes.

      It is important to note that you got shingles in your 40s. This seems to be more and more common now. I read an article that speculated that the increase frequency of younger people developing shingles is because, ironically, of the small pox vaccine. Because we are no longer exposed to people with small pox after we have gone through it and developed immunity, the virus pops out in us earlier. It seemed an interesting speculation.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted August 23, 2020 at 11:23 am | Permalink

        And I meant chicken pox. A pox on all poxes.

      • Posted August 23, 2020 at 11:29 am | Permalink

        I had chicken pox when I was in 7th grade. Everyone was catching it then. It is an interesting thought that because people are not exposed after having chicken pox they are more likely to have shingles earlier.

        • Nicolaas Stempels
          Posted August 23, 2020 at 11:59 am | Permalink

          I doubt that is true, Diana correctly stated it was a speculation. Not impossible though, there still is much we do not know.

        • Nicolaas Stempels
          Posted August 23, 2020 at 11:59 am | Permalink

          I doubt that is true, Diana correctly stated it was a speculation. Not impossible though, there still is much we do not know.

        • merilee
          Posted August 23, 2020 at 11:59 am | Permalink

          I think I got it a little bit younger than you and had to miss out on either Easter egg or Halloween collecting of candy.

        • Posted August 23, 2020 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

          I had Chicken Pox during the first week of my Freshman year of High School and totally missed all orientation. That might have been why I always felt like an alien.

  5. jezgrove
    Posted August 22, 2020 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    That piece in The Atlantic was beyond belief! What on earth do these nuts think their posturing is doing to actually advance the benefit of the people they claim to be supporting? A white guy helping out his friend by taking care of her black child for a couple of minutes – that must be the first sign of racism, obviously…

  6. DrBrydon
    Posted August 22, 2020 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been expanding my online reading: Coleman Hughes “A Better Anti-Racism”, Matt Taibbi “Our Man in Cambridge”, Molly Brigid McGrath “Sacrificial Politics and Sacred Victims”.

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

      I continue to make the mistake of reading about six online newspapers. Otherwise, I’m reading old-fashioned paper books: a comparative mythologies, The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde, and can’t remember the rest. I usually have four or five books going at the same time. My son and I are also watching the series “Bosch” and have completed year three; three more to go. This is based on a character (policeman in LA) created by Michael Connelly.

      • merilee
        Posted August 23, 2020 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

        Love the Bosch series, books and film.

  7. Posted August 22, 2020 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    The thing I saw that I find disturbing is the release of modified mosquitoes in Florida.
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-53856776
    I share concerns over this for a number of reasons…
    Mosquitoes are an important part of ecosystems, particularly where we have already modified the environment. They pollinate for example. Can we be certain that modified genes will not spread to other species? How sure can we be that natural selection will not subvert the process? Finally, the law of unintended consequences – who knows what may happen?

    I had shingles last year. I had no idea what it was – tiny pustules on the front left side of my torso & hyper-sensitive skin. It was only a week or more in that I worked it out. I had heard of shingles but it did not mean anything to me as I had never paid attention. I think in the UK an injection is not routine unless you are in your 70s.

    Pustules – that is a great word! 😬

    • EdwardM
      Posted August 22, 2020 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

      “They pollinate for example.”

      Male mosquitoes are pollinators, it’s the females who are the spawn of the devil. The species targeted here, Aedes aegypti, is not the only species of mosquito in Florida, but it is this species which carries Zika, dengue and other hemorrhagic fever viruses.

      “Can we be certain that modified genes will not spread to other species?”

      This is called horizontal gene transfer (HGT) and it does happen (it is important in limited ways in evolution, but is very rare in eukaryotes). This mosquito has been studied for the past 10 years in both laboratory settings and in the wild in smaller releases. The modified gene is self limiting by preventing the mosquitoes from reaching sexual maturity – it is a self-regulating gene, called rTav, a transcription factor, which in this animal is mutated so that it is disregulated and binds to all transcription binding sites, completely shutting down gene transcrition and thus the animal dies*. So it is not surprising there is no evidence of HGT. The possibility is not zero, but since the gene kills the animal before it reaches sexual maturity, the rate of HGT must be far lower than the normal rate. Which means the wild mosquitoes (and other insects) are far more likely to undergo HGT from animals in their natural environment than they are from these Adeles.

