Celebrating Juneteenth here in Portugal

Portugal so far has been short on what Americans would consider Social Justice. We witnessed one pro-Hamas march on a Lisbon synagogue and the number of participants (about 50) was a tiny percentage of the Lisbon metro area population (nearly 3 million). The pro-Hamas encampment at the University of Coimbra was also poorly attended (and they let a dog walk on the sacred Palestinian flag; see future post). Our almost-9-year-old’s sharp eyes spotted a single rainbow flag, rather faded, above a bar in Lisbon (i.e., that’s one rainbow flag in a 10-day period). At Portugal dos Pequenitos, a theme park of miniature houses and architectural monuments designed to delight children, the Portuguese “voyages of discovery” are presented as great achievements, not as pernicious precursors to slavery and colonization:

Does all of the above mean that I am not participating in Juneteenth? Au contraire, as they say in Lisbon! Today I tried to return a phone call from John Hancock regarding my 90-year-old mom’s insurance. I turned on my Xfinity Mobile SIM ($10 per day of usage, with a meagre 0.5 GB data allotment that one will blow through in less than a day of using Google Maps, uploading a few photos, etc.) and called John Hancock. I spent about 15 minutes dealing with their automated system before an attempt was made to connect me with a human. My reward was a recording: “Our offices are closed today in observance of Juneteenth” (this became a new paid day off for government workers in 2021; see “Biden Signs Law Making Juneteenth a Federal Holiday” (NYT)).

Readers: How did you observe Juneteenth? Were you obstructed in any of your attempts to be productive?

Here’s Joe Biden crediting Black Americans as having “led the march from slavery to freedom”, but weren’t the relevant marches for Juneteenth led by Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman? Is he saying that Grant and Sherman identified as “Black”?

Related:

A video of the “Free Palestine” march on the synagogue in Lisbon that was around the corner from our hotel:

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Only rich young people are caring

Which young Americans care enough about their fellow humans (or at least those oppressed by Jews) to camp out in support of Hamas? The rich. From “Are Gaza Protests Happening Mostly at Elite Colleges?” (Washington Monthly):

Using data from Harvard’s Crowd Counting Consortium and news reports of encampments, we matched information on every institution of higher education that has had pro-Palestinian protest activity (starting when the war broke out in October until early May) to the colleges in our 2023 college rankings. Of the 1,421 public and private nonprofit colleges that we ranked, 318 have had protests and 123 have had encampments.

By matching that data to percentages of students at each campus who receive Pell Grants (which are awarded to students from moderate- and low-income families), we came to an unsurprising conclusion: Pro-Palestinian protests have been rare at colleges with high percentages of Pell students. Encampments at such colleges have been rarer still. A few outliers exist, such as Cal State Los Angeles, the City College of New York, and Rutgers University–Newark. But in the vast majority of cases, campuses that educate students mostly from working-class backgrounds have not had any protest activity. For example, at the 78 historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) on the Monthly’s list, 64 percent of the students, on average, receive Pell Grants. Yet according to our data, none of those institutions have had encampments and only nine have had protests, a significantly lower rate than non-HBCU schools.

Whatever the cause, the pattern is clear: Pro-Palestinian protests are overwhelmingly an elite college phenomenon.

A couple of charts from the article:

(Why would it be accurate to characterize these as “pro-Hamas” protests? See Talking with a pro-Hamas college student for how the expectation among the protesters is that their success will enable Hamas to rule Gaza for the foreseeable future.)

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What are you doing to act in George Floyd’s memory?

From our President:

George Floyd changed the world and we should “act in his memory”.

Readers: what have you done today (or recently) to act in George Floyd’s memory? What did this American hero do that we should also do so that our children can see an ideal way for an adult to act?

