The Meaning of Design

If you don’t stretch you won’t know where the edge is. I was constantly stretching into areas that I didn’t know very much about.

Designers don’t just look, but they see. They don’t just hear, but they listen. And they don’t just touch, but they feel. To design is to attempt to make a world a better place.

Sara Little Turnbull
The Mask – Throughline – May 14, 2020

How Corporations Got Rights

 …the first Supreme Court case on the rights of business corporations was decided in 1809. To put that in some perspective, the first Supreme Court cases on the rights of African Americans and the rights of women weren’t decided until 1857 and 1873, respectively. So a half-century earlier, corporations were in the Supreme Court seeking the protections of the Constitution.

Bank of the United States v. Deveaux, it really set the foundation for 200 years of Supreme Court cases expanding rights to corporations. The case involved the Bank of the United States, the most powerful corporation in America at the time, and it claimed the constitutional right to sue in federal court, even though the Constitution’s text only provides that right to citizens.

Adam Winkler

In the segment of this episode of On The Media embedded below. Posted on Tumblr two years ago and shared to Facebook.

On the Media – How Corporations Got Rights – April 13, 2018

The Last Great Pandemic

The whole city lay under an epidemic of discreet, infectious fear. I could feel it, like influenza, in my bones.

Christopher Isherwood – the Berlin Stories

What we are going through right now is easily comparable to other times in history. The 1918 flu pandemic for example, the commonly mis-labeled Spanish flu, has been rolled out in several podcasts. This episode of Throughline goes into the recorded history of the 1918 flu.

Throughline – 1918 Flu – March 26, 2020

The Second World War was compared to the 1918 flu, as is illustrated in the quote I used to start this article. I was made aware of this comparison by listening to John Barry in this episode of Why Is This Happening?

Why Is This Happening? with Chris Hayes – The Last Great Pandemic with John M. Barry

What isn’t remembered is the pervasive fear. I know it isn’t remembered because I lived in San Angelo for more than a decade, and yet I have never heard this story before.

…when San Angelo had a breakout of polio in 1949 – the hardest- hit town per capita that year in the U.S. – it was horrifying in scope for the city of 50,000. Sixty children in San Angelo came down with polio in one summer. Many died. Movie theaters and swimming pools and public gatherings were shut down. Travelers passing through would roll up their windows so as not to breathe the potentially contaminated air. They wouldn’t even fill up a low tire at the gas station for fear of taking the virus with them. Some residents refused to talk on the phone with anyone, believing that perhaps, somehow, polio could travel through the phone lines.

This kind of fear gripped Texas every summer for years. Parents would not let their children swim or go to summer camp or do anything in groups in an effort to keep them safe. Houses were kept spotless and were scrubbed top to bottom to kill all the germs. In fact, Wooten told me, “When mothers lost a child to polio they suffered added anguish because they felt they would be judged as bad mothers and poor housekeepers. They would explain to reporters that ‘they had always kept a very clean house and didn’t understand how this could have happened.’ ”

TexasStandard.org
TexasStandard.org

…even without the orders to shelter in place, people would still not be going out and participating in public events as if there wasn’t an active pandemic. The fear would keep most of us inside anyway. That is the sensible side of your brain talking, in conditions like we are facing right now. Listen to it when it makes sense for once.

What Trump Can Teach Us About Constitutional Law

For any #MAGA out there. You know who you are.

Trumpconlaw is another podcast hosted by Roman Mars of 99% Invisible fame. When the show first started, I started tweeting out my own version of promos for each episode. The series of them can be found under the tag TrumpConLaw on this blog. This post should appear as the header for that series of tweets. As a consequence of this, it will move forward in time as new episodes are released. Here is the introductory episode of the series.

StitcherIntro to What Trump Can Teach Us About Con Law – 06.07.17

Twitter

So we’re going to learn the constitution together. Because of Trump. Because I need something to hold onto, and the constitution is the liferaft that our forefathers gave us. And dammit, I’m going to learn how it works.

