Public Art and Freedom of Speech…

… such as they are, in these distressing days. It’s come to be a standout exception in the last half-century when a piece of public art is actually attractive, engaging, relatable to the place and the audience, and exhibits moderate to advanced skills and aesthetic sense on the part of the artist. Noted in Tom Wolfe’s book-long evisceration of modern architecture, altogether too many post-WWII public buildings got finished off with installing a barren plaza in front, a plaza featuring a water feature with an enormous concrete turd dropped into it. There are exceptions to this bleak and ugly trend, of course – but the monumental MLK/Coretta Scott King statue unveiled last weekend in Boston is, alas, not one of them.

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Covid and Credibility

So it is fairly certain that Damar Hamlin took a hit to his chest at just the right time, angle and force to inflict sudden cardiac arrest. The correct term for this relatively rare occurrence is “commotio cordis”, although a fair number of comments to various news stories – comments from the public at large and experienced professionals alike – initially wondered if it was the result of a vaccination for Covid, since there seem to have been many incidents in the last few years of fit young athlete-types suddenly dropping from heart attacks during practice, games, or just going about daily life. Neo at Neo-Neocon attributes this to a wide-spread misunderstanding or misreading of statistics, arguing that sudden cardiac arrests in young and relatively young healthy athletes are happening about as frequently as they have pre-Covid – it’s just that we are paying attention and noticing such anomalies.
Perhaps; perhaps not. Perception, reality, anecdote, or data. The unsettling thing about this is that our trust in the accuracy of news and social media reports, of the studies of so-called medical experts and our elected officials and bureaucrats has been so degraded of late that it’s honestly hard to be certain of much, other than what was once considered to disinformation, or a conspiracy theory is now turning out to have been true after all. After so many exaggerations, reversals and outright fraud over the Covid epidemic it would be almost impossible for most people to accept any authoritative conclusions about the dangers posed by the Covid vaccines and boosters. What to credit in a climate of doubt and distrust, save that which we have either directly experienced first-hand, or those whom we trust have experienced and reported?

The trouble is that we never had – or were permitted to have had a free and fair public discussion about Covid, and those methods and means of effectively countering the epidemic, starting from the jump. Was Covid really that dangerous? The example of the Diamond Princess seemed to indicate that no – not that dangerous to healthy young adults or even older adults without pre-existing health issues. But the national and international news media, well aware that panic, disaster, and potentially massive casualties draw eyeballs and interest went all-out in scaring the general public out of their ever-loving minds. And then it was off to the races – the most threatening pandemic in living memory! OMG, they were dropping dead in the streets of Chinese cities! Shades of the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic! Mass graves! Overwhelmed hospitals! Packed morgues, full of the dead! We must do something – our phoney-baloney jobs are at stake! Harrumph, harrumph, harrumph!

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Midterms and Mayhem

Abstract: A “red wave” midterm election seems about to occur. Notwithstanding the apparent (relatively) recent precedent of the 1994 midterms, the eight weeks from Tuesday 8 November 2022 to Tuesday 3 January 2023 may become the most challenging period to date in the entire history of the American constitutional order, not excepting the “Secession Winter” following Tuesday 6 November 1860. A broadly similar situation would almost certainly exist if the relative positions of the major political parties in the US were reversed. Even with alarming possibilities in view, this post is intended to promote constructive apprehension, not mere fearfulness.

Like all good students at our eponymous institution, you get the theoretical elements first, then more practical aspects, and falsifiable predictions at the end.

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The Lightning Rod

I am thinking that Professor Emily “Litella” Oster (hat tip to NeoNeocon) did not expect so furious a reaction as she has gotten, by writing this particular article in The Atlantic Magazine. After having done her stalwart best for the Covid Crusade for more than two years – demonizing those who refused to get the vaccination or wear masks everywhere, or see our children locked out of school, or who suggested that ivermectin or chloroquine might alleviate the symptoms – Professor Oster now is suggesting that … really, it was all just a silly misunderstanding, she and her pals just got carried away but they meant well and didn’t know anything for certain, and why can’t we all just all forgive and forget?
To which the instantaneous and outraged reply is – not just no, but hell no. Hell no, with a napalm-degree flaming side order of very personal reasons why not.

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