June 25, 2021 / by 

 

On Helmets And Vaccinations

Okay, so I told an old war story from the motorcycling days of my youth in an earlier thread. In response to a Raven Eye comment, I said:

“Your story of father and BB guns really holds water though. A friend and me, pre driver’s license, used to ride dirt bikes all over what is now suburbia. We would take 410 shotguns out quail and dove hunting. They seemed, shall we say, not very effective at range. So, one day with leathers and helmets on, we paced off, maybe 50-75 yards and shot at each other. We each took some pellets but no harm. And that is the kind of stupid your father foresaw.”

As stupid as it sounds on the surface, it was fine. We were both wearing motorcycling attire and full coverage helmets. Looking back, it still falls in the “things you ought not do” department. But we were in no real danger, just young and stupid.

I’ll get to the “vaccinations” part of this post in a minute, but back to helmets. I never even thought to wear a bicycle helmet, whether riding on the streets of Tempe in college (hey, I got sideswiped once!), or on those of Santa Monica in the summers. Literally never crossed my mind. Now they are ubiquitous on almost every bicyclist you see.

Back to the helmet thing. I wore a Bell Star, with flip down visor. It cost an insane amount of money at the time, but my mother paid it in a heartbeat, as my friends and I did not just ride to hunt quail and dove, we raced motocross and hare and hounds. It was the classic white Bell Star one, with a flag decal on each side. My friend in this story did not wear a Bell, but, I think, a Shoei. There were not that many full coverage helmets that early. Either way, we were pretty safe for the 410 test.

That Bell helmet later saved my life. I had done some wrenching on a friend’s Yamaha 250 (close to what I had raced earlier), and was taking it home to him. Doing 30-40 mph on a large street with a palm tree median when a little sports car made a left turn in front of me. The bike collapsed into the side, and I was catapulted over it and landed 20-30 yards on the other side, on my knees, elbows and head. The elbows were skinned, the knees really hurt, and the trusty Bell Star was cracked in the cranium section. Cracked. That would have been my head. I went to the hospital for a checkup, but was released within a couple of hours. Concussions were not yet a thing.

Such is the value of helmets. But how many people out there now, without a thought, wear bicycle helmets, but ignorantly refuse to get vaccinated? I honestly do not know the answer, but it strikes me that it may be a quantifiable amount. And how is that exactly? Here is an NFL player, once “hesitant” that found the vaccine jesus. Good for Travis Kelce. For one and all, PLEASE go get fully vaccinated; it is good for you, your family and society. It, like helmets, can save lives. Do it.


Wegman and NYT on Judge Katzmann

I noted this on Twitter, but there is a really important opinion piece at the NYT by Jesse Wegman on Judge Robert Katzmann, who passed away this week far too early at age 68. Usually, when NYT or WaPo etc. are brought up they are being bashed, but not today. Jesse Wegman has penned a magnificent, and compact, honor to Judge Katzmann, and you should read it.

I will not overly quote it because I want you to go read Jesse’s work. Suffice it to say that most of the world knows Robert Katzmann as the dissenting judge in a 2-1 2nd
Circuit opinion on Brady v. NFL, the Deflategate opinion, that got it right. But he was so much more than that. One of the most brilliant of judges, and best writers, of a couple of generations. Yes, the exact kind of judge you want on the bench. As Mr. Wegman intones, we need more Katzmanns on the bench. Even under Dem Presidencies, the country is not getting enough of them.

Without further adieu, here is a taste:

“The complicated humanity of others — whether judges, litigants, citizens or lawmakers — was at the heart of Judge Katzmann’s understanding of the world. He saw it in the work of Congress, where laws that are supposed to serve as clear guideposts are often vague, ambiguous or self-contradictory, like the people who wrote them. Some jurists see all that messiness as irrelevant if not dangerous, and steer as far from it as possible. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was the leading advocate of this approach, known as textualism, and refused to consider anything that was not in the black-and-white text of the law in front of him.

