shuffling the deck chairs: 179-T10
Once again, the Newslettr is changing names.
One of those projects I was considering when the Substack went on hiatus this summer may be going somewhere, and may need the name
newslettr.com. As a matter of precaution, the current name here is now the Tisatsar Newslettr.1 It is likely to continue to evolve.
Headline stories not at a point of coverage:
conflict in Ukraine
elections in Italy
energy shortages in Europe
and now, the rest of the Tisatsar’s News:
Haiti in Crisis: Much like the chaos in Kazakhstan in January and in Sri Lanka in July, the proximate cause: an increase in energy prices. Other causes include centuries of troubled governance, and the assassination of Prime Minister Jovenel Moïse last year.
News coverage of the situation on the ground is minimal, and is likely to remain minimal after two journalists were murdered last week:
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (13 Sept. 2022) -- Two Haitian reporters were fatally shot and their bodies set on fire while reporting in a slum controlled by gangs in the capital, the second such killing this year, according to a journalists' association.
Commentary on Twitter (and the New York Post) is biased. And the Tisatsar Newslettr does not have a local correspondent in Haiti. So further news will have to wait.
Rail Workers Not on Strike: Is it news when something bad doesn’t happen? Hundreds, possibly millions of bad things don’t happen every single day.
Stop Hitting Yourself: The water crisis in Jackson, Mississippi appears to be ameliorated, at least in the short-term. Water pressure is back, and after several weeks the boil-water order has been lifted. However, it is universally acknowledged that the systemic problems with the infrastructure remain, and there is a risk of future outages. One thing unlikely to solve that: more lawyers.
(MSNBC, Sept. 20) A group of Jackson, Mississippi, residents filed a class-action lawsuit Friday over the water crisis that left over 150,000 people in the city without access to clean running water. The suit is the first federal action that seeks class-action status to pursue damages "against various government and private engineering defendants" for the "neglect, mismanagement, and maintenance failures" that led to a complete shutdown of Jackson's water system last month, according to a news release.
The problem with such a lawsuit is that it doesn’t actually do anything. The residents of Jackson MS are effectively suing themselves. Any damages will come out of their own tax funds, and be taken away from the efforts to fix the problem.
A Cursory Look at the Gender Wars: As a child, I would look at certain societal arcs in history and ask why they didn’t happen faster. In my elder years, I still do not have straightforward answers, but it is clear that these narratives progress at their own pace, and there is no point trying to speed them along.
In short: there are biological differences between men and women, but it is going to be unpopular to admit that in public for the next five years.
A Less-than-Cursory Look at Ron DeSantis, Governor of Florida, performing cheap tricks for the chorus by flying migrants from Texas to Massachusetts: Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. (Fox News)
The Mirror Doth Scorn the Vampire: when the Tisatsar Newslettr mentions “anal beads”, it is a reflection of those other outlets that do so. Most recently, it was CBS Sports, with a headline of “Chess sex toy cheating scandal explained: World No. 1 Magnus Carlsen, Hans Niemann in wild sports controversy”. But what is their excuse?
Contra Gary Marcus on AI: without access to many of the current generation of AI tools, the Tisatsar Newslettr is relying on other people to do the assessments. One of the worst prognosticators today on this front is Gary Marcus. Erik Hoel (recent winner of the ACX book review contest) thoroughly explains the evidence that Marcus is wrong:
The term “Retirement” polls better: Google Surveys (formerly Google Consumer Surveys) is being sent to pasture.
As the product produced very minimal revenue, but had the potential to generate extremely negative news stories, this must be considered a sound business decision.
Quick Book Review — “Don’t Tell Me I Can’t”: Tragedies cause people to say strange things. So when an article in the Deseret News told a tall-tale about a dead 14-year-old boy who wrote an autobiography under the pen-name Cole Summers, the Tisatsar Newslettr felt compelled to investigate that book further.
The book, titled “Don’t Tell Me I Can’t”, was ghostwritten, and this is openly acknowledged in the book.
Despite the phrasing in the book, a nine-year old does not buy a property as a birthday present to himself. There is obviously a wealthy benefactor paying for the property.
The Deseret News article is a fair summary of the book. Unfortunately, the story is presented as if their reporters fact-checked it, although they clearly did not.
If this were a high-school student’s writing project for an English class, I would give it a good grade. On the higher threshold of “would I recommend the Tisatsar Newslettr’s readers buy the book”, the answer is “no”.
The tragic conclusion of the story is that unschooling is harmful. You don’t know what you don’t know3. Cole Summers didn’t know how to swim, and he didn’t know to wear a lifejacket in a kayak. And thus, he died.
the Last Funeral of the Twentieth Century
A year ago, I asked when the long twentieth century4 came to an end.
Perhaps it is this month that the final chapter of the twentieth century is written: the death5 and funeral of HRH Elizabeth II. A few historical figures6 still survive as relics of the 20th century, but their funerals shall be part of the 21st century.
There was an extreme reaction to her death. In London, the Queue for mourners stretched five miles (and 12 hours) in length. On Twitter, everything from the death of Alan Turing to the Biafra War was blamed on her. Both of those events seem like ancient history but happened under her reign; apparently 70 years ago is ancient7 history these days.
No figure has had such a gap between “authority” and “discretionary power” as Elizabeth the Great8. As a matter of law, she held absolute temporal and spiritual power in the United Kingdom and dozens of other countries around the world. As a matter of practice, she was bound to act according to the advice of her governmental ministers in all matters. And her role as leader of the Church of England never left the realm of the ceremonial.
From a grammatical perspective, it is awkward, like “the Month Newslettr”. On the other hand, as it is almost certain the name will change yet again this year, there is no great need to polish this one.
Whether it would be a strike or a lockout is largely a matter of logistics. Contract negotiations are not a bellum omnium contra omnes, and neither side would want hazardous or perishable goods left for weeks on idle railcars.
A personal recollection. When I was in fifth grade, there was a project assigned, and the teacher said it was mandatory. But I didn’t do it, because despite generally being smart, for some reason at the time I thought “mandatory” was a synonym of “optional” (rather than an antonym). This is why you have to do the vocabulary worksheets.
That piece did not answer the question “when did the long twentieth century end”. If you want an answer, Brad Delong’s recently-released book Slouching Towards Utopia (Vox review) presents the case for “around 2010”.
In a coincidence suitable for discussion in the footnotes, Elizabeth II’s death was the same day Lyndon LaRouche’s 100th birthday would have been.
While the Tisatsar Newslettr didn’t cover it, we note that Mikhail Gorbachev died less than a month before Elizabeth II. The likes of Henry Kissinger, Jiang Zemin, and Imelda Marcos will have their funerals in the 21st century.
Phrases like “ancient history” and “modern history” occasionally are used to refer to specific historiographical periods. But as we seem to have recently finished “post-modern” history, I feel it makes the most sense to use the terms entirely in the vernacular sense.
The concept of “posthumous names” is historically largely an East Asian one; but in this case I find the use of one appropriate.