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Celerity's Journal
Celerity's Journal
October 31, 2021

In a setback for Black Lives Matter, mayoral campaigns shift to 'law and order'

Across the country, local candidates are pitching themselves as advocates on safety and supporters of the police.


Mayoral candidates across the country are closing out their campaigns pledging to restore law and order, a major setback for racial justice protesters who only a year ago thought they had permanently reshaped the debate on policing in American cities.

As voters head to the polls Tuesday, local elections are dominated by discussions about safety and law enforcement amid a surge in violent crime. The tone of the debate, even in many liberal urban communities, highlights how major policing reforms have stalled.

From Buffalo to Seattle, Democratic politicians who once championed significant reductions or reallocations of police department budgets are backtracking. In other cities, including Cleveland, liberal candidates are being hammered over their stances on public safety.

And even in cities without a competitive mayor’s race, the question of how to get tough on crime and bolster public safety has emerged as a defining issue. In Miami Beach, for example, Mayor Dan Gelber (D) is campaigning for a controversial referendum that would ban the sale of alcohol at bars and nightclubs after 2 a.m., which the mayor says is needed to regain control of the city after a tumultuous year of unruly behavior and gun violence. Gelber is also exploring how Miami Beach can hire more police officers.

October 30, 2021

Whip Up the Delicious Pumpkin Appetizer Kaddo Bourani

Helmand Karzai shares a recipe for this special Afghan dish.


October 30, 2021

Manchin singlehandedly denied families paid leave. Why would a Democrat oppose such a basic measure?

Americans will remain some of the last people on the planet to have no right to paid leave when they have children, and for that, you can thank Joe Manchin.


Joe Manchin, the Democratic senator from West Virginia, tanked the paid leave portion of an increasingly narrow domestic policy package. Manchin had already gotten Democrats to make what was once a sweeping and ambitious bill smaller and less effectual. Even though the Democrats control the House, the Senate and the White House, and are not expected to maintain control of Congress after this year’s midterm elections, they still can’t get it together to deliver what the American people put them in office to do. And that’s because of Manchin, as well as his fellow centrist holdout, Kyrsten Sinema.

To be fair, 50 Republicans are to blame for this as well. All 50 of them oppose Biden’s paid family leave plan, and none were expected to vote for this bill. If even a few of them had been willing to cross the aisle to support parents and new babies – to be, one might say, “pro-life” and “pro-family” – then Manchin would not have the power he does to deny paid family leave to millions of American parents. So let’s not forget this reality, too: most Democrats want to create a paid family leave program. Republicans do not.

But Manchin’s actions are particularly insulting and egregious because he is a Democrat. He enjoys party support and funding. He benefits when Democrats do popular things. And now, he’s standing in the way of a policy that the overwhelming majority of Democrats want, and that is resoundingly popular with the American public, including conservatives and Republicans.

Paid family leave brings a long list of benefits to families, from healthier children to stronger marriages. And it benefits the country by keeping more working-age people in the workforce – when families don’t have paid leave, mothers drop out, a dynamic we’ve seen exacerbated by the pandemic. By some estimates, paid family leave could increase US GDP by billions of dollars.


October 30, 2021

Polling in America Is Still Broken. So Who Is Really Winning in Virginia?


Less than a week before Virginians pick their next governor, there is a sense of frenzied uncertainty hanging over the race. That much isn’t surprising — the polling between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin is extremely tight. What many anxious voters may not appreciate, though, is that, given the state of the polling industry, there’s a good argument to be made that the freak-out should actually be much worse.

Pollsters are nearly a year into battling the four-alarm fire set by their general-election disaster in 2020 — the biggest national-level polling miss in nearly half a century. One year ago, Democrats rolled into Election Day confident that they would see a relatively easy Joe Biden victory — remember the closing-stretch Quinnipiac poll showing him up five in Florida and the CNN-SSRS survey with a margin of six in North Carolina, or the Morning Consult poll with Biden up nine in Pennsylvania? And, of course, there was the USC projection of a 12-point national gap. Trump, of course, won Florida and North Carolina and came perilously close in the Keystone State, with the margin there figuring prominently in his postelection lies about a rigged vote. To simplify a bit: Across the country, pollsters seemed to systematically undercount GOP support, despite the fact that they were trying very hard, after some issues in 2016, not to do that.