Roman Mars

On a tangential track (or set of tracks) I am slowly working my way through the 99% Invisible archive. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever make it all the way through, but hope springs eternal. 99% Invisible is undoubtedly one of the best designed websites in existence. All Roman Mars podcasts and the podcasts that are presented through his distribution group, Radiotopia, are among the few podcasts out there that are easily shareable; easily shareable because the link to the hosting website is actually referenced in the feed address for the podcast you are listening to. I remain baffled as to why more podcasts do not design their feeds to be easily accessible in this way. In any case, give some of these podcasts a listen. It will take your mind off of the impending doom looming over the US today.


TED2015 Roman Mars Why city flags may be the worst-designed thing you’ve never noticed

09/22/19. I added the link to the introduction episode, the inspirational tweet, and Roman’s quote from that episode. 04/13/20. Moved to March 19th subsequent to the last episode at the time.

Fallibility

At first I did blame him. You should say there is no loyalty if someone commits crime, but if someone didn’t, then you should not lie about people. Then one day I was so angry when they told me that a detainee lied about me. When I was tortured, I did not blame them anymore, because I was saying, “Wow. This is one way for Allah to show me that I am a weak person too.”

Mohamedou Slahi

Not weakness. Fallibility. Choosing life over death isn’t a weakness. He lied to save himself. He’s human.

Radiolab – The Other Latif: Episode 4 – February 25, 2020

This is episode four in a series from WNYC and Radiolab. Like most of my long-term listening podcasts, I’ve listened to every episode, even some that aren’t on the current podcast list. Since they don’t link the other episodes in the series, I will link them here.

If the only other person that had my name that I could find on Google had been a detainee at Guantanamo, I would have wanted to understand that RAnthony the way that Latif wants to understand this guy. There is a American football player who uses RAnthony the way I do. I wondered who that guy was who was more popular than me.

In the first four episodes we discover just how little evidence existed for why we took him prisoner in the first place. In episode five we go into the Upside Down (is it a movie reference instead of a Stranger Things reference? I wonder) and discover the other side of Abdul Latif Nassir. What did we do to him? What have we done to him in the eighteen years we have kept him locked up. Locked up without trial. Without charges. Without a justifiable reason other than that we wanted to hide away what we had done to him, and to the other detainees in Guantanamo Bay.

There will be an episode six as well.

#MAGA: Quid Pro Quo or Quod Erat Demonstrandum?

Mr. Trump, the Orange Hate-Monkey, keeps insisting there was no quid pro quo in his phone call with the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky. It’s interesting that he keeps using that phrase. Quid pro quo. He uses like he knows what it means, and his supporters respond like they know what it means.

But they don’t know what it means. Most English speakers don’t know what it means. Quid pro quo is meant to equate to tit for tat or a favor for a favor. Which is what the transcript that Mr. Trump keeps saying exonerated him reveals. He explicitly asks for a favor in exchange for a favor.

On July 25, during a roughly 30-minute phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, our commander in chief engaged in not one, but two acts of bribery — one of the only high crimes, along with treason, specifically delineated by our Constitution.

“You just added another word,” McCarthy said. “No, it’s in the transcript,” Pelley responded. “He said — ‘I’d like you to do a favor though?” McCarthy asked, incredulous. “Yes,” Pelley responded once more, “it’s in the White House transcript.”

The reason McCarthy refused to accept that Trump said those words is because he knew they fit the definition of solicitation to a T. Nobody literally says “Here’s a bribe,” but “I would like you to do us a favor, though” is about as close as it gets.

Washington Post – The transcript Trump released is still the only evidence needed to impeach him

…He engages in two illegal acts in the transcript that he keeps insisting exonerated him. Then he uses the phrase “there was no quid pro quo.” Oddly enough, he is telling the truth when he says that. Think on that for a minute. Donald J. Trump, the president that has told more lies in his few short years as president than any one person can do in the course of a lifetime, is telling the truth about there not being a quid pro quo in that telephone conversation. There was no quid pro quo, if you revert to the meaning of the words as they were used in latin.