Judge Katzmann, the first ever federal judge with a Ph.D. in political science, worked from a more balanced perspective. Laws are “expressions by the people’s representatives of this nation’s aspirations, its challenges, and approaches to those challenges,” he wrote. “When judges interpret the words of statutes, they are not simply performing a task. They are maintaining an unspoken covenant with the citizenry on whose trust the authority and vitality of an independent judiciary depend.”

Go read the whole thing. It is a portrait of what you want a judge to be. Katzmann was superlative. But he is not alone, there are many judges out there trying to do the right thing, and not getting enough credit for it. I see them in court, and have for a very long time. Even know a few. But it is harder to see from the 30,000 feet airplane view of the internet. Robert Katzmann was special, but there are others too.


Let The Girls Rock And Roll At Indy

The good news:

There is a full on female racing team about to run the Indy 500 in about an hour and a half. The effort is awesome. Hopefully transformational. For any interested, this is a must read ESPN article by Alyssa Roenigk:

Roughly 30 laps into Sunday’s 105th running of the Indianapolis 500, driver Simona De Silvestro will pull into pit lane. In the six seconds it takes to refuel her No. 16 Paretta Autosport Chevrolet, her crew will swap out four Firestones, adjust the front wing and attend to the Aeroscreen windshield on her IndyCar. Typically, teams want pits that are flawless, fast and fade into the noise of the race.

But the Paretta team expects to attract attention. Because for the first time in motorsports history, four of its seven over-the-wall pit crew members will be women. De Silvestro’s two spotters will be women. Two of her engineers, including a Data Acquisition Guy, will be women. And every front office role at Paretta Autosport — from business operations to public relations to merchandise and marketing — is filled by a woman.

“It’s important to me that the bigger message is this isn’t women at the expense of men,” says team owner Beth Paretta, whose vision to create a coed race team has been six years in the making. “I’m trying to expand the grid.”

During the team’s first outing at the Indy 500, Paretta hopes young girls see ponytails fly over the wall during pit stops and women engineers communicating from the timing stand. She also wants the novelty to wear off quickly: “My hope is that in five years, us being a team of mostly women is the least interesting thing about us.

Women have run Indy before. The famous and first was Janet Guthrie. Then through Danica Patrick, who actually finished on the podium once. Danica was a fine driver, and earned the rides she got. But, for my limited money, the best was always Lyn St. James. Lyn could drive any race car, anywhere, anytime. She was all that. If Lyn had the equipment Patrick was afforded, she might well have a Borg Warner trophy in her living room.

That is the current, and the history, you might wish to have been different. But times ARE different, and excellent inroads are being made, even if slowly. The Paretta effort is a significant part of that.

The bad news:

Simona and Paretta made the field for today’s race, but barely. She qualified in P33, the last position on the outside of the last row. Unlike F1, such is not a death knell for a driver at Indy. We shall see how it all works out, and all hopes for well. De Silvestro can drive. There may be shakier equipment in the field. But what an awesome movement, and may it well continue.


The Shocking Blue Streets of Monaco

Would you like to hot lap Monaco? Before you say this, watch it. Part real part not, but it is pretty darn good. Seriously, go watch it. Even the legends in F1 don’t really know how to pass in Monaco. They still love it there, but the racing has never been great if you are a TV spectator other than the fact is is beyond beautiful. Mansell could not pass Senna, and nobody else can on that track either.

F1 racing is old. It is older than us individually, unless your sentient stage preceded 1950. So, what is up on the streets in Monte Carlo? You think this is NASCAR or some lumbering junk? No.

Ferrari is up through practice. Doubt that will continue after qualifying, but one can hope. Expect Mercedes and Red Bull to still lead after qualy. But it sure is more fun if the Red are in the game.

And, as I write this, qualy is on, so will update a bit later.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, the Cahieh Archive counts as a million. Thank you again Paul-Henri Cahier for letting me pilfer your, and Bernard’s, pictures occasionally. The Cahiers and the astounding Cahier Archive have long been kind and the most amazing F1 photographers ever.

Music is by Mariska Veres and The Shocking Blue, a shockingly good band. Remembered for Venus, but did a lot of very good work.


