Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas Eve of Destruction

Over at The Transportist, transportation engineer and all-around great thinker David Levinson has been sharing the transcripts of a long interview he did recently on the future of transportation. That's one of my pet issues and I've been reading them as they appear each day (today is day 5).

But meanwhile, Donald Trump is tweeting about starting the arms race again. He's ably demonstrating why anyone who voted for him has clearly forgotten (or never knew) the fear of nuclear war we lived under in many decades of the 20th century, but particularly during the early 1980s. Yesterday I read (reread) Tom Shales's Washington Post review of the 1983 TV movie The Day After, and it brought it all back.

Will any of us be here to see if Levinson's predictions about driverless cars come true? I'm not so sure at the moment.

Here's a bit of what Twitter has to say about Trump and nuclear weapons.

Walking in a nuclear winter wonderland.
lyz lenz

The thing I'm terrified of is him getting to a point where he feels like he has to fire a nuke or seem "weak."
Josh Barro

One reason the nuclear arms race ended: it almost sparked global annihilation in 1983, spooking the US and USSR. (with link to this Vox story)
Max Fisher

Hard to process that the next president is both a conscienceless threat to the republic and also a heartbreakingly weak and sad broken soul.
David Frum

The global warming we should be worried about is the global warming caused by NUCLEAR WEAPONS in the hands of crazy or incompetent leaders!
Donald J. Trump (tweeted on May 7, 2014)

Obamacare is too expensive but building up the power to destroy the earth a kazillion times over is a better use of taxpayer money.
Courtney Milan

Trump wants to expand our nuclear arsenal. I think of my aunt and baby cousin, found burnt in a ditch in Hiroshima. These weapons must go.
George Takei

Boomers just want us to relive their childhood of hiding under desks.
Oh, and also meanwhile, a nonpartisan group called the Electoral Integrity Project has declared North Carolina is no longer a democracy, based on objective criteria used to assess countries around the world:
North Carolina’s overall electoral integrity score of 58/100 for the 2016 election places us alongside authoritarian states and pseudo-democracies like Cuba, Indonesia and Sierra Leone. If it were a nation state, North Carolina would rank right in the middle of the global league table – a deeply flawed, partly free democracy that is only slightly ahead of the failed democracies that constitute much of the developing world.
The screaming inside my head is pretty loud right now. Hard to concentrate enough to write this, but when I think about trying to not think about it, to distract myself with something happy and maybe seasonal, I remember this tweet by a guy named Josh Kalven who wrote about the term "internal emigre" in the age of President 46%. His father, Jamie Kalven wrote these words:
One of the dangers is that people will instead become demoralized and retreat into denial, that they will seek refuge amid the pleasures and fulfillments of private life. That would give carte blanche to power. There was a term used in central Europe to describe those who opted to retreat into private life under totalitarianism. They were called “internal emigres.”

That is certainly tempting at a time like this: to live one’s life in the wholly private realm, enjoying the company of friends, good food and drink, the pleasures of literature and music, and so on. Privileged sectors of our society are already heavily skewed that way. It’s a real danger at a time like this. If we withdraw from public engagement now, we aid and abet that which we deplore.
Thanks (both ironically and seriously) to Jay Smooth for calling my attention to Kalven's tweet.

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