May 16, 2020

Cat fight.

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want... including our new plan for this blog, revealed in the comments to last night's café, here, and already bringing some encouragement.

The sunrise was photographed at 5:34. The "actual" sunrise time was 5:32. I was at my vantage point at 5:33, but the sun had not crossed the line into my view yet. I can assure you that 5:34 was the earliest glimpse of the famous fiery orb.

Why did "toxic" and "viral" replace "poisonous" and "contagious"?

Ngram reveals a language mystery:

Possible answers:

1. "Toxic" and "viral" are shorter, more exciting words than "poisonous" and "contagious." Something dull about the "-ous" ending."

2. The metaphorical usage is running up the numbers for "toxic" and "viral" — as, for example, people speak of things going "viral" in social media and call personal character traits — like masculinity — "toxic." You could say "My tweet was contagious" and "Your political opinions are poisonous," but we don't. Perhaps because "poisonous" and "contagious" feel more literal — connected to poison and contagion. That doesn't need to be. Shakespeare wrote: "You might condemn us/As poisonous of your honour." Emerson wrote: "All vigour is contagious, and when we see creation we also begin to create." But somehow it is. That doesn't explain why.

"Toxic masculinity."

"Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' revised federal guidelines on how sexual assault allegations should be handled on college and K-12 campuses are the target of a federal lawsuit..."

"... filed Thursday claiming that the changes would 'inflict significant harm' on victims and 'dramatically undermine' their civil rights. The suit, filed [by the American Civil Liberties Union] on behalf of four advocacy groups for people who have been sexually assaulted, including Know Your IX and Girls for Gender Equity, is the first that seeks to block the Education Department's new provisions before they go into effect on Aug. 14. The rules championed by DeVos effectively bolster the rights of due process for those accused of sexual assault and harassment, allowing for live hearings and cross-examinations."

Yahoo News reports.

I'm seeing a lot of adulation of Kayleigh McEnany coming from the right...

... but I watched this one in real time yesterday...

... and I thought it was clumsy and nonresponsive. I felt a little embarrassed for her. Later, looking at social media, I saw her extolled by people who, I think, are expressing their real enthusiasm.

For example, at Instapundit, there's Ed Driscoll, offering that clip and saying: "REPORTER ASKS KAYLEIGH MCENANY TO EXPLAIN OBAMAGATE AND THE CRIMES ALLEGEDLY COMMITTED, IMMEDIATELY REGRETS IT." No, I don't think that reporter regretted it, immediately or later. I think he believed he put her on the spot and followed up accurately and intensely and brought out her inability to state clearly and concisely what the "Obamagate" crimes are supposed to be.

And on Twitter, Mike Cernovich presented the same clip and remarked — again, with the all caps — "WHO IS THIS QUEEN????" To which, Scott Adams chimed in, "It’s a slaughter."

Do they know they're doing propaganda or are they simply enthralled? Or am I wrong to stand apart and aloof and resist what is a stunningly articulate spokeswoman with a true and a powerful message to deliver?

ADDED: McEnany was absolutely on notice that she needed to have a better answer than Trump, who said, when asked basically the same question: "You know what the crime is, the crime is very obvious to everybody, all you have to do is read the newspapers, except yours."

This headline is idiotically miswritten: "Rep. Wasserman Schultz calls on VA: Replace headstones with swastikas."

Is it wrong to laugh about the idea of the Veterans Administration yanking out gravestones and installing swastikas? No one could have thought of such an idea. It could only be created unintentionally by a writer's ineptitude. But can we laugh, or are swastikas too serious of a matter?

I'd prefer to talk about the actual proposal, reported in The Jerusalem Post:
Earlier this week, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation called on Veterans Affairs to replace the headstones on the graves of German prisoners of war who died in US internment camps during World War II. Two are in a Houston cemetery and another is in Salt Lake City. In addition to the swastikas, the tombstones include the phrase “He died far from his home for the Führer, people, and fatherland.”...

In response, a VA spokesman cited an agency policy “to protect historic resources, including those that recognize divisive historical figures or events.”

“I call on the VA to eliminate this antiquated policy and immediately replace these inappropriate and insensitive headstones,” Wasserman Schultz said.
So there are 3 tombstones — in all of the cemeteries tended by the VA — and they stand over individual bodies of young men who died — long ago — as prisoners of war.  Is it an "antiquated policy" to leave these old monuments alone? Respect for the dead, for their (or someone's) freedom of speech, and for leaving historical things as they are — what is "antiquated" about these reasons?

"A woman who worked with Reade... said she remembers Reade mentioning that she was scolded for her attire and that Reade asked her..."

"... if it was a legitimate complaint. That coworker and two other staffers who worked with Reade said they believe she was not appropriately dressed for work.... Some former staffers told the NewsHour that if Biden did assault Reade [where she says he did], it would have been a brazen attack in an area with a high risk of being seen. 'When I worked in the Senate, it was always crowded [and] packed with lobbyists, staff and tourists,' said Sheila Nix, who was Biden’s chief of staff on the 2012 presidential campaign.... In interviews, staffers have also raised doubts about Reade’s claim that she was asked to serve drinks at a fundraiser.... [M]ore than 50 former staffers said they didn’t remember ever attending a fundraiser for Biden in Washington, D.C., when they were on his Senate staff.... 'Never would have happened,' said Melissa Lefko, who was a staff assistant in Biden’s office during the time Reade was there. 'We all knew there was a very hard line there.'... Further, two men who worked as junior staffers for Biden said the senator specifically did not want women to serve beverages, like coffee, or perform other menial tasks in his Senate office or on the committees he chaired. Men were typically asked to perform such tasks. 'He didn’t want an image of a young woman staffer serving him,' said John Earnhardt, who took over Reade’s duties.... Victoria Nourse, who served as Biden’s top lawyer on the Judiciary Committee in the early 1990s, recalled Biden’s reaction when another official made a comment about her looks in front of Biden during a flight in 1991. The man said, '"Oh Joe, let me sit next to the pretty girl,"' recalled Nourse, who later served as Biden’s chief counsel in the White House. Biden told the man off, Nourse said, 'making it clear that we were here for work, and that was inappropriate — in a very no nonsense way.'"

