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On “What is Democracy’s Selling Proposition with Respect to China?

I'm not so sure I want to "sell" democracy to China. I wish the Chinese had it, or at least had more rights. But I'm not particularly interested in encouraging "them" to adopt it. "Them" is scare quoted, of course. What type of government that a polity adopts is not only what the population (a majority? a large majority?) wants, but what those in control want. If I were to wish to "sell" democracy, I might have to "sell" it to those in power in China.


I think the OP's suggestions are the type of thing we, as a polity, need to consider. I suspect they tend to work best in workplace settings (as in the OP's examples) and in public messaging settings.

On a person-to-person level, however, it's hard to engage a stranger about mask wearing. My wife and I were on a bus today. The first time since covid hit. Of about 12 people on the bus, 3 or 4 were wearing a mask properly (i.e., the masks covered the mouth and nose). However, 2 people had no mask at all. The others "wore" their mask in a substandard way: the nose exposed or (for a couple people) the mask under the chin so both the mouth and nose were exposed.

How can I engage those individuals? There's probably a way to do it. But I guarantee you that doing so requires a level of finesse and courage that is really, really hard to muster. And frankly, Big City, right now, isn't the type of place to ask a stranger to do something they evidently don't want to do.

One addition to the OP's suggestions when it comes to workplace safety measures. In some workplaces, the employees (or some of them) would like to follow the safety measures, but are put under a lot of pressure by management to do so quickly . True, management says, "all employees must follow all safety rules at all times." But in practice, the managers want what they want RIGHT NOW. I suspect the author would agree with me here.


Like Pinky, I didn't see or hear the conversation. I imagine that advising someone to do the "Christian thing" requires the person who utters the admonition to have some standing with their interlocutor as a Christian. It probably also helps if the interlocutor is a Christian. I can imagine a certain type of person saying "it's the Christian thing to do" more as a way to bait the person they're talking to.

Again, I have no idea how or whether that applied in the conversation you're referring to and how or whether that applies with your own "standing" as a Christian.

On “Read the Democratic National Committee’s Party Platform on the War on Drugs

Substance use disorders are diseases, not crimes. Democrats believe no one should be in prison solely because they use drugs.

Like most good(ish) things that are a step in a good(ish) direction, that statement comes with potential bad. If something is a crime, then in theory the government has a higher burden before they act against you. In practice, it's another matter, or so people like me say. But when something is done for your own good, the burden is lower.

I hope it's clear I'm not really criticizing any of this. I'm just raising a warning flag about a direction it all could go if we're not careful.

On “A Clash of Symbols

Hear hear! Excellent post, Kristin!

On ““Hamilton” and the False Choice

Implicit in Gabriel’s critique seems to be some assumption that great benefit to the collective needs to come about via self sacrifice.

It wasn't my intention to imply that, but I can see how my OP seems to. In the world the play creates, I believe we (the audience) are supposed to choose between Hamilton and Burr, and the "right" choice (the play tells us) is Hamilton. Or....Burr is the foil to demonstrate that Hamilton at least believed in something. In the play's universe: it's his personal contribution that we have to focus on. The play mentions the Federalist and his (in my opinion almost equally important) funded debt plan, but the mention is done in passing, at least that's how I see it.

I'm focusing on the play and the character instead of real-life and the real Hamilton. I agree that his personal story isn't the real Hamilton's main legacy or why I (or anyone) should care about him.

Whether self-sacrifice should play no role in how we assess a person's legacy, I'll have to mull on that a bit.


I will say that I have a lot of problems with how the play treats and portrays women. And view Barry offers (which as I said, makes a lot of sense) reinforces my misgivings about that aspect of the play. But maybe that's a topic I'll mull over for another blog post.


I haven't seen that clip, but I guess I can see where Miranda is coming from.

(I don't know what it is about Miranda, but I'm not a fan of his acting at all. That probably falls under the category of, "there's no accounting for taste." My spouse, who saw the actual play, said that someone other than Miranda played Hamilton, at least in the Big City production and that the actor she saw was better.)


I guess I don't really see Hamilton's idealism. It seems like he's taking the idealism of the age. It may be, though, that I'm reading my own biases against the so-called justifications of the American Revolution. I guess I have to admit that the play wants us to see him as idealistic.

You're right about the show's tunes being catchy. And I like the King George appearances. Again, though, I'm more likely to agree with him than with the colonists. But that's what I take with me, and the play should probably be evaluated on its context and not my priors.


I hadn't thought of it that way, but it makes sense.

On “Ritalin and Me

I don't have any informed opinion, one way or the other, about Ritalin, etc. But thanks for writing this. Yours is definitely a view that needs consideration.

