Condemning the apartheid state of Israel in Harvard Yard

Israel has been in the news lately due to a proposal to change the country’s judiciary to be more like what we have here in the U.S. (Wikipedia) This will result in “tyranny” replacing “democracy” (nytimes). (Perhaps Israelis can flee this tyranny and seek asylum in Syria or Lebanon?)

Photos taken on March 12, 2023 in Harvard Yard include a Palestine flag in a window and some messages urging a boycott of a Harvard group trip to Israel.

This was in the same building as the “BGLTQ” office (not 2SLGBTQQIA+? or LGBTQ?):


According to Amnesty International’s 2020 report on Palestine, “Section 152 of the Penal Code in Gaza criminalizes [male] consensual same-sex sexual activity and makes it punishable by up to 10 years’ imprisonment.” Palestine has no civil rights laws that protect LGBT people from discrimination nor harassment

We had previously walked by the Lutheran church featured in Bulletin board at the Lutheran chuch (2019). Their pro-Palestinian material was not visible from the exterior, but they do have a rainbow and a Black Lives Matter sign:

Down at the river, there are rainbow benches, but no BLM benches;

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Abortion care as a wedding gift?

I just RSVP’d for a family wedding. Here’s what I found in the wedding registry:

In other words, to mark an event traditionally associated with reproduction guests can give the gift of abortion care (for pregnant people).

Since I absolutely have to be there and might have to zip to Los Angeles the day after (helicopter ferry trip), it was time to give some money to our commercial airline oligopoly. United tried to sell me trip cancellation insurance, noting explicitly that COVID-19 is “foreseen”:

Readers: If you are are giving abortion care as a wedding gift, what is the correct amount to give?

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A public library in Portugal

As a companion to my pieces on what public libraries offer in Palm Beach County (in Florida, where books are purportedly banned) and in Maskachusetts, some March 13, 2023 images from a library in Ponta Delgada, Portugal.

What’s the neighborhood like? Here’s the building next door, a museum of sacred art:

Who uses the library on a Monday late afternoon? A lot of studious school kids:

Does the library promote social justice? Here are the books recommended for adults:

I would love to see someone actually read that 700-page book on Max Weber (who envisioned our current bureaucratic world)!

Are there books on skin-color-based victimhood promoted to children? I don’t think so. Here’s the rack:

(I thought that “O Protesto” might be about a mostly peaceful social justice protest, but the star is a gorilla rather than a martyr in the struggle against racism.)

The library seems to take a more neutral position on what to read than do its counterparts in the U.S. A larger majority of books are simply shelved spines out. My Portuguese wasn’t good enough to enable me to identify the 2SLGBTQQIA+ section within the teens’ room so I don’t know whether they have anything corresponding to what we found in Cambridge last week:

The library devotes a fair amount of space to Portugal’s Nobel laureate in literature, José Saramago. I had no idea that he wrote a badly-reviewed travel guide to Portugal.

The library has a complex layout due to its location in a historic building. There is a nice little café for patrons.

Overall, there seems to be much less emphasis on the divisions among groups within Portuguese society than one finds in U.S. libraries regarding divisions among groups within American society.

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The Cambridge Public Library

A March 12, 2023 trip to the Cambridge, Maskachusetts public library…

Let’s stop first in the bathroom, a gender-neutral experience:

The kids’ section is heavy on Black-themed books, but all of the children present appeared to identify with non-Black skin colors. About 20 percent of the patrons, including plenty of kids, were protected by Cochrane-approved face masks (“Here’s Why the Science Is Clear That Masks Work” (NYT)):

A few of the books in the kids’ section (one authored by President Biden):

Downstairs in the adult non-fiction area…

Sunday afternoon on the ground floor…

Let’s move to the Teen room:

Before women invented the Mac and iPhone, they invented television. There was no corresponding “Because I was a boy” title. The 2SLGBTQQIA+ books were not featured as prominently as I’d hoped, but discreetly shelved.