Some other things that happened on May 25 that Joe Biden isn’t talking about (source):

  • 1241 1st attack on Jewish community of Frankfurt am Main, Germany
  • 1784 Jews are expelled from Warsaw by Marshall Mniszek
  • 1787 Constitutional convention opens at Philadelphia, George Washington presiding
  • 1927 Henry Ford announces that he is ending production of the Model T Ford
  • 1942 First commercial fluid catalytic cracking facility begins production at Exxon – now produces half the world’s gasoline, developed by the “Four Horsemen” research team at Exxon
  • 1945 Arthur C. Clark proposes relay satellites in geosynchronous orbit (also on May 25, 1945: final U.S. fire bombing of civilians in Tokyo)
  • 1961 JFK announces US goal of putting a man on the Moon before the end of decade
  • 1961 NASA civilian pilot Joseph A. Walker takes X-15 to 32,770 m
  • 1968 Gateway Arch in St Louis dedicated
  • 1973 US launches 1st Skylab crew Kerwin, Conrad, Weitz
  • 1977 Original “Star Wars” movie (Episode IV – A New Hope), directed by George Lucas and starring Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford, premieres
  • 1979 Israel begins to return Sinai to Egypt
  • 1986 Hands Across America – 6.5 million people hold hands from California to NY
    1991 Israel evacuates 14,000 Ethiopian Jews
  • 2017 Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg receives an honorary degree from Harvard University, after dropping out in 2004 (a Harvard commencement without a pro-Hamas component!)
  • 2018 Harvey Weinstein turns himself in to New York police to face charges of rape, a criminal sex act, sex abuse and sexual misconduct (conviction overturned in 2024)
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When low-skill immigration, divorce litigation, DEI, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ intersect

Today we celebrate the 20th anniversary of what used to be called “gay” or “same-sex” marriage here in the U.S., in which Maskachusetts led the way (modern-style opposite-sex marriage, in which divorce litigation may ensue, seems to go back about 4,300 years to Mesopotamia). (Joe Biden also reminds us that today is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, not to be confused with the Pride Month that starts in two weeks.)

Let’s check in with a formerly happy couple… “A Broken Marriage, a Big Inheritance and the Murder of an Art Kingmaker” (Wall Street Journal, May 11, 2024):

Brent had long held sway over a cerebral corner of the New York art scene, promoting women and diverse artists in the early 1990s when few galleries or museums exhibited either. … friends gravitated toward his wicked sense of humor, a zest that extended to an ebullient social life, often populated by a revolving door of lovers. “He liked younger men,” says his friend, the artist Vik Muniz.

DEI box… checked. 2SLGBTQQIA+ box… checked.

Now, landing in Rio, Brent was trying to move past a personal low point. Despite his outward success, close friends say he had been emotionally drained after nearly two years of hashing out a divorce settlement with his estranged husband, with whom he had a 13-year-old son. In Rio, he could spend a few weeks relaxing, maybe walk along Copacabana beach to meet locals or meditate.

Miracle of biology… checked. Winner-take-all divorce litigation in New York State… checked. The proud parents and future plaintiff/defendant:

What can New Yorkers do with all of the free time they have because they never have to go to Home Depot?

After work, he and Brent sought out the same nightlife, going to sex clubs and swapping ribald stories, Renaud-Clément says.

Does marriage interfere with going to the sex club?

friends of both men say the couple was known to have an open marriage

Personal background?

Daniel was born in a tiny town in the Cuban province of Camagüey. … Daniel was fleeing a troubled childhood and doing whatever he could to survive in Havana and later Madrid, including sex work, according to Daniel’s 2006 memoir.

Low-skill immigration box… checked.

Daniel got a WhatsApp message from Prevez, his former caretaker in Cuba. Prevez had since moved to São Paulo and wanted to catch up, according to his police statement. … Like Daniel, Prevez had struggled for years to scrape together a living in Cuba, repairing bicycles by day and working as a night security guard. In September 2022, he moved to Brazil in hope of a better salary. … Prevez says he took a job making deliveries for an online marketplace known as Mercado Livre in a borrowed Fiat Palio, but he wasn’t earning enough to support his own family in Cuba.

