October 12, 2019

Oh, really?



That's a trend for me? Okay... I'll go this far...



I looked at that long enough to think: some social-media, Yang-related thing. Beyond that, I see the sun is shining and the real world exists.

"I don't think he's, intellectually, a powerhouse but he is basically a very, very smart man. No matter what the subject..."

"... any argument he involves himself in, it's on his terms. You're always arguing against him. He never, never, is willing to debate an issue on terms that aren't his."

Said Harry Reid, quoted in "Harry Reid warns Democrats: Trump is a 'very, very smart man' who won't be easily beaten in 2020" (CNN).

"Matt Lauer emerges dancing and lip-syncing on daughter’s TikTok videos."

NY Post reports, with this montage:

"When he repeatedly tried to fob her off, the Queen lightly slapped him across the face, saying ‘Don’t’ – slap – ‘argue’ – slap – ‘with’ – slap – ‘me’ – slap – ‘I’ – slap – ‘am’ – slap – ‘THE QUEEN!'"

Wrote Elton John, quoted in "Queen Elizabeth slapped her nephew across the face in front of Elton John" (NY Post).

"Well, we all shine on/Like the moon and the stars and the sun."

The first words that crossed my mind when the DJ on the Beatles channel on the car radio asked — on the occasion of John Lennon's 79th birthday — what did John Lennon mean to you?



Who on earth do you think you are? A superstar? Well, right you are!

ADDED: Yoko is actually crocheting, but I have a tag for knitting, and I'm interpreting knitting as a form of crocheting, whether it really is or not.

From Wikipedia: "The salient difference between crochet and knitting, beyond the implements used for their production, is that each stitch in crochet is completed before the next one is begun, while knitting keeps many stitches open at a time."

That is a fantastic metaphor. Think of life like that. There are 2 kinds of people in the world: crocheter and knitters. The crocheters complete one thing before they begin the next, and the knitters keep many endeavors open at the same time.

Yoko is crocheting blindfolded. What does that mean — especially related to karma? I'm thinking that the blindfold depicts a lack of awareness of the karmic consequences of ones actions. At no point in the performance does she remove the blindfold. Karma — even instant karma — never knocks her right in the head. But we can all see that she's blindly fixed on a discrete, inoffensive task, and maybe we're invited to see ourselves in that and to see our own inattention to the larger forces of the universe, which will — suddenly some time — knock us right in the head. So "You better get yourself together, darling/Pretty soon you're going to be dead."

The first time we hear about instant karma, it is indeed going to kick you right in the head (and you're reminded, rhymingly, that pretty soon, you're going to be dead). But the second time we hear about instant karma, it's "going to look you right in the face." That won't work too well if you are blindfolded, so you might want to take off the blindfold and — rhyming with "race" — "Join the human race."

That made me think, John was talking about other people as subhuman. These days, you could get canceled if you talk like that. But John quickly escapes the accusation that he's looking down as he leaps to the declaration that other people are not merely human but superstars, shining "like the moon and the stars and the sun."

Then we hear for the third and last time about how instant karma is going to "get" us. First was kick you right the head. Second was look you right in the face. Third is, "going to knock you off your feet." The rhyming line is "Better recognize your brothers/Everyone you meet."  Your brothers, they're all superstars too. They shine on like the moon and the stars and the sun.

In 2 places in the song, John objects to laughing: 1. "What in the world you thinking of/Laughing in the face of love?" and 2. "How in the world you gonna see/Laughing at fools like me?" Laughing corresponds to Yoko's blindfolded crocheting. You don't see what you are doing. Stop laughing and see that we all shine on, like the moon and the stars and the sun.

"Parenting in 2050."



ADDED: Overheard at Meadhouse:
Did you like that?

There's something about it that I find off-putting.

There's something about it that I find on-putting.

Okay, puddin'.

"Goodbye, America. Goodbye, Freedom Man."

I'm just reading NYT headlines. I read it out loud, not knowing what it meant, and laughed. Meade said, "And who is 'Freedom Man'?" I said, "I don't know, I'm just reading NYT headlines right now."

All right, I'll read the subheadline. It's: "Under Trump, the U.S. becomes the world’s fair-weather friend." Okay, I can see where that's going.

It's a Bret Stephens column. It begins:
The time is the early 1980s. The place is the South China Sea. A sailor aboard the U.S.S. Midway, an aircraft carrier, spots a leaky boat jammed with people fleeing tyranny in Indochina. As he helps bring the desperate refugees to safety, one of them calls out: “Hello, American sailor — Hello, Freedom Man.”

It’s the sort of story Americans used to like hearing about themselves. So much so, in fact, that Ronald Reagan told it in his 1989 farewell address, by way of underscoring how much went right for the United States when, as he put it, “We stood, again, for freedom.”

Not anymore. When the world looks at the United States today, it sings a sorry song. Goodbye America. Goodbye, Freedom Man....
It ends:
[Trump’s Kurdish betrayal] means that American sailor or soldier seen on the horizon is no longer “freedom man.” He’s fair-weather friend.

Even now, this is not how most Americans, including many of Trump’s supporters, would wish to see themselves. People on their way to the bottom have their occasional moments of clarity, seldom seized. In the Syria debacle, Republicans have a chance to see, if not save, themselves.
Now, am I ashamed of myself for laughing at the headline? Stephens's idea is that we ought to get wrapped up in the fantasy that the American military is perceived around the world as the "Freedom Man." It's our brand, and people love it. I certainly believe that a refugee on the verge of death called out to the nearest source of help and used the words "Freedom Man," but I have no idea if that's what that person really believed at that point or whether he had an informed basis for his opinion. If you were drowning, anyone in a position to help would be your savior, and you would call out with whatever words could expedite your salvation — flattery, bullshit, anything.

I remember when the American military plunged into Iraq. How did the people there express themselves? The NYT reported on April 3, 2003:
In the giddy spirit of the day, nothing could quite top the wish list bellowed out by one man in the throng of people greeting American troops from the 101st Airborne Division who marched into town today....

''Democracy,'' the man said, his voice rising to lift each word to greater prominence. ''Whiskey. And sexy!'' Around him, the crowd roared its approval....
Oh, how the war supporters loved that! Democracy, whiskey, sexy! How many times have you seen that line repeated? What did it mean to you? What was really going on in that man's heart (and what did he really know about salvation by American military)? I'm thinking he was shouting out American words that he imagined would help him the most. It wasn't an informed, serious opinion about what America really means, and it would be absurd to make American military decisions based on the notion that democracy, alcohol, and sex are what everybody wants and that America can swoop in anywhere in the world and deliver it and that the people will rejoice, accept the democracy, whiskey, sexy, use it well, and never pay for it at all, except with eternal love for their American benefactors.

New word: issaidtobe.

"Giuliani Is Said to Be Under Investigation for Ukraine Work/Prosecutors are investigating whether the president’s lawyer broke laws meant to prevent covert foreign influence on the government" (NYT).

"Warren’s same-sex marriage quip captures what some find exciting — and others distressing — about her."

A WaPo headline. Text:
About 90 minutes into Thursday’s forum on LGBTQ issues in Los Angeles, a gay rights leader posed a question to Sen. Elizabeth Warren: How would she respond if a voter approached her and said, “I’m old-fashioned, and my faith teaches me that marriage is between one man and one woman?”