But with the political world entirely focused on Virginia, looking to glean lessons about the state of the national parties, the fate of Biden’s agenda, and Americans’ hope for the future, the pollsters — the people who give us a sense of what to expect in elections — are offering a new round of projections without ever having quite figured out what went wrong last year. That means there’s no comfort to be found in the latest numbers — for hopeful Republicans, certainly, but especially for Democrats desperate to keep Richmond blue and get reassurance about Biden’s governing ambitions.

The industry set out to resolve all the ugly questions around the disaster of 2020 in the standard manner: with a big autopsy. In July, the American Association for Public Opinion Research released its eagerly awaited (in the biz) report with the cooperation of a range of political and academic researchers. It first concluded that that year’s national-level polling error — 4.5 percentage points, on average — was the highest it could find in four decades, and that the state-level surveys were as far off — 5.1 points — as they had been since the group started tracking that data in 2000. (So, yes, it really was as bad as it seemed on Election Night.) And 2020’s mistakes were different from 2016’s, it continued: Then, pollsters had undervalued education levels in weighing their research, which led to underestimating Trump’s support. Now, though, something bigger and scarier had happened. They just still couldn’t conclude what, exactly, that was.

October 30, 2021

Hey, Facebook, I Made a Metaverse 27 Years Ago. It was terrible then, and it's terrible now.


In a booth at Ted’s Fish Fry, in Troy, New York, my friend Daniel Beck and I sketched out our plans for the metaverse. It was November 1994, just as the graphical web was becoming a thing, and we thought that the 3-D web could be just a few tweaks down the road. In our version of the metaverse, a server would track the identity of objects and their location in virtual space, but you’d render the objects locally, loaded to your hard drive off of a CD-ROM. It made a certain sense: Most users were on sub-56k modems, and AOL was shipping out enough CD-ROMs to pave Los Angeles each week.

To be very clear, Daniel and I were in no way being original. We were hoping to re-create the vision that Neal Stephenson had outlined in his 1992 book, Snow Crash. We were both (barely) self-conscious enough to understand that Snow Crash took place in a dystopia, and that Stephenson was positing a beautiful virtual world because the outside world had become so shitty that no one wanted to live in it. But we were young and naïve and believed that our metaverse would rock. (Stephenson, of course, wasn’t being entirely original either. His vision of the metaverse owed a debt to Vernor Vinge’s 1981 True Names and to a series of William Gibson novels from the ’80s. Both of those authors owed a debt to Morton Heilig’s 1962 Sensorama machine, and on and on we go, back in time to Plato’s shadows on a cave wall.)

Daniel and I got a chance to actually build our metaverse about six months later, after we both joined Tripod as graphic designers and “webkeepers.” This was well before Tripod became a competitor to GeoCities, offering free webpages to all. (It was also before I accidentally invented pop-up ads. Sorry again about that.) Instead, we were a lifestyle magazine for recent graduates, providing smart, edgy, but practical content—“tools for life”—while hawking mutual funds to 20-somethings. When that business model didn’t take off (can’t imagine why), the half-dozen folks in the “tech cave” revived the metaverse idea.

And so, we skinned a MOO—that is, an online environment meant for multiplayer games. Our friend Nathan Kurz hacked Pavel Curtis’s LambdaMOO code to turn an “object oriented multiplayer dungeon”—a multiplayer, text-based game—into a web-based, graphical experience. Each room in the MOO, which would normally have only a text-based description, was associated with six JPEG images representing directions you could go (up, down, north, south, east, west), each of which was an image map with objects you could click on and interact with. Melanie Stowell, who had spent much of her undergraduate education logged on to various MOOs and MUDs (multiuser dungeons, another kind of virtual game space), wrote the code to make this work, and Daniel and I made hundreds of images to illustrate the space, which were dutifully inserted into webpages via Nate’s code.

October 29, 2021

Democrats Consider Tax Cuts for Many High Earners in New York, New Jersey and California

With tax rates steady and $10,000 deduction cap under attack, some residents of high-tax states might pay less than before 2017


WASHINGTON—High-income coastal professionals look likely to emerge as significant winners from the Democrats’ proposed tax agenda, escaping rate increases and regaining a deduction for state and local taxes that was capped at $10,000 in 2017.