The old building’s best rooms are dedicated to science fiction:

Summary: In the social justice and 2SLGBTQQIA+ departments, despite the hysterical media coverage about “book bans” in Florida, there was little to distinguish the Cambridge Public Library from the Palm Beach County libraries.


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American Diversity concert tonight in Cambridge

I received a mailing from a music organization in Cambridge, Maskachusetts, “A unique program of music written by women and people of color”:

I’m very sorry that I can’t attend and see if The Mask is about an N95 mask and his/her/zir/their journey of protection (modern update to Gogol’s “The Nose”?). Maybe it will be explained in the program notes and pre-concert lecture.

Note that the concert is entirely free to those who limit their working hours so as to qualify for SNAP/EBT (“food stamps”):

We are proud to participate in the Mass Cultural Council’s ‘Card to Culture’ program. EBT card holders who present their EBT card in person at the Box Office receive 2 free Gold section tickets to a Spectrum Singers concert.


  • Thankful for (Government-supported Harvard University hosts a play in which only those who identify as Black can attend: “We have designated this performance to be an exclusive space for Black-identifying audience members”)
  • Why you want to be on SNAP/EBT
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Three-year anniversary of Boston school closure for coronapanic

Today is the three-year anniversary of the Boston public schools closing. From

Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Boston Public Schools Superintendent Brenda Cassellius today announced the district-wide closure of all Boston Public Schools for students, effective on Tuesday, March 17. At this time, schools are expected to reopen on Monday, April 27, following April vacation.

(The schools fully reopened, with a forced masking and vaccine coercion, about 1.5 years later.)

What were the smart people thinking on the same day? From John Ioannidis, Stanford Medical School, and author of “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False”“A fiasco in the making? As the coronavirus pandemic takes hold, we are making decisions without reliable data”:

A population-wide case fatality rate of 0.05% is lower than seasonal influenza. If that is the true rate, locking down the world with potentially tremendous social and financial consequences may be totally irrational. It’s like an elephant being attacked by a house cat. Frustrated and trying to avoid the cat, the elephant accidentally jumps off a cliff and dies.

How was that guestimate of 0.05%? Roughly 7 million people have died from COVID-19 (WHO) out of a total human infestation of formerly lovely Planet Earth of 8 billion. If we assume that everyone has been exposed to SARS-CoV-2 by now, that’s a population-wide fatality rate of 0.0875%. How did Professor Ioannidis do in predicting the mostly peaceful protests of summer 2020, the inflation of 2021-2023, increased alcoholism and opioid addiction, and the good citizens of Martha’s Vineyard turning their backs on hapless migrants?

One of the bottom lines is that we don’t know how long social distancing measures and lockdowns can be maintained without major consequences to the economy, society, and mental health. Unpredictable evolutions may ensue, including financial crisis, unrest, civil strife, war, and a meltdown of the social fabric.

What were the stupid people thinking on March 17, 2020? Let’s check this blog for three same-day stories:

  • Will the human race be more susceptible to obsessive compulsive disorder going forward? (if hand-washing and mask-wearing worked to stave off coronadeath, we would breed a subspecies of OCD humans)
  • Coronavirus is a national emergency, but let’s not do anything drastic “on Friday, March 13, the Boston Public Schools decided to close for six weeks… but not start the closure until the following Tuesday (today, March 17). If the problem is serious enough to require a six-week closure, why open the schools on a single Monday after everyone has had a chance to pick up the virus somewhere over the weekend (if anyone needed to come the school to retrieve an item, that could have been done over a period of days, without gathering everyone together in close quarters for 6+ hours).”
  • More from the British on coronavirus “The only thing that would potentially save us from these shutdowns is a vaccine, say the authors. But other sources are saying that a vaccine probably won’t work, right? The virus evolves so fast that last month’s vaccine won’t help with next month’s infection.”


[Oh yes, Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! It is ironic that Irish-influenced Boston shut down schools on the day honoring someone who was famous for teaching.]

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How is First Republic Bank different from Silicon Valley Bank?