The Latin phrase corresponding to the usage of quid pro quo in English is do ut des (Latin for “I give, so that you may give”). Other languages continue to use do ut des for this purpose, while quid pro quo (or its equivalent qui pro quo, as widely used in Italian, French and Spanish) still keeps its original meaning of something being unwillingly mistaken, or erroneously told or understood, instead something else.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

So he’s not substituting something for the thing that he’s promising. He’s not trying to pull the wool over the eyes of Volodymyr Zelensky, trying to get something for nothing. Which is completely the opposite of Donald Trump’s standard of practice. He steals from everybody else, all through his life, and now this time, when he honestly offers a favor for a favor, he gets in trouble. In any other transaction with Donald Trump, Volodymyr Zelensky would have been right to adhere to Caveat Emptor. But this time, Mr. Trump is being honest.

Do me a favor, and I’ll do you a favor. In every other instance in his life, he’d crawfish on that promise. Welsh on the deal. Or to use language that isn’t taken from gangster movies, stab his business partner in the back. He’s rightly pissed off at this. There was no quid pro quo, no attempt to get out of doing what was promised. Donald Trump would have given Volodymyr Zelensky exactly what he wanted in exchange for Zelensky doing what Mr. Trump asked for.

English speakers do this frequently. Reverse the meanings of words used in casual parlance. Sometimes they do this by accident. Sometimes it is done on purpose. But it happens a lot, and you have to wonder if Mr. Trump knows about this reversal of the phrases definition. Does he know, and this is just another showman’s wink at the camera?

It is just too bad for Donald Trump that even asking for the things he asked for is illegal. Even if he has to give the thing that President Zelensky wanted without getting anything in return. Which makes him even madder. No one steals from the Don! Except there is no theft here. Congress approved the aid. It goes without any strings attached, and asking for personal favors in exchange for unconditional aid is looking for bribes. Again, illegal, even if you don’t get the proceeds you ask for.

Ask any lawyer. Asking for a bribe, what in legal terms in the United States and England is defined as a quid pro quo, even if you don’t receive the payment, is a serious crime. Worse than lying under oath, even. The transcript that Mr. Trump caused to be released and insists exonerated him, proves that he asked for a bribe. That is quod erat demonstrandum or Q.E.D. Another latin phrase that Mr. Trump and his supporters should familiarize themselves with. This one means exactly what it says, unlike quid pro quo.

“The very thing it was required to have shown.”

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

If it please the court? I’d like to enter exhibit A into the record.

Stay Tuned with Preet -Impeaching 45 (with Susan Glasser)

..In which Preet and Susan discuss just how the transcript is QED for Trump’s criminality (without using the phrase directly) and their wonderment that this farce of the Trump presidency has been allowed to continue to destroy the government and reputation of the United States for as long as it has.

I’d love to have a membership to the Insider. I hear it makes a great gift.

Moth Putin

I listen to every episode of Throughline (on NPR) that comes out. I haven’t missed an episode so far. All of them have been worth the time to listen, but this week’s episode provided an insight on a modern figure that we Americans and other free peoples of the world should take the time to learn more about.

Throughline – The Moth – December 26, 2019

…because if we don’t counter his plans for us, what happened to Moscow and Chechnya and Ukraine could well happen in your town/state/country soon.


January 26, 2020.

All Things Considered – Journalist Joshua Yaffa On New Book, ‘Between Two Fires’ – January 26, 2020

The Russian language has an especially rich word for a person skilled in the act of compromise and adaptation, who intuitively understands what is expected of him and adjusts his beliefs and conduct accordingly: prisposoblenets

———

I became convinced that the most edifying, and important, character for journalistic study in Russia is not Putin, but those people whose habits, inclinations, and internal moral calculations elevated Putin to his Kremlin throne and who now perform the small, daily work that, in aggregate, keeps him there.

