Hong Hate Horoscope: Week of March 22, 2021

Good journalism/Cool shit

What Happens When a Slogan Becomes the Curriculum

I think this is really interesting—I don’t disagree with teaching Black Lives Matter as a movement or teaching about structural racism, but I do believe that there’s a line between that and teaching ideology. I’m not sure where that line is, but something like this is just as aggressive towards white kids as some of the implicit racism was to me as a kid:

You get:

✓stolen land

✓stolen riches

✓special favors†


✓to mess endlessly with the lives of your friends, neighbors, loved ones, and all fellow humans of COLOR

✓your soul

Sign below:


†Land, riches, and favors may be revoked at any time, for any reason.

I feel quite close to this parent (but I think Blue Lives Matter is not just implicitly, but explicitly racist), emphasis mine:

They present every issue with such moral certainty—like there is no other viewpoint. And we’re definitely seeing this in my daughter. She can make the case for defunding the police, but when I tried to explain to her why someone might have a Blue Lives Matter sign, why some families support the police, she wasn’t open to considering that view. She had a blinding certainty that troubled me. She thinks that even raising the question is racist. If she even hears a squeak of criticism of BLM, or of an idea that’s presented as supporting equity, she’s quick to call out racism.

The line about defunding the police panders to my sensibilities, but I do worry about what they write about the “blinding certainty;” which I see on both the right and the left (you can also attack me as a neoliberal shill now for my “both-sidesism”). I believe in most of this stuff myself; but I have many doubts that all of it should be taught in schools. There’s a lot of nuance that’s lost in this heavy-handedness and refusal to see other sides; it many ways, it’s not terribly different from religious indoctrination. [The Atlantic]

My New Band Is: Teenage Mistake

I had a lot of takes on this Teen Vogue controversy (not a phrase I thought I’d ever have to type), being at the intersection of race relations and forgiveness (especially race relations between Asians and blacks). This does a better job of summarizing my thoughts than me:

That said, the Tweets are bad, and a justifiable reason to rescind the offer. There should also be a statute of limitations on stupid teenage mistakes. These two things are not mutually exclusive. 

Imagine for a minute that you are a staffer at Teen Vogue and you’re Asian American. Your new boss comes in with all of the qualifications Alexi McCammond does not have, but ten years ago she Tweeted some pretty racist things about Asians. She’s 27 and her teen years are not that far in the rear view mirror. 

Here are some questions you might ask yourself: does she still believe those things? Does she secretly think I’m inferior? If she does think I’m inferior, how will that affect my career? Will she refuse to promote me or discount my work? How can I be sure? 

I’ve seen a lot of empathy for McCammond on Twitter from white guys who work in media. They can imagine being in a situation where a dumb mistake from their past catches up with them professionally so they identify with McCammond. But so far I haven’t seen any of them identify with the staffers, who now might be in the position I just described. 

But, look. Teenagers really do a lot of stupid shit, some of it really horrible. When they express real remorse for it, they should be forgiven, personally. 

But there’s a huge difference between being forgiven personally and being handed a big prestigious job in spite of those bad actions, especially when there are plenty of talented editors who are better qualified and don’t have a history of racist tweets or ethical violations. 

I don’t believe teenagers should be prosecuted as adults, either metaphorically or literally via our terrible broken justice system. I believe in restorative justice and automatic expulsion of juvenile records. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. 

And it’s not my place (or yours, probably) to decide whether the Tweets are forgivable. The people in the position to do that, to believe (or not) that McCammond has matured and is not racist and can be trusted, are the Teen Vogue staffers who are people of color. They can forgive her, or not. They’re the ones who are affected by the issue.

Sports hot takes

Da-na-na-na-Dun-daa-na-na: The story behind CBS’s iconic NCAA tournament theme song

Love this. The only better theme is “Roundball Rock.” [Yahoo Sports]

Health, politics, and academia

17 Reasons to Let the Economic Optimism Begin

A little optimism for you (the battery stuff is particularly promising):

2. 2020s battery technology looks kind of like 1990s microprocessors

Remember Moore’s Law? It was the idea that the number of transistors that could be put on an integrated circuit would double every two years as manufacturing technology improved. That is the reason you may well be wearing a watch with more computer processing power than the devices that sent people into outer space in the 1960s.

Battery technology isn’t improving at quite that pace, but it’s not far behind it. The price of lithium-ion battery packs has fallen 89 percent in inflation-adjusted terms since 2010, according to BloombergNEF, and is poised for further declines. There have been similar advances in solar cells, raising the prospect of more widespread inexpensive clean energy. [New York Times]

Electric Cars Are Coming. How Long Until They Rule the Road?

Interesting considerations on fleet turnover, although the electric car projections seem much lower than I would expect:

Automakers are now shifting to electric vehicles, which could make up one-quarter of new sales by 2035, analysts project. But at that point, only 13 percent of vehicles on the road would be electric. Why? Older cars can stick around for a decade or two.

Even in 2050, when electric vehicles are projected to make up 60 percent of new sales, the majority of vehicles on the road would still run on gasoline. Slow fleet turnover is a major challenge for climate policy.