Readers: Please help me keep these bank failures straight. “First Republic Stock Plunges After Bank Rescue Plan, Dividend Suspension” (WSJ, today):

First Republic Bank shares fell more than 30% Friday after a multibillion-dollar rescue deal orchestrated by the biggest U.S. banks failed to convince investors that the troubled lender is on solid footing.

The move erased the gains that came Thursday, when a group of banks including JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corp. and Wells Fargo & Co. deposited $30 billion in First Republic in an effort to restore confidence in a banking system badly battered by a pair of bank failures.

“It’s not clear whether it’s viable as a stand-alone entity,” said Julian Wellesley, global banks analyst at Boston-based Loomis Sayles & Co. “So it’s likely, in my view, to be taken over.”

The sudden collapse recently of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank—the second- and third-largest bank failures in U.S. history, respectively—have sparked concerns that anxious customers could drain deposits from other small and midsize banks.

What do SVB and First Republic have in common other than both being supervised/regulated by the San Francisco Fed? Was First Republic as devoted to diversity and inclusion as SVB?

As Congress and the D.C. Fed flooded the U.S. with money in 2020, what was First Republic thinking about? “First Republic Expands Commitment To Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” (August 31, 2020):

First Republic has engaged Management Leadership for Tomorrow (“MLT”), a national nonprofit that equips and emboldens high-achieving Black, Latinx and Native American individuals to secure high-trajectory jobs, while partnering with employers to provide access to a new generation of diverse leaders. The organization’s advisory services help institutions to better foster an environment of success for the underrepresented colleague experience.

“A diversity of backgrounds, opinions and perspectives has always been fundamental to our success,” said Jim Herbert, Founder, Chairman, and CEO of First Republic. “Management Leadership for Tomorrow has a proven track record of success in helping companies find and develop leaders from underrepresented communities.”

Individuals who self-identify as members of ethnic minority groups currently total 48% of First Republic’s workforce, with over 55 languages spoken at the company. Building upon First Republic’s long-standing culture of inclusion and diversity, MLT will provide strategic and tactical support to help further diversify the company’s workforce. In addition, the organization will collaborate with First Republic to enhance colleague and culture development programs that drive a sense of belonging and engagement.

If we count employees identifying as “women” as being in a victimhood class and we consider these 48% who were victims via “ethnic minority group” identification, the majority of the bank’s employees were victims and yet the goal was apparently to go bigger in the victimhood department. Here’s the person who was CEO for 37 years, through 2022:

James Herbert was replaced, in the CEO/COO roles, by a diverse duo:

But what exactly did these diverse executives do to cause the meltdown? And why didn’t the San Francisco Fed notice anything amiss? Let’s check a 2018 New York Times article:

The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco has installed Mary C. Daly, a labor economist who currently serves as the head of research, as the institution’s new president beginning Oct. 1. … Ms. Daly, who is openly gay, will become the third woman among the 12 presidents of the Fed’s regional banks. As a senior executive at the San Francisco Fed, she has been a leading voice for addressing what she has described as a “diversity crisis” in the economics profession and at the Federal Reserve. At the San Francisco Fed, she pushed successfully to balance the hiring of male and female research assistants.

Dr. Daly attacked the diversity crisis at the San Francisco Fed, but ignored the insolvency crises brewing at SVB and First Republic? If diverse teams are smarter and more capable and the San Francisco Fed had more diversity than other regional Federal Reserve Banks, why are two of the biggest failures in the SF Fed’s territory?


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Ron DeSantis’s book

I have begun to read The Courage to Be Free: Florida’s Blueprint for America’s Revival, despite my general aversion to this genre of literature. I consider reading Ron DeSantis’s book to be a duty both as a blog publisher and as a new Floridian. Progressive academic friends in Cambridge feel that they already know Mr. DeSantis. One noted, during my most recent visit, that DeSantis is responsible for importing slaves into the United States to pick sugar cane. “They come on boats in chains,” he said, “and aren’t paid.” Why don’t journalists from New York-based media enterprises ask Mr. DeSantis about his slave importation operation at press conferences? “They know that he won’t answer.” Why didn’t the progressive himself go down to Florida and picket outside the Governor’s Mansion for the slaves to be released? He’s a member of the laptop class and can work from anywhere. He couldn’t explain why he wasn’t willing to invest the price of a plane ticket to protest the actual slavery that he has identified on U.S. soil.

