February 1, 2020

At the Icefish Café...


... you can talk about whatever you like.

"It has always been ugly and a little nuts in our huge, complicated country. We last had a relatively stable consensus during George Washington’s first term..."

"Since then, right and left in the United States regularly vie for and lose power, frequently giving us deeply flawed leaders. And the world doesn’t end, even though it sometimes feels that way. As I grew up, I started to see the narrative pattern: Democrats were going 'extinct' in 1972 with Richard M. Nixon’s landslide. Republicans were 'finished' after Watergate and the 1976 election. In 1984, Democrats were really 'doomed' this time, wiped out by the 'Reagan Revolution.' Of course, the way Republicans are acting today means they will inevitably lose power, and for a very long time — an exile they will richly deserve. But neither party will disappear because the American center — that great lump of us clustered around the middle — always holds.... That lump is our national ballast. To survive, our two political parties compete for that center, forcing them to change as we do. They regularly miss the mark, which is why the parties, not the United States, suffer repeated near-death experiences, always followed by miraculous revival."

Writes James Comey (of all people) in "Trump won’t be removed. But we’ll be fine" (WaPo).

I agree with some of that, but certainly not the part about the Republicans inevitably losing power. That's a talking point today, I think, that the Democrats are losing in the impeachment trial, but they'll win in the coming elections.

"Up next: More on the death of the Republican Party."

On MSNBC just now:

That's "AM Joy" — Joy Reid.

The hysteria is running high on MSNBC. I drop in to see them deep into the "death" metaphor, and it was really weird to hear them using death to keep the audience as they broke for commercial. What a nutty promise: More death!

I just said I have rig fatigue, but here are Democrats saying their own party is rigged, so that's kind of interesting.

From The Hill:
The DNC on Friday said it would drop the donor threshold for the Feb. 19 primary debate in Nevada. The move could open the door for Bloomberg, a billionaire who is refusing any donations to his White House bid, to win a spot at the event.

Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) presidential campaign ripped the DNC over its new debate qualifications, saying it is supporting “a rigged system.”

“To now change the rules in the middle of the game to accommodate Mike Bloomberg, who is trying to buy his way into the Democratic nomination, is wrong. That’s the definition of a rigged system,” said Jeff Weaver, a senior adviser to Sanders’s campaign....

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang [tweeted] "The DNC changing its debate criteria to ignore grassroots donations seems tailor-made to get Mike Bloomberg on the debate stage in February...."...

Businessman Tom Steyer [said]... “changing the rules now to accommodate Mike Bloomberg and not changing them in the past to ensure a more diverse debate stage is just plain wrong..." 
PLUS: "I watched the debate in Iowa here two weeks ago -- the all white debate -- and the fact that the Democratic, the DNC will not allow Cory Booker on that stage, will not allow Julian Castro on that stage, but they are going to allow Mike Bloomberg on the stage? Because he has a billion f*cking dollars!"

AND: It's not just changing the rules for the debates: "DNC members discuss rules change to stop Sanders at convention/The talks reveal rising anxiety over the Vermont senator's momentum on the eve of voting" (Politico).

If you know in advance that whatever you give will not be enough but will only set up the next demand...

Impeachment coverage looks like a quirky number in a show choreographed by Bob Fosse.


So... Joe Rogan did the carnivore diet for all of January and...

I'm sorry. I have rig fatigue.

There are things I'm not reading this morning. And I mean this phrase "not reading" to denote an active process. I should write it as one word: notreading.

For the list of things I'm notreading this morning: "The Senate impeachment trial was rigged!" (by Dana Milbank in WaPo).

Yeah, it was rigged. Everything is rigged. The election was rigged. Trump isn't really President. The impeachment trial was rigged. The acquittal won't count as an acquittal. If Trump wins reelection, it will be because it was rigged. It's all rigged. The Constitution itself is rigged. What's with that 2/3 vote requirement? Rigged. Electoral college? Rigged! Life itself is rigged!...

I'm sorry. I have rig fatigue.

ADDED: 2 things:

1. The trouble with writing "notreading" as one word is it has the "Superbowl" problem. How do you know it's not "superb owl"? How do you know it's not "no treading" — as in "Don't tread on me"?

2. That tag "active non-reading" is not new. "Rig fatigue" is new. But "active-nonreading" has a past on this blog. It's just one post, though, from last February — Sometimes I feel I must make a note of articles I saw and didn't read:

Look what the coronavirus is doing now: It's garnering.

"Coronavirus garners headlines, but there's another virus stalking America" (Bloomberg, via Japan News).

"They need to do that. They need to have their hysteria fit. Do I need to watch?"

What I said out loud upon being prodded to read "A Dishonorable Senate/Republican legislators abdicated their duty by refusing to seek the truth" by the Editors of the NYT.

I was told it's so "over the top in its emotionalism... Sort of tantrumlike — She thought she was going to get what she wants and you're the best parents ever, and now she's not going to get what she wants, and you're the worst parents ever."

January 31, 2020

At the Vivid Warm Cafe...

... you can talk all night.

Voting on the witnesses motion...

... happening now.

ADDED: It’s 49/51. Trump wins.

Joe Rogan responds after he was attacked — as transphobic and homophobic — because he said he'd probably vote for Bernie Sanders and Bernie Sanders shared that on Twitter.

"Murkowski says she’ll vote no on witnesses, likely dealing fatal blow."

That sentence is a headline at the NYT.

Interesting to learn how Murkowski will vote, but it's a pro-Trump vote, so it's not "fatal" as far as the target of this proceeding is concerned.

If we're using this metaphor of death, we need to know whose death is under discussion. It's a fatal blow to the enterprise of killing the Trump presidency. At least. Maybe it's a fatal blow to the Democratic Party... or — to be less dramatic — to the 2020 ambitions of the Democratic Party.

Indeed, what a disaster!

"Jerry. Jerry. Jerry."

"What happened to Mini Mike? Where is he? He’s not running here. He’s skipping four or five states. Mini Mike. I’ve had him up to here."

 Trump gets personal at last night's rally in Des Moines.

I'm cutting and pasting the text from The Hill, which does not provide video or a description of the visual element of the joke "I’ve had him up to here."

The standard gesture for "I’ve had it up to here" is — at "here" — to put your level hand at your chin or higher. Trump put that "here" hand at waist level.

It was one of the funniest things I've ever seen him do, but it's also personal in a way that "Lying" or "Sleepy" is not. Mike Bloomberg can't help it that he's "only" 5'8".

And by the way, the average height of the American man is 5'9", so Trump is calling a hell of a lot of men short when he ridicules Bloomberg as if he were quite tiny.

Maybe it's funnier because Bloomberg is only an inch shorter than average. And Bloomberg is probably taller than average for men his age (77).

