The passing scene: Links & comments 1/7/2022

Here are links to some articles I found interesting.

The Cuban Missile War Timeline by “Amerigo Vespucci” for altnernatehistory.com.

I remember the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. I didn’t take the danger of nuclear war seriously at the time because I understood that neither President Kennedy nor Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev were crazy enough to start one. What I didn’t understand was how easily things could get out of control.

A contributor to the alternate history web log wrote an interesting speculation as to what might have happened if a few things had gone otherwise than as they did—a U-2 plane shot down over Cuba, a Soviet submarine commander who thought he was under attack firing his nuclear missile.

The writer is well-informed about U.S. and Soviet capabilities, positioning of armed forces and likely military strategies. He presents a convincing account of what a nuclear war would have been like and what the aftermath would have been.

Yes, the USA could have “won” a nuclear exchange. More of us Americans would have survived than those on the other side. I don’t think the Chinese would have escaped unscathed as the writer assumes. Daniel Ellsberg’s book tells us that the U.S. nuclear strategy, in the event of war, was to obliterate the USSR and China both.

All too many people make light of the risks of going to the brink of nuclear war.  They say it hasn’t happened yet.  Yes, but it only needs to happen once.

Frederick Douglass’s library by Julian Abagond.

When I visit someone for the first time, I always sneak a look at the person’s bookshelf.  It’s one way of getting to know them.

Frederick Douglass, the great African-American freedom fighter, had a library of thousands of books.  A blogger named Julian Abagond listed some of the highlights.  Particular favorites, according to Abagond, included The Colombia Orator, a textbook on public speaking with selections from great speeches, and the Bible, the works of Shakespeare, the poetry of Robert Burns and Charles Dickens’ Bleak House.

Douglass of course owned and read works by and about black people and their history, struggles and achievements, but his interests were wide-ranging and included history, politics, literature and science.  The National Park Service has the complete list.  

He had no formal schooling whatever.  As a slave, he was not supposed to learn to read.  He did it on the sly, by paying a white boy to teach him his ABCs.  He went on from there to educate himself.  He associated on equal terms with some of the leading intellectuals of his time.

Lucille of the Libs by Rod Dreher for The American Conservative.

Rod Dreher, a leading conservative Christian writer, wrote a moving article on the sacrifices required to be a good husband or wife, and a good parent.  He drew on the Kenny Rogers country-and-western song, “Lucille”; the movie, “The Secret Life of Dentists”; and an article by Atlantic senior editor Honor Jones about why she divorced her loving husband and father of her children in order to live for herself.

Meet Jed Rakoff, the Judge Who Exposed the Rigged Game by Matt Taibbi for TK News.

Back in 2011, a federal judge named Jed Rakoff threw out a $285 million settlement between Citicorp and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.  Citicorp had been accused of selling subprime mortgage securities to suckers who didn’t realize that Citicorp itself exchanged the borrowers to default.

He said the settlement was “neither fair, nor reasonable, nor adequate, nor in the public interest.”  He noted that the fine was only 4.5 percent of Citi’s quarterly profits, and absolved the company from having to admit any wrongdoing.  The trial should go forward, he ruled.  \

The Court of Appeals overturned his decision.  Out-of-court settlements are made for pragmatic reasons, the higher court ruled; whether the settlement was just or unjust is irrelevant.

Rakoff went on to write a book, Why the Innocent Plead Guilty and Why the Guilty Go Free.  Matt Taibbi did a good interview with him about his book on his TK News Substack blog.

Rough and Unready by Bruce Covert for The Baffler.

The U.S. government’s pandemic assistance efforts for tenants and small-business owners were a mess.  It couldn’t even mail out stimulus checks efficiently.  This goes to show, not that government in general can never do anything right, but that the U.S. governmental administration needs an overhaul.

If the government can’t even mail checks to people it has decided need them, how can it deal with infrastructure, public health and other public needs?

At the very least, the people in charge should make sure this won’t happen next time.  Because there is going to be a next time.

India’s Corbevax vaccine was developed at Texas Children’s Hospital | It expects nothing in return by Adam Taylor for The Washington Post.  [Hat tip to Steve from Texas]

Something upbeat to end with.

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One Response to “The passing scene: Links & comments 1/7/2022”

  1. Fred (Au Natural) Says:

    There’s a couple of new vaccines that show great promise and Corbevax is one.

    Liked by 1 person

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