      To me HGT is the only (faintly) legitimate argument against using this technology. YMMV, of course.

      “How sure can we be that natural selection will not subvert the process?”

      I have no idea what this means. Subvert what process? Remember, the gene acts to kill the animals before they reach maturity. If they cannot breed (because they’re dead) they are not subject to Natural Selection. However, mutations happen and the rTav gene could become inactivated…. in which case we wind up with wildtype Aedes.

      “Finally, the law of unintended consequences – who knows what may happen?”

      Of course this is an objection to absolutely every course of action one may take; as a guide it is very nearly useless.

      *one may ask; “how the hell did they get 750 million of them to release then”? Well, the rTav protein binds tetracycline which, in turn, prevents rTav from shutting down transcription and the animals survive.

      • GBJames
        Posted August 22, 2020 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

        Thanks, Edward for the explanation of how this works.

      • Posted August 22, 2020 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

        HGT was what I was talking about – I was not sure of that in larger species rather than bacteria for example.

        Yes I was not clear on those last two points. I blame typing on iPhone which is tedious. I mean natural selection has a way of getting around ‘interference’ if you like, by selecting those resistant. If there is one male that it does not work on, or that has some different protein possibility ( if that is possible) that male will have off spring etc.

        The idea of creating mosquitoes that are not able to carry the plasmodium or whatever parasite seems more interesting.

        Good answer though! 👍

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted August 23, 2020 at 11:35 am | Permalink

        Thanks for this interesting explanation. It’s why it’s great to read the WEIT comments.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted August 22, 2020 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      Yes, these herpes zoster pustules are small, and come in clusters. When broken or burst, the resulting ulceration is described as having a typical ‘mouse nibbled’ border, nearly pathognomonic.

  8. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 22, 2020 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    As for recommendations, mine would be the short, lyrical anti-racist essay, untainted by wokeism, written by Caroline Randall Williams that appeared a few weeks ago in The New York Times Magazine: “You Want a Confederate Monument? My Body is a Confederate Monument.”

    Reading it reminded me of how I felt 40-odd years ago, the first time I read James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time.

  9. Blue
    Posted August 22, 2020 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    A name with her recent death anniversary w o r t h y
    of our remembering: Ms VASHTI CROMWELL McCollum.
    What a brave individual ! Downstate Illinois.

    Ms VASHTI CROMWELL McCollum ( 06 November y1912 –
    20 August y2006 ) was the plaintiff in the
    landmark y1948 Supreme Court case of
    McCollum v Board of Education … … which,
    THANKFULLY, struck down religious education
    in public schools. That is, not only was it
    UNconstitutional but also as Mr Hitchens’
    rightfully pronounced thusly and generally,
    ” Religious education is … … child abuse. ”

    https://wiki2.org/en/Vashti_McCollum

    Blue

  10. John Nunes
    Posted August 22, 2020 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    I had the Shingrix vaccine and got shingles anyway, but I’m likely an outlier. First item is that I didn’t get the second shot until I was out of the recommended interval to get it, because it became unavailable due to sudden very high demand. Second is that I have a lymphoma have had an autologous stem cell transplant. Third is that I’m under a chronic immunotherapy for the lymphoma that causes some compromised immune function. I was fortunate to have a mild case of shingles, but it was near one of my eyes and there was some inflammation if the eye. All is resolved, but I now take a low dose of aycyclovir daily to help insure I don’t get shingles again. I hope this helps with a bit of perspective.