Joshua Yaffa
Between Two Fires by Joshua Yaffa

Saratova at one point quotes a Russian movie about gangsters led by their circumstances into a life of crime: “It’s not us who are broken, it’s our life.” Ultimately, Between Two Fires is a good book about Russia, but a great book about ethics, choice, and coercion — and to read it is to be reminded that one of democracy’s most important freedoms is the freedom to be good.

WAMU

Separating Families? #ImpeachTrump

The child separation policy is still going on, over a year and a half after I posted this article the first time (August 26th, 2018) So I’m revising it and moving it up to today, December 22, 2019. We have since learned that the Trump administration has been separating children from their families from the very beginning. So, the crime against humanity that this policy is has gone on in our name for almost three years now.


No one who’s read this damned and damnable executive order, has read it and isn’t a Stormtrumper, seems to think that anything will change tomorrow. Frankly, I don’t see how anything can change tomorrow, which means that the outrage and lawsuits have to continue until we #ImpeachTrump, because the Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) doesn’t know what the truth is. If there is one thing we can say for certain about the OHM, it is that he does not have a personalized conception of  the truth beyond whatever the words coming out of his mouth at that very moment are. Some people would call that stupid, some people would call that moronic. I simply refer to it as Real Estate Developer’s syndrome, something that everyone of them I’ve ever met seems to have in common.

For days I’ve been reading and posting news stories about the Trump administration’s policy of family separation. This policy is the most inhumane and unAmerican thing that the OHM has done to date, but I don’t think he’s done with the outrageous behavior on the subject of immigration yet. Not by half, even. He can’t stop. This is exactly what he campaigned on. This is why people voted for him. This is what his base wants him to do, punish immigrants to whatever level it takes in order to make the immigrants leave. To make asylum seekers go elsewhere. This is what his cabinet officers and advisors who have spoken on this subject have been saying for weeks now, that punishment is the goal and self-deportation is the desired outcome.

NPR POLITICS PODCAST, Trump Signs Order To End Family Separations June 20, 2018

So he can’t be done and this practice will continue in some form, possibly in exactly the same way it has been going on for months. Going on in our name. Rachel Maddow broke down in tears on national television (Tuesday June 19, 2018) just reading about the tender age shelters, the Trump administration’s euphemism for places where they put babies they’ve torn from their parent’s grasp, or tricked them into surrendering voluntarily. So we’ve gotten to a place where talking heads, people trained in the art of maintaining calm in the face of anything the news throws at you, talking heads breaking down in tears at the news that babies have internment camps that they are being sent to. Babies. In internment camps. Let that idea sink in for a few.

The defenders of these policies have a few valid points. The first one is that the parents in question are breaking a law, it is a misdemeanor to cross into the United States except at border crossings. A misdemeanor that would not even get you arrested were it not involving the convoluted subject of immigration in the United States. This law has almost never been subject to prosecution until now, but the OHM is correct that he can have these people prosecuted, and does want these people prosecuted. That is the job of the executive branch of the federal government, 100% his policy in spite of every protestation he has made to the contrary.

The second point is that there are many American children who go to sleep each night in worse conditions than these children in internment camps on the Southern border. This is also demonstrably true. I myself had days when three hots and a cot were more an aspiration than a reality when I was a child. However, the fact that many children face worse treatment and housing conditions in the US is not a justification for treating the children of asylum seekers as badly as we treat our own citizens; rather, it is an observation of just how far the poor in the US need to be elevated in order for them to meet the standards set by governing bodies all around the world for treatment of refugees, let alone what the citizens of the wealthiest nation on the face of this planet should be able to expect from being among the chozen few who get to live here.