Warren (D-Mass.) responded with a theatrical seriousness. “Well, I’m going to assume it’s a guy who said that,” she deadpanned, pausing a beat for the audience to catch the joke. Then she added, “And I’m going to say, ‘Then just marry one woman — I’m cool with that.’ ”

She finished with a zinger: “ ‘Assuming you can find one.’ ”

After landing her punchline, Warren turned, took a few steps and smiled broadly as the room exploded in laughter. Her response went viral online, and by Friday afternoon, Warren’s campaign team, which rarely brags about such things, was crowing that the clip had garnered more than 12 million views on Twitter.
It didn't just get views. It garnered them.

So she's kind of a secret asshole? "Assuming you can find one." She had to add that. She could have stopped at the conventional light-hearted way to respond to this problem, which is that if you don't believe in same-sex marriage, then don't get same-sex married. (It's like if you think abortion is wrong, don't have an abortion.) That is, she could have stopped at "Then just marry one woman." Question answered. "I’m cool with that" is a breezy, cheerful touch. And that seems to be our Elizabeth, the nice lady. But another side popped out. She demeaned the imagined man: "Assuming you can find one."

How did that happen? Was it because she was speaking to a specific crowd that could be expected to scarf up a quip like that? They've been down so long it's time for them to have fun kicking around an imaginary man, a faceless, generic entity with traditional morality. That guy! It's fun to give him hell. If she were really nice, she wouldn't have thought of kicking him after denying him his way. He knows — this imaginary man — he knows he lost the same-sex marriage fight years ago. But her instinct was not to offer him a way to get along in a society where the law will not enforce his morality, but to taunt him about whether any woman would ever want him.

She kind of called him an incel.

"So they're pursuing an illegal invalid and unconstitutional bullshit impeachment."



Trump, last night, in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Yes, Trump did 2 big rallies — the other one was Minneapolis — on consecutive nights.

To hear Trump's latest version of his "Lisa, I love you" routine, scroll back to 19:00.

October 11, 2019

"Grab a beer (or whatever) with Warren!"

An ad that came up in my sidebar just now:



What do you think? Do you like that black-and-white image with the only color in the beer bottle? Is the profile image with the sassy hand on the hip good? Seems like she's at some sort of beer-drinking party, giving you a sense of what it might be like to go to this beer-drinking party you might win an invitation to. But I feel excluded because she's looking at someone taller than she is, and she's 5'8", 3 inches taller than I am (and I'm exactly average height women for a woman).

The line "grab a beer" makes me think of that awkward/charming "I'm going to get me, um, a beer" Instagram Live video she put out on New Year's Eve. And "grab" makes me think of Trump's old "grab them by the pussy" remark, especially when juxtaposed to "whatever," which Trump once used — or seemed to use — to refer to female genitalia (when he described Megyn Kelly as having "blood coming out of her whatever").

But "grab" is such an advertising word. I try to avoid watching TV commercials, but I believe the ads for food and drink almost never tell you to "eat" or "drink" or "have" or "buy" the product. It's always grab. And I think this started with beer: "You only go around once in life, so you've got to grab all the gusto you can."

In political speech, "grab" is pejorative. Your opponent is grabbing power. You are offering to serve. But not to serve beer!

"Needless to say, those are not his pronouns. Cuomo, a well-known face for the TV network, is a cisgender man who has indicated he goes by he, him and his."

Teo Armus soberly explains in "‘Really not a great look’: Chris Cuomo apologizes for pronoun gaffe at LGBTQ candidate town hall" (WaPo).

Watch Cuomo make the gaffe of finding humor in the Era of That's Not Funny:



It was the LGBTQ town hall with Kamala Harris last night in Los Angeles. Compare it to that other event last night — Trump's rally in Minneapolis. Trump took many comic leaps and the crowd laughed a lot. But in the entertainment capital of the world, God forbid you should have a little fun — especially with such a sacrosanct topic as how to talk about gender.

So Cuomo apologized. But what about Harris? Wasn't she having fun with the subject too?

"So we released the transcript of the call, which was so good that that crooked Adam Schiff, this guy is crooked, he had to make up a fake conversation that never happened... and he delivered it to the United States Congress and the American people."

"It was a total fraud. And then Nancy Pelosi said, 'Oh, I think the president said that.' These people are sick. I’m telling you, they’re sick. And you know what? Had they waited one day longer, they would have had the transcript of the actual call, word for word. It would’ve been perfect. Instead, they released it, they went early, they said all these horrible things. You know why? Because they never thought in a million years that I was going to release a transcript of the call."

Said Donald Trump at his Minneapolis rally last night, just a few minutes after he made up a fake conversation:
Months earlier, Peter Strzok, remember, he and his lover, Lisa Page. What a group. “She’s going to win 10 million to one. She’s going to win. I’m telling you, Peter. I’m telling you, Peter, she’s going to win. Peter. Oh, I love you so much. I love you, Peter.”

“I love you too, Lisa. Lisa, I love you. Lisa, Lisa, oh God, I love you, Lisa. And if she doesn’t win, Lisa, we’ve got an insurance policy, Lisa. We’ll get that son of a bitch out. We got an insurance policy.”

And we’re living through the insurance policy. That’s what it is. The phony Russia hoax. "Lisa, I love you.”
I've already written — approvingly — of Trump's "I love you, Lisa" routine, but I want to ask when is it okay to make up quotes and put them in the mouths of real people? Obviously, it's comedy, but it's comedy that's based on something that happened in real life, something that we may not remember exactly, and the comic exaggeration may distort memories of what really happened.

Here's my post from last week about Schiff's satirical paraphrase of Trump's phone call to the Ukrainian President. Schiff — you may remember — said:
"I’m going to say this only seven times, so you better listen good, I want you to make up dirt on my political opponent, understand, lots of it, on this and on that...."
The real-life statement by Trump was:
"The other thing, there's a lot of talk about Biden's son, Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it... It sounds horrible to me."
Nothing about asking that "dirt" be "made up." And there's a firm grounding in specific facts that were well-supported by Joe Biden's own public bragging. The more I go back to Trump's original statement, the more it seems like something a President ought to do. If you look only at Schiff's comic restatement, you can't see any of the basis for thinking what Trump did was acceptable! It sounds more like Trump wanted the President of Ukraine to put together something like the Steele dossier.

If Trump wants to take Schiff and Pelosi to task for their self-serving paraphrase of him, shouldn't he be careful about creating a dialogue like his highly amusing Page-and-Strzok shtick?

One answer is that Schiff was speaking in Congress, in his role as chair of the House Intelligence Committee, while Trump was speaking a political campaign rally. But if you think the line should be drawn there, what motivated you — neutral principles of line-drawing or a desire to find Trump right and Schiff wrong?

"A federal appeals court in a split ruling Friday rejected President Donald Trump’s bid to block a House committee subpoena for his income tax returns...."

"That appeals court, in a 2-1 decision, upheld the lower court’s ruling on Friday.... The appeals panel ordered that the effect of the ruling be put on hold until seven days after the disposition of a petition for a rehearing of the case by either the same panel or for a rehearing of the case by the entire lineup of judges in the 2nd Circuit. In addition to seeking a rehearing of the case at the 2nd Circuit, Trump can ask the U.S. Supreme Court to take his appeal."

CNBC reports.

So it's on to the Supreme Court. I'll take a look at the dissenting judge's opinion.