Low-skill immigration box… checked a second time. (Mr. Prevez migrated from his caretaker job to live in Brazil.)

Prevez said Daniel told him about the ongoing divorce. Then, he told police, Daniel made him an offer: $200,000 and a free place to stay in Rio in exchange for killing his ex.

According to New York law, Daniel could seek a third of Brent’s net worth as the surviving spouse—likely more than he would get in any divorce settlement. Daniel’s lawyers say they intend to claim his share as a surviving spouse.

A European friend: “Big irony is that these gay dudes fought so hard to be able to get sued for divorce.”

Related:

  • “Couple who led gay marriage fight to divorce” (NBC): Julie and Hillary Goodridge were among seven gay couples who filed a lawsuit that led to a court ruling making Massachusetts the first state to legalize same-sex marriages in 2004. The couple became the public face of the debate in the state and married the first day same-sex marriages became legal. The divorce case was filed last week in Suffolk Probate and Family Court and was not unexpected. The couple announced they were separating in 2006.
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Could the elite universities clear their pro-Hamas encampments with Taylor Swift music?

The U.S. got Manuel Noriega out of the Vatican’s embassy in Panama City by playing Van Halen 24/7. I wonder if administrators at elite universities could clear their “river to the sea” encampments of Hamas/Hezbollah/UNRWA/Palestinian Islamic Jihad supporters via the magic of Taylor Swift. Given that the only thing more expensive, and therefore presumably more sought-after, than a day at an elite university is a day at a Taylor Swift concert (see Long term effects of taking away $5-10,000 from every upper middle class family with a female child?) nobody could complain about a DJ spinning up Ms. Swift’s The Tortured Poets Department on repeat. The schools are mostly shut down so 85 dBA (keep it within OSHA limits) of Taylor Swift 24/7 wouldn’t disturb any classes. Why not just play Taylor Swift until those who are camped out decide that they’d rather listen to something else and, therefore, have to walk away?

Separately, here’s my favorite recent social media post relating to the Ivy league:

This combines the Latinx, Queers, and a drum circle. Who could ask for more?

Lyrics to “Florida!!!”:

You can beat the heat if you beat the charges too
They said I was a cheat, I guess it must be true
And my friends all smell like weed or little babies
And this city reeks of driving myself crazy
Little did you know
Your home’s really only a town you’re just a guest in
So you work your life away
Just to pay for a timeshare down in Destin
Florida is one hell of a drug
Florida, can I use you up?
The hurricane with my name when it came
I got drunk and I dared it to wash me away
Barricaded in the bathroom with a bottle of wine
Well, me and my ghosts, we had a hell of a time
Yes, I’m haunted but I’m feeling just fine
All my girls got their lace and their crimes
And your cheating husband disappeared
Well, no one asks any questions here

(Maybe she is singing about the Redneck Riviera, more properly part of Alabama, than the parts of Florida that most people consider “Florida”? Destin is shown below, straight south from Alabama.)

In case the above is memory-holed as disinformation:

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Why did NPR hire a white person as its new CEO?

Katherine Maher, the former head of Wikipedia and recently hired CEO of state-sponsored NPR, has been in the news lately. Christopher Rufo has been highlighting her years of progressive-themed tweets. This one is my favorite:

(It’s actually a prompt of exclusion since the password does not include “Ze”)

What I can’t figure out is why NPR hired this white native-born 40-year-old. Here’s the NPR diversity policy:

If diversity is their core value, as they say, why couldn’t they find a CEO who fits into more corners of the “big tent” that they’ve identified? A Black gay transgender poor religious old disabled conservative undocumented immigrant, for example. And why did she take the job? She says that she wants to help sex workers, Black and brown people, Muslims, “LGBTQ+ folks”, et al. Shouldn’t she have rejected the offer and told NPR to hire someone who fit into one of those categories?

Some more tweets from the head of the taxpayer-funded radio network:

(It’s a “man’s world”, but someone with only a bachelor’s degree was able to get the top jobs at Wikipedia and NPR without identifying as a “man”?)