From "What 74 former Biden staffers think about Tara Reade’s allegations" (PBS News Hour).

May 15, 2020

At the Allium Café...


... you can talk all night.


"I invented heavy rock because I never even heard of Link Wray til the 80s - his records weren’t hard rock - the Ventures were heavier than Link Wray..."

"... No Trespassing by the Ventures is a heavy record - he wasn’t an influence on me... Link Wray played open chords with a slight distortion i used heavy bar chords with distortion through my green amp which I cut the speaker up with the razor blade to get the sound I wanted and no one was doing that then... I’m surprised you would say this. I’m not going off I’m defending me self."

Tweets The Kinks' Dave Davies, responding to a tweet by Stevie Van Zandt that is deleted now.

Stevie appeases: "You know I love you. No offense intended. Thought it was one of those obvious things everybody agreed on. I didn’t say he influenced you. I’m sorry but the attitude that became Hard Rock was born with Rumble. What other instrumental has ever been banned on the radio?"

Dave: "I disagree and I love you too - I’m glad You Really Got Me wasn’t banned."

Stevie tries to make a deal: "How about we give him inventing the Hard Rock power chord, and you inventing the Hard Rock riff? Townshend won’t mind being 2nd. Or 3rd!"

Dave is not taking it: "No - I liked Link Wray after I heard him in the 80s but he didn’t invent the Hard rock power chord - he used open strings - he didn’t use heavy bar chords - heavy bar chords are the foundation of hard rock guitar playing - surely you know. Link Wray used regular E and D open chords - he didn’t use the heavy bar chording technique that I started and which proved to be the foundation of all hard rock guitar playing."

"Leaders of cities and counties who raced this week to implement restrictions in the wake of a state Supreme Court ruling against Gov. Tony Evers are now tossing those orders..."

"... many citing uncertainty over whether they are legal. At least 17 communities had issued new orders aimed at limiting the spread of the coronavirus by Friday morning — but hours later, at least eight had dropped them.... The Democratic attorney general late Friday weighed in on the question by issuing an opinion saying the Supreme Court ruling did not apply to the local officials' authority but that any orders they issue should not carry criminal penalties.... [O]ther attorneys and officials at the Wisconsin Counties Association said they didn't know whether local health officials had the power to close businesses, among other restrictions.... The local governments are backing off their health orders just as Republican lawmakers insist it should be up to local officials rather than state leaders to determine whether people should stay at home and businesses should close.... Not all communities were changing course. Two of the largest population centers — Milwaukee and Dane County plans [sic] to keep in place their orders. 'I’m confident our order is legal and valid. Hopefully, everyone will continue to follow it to help the suppression of the disease,' said Marci Paulsen, an assistant city attorney who represents Madison and Dane County’s joint health department.... The court struck down the state order because it found state officials needed to go through a rulemaking process that is overseen by lawmakers. But local officials are not required to use that process, she noted."

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

Health experts.

[Embedded video removed. You can see it here. Explanation in the update below.]

IN THE COMMENTS: Chanie said, "Shouldn't the tag be 'A Michael Moore'?" Ah, yes! It's not the Michael Moore. Tag removed. I'll give you a real celebrity making the same point:

UPDATE: I put up this post because I believed it was from the filmmaker Michael Moore, whom I follow on Twitter. But it was from someone I've never heard of who tweets under the same name. It appeared in my Twitter feed because someone else that I follow had retweeted him. The gist of the tweet, like James Woods's tweet, was that there's something wrong or funny about an unhealthy-looking person serving as a health adviser. But, in fact, an unhealthy person could be a great expert! Health problems might lead a person into the field. And, certainly, anybody at any point in any career could develop a health problem, and it has nothing to do with whether they have expertise. And then there's the problem of simply looking unhealthy, whether you are unhealthy or not. It would be ridiculous, stupid, and unfair to pick your health expert based on whether they look healthy. Image means something in politics, and an expert needs to inspire confidence, but we're trying to ground ourselves in science and rational policy, and it's a mistake to judge expertise by looks and to assume that an unhealthy person lacks expertise.

"According to a CNN poll released this week, nearly three-quarters of Democrats said the worst of the crisis is still ahead of us..."

"... while only about a quarter of Republicans said the same. This marked a 15 percentage-point drop among Democrats since CNN last asked the question in April, and a 44-point drop among Republicans. A YouGov/Economist poll also found a similar divide this week; 58 percent of Democrats said the pandemic is going to get worse compared with only 20 percent of Republicans...."

FiveThirtyEight reports.

Why should predictions about what a virus will do have so much to do with political orientation? I might be missing something, but I see 2 types of reasoning:

1. Optimism or pessimism is a psychological orientation that is more fundamental than political affiliation. It affects which party you feel drawn to and how you see the virus going in the future. Pessimists picture things going wrong, so they want more help from the government, and the Democrats are there to offer to help. Optimists think they can make good things happen and the Republicans offer to get government out of the way.

2. A Republican is in the White House, and Democrats don't trust him and assume he's screwing things up, so they're more likely to picture bad things happening in the future. There's also wishful thinking: They want him to fail, and more death and sickness is something that — in a perverse and unacknowledged way — they want. Republicans are the opposite. They're more able to trust Trump, and the ordinary wishful thinking that the virus will go away aligns nicely with the hope that Trump will triumph.

"I can't imagine another state that is in this predicament..."

How are you supposed to know what the rules are from county to county? It's hard enough to understand the orders that apply in your home county. I struggled as long as I could put up with it to understand my own county's weird order that came in the wake of the Wisconsin Supreme Court's rejection of Governor Evers's order, but what's up with the neighboring counties? And do I even notice when I've crossed over to another county? If I leave my county to go to a restaurant in another county, am I violating some sort of travel ban imposed by my county? It's too hard to figure out! And yet, I think a county-by-county approach is good, because some counties are much more densely populated, and people rankle at bondage to restrictions that happen to be a fine approach in another place with very different conditions.

Most kids, it seems, do not like talking with their friends on a video chat.

According to a NYT article, "My Kids Are Allergic to Video Chats."
All the experts I spoke to agreed on this; many kids are struggling to find their footing in the land of virtual friendships. They also believe that technology itself may be at the core of the issue....

