March 7, 2020

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk all you want.

"Roswell finally outed himself as rich when he volunteered to front the travel costs for a group of Oberlin students who wanted to attend a climate-change conference."

"That’s when two housemates told him about an organization called Resource Generation (RG). A nonprofit group based in New York, Resource Generation focuses on organizing wealthy young people to recognize their unearned privilege, make peace with it — and then relinquish much of it by giving away a large percentage of their money.... At conferences, in webinars and in local working groups, and through RG books and peer-to-peer mentorship, members learn how to shed entitled assumptions. One bedrock Resource Generation practice is educating members to work closely with community organizations in what it calls 'right relationship' — not dictating how donated funds should be used, but supporting local leaders, who are often poor or working class and are closest to the problems they seek to address.... According to Roswell, his mother, for one, worries that he is moving too quickly, making reckless decisions about enormous sums.... 'I think the mirror I’ve been holding up has been helpful, and that my family is changing how they’re approaching their own giving.' Ultimately, however, philanthropy’s real goal, he says, should be 'to make itself not exist anymore.'"

From "The Millennials Who Want to Get Rid of Their Class Privilege/Their families built fortunes. These young people joined a group that coaches them on how to give the money away" (WaPo).

Photographs at the link include one with the caption "Resource Generation member David Roswell and girlfriend Maggie Heraty at his kiln in Durham, N.C." But there was nothing in the article about his kiln. Nothing other than the note that "in addition to his political organizing [he] spends his days working as a ceramist." Is "ceramist" (i.e, potter) his career or is it some pastime or affectation? I think it would be nice to have secure independent wealth and to "spend one's days" doing pottery but difficult to rid yourself of all your wealth and depend on pottery for a living.

"Democrats are about twice as likely as Republicans to say the coronavirus poses an imminent threat to the United States, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted this week."

"And more Democrats than Republicans say they are taking steps to be prepared, including washing their hands more often or limiting their travel plans. Poll respondents who described themselves as Republicans and did not see the coronavirus as a threat said it still felt remote because cases had not been detected close to home and their friends and neighbors did not seem to be worried, either."

Reuters reports.

"MSNBC used to run this thing: this is who we are. Well, I didn’t like who you were this week, and I don’t think a lot of people who work there liked this either..."

".... and I think this ‘cancel culture’ is a cancer on progressivism... Liberals always have to fight a two-front war. Republicans only have to fight the Democrats; Democrats have to fight the Republicans, and each other."

Said Bill Maher, quoted in "Bill Maher Goes Full Sexist, Defends Chris Matthews and Mocks His Sexual Harassment Accuser/It was a truly ugly, outrageously sexist display from the 'Real Time' host" (The Daily Beast).
According to Maher, Matthews “said some things that are kind of creepy to women,” continuing, “You know, I just, guys are married for a million years, they want to flirt for two seconds. He said to somebody, Laura Bassett, four years ago, she’s in makeup, he said, ‘Why haven’t I fallen in love with you yet?’ Yes, it is creepy. She said, ‘I was afraid to name him at the time out of fear of retaliation. I’m not afraid anymore.’ Thank you, Rosa Parks. I mean, Jesus fucking Christ! I guess my question is: Do you wonder how Democrats lose?"...

"I suspect what prevents people from trying ice fishing, besides its reputation for being unpleasant, boring and dangerous, is not realizing..."

"... that guides exist. A guided trip — like a nature tour mixed with a deep-sea fishing charter, minus the seasickness — helps anglers safely visit spots and does away with the guesswork and hassle of gear and bait," writes Steve Macone in "Ice Fishing Is Fun!/No, really. A trip with a New Hampshire guide reveals how much the sport has evolved, while keeping the eternal battle of angler and fish at its heart" (NYT).
And today we’ll be fishing with Clay Groves, a licensed New Hampshire fishing guide, obsessive fisherman — he once went on a quest to catch and eat all 48 legal species in the state, and host of “Fish Nerds,” a podcast that brings together — “codifies?” — people interested in fish, fishing and eating fish, covering everything from biology to cooking. A former science teacher, Mr. Groves hosts like a cross between Click & Clack of “Car Talk” and Bill Nye the Science Guy....

"In the early 1980s, his wife inherited roughly 1,000 acres near Macon, Georgia. He farmed yellow pine and built a fancy hunting camp..."

"... called Charlane Plantation (the name a fusion of his own and his wife’s, Rose Lane, a former assistant to the vice president of Capricorn Records in the ’70s), now about 2,900 acres. Leavell hosts wealthy clients, usually hard-core Stones fans, who hunt quail by day and drink liquor by night while listening to Leavell play piano. 'It’s like bringing the audience to you, instead of having to go on tour,' he says."

From "Mick and Keith—And Chuck: The Rolling Stones’ Essential, Unsung Rock-and-Roll Hero/Chuck Leavell, the Stones’ piano player and road musical director, keeps the musical peace between Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, and the sacred book of Stones tunes. 'How does it end?' he says. 'Nobody knows'" (Vanity Fair).

Here's the website for Charlane Plantation. In the sidebar there's a list of articles about the place: "'Without Wood There Would Be Hardly Any Music’: Chuck Leavell Talks Forest Preservation," "The Rolling Stones keyboardist shares his passion for music and sustainable forestry," "Chuck Leavell helping to conserve Macon’s natural habitats," "Macon Telegraph: More river land in Middle Georgia is forever preserved, and a rock star is part of it," "Charlane Plantation – Backyard conservation for kids."

Sunrise, 6:30 a.m.


Actual sunrise time, 6:24. It will be much later tomorrow, with Daylight Savings beginning tonight. Having awoken before 4 the last few mornings, I am ready for the clock to spring forward to where I already am.

"When I was in my late 20s... [m]y parents left me a seven-figure inheritance, in cash.... I took about two or three months off work, to execute everything..."

"... filing taxes, converting the cash into an investment portfolio. I wanted to park the money somewhere and not have to pay attention to it. After that, I just went back to work and tried to resume my normal life.... I’ve now had this money for three years.... I’ve already grown the portfolio by 50 percent. I haven’t spent any of it. I just reinvest the dividends and leave it alone. I make around $75,000 a year from my day job, and that’s enough for me to support myself and go on vacation and stuff like that. I haven’t talked to anyone about my inheritance. I’ve never told my friends, and I don’t have any other close family members.... My parents had a non-flashy, stealth-wealth lifestyle, and I’m the same way. I don’t even have a car. I don’t wear any labels. I ride a bike everywhere. I make my lunches. Nothing I do would elicit people to think, 'How does she afford this?'.... I think the biggest thing I’ve learned from this experience, and working for over ten years now, is that your job doesn’t have as much of a relationship to your net worth as many people think."

From "Inherited Millions and I’m Hiding It From Everyone" (New York Magazine).

ADDED: The anonymous writer of that piece also writes anonymously at Financial Orchid/Budgeting for Generational Wealth. I see a post about a Cracker Barrel restaurant. And "10 Frugal Ways to Land a Winning Next Date." The main idea is: Go for a walk!

Here's a woman who absolutely does not have a clothes chair.

It's easy to see why we as a group want children. We need new generations. But why does any individual, when given a choice, want a child of one's own?

In "Nothing Natural" (London Review of books, reviewing "Full Surrogacy Now: Feminism against Family" by Sophie Lewis), Jenny Turner writes:
Why does anyone want children, if they don’t need them and aren’t forced to have them? What are all these babies and children for?

Individuals, Lewis suggests, may be seeking to keep a husband, extend a lineage, win status and standing as a prize breeder of ‘personal mascots, psychic crutches, heirs, scapegoats and fetishes’...
"Personal mascots" — that really struck me.

And yet, it's not that hard to use the tricks of language to characterize anything anybody wants to do as actually quite selfish... and rather disgusting. Those who are especially good at this often become writers.

March 6, 2020

At the Western Sunrise Café...


... you can talk about whatever you like.

(The sunrise this morning was plain gray in the east. The western view was more detailed and interesting. This is a good metaphor. Sometimes you go out to see something — or someone — specific, but what you went out for is not there or is nowhere near what you had in mind. Look around. You are out. You might see something else.)

"Woody Allen Memoir Dropped by Hachette After Staff Walkout."