    • GBJames
      Posted August 22, 2020 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

      I, too, wasn’t able to get my second shingrex vaccination until well after the advisory window… due to shortages. I hope I’ve gained immunity but, with luck, won’t find that the answer is “no”.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted August 22, 2020 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

        I remember that as we were getting the vaccine at the same time.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted August 22, 2020 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

      My dad’s friends (a couple) both got shingles. He man didn’t get the shingles vaccine and had a painful experience with shingles. The woman did get the vaccine and her case was much milder. I don’t know if it was Shingrix or the other one. I suspect the other one.

  11. Posted August 22, 2020 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    I just had my second shingles shot yesterday, and this morning at 4am woke up with chills, and I thought, aren’t chills a symptom of covid..? But then I suspected the vaccine. Glad to see my guess confirmed.

    • Max Blancke
      Posted August 22, 2020 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

      Dr. Blancke says that the flu-like symptoms only last 24-48 hours.
      So much preferable to the torment of shingles.

  12. merilee
    Posted August 22, 2020 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    I got the single shingles shot maybe 15 years ago. Will probably get the double one soonish, after the flu shot for seniors.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted August 22, 2020 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

      Oh yeah go get the shingles shot. You should probably get it now before they get busy with the flu shot. I think I had to pace myself as I waited and ended up in flu season and it meant I got the stupid flu shot later. Though, as a senior they usually hold flu shots back to give to you first so I wander in there when they are available for everyone else usually in October or November.

      • GBJames
        Posted August 22, 2020 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

        Yeah. I wouldn’t wait.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted August 22, 2020 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

          And Merilee, you can get it at Shoppers. Just let them know and they will order it for you if they don’t have it.

          • merilee
            Posted August 22, 2020 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

            Thanks, Diana!

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted August 22, 2020 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

              Make sure it’s Shingrix and not the other one as they think it will last a long time, maybe forever. It’s new enough that they haven’t determined when immunity wears off. You may have to pay but it’s worth it. Don’t let them give you the free one.

  13. merilee
    Posted August 22, 2020 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    I’ve never thought of the Atlantic as being particularly Leftish. In fact I started to unsub a few years ago beacause I thought it was getting too Rightish but then the sub people offered me two years for the price Of one and I believe it has improved.

  14. Diana MacPherson
    Posted August 22, 2020 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    I got my Shingrix shot last year (or maybe its as the year before). I too had heard horror stories and at that time I was under 50 but more and more people in their 30s and 40s were getting shingles & I didn’t want to be one of them. I only had the sore arm. I thought they were exaggerating because all shots hurt my arm (I tend to have a higher than normal immune response in the area of the shot) but this really hurt – like someone hauled off & gave you the hardest punch in the arm they could. The second shot didn’t hurt as much.

    I thought I would have to pay the full price for the shot because I wanted this one over the one the government covers (but I think only covers if you are a certain age) as it was shown to be better….but in the end insurance paid for it so that was a bonus.

    I especially worried about getting shingles in my eyes. I have enough eye issues & didn’t need messed up corneas. I also heard of a woman getting it in her vagina. Her vagina! Oh the pain of that!!

    • merilee
      Posted August 22, 2020 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

      Yeah my doctor convinced me to get the first one because she had had a patient get shingles in her vagina😬

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted August 22, 2020 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

        I think it was you that told me that story before and I have been horrified ever since and I thought of it when deciding to get the shingles vaccine. My dad never got the vaccine. I don’t know why. He’s of that generation that never goes to the doctor.

      • Posted August 22, 2020 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

        I am crossing my legs now!

        • merilee
          Posted August 22, 2020 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

          And you, presumably, don’t even have one🤓

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted August 23, 2020 at 11:54 am | Permalink

      Yes, I think shingles of the ophthalmic nerve and of the genitals must be considered the worst. But shingles in any dermatome can be debilitating.

      • merilee
        Posted August 23, 2020 at 11:57 am | Permalink

        Just called my small local pharmacy and they have a good supply and will inject it on the spot.

  15. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 22, 2020 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    The lede on the Conor Friedersdorf piece reminds me of an incident that happened about 20 years ago.