My kids had never tried Zoom before now and I didn’t prepare them on how to properly use it.... I have watched several calls among my 8-year-old and his friends in which he became laser-focused on trying to change his virtual background, paying no attention at all to what his friend is saying on the other end of the screen...

“It’s easy for parents to forget that kids aren’t yet experts at small talk,” said Courtney Bolton, Ph.D., a Nashville-based child & family psychologist and parenting coach...

When my kids first bonded with their friends in person, they didn’t sit and stare at each other and talk about the weather. Connection and community came from a shared interest.
This isn't in the article, but why not use the telephone? Audio only. That's what I prefer as an adult. Staring into each other's face remotely really is a strange and overly intense activity. With a plain old-fashioned phone call, you can stretch out into the audio dimension and not worry about how you look or what the other person's face means.

It's one thing to look into a face in person. That's our natural life, and one of the very best, most rewarding parts of life. But there's something bad about doing it in video mode, and I think it may be better to have your visual space to yourself, to close your eyes and lie down if you want or to play solitaire while you listen or to pace about and straighten up the room or walk around outdoors.

It's a good thing that kids cannot suppress their dissatisfaction with sitting in front of a video screen looking at a kid. It's good that they're not responsive to the parent's prodding them to be happy about seeing their friends.

Remember when screen time was bad and parents were supposed to limit it?! Let's not lose our natural feeling for the alienness of screens. Putting an equally alienated human on the other side of your screen should not solve the problem. Our longing to get back to real life should be allowed to live, even if that longing hurts.

Don't try to change your kids! The article has tips on how to get them to tolerate and perform better in video chats. I won't quote that part. I say honor the kids' resistance, and get back in touch with yours.

There was a world that we lived in once, and we want it back. The kids want it back.

"Though Mr. Talley clearly makes an effort to wrestle with topics he spent a lot of his life not acknowledging, from all fashion’s shameful isms..."

"... (sizeism, ageism — and, above all, racism, a recurring and painful through-line) to his own failed lap band surgery and inability to have a romantic relationship (he was abused as a child by a neighbor), it’s as if simply acknowledging the existence of these facts — the way they marred the otherwise gorgeous vistas of the industry as it unfurled in his mind — is enough. He never really looks at whether the rewards were worth the price exacted.... He was the diva he wanted to be... complete with his own often demanding behavior, and the diva his boss [Anna Wintour] needed, shaped by the divas of yore (Diana Vreeland, Andy Warhol). But today fashion has no more room or patience for such divas — not in magazines or modeling or designer ateliers — and Mr. Talley has grandiosed himself out of a job.... It’s the tension between fantasy (or the world as you would like it to look) and reality, that is the essence of fashion. But perhaps the attempt to have one without the other is what it took to be him: a pioneer; the most famous black man in the glossy world — often the only black person in the room...."

From "André Leon Talley’s Tales From the Dark Side/The juiciest fashion memoir of the year is out. But is it a tell-all, a tragedy or a harbinger of things to come?" by Vanessa Friedman (NYT).

"All of us on ['The Quiz Kids'] experienced to some degree ‘child star letdown,’ but we remembered the actual experience fondly. It was a high for us."

"But Joel said it destroyed his childhood. When he was 6, I was 11. The program put stress on the smallest kids. They got the most attention and were the least equipped to deal with it.... Once the show went on television they kept Joel, because he was so well known, but the general age got lower and lower. I’m guessing that experience was pretty sour for him. No real competition and no real comradeship."

Said Richard L. Williams, who was on the radio version of the show in the 1940s, quoted in "Joel Kupperman, Scarred by Success as a ‘Quiz Kid,’ Dies at 83/As a philosophy professor in adulthood, he would not speak of the World War II-era radio show (later on TV) that had made him famous and left him embittered" (NYT).
In her 1982 memoir “Whatever Happened to the Quiz Kids? Perils and Profits of Growing Up Gifted,” Ruth Duskin Feldman, the show’s literature buff (she died in 2015), noted the rampant anti-Semitism of the time. “When we moved through crowds,” she wrote, “there were loud remarks of ‘Oh, they’re all Jews!’”

The show moved to television after the war, and the cameras did not favor a maturing Joel, who stayed on until he was 16, the dutiful son to a controlling stage mother, [Joel's son] Michael Kupperman said.

Though the producers brought in younger and cuter children to field questions, Joel’s hand was always up, sometimes blocking the faces of the smaller children, which didn’t make for riveting TV, as Michael put it — a spectacle made only worse by Joel’s robotic demeanor, which made him seem priggish....
Later, Joel Feldman heard over and over from people who said they grew up hating him. He reinvented himself as a philosophy professor and taught ethics for 50 years. His wife said, "He wanted to retreat into the life of the mind, and in many ways he succeeded. He really lived in his head."

I'm familiar with work of the son, Michael Kupperman. He's a comics artist, and he figured out a way to do a graphic memoir about his father, "All the Answers":

I just added that to my Kindle.

ADDED: Was Joel Kupperman Seymour Glass?
['The Quiz Kids'] would inspire J.D. Salinger’s fictional Jewish Glass family, whose children were all featured on a fictional radio quiz show and grew into deeply neurotic adults. Like Kupperman, Seymour Glass fast tracks to a Ph.D. In his 2010 book “Theories of Human Nature,” Kupperman appeared to wink at Salinger as a kindred spirit, describing him as “a well known example of someone who retreated from his celebrity, as did the actress Greta Garbo.”
AND: Here's what that ancient TV show was like:

"When the top-ranked Mayo Clinic stopped all nonemergency medical care in late March, it began to lose millions of dollars a day."

"The clinic, a Minnesota-based hospital system accustomed to treating American presidents and foreign dignitaries, saw revenue plummet as it postponed lucrative surgeries to make way for coronavirus victims. The hospital network produced $1 billion in net operating revenue last year, but now expects to lose $900 million in 2020 even after furloughing workers, cutting doctors’ pay and halting new construction projects. The future offers little relief, at least until the pandemic subsides and the economy recovers. The Mayo Clinic will have to rely more heavily on low-income patients enrolled in the Medicaid program, as others will be hesitant to travel across the country, or the world, for care. 'It’s uncontrollable,' said Dennis Dahlen, the clinic’s chief financial officer."

