Larry Kramer RIP

I discovered today that my long-time friend Larry Kramer — no, not the writer Larry Kramer, but one Charles L. Kramer who lived in Los Angeles for decades, until his move to suburban Austin TX back in 2006 — has died, at age 70. This was a situation I’ve feared and which finally came to pass. We were friends for decades in LA (we met in a gay bicycle club). He moved to Austin in 2006, where I did visit him a couple times, though lastly in 2012. Over the past decade, we usually called or emailed every couple weeks.

He had been a successful business exec, for record companies in Hollywood, for decades, until he decided he could afford to retire. He moved away from LA to suburban Austin TX, primarily (he told me) because as an obsessive bicycle rider, there were lots of roads in that area he could ride on. Despite the fact he knew no one in Austin.

And he did ride his bicycle, obsessively, for many years. Until injuries to his legs and ankles — originating from an injury by an accident with a city bus in Griffith Park, in LA — led to a series to injuries and operations over the past decade.

Recently, after not hearing from him for a month (since my birthday on Aug. 30th), a couple days ago another friend of his, one Marcelo, contacted me, that he had not heard from Larry in a couple weeks. I called Larry and called and emailed. No response.

So I did the duty. What do you do when someone far away is out of contact, maybe has died? Alone? I phoned the hospital he was last in; they told me to contact the police; the police referred me to the sheriff; and the sheriff sent someone to his address to do a “well check.” And found him, in his house, deceased, “for a while.”

I’ve contacted the couple of his friends that I know of. I don’t know what happens next.

As we get older, we are more and more alone.

Posted in Personal history | Leave a comment

Rapture, Autism, Economics, Authoritarianism

  • The predicted Rapture that did not (of course) come true;
  • How some Christians believe autism is demonic, and (of course) why they’re wrong;
  • Paul Krugman on why Republicans cling to “right-wing economics”;
  • Heather Cox Richardson, excerpting her new book, on how American is at the brink of authoritarianism.

To begin: we had another confidant set of religious predictions in the past couple weeks, about a Biblical “Rapture” to happen on Sept. 23rd, which of course did not come true. (Are we clear about what the “Rapture” means? Here’s Wikipedia. To us in the real world, it seems insane that anyone would believe this.)

This has happened over and over throughout history. They never learn. How do believers’ rationalize this kind of failure? There’s a long history of them doing so.

OnlySky, Captain Cassidy, 26 Sep 2023: Rapture Rapture everywhere, and not an empty pile of clothes to be found, subtitled “If reality could rein in some of these zealots, the Rapture would never have become a belief in the first place.”

Continue reading

Posted in Economics, Politics, Psychology | Leave a comment

Executions, Dictators, and the GOP’s Own Reality

  • Trump and other Republicans float the execution of Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley; this is where Republicans are: executions;
  • How wannabe dictator Trump would take NBC and other news outlets off the air;
  • More about the GOP’s attack on truth (i.e. fact-checkers) to promote their “own reality”;
  • Images from Facebook today about Conservatism, and Cognitive Biases.

The right has become so extreme, things so outrageous that decades ago they would have prompted calls for resignation or censure or disqualification from future office now go by without much notice, i.e. not on the front pages of papers, or the nightly network news. And his followers don’t care, and would I’m sure will continue to endorse him. This is where Republicans are now.

The Atlantic, Brian Klaas, 25 Sep 2023: Trump Floats the Idea of Executing Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley, subtitled “The former president is inciting violence against the nation’s top general. America’s response is distracted and numb.”

Continue reading

Posted in Conservative Resistance, Lunacy, Politics, Psychology | Leave a comment

Two Political Items, Two Intellectual Items

  • NYT’s Michelle Goldberg on the legacy of Rupert Murdoch;
  • Responses to conservative dismissals of climate change (with some quotes by Carl Sagan);
  • Veritasium: How knot theory could save your life;
  • Yuval Noah Harari on how history is the study of change (a counterpart of science fiction perhaps).

One more good piece about Rupert Murdoch and his legacy.