There should be a backlash by Americans over the treatment of children who had the misfortune to be born outside the US in a time of global unrest. People who are no different than we would be if we were forced out of our homes and made to seek charity from the tender mercies of the more fortunate. Let us hope that the people we are faced with, should such a misfortune befall any of us, are more forgiving than we have been. We need to send a clear signal to the rest of the world, and we need to do it now. #ImpeachTrump. Do it now. Do it before more horrors are committed in our names.


The OHM’s administration failed to meet family reunification deadlines set by the courts today (July 10, 2018) So the torment of children and their parents at the hands of the US government continues. These are our dollars at work here. This is our government. If you voted for Trump, you voted for this to happen. Understand the horror you have created here. Child abduction is not a political issue. Abducting children and imprisoning their parents for crimes they were given no alternative but to commit can’t be a political issue because there’s nobody out there aside from slavers that think that stealing children is a good idea. I will go so far as to say that I don’t even think immigration should be a political issue.

You live here, you work here, you pay taxes here? Welcome, citizen. I don’t know what other requirements for citizenship there should be aside from saying I want to be a citizen and proving your upstanding status (again, live, work, pay taxes) I’m singularly uninterested in there being an underclass that can be subjected to lower wages and fewer rights so that I can get my tomatoes a few dollars cheaper. I’ll pay more for produce. Institute a guest worker program with a path to citizenship, screen everybody and then let them get to work. It certainly isn’t rocket science to make the immigration system function, we just have to admit that we need the workers and that we want to do right by them.

Asylum seekers are being stripped of rights under the current regime. It was bad enough when Obama allowed ICE to house children in detention centers when they were coming over the border unaccompanied (and with parents) back in 2014 seeking asylum. But at least those kids got asylum hearings and were dealt with in a legal fashion. This travesty has to end, and it isn’t just Trump to blame. Every Republican in congress could have stood up and fixed this problem back in 2010 and every year since. They haven’t. They haven’t even tried, aside from Rubio, who backpedaled from his own bill so fast you’d swear someone else had written it. Shame on them, is all I have to say. Shame on them and everyone who voted for them.


Like the article on Puerto Rico, this article and the other open-ended #ImpeachTrump articles will be updated as I run across more substantial stories that alter or strengthen their core arguments. The hashtag that should be trending if you think this is the election issue to motivate voters? How about #TrumpInternment2018? That has a nice double-entendre to it.

Beto O’Rourke Facebook Live video outside ICE processing center in El Paso, July 21, 2018


In testimony given in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, it was revealed that the kinds of trauma we are witnessing in the children seperated and now reunited with their parents, was detailed to the Trump administration officials who wanted to carry out these policies, before they put the policies into force,

“There’s no question that separation of children from parents entails significant potential for traumatic psychological injury to the child.”

Commander Jonathan White, PBS Newshour July 31, 2018

This is 100% on Trump. Nobody else. His administration, his policies, his fault. Not to mention the hundreds of other children not reunited, that the US will now be sued over because of Trump’s ham-handed policies that violated international and US law. Grounds for impeachment, yet again.


LatinoUSA, The Port of Entry, JUL 31, 2018

At the Nogales pedestrian port of entry in Arizona, some families with small children waited for up to two weeks before a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer allowed them to come through and ask for asylum, according to the Kino Border Initiative, a binational organization that gives aid to migrants along the border.

On a recent visit to Nogales, four families were waiting. Two had spent the night on the makeshift camp at the port of entry. All of them waited for at least two days to be seen by a CBP officer. And on that day, agents processed only two families.

This inaction is what is forcing asylum seekers to cross the border illegally.

On The Media, Journalism To The Rescue, August 2, 2018

This summer, in a project designed by ProPublica, 10 news organizations are sharing information to flesh out the hidden details of families separated by the Trump administration’s zero tolerance immigration policy. Bob speaks with Selymar Colón, digital managing editor at Univision News, one of the organizations involved in the collaboration, about how the consortium has investigated and reported on some of the 200 tips it has received —and about the four families that were reunited after their stories were published.