The Hollywood Reporter reports.
A source tells THR that following the announcement, HBG staff were surprised yet also relieved, clapping and cheering over the news.

Thursday's walkout included employees from imprints Little, Brown and Company, which released Ronan Farrow's Catch and Kill, and Grand Central Publishing, which announced Monday that it would be releasing Allen's memoir April 7. Following the announcement, Farrow stated he would be ending his relationship with Hachette. Farrow, Allen's son, has repeatedly stated he believes his sister Dylan Farrow's allegations that the filmmaker sexually abused her as a child.

Dylan tweeted about HBG's decision to no longer publish Allen's memoir, writing "I'm in awe and so very grateful." Ronan also shared on social media that he was "grateful to all the Hachette employees who spoke up and to the company for listening."...
By the way, here's a critical review of "Catch and Kill" by Anne Diebel (in The New York Review of Books). Unfortunately, you need a subscription, and I can't excerpt anything because I consumed it by ear via Audm.

"But it’s just possible that the creaky machinery of an aging brain might make a president better at the job...."

"[Neuroscientist Gregory Samanez-Larki] and his colleagues... recently found evidence that older adults are better at keeping their emotions and impulses in check.... Moreover, Samanez-Larkin says, the set of skills known as 'decision making' does not decline in any predictable way during normal aging. The interns might be whizzes at a chalkboard, but faced with complex decisions—whether to buy a new TV, say, rather than how to use it adroitly once they have it—the fogies match and sometimes outperform them. The question then becomes: Is being president more like having to do a lot of math problems, or more like having to contain one’s emotions and make difficult decisions? It might be both: Presidents need to have a spry brain, capable of assimilating new information and rapidly adding it to their cognitive repertoire. But the job is, most crucially, about making decisions—extremely difficult decisions that are, unlike arithmetic, matters of judgment and value. The rightness of a decision is often unknowable ex ante. In these treacherous exercises, the elderly do not do badly, and impetuous youngsters sometimes come very close to getting us all killed.... The more presidents slow down, the more decisions get made by other people.... And perhaps we’d all be better served if other people—and not Biden, Sanders, or Trump—were making decisions. I see ample reason to question the soundness of the judgment of all three men.... Samanez-Larkin says he welcomes the prospect of a really old president. Stigma against the elderly is worth fighting, he says, and cognitive decline could be balanced out by the wisdom of age...."

From "The Upside to Having an Old President/As presidents slow down, more decisions get made by other people" by Graeme Woode (in The Atlantic).

"Every UT alum from 1965 to 2000 seems to remember (or, 'remember') hitting Sam & Andy’s for... those soft, steamy, chewy sandwiches, but nobody seems to know precisely..."

"... when the Fresh-O-Matic intersected with the hoagie. I asked Neely, hoping that as the doyen of Knoxville pop-history he would have some information long forgotten by other Vols of his generation. 'I had this romantic idea,' he said, 'like something from a Ken Burns story. … I knew that before ever opening a restaurant, the Captains were hatmakers; therefore, they would have had steamers around the shop. I imagined that one day they just said, Hey! Let’s try these steamers on some sandwiches!' Before I even realized that a folklore nugget of this caliber should be regarded with some suspicion, Neely let me down gently: 'Unfortunately, that turned out not to be true.' However, he handed off a vague memory of having read something about the origin in a 1990s newspaper column, and that was enough to get me as close to the truth as I’ll ever get.... 'Up in Yankeeland they like those cold sandwiches — and some of them up there heat the sandwiches up in the pizza oven or rotisserie ovens,' Captain says from behind his counter. 'Hillbillies down here, they like that soft bread.'"

From "'They Like That Soft Bread'/In the mountains of East Tennessee, folks have a particular fondness for a sandwich that’s spent a few seconds in a Fresh-O-Matic steamer. Knoxvillians know that soft-bread love in their bones, but nobody seems to know exactly where it comes from. Chelsey Mae Johnson aimed to find out" (The Bitter Southerner).

I found this lovely article via Audm (an app that plays audio versions of high-quality magazine articles). But I had to go to the Bitter Southerner webpage to get my first mental image of a Fresh-O-Matic. Lots of nice photographs at that link.

I also learned that the word "hoagie" began in 1936 (in Philadelphia):
“After witnessing a friend devour a large sandwich and thinking he was a hog to eat it all at once,” sandwich shop proprietor Al De Palma introduced a pile of cold cuts on a long Italian roll and called it a “hoggie.” Soon, “competitors in the Philadelphia area copied his sandwich and sold it under various names, including hoogie, hogie, and horgy. By 1950 … the sandwich became commonly known as the hoagie.”

A ridiculous mix of masculinity and femininity, so absurd you're in no danger of believing or empathizing.

It's Bill Clinton, quoted in "Bill Clinton Explains Monica Lewinsky Affair as ‘Managing My Anxieties’/Mr. Clinton was asked about the scandal for the Hulu documentary series 'Hillary'" (NYT):
"You feel like you’re staggering around — you’ve been in a 15-round prizefight that was extended to 30 rounds, and here’s something that’ll take your mind off it for a while,” Mr. Clinton says. “Everybody’s life has pressures and disappointments and terrors, fears of whatever, things I did to manage my anxieties for years."
He pictures himself as a boxer going 20 rounds, then suddenly he's in Oprahesque confessional mode,  offering up bullshit bonbons of self-insight. Don't eat that. But it's good for a laugh.

But it's really not so funny. He says "something that’ll take your mind off it" and "things I did." But the thing was a human being — a woman. Even as he's trying to present himself as having reflected and gained perspective and wisdom, he's still speaking of Monica Lewinsky as an object, understood in terms of what she did for him. His new insight is only to diminish the use she had. He ought to have managed his anxieties better, but at the time he took advantage of her — you know, of the thing.

Math is hard.

Bernie Sanders has a clothes chair.

"You know what we're talking about. The chair. The one surface in the house designated not for sitting, but for dumping laundry on when you're just too lazy to fold it, wash it, or put it away. It's a habit that haunts Americans nationwide, and evidently, it even affects the Sanders household.... The living room features wall-to-wall carpeting, shelves cluttered with knick knacks and framed photos, and a single chair piled with folded clothing and topped off with a photo that appears to be of Sanders and his wife, Jane" (Mashable).

Detected through this tweet from his son Levi Sanders:

QUESTIONS: Would Bernie Sanders just let America's problems pile up like that? Does Donald Trump have a clothes chair?

AND: Here's a NYT article from August 2018, "Levi Sanders Is Not His Father. He Keeps Telling That to Voters":
When told that he seemed less than relaxed, he replied: “I’m not stiff. I do yoga.”

Asked to define himself, he offered, “I am not a Romulan. I am not a Vulcan.” (“Star Trek!” he cried, when his reference was met with a blank stare.)

He tried again. “I am a sentient being,” he said.

Trump is 73, the same age Bob Dole was in 1996, when he was treated as absurdly old, and Trump's Democratic opponents are 4 or 5 years older than that.

Do you remember the age issue as it was presented in 1996?

Bill Clinton handled that elegantly, skirting outright ageism and attacking the ideas as old.

A NYT column "Still Running/Is Age-Bashing Any Way to Beat Bob Dole?" from May 5, 1996 noted that indirect approach — "coded partisan formulations" — but also the direct attacks:
[T]he old-guy bashing of Mr. Dole in political cartoons and late-night comedy routines has reached an intensity that makes the jokes about Ronald Reagan in the 1980's seem like gentle kidding. Dole age jokes ("Dole is 96") are now as much a part of popular culture as gibes at Madonna's impending motherhood, and sometimes as mean-spirited.

"Bob Dole is calling himself an optimist," David Letterman said in a recent monologue. "I understand this because a lot of people would look at a glass as half empty. Bob Dole looks at the glass and says, 'What a great place to put my teeth.' "

How is Trump going to bring us together?

Asked and answered at last night's town hall:

"I really believe we're going to win this next election, and when we do, the other side's going to say, okay, that's it, let's get along."

"An investigation of alleged war crimes by the US and others in the Afghan conflict can go ahead, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has ruled."