The NYT reports in "Hospitals Knew How to Make Money. Then Coronavirus Happened. Surgeries are canceled. Business models are shifting. Some of the hardest-hit hospitals may close, leaving patients with fewer options for care."

I think I can predict what the top-rated comment over there will be — something about how we should have single-payer health care like other countries and how awful it is that places like the Mayo Clinic have a commerce-oriented mentality, shame on them. Okay, now I will click. Aha! I am right! Here's the top-rated comment:

Did Sweden make the right call, keeping open despite the pandemic?

The NYT analyzes the details.

Sweden has had 27% "excess deaths," while Britain has had 67% (the worst in Europe). But maybe Sweden shouldn't be compared to Britain. Italy, Spain, Belgium, and France have all also done worse than Swedent, but Sweden is worse than the other Scandinavian countries. Denmark has 6% excess deaths, Norway 5%, and Finland 0%. (What's the U.S. percentage? I don't think the article says.)
Swedish officials chose not to implement a nationwide lockdown, trusting that people would do their part to stay safe. Schools, restaurants, gyms and bars remained open, with social distancing rules enforced, while gatherings were restricted to 50 people....

“Once you get into a lockdown, it’s difficult to get out of it,” Sweden’s state epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, said. “How do you reopen? When?”

Instead of imposing strict lockdowns, public health officials said that Swedes could be relied on to go out less and follow sanitation guidelines. That proved to be true: As a whole, Swedes visited restaurants, retail shops and other recreation spots almost as little as residents of neighboring countries, according to Google mobility figures....
You can't really ask what if we had done that, because we're Americans, and we would have done things our way if the government had left us to make our own choices about going out and about and getting close to other people in the workplace and the schools. And we'd have been doing it within the physical conditions of our country:
Sweden’s low density overall and high share of single-person households — factors it shares with its Scandinavian neighbors — set it apart from other Western European countries. In Italy, the virus tore through multigenerational households, where it easily spread from young people to their older relatives.

And although Sweden is not a particularly young country in comparison with its Western European peers, it has a high life expectancy and low levels of chronic diseases, like diabetes and obesity, that make the virus more lethal.
So Sweden performed an experiment, and we can look at the results, and it's a challenge to analyze the results and not come up with the answer that you want — either we should have done that too or it would never have worked here. There's also the compromise position: We should have used the Swedish approach in the sparsely populated parts of the country and the mandatory lockdown in the dense places — New York, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, etc.

And what about that difference in "chronic diseases, like diabetes and obesity"? I see that 13% of the Swedish population is obese and 40% of Americans are obese — the worst in the world [ADDED: or the worst in the set of countries the NYT chose to compare in this article].

People who are obese know they are obese. They could be given the advice to do more self-isolation, but if it's 40% of us, what can we do? Can the workplaces and schools remain open with 40% of them advised to stay home? Actually, that's a way to do social distancing: You have only 60% occupancy of these spaces — distance created. Keep places open but expect the obese to stay home. It's pretty awkward to give that advice, though. So much easier to tell everyone to stay home. Except the part where the economy crashes and we're all plunged into a depression.

"She has had many 'you couldn’t write this stuff' moments – in fact, she says some of Trump’s comments are so unbelievable that trying to mock him would be worse than using a direct quote."

"'I saw people saying they shared [my lip-syncing videos] with Trump supporters and for once there is nothing they can say. The clip is literally, completely unedited – I haven’t edited [the audio] at all – so what can they say to argue with it?' she says. Still, Cooper says a lot without words. Much of the comedy in her videos lies in the way she punctuates Trump’s remarks – a subtle facial expression that gives away just how clueless he is, or a gesture that reminds you of the broader context around what he is saying.... But Cooper thinks there is something else going on here: her videos reassure people that what comes out of the president’s mouth really is as crazy as it sounds... Plus, it helps to hear the message without having to hear it from the man himself: 'People really hate Trump – a lot. They hate his voice. They hate looking at him. They hate everything about him,' says Cooper."

From "The comedian going viral for lip-syncing Trump: 'People really hate him'/Sarah Cooper has carved out a niche space on TikTok, merging comedy and politics by voicing over Trump’s comments" (The Guardian).

I think I've shared Cooper's videos with you before — or maybe I've just shared them with family. I think she's great and also that it's complicated, trying to understand why they are so great. It's not merely a matter of hating Trump. I think there's also love — illicit love! — for Trump — illicit because you're supposed to hate him — not necessarily you, you, but some of you — and by having his speech flow through an attractive woman, you become liberated to feel that transgressive love.

Cooper's space on TikTok may be "niche" but it's not unique. Here's my post from April 17th: "I noticed a TikTok trend — young women lip-synching to a short clip of Trump's voice — sometimes with what I perceive as a real appreciation for Trump's comic stylings."
Anyway, I think all these are very funny — both because of Trump and because of the woman who is adopting his voice. I think the first 2 women genuinely appreciate Trump. The third might be more of a Trump antagonist, but you'll like it even if you love Trump (or maybe you won't!).

One thing I like about these is that — as I've said a few times and have thought all along — there's something womanly about Trump. And I'm not saying that as an insult. He often displays machismo or seems to do the voice of a mob boss, but not all the time. He has this softer lilt that comes through some of the time, as I think these women know...
None of my 3 examples is Sarah Cooper. I'm particularly fond of Kylie Scott, who lip syncs Trump in a drunk-girl persona.

"Hackers have attacked the website of top showbiz attorney Allen Grubman, demanding $21 million while threatening to reveal personal details of his clients..."

"...including Elton John, Lady Gaga and Barbra Streisand.... One source said, “The hackers got into the system while everyone was focused on the coronavirus."... The law firm said in a statement: “We can confirm that we’ve been victimized by a cyberattack."... Musicians represented by the firm include Barry Manilow, Rod Stewart, Lil Nas X, The Weeknd, U2 and Drake. Other clients listed are Priyanka Chopra, Robert De Niro, Sofía Vergara, LeBron James and Mike Tyson."

