November 30, 2023

Sunrise — 7:07, 7:16.

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"If somebody's going to try to blackmail me with advertising — blackmail me with money? Go fuck yourself. Go fuck yourself. Is that clear? I hope it is. Hey, Bob, if you're in the audience."

Said Elon Musk, video at "Elon Musk to Advertisers Leaving X, Disney's Bob Iger: Don't Advertise, Go F*ck Yourself" (Real Clear Politics).

That's the way he says it: "If somebody's going to try to blackmail me with advertising — blackmail me with money...."

An alternative line reading would be "If somebody's going to try to blackmail me with advertising — blackmail me with money...."

An idea that is always there but I don't think he ever stresses is: Don't you understand how rich I am and what it means to me to be this rich?

Makes me think of "Citizen Kane" (who laughs off losing money and can publish his newspaper at a big loss for 60 years):

ADDED: I'm seeing a lot of clips of that Elon Musk interview. Here's the whole thing:

Meade takes a photo at 7:05 a.m.

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"[U]nlike everyone else, [Melania] was not wearing black...."

"[She wore a] gray tweed coat with a voluminous skirt, structured and tightly belted. It was reminiscent of the protective clothing, as well as the luxury labels, that became her signature during the Trump administration. The color and the style made her stand out, made her look a part of the pageantry but not of it. And they made the choice seem like a symbol — a sign, perhaps, of Mrs. Trump’s historic ambivalence toward the role of first lady and her reluctance to play to the expectations that surround it, as well as her husband’s norm-trampling tendencies...."

Writes Vanessa Friedman, in "Rare Gathering of Former First Ladies Shows Style, and Subtle/Differences United (mostly) in black, their differences were in the details" (NYT).

Notice that Friedman's description is not a criticism of Melania. It's respectful.

"How Did San Francisco Become the City in a ‘Doom Loop’?"

A NYT article by Soumya Karlamangla. Subheadline: "A conversation with Jesse Barron, who wrote about a high-profile attack in San Francisco and about worries over the city’s future." 

Karlamangla asks Barron:

You write about the “doom loop” idea — that San Francisco will spiral downward because all its problems are interwoven. But downtowns across the country have struggled after pandemic lockdowns. Why do you think that narrative has persisted so strongly in San Francisco?

The narrative? Barron answers:

The most obvious answer is that things are actually going wrong.

"In a matchup for the White House, President Joe Biden is virtually tied with former President Donald Trump among Minnesota voters...."

MinnPost reports.

There's a big gender gap: "Fifty-six percent of women polled, and just 35% of men, said they favor Biden. Meanwhile, just 32% of Minnesota women polled, and 53% of men, said they support Trump."

You have to go back to 1972 to find the last presidential election where Minnesota voted for the Republican:

"He advised 12 presidents — more than a quarter of those who have held the office — from John F. Kennedy to Joseph R. Biden Jr."

With a scholar’s understanding of diplomatic history, a German-Jewish refugee’s drive to succeed in his adopted land, a deep well of insecurity and a lifelong Bavarian accent that sometimes added an indecipherable element to his pronouncements, he transformed almost every global relationship he touched.... He was the only American to deal with every Chinese leader from Mao to Xi Jinping. In July, at age 100, he met Mr. Xi and other Chinese leaders in Beijing, where he was treated like visiting royalty even as relations with Washington had turned adversarial. He drew the Soviet Union into a dialogue that became known as détente, leading to the first major nuclear arms control treaties between the two nations. With his shuttle diplomacy, he edged Moscow out of its standing as a major power in the Middle East, but failed to broker a broader peace in that region. Over years of meetings in Paris, he negotiated the peace accords that ended the American involvement in the Vietnam War, an achievement for which he shared the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize...."

Writes David Sanger, in "Henry Kissinger Is Dead at 100; Shaped Nation’s Cold War History/The most powerful secretary of state of the postwar era, he was both celebrated and reviled. His complicated legacy still resonates in relations with China, Russia and the Middle East" (NYT).

With an eye fixed on the great power rivalry, he was often willing to be crudely Machiavellian, especially when dealing with smaller nations that he often regarded as pawns in the greater battle. 

November 29, 2023

Sunrise — 7:05, 7:14.

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"The contradictions of a gay man falling in genuine love with a woman — while retaining his attraction to men — are captured..."

"... in a lovely passage using Bernstein’s score for the ballet 'Fancy Free' (which would morph into the Broadway musical 'On the Town'), turning the dance into a metaphorical pas de deux. (Or is it trois?).... Lenny is the free-spirited, wildly charismatic star of his and Felicia’s lives, but it’s Felicia who grounds him.... When tensions in their relationship reach their apotheosis, [Bradley] Cooper stages the showdown in their bedroom at the Dakota apartment building while the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade tootles by outside. Just as Felicia is hurling the most hurtful, damaging things she can say — warning her husband that if he isn’t careful, he’ll end up 'a lonely old queen' — a giant inflatable Snoopy floats by the window, a sad, whimsically surreal rebuke."