The NFL Draft 2021 and Portuguese GP

Down to the stretch in the NBA, and a week from now the order will be pretty fascinating. Some fun stuff in MLB, what with the Cubs Rizzo striking out MVP Frederick Freeman. Both were incredible sports about the encounter, and it was great. But MLB is early still.

So, to the NFL Draft. One seems sure to the Jags with Trevor Lawrence, and two, seemingly so to the Jets Jets Jets. Three, however, seemed to be either Mac Jones or Trey Lance to the Niners. But Mr. Discount Doublecheck threw a monkey wrench into the equation by saying he wants out of the Packers. That is a real monkey wrench. The Patriots still need a future at QB; might it be Jimmy G, might they move up for a rook? Nobody knows what Bill Bel will do. Suffice it to say that tonight’s first round will be pretty exciting. After that, the draft far less so.

As to the Portuguese Grand Prix, well, it should be interesting. I honestly thought Lewis Hamilton was done at the Emilia-Romagna GP at Imola when he went off into the kitty litter for what seemed like an interminable amount of time. But Lewis is Lewis, and he covered to not only place in the points, but finish in P2. Insane, but that is quintessential Lewis. So, despite all that, Hamilton still leads the Drivers Championship by a point over Verstappen, 44 to 43, with McLaren’s Norris an admirable, but yet distant, third at 27.

So, on to Portugal, what will happen? The weather looks okay at Potimao for the maiden cruise of the F1 “sprint qualifying”. As you might guess, I am not crazy about “sprint qualifying” for F1. The problem with F1 has been with lack of field competitiveness as to equipment, not drivers or qualification stunts. This TV stunt bullshit is not the F1 I grew up with. And it sucks.

So, let’s get it started with the NFL Draft, the Portuguese GP and any and everything else.


Derek Chauvin Verdict

height=It is in, we just do not know it yet. OJ aside, a verdict coming this soon is often, if not usually, a tell.

Honestly, I think the way the trial judge, Peter Cahill has been an absolute embarrassment to due process and fundamental fairness. The amount of appealable error (that does NOT mean successful appealable error) Cahill has injectect is deplorable and nuts. That guy should not be sitting on any important criminal trial bench.

But, while we do not yet know what it is, this is a thread to discuss it. Evidentiary infirmities and bullshit argument from both sides and all.


Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Irishman

The stupidity of “Brexit” has been obvious from the start. Not just BoJo, but the whole thing. And, yet, here the EU and world are. There are things that are legend and built into the UK DNA, and one of them is their quintessential spy teller, John le Carre. And, yet again, Brexit takes a bang.

“John le Carré, the great embodiment and chronicler of Englishness, saved his greatest twist not for his thrillers but the twilight of his own life: he died an Irishman.

The creator of the quintessential English spy George Smiley was so opposed to Brexit that in order to remain European, and to reflect his heritage, he took Irish citizenship before his death last December aged 89, his son has revealed.

“He was, by the time he died, an Irish citizen,” Nicholas Cornwell, who writes as Nick Harkaway, says in a BBC Radio 4 documentary due to air on Saturday. “On his last birthday I gave him an Irish flag, and so one of the last photographs I have of him is him sitting wrapped in an Irish flag, grinning his head off.”

Le Carré, the author of acclaimed thrillers including The Spy Who Came in From the Cold and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, had long made clear his opposition to Brexit, but his embrace of his Irish heritage was not fully known until now.

He visited Cork, where his grandmother came from, to research his roots and was embraced by a town archivist, Cornwell says in the documentary. “She said ‘welcome home’.”

Ouch. But le Carre was right.

The Taoiseach, Michael Martin, seems to understand:

“Taoiseach Micheál Martin has called for a “reset” of the relationship between the EU and the UK to resolve issues stemming from the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The Taoiseach lamented the deterioration of diplomatic relations between the bloc and the UK following rows over Brexit and the supply of Covid-19 vaccines.
The Northern Ireland Protocol, designed to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland post-Brexit, has caused unrest among both unionists and loyalists, who have called for it to be scrapped.”

There are people I care about in Ireland, I want to freely go see them, and the relevant EU parties and Covid need to let up.

