Worth It is an occasional series on this blog where I post a bunch of links to things I’ve read recently.

The reality of Black pain is breaking American sports’ status quo:

The most powerful corporations in this country have said these routine encounters have become unacceptable, thus it is not an embarrassment for the leagues that the players chose not to play, but wholly appropriate, an exacting of the promise. The message players sent was not that point guards are now moonlighting as legislators, but literally, their humanity must come first – that these Black lives literally matter.

Kaepernick was right then, he’s right now, and the conservative, white backlash will be judged poorly by history. It’s thrilling to see athletes use their power.

They Know How to Prevent Megafires. Why Won’t Anybody Listen?:

Academics believe that between 4.4 million and 11.8 million acres burned each year in prehistoric California. Between 1982 and 1998, California’s agency land managers burned, on average, about 30,000 acres a year. Between 1999 and 2017, that number dropped to an annual 13,000 acres. The state passed a few new laws in 2018 designed to facilitate more intentional burning. But few are optimistic this, alone, will lead to significant change. We live with a deathly backlog. In February 2020, Nature Sustainability published this terrifying conclusion: California would need to burn 20 million acres — an area about the size of Maine — to restabilize in terms of fire.

It’s hard for me not to see a failure to empower experts in favor of proliferating small democracy everywhere as one of the main things that ills American society. Easy for me to say as a white, well-educated technocrat myself. But over and over again, in transit, in health, in education, and land management it seems, we seem to face insurmountable problems creating by decades of failure to value and empower expertise. It’s a dangerous game– just look at the racist impacts of “urban renewal” in the recent past to find ample examples of why we should be cautious of experts. But the unfortunate combination of racism and ideal about individual freedoms have commingled into what at times feels like an insurmountable barrier against positivist action for good.

The Case for Adding 672 Million More Americans:

If you tripled the population of the United States, adding the new Americans only to the Lower 48 and leaving Alaska and Hawaii intact and unchanged, the main part of America would be only about as dense as France and less than half as dense as Germany.

I probably won’t read One Billion Americans, but that’s mostly because I find it hard to imagine I’ll disagree with any of it.

What Does Everyone See in Jesse Plemons?:

Plemons can toggle easily between eggheads and dimwits, good guys and bad guys, and it’s almost impossible to describe what he’s doing differently because he doesn’t appear to be doing anything at all.

A fascinating profile of a recent that guy in Hollywood.

Georgia accused of wrongfully purging nearly 200,000 from voter rolls: report:

Anyone paying attention knows how evil the Georgia’s Secretary of State office has been in recent years. Just another reason to be terrified of the fragility of our system.

Trump: Americans Who Died in War Are ‘Losers’ and ‘Suckers’:

But according to sources with knowledge of this visit, Trump, while standing by Robert Kelly’s grave, turned directly to his father and said, “I don’t get it. What was in it for them?”

Yes, everyone has read or has read a hot take about this story. Here’s the essence though– Trump cannot fathom the existence of sacrifice or altruism. Individuals can only act in self-interest, and any hint otherwise is not just suspect, but a sign of being a “loser” or a “sucker”. Our country is in the hands of someone who doesn’t know how to use the word “our” unless speaking in the majestic plural.

Speak no evil: The secret to keeping Connecticut segregated:

One offered that Black people didn’t live here because “they” don’t like rural areas. Or because they can’t afford it. If Will Smith wanted to buy a house in town, he certainly could… Grown men actually argued that there was no segregation here, because the town would welcome the Fresh Prince of Bel Air.

Not one person in this story would recognize or understand their actions as racist. They would be appalled if you used that word. And perhaps worse, as a result, not one of them would understand that their actions are a part of an entire system chipping away at Black people in America ever day of their lives in this, 2020. This is the use of that small-d democracy from earlier posts to create a system of oppression and deny it– to put ones knee on the neck of Black America and then claim that the knee never existed, no matter how many times we’ve all seen the footage. This is the worst kind of racism, because it is so hard to eradicate even as it is so effective at stopping liberation.