This evening I finished psychologist Bill Eddy's Why we elect narcissists and sociopaths and how we can stop. It turns out, we just need to be rational!
OK, so, that's not likely. But Eddy does lay out the obvious: we need to stop electing narcissists and sociopaths. We also need to watch out for sick politicians dividing us into 4 groups that could work together but don't: Loyalists, Resisters, Moderates, and dropouts. The three groups who don't have automatic loyalty to the narcissist in question always outnumber the Loyalists.
In other words, when a politician says "I alone can fix it," the correct response is to ensure he (it's always "he") never holds any power. Because he will always try to increase his power to the detriment of everyone around him. And he will never fix it.
I exhausted myself yesterday with a walk from Otford to Shoreham, in Kent, along the Kentish Downs. I'll have photos after I get home, but until then, here's the Garmin plot:
The bit right around 4km included a steep climb to an amazing view of the Downs. Again, photos next week, which will also demonstrate why I want to retire to Shoreham now.
With an 8:30 international flight and great uncertainty in airport/airline operations these days, I thought it prudent to haul my ass out to a hotel by the airport last night.
Well, it worked, in that I got through O'Hare security less than an hour after waking up. I have plenty of time to sort through my email and load my Surface with some news.
On the other hand, I couldn't find a combination of pillows that I could tolerate, and only slept a bit more than 6 hours, so I can't call it a decisive win.
It looks like there are a lot of empty seats on the plane, so at least I didn't feel the need to check my bag. Depending on how I flex my strong dollars (£1 = $1.197 at this writing), I might have to check it on the way back, though.
Next report from my Ancestral Homeland in about 11 hours, if all goes well.
In just a few minutes I will take Cassie to boarding, then head up to Northwestern for a rehearsal (I'm in the chorus at Ravinia's upcoming performances of La Clemenza di Tito.) I'll then have to pack when I get home from rehearsal, then head to a hotel by O'Hare. Ah, how much fun is an 8:30 international flight!
As I'll have some time at the airport in the morning, and no time now, I want to queue these up for myself:
All right, I'm off. After I pack.
The Met Office has provisionally recorded the UK's first-ever above-40°C (104°F) temperature:
Heathrow's 12:50 BST report to ICAO put the temperature at 39°C, with a heat index of 37.1°C (98.9°F). Meanwhile, the city of Abadan, Iran, has hit 51°C (123.8°F), which I can scarcely imagine.
And yet, the forecast for my trip this week looks perfect: highs in the mid-20s, with possible sprinkles Friday morning.
To Cassie's great joy, we went back to the Montrose Beach DFA this afternoon:
She is now asleep on the couch, where I expect she will remain until dinner time, which is imminent.
Writing in The New Yorker last week, Corey Robin argues that the violent and authoritarian world-view of Justice Thomas (R) has much more internal consistency than we on the left usually ascribe to it, but that doesn't make it better:
Thomas’s argument against substantive due process is more than doctrinal. It’s political. In a speech before the Federalist Society and the Manhattan Institute which he gave in his second year on the Court, Thomas linked a broad reading of the due-process clause, with its ever-expanding list of “unenumerated” rights, to a liberal “rights revolution” that has undermined traditional authority and generated a culture of permissiveness and passivity. That revolution, which began with the New Deal and peaked in the nineteen-sixties, established the welfare state, weakened criminal law, and promulgated sexual freedom. The result has been personal dissipation and widespread disorder. Workers lose their incentive to labor. Men abandon wives and children. Criminals roam and rule the streets.
Liberals often claim that there is something hypocritical, if not perverse, about conservatives enshrining the right to bear arms without enshrining the right to abortion. Conservatives have an easy response: one right is found in the Constitution, both as tradition and text; the other is not. That’s what Justice Samuel Alito argues in Dobbs and in his concurrence, the day before, in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc., et al. v. Bruen, which struck down part of New York’s concealed-carry law.
Bodily autonomy is so foundational to contemporary understandings of freedom, however, that it’s hard to imagine a reason for denying it to women other than the fact that they are women. The fetish for guns, meanwhile, can seem like little more than a transposition of America’s white settler past onto its white suburban present....
Today’s felt absence of physical security is the culmination of a decades-long war against social welfare. In the face of a state that won’t do anything about climate change, economic inequality, personal debt, voting rights, and women’s rights, it’s no wonder that an increasing portion of the population, across all races, genders, and beliefs, have determined that the best way to protect themselves, and their families, is by getting a gun. A society with no rights, no freedoms, except for those you claim yourself—this was always Thomas’s vision of the world. Now, for many Americans, it is the only one available.
To sum up our current state of affairs: it might have helped the United States if politicians on the left had taken seriously the worries that many of us expressed about the right's march to power. A minority dedicated to controlling the majority can succeed for a long, long time, until it wrecks the foundations of the society too much to survive. Just ask South Africa how that can go.
The euro has fallen below parity with the dollar for the first time since 2003:
Sterling has fallen to $1.18, just days before I fly there. The pound dipped down to this level briefly just as the pandemic hit in March 2020, but you have to go back to 1985 to see it at those levels.
I may have to stock up while I'm there. Euros too.
On this day in 1787, the Continental Congress passed the Northwest Ordinance, dividing up all the land west of Pennsylvania, north of the Ohio River, and east of the Mississippi River, into those little boxes you see when you fly over Illinois:
In 1781, Virginia began by ceding its extensive land claims to Congress, a move that made other states more comfortable in doing the same. In 1784, Thomas Jefferson first proposed a method of incorporating these western territories into the United States. His plan effectively turned the territories into colonies of the existing states. Ten new northwestern territories would select the constitution of an existing state and then wait until its population reached 20,000 to join the confederation as a full member. Congress, however, feared that the new states—10 in the Northwest as well as Kentucky, Tennessee and Vermont—would quickly gain enough power to outvote the old ones and never passed the measure.
Three years later, the Northwest Ordinance proposed that three to five new states be created from the Northwest Territory. Instead of adopting the legal constructs of an existing state, each territory would have an appointed governor and council. When the population reached 5,000, the residents could elect their own assembly, although the governor would retain absolute veto power.
The cadastral bits of the law explain why Chicago's streets form a grid and why Detroit has streets with evocative names like "13 Mile Road."
I will definitely make time this weekend to drool over the recent photos from the James Webb Space Telescope. It's kind of sad that no living human will ever see anything outside our solar system, but we can dream, right?
Closer to home than the edge of the visible universe:
Finally, an F/A-18 slid right off the deck of the USS Harry S Truman and into the Mediterranean, which will probably result in a short Navy career for at least one weather forecaster or helmsman.