I suspect that Bloomberg is actually shorter than 5'8", because why would the internet get this number accurately? Plus: shrinkage.

"Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, said late Thursday that although he believed that Democrats had proved their case that President Trump acted 'inappropriately' in his dealings with Ukraine..."

"... he did not think the president’s actions were impeachable and would vote against considering new evidence in the impeachment trial. Mr. Alexander’s statement was a strong indication that Republicans had lined up the votes to block a call for more witnesses and documents on Friday and press toward a quick acquittal in the third presidential impeachment trial in history.... 'The question then is not whether the president did it, but whether the United States Senate or the American people should decide what to do about what he did,' Mr. Alexander said... 'I believe that the Constitution provides that the people should make that decision in the presidential election that begins in Iowa on Monday.'... His announcement capped a day of intense lobbying both on the floor of the Senate and off as each side sought to appeal to a shrinking group of undecided Republicans. Shortly before Mr. Alexander declared his intentions, Senator Susan Collins of Maine, another moderate, became the second Republican to say definitively that she would vote in favor of considering new evidence, after Senator Mitt Romney of Utah... After Mr. Alexander and Ms. Collins made their positions clear on Thursday night, all eyes turned to a fourth possible Republican swing vote, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who said she would announce her decision on Friday."

The NYT reports.

An elegant vignette — the classic humility of the judge.

ADDED: Here's a longer clip, showing Adam Schiff dealing with the question:

Watching the Chief Justice a second time, I was able to see a subtle expression of feeling. If an actor could do this I'd be impressed. There's a pause at the point where he sees the disrespect in the question (as he's saying "witnesses"). There's a determination to simply move through it. When he's done, he puts the paper down with a slight throwing motion. He continues to look down and his lips are tight and almost frowning.

"Twenty-nine years after a notorious run-in at a Florida adult movie theater derailed his career — which was heading toward becoming the biggest children's-programming phenom since Mister Rogers..."

"... he's still hoping to pedal his red Schwinn back into America's hearts... [H]e's been pitching studios on The Pee-wee Herman Story, a very un-Pee-wee-sounding screenplay that takes his puckish TV persona into dark and unexpected territory (Pee-wee gets sent to a mental hospital for shock treatment for his alcoholism, no joke).... In today's overstuffed entertainment landscape, it's hard to imagine a lane for a sexagenarian man-child who talks to his furniture.... 'People have argued I've done everything consciously or unconsciously to destroy [the character],' he says. 'But it's the brand that won't die. It's still around.'"

"Pee-wee Herman's "Dark" Reboot: Paul Reubens Is Ready to Stage a Comeback"

On creating the Pee-Wee character:
At first, he was conceived as a super-geeky stand-up comedian who cracked extremely blue jokes. But the character evolved, with Reubens drawing inspiration from the children's entertainment of his youth — Howdy Doody, Captain Kangaroo and Rocky and Bullwinkle in particular. And then one day Reubens slipped into the now-iconic costume — the suit was a loaner from Groundlings founder Gary Austin, the bow tie he grabbed from a pile of accessories backstage — and something inside him clicked.

"It dawned on me that I could actually become Pee-wee Herman," he says. "I could do something that was conceptual art, and the only person who would really know it was conceptual was me."

"It was impossible to remain an elderly academic woman fully clothed. I felt like that was insincere..."

"... and that people would say ‘we’ve had all this about power relationship and the vulnerability of the nude – you never got vulnerable, did you dear.’ So I had to do it."

Said Mary Beard, in "Mary Beard sits for naked portrait in new BBC programme/The academic’s latest TV show investigates the line between art and pornography" (The Guardian). Beard is a serious academic, and the TV show is "Shock of the Nude" — a play on "Shock of the New" — about art history. She called the nude "soft porn for the elite" and got some strong pushback:
“It’s quite a shock to think a slightly academic point about the difference between art and porn, produces that real sense of a violent reaction... If you’re look[ing] at the nude you can’t avoid that question of where is the line between art and porn?”...

[She] said the process of posing for her own nude portrait was “very relaxing”... “I could have walked away, for a lot of female models they’re doing it because that’s how they’re going to get their next meal and whatever the male artist is like they’re going to stick it out.”
And here's a second Guardian article on the subject, "Is Mary Beard right to say classical nudes are ‘soft porn for the elite’?/The academic is not the first to suggest that nudes in art were about titillation as much as aesthetics – but is there a difference between nakedness and nudity?"
Having your desire recognised and recognising your desire is important. To take Beard’s description of art as “soft porn for the elite” as criticism per se is to assume that honesty about our enjoyment of the revealed body somehow lessens the art; that art should be above that. This is naive....
The perspective of the model is important, and I commend Mary Beard — who is 65 — for taking on the role of the model in a short experience (even though that experience is necessarily different from that of a model who doesn't have the perspective of an academic with a TV audience watching her bold experimentation).

But I don't think nudes — even in photographs — are pornography. Pornography is a graphic sexual depiction, and nakedness is not even a necessary element. You can feel sexual looking at a nude, but the nude per se is not sexual. The sex is in the mind of the beholder (even if the artist was hoping to inspire it). Or do you think that in saying that I'm a propagandist for the elite?

January 30, 2020

At the Demolition Café...


... you can talk all night.

"So this is it, the final chapter..."

"We love Europe, we just hate the European Union. It's as simple as that.... I'm hoping this begins the end of this project. It's a bad project. It isn't just undemocratic, it's anti-democratic, and it puts in that front row, it gives people power without accountability.... There is a historic battle going on now across the West, in Europe, America, and elsewhere. It is globalism vs. populism. And you may loathe populism, but I tell you a funny thing: it's becoming very popular."

Endorsing Buttigieg.

I'm not... but my son John is (over on his blog, here).

"If Uncle Joe has to win millennial and Gen-Z hearts and minds — after riding to the nomination on the back of a wall-to-wall anti-Bernie ad blitz from Third Way and friends — his task may be impossible."

"Although Sanders’s 2016 backers did not sit out (or defect) during the general election in aberrantly high numbers, the age gap between Biden and Bernie backers this year is even larger than the one that prevailed between Clinton and the Vermont senator four years ago. One recent Emerson College poll found that only 53 percent of Sanders’s current supporters plan to vote for the Democratic nominee in November, no matter who that person turns out to be.... [I]f the Democratic Party’s incumbent elites united to take down the (supposedly) unelectable socialist, they would risk rendering Biden unelectable in the process, and there’s little rational basis for them to take such a gamble. Yes, Sanders has become a real contender in recent weeks, but Biden is still the front-runner. And the available polling suggests that if this race ever becomes a two-man contest between the leading septuagenarians, the former vice-president won’t have much trouble assembling a plurality of delegates... [I]t would be irrational for centrist Democrats to launch an 'Anyone But Bernie' campaign — unless they include Donald Trump in the 'Anyone' category."