UPDATE: Well, that was confusing. CNBC has now corrected its article (with a notation that it's "updated" but without specifying the error). It now reads:
The 2-1 ruling by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld a federal district judge’s decision denying Trump’s effort to stop the committee from getting eight years’ worth of his financial records from the accounting firm Mazars USA.... The appeals panel ordered that the effect of the ruling be put on hold until seven days after the disposition of a petition for a rehearing of the case by either the same panel or by the entire D.C. Circuit judges....
No wonder I couldn't find the opinion at the 2d Circuit webpage. So annoying! But there is also a 2d Circuit case:
Trump currently is asking the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in Manhattan to block another subpoena, for his corporate and personal income tax returns, which was issued by a state grand jury in New York City. That other subpoena was sought by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office as part of a separate criminal investigation.... The 2nd Circuit is set to hear Trump’s appeal of that decision later this month.... 
ADDED: Here's the 134-page opinion in the D.C. Circuit case. And here's a picture of the first page of the dissenting opinion, which makes the argument quite clear, I think. Click to enlarge and clarify:



"Since I can't grow a beard, I actually have to say, 'Hello, I'm not a female' to everyone I meet."



ADDED: Craver misses (comically misses?) the fact that wearing a beard as a way to say "Hello, I'm not a female" would only be done by someone who is not secure in his masculinity. But Craver didn't come up with the salutation, which is funny because why introduce yourself by saying what you are not? It's going to raise suspicion, like Nixon saying "I am not a crook." And it raise the un-P.C. inference that the thing you're denying is bad — that being female is bad.

"Stocks climbed Friday after the first day of high-level U.S.-China trade negotiations reportedly went better than expected..."

"The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 321 points, or 1.21%, to 26,817. The S&P 500 advanced 1.17% and the Nasdaq climbed 1.29%. Donald Trump said he would meet Friday with China's Vice Premier Liu He. Their sit-down would mark a substantial improvement in U.S.-China relations since an ad-hoc agreement on trade and tariffs was reached and then abandoned during the June G-20 Summit in Japan."

The Street reports.

"Lisa, I love you!" — Trump at his comic best.


ADDED: I saw that this morning when Scott Adams tweeted it with "It's a feature, not a bug. #NotNormal." But I watched the whole speech last night. That was one of the most amusing parts, and I would prefer a longer clip.

AND: Here's the whole thing:



PLUS: With the help of this transcript, I was able to find the longer segment I wanted you to watch:



Text:

Job done perfectly, we're told.


"We did our job perfectly!" comes across as such a taunt. It sounds as though he's saying it's okay that "Turkey is attacking the Kurds," and that's got to be so aggravating for many people. Let me hypothesize that Trump is luring his critics into committing themselves to a full scale war with NATO ally Turkey, an indefensible position.

False flag? How do I know this is real?



IN THE COMMENTS: Infinite Monkeys said "Tweeted video of when the police showed up to the hat burning." I'm watching this. It's interesting. The people near the hats don't seem like Trumpsters, but not seeming like Trumpsters would be what false flaggers would do. The cops ride up on bicycles (and protesters scream at them, including "Get off your bike, bitch!"):

"Power and oppression, as defined by ethnic studies, are the ways in which individuals and groups define mathematical knowledge so as to see 'Western' mathematics as the only legitimate expression of mathematical identity and intelligence."

"This definition of legitimacy is then used to disenfranchise​ people and communities of color. This ​erases the historical contributions​ of people and communities of color."

Is this for real? I'm reading a document (PDF) that purports to be the Seattle Public School's K-12 Math Ethnic Studies Framework. I'm seeing — at The American Conservative — "Woke Math In Seattle" by Rod Dreher, so I presume it is real.

I'm mostly worried about wasting kids' time with repetitious ethnic studies ideology, time that could be spent learning useful substance, like math. But maybe there are lots of kids who just won't learn math or have a horrible attitude about math because they see it as hostile territory, the domain of other people. But what's the way to get over a negative orientation toward math? It's hard to believe that intensifying feelings of oppression and victimhood will stimulate positivity!
Where does Power and Oppression show up in our math experiences?
● Who holds power in a mathematical classroom?
● Is there a place for power and authority in the math classroom?
● Who gets to say if an answer is right?
● What is the process for verifying the truth?
● Who is Smart? Who is not Smart?
● Can you recognize and name oppressive mathematical practices in your experience?
● Why/how does data-driven processes prevent liberation?
Are we capitalizing "smart" in Seattle now?  Who gets to say what words are capitalized?

What is the process for assigning conceptions of bigness and smallness to letters and would you recognize it if it were oppressive?

Do you know the President of the United States "Uses Random Uppercase Letters" (NYT)?

"[T]he expanded MoMA is making obvious efforts to reshape its image without going entirely off-brand — to tell the tale of what might be called Modernism Plus, with globalism and African-American art added...."

"The first gallery, now labeled '19th Century Innovators,' is pretty much a painting hit parade — Cezanne’s 'Still Life with Apples' (1895-98), Rousseau’s 'The Sleeping Gypsy' (1897) and, straight ahead, van Gogh’s 'The Starry Night' (1889).... But to this familiar two-dimensional European world MoMA has introduced an American wild card: half a dozen nugget-like ceramic bowls and jugs by George Ohr (1857-1918), the self-proclaimed 'Mad Potter of Biloxi.'... The gallery [that is] a virtual Picasso shrine, with his 1907 'Les Demoiselles d’ Avignon' at the center, and related pictures ranged around it [includes]... a 1967 painting, acquired in 2016, by the African-American artist Faith Ringgold depicting an explosive interracial shootout. Titled 'American People Series #20: Die,' it speaks to 'Demoiselles' both in physical size and in visual violence. And just by being there it points up the problematic politics of a work like Picasso’s — with its fractured female bodies and colonialist appropriations — that is at the core of the collection. MoMA traditionalists will call the pairing sacrilegious; I call it a stroke of curatorial genius.... Multicultural is now marketable. To ignore it is to forfeit profit, not to mention critical credibility."

Writes Holland Cotter in "MoMA Reboots With ‘Modernism Plus’/If they moved Monet, don’t despair. There are stimulating ideas and unexpected talents at every turn, from Africa, Asia, South America, and African America. (And plenty of works by women.)" (NYT).

"Instead of angry politics, we got something more interesting — 90 minutes of Mr. Keillor's muted Minnesota Zen, a comedic art form, contiguous to religion, that he invented a long time ago...."

"... At the microphone, he is the opposite of a 'man of ego, hubris and entitlement.'... Some 35 miles east-northeast of here, in Northampton, Jonathan Edwards preached his fierce sermon, 'Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,' during the First Great Awakening. In the midst of America's Fifth Great Awakening, the Awakening of the Woke, here sat Garrison Keillor, a sinner, bearing witness, though slyly. He paid a steep price for his sins, whatever they were. He said it didn't matter -- it was 'injustice on behalf of a good cause.' The 'good cause' was #MeToo. 'The way you change behavior,' he said, is through fear -- the same point that Jonathan Edwards made. It 'is to whack prominent men with a two-by-four.'"

Writes Lance Morrow in The Wall Street Journal, about Garrison Keillor's appearance at the Meeting House in New Marlborough, Massachusetts (where he was interviewed by Simon Winchester).

Does Morrow take Keillor's remarks at face value? I wish I'd been there and able to look him in the eye and hear the sound — the famous sound — of his voice. He is a humorist. I wouldn't take at face value the notion that the way to change behavior is through fear and that it's fine to whack prominent men with a two-by-four for a good cause. I'm going to take Morrow's "but slyly" to mean that he took it all as satire, even the choice of setting, the New Marlborough Meeting House, which looks like this:



Come on. That's comedy!