    At the time, I was practicing out of a suite of offices that held a few other law firms. One of them was a firm of about eight lawyers, all of them five or ten or maybe even fifteen years younger than I. The senior partner (now a judge) was a fella I’d known since he was a young associate for a buddy of mine. Two of the other lawyers were a young black couple, husband and wife, with whom I’d gotten friendly around the water cooler. They shared a car, and a couple times a month one or the other would hitch a ride with me back or forth to the courthouse when the other one had had to drive elsewhere. So I knew them fairly well.

    Anyway, one weekend I got invited to a party at the senior partner’s house. I think it was his 40th birthday. He and his wife had just had a baby a few months earlier and, as it happened, the black couple in the firm had also had a baby at around the same time.

    I was sitting at the dining room table talking to the senior partner’s wife, whom I had gotten to know a bit over the years and was friendly with. She had her baby on her lap. She was trying to slice some pieces from the birthday cake on the dining table and her baby was fussing a bit, so I offered to hold him for a while. (I like babies, and they seem to like me; I tend to have a calming effect on them.) I put the kid over my shoulder and started walking around, jiggling the kid and humming “Mockingbird” into the his ear.

    Eventually the baby and I wondered into the living and, there, right around the corner on the couch was the black couple, the mother holding their baby on her lap. On the absolute spur of the moment, I went over to her, held out the baby I was holding and said “switch with me.” She nodded, said sure, and I took her baby, handed her the one I was holding, and wrapped hers in the blanket I’d been holding the other one in.

    After a bit, I wondered back into the dining room. I was standing there, still humming into the baby’s ear, when the first mother said to me, “Here, I can take him back now.” I put the kid in her lap, and the blanket fell back revealing the black baby.

    I swear for a couple seconds you could hear the whole room suck in its breath. Then everyone burst out laughing — the mother holding the black baby, the people at the dining-room table, everyone else in the room. The black couple figured out what I’d been up to as soon as they heard the laughter; they came into the dining room with the white baby, laughing too. The woman I was living with at the time came over, slapped me playfully on the shoulder, and through her own laughter told everyone, “Don’t mind this asshole; he thinks he’s funny.”

    People were laughing about it the rest of the night. In fact, they were still laughing about it on Monday when we all got back to the office.

    Thing is, doing so at the time seemed just the slightest bit dangerous, which is why I knew I had to do it as soon as the idea dawned on me. But I wonder now, twenty years on, whether I would still feel comfortable pulling a prank like that, and if I did, whether people would react the same.

    • Jeff Chamberlain
      Posted August 22, 2020 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

      “I wonder now, twenty years on, whether I would still feel comfortable pulling a prank like that, and if I did, whether people would react the same.”

      I sure hope so. (Wonderful prank.)

    • Posted August 22, 2020 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

      Absolutely dangerous now! But that all depends on who is involved.

    • jezgrove
      Posted August 22, 2020 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

      Talking of swapped babies…

      We were living in Spain when my son was born. Unlike our experience when our daughter was born in the UK, after the birth he was taken away and we didn’t see him for a couple of hours. In the meantime, my wife recovered in a ward with one other new mother. I sat next to my wife’s bed, whilst the other woman had numerous family members in attendance. The two new mothers chatted, although all conversation was in Spanish. (My mother-in-law was Spanish, but my wife was born in the UK and despite being reasonably fluent is not a native speaker. My own Spanish is pretty limited – but I can manage to order food and drink, which works for me… )

      Our son had been delivered using ventouse (vacuum) extraction. The other mother said that her previous child had been born this way, and reassured us that the bruising on the baby’s head soon disappeared with no ill effect. Shortly afterwards, a nurse entered and said “Here’s little —-” (the name we had chosen for our son), but handed him to the other woman, who held him for a few minutes, which seemed a little odd since surely she must have noticed the bruise on his head which she had just been discussing? However, she then passed him to her own mother and we watched, astonished, as our new baby was passed around to all her other relatives in the room. We couldn’t understand what was going on, and were just about to protest – with some trepidation, given the language barrier in this extraordinary situation – when the nurse reappeared and said, “Oh! Here’s another little —-“!

