Bargaining with my left-wing indulgence

Yesterday I read Rutger Bregman’s excellent opinion piece in The Correspondent, and today is Tuesday. Tuesday, in my household, is the recycling day. Why Tuesday? Because the island we live on only has 2 paper trash containers. They are emptied on Tuesdays midday-ish, so on Tuesday evenings I pack all the paper trash in the house (along with all the glass and plastic) into the trunk, and I put them into the container before it gets full (it’ll be full by Wednesday night at the latest). And then, feeling that my duty as a responsible, eco-conscious citizen has been fulfilled, I reward myself with a short drive over to the Polish store in a different part of town, where I buy 4 cans of Poland’s finest honey beer.

A-HA! But hold on there just a second, why did I put trash in the trunk? (Ok that’s an easy one, because it’s bulky and I don’t have a bakfiets) Why do I drive, especially in a city like Amsterdam? Why do I even have a car? Didn’t Bregman write just about that?

I’m talking about the idealist who, as soon as personal responsibility comes up, starts shouting that we have to talk about the structures before anything else. That we first need an analysis showing that it can all be blamed on the fossil industry and the multinationals, advertisements and algorithms, capitalism and neoliberalism – anything and everything that lets us avoid looking in the mirror.

Ah, so it’d seem all the French and American socialist thinkers of the XXI century have been lying to me all along! I do have to change my ways!

But to what degree?

Continue reading “Bargaining with my left-wing indulgence”

A false sense of security

Marc Andreessen writes about how ill-equipped the United States is to handle the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and concludes that it’s due to the fact that the America lost its ability to “build” things, be it medical equipment, infrastructure, or financial mechanisms that’d allow the federal government to support its citizens better.

There’s a particular paragraph that stood out to me and made me think about a particular lack-of-readiness aspect of COVID-19 epidemic, not only in the US, but all over the world and in particular in Western Europe:

We see this today with the things we urgently need but don’t have. We don’t have enough coronavirus tests, or test materials — including, amazingly, cotton swabs and common reagents. We don’t have enough ventilators, negative pressure rooms, and ICU beds. And we don’t have enough surgical masks, eye shields, and medical gowns — as I write this, New York City has put out a desperate call for rain ponchos to be used as medical gowns. Rain ponchos! In 2020! In America!

Continue reading “A false sense of security”


Steven Levy for The Wired:

Stallman affair touches on something else: a simmering resentment about the treatment of women by the scruffy brainiacs who built our digital world, as well as the Brahmins of academia and business who benefited from the hackers’ effort. With the Epstein revelations that resentment has boiled over.

It’s incorrect to think that the controversy around Stallman’s CSAIL emails is about “political correctness” or that his opinions have been “mischaracterized”, as he himself puts it.

Decades of silencing critics that were pointing out creepy behavior towards women have to finally come to an end. It has nothing to do with his achievements or contributions to free software, nor does it diminish them. Great works do not grant immunity.

It’s about being held accountable.

How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life

Sacco boarded the plane. It was an 11-hour flight, so she slept. When the plane landed in Cape Town and was taxiing on the runway, she turned on her phone. Right away, she got a text from someone she hadn’t spoken to since high school: “I’m so sorry to see what’s happening.” Sacco looked at it, baffled.

via How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life –

Reading this makes me wanna delete my Twitter and FB profiles. Err on the side of caution.

What Happens When You Live Abroad

The anxiousness that was once concentrated on how you’re going to make new friends, adjust, and master the nuances of the language has become the repeated question “What am I missing?”

via What Happens When You Live Abroad | Thought Catalog.

Good post, good observations. As an ex-pat since around 2008 I’d like to add a few of my own. Continue reading “What Happens When You Live Abroad”