For folks who don’t feel that they already know everything worth knowing about Ron D, read on…

The book starts out rough, in my opinion:

Most Americans instinctively know that something has gone wrong with our country over the past generation.

How is Ron going to win with this message? Successful politicians generally tell Americans that they are the world’s greatest people living in the world’s greatest (and richest) country. A vote for the politician is a path to slightly increased greatness, not a recovery from a nosedive. The language gets a little softer later in the introduction:

Our nation needs immigration policies that recognize and enforce the country’s sovereignty, not just by having a wall at the southern border but also by quickly repatriating those in the country illegally. An erroneous claim of asylum should not give a foreign national a ticket to settle in the interior of our country. Nor should the legal immigration system have policies such as the diversity lottery and chain migration; instead, the immigration system should be merit-based; favor assimilation, not mass migration; and be geared toward benefiting the wages of working-class Americans.

Ron D will not deport migrants, but repatriate them.

Looking for useful life advice?

People often talk about the need for a student-athlete to “balance” the demands of the classroom with the requirements of sports. For me, I rejected the idea that I would strike a balance between academic achievement and athletic success, because I was not willing to give less than 100 percent to either baseball or my academics. So instead of balancing, I just did everything to the hilt and let the chips fall where they may.

He gave 110 percent while at Yale, in other words? Or 200 percent? I am not sure how to put this into practice since my capacity is about 50 percent on my best day.

We learn about Ron and Casey’s working class and military roots. Ron worked during high school and college, e.g., for an electrical contractor, while Casey’s sister was a USAF C-17 pilot. (Even today, the DeSantis family has minimal wealth.) Ron’s own military service made him skeptical of America’s recent war aims:

It was just as obvious that we would not succeed in establishing a pro-American, Western-style democracy in Iraq. This was simply outside the capability of any military force to achieve. The cultural differences were too vast for Iraq to embrace Madisonian constitutionalism. In fact, the Iraqis considered “freedom” to be submission to sharia law, not the enactment of a liberal democracy.

(The U.S. would be a lot friendlier to the immigrants that we claim to welcome if Michigan and Minnesota adopted sharia law. Why should Muslim immigrants, many of whom are asylees or refugees who are fleeing violence, have to accept a debauched society? They didn’t come to the U.S. because they love the way that the U.S. is, but because they would have been killed if they had stayed in their home countries.)

Ron was inspired by Barack Obama:

Once I left active duty, I began to think more and more about how our country was moving in the wrong direction, especially under the leftist agenda of the Obama administration.

What did he learn as a Congressman?

Ingrained in Beltway thinking is a contempt for average voters, particularly voters who reject leftist ideology.

That’s certainly consistent with my experience of D.C.! Also, Ron turns out to be one of the few Representatives who actually reads the bills.

The book does get more substantive. Leafing through, I found the following, for example:

Our reforms included protections for political candidates against being deplatformed, which is a way for Big Tech to interfere in elections. What is stopping Big Tech companies from shutting off Republican candidates from social media platforms during the stretch run of an election? If someone hosts a get-together for a candidate and provides refreshments, that must be accounted for as a campaign contribution, yet a tech company can upend an entire candidate’s campaign, and that is somehow not considered interference with an election. The reforms also included transparency requirements for the social media companies’ content moderation policies, and required that users be given notice of changes to those policies. The opaqueness of how Big Tech arrives at its censorship decisions means that it is easy for them to move the goalposts to stifle views the industry does not like.

I’m actually surprised that Twitter, Facebook, and Google allow Republican candidates to use their platforms at all. Any of these firms could cite the following analysis of the January 6 insurrection and say that it wasn’t safe to allow Republicans to speak.

I hope that some readers will read along with me!