(h/t Peterr)


The F1 Circus Begins Again, and RIP To A Friend

Hi lug nuts, the Emptywheel F1 season is starting! The traditional opening in Australia has been moved to the end of the year, and the opening race is Bahrain this weekend. I firmly believe that F1 ought not be in the homes of authoritarian despots in places like Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi. They are there on the 2021 calendar nevertheless.

So, Mercedes and Red Bull were front and center in the practice sessions, with Verstappen and Red Bull ahead of Hamilton, Bottas and the Mercs. But the gap was narrowed significantly from practice, with Verstappen beating out Lewis by less than a 10th of a second. Bottas collected up P3, with Leclerc a surprising P4 in the Ferrari. The hard charging Pierre Gasly finished with P5 in the AlphaTauri, with Dan Ricciardo and Lando Norris (keep an eye open on these two) in McLarens for P6-P7. Fernando Alonso returns to F1 for Alpine and finished qualifying in a quite respectable P9, behind Carlos Sainz in the second Ferrari, and ahead of Lance Stroll in an Aston Martin.

Ferrari is still not yet right. Merc is closer to Red Bull than people think, and the middle third of the pack will be a LOT more interesting this year. It was better last year, and will be even more better this year, ahead of the multitude of changes on tap for 2022. For 2021, via Peterr, here is a team and drivers guide. Also, apparently F1, who has no problem racing in the most hideous of brutal authoritarian states, as noted above, don’t like Lewis Hamilton speaking up about human rights:

Lewis Hamilton has stated his belief that Formula One can no longer ignore human rights issues in the countries it visits, putting the sport’s chief executive, Stefano Domenicali, in an awkward position after he rejected calls to launch an independent inquiry into alleged human rights abuses associated with the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The F1 world champion was speaking before the season-opening race in Bahrain and was unequivocal in a stance he first displayed last year. “There are issues all around the world but I do not think we should be going to these countries and just ignoring what is happening in those places, arriving, having a great time and then leaving,” said Hamilton, before revealing that he takes the situation in Bahrain so seriously that he has spent the past few months educating himself on it.

“Coming here all these years I was not aware of all of the details of the human rights issues. I have spent time speaking to legal human rights experts, to human rights organisations like Amnesty,” the 36-year-old said. “I have been to see the UK ambassador here in Bahrain and spoken to Bahraini officials also. At the moment the steps I have taken have been private and I think that is the right way to go out about it but I am definitely committed to helping in any way I can.”

So, the circus begins in Bahrain, human rights abuses and all. Welcome to the club Lewis, I have been decrying the F1 posture in Bahrain since at least this time in 2012. But Lewis is really growing into his full throat, and that is a remarkably good and admirable thing.

On a sad note, if you have been around Emptywheel very long, especially on our F1 threads, you know and love Quebecois. I have not seen Quebecois since mid January. That is a long time, even outside of F1 season. I can no longer find where I saw it, but believe Quebecois has passed. He had cancer, had remitted it enough to start biking again, but I think it took him. I very much hope I am wrong about this, and that Quebecois appears with a triumphant “Dewey Beats Truman” newspaper in hand. I don’t think wrong though, and that is truly sad. The people here at this blog are everything, and all losses are hard. The long timers, especially so.

So, that is it for this week. One of Mrs. Bmaz’s employees, also an F1 fan, made me a F1 couch pillow, and that is the featured image. As to music, we have Rod The Mod and Elton with the entirely kick ass and very underrated rocker of Let Me Be Your Car.

Let me be your car for a while child
Shift me into gear and I’ll be there
Fill me up with five star gasoline girl
I’ll be your car, I’ll take you anywhere.


Funeral For A Friend And Get Your Shot

One of my two best local friends died Friday night. He had been in the hospital for a month because of Covid. Long enough that the virus had apparently left, but the body devastation resulting therefrom had not. His organs and body never quit shutting down. But, Friday night, the shut down was complete and final.