The potential result: Many residents of New York, New Jersey, California and other states who make more than the $400,000 threshold that President Biden set for tax increases could end up with tax cuts atop the tax cuts they got four years ago.

“The combination of keeping the low tax rate and being able to fully deduct state and local taxes gives these families an even bigger benefit than even the 2017 tax writers intended,” said Brian Riedl, a former Senate Republican aide who is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank.

The details aren’t final yet, and lawmakers still need to vote on this as part of the Biden administration’s broader healthcare, education and climate-change agenda. The break wasn’t in the framework that the president released Thursday, but Democratic lawmakers said they expect changes to the cap to be added before a final vote.

October 29, 2021

Metastatic cancer worried people will start associating it with Facebook

MENLO PARK, CA – Following the announcement that the corporation which owns Facebook, Instagram and Oculus has changed its name to Meta Platforms, Inc., the process which results in cancerous tumours is concerned that people will think it’s somehow related to the newly renamed but still deeply controversial company.

“I may be responsible for millions of deaths worldwide every year, but I have the excuse of being a mindless physiological event during which formerly healthy cells proliferate uncontrollably,” metastatic cancer said. “It’s not like I profit from the chaos and damage I inflict and use my ill-gotten wealth and power to ensure I will not suffer any consequences for the havoc I wreak upon the world.”

Metastatic cancer isn’t the only one who’s worried about Facebook’s new name harming their reputation by association. The website Metacritic, the discipline of metaphysics, and the concept of meta humour are all distressed by their new, unwelcome connection with the company formerly known as Facebook, Inc.

“I was the cool kid of postmodern comedic expression, but now when people say ‘that’s so meta,’ they’ll be talking about profiting from the uncontrolled spread of hate and misinformation,” meta humour said. “I really don’t see why Facebook couldn’t save us all this trouble and change their name to Metastasis, it’s far more accurate.”

October 29, 2021

This new delay is not on the progressives or Biden at all, it is all on Manchin and Sinema.

They are the ones who are still playing games and refusing to say that they are 100% all in on the already massively reduced BBB framework.

Given Manchin and Sinema's game-playing and obstructionist history, and their HUGE overall 2 bill slashing of Biden's proposals (including removing entire giant, key programmes that were cornerstone Biden campaign promises) it is no wonder many other Dems do not trust those two.

The progressives months and months and months ago compromised and came down from a 2 bill total for new spending of $10 trillion to match Biden's $6.1 trillion total 2 bill proposals.

They watched and accepted the BIF get absolutely gutted by Manchin and Sinema, with almost 80% of Biden's new spend shredded out ($2.6 trillion slashed to $550 billion, the other $650 billion is simply renewals of transportation programmes that have been around since Obama and Trump), and now have accepted another massive gutting of the BBB, literally slashed in half, from $3.5 trillion down to $1.75 trillion.

That stripping includes massive cornerstone programmes/central Biden campaign promises like Family And Medical Leave, Tuition Free Community College, Dental/Vison coverage for Medicare, a tonne of wealth taxes and high earner taxes (Trumps tax cuts are still largely left intact) and Prescription Drug Price Negotiation savings, etc etc all now ripped out and tossed in the bin.

Manchin and Sinema have 'compromised' a grand total of $250 billion between the the two bills. They have also stripped out what is closing in on 2/3rds of Biden's new spend between the 2 bills.

Biden and the progs and most of the rest of the Dem caucus have compromised 15.2 TIMES MORE in terms of total new spend dollars let go than Manchin and Sinema have allowed to be increased, a total of $3.8 trillion in cuts. The progs have let go of 30.8 TIMES the amount of Manchin and Sinema's 'compromising' if you look at the original proposals they laid out early in year.

The progs (and Biden and almost all of the rest of the Dems) have given in and given in, and still Manchin and Sinema are playing games. The progressives had done nothing but try and get BIDEN'S agenda passed as much as is possible.

No amount of spin and blame-shifting can change those simple mathematical facts and the actions by the two obstructionists.

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