So far I’m dismayed that Ron hasn’t adapted his message to be more like conventional politicians’. Crushing it in Florida against an all-abortion-care-all-the-time fossil does not mean that he can crush it with voters nationwide in 2024. Americans in general are the most timid and compliant humans ever to occupy this planet. The Floridians who wanted the freedom to leave their houses, breathe without masks, send children to school, not inject their children with experimental drugs, etc., are outliers on the spectrum of American cowerhood. Young/cognitively sharp/competent/energetic/effective sounds good, but Americans in 2020 chose a new president who does not have any of these qualities.

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Silicon Valley Bank and Moral Hazard

Dedicated to diversity and regulated/supervised by a San Francisco Fed that was dedicated to diversity (see also “San Francisco Fed elevates a gay woman — its vice president — to the top job” (LA Times, 2018)), Silicon Valley Bank is being described as a casualty of its own wokeness. A friend who used to run a multi-$billion investment fund sent me this article by an economist, which attributes the need for an FDIC bailout… to the existence of the FDIC. Some excerpts:

The wrong way to think about moral hazard

Deposit insurance gives bank executive an incentive to take socially excessive risks. In some cases the risks won’t pay off. But that doesn’t mean executives don’t have an incentive to take excessive risks.

Things didn’t pan out for SVB. But that doesn’t mean their executives made an unwise gamble. It’s very possible that SVB’s strategy had a very high expected payoff, and they were simply hit by bad luck (rising interest rates.) Of course from a social perspective their decisions may have been bad, but not necessarily from a private perspective. “Heads I win, tails part of my losses are borne by taxpayers”. Of course I’d take more risk with those odds.

… back in the 1920s people cared a great deal about bank safety. Banks knew this, and managed their balance sheets far more conservatively than do modern banks. That’s why big city banks used to look like massive Greek temples; they had to convince depositors that they had the capital to survive hard times. The vast majority of big banks survived the Great Depression. US GDP in 1929 was about $100 billion and deposit losses during the Great Depression were $1.3 billion. Today, a 50% fall in NGDP (as in 1929-33) would wipe out almost our entire banking system. Modern bankers are far more reckless “despite” regulation. The negative effects of deposit insurance are far more important than the positive effects of regulation.

How do we get to Yglesias’s utopia [of more big banks]? Abolish deposit insurance (he wouldn’t agree). You’ll see a massive shift of deposits toward the larger, more diversified banks, making our system resemble the Canadian system.

FDR opposed deposit insurance, as he (correctly) feared it would create moral hazard. Unfortunately, Congress refused to listen to his good advice.

“FDIC fees are not a tax on the public.” Yes, they are.

“We aren’t bailing out bank executives”. No, we are not bailing out SVB executives, but we are (implicitly) bailing out their competitors.

I disagree with that last statement. The executives at SVB got to keep all of their big earnings from the big years that they had due to their aggressive risk-taking. Mary C. Daly gets to keep her $500,000+/year (including benefits) SF Fed compensation from incompetently supervising SVB. When things fell apart, none of these people had to pay anything back to the FDIC. It is the chumps with low-interest accounts at conservative banks who are left to pay.

Separately, I’m shocked that McKinsey wasn’t involved somehow in SVB! How can there be a group of elites robbing the peasants without McKinsey’s assistance? At least one of the usual suspects was there… “How Goldman’s Plan to Shore Up Silicon Valley Bank Crumbled” (WSJ):

Silicon Valley Bank executives went to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in late February looking for advice: They needed to raise money but weren’t exactly sure how to do it.

Soaring interest rates had taken a heavy toll on the bank. Deposits and the value of the bank’s bond portfolio had fallen sharply. Moody’s Investors Service was preparing for a downgrade. The bank had to reset its finances to avoid a funding squeeze that would badly dent profits.

While few could have predicted the market’s violent reaction to the SVB disclosures, Goldman’s plan for the bank had a fatal flaw. It underestimated the danger that a deluge of bad news could spark a crisis of confidence, a development that can quickly fell a bank.