I’ll call this formerly vibrant human “Pat” for reference. And when I say formerly vibrant, it is somewhat tongue in cheek. Pat is dead, I am curiously still alive. Mrs. Bmaz has tried to leverage that into better eating and living. But our diet has slowly gone far more to the healthy side than used to be. Which is good. Don’t exercise as much as used to, or probably should, but am pretty far from Jabba The Hut status.

Pat was a guy who could likely get out of bed and run a 5K on the spot. He was an exemplary person that had as high as of a security clearance as you can imagine, and protected it always. A guy that was easy to go eat some tasty Mexican food at the local cantina, the TeePee Tap Room, and slurp the margaritas, or sip some careful bourbon while headed to, coming back from, or watching the ASU Sun Devils, even on TV. If you have been here at Emptywheel long enough, you know that I am a big sports fan, and have relentlessly gone to ASU football games (including two Rose Bowls), and Super Bowls in town here. We watched even more on the big screen whether at our house or his. Pat was a fixture at all of that.

He was my friend since college, and for a long time, including now, generally my physical neighbor too. Everybody has a Covid death story, this is simply mine. It has no real importance other than to unload some frustration and make sure others have the space to do the same. Pat was an executive VP at a worldwide IT company. Had as good of health insurance as is possible in the US. Was at as good of a hospital as available in Scottsdale. He did not die because of lack of resources, he died because this shit is real.

Which brings us to the shot. Go get it, whatever vaccine is possibly available, immediately. Any of them are better than nothing. Nobody knows how long any of them will last anyway. It may be that different, or “booster” shots need be had a year or two down the line. So be it, go get what you can now. Not just for yourself, or your immediate family, but for society. If you participate in society and democracy, then you also owe something back. Voting and vaccinating are, seriously, the least you can do.

Pat leaves behind a son, who has now a giant void. There are many friends of his father’s that will try to fill that unfillable void. But no one can really fill that void. And that is the real hell of Covid. There are approximately 535 thousand families out there with exactly this kind of loss and void. The numbers get numbing, but that should not be the case.

It is not just a number, it is not just a CNN chyron statistic. This is real. Go get your shot as soon as possible. Do it for yourself, your family and for all.

This is not trash talk. It is not fun and games. It is life and death. Be on the side of the former, not the latter. Music is, of course, Elton. I was going to to go with an earlier version, but this is seriously kick ass, and we all age. As long as we can rock, we can still roll.


On Merrick Garland’s Confirmation

As you may, or may not, have heard, Merrick Garland was confirmed, by a vote of 70-30, as the next Attorney General for the United States a few minutes ago. That is a good thing. Garland is a competent, and stabilizing, presence that will be very good for the Department of Justice. And, man can the DOJ use that about now.

But, before people do too many backflips, remember that Merrick Garland is no avenging liberal hero. He has a horrible record on criminal justice issues, and very long has. He is a built in stabilizer, but certainly not as the once and future cure for the ills of the justice system, which at his new job will be front and center.

Is Garland the cure? No. He is an admirable and good man that will restore some bit of normalcy and, hopefully, consistent competence to the DOJ. That alone means everything right now in the wake of the disastrous Jeff Sessions, Matt Whitaker and William Barr eras under Donald Trump. The resetting and stabilization is critical right now.

There are a bunch of just below the AG nominees Biden has made that are great. As Marcy noted previously, Vanita Gupta and Kristen Clarke are excellent people. And, yes, even Lisa Monaco (as DAG) will likely be a competent and worthy person in leadership. Didn’t see me saying that ten years ago. There are also outstanding former DOJ people like Sam Bagenstos and Sasha Samberg-Champion returning to government, even if not at the DOJ, and they are taking pay hits to do so. Be thankful for those, and similar, people because that is also truly good stuff.

In short, all are tectonic shifts in the right direction from the disastrous Trump years. But, as to Garland, let’s wait and see. He was a good and stable choice. Before you place your hopes and dreams on him too much, however, let him show his work. On criminal justice, his history of work has been, shall we say, rather uneven. There were several warts when Obama nominated Garland for the Supreme Court, and there still are. For now though, great.

Copyright © 2021 emptywheel. All rights reserved.
Originally Posted @ https://www.emptywheel.net/author/bmaz/