NY Times, Opinion by Michelle Goldberg, 21 Sep 2023: The Ludicrous Agony of Rupert Murdoch

Goldberg is reacting in part to a new book by Michael Wolff, The Fall: The End of Fox News and the Murdoch Dynasty, to be published next Tuesday. The choice bits:

Continue reading

Posted in Conservative Resistance, History, Politics | Leave a comment

Disinformation, Conservative Denial, and Conspiracy Theories

  • Why would the GOP block research into misinformation? Hmm.;
  • The pattern of conservative science denial: delay, deflect, downplay;
  • CNN on how how conspiracy theories are tearing American families apart;
  • With concluding thoughts about the idea of responsible citizenship.

This is perhaps more telling than the Republicans realize.

Washington Post, 23 Sep 2023: Misinformation research is buckling under GOP legal attacks, subtitled “An escalating campaign, led by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and other Republicans, has cast a pall over programs that study political disinformation and the quality of medical information online”

The GOP is *for* misinformation? How else to construe this? And why would that be? Surely they don’t say it quite so plainly; how do they explain their concern?

Continue reading

Posted in Politics, Psychology | Leave a comment

Murdoch, Azarian, Reich, and Scientists

Items today:

  • The retirement of Rupert Murdoch, who became wealthy by degrading American politics and appealing to many Americans’ worst instincts;
  • Republican hypocrisy example: John Fetterman vs. Lauren Boebert; with a classic definition: “Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition, to wit: There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect.”
  • A good summary by Bobby Azarian about the Dunning-Kruger effect, relevant to the previous items;
  • Robert Reich explains what “socialism,” a concept conservatives don’t seem to understand, actually is;
  • And how American dominance in science is threatened by conservative science-deniers.

The significant cultural/political news yesterday was the announcement that Rupert Murdoch is stepping down as chair of Fox News. Sometimes I wonder, if aliens, or foreign agents, wanted to infiltrate American society in ways to bring our society down, wouldn’t they act a lot like Rupert Murdoch and Donald Trump? Is the nation better off now than before those two came on the scene? Obviously, I would say, no.

Slate, Justin Peters, 21 Sep 2023: Bloody Murdoch, subtitled “As much as anyone, the Fox News mogul is responsible for America’s conservative crackup. What did it get him?”

Continue reading

Posted in Culture, Politics, Psychology, Science, Social Progress | Leave a comment

Today’s Items about Politics and Culture

  • Is the attempt to impeach Biden an example of tit for tat, or something else?;
  • How attendees at the Dreamforce conference this week didn’t recognize the right-wing media depictions of San Francisco, and other cities, as ‘hellholes’.

Here’s a piece that challenges the easy perception that Republicans are trying to impeach President Biden as simply revenge for the two impeachments of former President Trump.

LA Times, Jackie Calmes, 21 Sep 2023: Column: Kevin McCarthy’s impeachment inquiry proves there’s only one political party of revenge — the GOP

Continue reading

Posted in Culture, Politics | Leave a comment

This Week’s Sciency Bits

  • False Memories and the Narrative Bias;
  • Another piece with Lee McIntyre about misinformation vs. disinformation;
  • And how the world’s population will likely peak by the end of this century, and then drop;
  • And my thoughts on what the consequences would be if the world’s population were greatly reduced.

Big Think, Ross Pomeroy, 19 Sep 2023: Study reveals a big driver of false memories, subtitled “We are prone to false memories. One reason is that we are biased toward remembering tidy endings for events, even if they didn’t exist.”

Continue reading

Posted in Politics, Psychology, Science, Social Progress | Leave a comment

Today’s Political Items: History and Emergency

  • Paul Krugman on the history and current state of the Republican Party, as enabled by people like Mitt Romney;
  • Tom Nichols on the current National Emergency, brought about by the Republican Party.

NY Times, Paul Krugman, 18 Sep 2023: The Road From Mitt Romney to MAGA

Continue reading

Posted in Conservative Resistance, Politics | Comments Off on Today’s Political Items: History and Emergency

Morality and Corruption

  • How society is becoming more moral, not less;
  • How the press covers politics;
  • Quick takes on the Republican Party as a racket, and the laughable impeachment of the Biden family as “corrupt” by supporters of Trump and his family.

OnlySky, Jonathan MS Pearce, 18 Sep 2023: We are becoming more moral, not less. So why all the moaning to the contrary?

My interest here is how he claims we are becoming more moral. By what criteria?

Continue reading

Posted in Culture, Morality, Politics | Comments Off on Morality and Corruption