Goldman is the go-to adviser to the rich and the powerful. It arranges mergers, helps companies raise money and devises creative solutions to sticky situations of the financial variety—a talent that has made the firm billions.

Yet, for SVB, Goldman’s gold-plated advice came at the steepest possible cost. SVB collapsed at warp speed in the second-largest bank failure in U.S. history, setting off a trans-Atlantic banking crisis that regulators are working furiously to contain.

How big was the failure compared to the investments that are needed to build things with silicon? SVB’s pre-coronapanic/free-money-shower value was about $13 billion. A single Samsung fab is on track to cost 25 billion Bidies: “Samsung’s new Texas chip plant cost rises above $25 billion” (Reuters). The bump due to inflation in this one factory, according to the Reuters article, is in the same neighborhood as the SVB market cap, at least in nominal dollars.

We’re not hearing much about Signature Bank’s failure. For 8 years up to and including its seizure by the FDIC, Barney Frank was on the board: “Barney Frank defends role at Signature Bank: ‘I need to make money’” (FT):

FT says that Barney Frank made about $2 million by serving on the board of failed bank. None of that will be clawed back by the FDIC…

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64-knot wind gusts at San Francisco’s main airport

Here’s some unusual weather at SFO:

KSFO 142256Z 23024G38KT 3SM -RA BR FEW008 BKN029 OVC047 13/12 A2970 RMK AO2 PK WND 20044/2201 SLP058 P0000 T01330117
KSFO 142209Z 22030G44KT 2SM -RA BR FEW008 BKN012 OVC017 14/12 A2968 RMK AO2 PK WND 20044/2201 PRESRR P0000 T01440122
KSFO 142156Z 21031G45KT 3SM -RA FEW008 BKN010 BKN017 15/12 A2966 RMK AO2 PK WND 21051/2129 RAE30B47 SLP043 P0000 T01500122
KSFO 142056Z 20039G54KT 3SM -RA FEW005 BKN012 16/13 A2959 RMK AO2 PK WND 21067/2011 SLP021 P0000 60000 T01610133 51022
KSFO 142054Z 20038G53KT 3SM -RA FEW005 BKN012 16/13 A2959 RMK AO2 PK WND 21067/2011 P0000
KSFO 141956Z 20042G57KT 3SM -RA FEW005 BKN017 OVC026 17/13 A2955 RMK AO2 PK WND 19062/1945 RAB12 SLP008 P0000 T01670128
KSFO 141856Z 19043G64KT 10SM FEW005 BKN025 OVC033 18/13 A2953 RMK AO2 PK WND 19064/1849 RAE07 SLP000 P0000 T01780128
KSFO 141815Z 18032G51KT 10SM FEW006 BKN029 OVC041 18/13 A2955 RMK AO2 PK WND 17051/1801 RAE07 P0000 T01780133
KSFO 141756Z 17033G49KT 10SM -RA FEW006 BKN033 OVC046 17/13 A2957 RMK AO2 PK WND 18049/1756 RAE22B48 SLP013 P0000 60062 T01720128 10172 20133 56020
KSFO 141656Z 17022G36KT 4SM -RA FEW006 SCT023 OVC032 16/13 A2957 RMK AO2 PK WND 16038/1645 SLP014 P0001 T01610128

On March 14 at 1856 GMT (around noon local time), the wind was from the south (190) at 43 knots gusting 64 knots. What if you decide to take off into that wind on 19L or 19R? Just a few clouds at 500′, a broken layer at 2500′, and overcast at 3300′ (all elevations above the airport, but the airport is only 13′ above sea level).

I find it almost comical that the METAR for a normal day at SFO is visually almost the same as the METAR on a day when a two-seater wouldn’t even need to start the engine in order to become airborne:

KSFO 151956Z 04006KT 10SM FEW020 13/07 A3002 RMK AO2 SLP164 T01280067

Maybe the next generation of METARs should allow emojis and there should be some of people being blown off the ramp. The current wind emoji is quite weak on Windows: 🌬️

Readers: Anyone been in the Bay Area through these recent storms? What’s the on-the-ground experience?


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