"Lawyers for the CIA officer whose whistleblower complaint helped ignite an impeachment inquiry into President Trump have asked Congress whether their client could submit testimony in writing instead of appearing in person..."

"... according to people familiar with the matter. The request reflects concerns about whether the whistleblower could testify to Democrats and Republicans without revealing his identity, and fears that doing so would lead to it being publicly leaked, jeopardizing his personal safety. The intelligence committees haven't yet responded to the inquiry, the people said."

The Wall Street Journal reports.

Safety is important, but what about our interest in assessing this person's credibility? I want to look the person in the face and hear the voice. Is the person's identity to be kept secret, so that there's no opportunity to consider bias and political motivation? Why are we bothering with this person at all when we have the transcript of the famous telephone call? If it's not to put a face on the accusation, do we even care?

Of course, I think the impeachment inquiry is all political theater. And theater isn't theater if the actors don't strut and fret their hour upon the stage.

October 10, 2019

Expert Burger.

P1180975

A good place to eat burgers in Eagle, Colorado.

Feel free to talk about any subject in the comments.

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ADDED: Hey, that's a Philco refrigerator. I recognized the handle! That's the refrigerator we had when I was growing up in the 1950s. Recognizing that very unusual handle, I looked closely and saw "Philco" (painted over, but those spaced out letters across the front of the top of the refrigerator stir up childhood memories for me).

"Turkey has been planning to attack the Kurds for a long time. They have been fighting forever. We have no soldiers or Military anywhere near the attack area."

"I am trying to end the ENDLESS WARS. Talking to both sides. Some want us to send tens of thousands of soldiers to the area and start a new war all over again. Turkey is a member of NATO. Others say STAY OUT, let the Kurds fight their own battles (even with our financial help). I say hit Turkey very hard financially & with sanctions if they don’t play by the rules! I am watching closely."

Trump tweets.

Did he mean we had no soldiers or military anywhere near the attack area even before his recent decision to withdraw the military? Am I understanding this correctly: Turkey was already planning to move into this area, and the military we had there could not have stopped the planned action, and only a big new infusion of military could have confronted Turkey, so it was better, in Trump's view, to remove all the military and issue an ultimatum based entirely on economic sanctions and no pretense of military defense of the Kurds. Those who want a military defense of the Kurds had to mean the U.S. would send "tens of thousands of soldiers to the area and start a new war all over again." He's saying his method — threat of economic ruination — is the most effective way to protect the Kurds.

But the other view is that Trump is standing back and giving the go-ahead for genocide. I'm seeing #TrumpGenocide.

What is Trump doing? Pick the answer closest to your thinking:
 
pollcode.com free polls

"So by the time the Norwegian Spirit had diverted to several alternative ports — spending extra unplanned days at sea — passengers were on edge."

"They had already missed out on Iceland, the trip’s main attraction. By Monday, a week and a half in, travelers were gathered with their bags and cameras, looking forward to being on land again in Scotland. As the 2,018-passenger vessel neared shore, according to two passengers, a voice came over the public-address system announcing that weather would prevent it from making yet another stop. 'That’s when the riots broke out on the ship,' says Cody McNutt, 31, of Denver, who was onboard with his girlfriend and family members.... A photo of a letter dated Oct. 7 showed that the company was offering passengers a 25 percent discount on future trips 'to demonstrate our gratitude for your patience.' 'That set everyone off again,' McNutt says. 'None of us want to get on their ships ever again.'"

From "'At a certain point, you just lose it:' Passengers revolt and riot aboard Norwegian Spirit cruise ship" (WaPo).

The cruise ships and their passengers deserve each other. The world is real, not a fantasy, and that's that, whether you spend money or make money on the fantasy.

"He took my really – believe it or not – congenial and gentle words and he made me sound like a tyrant."

Said Donald Trump, talking about Adam Schiff. Context (at RCP, with video (and it really is much better played as video, with all the emotive expression)):

Sunrise, October 10th.

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Sunrise advice: It's best 10 minutes or so before the sun rises and when there are some good clouds. You don't have to get yourself out there every morning, but it's easy to see when it's one of the best mornings for sunrise.

"The fortunes of the Bucks and Brewers are followed in unpretentious taverns that wouldn’t feel out of place on a rural crossroads, and traditional meat-and-potato eateries are as patronized as the latest farm-to-table restaurant."

From "36 Hours in Milwaukee/Welcome to this small town in big-city clothing, where bobbleheads, ice-cream cocktails and Frank Lloyd Wright are on your weekend itinerary" (NYT).

It gets my attention — any elite media attention to the middle-of-the-country state where I've lived for the last 35 years. These "36 Hours in" articles in the NYT present the place they've chosen to swoop in on to intrigue New Yorkers... not that they'd want to move there.

And yet it makes me imagine that New Yorkers... some New Yorkers... yearn for a life in a smaller city where the unpretentious taverns feel (to a New Yorker) like a place that could exist on a rural crossroads and where the teams could be the Bucks and Brewers. Are there New Yorkers like that?

Actually, I think there are New York City bars like that. I'm reading "Where [in NYC] to Root for Non-New York Baseball Teams":
Some teams have gotten so much unexpected popularity that their New York supporters have even been written up in their hometown paper. Kettle of Fish, at 59 Christopher St., was once home to beat poets like Jack Kerouac. When the place was bought by Milwaukee native Patrick Daley in the 1980s, it became a haven for Packers and Brewers fans, even getting its own writeup in Madison Magazine.

October 9, 2019

White River Forest aspens.

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From last week, in Colorado.

Open thread in the comments. Slower, more meditative comments are best suited to the delays in moderation that are likely overnight.

Are almost all journalists on Adderall?

Somewhere in the depths of this lengthy Joe Rogan podcast, Joe asserts that all the journalists are on Adderall. Let me see if I can find it and start you at the right point (which is near then end, after a lot of talk about the use of mind-altering substances). Okay, here:



Rogan says he watched a lot of YouTube videos of Adderall users, "who thought the whole world was against them, that they were super-competent, capable of anything. They had unstoppable confidence. They wouldn't shut the fuck up. But everyone was against them."

Then, Rogan says: "A lot of people are on it.... It's a spooky drug... First of all, journalists. I have a buddy of mine who's a writer who said almost all journalists are on it." One of the other guys says, "You get stuff done." And Rogan muses, "But it changes who you are as a person. It fucks with your head."

I like to know when someone I'm listening to is on drugs. If I don't know, and they are, they are stealing from me. That's how I see it. I'm not talking about people with a genuine mental disorder who take a prescribed drug that's supposed to get them to the medical profession's idea of normal. I respect their privacy. But somebody taking drugs to get a lot of writing done? I want a warning before I spend some of my life's precious time absorbing their addled — Adderalled — verbiage.

Searching my blog archive, I see I wrote about this subject last April, when Mike Cernovich tweeted "Yes adderall is passed around D.C. like candy, and many of your favorite journalists also do meth." Let me reread what I said back then:
I have no idea whether this is true, but I will just say that I would not watch a newsperson or commentator on TV if I knew they were on such drugs.
Ha ha. Exactly what I said today.

"Trump's burn-down-the-House plan.... Trump really only trusts his own instincts. And his instincts here are the same as they were with the Mueller investigation: Fight like hell."

Axios outlines Trump's plan for the all-out fight:
  • No nuance or apology — not a hint of it.
  • Turn the leader of the investigation (in this case, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff) into a conservative media villain.
  • Condemn Trump enemies in the most incendiary and exaggerated language possible (treason, traitors, coup, etc.).
There's a second set of bullet points, for "Why it matters," which are followed by the announcement of the "bottom line" that these are not "helpful signals for Trump":
  • Republicans close to leadership and the White House tell Axios they're concerned by trend lines in a Washington Post poll showing 49% of Americans think Trump should be removed from office.
  • Top Republicans don’t believe the numbers in the Post poll, which found support for an impeachment inquiry rising among Republicans by 21 points since July.
  • Trump’s abrupt announcement that he would withdraw from Syria and clear the way for the Turks to charge in (and perhaps massacre the Kurds) has added to this anxiety about Trump weakening the support he needs among Republican lawmakers.
So Trump will fight like hell and his fighting matters because there are some confusing polls and Trump did something in Syria that has nothing to do with the grounds for impeachment. I don't really understand that other than to see that Axios has a template and it may satisfy some readers who are looking for a visual that looks like order. The term "helpful signals for Trump" strikes me as completely silly. Won't Axios always tend to assure us that Trump's in trouble? Would they ever find any "helpful signals" for him? Why not say Trump's plan to fight like hell isn't a "helpful signal" for the members of Congress who imagine that if they express enough outrage about Trump, he'll lay down and die?

"Will Turkey sacrifice its entire economy to attack the Kurds?"



Background:

"Turkey Begins Syria Incursion, Targeting Militia Backed by U.S." (NYT):
Turkey launched a planned military incursion into northeastern Syria on Wednesday aimed at flushing out a Syrian militia backed by the United States, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wrote on Twitter.

Mr. Erdogan said the operation aimed to “prevent the creation of a terror corridor across our southern border,” but provided no other information about where Turkish forces had entered Syria or how far in they would go.
"The world must support Turkey’s plan for northeastern Syria," by Fahrettin Altun, Turkey’s communications director.(WaPo):
Turkey has no ambition in northeastern Syria except to neutralize a long-standing threat against Turkish citizens and to liberate the local population from the yoke of armed thugs. Having suffered dozens of casualties in Islamic State attacks, Turkey was the first country to deploy combat forces to fight the terrorists in Syria. Our country also helped the Free Syrian Army keep thousands of Islamic State militants behind bars for years. It is in our interest to preserve what the United States has accomplished, and to ensure that history does not repeat itself....

What if the Senate really does produce a supermajority to convict Trump and ousts him from office? What happens next?

I think the entire theater of impeachment is taking place within the false security that the Senate will never be able to convict. But what if the momentum gets going and 2/3 of the Senators vote to convict? Yes, Pence becomes President, but what I mean is: What happens to the American people who voted Trump into office and who — from the moment they won — have had the experience of seeing their President treated like a big, horrible mistake? Their choice was never honored, never treated as respectable. They got to see that their opinion never mattered and was never supposed to prevail. And what will Trump do? Freed from the responsibilities of the presidency and past all the fighting of the impeachment battle, he won't hide away. He will be out and about, energized and inventing more new ways of being a politician in America, and he will have an immense audience, overshadowing what any other political candidate can do. The new temptation will be to prosecute him for crimes, but, again, how will this affect the millions of people who thought they won the election and then saw their victory taken away?

This Vanity Fair title struck me as not just wrong but embarrassingly obtuse: "Romney is the pressure point in the impeachment process."

I'm looking at "'ROMNEY IS THE PRESSURE POINT IN THE IMPEACHMENT PROCESS': MITT WON’T PRIMARY TRUMP—BUT HE’S TRYING TO BRING HIM DOWN" by Gabriel Sherman (in Vanity Fair). I mean, it sounds like what Romney wants himself to be and what Trump haters would love to be able to be but any Trump supporter would just laugh at.

So, here's the actual context:
According to people close to Romney, he’s firmly decided against primarying Trump, an enterprise he believes to be a sure loser given Trump’s enduring GOP support. Romney has also told people that, as an unsuccessful two-time presidential candidate, he’s the wrong person to take on Trump. Instead, a Romney adviser told me, Romney believes he has more potential power as a senator who will decide Trump’s fate in an impeachment trial. “He could have tremendous influence in the impeachment process as the lone voice of conscience in the Republican caucus,” the adviser said. In recent days, Romney has been reaching out privately to key players in the Republican resistance, according to a person briefed on the conversations. “Romney is the one guy who could bring along Susan Collins, Cory Gardner, Ben Sasse. Romney is the pressure point in the impeachment process. That’s why the things he’s saying are freaking Republicans out.” (Romney, through a spokesperson, declined to comment.)
Well, hell. It's something a "Romney adviser" said, and he said it along with conceding that Romney lacks the ability to primary Trump and Romney knows it. So he's got to use that position he took on, U.S. Senator, to try to have "influence in the impeachment process." And it could be "tremendous." Because he could apply pressure. Oh, no, actually — I love to get the metaphors straight — he could be the "pressure point." I think that's the place to which pressure is applied. Let me look up "pressure point." Oh, ha ha ha. Here's the Wikipedia page for "Pressure point":
A pressure point (Chinese: 穴位; Japanese: kyūsho 急所 "vital point, tender spot"; Sinhala: නිල/මර්ම ස්ථාන Nila/Marma Sthana (in Angampora); Telugu: మర్మ స్థానం Marma Sthanam; Malayalam: മര്‍മ്മം marmam; Tamil: வர்மம் varmam) derives from the meridian points in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Indian Ayurveda and Siddha medicine, and the field of martial arts, and refers to an area on the human body that may produce significant pain or other effects when manipulated in a specific manner.
Mitt Romney's own adviser invites you to think of Mitt Romney as the person you want to put pressure on to produce significant pain.
Accounts of pressure-point fighting appeared in Chinese Wuxia fiction novels and became known by the name of Dim Mak, or "Death Touch", in western popular culture in the 1960s.

While it is undisputed that there are sensitive points on the human body where even comparatively weak pressure may induce significant pain or serious injury, the association of kyūsho with notions of death have been disproven.
But what body is pressure-point Romney a part of? Put pressure on him and who hurts? Not Trump!

October 8, 2019

Pictures from the White River National Forest.

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Photos taken a week ago, when we were in Colorado.

Please feel free to use the comments section to talk about whatever you like.

11 elephants died in an effort to save a baby elephant that had slipped into a 260-foot waterfall.

The NYT reports:
“We believe that the elephants were trying to help the baby,” [said the director of Khao Yai National Park in Thailand]. “They are forest animals that live in a group, and when one member is facing problems or needs help, they will come to help.... We believe that the death of all these elephants happened at the same time because they wanted to save the little one.”...

Edwin Wiek, founder of Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand, said he hoped that the herd was larger than the 13 known members and that the two elephants that survived, a mother and a calf, were not all alone. “Only two survivors out of a herd of 13 is so sad for the two survivors,” he said.

Attkisson notes the incoherence of the Democrats' position.

The polls look pretty rough.

From RCP. Click to enlarge and clarify:



ADDED: 2 different polls, one day apart, and there's a 13 point difference — one shows Biden up by 12 and another has Warren up (by 1). You've got Sanders at 19 or 10. Harris at 6 or 3.

Jimmy. At this point, 40 years after his presidency, you've got to love Jimmy.

Someone should definitely tell Donald Trump...

This is actually a headline at The Washington Post: "The GOP’s bootlicking cowardice knows no bounds."

On the front page too.

Jeez. Speaking of things that know no bounds.... The GOP-hating of The Washington Post knows no bounds!

I don't really care what's under that headline, but just for your information, it's a column by Eugene Robinson, and it begins:
President Trump’s defense against impeachment is bombastic, full of lies and incoherent to the point of lunacy, which is no surprise. Republicans are beclowning themselves to pretend Trump is making sense — and that, sadly, is also no surprise....

It's the most familiar song that no one knows the name of or who it's by.

It's "Rock and Roll — Part 2" by Gary Glitter:



There's a big controversy about it right now because Gary Glitter is a convicted pedophile and the song is used in the gigantic movie "Joker": "Convicted pedophile Gary Glitter set to earn big royalties from ‘Joker’ movie" (CNBC).
The song plays for approximately two minutes as Joaquin Phoenix, who has received rave reviews for his portrayal of the eponymous villain, dances down a long flight of steps outside his Gotham City apartment.

Glitter, whose real name is Paul Gadd, is reportedly expected to receive a lump sum for allowing the recording to be used in “Joker.” He is also thought to be in line for music royalties depending on the success of movie theater ticket sales, DVD sales and film soundtrack sales.
That song is already played everywhere and has been for decades. But a lot of people are looking for ways to say something bad about "Joker." Maybe everyone will finally decide that song is really evil. It's used in the movie to convey the evil of the character. It's used to stimulate emotions at sporting events. It has a uniquely weird quality, so I think it's very useful and will not go away. But who knew it was by Gary Glitter and had the stupid name "Rock and Roll — Part 2"?

"President Trump’s reelection campaign accused the liberal mayor of Minneapolis on Monday of trying to shut down his planned Thursday rally via an extortionate security bill."

"The campaign said Mayor Jacob Frey, whom it dubbed a 'radical leftist,' had presented the Target Center with a 'phony and outlandish bill for security' for the planned Keep America Great rally. According to the Trump team’s statement, 'the ridiculous sum of $530,000 is more than 26 times the estimated security costs for a 2009 Target Center health care rally held by President Barack Obama.' The Target Center, the home of the NBA’s Timberwolves, then attempted to pass that bill along to the Trump campaign 'under threat of withholding the use of the arena,' the Trump statement said. The law firm Jones Day wrote to the Target Center’s management firm that 'this last-minute squeeze seems to be nothing but a pretextual political effort with serious First Amendment ramifications.'"

The Washington Times reports.

Making Reddit participants prove they are what they say they are: black.



Here's the subreddit in question, BlackPeopleTwitter. From the NYT article:
Many black users came to believe that white users were pretending to be black to give their unpopular opinions more credibility. Some of the posts casually dropped racial slurs. Others repeated anti-black stereotypes about crime, parenting and intelligence. Beyoncé was disparaged.

“These people are white,” said Tony Hinderman, 23, a black actor in Chicago. “Black people love Beyoncé. There is nothing to not love about her.”...

Like all Reddit moderators, [BlackPeopleTwitter moderators] perform tasks like approving posts and banning users; they work without pay, in exchange for mostly free rein to run their subreddit....

October 7, 2019

One week ago, in the White River National Forest...

White River Forest, Colorado

White River Forest, Colorado

White River Forest, Colorado

Feel free to use the comments section to talk about anything you like. I'm just using the front page to show you some of the pictures I took when we were sojourning in Colorado.

"As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!)."

Some amazing Trump rhetoric.

He's amused by his power and thinks we can be amused too. Like it's a movie. Reminds me of the Wizard of Oz — "The Great and Powerful Oz knows why you have come."

Ridiculous! Trump doesn't save face. He spends face!

I'm seeing this headline at Drudge: "Former Trump Exec Predicts Trump Will Resign Over Impeachment Threat ‘To Save Face.'" The link goes to Mediaite, and I didn't read whatever it is that's there. I'm only blogging that to scoff at the idea that Trump is motivated by a desire to "save face" and to show off my invention of the notion of spending face.

"On Twitter, people appear to identify objects and phenomena with 'cursed energy' every hour of every day."

"It’s not just creepy images: the word has acquired new valences, has come to signify increasingly generalized feelings of anxiety and malaise. 'The way I use "cursed" has a connotation of being trapped, i.e. a sort of Greek Mythology Ironic Eternal Punishment vibe,' Alex Pareene, a writer for The New Republic, told me....  The cursedness that has come to be incessantly invoked online... may be connected to a sense that the very relationship between direct cause and effect has grown weaker. Americans are regularly dying in mass shootings but Congress won’t pass basic gun legislation; the President has been racking up impeachable offenses since the Inauguration but momentum for impeachment is only building now, as we approach the end of 2019 (and, really, who knows for sure). At the same time, our sense of indirect, complex cause and effect may be tightening. We see Caribbean islands destroyed by hurricanes and look guiltily at our air-conditioning units; the Supreme Court ruled one way in Bush v. Gore and now Ivanka Trump is acting as a diplomat in North Korea’s demilitarized zone. I have never been able to interest myself too much in the idea that we are living in a simulation, and yet the idea of cursed energy does evoke a feeling that the simulation is breaking, and that something terrible is emerging from the breach...."

From a Jia Tolentino essay (in The New Yorker) about the social-media concept "cursed."

She doesn't mention Reddit, but I've been following the subreddit r/cursedimages. Tolentino goes so political in her essay. The subreddit  r/cursedimages isn't at all political. That's why I subscribe to it. I've got my Reddit setup to give me endless interesting material that's nearly 100% devoid of politics. That's the way I like it!

Here's the r/cursedimage elaborate explanation of what is and is not "cursed" for the purposes of that subreddit. They're looking for images that produce "confusion, eerieness, or dread." And they quite emphatically do not want "random gross/weird food... [a]ny illustrated/animated character, especially Minions and Spongebob... [y]ou or your friend doing random poses in the dark...  r/mildlypenis or mildly sexual things... Hitler/Nazi/KKK/ Antifa Posts," etc. etc.

By the way, I also follow r/mildlypenis. It's the kind of relaxing entertainment I look to Reddit for.

Here are a few examples from r/cursedimages (which actually I don't recommend looking at a lot of them in a row):

"The game is so repetitive, I think you either take an interest in the small details or you stop watching. I’m not sure what I like about baseball."

"I do like it, and I like drawing, and I try to draw baseball but find it difficult to capture. This is my most recent attempt and I will keep trying. I have learned some things about drawing by trying to draw baseball, and I might learn what I like about baseball from drawing it."

Says Edward Steed, interviewed about his New Yorker cover this week:



ADDED: I really like this:
In recent years, there’s been a lot of discussion about speeding up the game. Is it fair to say you are against such measures?

I don’t mind how fast or slow the games are. It seems that they are trying to market baseball to people who don't like baseball. I think they should just be trying to make the games more beautiful.
I like it as a general principle: It's not about how fast or slow anything is. It's about how beautiful...

"I’d like to offer a rule of thumb for evaluating political news: If a fact is reported the same by both the left-leaning and the right-leaning press, it’s probably a fact."

"If not, wait and see. It’s also smart to wait a week or two before you make up your mind, as the fog of war often makes early reporting unreliable. But after the fog clears, if all sides agree on a fact, it’s probably a fact. Or at least it’s credible, even if future reporting debunks it.... If you strip out the parts of the Ukraine story we can’t yet know to be true... Vice President Biden was handling the Ukraine portfolio while his son had a financial interest in Ukraine, and that is enough of a conflict to merit an investigation. We all agree that the sitting president is responsible for protecting the integrity of American elections and generally keeping foreign interference in U.S. politics to a minimum. That’s what Mr. Trump was doing on the Ukraine phone call.... All sides can also agree that Mr. Trump was serving his own re-election interests by asking Ukraine to investigate Mr. Biden. But we also agree our political system allows that—even encourages it—so long as the president is also clearly pursuing the national interest.... What we all agree to be true about Joe and Hunter Biden is that they had the types of interactions with Ukraine that raise eyebrows and invite a closer look. We also all agree that protecting the integrity of American elections should be a top priority for a president."

Scott Adams at the Wall Street Journal (and apparently not behind the pay wall).

"She caught her fiance sexually assaulting a bridesmaid, police say. They got married anyway."

I only clicked through to that WaPo article to see how far into the comments you have to go before someone analogizes the fiance to Trump and the woman to his voters.

The first comment went up 6 hours ago. At 5 hours ago, you get: "This doesn't surprise me. After all, look who Melania married." Which produces: "Not relevant but funny"/"I think it's relevant. It shows how low women will go to get their man"/"I think you mean it shows how low Republicans will go to protect their man"/"Doubt that Melanie 'went low,' considering her profession and background. A perfect union of an idiot and a 'model' out for the cash. And an instant immigration citizenship card for mommy and daddy...and herself"/"Other than the nude pictures, and the photo shoot arranged by Trump, has anybody ever seen any shots of Melania 'modeling?'"

"Iran has arrested an Instagram celebrity famous for drastically altering her appearance through cosmetic surgery..."

"The social media star known as Sahar Tabar was detained on the orders of Tehran’s guidance court, which deals with 'cultural crimes and social and moral corruption'... She faces charges including blasphemy, inciting violence, gaining income through inappropriate means and encouraging youths to corruption," The Guardian reports, based on a report from the "semi-official" Tasnim news agency.

Here's the crazy-looking picture of her, which is said to resemble Angelina Jolie (in some zombie sort of incarnation).



Tabar does plastic surgery, and we're told "Cosmetic surgery is hugely popular in the Islamic republic," but there's also photoshopping involved. I'm not sure what part of all this is regarded as "blasphemy" by the Iranian authorities.

Tabar used Instagram, the only "major social media" available in Iran. It's accurate, I think, to say that this sort of thing entails "social and moral corruption." The problem is using criminal law to deal with it. The government's solution is worse than the problem. But it's amazing that a person was able to go this far in Iran without encountering a reaction from the government, and it's hard to understand, without living there, how much social media expression like this is a legitimate and admirable rebellion against repression. Without government repression, onlookers are free to simple express disgust at this sort of attack on one's own face.

ADDED: On the subject of plastic surgery in Iran, consider "Why Iran is a hub for sex-reassignment surgery/It is not because the regime is liberal" (The Economist):

"If you spend a career in the CIA, you see all kinds of subterfuge and lies and crime. This person went through a whole career and this is the thing he objects to?"

Said John Kirakou, "a former CIA Counterterrorism official who blew the whistle on the agency’s torture program," quoted in "The ‘Whistleblower’ Probably Isn’t/It’s an insult to real whistleblowers to use the term with the Ukrainegate protagonist" (by Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone). Here's Taibbi:
It’s fair to wonder if this is a one-person effort. Even former CIA official Robert Baer, no friend of Trump, said as much in an early confab on CNN with Brooke Baldwin... "This is a couple of people. It isn’t just one.... You know, my guess, it’s a palace coup against Trump. And who knows what else they know at this point."...

The current “scandal” is a caricature version of such episodes. Imagine the mania on the airwaves if Donald Trump were to have his Justice Department arrest the “whistleblower” and charge him with 35 years of offenses, as Thomas Drake faced. ...

Trump almost certainly is not going to do that, however, as the man is too dumb to realize he’s the titular commander of an executive branch that has been jailing people for talking too much for over a decade. On the off chance that he does try it, don’t hold your breath waiting for news networks to tell you he’s just following an established pattern.

I have a lot of qualms about impeachment/“Ukrainegate,” beginning with this headline premise of the lone, conscience-stricken defender of democracy arrayed against the mighty Trump. I don’t see it. Donald Trump is a jackass who got elected basically by accident, campaigning against a political establishment too blind to its own unpopularity to see what was coming....
Too dumb? A jackass who got elected basically by accident?

A federal district judge orders Trump to turn 8 years of personal and corporate tax returns over to the Manhattan district attorney.

The NYT reports.
The Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., has been investigating whether any New York State laws were broken when Mr. Trump and his company reimbursed the president’s former lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, for payments he made in the run-up to the 2016 election to the pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels, who had said she had an affair with Mr. Trump....

Mr. Trump’s lawyers sued last month to block the subpoena, arguing that the Constitution effectively makes sitting presidents immune from all criminal inquiries until they leave the White House....

Federal prosecutors are barred from charging a sitting president with a crime because the Justice Department has decided that presidents have temporary immunity while they are in office.... Local prosecutors, such as Mr. Vance, are also not bound by the Justice Department’s position....
No response from the President's lawyers yet. Presumably, they'll appeal (and win).

UPDATE: "The president's attorneys have filed an emergency order of appeal."

AND:


UPDATE 2: Bloomberg reports:
Trump immediately appealed and in less than two hours won a delay to give the federal appeals court in Manhattan time for expedited review. The delay postponed what would have been a 1 p.m. Monday deadline for [his accountants] to begin turning over the records to prosecutors....

"The impeachment inquiry Democrats launched last month may ultimately hinge on a simple question: Did President Trump try to force a foreign power (or powers) to help him take down a political opponent, Joe Biden?"

Writes Lee Smith at Real Clear Investigations.

My instinctive answer to the question "did he?" is: Why would he? Biden is not a strong opponent, so what's the point of taking him out? It's what other Democrats want to do. Why would Trump want to help them? My hypothesis is that Trump has a more complex game that his opponents do not understand and that they are therefore making awful blunders.

Back to Smith:
[T]he backdrop of [the Democrats] effort is far more complex and convoluted, connected not just to Trump’s phone call with the president of Ukraine and related evidence but the three-year war of attrition the Democrats have waged against the president. Their main instrument was the Trump-Russia collusion story... [but] Ukraine was always at the center of the Trump-Russia affair....

"I wanted to go jogging this morning..."

A popular tweet gives a good "hack" for hotel guests — use the hotel's pants hanger to clip the blackout curtains all the way shut...

... and The Washington Post — hoping to get in on the popularity — assembles a set of travel "hacks" — like use the ice bucket plastic bag to enclose the remote control and protect yourself from whatever was on the hands of the previous TV-using room occupant.

That triggers a commenter:
Before you leave on travel, pack 20-30 Lysol brand wipes nea[t]ly folded into a large zip lock plastic bag. They will pass airport security.
1) Use the first one to clean the arms of your seat and the seat belt buckle and insert.
2) Use the second to clean your drop down tray table.
3) As soon as you arrive at your hotel, take another 3-4 wipes and use them to immediately clean the telephone in your room, the remote control, the air conditioner buttons. And yes - the faucets on the sink and shower.
This person is (as I see it) clearly joking, because there's no realistic sense of the capacity of a large Ziploc bag and the size of a pile of 20-30 Lysol wipes and because it's silly to specify the brands. But it's hard to see humor these days, when Glenlivet pods are not a joke, and 2 other commenter taunt with an accusation of OCD. The full fun of our ridiculous culture then pops out as the taunters are chided:
You clearly have no concept of what OCD is if you're criticizing someone for wiping down surfaces used by the public. Please read up on OCD if you really want to understand it (though I doubt you do--you're just the type of person who lobs mental illness diagnoses at people as a form of insult, which makes you nothing but a common bigot).
Or do you think that person is a satirist?

The joke is good, but what it jumps off of — intended as dead serious (I think!) — is funnier.

October 6, 2019

Sitting on the rock of the creek...

The man in the middle

A man waded to get to a rock in the middle of Boulder Creek. He stayed there a long time. I don't know what he was thinking.

Last week in Boulder, Colorado.

ADDED: See the bridge in the background? I walked up that way and stopped in the middle of the bridge to look upstream and then downstream. As I switched sides, I was surprised by a woman in tight black jeans carrying a large coffee cup and sauntering in a straight line who seemed determined to walk straight across the bridge in a manner awkwardly devoid of awareness of my presence. Then she stopped and apologized and, as I was thinking okay, that was weird, I noticed her companion, a woman with a camera. It was a set up shot. Wow — I thought — I have encountered an Influencer in the wild.

Such a contrast — the meditative man, barefoot on a rock in the stream and the tightly clothed and scripted woman on the bridge. The unbridgeable distance between them felt so funny and sad.

"'Joker' reflects political cowardice on the part of a filmmaker, and perhaps of a studio, in emptying out the specifics of the city’s modern history and current American politics so that the movie can be released as mere entertainment to viewers who are exasperated with the idea of movies being discussed in political terms—i.e., to Republicans...."

"[T]he movie plays into the hands of current-day political rhetoric—namely, the emphasis by Republicans who, when it comes to gun control, would rather deny weapons to the mentally ill than restrict weaponry for everyone. In the wake of Arthur’s killing spree, a public figure—Thomas Wayne (Brett Cullen), a wealthy banker for whom Penny worked decades earlier, and who, of course, is the father of a boy named Bruce—speaks of killers such as Arthur as 'clowns.' This comment gives rise to a sudden mass movement of activists who dress like clowns and target the rich and the powerful. The trope resembles Hillary Clinton’s reference to many of the supporters of Donald Trump as 'deplorables,' a term that was adopted by some as a badge of honor—except in 'Joker' the epithet applies rather to radicals on the left, who loom as a menace waiting to happen...."

From "'Joker' Is a Viewing Experience of Rare, Numbing Emptiness" by Richard Brody (in The New Yorker).

Brody is bothered by the movie's "incoherence," and I think he's mostly annoyed that the comic-book material isn't organized according to a comic-book politics of right and left. He calls the movie "empty" over and over, but it seems as though he's bothered by complexity — there's too much and it's not composed in a stark, easily recognized pattern.

"Phony as a horse"... is that an expression? Or is this just a stray inside joke for "Family Feud" fans?



Oh, dear! I'm so distractable, stopping in the middle of a sentence (in "The Hunter Biden story is a troubling tale of privilege" (WaPo)):
For all his barking and hucksterism, Rudy Giuliani is having limited success drawing the gullible into his sideshow tent. But the fact that Giuliani’s spectacle involving the Biden family is as phony as a horse...
I'm off chatting about it and laughing and googling "phony as a horse" — which is all about "Family Feud" to my immense delight —  but I finally come back...
For all his barking and hucksterism, Rudy Giuliani is having limited success drawing the gullible into his sideshow tent. But the fact that Giuliani’s spectacle involving the Biden family is as phony as a horse that does arithmetic does not mean there is no story worth examining. The real story of Joe Biden and his troubled son Hunter is full of pain and littered with questions and deeply relevant to our populist moment....
Oh! Phony as a horse that does arithmetic...  That's Clever Hans! I don't even have to look it up. I know all about the horse that supposedly did arithmetic. I read about that long ago in The New Yorker. Let me go get that for you. (I don't really care about the Giuliani-bashing in WaPo. That can go on just fine without me.) Ah! Yes! Here it is, "Questions About Language/I — Horses" by Vicki Hearne, August 10, 1986:





Ha ha, that was 33 years ago, and I still remember it so well. And isn't it refreshing to read a blog by someone who's 68 years old and talks like she's 68 years old?

"But that didn’t stop the New York Times, reprising their gambit with Brett Kavanaugh, from shouting that a second anonymous 'whistleblower' had been found who was just about to come forward and spew more malign anti-Trump gossip into the cloaca maxima of the effort to rid the world of Donald Trump."

There's the sentence of the day. Diagram that!

It's from Roger Kimball's "Anti-Trump Fraternity and NeverTrump Sorority Collude in Impeachment Scam/Donald Trump asked President Zelensky to help with the Justice Department’s investigation of efforts to subvert the 2016 election. Donald Trump is the president of the United States. It is part of his responsibility to see that our elections are open and fair. Bottom line: not much to work with there for the anti-Trump fraternity."

I had to look up "cloaca maxima." Wikipedia:
The Cloaca Maxima (Latin: Cloaca Maxima, lit. Greatest Sewer, i.e. Main) has constituted one of the world's earliest sewage systems. Constructed in Ancient Rome in order to drain local marshes and remove the waste of one of world's most populous cities, it carried effluent to the River Tiber, which ran beside the city.

"Ginger Baker, one of the most innovative and influential drummers in rock music, has died at the age of 80."

"His style combined the lyricism of jazz with the crude power of rock. One critic said watching him was like witnessing 'a human combineharvester.'... Nicknamed Ginger for his flaming red hair, the musician was born Peter Edward Baker in Lewisham, south London, shortly before World War Two. His bricklayer father was killed in action in 1943, and he was brought up in near poverty by his mother, step-father and aunt. A troubled student, he joined a local gang in his teens and became involved in petty theft. When he tried to quit, gang-members attacked him with a razor. His early ambition was to ride in the Tour de France but was forced to quit the sport when, aged 16, his bicycle got 'caught up' with a taxi. Instead, he took up drumming. 'I was always banging on the desks at school,' he recalled. 'So all the kids kept saying, "Go on, go and play the drums," and I just sat down and I could play. It's a gift from God. You've either got it or you haven't. And I've got it: time. Natural time'" (BBC).

His natural time with us is now over. Goodbye to Ginger Baker.



ADDED: My son John blogs a commemoration of Ginger Baker — with a clip from Blind Faith's first concert and the comment "Ginger Baker's drumming added so much to this — it's hard to imagine it with a typical rock drummer":

"If there are any angels in heaven, they are all male and female nurses," says Joe Biden.



That's something Joe (or whoever runs his Twitter account) chose to feature, not just in a clip but in text, and it's a little disconcerting to experience such slap-in-the-face ineptness with language. I accept politicians using religion in their speeches to the general public, believers and nonbelievers, despite the principle of the separation of religion and government. It's an American tradition. Lincoln did it ("I know that the Lord is always on the side of the right; but it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I and this nation may be on the Lord's side"). But do it well. Do it carefully. Not everyone believes that after death they have a chance at becoming an angel in heaven. But who on earth thinks that only nurses go to heaven?! It's nice to hear that the male as well as the female nurses go to heaven, but what about everybody who's not a nurse? What a kick in the head! You lived a life of virtue, you served your fellow human beings every day of your life, you felt and acted upon the love of God continually, but — whoops! — you picked the wrong job! Nurses only!