      It transpired that the one subject that my wife and the other woman hadn’t discussed was baby names, and so it happens that two babies given the same names were born ten minutes apart in the same hospital!

      • jezgrove
        Posted August 22, 2020 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

        Oops – forgot to turn off italics after “hadn’t”.

      • merilee
        Posted August 22, 2020 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

        Great story (with a happy ending)!

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted August 22, 2020 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

        It could’ve always gone worse:

  16. Posted August 22, 2020 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    I got my two shingles shot recently, the last one in January of this year. I don’t remember seeing the name Shingrix but I’m hoping it was the good stuff. My father had shingles and it was not a nice experience. My fingers are crossed. BTW, I think my arm hurt a bit afterwards and I was a little out of it for the rest of the day but I got several different shots in the same day so perhaps it was to be expected.

  17. jezgrove
    Posted August 22, 2020 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    I was totally ignorant of the shingles vaccine. Just looked up the NHS policy, which is to offer it to those aged 70 and over: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/shingles-vaccination/

  18. Posted August 22, 2020 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    I was mostly offgrid the last days. Matt Taibbi published “The New Puritans” on his Substack section. It is about a gay democrat mayor Alex Morse who faced cancel culture by fellow Democrats, because his dating habits were deemed problematic. It feels a bit like an overlooked 2013—2015 era article, because much of the lingo (woke as “puritans”) remind me of that time, even before Lukianoff and Haidt but it’s yet another episode that sums up some of the features of this woke ideology.

    https://taibbi.substack.com/p/the-new-puritans

    I also liked The Useful Idiots (Taibbi/Halper) drinking game criteria on Joe Biden’s speech.

    Drink EVERY TIME:

    Biden says, “Folks.”
    Biden says, “The United States of America.” Double-shots for any multiple-America construction, e.g. “The best America is an America where Americans believe in the American dream.”
    Biden says, “Middle-class.”
    Biden says, “Get up!” as in, “Folks, you’ve got to get up! This is the United States of America!”
    Biden says, “You guys.”
    Biden says, “Barack” or references the “Obama-Biden administration.”
    Biden says, “Soul of America.”
    Biden points out a surprising percentage of something, e.g. “Look, folks, seventy-four percent of venture capital goes to four cities.”
    Biden says, “My Mom used to say” or mentions one of his father’s relatable jobs, e.g. “He sold a hell of a lot of cars!”
    Biden makes a self-deprecating joke about his age or his tendency to say puzzling things.
    Biden finishes a section of his speech with a rhetorical flourish, and he sounds angry, and you can’t tell why, because he’s talking about something non-angering.
    Biden tells a story about a rewarding interaction with an ordinary person, as in, “I walk over to the guy up in the bucket. And there’s seven guys around him, all with hard hats on. I yelled up and said, ‘Hey, man, thanks!’”
    Biden references a job you’ve never heard of, as in “Why is a sandwich maker being forced to sign a non-compete clause?”
    Biden says “systemic.”
    Biden tells us there’s nothing we can’t accomplish.
    Drink the FIRST TIME only:

    Biden begins a sentence with, “Look.”
    Biden mentions Scranton.
    Biden says something that sounds sort of inappropriate.

    • Posted August 22, 2020 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

      I would not last long in that game.

    • Posted August 22, 2020 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

      I dunno. If i understand the story, he was a University instructor having intimate relationships with students. Consensual, sure, but it violates principles held by my old fashioned brain.

      • Posted August 22, 2020 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

        That doesn’t sit well with me, and Taibbi seems to think so too (“an argument to be made that anyone who teaches, […] should avoid having relationships with students at their own college, as that person might someday end up in one’s own classroom”).

        The issue here is the ludicrous intersectionalist argumentation. So if you have any status or influence at all, you can never ask anyone out, because that person might be planning to go into a career where you have some vague influence and they then could not have possibly “enthusiastically consented”? That’s ludicrous.