Perhaps this was what the Trump administration was thinking they would rely on when they tried to fob off the chore of reuniting these poor people with their children. As usual, when it comes to the OHM’s lack of thought on a subject, they mistook this effort for the efforts of the ACLU. Perhaps if he read things instead of relying on visualizations, he would look less ignorant to the outside observer.


LatinoUSA, Torn Apart 1: Sign Here, AUG 14, 2018

After U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Trump administration’s new “zero-tolerance” policy in April, the U.S. government faced a national outcry. This new policy meant all adults crossing the border illegally would be criminally prosecuted. A consequence of that shift has meant that thousands of immigrant children have been torn apart from their parents.

Since then, and under a judge’s mandate, the federal government has been scrambling to reunify families. In part one of a two-part episode, Latino USA breaks down the aftermath of the family separation crisis and explores what happens to the hundreds of kids who still aren’t reunited with their families because their parents have been deported.

LatinoUSA, Torn Apart 2: The Moral Dilemma of Juan Sanchez, AUG 17, 2018

Juan Sanchez first gained national notoriety back in June of 2018 when Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley flew to Texas to try and tour a shelter that he believed was housing children who had been separated from their parents under the Trump administration’s new “zero-tolerance” policy. Senator Merkley was denied access to the shelter and was even questioned by police who were called by the shelter’s staffers.There seem to be two opposing narratives when it comes to Juan Sanchez. So host Maria Hinojosa and producer Antonia Cereijido travel to Austin, Texas, to see which one was the correct one.


Some five hundred and sixty children are still separated from their parents, including twenty-four who are five years old or younger, and the parents of more than three hundred and sixty of them have already been deported. Between seven hundred and eight hundred other children were reunited with their parents in detention, where their situation is especially confounding. About half of the reunited parents have final orders of deportation—in many instances, because they’d been pressured to sign papers waiving their rights to pursue their immigration cases. As a result, families face a choice: either a parent and child can agree to be deported together, or the child can stay in this country alone while her own case is decided. Last Thursday night, Sabraw issued an order temporarily blocking the deportation of reunited parents so that they could have more time to weigh their legal options with immigration lawyers. As Dara Lind wrote, at Vox, “The question right now is when they will actually be deported, not whether they will be.”

The New Yorker, Will Anyone in the Trump Administration Ever Be Held Accountable for the Zero-Tolerance Policy? By Jonathan Blitzer, August 22, 2018

To date (as the article details) no one in the administration has been held to account for their administration’s policy of kidnapping the children of asylum seekers with the intent to profit off of keeping these children in the US illegally. Someone must answer for the Trump administrations crimes.


William Gorgas

Gorgas was just 27 years old when arrived at Fort Brown. There was a full-blown yellow fever epidemic raging at the time. It was so named because it turned eyes and skin yellow. About half the people who came down with it, died. Yellow fever was not only deadly, it was quick. You could feel fine on Wednesday morning, have symptoms kick in that afternoon, and be dead by Saturday.

W.F. Strong
Texas Standard: Stories from Texas – The Man Who Led The Battle Against Yellow Fever – Dec. 11, 2019

But the political leaders in charge didn’t want to hear anything about his mosquito theory. They told him to keep that crazy theory to himself because “everyone knew that those tropical illnesses came from miasma – bad air.” Hell, the word “malaria” itself came from Italian, translating, verbatim, “mal” and “aria” – translation: bad air.

W.F. Strong

World's Oldest Dog?

The history of just how and when dogs split from wolves is unresolved. There’s a general agreement among scientists that modern gray wolves and dogs split from a common ancestor 15,000 to 40,000 years ago, explains Brian Handwerk previously for Smithsonian.com. How dogs became dogs, however, is contested. Some research suggests that dogs were domesticated by humans once, while other studies have found dogs were domesticated multiple times. Exactly where in the world wild canines became man’s best friend is also disputed. The origin of the human-animal bond has been traced to Mongolia, China and Europe.

Smithsonian

Hat/tip to the Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe #753