31 December 2022

Video of the day -- disaster in China

Since early December, covid has exploded out of control in China.  This may be linked to the regime's abandonment of its earlier lockdown policy, though it's also being claimed that this outbreak started before the policy was lifted -- and given the regime's congenital dishonesty, there's no way to be sure whether the incidence of covid during the lockdown period was really as low as was claimed.  In any case, the results are horrific, as this video shows (more info here and here).  Part of the problem is that the vaccine used in China is far less effective than those developed in the democracies.  However, things in the US didn't get this bad, even before we had vaccines at all.  Maybe China's high rate of smoking is a factor (covid hits much harder if your lungs were already in bad shape), or it may be that the virus variants circulating in China are more dangerous.  Other countries would be wise to bar travel from China for the duration of the crisis there, to be on the safe side.

30 December 2022

Video of the day -- jobs

Some straight talk about jobs.  I would cavil only about the definition implied at 2:34 -- office employees, manual laborers, and customer-service people are all part of the working class.  The working class includes everyone who needs to work for a living and is not a boss or employer of others -- the vast majority of the population.  Video found via Miss Cellania.

28 December 2022

Image round-up for 28 December 2022

A few more pictures from my collection (click for full size).

Texas, 1949

Athens, the Acropolis

Colmar, France

Solar/wind power installation, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany

Mumbai, India

Another view of Mumbai

27 December 2022

A defining failure

It is now three and a half weeks since Congress passed legislation robbing American railway workers of their right to strike and forcing them to accept a contract the membership of four unions had rejected, mainly because it doesn't give them paid sick leave, a right which most US workers take for granted (and which is government-guaranteed in civilized countries).  The next day Congress narrowly failed to pass an addendum granting the leave.  Since then, the ball has been squarely in Biden's court.  He could fix the situation with an executive order; it's indisputable that he has the authority to do that, since Obama took a similar action for other groups of workers in 2015.

Rail workers and allies have held rallies calling on Biden to take this actionOver seventy members of Congress have echoed the demand.  Yet despite claiming that he wants to continue the fight for the workers' paid sick leave, he has still not taken this simple and straightforward action which could accomplish that very thing.

The workers have rightfully responded with fury to this betrayal.  There are other ongoing problems, such as dangerous working conditions caused by cutting train crews to the bone.  There's been talk of mass resignations once the back pay promised by the new contract comes through, crippling rail transport and sending shock waves through the economy -- the very thing Congress supposedly was preventing when it kowtowed to the hedge funds that own the railways and ordered the workers not to strike.

The refusal to take such an easy action to resolve such a basic issue of minimal justice for American workers is, obviously, the defining failure of Biden's presidency.  But it's more than that.  It's a defining failure of the American left as a whole.

During this three and a half weeks, the left-wing internet has mostly ignored the issue.  The honorable exceptions have been few indeed.  Among the blogs, Angry Bear and Bruce Gerencser gave it some serious coverage (despite the latter not even being politics-focused).  Daily Kos ran a few posts -- much fewer than it dedicates to even the most trivial antics of politicians -- but quickly dropped the topic.  Common Dreams and The Lever did better.  Most left-wing blogs completely ignored the issue and the left media as a whole grossly under-reported it, and has now stopped covering it at all.

Among political leaders, too, there have been honorable exceptions, notably Bernie Sanders, who has fought hard on this.  But as soon as the vote for the paid-sick-leave addendum failed in the Senate, the majority of Congress just dropped the issue and moved on.  There was no determination to keep fighting for something that, a generation or two ago, everyone would have understood is exactly the kind of issue that the left exists for.

Morally, the workers now have every right to go out on strike even though the craven and immoral legislation Congress passed would make it "illegal".  As it is, it seems more likely that there will just be a steady flow of workers quitting until the railway system grinds to a halt.  They certainly have no obligation to a government that betrayed them and a country that would not stand up for them.

And ultimately this goes beyond the railways.  After decades in retreat, unions are growing again as the US economy degenerates into ever-worse exploitation and obscene disparities of wealth.  And they've now been shown that they must rely on themselves and each other -- they can't depend on Congress or a Democratic president or a distracted and befuddled left.  The time may yet come when all of those worthies are reminded who holds the real power in an industrial economy.

25 December 2022

Link round-up for 25 December 2022

Various interesting stuff I ran across on the net over the last week.

o o o o o

His attack was defeated.

New Witch has an up-to-date version of the story of Jesus.

Ride 'em, cowboy!

More Christmas cartoons here.  NSFW ones here.

He's moving house today.

Black cats aren't so evil.

Make the kids behave.

There was no other way to solve this problem.

Everyone gets a Christmas sweater.

Cats face a challenge.

Amusing wildlife photos here.

Even Santa faces a labor stoppage due to bad working conditionsNo more games.

Bad dog.

Here are some more-honest Trump NFTs (link from Carol Seidl).

Bring your kids to meet him!

Get back in your box, and no backtalk.

Every car should have this vital feature.

This Santa brings what the kids really want.

Animals are weird.

Old TVs were weird.

These drivers weren't ready for the snow and ice.

He can preserve his food without buying a freezer.

St Malo, France, is not a good place to own beachfront property.

Now this is snowplowing.

Catch up with the year in French humor.

This is the best optical illusion I've ever seen.

Surreal art of decay here.

Ukraine graciously returns the warship Moskva to Russia.

Shrooms take over.

For an expert, magic comes easy.

Impressive space-themed art here.

Christmas is an intrusive presence.

This exists.  No, I don't know what it is.

Once, several years ago, I too came damn close to doing this before I realized what was about to happen and screwed the cap back down.  I still get the willies thinking about it.

This is where lions used to be, and now are.

Starlings are startling.

This is Amsterdam in 1922, the year of a historic election.

Images of the year here from the James Webb telescope.

There's hope for treatment of "long covid".

The current covid booster shot is highly effective.

Bruce Gerencser is soliciting guest posts for his blog, especially if you have a story of deconversion from evangelicalism.

Christmas in Ukraine has changed.

Darwinfish 2 reviews the new Avatar sequel, as well as Kari Lake's post-election tantrums.

The New York Times was stupid enough to do this.

Green Eagle identifies a dangerous mental syndrome.

Full speed ahead!

Christmas is not Christian (I posted on this here).

This kid is too smart for such a dumb story.

Movies are sinful!

A totalitarian ideology dominates academia through fear.

Avoid banking at Wells Fargo.

Surveillance technology is creepy and Orwellian.

When the end comes, each one will meet it in his or her own way.

Big-company CEOs in the US make more money in seven hours than the average US worker earns in a year.

Moderation wins elections; radicalism loses.

Religio-wingnuts recoil from Trump and Lake for being too tolerant of gays.

We all know that asshole harassers like this guy exist.  The interesting part, though, is how easily he was caught once people with computer expertise started investigating.  Other would-be harassers should take note.

Bible-based racism is deep-rooted in the US, and persists; read the comments too.

Respect is a matter of attitude, not fetishistically avoiding taboo words.

New York's state Senate needs to stop this judge.

The Twitter debacle has merely revealed who Elon Musk really is.

Oregon's outgoing governor took a huge, steaming dump on the graves of murder victims by commuting the sentences of all 17 of Oregon's death-row inmates to life in prison, setting her own personal moral squeamishness above the law, the courts, and the will of the voters.  And contrary to initial reports, some of them might even get parole.

Trump and Trumpism represent a long-established malignancy.

After some assholes ran out on their restaurant check, the manager tried to make the waitress pay what they owed.

Libertarians can't be trusted on healthcare.

"Not being racist is more racist than being racist."

Democracy-hating, pro-Putin wingnuts show their true colors during Zelensky's visit.

Abortion rights were a decisive issue in the 2022 election, and will be so in future elections.

Some are calling for Trump to be let off the hook.  They're wrong.

The MSM are finally starting to tell the truth about gender ideology, including surgery on minors.

Afghans who helped the US are again being left in limbo.  Others who might consider helping us in the future will remember this, and likely decide it's just too risky.

After the UK's "Society of Authors" failed to stand up for free speech, writers form a new and tougher union.

In Scotland, Ionesco's Rhinoceros is becoming reality.

Here's some background on the conditions that led to the UK nurses' strike, written by a former ambulance crew member.

British civil servants push back against indoctrination.

Australia wants people to be careful around trams.

So now they're literally throwing shit.

Help Ukraine win as quickly as possible.  The longer the war drags on, the more things could go wrong.

Russian troops in Ukraine increasingly suffer friendly-fire deaths, due to incompetence and rivalries between units.

Aid to Ukraine is not charity -- it's the best investment we can make in our own national security (note that only the first 3½ minutes is about Ukraine).

In addition to Patriot missiles from the US, Ukraine is getting a similar system from France and Italy.

Ukraine formerly had nuclear weapons, but gave them up in 1996 for security guarantees which have since turned out to be worthless.  Don't expect other potential nuclear states to make the same error.

Democracy and freedom don't always win, but they're inherently strong where authoritarianism is inherently weak.

She was abducted, raped, murdered, and dumped in the street.  No point calling the police -- this was Iran, and it was the police that did it.

In Afghanistan, the Taliban have banned women from the universities, and are arresting and beating those who protest.  Afghan men too are protesting.

Last month's massive protests in China were largely women-led, after years in which the regime had been rolling back earlier progress toward equality of the sexes.

More links at Angry Bear, WAHF, and Fair and Unbalanced.

My own posts this week:  an image round-up, a video on colonizing Mars, and some seasonal music.

o o o o o

Today marks twenty-four days since railway workers were robbed of their right to strike for paid sick leave.  Issue the executive order, Biden!

[Image at top found via Cas d'intérêt.]