"The ICC overturned on appeal a previous decision to block the investigation. The actions of the Taliban, the Afghan government and US troops since May 2003 are expected to be examined. But US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the ruling was "reckless" and vowed to protect Americans from it. 'This is a truly breathtaking action by an unaccountable, political institution masquerading as a legal body,' he said. 'All the more reckless for this ruling to come just days after the United States signed a historic peace deal on Afghanistan, which is the best chance for peace in a generation.'"

BBC reports.

"Empty Offices, Full Homes: Covid-19 Might Strain the Internet."

Bloomberg reports.
“As an engineer, I will tell you that we will have the capacity in our system that employees and customers need access to, at times like this,” said Jeff McElfresh, chief executive officer of AT&T Communications, which oversees landline, wireless and TV services. “We can provide the ability to work where customers need to work and help them continue to be productive. It’s something I’m proud of. This is something we do right.”

The phone companies’ underlying confidence in their networks is due, in part, to the fact that the volume of traffic won’t necessarily change. What will change are the patterns. Traffic will originate less from offices with powerful connections and more from residential areas.... Among the biggest network cloggers, or bandwidth hogs, will be popular video and social-media services, like Netflix, YouTube, Facetime and Skype, according to Roger Entner, an analyst with Recon Analytics.

“Video is already 70% of all network traffic,” he said. “The moment you add in videoconferencing to all the shows the kids are watching because schools are closed, it could be a problem if everyone is trying to get on at the same time.”...

"In a context that includes Ebola and MERS, the Covid-19 death rates are much closer to those of the flu, and it’s understandable why people find the comparison reassuring."

"Compare Covid-19 with just the flu, though, and it becomes clear how different they are. The 61,099 flu-related deaths in the U.S. during the severe flu season of 2017-2018 amounted to 0.14% of the estimated 44.8 million cases of influenza-like illness. There were also an estimated flu-related 808,129 hospitalizations, for a rate of 1.8%. Assume a Covid-19 outbreak of similar size in the U.S., multiply the death and hospitalization estimates by five or 10, and you get some really scary numbers: 300,000 to 600,000 deaths, and 4 million to 8 million hospitalizations in a country that has 924,107 staffed hospital beds. Multiply by 40 and, well, forget about it. Also, death rates would go higher if the hospital system is overwhelmed, as happened in the Chinese province of Hubei where Covid-19’s spread began and seems to be happening in Iran now. That’s one reason that slowing the spread is important even if it turns out the disease can’t be stopped. Could Covid-19 really spread as widely as the flu? If allowed to, sure. The standard metric for infectiousness is what’s called the reproduction number, or R0. It is usually pronounced 'R naught,' and the zero after the R should be rendered in subscript, but it’s a simple enough concept. An R0 of one means each person with the disease can be expected to infect one more person. If the number dips below one, the disease will peter out. If it gets much above one, the disease can spread rapidly...."

From "How Bad Is the Coronavirus? Let’s Run the Numbers/The risks posed by Covid-19 — and the possibilities for getting it under control — become clearer with some simple math" (Bloomberg). The graph shows the estimated R0 for Covid-19 at 2.8 and for seasonal flu at 1.3.

March 5, 2020

At the Snow-Melt Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

Do as I say... don't touch your face.

I think I'm getting really good at not touching my face, but what I need help with is avoiding surfaces outside of the safe zone of my own house and decontaminating myself whenever I return to my house. It's not easy! What about when the mail arrives? Is the mail suspect? I've long avoided touching doorknobs and stair railings, just the usual avoiding of colds and the like. But with coronavirus, I'm avoiding touching tabletops and counters, I have a problem handing over my credit card and taking it back, I don't want to pet a dog. If I go out and sit somewhere, when I come back, I want to systematically wash all my clothes. I want to wash my shoes! Not just want to... I am washing a pair of shoes right now.

The New York Times juxtaposes Elizabeth Warren's dropping out of the presidential race with the vast monetary value of women's "unpaid" labor and the news that the Democratic Party does not yet belong to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The top of the home page looks like this now:

1. You don't need me to tell you that Elizabeth Warren has dropped out. The NYT take: "Though her vision excited progressives, that did not translate to enough excitement from the party’s more working-class and diverse base....  Ms. Warren’s political demise was a death by a thousand cuts, not a dramatic implosion but a steady decline.... She invested heavily in the early states, with a ground game that was the envy of her rivals. But it did not pay off...."

2. We're told, in an opinion piece, "Women’s Unpaid Labor is Worth $10,900,000,000,000/If American women earned minimum wage for the unpaid work they do around the house and caring for relatives, they would have made $1.5 trillion last year." I've seen pieces like this all my life, and I'm impressed but not impressed. We all do many things for ourselves — and maybe for family members — that would be expensive if we had to pay someone else to do it for us. But that doesn't mean there's a way to collect money for it. It's a savings of money. If I walk instead of taking a cab, I save money, but I can't get paid for it. There are graphs showing that everywhere in the world women spend more hours in the day doing unpaid work than men do, but they're counting as work the time women spend with their own children. They are contributing value to the family economic unit, not getting ripped off. The man isn't taking unfair advantage if he's working to get money to contribute to the unit. The issue isn't an imbalance of money, but only whether one is working harder than the other or one is more fulfilled than the other.

3. "Why Democrats Are Still Not the Party of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez/In contests for party control between progressives and moderates, electoral and governing results speak for themselves" — this is "news analysis" by Jennifer Steinhauer. The "still" implies that it should be AOC's party or that it's only a matter of time before it is. From the text: "[M]any Democrats began to fret early on that the far left was going to do to them what the Tea Party had done to Republicans a few years back: Run them out of town, one primary at a time. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez previously suggested that Democrats who were not sufficiently loyal to an emergent brand of progressive politics should have others like her run against them in a primary. She is now suggesting that, exit polling be damned, Mr. Biden’s latest string of successes is because of the strong-arming of corporate lobbyists...."

"I want to tell you, Gorsuch; I want to tell you, Kavanaugh: You have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price. You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions."

So raved Chuck Schumer.

This prompted Chief Justice John Roberts to issue a statement:
Justices know that criticism comes with the territory, but threatening statements of this sort from the highest levels of government are not only inappropriate, they are dangerous. All members of the court will continue to do their job, without fear or favor, from whatever quarter.
Roberts's words are carefully chosen, perfectly framed. It's exactly the judgely thing to say, and he had the time and motivation to come up with the absolutely best thing and he got it right. Whether judges are ever intimidated and whether they do respond to political pressure — that's another matter, but it's nothing for the Chief Justice to put in his statement.

As for Chuck Schumer, I used the word "raved," but I don't really know if he got out of control emotionally and spat out ill-chosen words. Maybe he too chose his words carefully and they were perfect for his well-understood purpose. He knew they'd be noticed and he'd be criticized, but that doesn't make it accidental.

Look at the video embedded above. Schumer is reading his remarks. He's rallying an abortion-rights crowd and he's gesturing and using vocal intonation to stimulate their emotion and to get a big response. So I don't really think he's raving. He's playing his role just as carefully as Roberts played his. And I'll bet he could converse intelligently and at length — perhaps in a cozy room with law professors — about the propriety and effectiveness of political pressure aimed at the judiciary.

By the way, Schumer's "released the whirlwind" is, almost certainly, a reference to the Old Testament verse, "They sow the wind/And reap the whirlwind." He's predicting a "whirlwind" that will come as a result of something the Court has not even done. The whirlwind is, I take it, the people's intense reaction if and when the Court ever takes away abortion rights.

Will the coronavirus put an end to campaign rallies?

Are you avoiding crowds? If not yet, at what point would you?

Campaign rallies are a particular problem, because not only are they crowded, but the idea is already out there of deliberately spreading the virus at the campaign rally of a candidate you oppose:
Democratic Denver City Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca faced conservative criticism Tuesday after sharing a meme on Twitter suggesting she stands in “solidarity” with the idea of spreading coronavirus at President Trump’s campaign rallies.
The disease is viral, and the idea is viral.
CdeBaca, apparently posting in jest, had retweeted a meme that said: “For the record, if I do get the coronavirus I’m attending every MAGA rally I can.”
It doesn't matter that some of the people spreading the meme (AKA virus) feel that they are joking. They're like asymptomatic spreaders of coronavirus. They lack awareness that they are dangerous, and that makes them "superspreaders." Others who catch the idea may not confine themselves to the humorous form and may break out into action.

