An update from Texas

I am still working from home. The weather has been spectacular here over the past few days. I immediately head outside with the kids at 5 o’clock. We just run around and play. The younger one likes throwing the football around in the grass. The older one likes to play with the ants in the cracks of the sidewalk.

I was looking forward to going to Oslo this fall, but I just received news that the event has been postponed. I’ve still got the inaugural family camping trip to Ouachita to plan, so that’s exciting.

The political landscape here is much different than it is on the west coast or in Austin. Authority is decentralized. There are more black and Mexican people here, and fewer other minorities (including Central Americans). I have more black friends now than I ever did in California. It’s odd. In some ways, the non-South is now more racist than the old South. I can’t put my finger on it but I swear it’s true. You can carry on a friendly conversation with anybody here, something that’s missing out west and up north.

My guess is that this has something to do with the fact that segregation was blatantly racist in the South during the Cold War, and Washington felt it had to do something about it in order to win friends (despots) abroad. The racism in the north and the west was less blatant, and as a result nothing has ever been done about it.

I mean, I didn’t grow up with any black people. Or Mexicans. There are tons of them in California, but they don’t live in white residential areas. Down south, at least in the parts of Texas I’ve lived in, this is not the case. There are still “sides” of town, but at least we all share the same town. There’s still racism here, but the racism is more honest than, say, the zoning found up north and out west. This familiarity between blacks, Mexicans, and whites is something you as an individual have to work hard on to achieve in the non-South.

The federal government forcibly dismantled Jim Crow. It did so only after it conveniently ignored the 14th Amendment for decades, but at least it finally did so. There’s a place for Washington down here in Texas. Decentralized tyrannies are still tyrannies. I just started watching Waco, the Netflix series. It’s good. Washington is responsible for the deaths of several innocent women and children. It’ll never pay the price. Those people were just too strange for the broad public to really give a shit.

It’s a never-ending balancing act: finding a comfortable equilibrium between federal, state, and local governance. The feds are better at protecting the descendants of slaves than the state and local governments. But the state and local governments are better at protecting non-conformists and religious extremists than the federal government.

Libertarianism hasn’t been able to shake its racist stigma yet. Sure, leftists call us racists all the time, but a kernal of truth is still a kernal of truth. I have witnessed several people I once respected sweep libertarianism’s ugly, recent past under the rug and then turn to grab their paycheck. Libertarian Inc. has its place in our society, but it won’t be effective so long as the racist label sticks with us. And the racist label won’t come off until we grapple with the brutal truth of what we’ve become comfortable with and what we will tolerate.

Grocery shopping in Texas

This past weekend I finally got to go to the grocery store and, like Rick, I was hoping to catch a glimpse of what my neighbors valued.

All of the shelves were fully stocked, except for the toilet paper aisle. Diaper wipes are being limited, too. The grocery store I shop at, H-E-B, actually opens the boxes of diaper wipes and sells the packs in singles. (A box will usually have 6 to 8 packs in it.) I got the maximum number of single packs allowed (2), just in case.

For diapers and wipes, we have a pre-paid automated thing with Amazon, and it has worked smoothly, but we’ve also tried to stock up just in case.

I tend to buy in bulk, so we still don’t need any toilet paper. The last time I bought butt paper was in January, and we’re still pretty stocked. But being a bulk buyer has made me anxious in the grocery store. I don’t like it when some of the stuff I always buy in bulk is being limited because some people want to hoard.

The pasta sauce and pancake mix is mostly gone, too. Texas has the best food and the best amateur cooks in the republic, but when you’ve got 4 or 5 or 6 people crammed into the house all day, ain’t nobody wanna cook.

The surgical masks don’t bother me. I lived in west LA for years (Go Bruins!) and people shopped in those masks all the time. The gloves don’t bother me. The employees are friendly, as usual, but I would have quit. I know some of them feel the same way.

Nightcap

  1. Behind the Iron Curtain: Soviet space art (gallery) Kadish Morris, Guardian
  2. The year I left the Soviet Union Alex Halberstadt, New Yorker
  3. Free speech, libel, and privacy rights Mark Hemmingway, RealClearPolitics
  4. 8 out of 10 Texans already live in cities and metropolitan areas Steven Pedigo, Dallas Morning News

Nightcap

  1. Do quarantines work? Eleanor Klibanoff, Goats and Soda
  2. Trump’s Middle East plan Nathan Thrall, New York Times
  3. Trump’s Middle East plan Michael Koplow, Ottomans & Zionists
  4. Texans don’t want any more Californians Derek Thompson, Atlantic

Nightcap

  1. Taking cross cultural psychology seriously Tanner Greer, Scholar’s Stage
  2. East Germans, bio-Germans, passport Germans Katrin Benhold, New York Times
  3. The Texas-Latvia connection Graeme Wood, the Atlantic
  4. “Scholar reads obituary over coffee” Irfan Khawaja, Policy of Truth

Nightcap

  1. South Korea’s Confucianist-capitalist trap Makoto Kajiwara, Nikkei Asian Review
  2. Stockton’s experiment with Universal Basic Income Sarah Holder, CityLab
  3. The real Texas Annette Gordon-Reed, New York Review of Books
  4. For women, running is still an act of defiance Rachel Hewitt, 1843

Nightcap

  1. Austin City Limits Kevin Williamson, Claremont Review of Books
  2. Boredom and the British Empire Erik Linstrum, History Today
  3. The little-known war crime in Tokyo Hiroaki Sato, Japan Times
  4. China’s “Hundred Schools of Thought” Ian Johnson, ChinaFile