From "The Bernie Campaign Is Fortified by a Human Shield of Millennials" (NY Magazine).

Is this a clever pro-Bernie con? Do not fight him, for in doing so, you will destroy yourself.

As if wind is nothing.

I'm reading "New Section of Trump’s ‘Virtually Impenetrable’ Wall Gets Blown Over by Wind in California" (NY Magazine).

"She recalled that her biracial daughter — a spelling bee champ and science fair winner who plays three musical instruments — told her about the play after breakfast one day, proud at first to participate."

"[The daughter] grew upset as she saw that her mother did not share her joy, [the mother] said, and cried. 'A part of my heart and her innocence shattered,' [the mother] said."

From "African American mother says her 10-year-old was cast as an enslaved person in a school play" (WaPo).

The daughter, a 10 year old, sought the part of "Enslaved African 2." It was a Scholastic play, "A Triangle of Trade, The Colonial Slave Trade," published 20 years ago.  I think it was the daughter who cried when she saw her mother wasn't happy for her. That's written ambiguously.

The mother, Carmen Black Parker, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine, who is black, said "It was one of those surreal moments when you ask yourself if you’re understanding reality correctly. They sent my daughter home a slave."
According to Parker, the teacher explained that she had warned the class of potentially offensive material and said children were told they could say “ouch” if they felt sad, offended or hurt.

“The children were supposed to have the insight to object,” Parker said.

Parker said the teacher also pointed out that the girl had volunteered for the role — which Parker asserted is beside the point. “No child should have the thought, ‘Oh, I think I’d make a great slave,’ ” she said....
The play was canceled and the teacher was put on leave (pending an investigation). Parker objects to "scapegoating" the teacher and wants the principal dismissed (for a failure of accountability).

From the comments at WaPo:
About every six months or so, there is a Washington Post article about a teacher doing a simulation about slavery. It never ends well.

The problem is that teachers are often pressured to be "creative" and have "engaging" activities. This is one topic, however, where teachers should just stick with the basics: readings, videos, etc.
It probably is best only to read about slavery. (I'd skip those videos and whatever "etc." refers to.) But there will be people who see inequality in the demand that children learn through reading.

"So graceless; so humourless. Au revoir EU."

"Watching Dershowitz work, it’s like this: Ink wires itself onto the page, in the wash of his gimpy scrawl."

Nutty caption in the Esquire article, "21 Hours With Alan Dershowitz/Over the course of one week, Tom Chiarella watched Donald Trump’s TV-loving lawyer prepare for his biggest argument to date. He still can’t make sense of it."

The Chief Justice may have to decide whether to break a 50-50 tie on the issue of having witnesses testify at the Senate trial.

I'm reading "Senate and John Roberts face possibility of epic tie on witnesses" (Politico) and wondering which way the Chief would go.

Must a tie be broken? No. Under the Senate's rules, nothing happens if there is no vote in favor of it. The Republicans win if the Democrats fail to amass 51 votes.
For weeks, Republicans and Democrats alike have been confident that Roberts would not break a tie vote during Trump’s impeachment trial, citing past precedent, the Constitution and their own gut feelings about how it would play in a polarized nation....

Some Democrats are beginning to opine that Roberts could save the Senate from itself and force consideration of witnesses if there's a tie. As Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) put it: “If he wants a fair, impartial trial and get the evidence out, I think there’s a fair shot he would vote for witnesses.”...
That is, if Roberts wants the Democratic side to win, he could activate himself and vote. But if he wants to remain neutral OR if he wants the GOP side to win, he can can maintain the posture of restraint.
Yet the smart money is still on Roberts staying out of it, or GOP leaders muscling through a 51-49 vote that avoids placing responsibility for the course of the trial on Roberts....
What's the motivation to help Roberts? Consider this question from the perspective of the 3 GOP Senators who are still considering voting with the Democrats.

"Every time a beloved celebrity dies I post some horrible shit about them I’ve been doing it for years now. I like destroying gods. And right when a famous person dies they’re at their most worshipped."

"So as a response to all the outpouring of sympathy on social media, I post something vile. it’s just a joke. I don’t really hate any of the people."

Said Ari Shaffir, quoted in "New York Comedy Club cancels Ari Shaffir act after threats over Kobe Bryant joke" (Page Six).

January 29, 2020

This morning at 7:10.


Actual sunrise time: 7:17.

"To walk down the street with him is just a reminder that, no matter how boring you think the day is, there are always interesting things around you."

"If you think of just a walk to the corner as an opportunity to see something different, most of us don’t do that normally. He is just this super-voracious observer of everything."

Said Jen Bekman, an online art curator, quoted in "Jason Polan, an artist who set out to draw every person in New York, has died at 37" (WaPo)(Polan died of cancer).
Bekman said the idea for drawing every person in New York grew from the MoMa project [in which he drew every piece of art in the Museum of Modern Art]. The drawings were done in haste on small pads of paper with a Uni-Ball Vision Elite pen, capturing New Yorkers in only a few minutes or seconds as they completed some quotidian activity: commuting, reading, sitting. He gave himself one rule: “I only draw the person while I can see them,” as he explained in his book introduction.

The result meant that some people didn’t have hands or legs. Some had blank faces floating on white paper — like “Edward Norton at Lafayette” — as they whizzed past Polan mid-drawing or disappeared through the subway doors.
I bought the book "Every Person in New York." I love stuff like this, and have engaged in this kind of drawing project myself. My favorite example of this genre, and my favorite art book of all time is "Get Me a Table Without Flies, Harry."

ADDED: I love that we're told the pen — Uni-Ball Vision Elite pen. You can get 12 of those things for $26. We're not told the brand of sketchbook. Maybe something like this. You could carry a 6"x4" pad in your pocket and a Uni-Ball pen and always be looking for things to draw. Think about why you would do that instead of just taking photos of anything that interests you. It makes a big difference! It makes you something more like a "super-voracious observer of everything."

ALSO: Polan put his drawings on a Blogspot blog, here, from 2008 until the end of last year. From his description in the sidebar: "I am trying to draw every person in New York. I will be drawing people everyday and posting as frequently as I can.... If I do draw you, you will see yourself (or rather, a drawing that hopefully somewhat resembles you) on this blog that evening. When the project is completed we will all have a get together." That last sentence takes on new meaning.

"An Italian man spent 30 years living in Switzerland, starting his own successful ice cream business and raising two sons. But when he tried to become a Swiss citizen in 2015..."

"... he was rejected. The reason? He didn’t know that bears and wolves shared an enclosure at the zoo. That decision — which authorities said pointed to the man’s failure to integrate socially — was overturned on Monday, when the Swiss Federal Tribunal, the country’s supreme court, deemed it to be unreasonable and arbitrary.... [A] panel of judges ordered that the man be granted citizenship immediately.... Several high-profile cases have brought international attention to the peculiarities of Swiss immigration law in recent years — from a Muslim couple who were denied citizenship for refusing a handshake to an animal rights activist deemed too annoying for naturalization."

WaPo reports.

"For a guy who couldn’t get approved for the Ambassador to the U.N. years ago, couldn’t get approved for anything since, 'begged' me for a non Senate approved job..."

"... which I gave him despite many saying 'Don’t do it, sir,' takes the job, mistakenly says 'Libyan Model' on T.V., and many more mistakes of judgement, gets fired because frankly, if I listened to him, we would be in World War Six by now, and goes out and IMMEDIATELY writes a nasty & untrue book. All Classified National Security. Who would do this?"

Tweets President Trump a little while ago (1, 2).

I like his mild tone there. It's refreshing. To me, it's more convincing than the harsher name-calling. I appreciate that you didn't call him, say, Bolton the Snake... but... by the way... You knew he was a snake.

ADDED: The next thing I read feels like an answer to Trump's "Who would do this?" — "The Method in John Bolton’s Madness" by Jonathan Stevenson, "a senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies and managing editor of Survival [who] was the National Security Council director for political-military affairs, Middle East and North Africa, from 2011 to 2013":

"The enthusiasm of Ms. Eilish’s devotees denotes a striking turnabout, a new generation’s rejection of the flirty babe aesthetic embodied by contemporary idols like Ariana Grande..."

"... in favor of something more crazily improvised and less strenuously sexual. At 18, [Billie] Eilish, who often goes without makeup, favors a pastiche of outsize 1980s and ’90s hip-hop and skater looks. That look speaks assertively to a Gen Z crowd chary of artifice and aggressive displays of sensuality. 'Her look is not about vanity,' said Lucie Greene, a trend forecaster and brand strategist. 'She is flipping the idea of beauty to something surreal, something influenced by gaming and the cyberculture. These are not the filtered images of millennials'....Her style resonates, [Amanda Petrusich wrote in The New Yorker], 'in a cultural moment when we are all trying very hard to sort out real people from the ones who are merely savvy and ambitious enough to know the right way to curate and present an authentic-seeming vibe.'"

From "Billie Eilish: Gen Z’s Outrageous Fashion Role Model/The Grammy-winning artist is reinventing conventional notions of femininity" by Ruth La Ferla (NYT).

I'm glad these kids today are "chary of artifice and aggressive displays of sensuality" (as the NYT puts it).

I like seeing Generation Z rise up and challenge the millennials. Time for millennials to see younger people not enjoying them. It's one thing to feel the older generation's criticism, quite another to have the criticism coming from the new people.

ADDED: "I've never been to school. I grew up homeschooled, stayed homeschooled, never was not homeschooled," said Billie Eilish, quoted in Reason, in "Sibling Grammy Winners Billie Eilish and Finneas O'Connell Praise Homeschooling."

"A chartered plane carrying more than 200 Americans from Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in China... would be 'handled in a remote location'..."

"... and... medical staff from the United States Centers for Disease Control would check patients in an isolated area. Passengers would remain in a terminal that is not currently being used by commercial carriers or accessible to the public..... [A]ny passengers found to have a cough, fever or shortness of breath... will be further assessed by medical experts...."

From "Coronavirus Live Updates: U.S. Evacuates Citizens From Hot Zone, and Death Toll Mounts/Chinese officials confirmed nearly 6,000 cases of the mysterious illness as foreign governments airlifted their citizens out of Wuhan, the outbreak’s epicenter" (NYT).

ADDED: "Terrified passengers wear PLASTIC BOTTLES and motorbike helmets to protect themselves against coronavirus" (The Sun).

IN THE COMMENTS: Aunty Trump said: "No symptoms for a week. They need to be quarantined for two weeks. If you let them go, it can’t be undone." Yeah, why is it good enough to look for those who "have a cough, fever or shortness of breath" when they get off the plane?

ALSO: If even one person on that plan had the virus, wouldn't everyone on the plane have inhaled it? Shouldn't they all be quarantined for the incubation period?

"This particular clip has landed with such a bump because it also serves as an example of how inaccurately mediocrities tend to see themselves."

"Rick Wilson’s joke was second-rate and obviously pre-written, and yet Don Lemon reacted as if Wilson was Dave Chappelle — even going so far as to say he 'needed' it. This behavior is learned. Since Donald Trump was elected, a certain set of political 'strategists' — many of whom aren’t actually strategists, Ana Navarro — have come to see CNN as a clearing house for their bad one-liners, each sitting at home preparing zingers that they hope, once delivered, will go viral. This one has gone viral, of course, but for the opposite reason than its architects hoped: Because it is pathetic.

Writes Charles C.W. Cooke in "The Death of Cable News in One Clip" (National Review).

"I remember when we could just run outside and jump on one of these old rusty things. Now they’re art. It’s the new New York, I guess."

Said one woman quoted in "There Are Glowing Seesaws in Midtown and New Yorkers Are Losing It/A quick pick-me-up (and drop me down!) in the heart of the busy city" (NYT)(some charming moving pictures at the link).
Ranging in length from 16 to 24 feet, each of the seesaws glow from LED augmentation and emit musical sequences as riders bounce up and down. The sounds mingle with the shrieks and whoops of riders....

Hardly any seesaws have been installed in the last 30 years, after federal guidelines began limiting their use in 1981, according to a New York City Department of Parks and Recreation official.

Still, they have a certain appeal.

Sitting on the seesaw is part exercise in trust (often in a complete stranger), part escapism.
The photos that accompany the NYT article are lovely and romanticize the whole thing, but here's some grittier video which seems to show more what it really looks like:

I don't think this is the way to appeal to Mitt Romney.

#MittOrGetOffThePot is trending on Twitter. He's such a prim man, and you're associating his name with shit.

I think I see what happened...

Jimmy Kimmel made a joke? Oh, no... only in the sense that Jimmy made that joke 8 years ago. See "Jimmy Kimmel Got Through His Correspondent's Dinner Routine Without Dying, But Just Barely" (April 28, 2012, Business Insider):
He made jokes about the Secret Service, Kim Kardashian, Lindsey Lohan, Chris Christie's weight, and how Obama isn't going to win re-election. But they were hardly anything memorable about them.

Some lines just totally bombed, and you could tell Jimmy knew they would, the way he rushed through them.

Directed at Gingrich, "Why are you waiting until Tuesday to drop out. It's time to Mitt or get off the pot."

A joke that was notably bad 8 years ago — when the upcoming election was just about whether to keep that nice man Obama or not — has been revived in the context of impeaching that horrible man Trump because we — some of us — are just too distraught to wait a few months for the election.

Maybe Kimmel revived his bad joke last night and got Twitter going down this excrement-laden path.

January 28, 2020

At the Gray Sunrise Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

Photo time: 7:19. Actual sunrise time: 7:17.

"President Trump’s Middle East peace plan... calls for a two-state solution in which Israel would also freeze settlement construction for a period of four years."

"Dubbed by Trump as the 'deal of the century,' the plan sets a number of benchmarks for Palestinians to reach in order to achieve statehood. The benchmarks include fighting terrorism, increasing free speech, and other reforms... 'I was not elected to do small things or shy away from big problems,' Trump said.... The proposal would also give Palestinians more land by offering land swaps south of Gaza. The future state would have to be demilitarized.... The plan was three years in the making and spearheaded by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. Palestinians have preemptively rejected the proposal, with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas calling Trump a 'dog.'"

The Washington Examiner reports.

"Also, the author of 'Dracula' was incorrect. He is Bram Stoker, not Jane Austen. "

From a correction appended to "No Lack of Chemistry, Onstage or Off/When Kate Hamill first met Jason O’Connell there was an immediate spark that neither could act on. He later went from being her leading man to her real-life beau" in The New York Times.

How do you do something that wrong? It's one thing to think "Dracula" was written by Mary Shelley. But how do you get all the way to Jane Austen?

Now, it's a wedding story. Maybe it's a sneaky way to get clicks, because I wouldn't have clicked on that headline, and I don't routinely read the NYT wedding reports.

From the article:
Ms. Hamill, who is currently starring in her own adaptation of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula,” an Off Broadway production running at the Classic Stage Company, that she described as “a feminist revenge fantasy,” was equally thrilled to be dating Mr. O’Connell.
Well, so... feminist revenge fantasy... that calls to mind Jane Austen, doesn't it?

As long as I'm there, let me extract this for you:
Two months into dating the bride, the groom had a wisdom tooth removed and was given powerful painkillers. “He was really out if it,” the bride said. “I made him soup and just as he was about to fall asleep, he rolled over and asked, “Will you marry me?”
Is that a feminist-revenge twist on rape drugs?

Large boulder the size of a small boulder.

"Ann, I need your assessment. I thought Dershowitz was excellent but I’m not a lawyer nor a law professor. You are. Give him a grade, Professor."

Wrote M. Jordan in the comments to my post, "I will now give you a list of presidents who in our history have been accused of abusing their power, who would be subject to impeachment under the House Manager’s view of the Constitution," which quotes from the transcript of Alan Dershowitz speaking to the Senate last night.

That comment thread got off to an acrimonious start, with Annie C. saying: "Rats. When I saw your post in the cafe, I thought you were going to write what you thought about his presentation." In last night's café, people were talking about Dershowitz, and I said I'd watched and "Will write about it in the morning."

Am I writing about it if all I do is choose a passage and boldface 3 sentences of it? My answer to Annie C. — at 6:27 AM — was: "Push me to be useful and I will be even less useful."

I put up 3 more posts and went out for my sunrise run. Sunrise came at 7:18 this morning, and whatever I've said I will do "in the morning," the sunrise time is locked in. Unlike constitutional law interpretation, but sunrise is very precise.

Alan Dershowitz was concerned about precision and vagueness. He said "precisely" 5 times and  "precise" once. ("Another constitutional rule of construction is that when words can be interpreted in an unconstitutionally vague manner or in a constitutionally precise manner, the latter must be chosen.") He said "vague" or "vagueness" 20 times. Example:
Instead of answering my arguments... on their merits and possible demerits, they have simply been rejected with negative epithets. I urge the senators to ignore these epithets and to consider the arguments and counter arguments on their merits, especially those directed against the unconstitutional vagueness of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. I now offer a criteria for evaluating conflicting arguments. The criteria that I offer, I have long called the shoe on the other foot test...
In the last night's café, rhhardin said "Dershowitz thinks criteria is singular in number."

Out on my run, I thought about what Dershowitz said, and when I got back, I added to this morning's comments thread: "For the record, I was not convinced by D's argument and on reflection, I disagree with him. It would take some trouble to explain why, and I may do that later."

Precisely as I was writing that, M. Jordan was asking his question, the question you see in the post title above. It's easy for me to get started answering that question, hence this new post.

Here's how I graded when I graded students. I gave a question, and I judged them based on how they answered the question asked. I gave zero points for anything not responsive to my question, and then I converted the points to letter grades by following a required curve. So letter grades didn't mean too much to me. It was all comparative. But the points meant a lot, and you only got points for understanding the question and giving me material that got at the question.

I didn't give Dershowitz a question. To think in my lawprofessorly way about grades, I would have to infer a question that I might have asked.

I think that question should be: Restate the constitutional phrase "high crimes and misdemeanors" into a workable standard that the House and the Senate can and should use today and in the future in all cases of presidential impeachment. Explain your choice using all of the methodologies of constitutional interpretation that you deem appropriate (and explain why you are deciding this approach to interpretation is appropriate).

Do you think he did that? Read the transcript.

Is this smugness? It feels to me more like desolation and — triggered by one very silly image — loss of composure.

One more problem with the man in shorts.

"Man arrested with 30 phones in cycling shorts after rock gig" (BBC).

"It would be hard to design more opportune conditions for new viruses to emerge: Tightly pack together a variety of species from around the world..."

"... and transport them across borders directly into large wet markets. Ensure that these massively stressed and immunocompromised wild animals are in close proximity to domestic and farmed animals. Then distribute these animals to urban populations for consumption.... On state-monitored Chinese social media, a hashtag that translates as 'support a ban on wild meat markets,' originating from the government People's Daily, has been among the highest trending topics on Weibo over the past week. Another popular hashtag is 'the source of the new coronavirus is wild animals.' Among the messages from Chinese users: 'I hope that laws and regulations can be formulated in the future, when someone eats and sells wild meat, catch and sentence them directly,' and, 'Reject wild meat, for your and my health.'"

From "Abolish Asia's 'Wet Markets,' Where Pandemics Breed" a Wall Street Journal column by a global veterinarian and a director of the Wildlife Conservation Society.

"I will now give you a list of presidents who in our history have been accused of abusing their power, who would be subject to impeachment under the House Manager’s view of the Constitution."