Whether anyone is awful enough to do that, how can you feel trustful in such large groups?

If campaign rallies end, what effect will it have on the 2020 elections? My first thought is that it will hurt Trump because he's so effective at rallies and he seems to have far more capacity to do rallies than his (likely) opponent Joe Biden. And people will think — rightly or wrongly — that Trump is responsible for the virus and maybe getting rid of him will magically chase off the virus. And what if he keeps up with the rallies — because they work for him and because he wants to minimize the problem — and breakouts of virus seem to be traceable to rallies?

There will be conspiracy theories that Trump-haters have spread the virus, whether they did or they did not. There's insane panic down that road.

The cynical part of my mind foisted the next question on me: Which candidate appeals to the insane-panic voter?

The top story today (according to Memeorandum): The dream of a woman President dies early this time around.

In 2016, we had Hillary, and the dream persisted until the morning after Election Day. This time around, in 2020, there was a feeling that maybe this time...

Here's Memeorandum's picture of what's getting read and talked about this morning:

Go here to get clickable links. From the top article, by Jessica Valenti: "Don’t tell me this isn’t about sexism. I’ve been around too long for that. Even just supporting Warren has come with an unbearable amount of misogynist condescension. I’m tired of being told that I’m a single-issue voter because I care about a candidate’s gender...."

The last link — to Michelle Cottle in the NYT — goes to "Maybe Next Time, Ladies."

From the above-embedded song: "Maybe this time I'll be lucky... All the odds are in my favor/Something's bound to begin/It's gotta happen, happen sometime/Maybe this time I'll win...."

That's from a Broadway show. A Broadway show where we know the characters are all doomed.

This idea that it's my turn. Where do people get it?

It's not just women thinking we're entitled to our turn and imagining that I am getting my turn if some co-genderist fulfills her hyper-ambitious dream. It's also the dreary practice of ceding the nomination to the stalwart party-member who's waited his turn most patiently, which is what the Democrats en masse have decided to do this time (and what happened with all the losers in recent memory (2016, 2012, 2008, 2004, 2000, 1996)).

And it's not just about presidential politics. It's the crazy dream that things happen in order. I'll just cite one example: The enthusiastic embrace of the idea that the coronavirus will not kill young people but is coming to pick off the oldest, the ones closest to the end of life anyway. That's a subset of the delusional dream of modern America: That human beings die in the same order that we were born.

No, we don't.

"A woman who was diagnosed with Stage IV terminal breast cancer at the age of 41 has opened up about why she left her husband to explore her sexuality..."

"... in the new six-part podcast Dying for Sex.... Molly underwent a double mastectomy, radiation, chemotherapy, and reconstructive surgery while fighting for her life.... Molly was put on a hormone therapy that [would supposedly] 'squash' her libido, but it actually had the opposite effect on her. 'I literally wanted to hump everyone and everything that I saw.... I was horny all of the time. I felt like a teenager.' ... [W]ith her husband's approval, she embarked on virtual affairs.... She and her husband were in couples therapy when she got a call from her doctor and was told the cancer had spread to her bone and was terminal.... [A]fter Molly shared the devastating news, her husband said: 'Can I get back to why I'm so angry?'... [S]he decided to leave her husband and enjoy her remaining time as a single woman....  'I don't think I would do any of this stuff without the cancer.... Even though I'd, maybe, want to, I'd be a little more cautious about everything... Sex makes me feel alive — and it’s a great distraction from being sick.'... [S]he was no longer as cautious as she used to be. 'What are you going to do to me? Kill me? I’m dying'...."

From "Woman diagnosed with terminal breast cancer reveals she left her husband and entered the dating scene so she could have 'better sex before she died'" (The Daily Mail).

ADDED: This story made me think of the scene in movie "Moonstruck":

Rose: Why do men chase women?

Johnny: Well, there's a Bible story... God... God took a rib from Adam and made Eve. Now maybe men chase women to get the rib back. When God took the rib, he left a big hole there, where there used to be something. And the women have that. Now maybe, just maybe, a man isn't complete as a man without a woman.

Rose: But why would a man need more than one woman?

Johnny: I don't know. Maybe because he fears death.

Rose: That's it! That's the reason!

Johnny: I don't know...

Rose: No! That's it! Thank you! Thank you for answering my question!
This isn't the first time I've quoted that scene on this blog. Previously: "Midlife crisis or narcissistic jerk?" (January 17, 2008).

March 4, 2020

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk about whatever you like.

"Stocks surged on Wednesday as major victories from former Vice President Joe Biden during Super Tuesday sparked a massive rally within the health care sector."

CNBC explains.

What's wrong with this headline: "I’ve never seen anybody mount a comeback like this — ever"?

That's the headline at Politico, quoting Matt Seyfang, "an expert delegate counter who had worked for Pete Buttigieg."

A comeback was mounted, but did Biden mount it? Biden is on the mount, but how did he get there? If it was his own doing, can anyone explain how? If he did it himself then we should stand back and marvel, like Seyfang, I’ve never seen anybody do a thing like this, but I think it was done for him and in spite of him. If Biden did it, then he's really amazing, and it should add to his argument that he deserves the job of working for us. So can Biden proponents please explain why Biden deserves the credit?

Notice how my question goes along with the idea that if Biden becomes President, he won't really be the one who is exercising the power. Trump recently said that if Biden is elected President, "They’re going to put him into a home and other people are going to be running the country. And they’re going to be super left radical crazies. They’re going to be super left radical crazy. Joe’s gonna be in a home. He’ll be watching television and everything will be just fine."

"Michael Bloomberg Quits Democratic Race, Ending a Brief and Costly Bid."

"He had staked his candidacy on doing well on Super Tuesday, spending more than half a billion dollars on advertising alone."

The NYT reports.

ADDED: It's a long article. They were ready for this one in advance. Excerpt:
In an unprecedented effort to self-finance a presidential campaign — which some rivals derided as an attempt to buy the White House — Mr. Bloomberg’s bid cost him more than half a billion dollars in advertising alone. He also spent lavishly on robust on-the-ground operations, with more than 200 field offices across the country and thousands of paid staff. His operation dwarfed those of Democratic rivals who ultimately won states in which he had installed many dozens of employees and spent heavily on radio, television and direct mail ads....

He was irked by repeated questions about how long he would stay in the race, and whether doing so would benefit Mr. Sanders at the expense of Mr. Biden. “Joe’s taking votes away from me,” Mr. Bloomberg said, insisting that he had no plans to drop out. “Have you asked Joe whether he’s going to drop out?”...

He had pitched himself to voters as “the un-Trump,” often describing himself as “a sane, competent person,” while acknowledging what he called “the elephant in the room” — that a Bloomberg-Trump general election would feature “two New York billionaires” who have played golf together in the past....

"Joe E. Jeffreys, a drag historian at N.Y.U., told me that academics are having a field day with 'the representation of America' in the show..."

"With its 'fun-house-mirror magnification' of social codes, 'Drag Race' is a bonanza for scholars.[*] It’s been the subject of multiple academic anthologies. Jeffreys teaches a semester-long class called 'RuPaul’s Drag Race and Its Impact.' Students study the history of American drag, going back to vaudeville, and spend weeks examining how 'Drag Race' handles topics such as gender, race, class, body image, fashion, and ethnicity. They unpack slang terms like 'hog body' (an unfeminine physique) and 'hunty' (a term of endearment). The course lasts fifteen weeks, but, Jeffreys said, 'We’re really just scratching the surface.'"

From "Can 'RuPaul’s Drag Race' Save Us from Donald Trump?" by Lizzie Widdicombe in The New Yorker. The headline promises more than the (short) article can deliver. All there is about Trump is the observation that he contributes to the impression that American politics is a reality show and — at the end — the assertion that "Growing up in the Trump era is 'forcing kids to mature much faster.'"

I'm more interested in the idea that college students are taking semester-long courses on the topic of drag, taught by academics who are finding enough material to write about in a scholarly way, and that the writing has piled up to the point where there are multiple anthologies. I don't think the article states a single idea that sounds academic.