Okay. I'm all for such tootling. But is there any of "Radical Chic" in this new movie? (Read Tom Wolfe's great essay here, where it belongs, at New York Magazine.)

Trump's op-ed in Newsweek: "I Will Make America Great Again for Young People."

Link. Excerpt:
Under Joe Biden, we are a nation in decline and rapidly losing the American Dream. But Biden's destruction of the American economy is just the beginning of his war on young people. The Radical Left has also unleashed shocking waves of violent crime and bloodshed...

If I needed to follow John McWhorter's new rule, I would think of "they" as a nickname for the person, rather than a pronoun.

As we discussed here, yesterday, John McWhorter has proposed using the singular form of the verb with the pronoun "they" when it is used to refer to only one person. 

I'm writing a new post, not to repeat the discussion about whether that's a good idea, but because it seems as though it would be quite difficult to force yourself to use "bad" English, and I realized what I would do to make it easier. This is all assuming that I wanted or needed to use "is" and "has" and "wants" with "they." For that person — the singular "they" — I would visualize "they" as a name — a noun.

I once listened to the audio version of a novel in which one of the main characters was named Yuu — "Earthlings," blogged here and here. (Buy it here, and you'll be sending me a commission.) The narrator pronounced Yuu, "you." I got used to hearing things like: "Yuu was the same age as me.... Yuu has been my boyfriend.... Yuu always sticks close to Natsuki...." 

"Elon Musk voiced support Tuesday for Pizzagate, the long-debunked conspiracy theory that... the Clintons and Democratic Party leaders ran a secret satanic child sex ring..."

" a D.C. pizzeria known as Comet Ping Pong. The theory, a mainstay of fringe Donald Trump supporters during the 2016 presidential campaign, was labeled 'fictitious' by D.C. police investigators. Musk’s post was the latest in what has become a string of tweets in which Musk boosted debunked theories and comes just one day after he visited Israel to try to tamp down anger over an explosion of antisemitism on X that has caused a growing number of advertisers to flee."

Writes Drew Harwell, in "Elon Musk boosts Pizzagate conspiracy theory that led to D.C. gunfire/The far-right theory motivated a gunman to fire multiple rounds inside the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Northwest Washington in 2016. Musk boosted the theory to his 164 million followers anyway" (WaPo).

Musk wants action and gets it. WaPo feeds the... I don't want to call Musk a troll, but he's seeking to be fed and WaPo is feeding him. I like to quote my mother: You'll only encourage him.

Meanwhile, I wish these WaPo articles would put the precise text of the tweet in question much closer to vague characterizations like "voiced support." He's not absolved from all blame if he sticks to merely referring to things and expressing wonderment, but I need to know how close he came to saying something false or evil. The harder it is to find the actual text of the tweet, the more likely it seems that the characterization is slanted and inflammatory.

Ah. Here it is. The 7th paragraph:

"Zappa prods at a ludicrous cast of early-’70s hipsters, suggesting that their sense of authenticity is based on thin visions of consumerism."

"'Is that a real poncho?' he asks in a sultry baritone.... During so many of his ad-libs, Zappa sounds like a parody of sleazy TV presenters. Here, we can’t tell whether he’s playing himself or someone trying to gatekeep participation in the counterculture: 'I mean, is that a Mexican poncho, or a Sears poncho?'"

November 28, 2023

At the Tuesday Night Café...

 ... please talk about whatever you want.

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"Might it make the new 'they' a little easier to handle if it were used with singular tense marking?"

Proposes John McWhorter, in "Knowing When ‘They’ Means One" (NYT).
I have often been asked by people over 35 or so, “Are we supposed to say ‘they want’ or ‘they wants’?” I always answer that the proper form is “they want,” but must it be?...

Under the current dispensation, “they want to trim the cat’s claws” can refer to an individual or more than one person. Context usually makes the meaning known, but surely it would make things a little clearer if we could use “they wants to trim the cat’s claws” when referring to just one person.... 

"Why are they debating? Presidential candidates typically do not debate people who are not themselves running for president."

"Mr. Newsom had challenged Mr. DeSantis to a debate more than a year ago, when the Florida governor had not officially begun his campaign but had long been seen to be preparing a run for the presidency. Mr. Newsom’s participation is likely to further fuel speculation that he has his eye on the White House. But the unusual spectacle reflects the current state of the presidential campaign.... Mr. Newsom has also been eager to further raise his national profile, and Mr. Biden needs powerful surrogates who can help make the case for a second term...."

Is there some possibility that Newsom will perform so brilliantly that there will be a resounding acclamation and the Democrats will turn, en masse, toward him as their 2024 candidate? I don't think he's got it in him. As for DeSantis, I think we know he's dull in debate. But perhaps Hannity is the secret ingredient. What if Hannity works some magic and Newsom and DeSantis are both launched into becoming their party's candidate in 2024?