"George Washington, refusal to turn over documents related to the Jay Treaty. John Adams signing and enforcing the alien and sedition laws. Thomas Jefferson purchasing Louisiana without congressional authorization. I’ll go on. John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Bern, John Tyler, arbitrary despotic and corrupt use of the veto power... Abraham Lincoln accused Polk of abusing his power of his office, contemptuously disregarding the constitution, usurping the role of Congress and assuming the role of dictator. He didn’t seek to impeach him. He just sought to defeat him. Abraham Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln was accused of abusing his power for suspending the writ of habeas Corpus during the Civil War. President Grant, Grover Cleveland, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, William Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan... [The Clinton/Gore campaign said] 'George H.W. Bush... and his administration have abused their governmental power for political purposes.' That’s how abuse of power should be used, as campaign rhetoric. It should be in statements issued by one political party against the other. That’s the nature of the term. Abuse of power is a political weapon and it should be leveled against political opponents. Let the public decide.... Barack Obama — the House committee on the judiciary, held an entire hearing entitled Obama Administration’s abuse of power.... It is inconceivable that the framers would have intended so politically loaded and promiscuously deployed a term as abuse of power to be weaponized as a tool of impeachment."

From Alan Dershowitz Defense Argument Transcript: Trump Impeachment Trial January 27.

January 27, 2020

It was another type #1 sunrise.


Talk about anything you want in the comments.

Are you listening to the mild dronings of the President's lawyers?

Have you been half asleep and have you heard voices? I hear them calling Trump's name...

The Washington Post presents Madison, Wisconsin as "the quintessential college town — packed with trendy restaurants, bars and shops — and is likely to satisfy all tastes."

That means that Madison (to quote the OED definition of "quintessential") is "the purest, most typical, or most refined" example of a college town. I'm not believing that. I think the purest example of a college town wouldn't be tainted by being the state capital. And it wouldn't be a huge university either, but a college. And it would be an actual town, not a city. The most college town college town I've ever seen is Williamstown, Massachusetts. If you want to talk about quintessence.

Anyway, here's the WaPo article. Who am I to quibble with the choices of restaurants and concert venues (just because I live here)?
The carefully planned area around the Capitol building, called Capitol Square, is packed with trendy restaurants, bars, shops and music venues that appeal to residents as well as visitors. And the campus? It's a straight shot down State Street, past about a mile of beer and coffee bars, restaurants, boutiques, ice cream shops, a modern art museum and performing arts center.
I love the phrase "a mile of beer."
It’s a place where you can get your fill of traditional Wisconsin indulgences, like Friday night fish fries and old-fashioneds made with brandy, while finding a healthy balance, as the locals do, in countless outdoor activities — water sports, cycling and running in warmer months; cross-country skiing, snow shoeing and ice fishing during the long winter.
I'll just say I don't think the locals confine cycling and running to "warmer months." You've got to have some special skills to be one of the winter cyclists, but they're out there, and Madison runners run all winter. The only question is whether it's warm enough to wear shorts, and there are plenty of locals who say yes on any random above-zero day.

"What expectations of privacy do friends and partners have a right to when hanging out with someone whose job or hobby it is to share everything about their day-to-day?"

"Where do we draw the line between self-expression and unwarranted exposure? If their friends are sharing every single day of their lives, can they reasonably expect to be asked for consent every single day?"

Asks Hayley Phelan in "Will You Be My #Content?/For social media influencers and oversharers, life is full of material. But what if their friends don’t want to be the co-stars?" by (NYT).

The answer to "If their friends are sharing every single day of their lives, can they reasonably expect to be asked for consent every single day?" is: YES!

This is like the question whether marital rape is possible. There used to be a theory that you gave your consent once and for all or that your status as spouse equals consent.

Obviously, there are some differences. Rape is a crime and writing about people who don't want to be written about is not a crime and cannot be made into a crime. But we're talking about taking advantage of your intimate access to other people and the ethics of how you are treating them.
“These are the questions I grapple with on a daily basis,” said Caroline Calloway, 28, the Instagrammer whose viral shenanigans have garnered her 722,000 followers and plenty of headlines.
Yet this fall, when she began dating a model, she started to rethink her strategy. “I’ve learned firsthand how much it can complicate a relationship,” she said.... While she continued to share personal conversations and details of their sex life, she also went to great lengths to keep his identity hidden, disguising his face by placing a bright blue butterfly emoji over it in the posts....
We're not told whether he consented to any or all of that.
In “Discipline and Punish,” the French philosopher Michel Foucault theorized that the mere suggestion of surveillance is enough to alter our behavior, as we internalize expectations and monitor ourselves in an effort to conform to them. This was, to Foucault, ultimately more threatening to an individual’s personal freedom than actually being locked up behind bars....

"For some Democrats, it’s a scenario they say they’ve dreaded and feared: waking up to the reality that the 78-year-old Vermont senator, an independent who has reshaped party policy and promised to bring a revolution to Washington, has a real shot..."

"... at capturing the nomination. For the Sanders campaign, it’s been part rallying cry, part admonition: At events across Iowa this weekend, the candidate and his top surrogates repeatedly warned of a coming fight with forces that would try to stop them, at points celebrating the clash, at points cautioning supporters to stay positive.... 'In these last eight days, things are gonna get crazy,' Ocasio-Cortez said on Sunday. 'I don't even know what's gonna happen. And that's why we've gotta stay focused and committed as possible. And let's make it joyous, y'all... Let's make it joyous.'... Michael Moore... told supporters, 'The knives are out. The rich woke up this morning, and they read these articles and they're like, "Oh no, oh no, what are we going to do?" So we'll see what they're going to do.'... The 11 candidates in the race have largely declined to attack Sanders directly...."

From BuzzFeedNews.

ADDED: Here's how the new Iowa polls look today, with Bernie spiking. Look at that, and then answer this:

In this last week, will we see the other candidates attack Bernie directly?
pollcode.com free polls

"After thousands of public votes, the winners of the Art of Building Photographer of the Year 2019 have been announced."

Click through to BBC to see the fantastic pictures.

"These aren’t easy days for travel touts.... I couldn’t help feeling a few pangs of sympathy for the writers and editors who put together The New York Times’ recent Travel package '52 Places to Go in 2020.'"

"... Far more apparent in this year’s roundup, however, was the running theme of 'responsible tourism.' Words like 'sustainability,' 'green,' and 'conservation' were shoved into every other euphoric blurb... In Sicily, grassroots groups have pledged to use less plastic. In Uganda, proceeds from gorilla trekking permits go toward conservation efforts.... It’s all bullshit, of course. A 2018 study published in the journal Nature Climate Change announced tourism alone—that’s nonessential pleasure travel—is responsible for 8 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. The traveling public is freaking out. It knows about flight shaming; it loves Greta Thunberg; and it’s ready to bid au revoir to Volvic, Dasani, and plastic straws. But it still wants to sit on a beach in Aruba. This puts travel media in a tricky spot.... It’s easy to make fun of people putting Band-Aids on bullet wounds. And the Times’ spin on sea-level rise at Grand Isle, Louisiana—'Does a place appear more hauntingly beautiful when you know it’s disappearing?'—was tastelessly macabre....  [A]s the world becomes ever more distressed by over-tourism... the travel journalists we rely on for hot tips and insider advice will simply conjure new ways of assuaging our guilt.... I like travel as much as you do, and I’m not stopping either. Where’s the line between hypocrite and addict?"

From "Why Tourism Should Die—and Why It Won’t /'Sustainable' travel is an oxymoron" by Chuck Thompson in The New Republic.

Also in the article, some quick info on why it's probably impossible to have solar powered jetliners and why virtual reality traveling doesn't make you feel like you're really there and what an addiction expert thinks about the author's idea that travel should be called an addiction.

I'm going to try to answer the question "Where’s the line between hypocrite and addict?" I'll say it's whether shame works.

"I'm sure he thanks y'all."

WaPo suspends a journalist who reacted to Kobe Bryant's death by tweeting a link to the 2016 Daily Beast article "Kobe Bryant’s Disturbing Rape Case: The DNA Evidence, the Accuser’s Story, and the Half-Confession."

The Daily Mail reports.
[Felicia] Sonmez says she has received death threats after posting the tweets. In follow-up tweets, Sonmez wrote: ‘Well, THAT was eye-opening. To the 10,000 people (literally) who have commented and emailed me with abuse and death threats, please take a moment and read the story - which was written 3+ years ago, and not by me. Any public figure is worth remembering in their totality even if that public figure is beloved and that totality unsettling.... That folks are responding with rage and threats toward me (someone who didn’t even write the piece but found it well-reported) speaks volumes about the pressure people come under to stay silent in these cases.’

In another follow-up tweet, Sonmez wrote: ‘As an addendum: Hard to see what’s accomplished by messages such as these. If your response to a news article is to resort to harassment and intimidation of journalists, you might want to consider that your behavior says more about you than the person you’re targeting.’
Sonmez deleted these tweets, but of course, they were preserved by her antagonists and there were demands that WaPo fire her (or send her to Wuhan, China to cover the spread of the coronavirus).

The reaction to the Sonmez tweets has brought more attention to the rape charges against Bryant. The Daily Mail takes advantage of the occasion to spell out all the details. If Sonmez violated journalistic standards by bringing up negative material about a recently deceased person, does a story about Sonmez's alleged violation not commit the same violation (if it is a violation)? Or does Sonmez's going first immunize everyone who goes after, as long as they present Sonmez as the story?

I suspect Sonmez thought we were living in the #MeToo era, and we don't participate in the hiding of the rape stories of eminent men anymore.

Why can't John Bolton's publisher just release the book ahead of schedule so we're not subjected to second-hand reports of what's in it?

Here's the book (in Kindle form), on Amazon, scheduled for release on March 17th. Yes, there are commercial interests here, but there are overriding national interests... unless there are not.

So which is it? Like a lot of other people, I'm trying to extract the real meaning of the NYT article, "Trump Tied Ukraine Aid to Inquiries He Sought, Bolton Book Says/Drafts of the book outline the potential testimony of the former national security adviser if he were called as a witness in the president’s impeachment trial."

We're haggling and agonizing about whether Bolton can testify at the impeachment trial, as if he's a crucial repository of information that can only be delivered through live testimony, but that book exists. It's just being withheld — withheld and teased, through people who are very antagonistic to Trump.

It reminds me of the way Trump antagonists began this impeachment process with inflammatory reports of what Trump said in the Ukraine phone call. But there was a transcript of that phone call, and Trump changed the conversation about it by releasing the transcript.

Release the damned book!
Mr. Bolton’s explosive account of the matter at the center of Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial, the third in American history, was included in drafts of a manuscript he has circulated in recent weeks to close associates. He also sent a draft to the White House for a standard review process for some current and former administration officials who write books.... The White House could use the pre-publication review process, which has no set time frame, to delay or even kill the book’s publication or omit key passages.
So, the book is already circulating to outsiders as part of the review process, and the White House is being given an opening to assert executive privilege and suppress all or part of the book. Everything will still come out, one way or another. It's already dribbling out, in a distorted form.
The White House did not provide responses to questions about Mr. Bolton’s assertions, and representatives for Mr. Johnson, Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Mulvaney did not respond to emails and calls seeking comment on Sunday afternoon.

Mr. Bolton’s lawyer blamed the White House for the disclosure of the book’s contents. “It is clear, regrettably, from the New York Times article published today that the pre-publication review process has been corrupted and that information has been disclosed by persons other than those properly involved in reviewing the manuscript,” the lawyer, Charles J. Cooper, said Sunday night.
Trump had the power to release the transcript of the Ukraine phone call, but it's not so easy to release somebody else's book. There's a big commercial interest here, and it seems that Bolton's cashing in on his intimacy with the President is more important that serving the people as we are subjected to this impeachment ordeal. The manuscript is out there, and many people are reading it, but it's the pre-publication review process, and — big surprise — it's leaking. Well, that's to be expected, and now we're reading the leaks as the NYT chooses to present them, presumably in the hope of opening up the Senate trial. And from Bolton's camp, what we hear is crying over corruption of the process — not the Senate trial process, the pre-publication review process.

If the pre-publication review process is more important than giving us what's in the book while the Senate trial is going on, then I'm guessing what's in the book is nothing we haven't already heard about Trump and Ukraine. And if the White House is the source of the leak — which is the story from the Bolton camp — that's all the more reason to think the book is nothing special.

January 26, 2020

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk about whatever you like.


Kobe Bryant has died.

"But Jeanne is less interested in men than she is in the park’s newest amusement: a twinkling Tilt-a-Whirl she calls Jumbo."

"Massive and glowing, the ride by night looks less like a ride than an otherworldly spacecraft, radiating mystic light and energy. Scrubbing down its bulb fixtures in the dark, Jeanne will straddle the structure’s arms and sometimes talk idly, more comfortable speaking to herself than to any of the park’s daytime visitors. She’s content to live her life this way, until she slips and nearly dies one night, and the ride begins to come alive.... 'We are good together, aren’t we?' Jeanne coos to Jumbo at one point, which responds by blinking its lights in colorful patterns. Later, when Jumbo seems to go quiet, Jeanne cries, 'Don’t leave me alone with them!' In her world, humans have always been a 'them'; being with Jumbo is the first time she’s felt part of an 'us.'"