Don’t have kids, but invite 100 million migrants and their kids into a high-carbon society from their low-carbon societies? Hearing about the possibility that immigrants destroyed the natives (Anglo-Saxons moving into present-day Britain) makes her more confident that open borders are the correct choice for current Americans:

In case the original of my favorite tweet goes into a memory hole:

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Progressives hate Jews more than Europeans did in the 1930s and 1940s?

Europeans, especially Germans, are famous for their Jew-hatred in the 1930s and early 1940s, culminating in the death camp system run by the Nazis and their collaborators. (Remember that the original German goal was a Jew-free Europe to be achieved via expulsion and expropriation, similar to what the Muslim/Arab nations achieved after 1948, and the death camp idea was conceived after expulsion proved impractical due to other countries’ refusal to accept Jews (to keep the Arabs happy, the British wouldn’t allow Jews expelled by the Germans to move to Mandatory Palestine, for example).)

Could it be that today’s progressives in the U.S. and Europe have outdone the 1930s/40s Europeans in Jew-hatred?

Let’s consider a German circa 1933 who was among the 44 percent who voted for the National Socialist German Workers’ Party and its 25-point program (not too different from what today’s politicians promise). Getting 500,000 Jews out of Germany, whose population was 65 million at the time, would deliver a potential personal benefit to the non-Jewish German. The German who supported the Nazi plan to expel Jews might have felt that social cohesion in German society would be improved without a group whose value system was different or at least perceived as different. Such a German would not need to feel any personal animosity towards Jews in order to prefer having Christian Germans as neighbors rather than Jewish Germans. (Similar to today’s Americans who are opposed to low-skill immigration, especially from non-European nations; they might not hate Somalis or wish them any harm, but they don’t want to live in a neighborhood whose culture is imported from Somalia.)

Although only some of the progressives marching in London, New York, San Francisco, etc. will openly say that they want to “end Israel” or that they support the general Palestinian goal of destroying Israel (2021 poll, for example), support for the “Palestinian cause” inevitably is helpful to the majority of Palestinians who have a long-term goal of destroying the Zionist entity and establishing a river-to-the-sea Palestinian nation. In theory, some of the Jews in Israel could return to places where their ancestors lived, e.g., Russia, Poland, etc. But the largest group of Jews in Israel are from Arab/Muslim countries and there is no evidence that the ancestors of their former neighbors in Iran, Iraq, etc. want them back. So the progressives are where the Nazis were in the 1930s. They want to rid the former Ottoman-then-British-ruled areas of the Levant (present-day Israel, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt) of Jews, but aren’t particular about how the ridding is accomplished.

A March 29, 2024 example, “Pro-Palestinian protesters disrupt Berkeley City Council meeting, Holocaust remembrance vote: ‘End Israel'” (deplorable Fox News):

Pro-Palestinian protesters interrupted the City Council in Berkeley, California, on Tuesday, shouting “Zionist pigs!” and “End Israel!” during a meeting that included a vote on marking Holocaust Remembrance Day, video of the event shared by the Jewish Community Relations Council showed.

A sticker that a group was handing out on the Berkeley campus, March 14, 2024:

If progressives have the same goal as the Nazis how can they hate Jews more than the Nazis did? The progressives demonstrating in Washington, D.C. and Toronto don’t live in or near Israel and they have no plans to visit the new Palestinian state whose establishment they support (the new Hamas-ruled nation might not be as friendly to the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community as the Queers for Palestine might want for a vacation destination). In other words, the progressive works for the destruction of Israel but would receive no personal benefit via the destruction of Israel. It’s an entirely unselfish Jew-hatred, unlike the Europeans of 90 years ago who had selfish reasons for wanting to live in a less diverse society. One could argue that this selfish desire was irrational (diversity is our strength, after all), but that isn’t relevant to the question of whether the Europeans were doing something that would have an effect on their own lives.