I especially liked the point about kids not necessarily knowing (or knowing how to tell a psychiatrist) that they're suffering anxiety.

On “I Miss Prayer

Or maybe the kid doesn't like marshmallows.


I come from different traditions from yours and the idea of prayer resonates differently for me than it does for you. For me, it is less communal and more individual. That said, I'd just like to say thank for writing this post. It's a much needed contribution.

On “Reta Mays: An Angel of Death Stalking Her Own At VA Hospital

Thanks for writing this up. The first news blurbs I read about it (and I did NOT read them very carefully or at all fully) suggested, to me, that she was simply a harried health worker who was pressured by the system to administer medicine, and when bad things happened she got blamed for it. I realize, after reading your piece, that that wasn't the case at all.

I do think I see this differently:

But in the end, the reason people like Mays kill is the same reason that people like BTK and the Night Stalker do: because they want to.

To me, that just repeats the original question, which can be rephrased as "why do they want to?"

A really informative post. Thanks for writing it.

ETA: fixed a tag

On “There Are No Bad People

And I can't really blame you for doing that. Or, I might choose to, but I realize I'm wrong to do so.


I really liked this post, Kristin. Thanks for writing it.


As someone who probably sympathizes with the posture you're critiquing (and as someone who's much more likely NOT to be a target most bigoted actions), I wrestle with your "big question." The best that I can come up with is that some measure of patience and empathy/sympathy is what's required to, eventually, change others. Should you or anyone be burdened with that responsibility? No, it's not fair to ask you to do that.

That's "the best" I can come up with, mind. I'm not saying it's satisfying. And speaking for myself, while I should use my advantaged position to help others and be an "ally," I know that for the most part, I won't be choosing to do that. I should, and I might on the margins, make such choices, but I know I probably won't dedicate my life to making even the moderate kinds of choices that would be necessary make Uncle Fred uncomfortable. Those decisions are a mixture of self-interest, frustration, goodwill, malice, and privilege on my part. I'm not proud of it, but that's where I am.


You and I probably agree on this, but here's how I approach it. I think the claim, with which I personally agree, is that there are really not bigots. There are people who choose bigotry. A corollary claim, with which I also agree, is that all of us choose bigotry from time to time. At least that's my reading of the post's mail point.

Now, I suppose if someone chooses bigotry enough, and consistently, and refuses all or most opportunities to challenge or reassess their bigotry--then maybe we can safely call that person a bigot. But while I'm definitely willing to say some people qualify, most people, in my opinion, aren't that bad.

On “Thursday Throughput: Missing COVID Deaths Edition

Ahem, it's possible the volume is in the rare books collection. They should ask an archivist for more information :)


ThTh2 [video about masks]: I liked that video, but there's one thing I'd like it to be clearer on and another thing is a misstep I see such public health efforts do a lot.

More information: At about 3:50, the presenter says masks can be too tight. He says a simple test is whether you can blow out a candle from about a foot away. So....if you can blow it out, is it too tight or not night enough?

Misstep: At 7:30, the presenter "answers" concerns about whether masks will deprive the wearer of oxygen, and he indulges the tried and frustrating "that's a myth." He assures us that several studies have been done on doctors who wear masks all day. Well, good for the doctors, but did none of them have problems? What about people with breathing problems generally? Have there been any studies with them, too? (Yes, some of the doctors probably have breathing conditions.) And even if studies have been done, there's an underlying concern that the presenter (and probably the studies) don't answer: Some people find it difficult to breathe with masks on even if theoretically they're getting enough oxygen.

I harp on that point not only because it's a piece of information I would like to have and the issue is underexplored (or underacknowledged int he video). I also harp on it because "that's a myth" functions as a way to silence what are often legitimate concerns. When you raise a concern and someone says, "that's a myth," that's a sign that someone is about to not listen to, acknowledge, or address your concern. In my experience (anecdotal, etc., etc.), much of the time, maybe even a majority of the time, there's at least a kernel of legitimate concern that the myth-busting proof doesn't address.

I'm not saying people do the "myth" trope with the INTENTION of silencing concerns. But I do suggest that's what the myth trope does.


Could you elaborate on what cell memory is, if you have the time? (I spent four whole seconds trying to google it and came up with nothing.)

If you don't have time, that's fine. But I'm curious.

On “From Freddie deBoer: Ending the Charade

I tired to leave a comment on Freddie’s blog, but he has canceled all commenters by refusing to host their content. Which is weird, given his alleged horror at cancelation.

You're....using two different meanings of "cancel" and are suggesting, by implication, that they're not different meanings.