From "The Wild Sundance Movie About a Woman in Love With a Theme-Park Ride" (Daily Beast).

Sounds like an episode of "Twilight Zone."

What's the greatest pop recording written in the least possible time? The one to beat is "Wipe Out."

"I’ve spent a decade chasing a sub-three-hour marathon. How much do I want it? Enough to let technology take some of the credit?"

Wonders Jamie Doward in "Vaporfly shoes will help me reach my marathon dream. Should I use them?/After years of trying to beat the three-hour barrier, new technology could get me there. Or is that cheating?"
Bryce Dyer, a sports technologist and specialist in product design at Bournemouth University, told Reuters they were “the equivalent of bringing a gun to a knife fight”. Others draw comparisons with Speedo’s controversial LZR swimsuit, which helped competitors break a host of world records in the pool before being banned.

The backlash against the shoes began in running forums almost immediately after their launch. “Like putting springs on your feet,” one person said. “Should be banned.”

The children are the future. Get ready.

AdyBarkan's bio reads: "Fighting for social justice + America's democracy. Living with @rachael_scar, Carl, and Willow, in Santa Barbara. Dying of ALS. Author of 'Eyes to the Wind.'"

This is a parent who is no Trump fan, but he's so proud of "Art of the Deal" talent in his own toddler.

And it makes me wonder, what qualities do you love to see developing in your young child that you loathe when you encounter them fully developed in adults?

IN THE COMMENTS: rehajm detects "Sarcasm." And Fernandistein says:
Um (don't you hate it when people write that?), I think he's actually trying to say that Trump acts like a 3-year old because they share some characteristics; they both walk and eat, etc. It's a very clever idea, especially when you consider that it was co-opted by this progressive activist.
I admit I didn't read it as an intentional slap at Trump, but I do think rehajm and Fernandistein are right. I attribute my insensitivity to sarcasm to my recent exposure to TikTok videos featuring toddlers arguing in the manner of an asshole adult. These videos are received as delightful and celebrated on TikTok, and I'm always thinking: You are really making a horrible mistake here.

Note that Ady Barkan does not mention Trump. He's trusting his readers to make the connection. My mistake was to make the connection without giving him credit for expecting me to do that. So let me make up for that by linking to his book, "Eyes to the Wind," about which Booklist wrote, "The book’s primary question is existential: how to live when you are dying? Barkan’s answer is to share, open up, act, and capital-R Resist, and his memoir, clearly and candidly written, establishes a legacy."

"Imagine looking out at a class full of Schiffs."

I say out loud as I'm overhearing MSNBC where somebody's interviewing Laurence Tribe and saying "Adam Schiff was a student of yours."

"The Real Scare of Jennifer Aniston’s Friends Prank Is How Nobody Loves Rachel."

Writes Devon Ivie at Vulture about this segment of the "Ellen" TV show, which Aniston guest hosted on Friday:

"[S]he squatted behind the famous couch and jumped out to scare those unsuspecting tourists [who were visiting the 'Friends' set]— but by the sixth round of people declaring their love for every Friends character besides Rachel Green, we can’t help but feel Aniston herself is the one being pranked here. (Someone even said Ross is their favorite. Ross!)"

By the way, Ross is my favorite Friend.

ADDED: I watched the Aniston guest-host show, and it gave me a lot of respect for Ellen. It's hard to seem natural in the phony-baloney role of afternoon-talk-show woman. Aniston just won a Screen Actors Guild for playing the role of a TV-talk-show woman in some Apple TV series called "Morning Show" or some generic title like that. And Aniston's "Ellen" appearance was completely scripted, so all Aniston needed to do was to be a TV actress, which she most certainly is, at the highest level. But I could feel the fakeness. I guess fiction shows have an understood fakeness to them. The additional ease and naturalness that Ellen enacts is not something Aniston was able to achieve.

"I went to the press gallery one afternoon to check out the tableau vivant. The visitors’ gallery was only half full, and there was none of the passion and titillation..."

"... that infused the Clinton impeachment.... One Democratic Senate staffer mourned the apathy. 'Our phones aren’t ringing,' he told me. 'Nobody cares. It’s the saddest thing ever.' One side of the room seemed to be smirking.... Seated at the back of the class, Mitt Romney looked dutiful, and the thought must have crossed his mind that’s he’s in a position to inflict payback on Trump for calling him 'a pompous ass' and tricking him into an interview for secretary of state only to humiliate him. (Revenge is a dish best served with milk.) But more senators on the Republican side were telegraphing boredom....  [T]he more impressive the Democrats’ case is, the more depressing the reality becomes. They want to convince themselves that character matters. But many Americans knew they were voting for a thug. They wanted a thug who would bust up Washington, and they got one."

Writes Maureen Dowd in her new NYT column.

For the list of things that must have crossed Mitt Romney's mind, I have enough respect for his character and intelligence that I'm willing to bet he has considered that it is true that he is a pompous ass. I imagine that thought surrounded by other thoughts like: There's an important place in this world for pompous asses, and it's impossible to be an upstanding, righteous person without appearing to be what they call a pompous ass, and pompous ass is a fair characterization by human beings who are necessarily beset by multitudinous failings and I must carry the load of that epithet precisely because they can see that my failings are distinctly less than theirs.

AND: My phone isn't ringing. Nobody cares. It’s the saddest thing ever. Sounds like a lament from a female teenager from back in the days when people talked on the phone. Here's the song that drifted through my head...

Lonely, I'm Mr. Lonely/I have nobody for my own/I am so lonely, I'm Mr. Lonely//Wish I had someone to call on the phone....

"Those who have mastered etiquette, who are entirely, impeccably right, would seem to arrive at a point of exquisite dullness."

"The letters and the conversations of the correct, as quoted by Mrs. Post, seem scarcely worth the striving for. The rules for the finding of topics of conversation fall damply on the spirit. 'You talk of something you have been doing or thinking about—planting a garden, planning a journey, contemplating a journey, or similar safe topics. Not at all a bad plan is to ask advice: "We want to motor through the South. Do you know about the roads?" Or, "I’m thinking of buying a radio. Which make do you think is best?"' I may not dispute Mrs. Post. If she says that is the way you should talk, then, indubitably, that is the way you should talk. But though it be at the cost of that future social success I am counting on, there is no force great enough ever to make me say, 'I’m thinking of buying a radio.'"

From "MRS. POST ENLARGES ON ETIQUETTE/A book of many rules" by Dorothy Parker, published December 24, 1927 in The New Yorker (and called attention to in email sent by The New Yorker this morning).

"As one delves deeper and deeper into 'Etiquette,' disquieting thoughts come. That old Is-It-Worth-It Blues starts up again, softly, perhaps, but plainly."