The NY Post reported a few days ago. Today the story is: "Law firm hackers double ransom demand, threaten Donald Trump"
On Thursday, the hackers upped the ante by posting a chilling new message saying, “The ransom is now [doubled to] $42,000,000 … The next person we’ll be publishing is Donald Trump. There’s an election going on, and we found a ton of dirty laundry on time.”

They added, “Mr Trump, if you want to stay president, poke a sharp stick at the guys, otherwise you may forget this ambition forever. And to you voters, we can let you know that after such a publication, you certainly don’t want to see him as president … The deadline is one week....”
Trump was never a client of this law firm... and who cares about a ton of dirty Trump laundry? He's pre-dirtied in the laundry department. No one cares.

Whatever this is... oh, he just reversed the job-loss number and the death number... that's not such a big deal... is it?

ADDED: The coherence of a transcript depends a lot on punctuation, and you can help or hurt the person you're transcribing. I've seen this done to Trump (and blogged about it). With this Biden transcription, it could be done like this: "We're in the middle of a pandemic that has cost us more than 85,000 jobs as of today — lives.  Of millions of people — millions of people — millions of jobs."

I know, that's still bad, but you can heighten the sense that he knew he had it flipped and he was in the process of straightening it out, before us, in real time. And yet, that does seem consistent with a journey into dementia. You can be patient and sympathetic toward a person in that condition as they struggle to organize their thinking as they are speaking aloud to you, but THERE IS NO WAY that is acceptable in a President of the United States.

"As restrictions ease in Louisiana, a restaurant owner in Baton Rouge talks about how the pandemic has affected her business and why the decision to reopen isn’t an easy one."

The NYT "Daily" podcast has a fantastic interview today with a restaurant owner. Her story and her way of telling it are so compelling. The detail is personal, her reasons for needing to open and to stay closed are agonizingly balanced. Please do yourself a favor and listen, even if only to the first few minutes about how she, a dental hygienist at the time, met her husband, a chef.

May 14, 2020

At the Moonlight Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

And don't forget to use the Althouse Portal to Amazon. The link is always there at the top of the sidebar. Thanks to all of you who support the blog this way.

I remember when it was his 13th birthday and he was playing "Fingertips" on "American Bandstand."

But Stevie Wonder turned 70 yesterday. My son John has a long post with lots of commentary and clips. Excerpt:
His string of 5 albums from 1972 to 1976 is probably one of the greatest things that's ever happened in music history.... He's one of those artists where you have to listen to the full albums from start to finish... Of all the dozens and dozens of songs on those albums, there isn't a single dud, and there are many buried treasures....

[H]e's had a ubiquitous influence on the last 50 years of music — so many artists like Prince, Alicia Keys, Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, etc. It's hard to imagine what pop music would sound like without him. The combination of songwriting and performing is astounding... [A]n effusive, impassioned joy flows out of him more naturally than from almost anyone else.
There are so many great Stevie Wonder recordings but the first one that comes to mind when I try to think of my favorite is "You Haven't Done Nothing"We are sick and tired of hearing your song/Telling how you are gonna change right from wrong/'Cause if you really want to hear our views/You haven't done nothing.

ADDED: I remember when Stevie had to show Bob Dylan how to sing like Bob Dylan:

The return of the single-earner household?

"Nick's Bar in Platteville, in far southwest Wisconsin, posted a 30-second video late Wednesday that showed the bar teeming with people drinking, talking and bobbing their heads to music."

"But more liberal parts of the state were clamping down. In Dane County, home to the capital of Madison, officials quickly imposed a mandate incorporating most of the statewide order. City health officials in Milwaukee said a stay-at-home order they enacted in late March remains in effect."

From "Court ruling opening Wisconsin brings concern, Trump praise" (Wisconsin State Journal).

Quoted in the article:

1. The Tavern League of Wisconsin (to its members): "You can OPEN IMMEDIATELY!"

2. Donald Trump (on Twitter): "The Great State of Wisconsin, home to Tom Tiffany's big Congressional Victory on Tuesday, was just given another win. Its Democrat Governor was forced by the courts to let the State Open. The people want to get on with their lives. The place is bustling!"

ADDED: What troubles me is that the excesses of the lockdown fomented a protest movement and a division into teams — discussed here, earlier this morning. I wish we could emerge from the lockdown with rational care, but instead, the most eager rebels are plunging into celebratory crowds.

How the government talks to us in Madison: "Please read this Order carefully. Violation of or failure to comply with this Order is a crime punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both."

Here's the Order of Public Health that was put up on the Madison & Dane County website yesterday.
Please read this Order carefully. Violation of or failure to comply with this Order is a crime punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both. (Wis. Stats. §§ 252.03 & 252.25) and a violation of Dane County Ordinance §46.25(1) and Madison General Ordinance §7.05(6) punishable by forfeiture.
I hereby adopt the provisions contained within Emergency Order #28, Safer at Home Order, a copy of which is attached hereto and fully incorporated herein, except for the following...
..."attached hereto and fully incorporated herein"...  Do ordinary people even understand what that means? But you're to read it "carefully" and if you fail "to comply," you might be tossed in prison or punished with "forfeiture." Forfeiture of what?  What is my city coming to take from me if I fail to comply with this thing — and all that was attached thereto and fully incorporated therein — that I ought to have read carefully? My money? My freedom? Something referenced in General Ordinance §7.05(6)?

After "except for the following," there's something new about "religious entities," and I pray to God you can read this:
1. Section 13.h – entitled “Wedding, funerals and religious entities” is amended to remove religious entities from the subsection.
2. Section 13 aa is created entitled “Religious entities”. Religious entities must follow section 2.b.
2.b. or not 2.b. — that is the question. I've got to click through to Emergency Order #28 to find those sections, and I see that Emergency Order #28 is the Governor's order that the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down yesterday. No sooner was the state-wide order invalidated than my local government reinstated it — but not without changing the way "religious entities" are treated.

What is Section 13.h of Emergency Order #28? It groups "religious entities" with weddings and funerals among the "Essential Businesses and Operations" and permits gatherings of "fewer than 10 people." Under 2.b., the requirement is now "to use technology to avoid meeting in person, including virtual meetings, teleconference."