* Ironically, "Bonanza" is a drag race for scholars. This footnote is not part of the New Yorker article but an original insight by me, Ann Althouse, and I note that the characters on "Bonanza" were famous for always wearing the same clothes and that these were stereotypically manly clothes (other than, perhaps, the high heels worn by Little Joe, who was considered, at 5'9", too little even to be the one with the name "Little").

"Pierce Bush is first Bush to lose Texas race in over 40 years."

CBS News reports on the primary loss for a grandson of George H.W. Bush. Pierce Bush was running for a congressional seat in Houston. He was well funded and had the endorsement of the retiring Congressman from the district.
Troy Nehls and Kathaleen Wall, staunch defenders of President Donald Trump, advanced instead to the runoff.... Although Pierce Bush, 34, made clear from the outset of his run in December that he was an ally of Trump, he didn't do so with zeal of rivals who promised fierce loyalty to the president if elected.

Trump's tweeting the morning after Super Tuesday are so touchingly pro-Bernie.

Jill Biden is trending on Twitter this morning, with lots of celebration of her physical prowess protecting Joe from anti-milk female rowdies.

But what does it say about Joe? Plus, why trash Melania, and why assume that in an actual showdown she would not kick your ass? I think she would! Nothing weak about her. She's got her steely eyes open, scanning the horizon for trouble, and it's not easy to walk around in stilettos and to maintain sullen dignity while married to the biggest character in the world. She's tough. Absolutely no reason to think she is not.

But good for Jill. I still have the question whether Joe, an old man, is physically and mentally sharp enough. If Trump and Melania were in that precise situation, do you think Trump would end up appearing as if Melania had saved her man? Notice that Jill says "It's okay, go ahead," and turns Joe back around to the microphone. She's a step or 2 ahead of him.

Also, did you see that in this clip, he's pinching and rubbing his nose with his hand? Hasn't he heard that we're all supposed to stop touching our face? I want to see leadership! Don't touch your face in the time of coronavirus.

"This is what happens..."

I guess I'll go ahead and make a Tommy Tuberville tag.

IN THE COMMENTS: TheThinMan identifies "This is what happens..." as a line from "The Big Lebowski" (which is NSFW and I'll leave it to you to decide how much it's something Trump means to say to Jeff Sessions):

"A one-way trip to Mars will take about nine months, which is a long time to spend inside a hermetically sealed tube hurtling through a cold, dark void."

"Like all animals, humans require stimulation; without something to break the monotony, most of us end up like a tiger pacing its cage—stressed, depressed, and prone to problematic behaviors. Indeed, many scientists believe that boredom is one of the most serious challenges facing future spacefarers. Until now, design for space has focused on survival. But [Ariel Ekblaw, founder of the MIT Media Lab's Space Exploration Initiative] thinks it's possible, even essential, to imagine an entirely new microgravitational culture, one that doesn't simply adapt Earth products and technologies but instead conceives them anew. Cady Coleman amused herself by playing her flute on the International Space Station—another astronaut brought his bagpipes—but future travelers might instead pick up a Telemetron. They might wear clothes spun of special zero-g silk, or sculpt delicate forms that couldn't exist on Earth, or choreograph new forms of dance, assisted by their robot tails. They might, in other words, stop seeing themselves as homesick earthlings and begin to feel like stimulated, satisfied spacelings."

From "Algae Caviar, Anyone? What We'll Eat on the Journey to Mars/Humans are headed for the cosmos, and we’re taking our appetites with us. What will fill the void when we leave Earth behind?" (Wired).

The article goes on to talk about food, but I came screeching to a halt at "Cady Coleman amused herself by playing her flute on the International Space Station" and was appalled at what I heard next: "another astronaut brought his bagpipes."

You're stuck for months in "a hermetically sealed tube," with other people, and you're allowed to tootle on some acoustic musical instrument? Put that on the list of things that make me "end up like a tiger pacing its cage." Maybe "monotony" is on the list, but if the list is in order of how quickly and how far it will drive somebody nuts, a fellow passenger playing the bagpipes (or flute) is a lot higher on the list. Who wants this "amused herself" sort of approach to shared, close-quarters living?

Anyway... I say "when I heard" because I'm listening to magazine articles on the app Audm. It love it! I'd resisted it, because you have to pay about $60 a year, but now that I've got it, I strongly recommend it. The selection of articles is excellent, and the audio format gets me through substantial things that I would only skim if left to my eyes alone.

ADDED: A tidbit from the discussion of food:
Like generations of chefs before her, [industrial designer Maggie] Coblentz began by taking advantage of the local environment. Liquids are known to behave peculiarly in microgravity, forming wobbly blobs rather than streams or droplets. This made her think of molecular gastronomy, in particular the technique of using calcium chloride and sodium alginate to turn liquids into squishy, caviar-like spheres that burst delightfully on the tongue. Coblentz got to work on a special spherification station to test in zero g—basically a plexiglass glove box equipped with preloaded syringes. She would inject a bead of ginger extract into a lemon-flavored bubble, or blood orange into a beet juice globule, creating spheres within spheres that would deliver a unique multipop sensation unattainable on Earth.
General Foods saw it long ago with Cosmic Candy AKA Space Dust (in the Pop Rocks tradition).

"Biden sweeps the South, wiping out Sanders’s delegate lead"/"Joe Biden romps in Super Tuesday presidential contests."

Headlines for WaPo's main story on Super Tuesday.

You know the results. What can I add?

Yesterday morning, I said "But I think Bloomberg will get crushed today, and I anticipate laughing at him when that happens." I can add that he won one thing, American Samoa, and that's an exquisite detail. That's lovely humor, almost too beautiful to warrant a guffaw, but it is so absurd. I guffawed for 2 seconds, and then packaged Mike away as the ridiculous little rich man who tried to buy the presidency. We are all richer today, having seen that you can't do that — not that blatantly anyway.

The Bernie moment is over. He was really only on top for a couple weeks. Throughout the long campaign season, Biden dominated...

... and now he's back where it always looked like he was going to be. Before Sanders had his spike, Harris (the yellow line) spiked and got the attention that went with that and failed. The same thing happened to Warren (the brown line), and (less strongly) to Buttigieg (purple). Alternatives were tested and rejected. Sanders had his spike while delegates were being handed out, so that was quite a scare, but the Party scrambled and discipline prevailed, and the boring, obvious choice is now the choice we are stuck with. We rebelled, but all the alternatives failed, and now it will be Biden. Big surprise! Isn't it exciting? No, it's very boring.

Did the Democratic Party get what it wanted? Sort of, but not really. Is today a day of celebration or regret? I mean for Democrats. I know you Trumpsters are celebrating. Bernie would have been more fun, but the danger of Bernie possibly winning was too disturbing.

Anyway... how are you feeling this morning?

"Hachette’s publishing of Woody Allen’s memoir is deeply upsetting to me personally and an utter betrayal of my brother..."

"... whose brave reporting, capitalized on by Hachette, gave voice to numerous survivors of sexual assault by powerful men... This provides yet another example of the profound privilege that power, money and notoriety affords. Hachette's complicity in this should be called out for what it is and they should have to answer for it."

Said Dylan Farrow, quoted by AP.

Her brother, Ronan Farrow commented on Twitter. Hachette — his publisher too — was "wildly unprofessional," he says:

AND: "They’re all connected through the democratic party."

March 3, 2020

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want... except the Super Tuesday results and the Democratic candidates. Go one post down if you'd like to talk about that.

The Super Tuesday conversation.

The results are about to come in, so let’s talk about it.

ADDED: "Super Tuesday Live Coverage: Biden Wins North Carolina and Virginia, and Sanders Wins Vermont" (NYT).

Here are the live updates at FiveThirtyEight.

They'll tell you who they're afraid of.


"You walk into a crowded grocery store. A shopper has coronavirus. What puts you most at risk of getting infected by that person?"

"Experts agree they have a great deal to learn, but four factors likely play some role: how close you get; how long you are near the person; whether that person projects viral droplets on you; and how much you touch your face.... Whether a surface looks dirty or clean is irrelevant. If an infected person sneezed and a droplet landed on a surface, a person who then touches that surface could pick it up. How much is required to infect a person is unclear.... As long as you wash your hands before touching your face, you should be OK, because viral droplets don’t pass through skin."

From "Surfaces? Sneezes? Sex? How the Coronavirus Can and Cannot Spread/What you need to know about how the virus is transmitted" (NYT).