I wouldn’t be surprised if those numbers were substantially higher than these projections—I expect half of all cars sold to be electric by 2035 (no data, just a gut feel). See also: the information about battery technology above. But, we do have to think about potential unintended effects like this:

What’s more, some economic research suggests, if automakers like G.M. phased out sales of new internal combustion engines, it’s possible that older gasoline-powered cars might persist for even longer on the roads, as consumers who are unable to afford newer, pricier electric cars instead turn to cheaper used models and drive them more. [New York Times]

How Yang charmed the right on his road to political stardom

Congrats guys, you’re gonna replace DeBlasio with one of few guys worse than him:

Yang told Dave Rubin — whose podcast The Rubin Report has interviewed white nationalists, white supremacists, conspiracy theorists, anti-Islamic activists and anti-feminist media personalities — that he “came of age during the first Clinton term” and considered himself a Democrat.

“I wasn't actively involved in local politics and I was living in New York, and as you know, New York is so blue that there isn’t that much to be engaged with, politically,” Yang said. [Politico]

Where Europe Went Wrong in Its Vaccine Rollout, and Why

How Europe fucked by the vaccine rollout (it’s mostly ridiculous honestly):

But the biggest explanation, the one that has haunted the bloc for months, is as much philosophical as it was operational. European governments are often seen in the United States as free-spending, liberal bastions, but this time it was Washington that threw billions at drugmakers and cosseted their business.

Brussels, by comparison, took a conservative, budget-conscious approach that left the open market largely untouched. And it has paid for it.

In short, the answer today is the same as it was in December, said Dr. Slaoui. The bloc shopped for vaccines like a customer. The United States basically went into business with the drugmakers, spending much more heavily to accelerate vaccine development, testing and production.

When you are spending $1.9 trillion with a “T” on recovery, really this should be a drop in the bucket:

Washington had already spent billions on clinical trials and manufacturing by the time Europe decided to pool its resources and negotiate as a bloc. In mid-June, the European Commission, the bloc’s executive branch, announced a joint vaccine purchase with a $3.2 billion pot.

In Washington, Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s vaccine program, had a $10 billion budget. European officials say it’s unfair to compare the two figures because neither amount is a complete picture of all the money spent on vaccines. But there is no dispute that in Washington, officials had decided that money was no object if vaccines could avert the economic cost of a lockdown. Europe, on the other hand, was on a tight budget, so its negotiators chased cheaper doses.

And just absolutely wrong messaging:

The bloc fell farther behind when national authorities in Germany, France, Italy and elsewhere raised concerns about dangerous clots and bleeding, and temporarily suspended use of the vaccine. Though the World Health Organization and European regulators reaffirmed its safety, the damage was done. Only one in five French people now trust the AstraZeneca vaccine, according to a poll by the Elabe Institute published Tuesday.

Although we might want to point to where America did do well in terms of vaccine rollout:

“In the U.S., there is a much more flexible, liberal system and you just vaccinate people who come along. Same in the U.K. And it can go quicker. Here it is quite regulated,’’ said Steven Van Gucht, the Belgian government’s top virologist, who said it was too soon to know which system is better.

Administrative hiccups have exacerbated the problems. In Frankfurt, Elke Morgenstern was escorted out of a vaccine center because she enrolled using the wrong online application. “It was embarrassing,” said Ms. Morgenstern, adding that she qualified for a vaccine because of a pre-existing condition. [New York Times]

Vaccines: A Very European Disaster

And the same article from Krugman (emphasis on not understanding the risks of 10 people getting blood clots v. thousands dying of Covid):

The details of the European failure are complex. But the common thread seems to be that European officials were not just risk averse, but averse to the wrong risks. They seemed deeply worried about the possibility that they might end up paying drug companies too much, or discover that they had laid out money for vaccines that either proved ineffective or turned out to have dangerous side effects.

So they minimized these risks by delaying the procurement process, haggling over prices and refusing to grant liability waivers. They seemed far less worried about the risk that many Europeans might get sick or die because the vaccine rollout was too slow. [New York Times]

Hate reading

Asian-Americans Are Being Attacked. Why Are Hate Crime Charges So Rare?

There’s a lot here that’s so infuriating (the piece is fine, the opinions are somewhat ridiculous). I understand treading lightly on race issues, but some of this is just absolutely insane.

Others have opposed these proposals, saying more policing could harm their own communities, worsen racial tensions and disproportionately target the Black and Latino communities that have long dealt with aggressive policing.

“I’ve rarely seen people who are more socially privileged be the ones accused of hate crimes,” said Anne Oredeko, the supervising attorney with the racial justice unit at Legal Aid, a public defenders group. “Often what you end up seeing is people of color being accused of hate crimes.”

Ok, but I feel like the response here is not that we should let less privileged people get away with more hate crimes as we should also find the more privileged people who are committing these crimes and punish them.

(Aside: I would not click that link, but if you do, you’ll get the quote:

We do not support any initiative that expands the power of police nor do we believe in carceral responses to address racist violence.

which quite frankly, is ridiculous. Even someone as against the police as me knows that they have a role and so does incarceration. The proper response is not to… do nothing about racial violence.)

But the most insane passage is below:

Wayne Ho, president of the Chinese-American Planning Council, a social services agency, said many of his Asian colleagues were verbally harassed during the pandemic but chose not to alert law enforcement because they worried the perpetrators, who were often people of color, could be mistreated by the police.

“I asked myself, do I want this person in jail?” said Alice Wong, one of Mr. Ho’s colleagues. “Just because you put someone in jail doesn’t make them not hate anyone anymore.”

What. Excuse me? They’re concerned that the dude, who just perpetrated racial violence on them, might be mistreatment. What the hell man. “I am worried that the racist asshole that committed a hate crime on me, will be mistreated by police” is some absolutely fucking bullshit man, excuse my language. If this isn’t being gaslit, I don’t know what is. [New York Times]