So, just like that, small religious groups lost their right to meet in person and must, at this late date, switch to teleconferencing. And that's what you get when local government takes over. Why did they adopt everything else the State Department of Health Services had in its orders, but change that one thing? They rushed it out on the same day the court acted, but they had the time and motivation to go harder on religious groups? How did that happen?

ADDED: Back on March 15th, I noted (and questioned) the city's treatment of religion gatherings.

Red, blue, red, blue, red, blue, red, blue...

Here's the list of the top political stories at Real Clear Politics this morning:
Uncovering Obama's Surveillance of His Political Opponents Lee Smith, NY Post
Why Trump Is Peddling Extra-Strength Conspiracy Theories Jack Shafer, Politico
Judge Sullivan's Bizarre, Politicized Order Is a Travesty Andrew McCarthy, NRO
Obamagate Is a Distraction From Bad News About Covid Oliver Darcy, CNN
Was California Special Election Beginning of Red Wave? Mollie Hemingway, Federalist
4 Reasons Opening Up Businesses May Backfire--and Soon Brian Resnick, Vox
Comparing Florida and New York Looks Bad for Cuomo Deroy Murdock, FOX News
10 Protections That Should Be in Next Aid Package Sen. Warren & Rep. Khanna, CNN
Forget Pelosi's Boondoggle Bill--Take Taxes to Zero Instead Steve Cortes, RCP
Trump's 'I'm Rubber, You're Glue' Campaign Plan Peter Nicholas, The Atlantic
Trump's Odds of Winning Are Higher Than You Think Eric Levitz, New York Magazine
Stephanopoulos Just Wants the Tara Reade Story to Go Away John Nolte, Breitbart
Biden Campaign Relies on Dem Women Amid Tara Reade Scrutiny Li Zhou, Vox
DNI Richard Grenell Deserves the Nation's Gratitude Gina Loudon, RealClearPolitics
Obama Bent Over Backward to Avoid Weaponizing Intel Jonathan Chait, NY Magazine
Russia Probe Coverage Is Worst Journalistic Fiasco I've Seen Brit Hume, FOX News
WH to Senate: Act on Trump's Choice for Global Media Agency Susan Crabtree, RCP
What? Am I — a seeker of truth — just supposed to add it all up and divide by 2?

I saw this yesterday and didn't know what had happened.

This morning I see "Melissa Etheridge reveals son Beckett Cypher died from opioid addiction" (NY Post).
Etheridge met her ex-partner, Beckett’s mother Julie Cypher, in 1986 on the set of the video for her single, “Bring Me Some Water.” Cypher was, at the time, married to actor Lou Diamond Phillips, and after divorcing him in 1990, went on to have daughter Bailey, 23, and Beckett with Grammy winner Etheridge. They eventually revealed that their sperm donor was 1960s icon David Crosby.
More, here, at Variety:
The young family appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone with Crosby and his wife, Jan Dance, [in 2000] (Beckett is the baby pictured in front), and also in a groundbreaking interview with Charlie Rose on “60 Minutes.” In it, they essentially explained to America their family arrangements and how the children might grow up with same-sex parents.

“I do not believe that my children will be wanting in any way because they didn’t have a father in the home every single day,” Etheridge said. “What they have in the home is two loving parents. I think that puts them ahead of the game.”

She and Cypher split up later that year, although they moved into back-to-back houses to facilitate coparenting.

Etheridge revealed in 2016 that she and Cypher had considered their close friend, actor Brad Pitt, to be the biological father of their children, but reconsidered when they saw how much he wanted his own family.... "I don’t want to share this with someone who really, badly wants children because my children don’t need another parent – they have two...."

"Ordinary speech can emit small respiratory droplets that linger in the air for at least eight minutes and potentially much longer..."

"... according to a study published Wednesday that could help explain why infections of the coronavirus so often cluster in nursing homes, households, conferences, cruise ships and other confined spaces with limited air circulation. The report, from researchers at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and the University of Pennsylvania, was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a peer-reviewed journal. It is based on an experiment that used laser light to study the number of small respiratory droplets emitted through human speech. The answer: a lot."

From "Experiment shows human speech generates droplets that linger in the air for more than 8 minutes" by Joel Achenbach (in WaPo).

How did we ever sit together in restaurants and talk and eat? Saliva was always constantly flying about and getting up our nose and into our mouth and onto our food! It was inexpressibly gross. And now that we know, how can we ever eat anywhere near another person... at least another person whom we wouldn't feel okay about French kissing? How can we talk with anyone other than over the internet? Human life as we have known it is over... but we can't say that. What would be the point? Life is too unhealthful to be lived?
Louder speech produces more droplets, [the researchers] note. The paper estimates that one minute of “loud speaking” generates “at least 1,000 virion-containing droplet nuclei that remain airborne” for more than eight minutes.
Okay, so maybe just tweak human life. Make improvements. Speak, but speak quietly.


PLUS: Here's a game for your coronavirus lockdown: "Say It Don't Spray It - The Word Game That Gets You Wet! The Ultimate Party Game That Brings Uncontrollable Laughter!"
Say It Don't Spray It is a hilarious variation on the category game that most people have played at one time or another! It is amazing how just a small amount of water creates a tremendous amount of anticipation, funny faces and general hilarity.

"To better understand Locals, think of it as an intersection of Patreon, YouTube, and social media, or as Rubin calls it, 'digital homes for creators.'"

"To participate, content creators with some established following buy into Locals, which works with them to develop a website or app — depending upon needs and objectives — allowing each creator to operate their own personal website and community of followers and crowd-funders. Each creator determines his own rules of conduct for his community and monetary threshold for access. For instance, Rubin’s rules for his site are essentially don’t do anything illegal and don’t be a trolling jerk, and his subscription cost for community buy-in is a $3 minimum. Chronological content feeds can function as video receptacles, a creator messaging feed, and a social engagement tool for subscribers, among other things...."

I'm reading this piece in The Federalist from last December: "Dave Rubin Launches Creator Hub ‘Locals’ To Counter Big Tech: ‘Small Is The New Big’/Nearly a year after leaving Patreon, Rubin says his new tech company Locals is the solution, taking power from online behemoths and placing it into the hands of individual creators."