Now is the time to learn how to be one of those ultra-disciplined individuals who do not touch their face.

I went to Whole Foods the other day, and I was resolved to be a person who does not touch her face. It's hard! The reflexive, casual touching of the face is so much a part of life. It's not as ingrained as breathing, but it's on the level of flicking your hair back or crossing and recrossing your legs.

I googled "how to stop touching my face," and I got another NYT article: "Stop Touching Your Face!/It’s a quirk of human nature that we touch our eyes, noses and mouths all day long. It’s also a major way we pick up infections like coronavirus," by Tara Parker-Pope.
Only humans and a few primates (gorillas, orangutans and chimpanzees) are known to touch their faces with little or no awareness of the habit. (Most animals touch their faces only to groom or swat away a pest.) German researchers analyzed the brain’s electrical activity before and after spontaneous face touching, and their findings suggested that we touch our faces as a way to relieve stress and manage our emotions.
So... reduce stress? But if we're motivated by worrying about a diseases, we're adding stress. And thinking about not touching your face makes you want to touch your face. Parker-Pope offers some practical advice: Have a tissue to use instead of your bare hand. Wear makeup that forces you to think about not smearing it. Use moisturizer and eye drops to fend off itchiness. Wear glasses to make it harder to get at your eyes. Wear gloves. That made me think of one of my own: Rub your fingers on a hot pepper.

Here are some additional ideas at HuffPo: have some other things to do with your hands (like holding a little object to fiddle with), put Post-It notes on your computer screen ("Do not touch your face"), get together with co-workers and others and monitor and call out each other ("You're touching your face!"). That last idea made me think of this: Convince yourself that touching your face is disgusting, like picking your nose. Gah! I wrote that and immediately leaned the entire left side of my face into my hand.

Another idea from HuffPo: If you catch yourself touching your face, you stretch out the fingers of the offending hand and hold them like that "for no less than 2 and a half to three minutes." That's so much trouble that you'll want to avoid it.

And here's an idea from L'Oreal, the skin-care company (concerning itself with acne, actually): When you feel tempted to touch your face, substitute another activity, like snapping your fingers or folding your hands. This inspires my variation: Play Here is the church, here is the steeple...

"Powerful Tornado Hits Nashville, Leaving at Least 9 Dead Across Tennessee."

The NYT reports.
“It’s not looking good right now. We still have several people missing, a lot of loved ones calling in wanting us to locate their family,” Sheriff Eddie Farris of Putnam County told a local news station, WKRN. “We certainly hope that number doesn’t go up, but it’s not looking real promising at this point.”...

“Downtown is devastated,” Chris Conte, a local reporter, said.
Very sad!

Here's a photograph — from the front page at the NYT website — by Mark Humphrey/Associated Press.

"Fox News’ Brit Hume on Tuesday made a big mistake when he shared a screenshot from his iPad without first closing all the other browser tabs he had opened."

Raw Story has the report on why the name Brit Hume is trending on Twitter this morning along with the phrase "sexy vinyl vixen."

Suddenly, as I'm working at my desk, tweaking this morning's sunrise photograph, a beautiful snowstorm sweeps in.


We don't often get those picturesque big, fluffy flakes, and I'm delighted to see it all from my window.


I would have loved to have it falling on me as I went out on my sunrise run, but the sun and I were too early for it:


It's Super Tuesday at last.

Check out the newest polls on Real Clear Politics to get a sense of which of the 3 ancient white men might fall forward into an unstoppable momentum rolling into the Valley of Inevitable Trump Victory.

I have my cruel neutrality vantage point, but even if I wanted to get more engaged, I couldn't pick somebody to root for. I don't want any of them! What a ridiculous condition the 2020 race has deteriorated into!

I'm interested in the populism of Trump and Sanders and feel something of a thrill to see the establishment of both parties getting their comeuppance. But my real preference is for absolutely boring government, run by men and women of integrity, expertise, and competence. Such folk never show up and last long enough to be in the running this late in the game, but maybe Bloomberg is closest to that idea.

But I think Bloomberg will get crushed today, and I anticipate laughing at him when that happens. That's how little my abstract preference has to do with watching the Super Tuesday antics.

Am I with the moderate, cautious people who are gathering behind Joe Biden? No, I'm staying up here on my cruel neutrality vantage point. I don't think Joe Biden is in any condition to do what it takes to fight until November and then deal with the job of President.

By the way, I had a dream about Donald Trump last night. I was at some sort of artsy song and spoken-word performance, in an intimate pink room with long comfy sofas. There were several polar bears reclining on a sofa, along with Donald Trump. This was right next to me, and I wanted to get some personal conversation with Trump, something I could remember and talk about. He was enjoying the show and singing along, being quite charming and talking to everyone. I leaned over and asked him, "Are the Secret Service okay with the polar bears?"

"I am a proud Trump Republican. I believe he’s broadened the reach of the Republican Party, which is really important to me" — said Ivanka Trump...

in an interview with Sean Hannity, quoted in the NYT in "Ivanka Trump Now Acknowledges: 'I’m a Proud Trump Republican.'"
Ivanka Trump’s transformation from a New York socialite who donated to Democratic politicians and vocally supported gay rights to a card-carrying member of her father’s “Make America Great Again” coalition is now complete....

[This is] a change from her original West Wing role, when she was viewed more as a bridge to moderates because of her more progressive positions on issues like climate change, pay equity and parental leave....

“I’m not going to speculate on the projections other people have cast upon me,” Ms. Trump said on Monday. “In areas outside of my portfolio, I tend to agree more with the more conservative viewpoint more often than where the Democrats are today,” she said, acknowledging that to be a shift from the beginning of her father’s presidency. She added, “No one person or party has a monopoly on good ideas.”...

Online, her persona has also become more aggressive and raw, a reflection of her own anger, aides said, over her father’s impeachment.... On the day of her father’s acquittal, the woman who once used her popular Instagram account to show herself off as a not-quite-relatable working mother raising a young family posted a photograph of herself giving the signature Trumpian double thumbs-up in front of an American flag, wearing a USA hat. In a caption, she wrote that the portrait captured her “#Mood.”..
This article does not have a comments section, perhaps because the comments would be rude personal attacks. I know that's what I wanted to go in to check for and what I would have copied and pasted here, in keeping with my aggressive and raw on-line persona.

March 2, 2020

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk all night.

"why I (me) am also endorsing Joe Biden."

Why not watch a Trump rally live?

That's what we're doing:

ADDED: Trump is mocking Biden for calling Super Tuesday "Super Thursday."

AND: Buttigieg and Klobuchar dropped out and endorsed Biden, and you know why? "They made a deal! Quid pro quo! They should be impeached!"

LINDSEY GRAHAM: Mr. President, you are going to kick their ass in November.

TRUMP: Oh, my Lindsey, my Lindsey!

Chris Matthews has abruptly resigned from his long-running "Hardball" show.

The NYT reports.
Mr. Matthews, 74, has faced mounting criticism in recent days over a spate of embarrassing on-air moments, including a comparison of Senator Bernie Sanders’s campaign to the Nazi invasion of France and an interview with Senator Elizabeth Warren in which the anchor was criticized for a condescending and disbelieving tone.

On Saturday, the journalist Laura Bassett published an article on the website of GQ magazine describing a series of episodes where, she wrote, Mr. Matthews made inappropriate comments about her appearance in the makeup room of his studio before she was a guest on his program.
After MSNBC aired a commercial following the announcement, Matthews did not return to the program. Steve Kornacki, a political reporter for the network, took over the rest of the hour, and seemed shocked by the news. “That was a lot to take in,” he said, saying it had been an honor to work with Matthews, and then beginning a discussion about the coronavirus response.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident. All men and women created by the you know, you know the thing."

The original line (from the Declaration of Independence is: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights...."

Where he got tripped up was in saying "by" after "created," as if he were in a hurry to get to God, and in the original line, God is called the "Creator," but it's glaringly inelegant to say "created by their Creator." He needed to say "created equal," and get that word "endowed" in there to put some distance between "created" and "Creator." Having lost the flow, he resorted to "the thing." So his enthusiasm about God, rushing toward God and skipping the big idea of equality, flung him into the gaffe of calling God "the thing."