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New Maskachusetts program to make income inequality look more extreme than it is

I’m not sure how anyone comes up with a Gini coefficient of income inequality in the U.S. given that we have so many means-tested taxpayer-funded “not welfare” welfare programs. A person with zero income making the U.S. look extremely unequal may yet have the spending power to occupy a $60,000/year apartment, consume $30,000/year in health insurance, buy groceries, own a smartphone with service, and enjoy high-speed Internet at home via the new “free broadband” program.

There’s a new challenge in Maskachusetts… “Making Transit More Affordable: MBTA Board Approves Low-Income Fare Program to Benefit Riders in 170+ Communities” (MBTA.com):

… the MBTA today announced that the MBTA Board of Directors has unanimously approved the MBTA’s plan to implement a reduced fares program for riders with low-income. This program, which has been a topic of research and planning by the MBTA and many partners for the last decade, is an exciting improvement for fare equity.

The new program will provide riders who are aged 26-64, non-disabled, and have low income with reduced fares of approximately 50% off on all MBTA modes. Program participants will demonstrate eligibility via existing enrollment in programs with a cutoff of 200% of the federal poverty level (or lower).

The MBTA estimates the cost of the program to be approximately $52-62 million (including administrative costs, operating costs to meet induced demand, and fare revenue loss).

Without this program, a resident of Lockdown Land with 201% of the federal poverty level in income would be considered better off than someone with 200%. But with this program, the higher income person actually will have less spending power, assuming that he/she/ze/they ever uses public transit.

On net, any program likes this makes the quoted numbers on income inequality in the U.S. misleadingly extreme, which is good news, I suppose, for any political party that thrives by stoking envy.

Apropos of transportation, a friend of a friend’s hangar here in South Florida, complete with C1 Corvette and Nissan Fairlady Z (“Datsun” for Americans at the time):

And a photo of an almost-finished house that I snapped after departing from this airport:

(Jupiter Island, not to be confused with Jupiter; Intracoastal Waterway in the foreground and Atlantic Ocean in the background.)

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Housing Justice in Berkeley, California

Here’s a photo of an unhoused person sleeping next to a classic Volkswagen Microbus used to advertise the availability, for those with money, of sparkling new apartments:

Housing is a human right, say the folks who live in the Bay Area, but somehow they never reduce their personal consumption in order to build housing for the unhoused.

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Closing out Black History Month at the hockey game

Some photos from a recent Florida Panthers v. Washington Capitals NHL game:

(My neighbor loves hockey and has season tickets. Bizarrely, the Florida-based team is one of the best in the NHL. They lost the Stanley Cup last year to the cold weather experts in the Las Vegas Golden Knights.)

Note that Amazon has partnered with the Panthers to celebrate Black History Month. With one (Indian) exception, Amazon seems to have a 100-percent white roster of senior managers and directors. What about in the arena? We never saw a Black player on the ice at any point in the game (ended in overtime with the Science-Deniers defeating the Lockdowners 3-2). Where are the Panthers from this year? Finland, Canada, Sweden, Russia.

Separately, if you ever want to go to one of these games, held west of Fort Lauderdale (a reasonable drive from either Palm Beach or Miami), the Corona Beach House is a great place to sit. Copious food, beer, and wine are included and there is plenty of room to wander around. The only thing that I did not love about the seats is that you’re viewing the game through the net that prevents the puck from flying into the crowd.

Parking in our inflation-free society is $40. Many fans park for free across the street at the Sawgrass Mills Mall. Pro Tip: park in Lot 7 if you’re going to be heading north after the game. Getting out of the $40 lot and onto the highway after the game took less than ten minutes.

Would I go again? Sure. I wish that the overtime rules applied all the time, though! It is more exciting when it is just 3+goalie per side rather than the standard 5+goalie and it is also much easier to follow the puck.

Readers: How did you close out Black History Month?

Related… the Amazon books section, retrieved on February 26, 2024, in which “Black Authors” is the #1 category of products to browse (they’re “remarkably written” whereas books by non-Black authors are unremarkable?):

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