I've heard of this place because Scott Adams talks about it on his podcast. He's moving his work onto it, and I'd like to take a look. I'd probably subscribe, but I need to look at it first! I get this far:

I'm not going to join something I can't see at all.

I started looking at that yesterday as I was contemplating moving my own work onto this site or something like it. I'm not considering closing this blog, just ending the comments here and having a parallel blog with commenting on the same posts. I'd work on various extras (podcasting, etc.).  Anyway, I think the commenting community could flourish without the need for burdensome and annoying moderation.

But with Locals, I cannot even get to the point where I can see what I would be using. I created an account over there but it didn't get me to a place where I could get a feel for writing in that format! It's just not user-friendly enough for me to get started.

And even as I'm contemplating moving my own work into a membership format, I'm feeling my own unwillingness to join anything. I couldn't bring myself to click to "join" the Scott Adams "community," even though I really wanted to see what it looks like, and I'm willing to speak openly about it here. It's not as though I'm a secret consumer of Scott Adams material. I just resist joining. And I'm not drawn in by the idea of being in a "community."

ADDED: I see that I wrote "I think the commenting community could flourish" and then "And I'm not drawn in by the idea of being in a 'community.'" Is that inconsistent? Not really, I don't comment on other blogs, and I don't look for in-person opportunities to comment on various issues. This blog exists and has persisted as a daily activity for 16 years because I'm not the community type.

"We are allowing the legislature to argue its own laws are unconstitutional, a legal claim it has no authority to make... The legislature may have buyer’s remorse for the breadth of discretion it gave to DHS .... But those are the laws it drafted."

Wrote Justice Brian Hagedorn, who was chief legal counsel to GOP governor Scott Walker, dissenting from the other conservatives on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, quoted in "Wisconsin Supreme Court strikes down stay-at-home order" (Wisconsin State Journal).

It was a 4-3 decision, and one of the votes in the majority was Daniel Kelly, who just lost an election and will be leaving the court. It's hard for people to maintain their respect for judicial decisions when things split in such a starkly partisan way. But I suppose a lot of people think it's only the other side that's partisan, and the judges on their team got it right.

"It is important to put this on the table: This virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities, and this virus may never go away."

Said Mike Ryan, the head of the W.H.O. emergency response team, quoted in "Coronavirus Live Updates: Virus Could Be Here to Stay, and Economic Pain Long-Lasting" (NYT).

Why does our eagerness or hesitance about ending the coronavirus lockdown have anything to do with party affiliation?

It is my observation — and maybe my observation is skewed — that people on the right are straining to get out from under this lockdown and people on the left want to hold back and be more careful. Why?!

I'm not in either group, and I want to understand the science about the disease and to consider the balancing factors — economic damage, psychological suffering, etc. — and make wise choices about returning to some improved version of normal. I don't think we should be over-eager to get back to normal or unduly hesitant, and I realize it's subjective and people have different ideas about what's too much eagerness or too much hesitance. I care about safety and freedom, and I'd like to see honest, well-meaning people discuss where to set the balance between the two. That is, I would like to be informed, intelligent, and reasonable about it.

But I look around at my fellow citizens — the ones who are speaking publicly — and I see a big partisan split. I could come up with some theories about why — if the decisions are going to be made as a matter of 2 political teams competing for dominance — the Republicans latched onto the eagerness side and the Democrats went with the careful hesitation, but why are people just going with their team?!

I'm not completely depressed about this. It might be a good sign that we're going with ordinary politics. If things were worse, we'd be more together, as we were a few weeks ago when we all understood and accepted the idea of "flattening the curve" so the medical facilities would not be overrun, before the lockdown turned into an idea of waiting until it's safe enough.

May 13, 2020

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk 'til dawn.

"Some listeners will buy whatever he narrates, which might help explain why a collection of Albert Camus essays from the mid-20th century suddenly..."

"... found itself on the audiobook best-seller list last year. When the publisher Recorded Books needed someone to narrate all five volumes of Robert Alter’s new, acclaimed translation of the Hebrew Bible, Ballerini was chosen to read it.... After years spent giving voice to novelists ranging from Dean Koontz to Ha Jin, Ballerini was now also the voice of God.... At 50, Edoardo Ballerini enjoys a particular kind of stardom.... Reading and recording for hours was harder than he expected. Sound booths are small and airless; before too long, a reader’s throat grows parched, and the need to swallow becomes increasingly hard to ignore. 'I used to have to go home and pass out,' Ballerini told me, recalling his first foray. 'It’s exhausting. The best comparison I can think of is to long-distance running. It’s easy to say you just put one foot in front of the other for a long time. You actually do it, it’s difficult.'... Ballerini recognizes the responsibility involved in interpreting others’ words, so much so that he almost declined to narrate Alter’s translation of the Bible... He had made it clear to the producers that if he took on the project, he would not orate it, James Earl Jones-style; nor would character sketches drive his performance. His goal was simply to read it with the natural incantation of storytelling, as best he could, even when just listing dozens of multisyllabic biblical names. His one predetermined decision was that he would slow down when he read as God. 'I’m God,' he said. 'I’m not in any hurry — no one’s going anywhere when I speak.' He would avoid theological interpretation, and yet even a wholly neutral delivery would be a choice of consequence...."

From "The Voice of God. (And Knausgaard, Whitman, Machiavelli … )" (NYT).

I bought the Bible audiobook at Amazon — here.

"The Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Gov. Tony Evers' administration's extended 'safer at home' directive..."

"... that canceled in-person K-12 schooling this academic year and kept ‘nonessential’ businesses closed until the last week of May. The court, in a 4-3 ruling released Wednesday, found the order issued by the state's top health official exceeded her authority and that she needed legislative oversight to implement the language in the first place.... [L]ocal officials are likely to put in place their own restrictions, meaning it's possible the state could see a patchwork of regulations where bars, restaurants and other establishments are able to operate in one city but not a nearby one. Already, Madison and Dane County health officials have announced they are implementing most parts of the extended stay at home order, keeping area schools closed and allowing only essential travel for residents...."

The Wisconsin State Journal reports.