"A billionaire Republican megadonor has purchased a 'sizable' stake in Twitter and 'plans to push' to oust CEO Jack Dorsey among other changes..."

"... according to new reports, raising the prospect of a shocking election-year shakeup of the social media platform that conservatives have long accused of overt left-wing political bias. Paul Singer’s Elliott Management Corp. has already nominated four directors to Twitter's board.... [U]nlike other prominent tech CEOs, Dorsey didn't have voting control over Twitter because the company had just one class of stock; and he has long been a target for removal given Twitter's struggling user growth numbers and stock performance. Singer, who opposed President Trump's campaign in 2016, has since changed his tune, raising the prospect that some of the changes to Twitter could make the platform a friendlier place for pro-Trump users.... Twitter has long rankled not only conservatives but also independent-minded commentators and left-of-center activists. In 2018, feminist Meghan Murphy slammed Twitter for the 'dangerous' banning and silencing of users who didn't follow the platform's guidelines. Murphy was banned after writing that 'men aren't women,' in defiance of Twitter's stated views on gender...."

Fox News reports.

"That is such a terrifying surgery. Knowing that your breasts will continuously fill up with fluid forever..."

"... simply because your body is internally so irritated, they could grow to different sizes, get so big that daily life is severely impacted, and that the only way to stop it is to cut off your boobs completely. I can’t even imagine the kind of issues someone has to be suffering from to consider that to be a good decision. I’m fine with people getting their boobs as big as they want, but the irreversible, uncontrollable nature of string implants are a whole other level of danger and destruction for the sake of 'beauty.'"

From the subreddit "botched surgeries." I had never heard of this — string implants.

Stick a comb in it, she's done.

Amy's out.

ADDED: She's endorsing Biden and will appear with him at a rally tonight. As for Buttigieg, he's mulling: "Buttigieg mulls Biden endorsement" (CNN). The time for action is now, Pete. Endorse Biden today.

UPDATE: Buttigieg takes my advice. He will endorse Biden, the NYT reports.

"Public Enemy have fired founder member Flavor Flav following a dispute over the group performing at a Bernie Sanders rally..."

"... bringing to an end one of the most colourful partnerships in rap history. A statement said the group would be 'moving forward without Flavor Flav. We thank him for his years of service and wish him well.'... [L]awyers for Flavor Flav said the rapper 'has not endorsed any political candidate in this election cycle,' adding that Sanders was not authorised to use the group’s image without Flav’s permission: 'While Chuck is certainly free to express his political view as he sees fit – his voice alone does not speak for Public Enemy.'... The dismissal ends an enduring and characterful partnership, where Chuck D’s withering political screeds were offset by Flav’s animated punchlines and outlandish image, featuring outsize clocks worn around his neck."

From "Public Enemy fire Flavor Flav after clash over Bernie Sanders rally/Spat brings one of rap’s longest partnerships to an end, as Chuck D says his former bandmate is motivated by money and ‘better find rehab’" (The Guardian).

Speaking of outsize clocks, time only runs forward, and firing Flavor Flav after the event doesn't undo the problem of using him in an endorsement against his will.

"U.S. stocks surge, global markets stabilize on heels of worst week since Great Recession."

WaPo reports (2 minutes ago).
Simeon Hyman, global investment strategist at ProShares said the volatility was due to uncertainty. “Investors don’t know what the ultimate impact of the coronavirus will be," Hyman said. "But if history is a guide, this will eventually pass and markets will recover.”
The Dow Jones is up 770.70 as I write this. That's 3.03%.

Now that the Democratic candidates for President are all so terribly old — Sanders, 78, Bloomberg, 78, Biden 77 — Trump can repurpose Reagan's old "I am not going to exploit..." line.

Everyone remembers Ronald Reagan's great line — when he was asked if at 73 he was too old —  "I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience."

In the likely event that Trump faces Sanders, Bloomberg, or Biden, he could redo that line a bit and go with it: "I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my youth."

But let me make that a little more Trumpy:
The late, great President Reagan said don't exploit age for political purposes. Don't exploit age. I was thinking of going with that. Don't exploit age. Because I'm young. I'm the young one. Imagine that! The Democrats came up with an opponent for me and he's what? 77? 78? How can you be President when you're almost 80? I'm 74. I'm 74, but my doctor tells me I'm the healthiest 74 he's ever seen. I'm the young one here! But should I say, no, I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my youth? My youth! If I say, I am young, they'll say I'm ageist. Ageist! They talk like that: sexist, racist. They'll say ageist! Ageist! These people. They'll say anything. But they like to say they're the party of youth! Youth!? They put up a guy that's practically 80! They're so incompetent. Let's take a vote. How many of you think I should exploit my youth for political purposes? How many of you think I should exploit my youth and how many of you think I should just shut up about how old we all are? Let's take a vote...

"The Supreme Court will hear a third challenge to the Affordable Care Act, this time at the request of Democratic-controlled states that are fighting a lower court decision..."

"... that challenged the constitutionality of the law. The court’s review will probably come in the term that begins in October, which would not leave time for a decision before the November election. The law remains in effect. The court earlier had turned down a motion by the House of Representatives and Democratic-led states to hear the case this term."

Reports Robert Barnes in WaPo.

SCOTUSblog explains the legal issue like this:
In 2012, Chief Justice John Roberts agreed with the court’s four more liberal justices that the mandate was constitutional because the penalty imposed on individuals who did not buy health insurance was a tax, which the Constitution allows Congress to impose. But in 2017, Congress enacted an amendment to the ACA that set the penalty for not buying health insurance at zero – but left the rest of the ACA in place. That change led to the dispute that is now before the court: A group of states led by Texas (along with several individuals) went to federal court, where they argued that because the penalty for not buying health insurance is zero, it is no longer a tax and the mandate is therefore unconstitutional. And the mandate is such an integral part of the ACA, they contended, that the rest of the law must be struck down as well....
That is, the thing that is now nothing has become everything, because Congress would not have passed the ACA without the element that used to be something.

"Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has told Europe it will have to take the 'burden' of 'millions' of incoming migrants..."

"... as Greece today tried to fend off an 'invasion' of people after Turkey threw open its borders. More than 13,000 migrants have gathered on the Turkish side of the river which runs 125 miles along the frontier and separates them from Greece, and therefore the EU. Greek police were today firing tear gas at the crowds, as migrants tried to swim across the river or squeeze through fences at one of the few land crossings, although only dozens have succeeded so far. One child died when a dinghy boat capsized during a sea crossing, the Greek coast guard said today. Turkish security forces also claimed that a Syrian migrant had died from injuries after a clash with Greek security forces, but Athens has today branded the claim 'fake news.'.... Turkish leader Erdogan... [told] party supporters in Ankara: 'After we opened the doors, there were multiple calls saying "close the doors." I told them it's done. It's finished. The doors are now open. Now, you will have to take your share of the burden. Hundreds of thousands have crossed, soon we will it will reach millions'..."

The Daily Mail reports.

Sunrise, 6:27.


Actual sunrise time: 6:31.

"In​ the cold autumn of 1629, the plague came to Italy. It arrived with the German mercenaries (and their fleas)..."

"... who marched through the Piedmont countryside. The epidemic raged through the north, only slowing when it reached the natural barrier of the Apennines. On the other side of the mountains, Florence braced itself. The officials of the Sanità, the city’s health board, wrote anxiously to their colleagues in Milan, Verona, Venice, in the hope that studying the patterns of contagion would help them protect their city.... The poor were judged not only careless but physically culpable.... Along with the poor, other marginalised groups were thought to be 'inclined towards putrefaction.'...  Ordinary life​ was suspended during the epidemic.... The Sanità arranged the delivery of food, wine and firewood to the homes of the quarantined (30,452 of them). Each quarantined person received a daily allowance of two loaves of bread and half a boccale (around a pint) of wine. On Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays, they were given meat. On Tuesdays, they got a sausage seasoned with pepper, fennel and rosemary. On Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, rice and cheese were delivered; on Friday, a salad of sweet and bitter herbs. The Sanità spent an enormous amount of money on food because they thought that the diet of the poor made them especially vulnerable to infection, but not everyone thought it was a good idea... [S]ome elite Florentines worried that quarantine 'would give [the poor] the opportunity to be lazy and lose the desire to work, having for forty days been provided abundantly for all their needs.'... When the epidemic finally ended, about 12 per cent of the population of Florence had died. This was a considerably lower mortality rate than other Italian cities: in Venice 33 per cent of the population; in Milan 46 per cent; while the mortality rate in Verona was 61 per cent....."

