This Jesse Frederik article from August reminds us that blockchain technology is "The Amazing Solution for Almost Nothing." If you're able to see through the "promise" of automating every conceivable job, or AI doing the job of people, then you're able to see through blockchain, no matter how much its defenders try to spin your head about it. And though I guess it's tempting that bitcoin can move money "without banks," the problem I have with banks isn't that they exist, it's that they hurt us if we don't regulate them properly. Also, too, "(d)ata should reflect reality, but sometimes reality changes and the data stays the same. That’s why we have notaries, supervisors, lawyers -- actually, all those boring people that blockchain thinks it can do without."
When I hear that three American states -- Nevada, Colorado, and Washington -- now have public health insurance options, I hasted to interject that they're not really "public options" in the sense of a government-run health insurance plan -- they're "public-private partnerships," in which states contract to private insurers to provide the service, and I'm scratching my head trying to figure out how that's substantially different from Obamacare. So let's not call these plans "public options," particularly since opponents will use them to tar all publicly-administered health insurance when they don't deliver better care at lower prices.
Factcheck.org evaluates a "viral video" suggesting the nasal swabs they use to test for COVID could cause cancer and even "change the DNA in your cells." I bet the truth doesn't surprise you: while ethylene oxide (or EO, used to sterilize most disposable medical supplies in America) is carcinogenic and mutagenic, the EO sterilizer disperses almost all of the EO from the supplies during the cycle's aeration period (which can last several hours), and thus leaves almost no EO on your nasal swabs and wound dressings and such, so it can't hurt you. So when folks say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, believe them.
When I hear that Republicans plan to use inflation against Democrats in the 2022 midterms, I can think of three reasons that might work: a) prices always go up and that frustrates people, b) Democrats won't use their power to accomplish anything, and c) Democrats won't run ads tying their Republicans opponents to the January 6 attempted coup. I mean, on the merits, the Republicans' case should fail -- if prices are up 5% from this time last year, could that be because there've been a lot of shortages of vital goods? -- but no one has ever gone broke underestimating the Democrats.
Am I surprised to hear that Trump Administration Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told fellow Administration higher-ups that "nobody is going to care" about the George Floyd killing? I mean, a cellphone video captured the whole thing, and his boss was quite adept at social media. But then, rising to the top of the Trump Administration food chain isn't exactly a dead-on indicator of talent or competence -- why, Mr. Meadows couldn't even win that House seat until the North Carolina legislature redrew the district so it ejected most of Asheville, so I couldn't say he's some kind of seer.
Finally, Benjamin Wallace Wells at The New Yorker profiles right-wing activist Christopher Cufo, who almost single-handedly started the right-wing tantrum over "critical race theory." Admittedly he's right that "politically correct" and "cancel culture" pale, as tantrum-inciting phrases, before "critical race theory," but his approach is a tired one: play up a bunch of isolated incidents from around the country and convince everyone it's all part of a "war on whiteness" or whatever. How well did that "War on Christmas" do for Republicans in the 2006 midterms? I mean, Christmas is a lot more popular than whiteness.