        If Morse was really asking anyone out in a casual manner, how could he possibly keep track of all those who, at one point, declined his social media friend request? This is ludicrous and ludicrouser. Plus the “ludicrous political implications, with would-be mega-progressives laboring to keep someone like Morse from unseating a favorite of Lockheed-Martin and Altria from one of the Hill’s most powerful committees.”

      • jezgrove
        Posted August 22, 2020 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

        It wasn’t clear that he was doing that – it seems to have involved friend requests on social media sites with people who weren’t his own students.

  19. rickflick
    Posted August 22, 2020 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    I got a shot a couple of years ago. Recently I had a mild, but annoying case of shingles which took about a month to dissipate. I think it would have been much worse if I’d not had the immunization.

  20. Historian
    Posted August 22, 2020 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    I have two comments on Chukar’s piece. Regarding McCown, he asks “Racist, slaver, or just another soldier?” McCown may have just been a soldier and didn’t aspire to be a slave owner (we don’t know, although many non-slaveowning white Southerners hoped to own slaves someday as a sign of prestige an status ), but he was almost certainly a racist, since almost all whites, North and South, were that. Being both racist and anti-slavery, at least in the North, was quite common. Those relatively few in the South that opposed slavery hardly made them anti-racist.

    He later states that “It’s dangerous to destroy or ‘cancel’ history.” He goes on: “Destroying yesterday’s creations breeds tomorrow’s regrets.” I wonder if he would care to opine when Germans will regret destroying Nazi monuments. These two assertions by Chukar to me indicates he knows little about antebellum America and that comments about destroying monuments should not be generalized.

    I am not saying that the bird should be renamed. I am saying that these two arguments by Chukar do nothing to support this cause.

    • Jonathan Wallace
      Posted August 23, 2020 at 6:06 am | Permalink

      A fair comment I think. Statues and monuments are not simply part of an objective historical record – they actively celebrate the depicted person and what they stood for. For that reason I think a good case can be made for removing many statues (and other monuments) relating to the confederacy just as Germany has rightly eliminated overtly nazi monuments.

      However, as I understand it the McCown Longspur is not a confederate monument. It was named in honour of the man’s ornithological contributions. It seems problematic when we start re-naming things because they honour people who ‘probably’ held views, now considered unacceptable, that were commonplace at the time but which have nothing to do with the achievement that is actually being honoured.

  21. Roo
    Posted August 22, 2020 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

    What I am reading… evo psych (I think) about why my kid is not going to let me sleep until he is 20, apparently:

    Actual study

    Summary article

    I’ll be honest, I read the summary and skimmed the study because I haven’t slept four consecutive hours in the past year or so, and I cannot brain at all these days.

    Regarding BabyBounceGate… originally, I actually thought it was a snippy person in a power struggle making an offhand comment to “one up” the guy, and coming up with something regrettable in the heat of the moment. That she was actually responding to a letter that a group of people, with ample time to reflect, actually sat down to write, is just another level of stunning. It is sad that I have to say “of course it’s almost cliche to note how white supremacists and Woke-ys sound very similar on many topics”, because the fact that it’s a cliche at this point shows you how glaring of a problem this is (Although I will say, largely among liberals. When I talk to my conservative relatives, they seem entirely unaware of “Woke” culture and actually, only vaguely aware of this year’s riots. They may not be representative but my impression is that for those uninvested in the Democratic party, it’s mostly a “Whatever, in-house fights, let them duke it out amongst themselves” type situation.)

    • merilee
      Posted August 22, 2020 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

      20?? I hate to break it to you but mine still keep me awake some nights at 33 and 35🤓

      • rickflick
        Posted August 22, 2020 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

        I’d suggest a sudden new address. 😁

        • merilee
          Posted August 23, 2020 at 9:12 am | Permalink

          New address😂. No, they are well-fledged, but you never stop worrying about them. Saw my daughter yesterday. will,probably not see my son and family for over a year because of covid.

    • Posted August 23, 2020 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      I regret to tell you that some parents continue to worry about their “kids” no matter how old the parents (I’m almost 80) and children (60, 59, 57). If you’re lucky, as I am, they return the favor as we all get older.


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