From "Inclined to Putrefaction" by Erin Maglaque in The London Review of books (reviewing "Florence Under Siege: Surviving Plague in an Early Modern City" by John Henderson).

Why would Democrats take advice from Bill Kristol?

I'm reading "The Simple Answer/Don't overthink your Super Tuesday vote" by Bill Kristol (Bulwark).

There's an illustration of a Joe Biden wearing a blue Make America Great Again hat and smiling boyishly.

Under the illustration is a quote from Ronald Reagan: "They say the world has become too complex for simple answers. They are wrong. There are no easy answers, but there are simple answers."

From the Kristol text:
You are a normal American. You don’t like demagogues of the right or the left. You want competent, responsible governance somewhere in the vicinity of the broad center. You cherish American exceptionalism, and you know that means rejecting European-style demagoguery of the right and left that exploits people’s anxieties and seduces them with false promises. You dread a future featuring an authoritarian and illiberal party facing off against a socialist and illiberal party. And so you don’t want to face a choice–you don’t want the country to face a choice– between Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders in November.

What are you to do?...
Duh! You vote for Biden.

Hey, I have just the right tag for this: "over-complication."

ADDED: I had to publish this post to click on my "over-complication" tag, and the most recent post with this tag — from January 11th — says:
ADDED: I had to publish this post to click on my "over-complication" tag, which I probably could have used a few more times if I'd kept it in mind. It's the kind of tag I love, specific but abstract, so it collects things from scattered topics that resonate. Today's post is only the 6th time I've used it since I created it in 2009 to observe that I'd "crossed the over-complication line" with a post that had a strange set of tags ("abortion, Althouse + Meade, Beccah Beushausen, beer, blogging, dolls, fake, James Frey, Meade, Oprah, Orson Welles, prayer, writing"). It took me a year to use it again, with this great quote from Gertrude Stein: "She always says she dislikes the abnormal, it is so obvious. She says the normal is so much more simply complicated and interesting." Didn't use it again until 2011 — "A Very Simple Venn Diagram of Where the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street Agree" — and then once in 2017 (a labyrinthine sentence about feminism) and once in 2019 (a New Yorker critic bothered by the complexity of the movie "Joker").
The topic of that January 11th post was, like this post today, the Biden vs. Sanders question. But things were different then. Nate Silver had written:
So while Biden’s in a reasonably strong and perhaps even slightly underrated position, it’s slightly more likely than not that Biden won’t be the nominee. Sen. Bernie Sanders has the next-best shot... Like all of our models, it’s empirically driven... Since the primaries themselves are fairly complex process, the model is fairly complex also.... Models with more complexity are easier to screw up and can be more sensitive to initial assumptions....

The coronavirus has been circulating undetected and has possibly infected scores of people over the past six weeks in Washington state..."

"... according to a genetic analysis of virus samples that has sobering implications for the entire country amid heightening anxiety about the likely spread of the disease. The researchers conducted genetic sequencing of two virus samples. One is from a patient who traveled from China to Snohomish County in mid-January and was the first person diagnosed with the disease in the United States. The other came from a recently diagnosed patient in the same county, a high school student with no travel-related or other known exposure to the coronavirus. The two samples look almost identical genetically, said Trevor Bedford, a computational biologist at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle who announced the results of the research on Twitter late Saturday night. 'This strongly suggests that there has been cryptic transmission in Washington State for the past 6 weeks,' Bedford wrote. 'I believe we’re facing an already substantial outbreak in Washington State that was not detected until now due to narrow case definition requiring direct travel to China.'... Bedford said it is possible but very unlikely that the genetic similarity of the two virus samples could be a coincidence and reflect two distinct introductions of the virus into Snohomish County by infected travelers, rather than sustained person-to-person spread within the community.... 'It is far from definitive,' [a CDC] official said. 'The particular strain found in these two samples is widespread in China and elsewhere. It’s possible that someone else introduced the virus into the community 'that we didn’t pick up,' the official said. But this research could be evidence that the highly contagious virus has eluded efforts to contain it through travel bans, quarantines and other interventions. The virus may have been spreading in parts of Washington state among people who didn’t realize they were infected by it — they may have thought they had a cold or the flu."

WaPo reports.

Your blogger, taking a shot at the sunrise...


I was just thinking the Democratic primary had become "Gilligan's Island" — with the billionaire and Biden as Gilligan, etc., and now, I open up the NYT and see...

"Aaron Sorkin on how he would write the Democratic primary for ‘The West Wing.’"

What does it mean that we — or at least me and the New York Times — have drifted into fantasies about what TV show this feels like? Funnily, Donald Trump is the TV guy, but with the Democrats, we've got this small cast of characters, and we're making up stories for them. I see 5 characters marooned on an island, and I'm wondering what hijinks will follow?

From the NYT article:
Your characters often struggle to try to understand people and ideas with which they disagree. What have you learned about how best to dramatize that struggle? I wouldn’t want to give the impression that I’ve mastered anything, but there are a couple of things I know now that maybe I didn’t know when I was starting. To begin with, I worship at the altar of intention and obstacle. Somebody wants something, and something is standing in their way of getting it. They want the money; they want the girl; they want to get to Philadelphia. Then the obstacle to that has to be formidable, and the tactics they use to overcome that obstacle are what shows us the character. Now, to answer your question: One of the things that I’ve learned, because I’ve written some antiheroes as well — Mark Zuckerberg in “The Social Network,” even Jack Nicholson’s character in “A Few Good Men” — is that you have to write these characters as if they’re making their case to God for why they should be allowed into heaven. When you’re successful, you get people in the audience saying, “Huh, he’s got a point” to stuff that makes them very uncomfortable.
Great intro! Great advice on how to dramatize the actual events.

March 1, 2020

At the Sunrise Cafe...


... you can talk all night.

Buttigieg drops out.

The NYT reports.

Sunday morning, brings the dawning.


"Your hands are mushy... Hey, you're a thick chunk."

"We'll see who's sleepy," says Joe Biden, and then he calls Chris Wallace "Chuck."

Just now, on "Fox News Sunday":

BIDEN: "I can hardly wait to debate [Trump] on stage. I want people to see me standing next to him and him standing next to me. Heh heh heh. We'll see who's sleepy."

WALLACE: "Mr. Vice President, thank you. Thanks for your time. Please come back in less than 13 years, sir."

BIDEN: "All right, Chuck. Thank you very much."

WALLACE: "Uh. All right. Uh, it's Chris. But anyway."

BIDEN: "I just did Chris. No, no, I just did Chuck. I tell you what, man. These were back to back. Anyway.

WALLACE: No, it's okay.

BIDEN: I don't know how you do it, early in the morning, too. Thank you, Chris.
So... we saw who's sleepy. Or just an irreparable gaffe machine.

"My side-eye at their neo-pioneer lifestyle is accompanied by a thrum of envy for the freedom of their life..."

"... (Who works? Is there a trust fund at play here, or are they just that good at living off the land?) and a desperate, shame-filled recognition of the disparity between their towering competence and my obvious lack thereof. Who would you want to link up with in the coming apocalypse? The hot, fit, loving family who knows how to build a house by hand, or the tubby middle-aged broad who can’t even drive stick? Exactly. My ability to provide wry commentary about my own cervix is an asset useful only in a pre-collapsed society....  Once the shit hits the fan, I’ll need somewhere to run... Maybe these bad feelings are signals that it’s time to rethink my approach to other people, and maybe even to life itself, to become more open, more generous, more in tune with nature and less concerned with being a good tube of toothpaste and then making fun of myself for it...."

Writes Emily Flake in "Stalking a Rustically Hip Family on Instagram" (The New Yorker). The "good tube of toothpaste" refers to her description of herself giving birth in the hospital, where "they used a vacuum and had a big doctor squeeze me like a tube of toothpaste.... The doctors and nurses know what they’re doing, and see what a not-pain-in-the-ass I’m being? I will be a good tube of toothpaste!"