ADDED: The NYT story on the case quotes the court...
“An agency cannot confer on itself the power to dictate the lives of law-abiding individuals as comprehensively as the order does without reaching beyond the executive branch’s authority”....
... and Rick Esenberg, "the president and general counsel of the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, which had filed an amicus brief siding with the Republican-held Legislature":
“The court’s decision ensures that Wisconsin’s response to Covid-19 must involve both the executive and the legislative branch... Wisconsin will be better for it. The grave nature of the pandemic cannot be used to subvert our very form of government.”

"Most fungi take the form of tiny cylindrical threads, from which hyphal tips branch in all directions, creating a meandering, gossamer-like network..."

"... known as mycelium. Fungus has been breaking down organic matter for millions of years, transforming it into soil. A handful of healthy soil might contain miles of mycelia, invisible to the human eye. It’s estimated that there are a million and a half species of fungus, though nearly ninety per cent of them remain undocumented.... [T]he hyphal tips of mycelium seem to communicate with one another, making decisions without a real center.... ...Toby Kiers, an evolutionary biologist who was taken with Thomas Piketty’s 'Capital in the Twenty-First Century' and its insights on inequality. She wondered how mycorrhizal networks, the symbiotic intertwining of plant systems and mycelium, deal with their own, natural encounters with inequity. Kiers exposed a single fungus to an unequally distributed supply of phosphorus. Somehow the fungus 'coordinated its trading behavior across the network'... essentially shuttling phosphorus to parts of the mycelial network for trade with the plant system according to a 'buy low, sell high' logic.... Scientists still don’t understand how fungi coördinate, control, and learn from such behaviors, just that they do. 'How best to think about shared mycorrhizal networks?... Are we dealing with a superorganism? A metropolis? A living Internet? Nursery school for trees? Socialism in the soil? Deregulated markets of late capitalism, with fungi jostling on the trading floor of a forest stock exchange? Or maybe it’s fungal feudalism, with mycorrhizal overlords presiding over the lives of their plant laborers for their own ultimate benefit.'"

From "The Secret Lives of Fungi/They shape the world—and offer lessons for how to live in it" (in The New Yorker)(with the note: "Published in the print edition of the May 18, 2020, issue, with the headline 'Fungus Among Us.'" I can see why they regretted that title, but maybe just own it. You did it. Live with it.)

"A little more than a year after its opening, a Far East Side Madison low-income housing complex has been declared a chronic nuisance..."

"... and its owner could face fines and other charges if it doesn't make changes to improve quality of life and public safety there.... In its April 9 notice declaring the property a nuisance, the city points to three of the most serious incidents: a 4-year-old accidentally shot in the foot on Feb. 26; a tenant's nephew shot in the leg outside the tenant's apartment on March 17, and an argument between two tenants over loud music that escalated into a physical fight on March 31.... The six-building, $20.3 million project received $11 million in financing from the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority and $5.4 million from insurance giant UnitedHealthCare, but no city money. It has 28 two-bedroom and 66 three-bedroom units, all of which are reserved for families making 60% or less of the county's median income.... In a March 17, 2019, column in The Capital Times, Ellen Sexton, CEO of UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Wisconsin, touted the Harmony's proximity to Downtown and on-site amenities including a community clubhouse with a library, computer lab and meeting space, fitness center, playground, picnic area with grill and private garages.... Assistant city attorney Jennifer Zilavy, who has been handling the nuisance complaint, wasn't sure why the property began seeing problem so soon after its opening but pointed to inadequate management that didn't set expectations for tenants early on as one possibility."

The Wisconsin State Journal reports.

"Don’t do acid and drive. Control your set (i.e., the people you’re tripping with) and setting. Don’t ever look in the mirror."

"... or, alternatively, do look in the mirror. And, as Marc Maron says he was once told, during a bad trip: Just hang in there, man. According to Maron, that’s advice he still gives people today, although it sounds pretty banal."

From "Talking about LSD sounds funnier than taking it in 'Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics'" (WaPo)(reviewing a Netflix movie).

"Aimee Stephens, the center of landmark transgender rights Supreme Court case, dies before the ruling."

WaPo reports.
Writing in a column for The Washington Post last summer, Stephens said she “would like to believe that the United States — and the Supreme Court — will see that transgender people should be able to live free from discrimination in the workplace and beyond.”

“No one should face discrimination because of who they are,” she wrote. “My case is about so much more than me — or even transgender people. It’s about anyone who has ever been told they are not enough of a man or not the right kind of a woman. It’s about anyone who has ever experienced sex discrimination. It’s about making sure the same thing doesn’t happen to someone else.”

"When nearly every person goes about her day with a hand-held device capable of taking hundreds of photographs and videos and every public place is equipped with a wide variety of surveillance equipment, it is simply not reasonable to expect that our fully clothed images will remain totally private."

Wrote Judge James Curwood Witt Jr. of the Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee in Knoxville, quoted in "Trailing Women With a Camera Was Legal, Appeals Court Rules/David Eric Lambert, 40, lurked in stores and followed women around, pointing his phone at their breasts and buttocks, but because he was in public, he committed no crime, an appeals court concluded" (NYT).
William B. Harper, a prosecutor with the Sullivan County District Attorney’s Office, said his office was discussing whether to appeal the decision to the State Supreme Court... “We all recognize that if you shop at Walmart or pump gas, you’re going to be videotaped,” said Mr. Harper, who supervises the unit that prosecuted the case. “But that camera doesn’t zoom in on your privates.... If you’re taking a picture of someone’s intimate parts, that’s not something that society is willing to accept"....

“I did not mean to scare anyone and only filmed the females for my own purposes,” [said Lambert]. “I just liked using the video function on my phone.”

"If Garcia indeed wins, expect Democrats to downplay the loss by saying that the special election is too idiosyncratic to draw lessons for the fall."

Writes the NYT reporter Jennifer Medina, as the Republican Mike Garcia leads the Democrat Christy Smith in the 25th Congressional District. Garcia is ahead by a 12-point margin — after 79% of the votes are counted in Los Angeles county and 56% in Ventura County.
Garcia, a political newcomer, leaned heavily on his credentials as a former Navy pilot. His logo resembled jet wings and nearly all of his ads showed him in front of a plane....

Supporters of Mike Garcia are already calling tonight a “landslide” and saying that he represents the “first domino” in a line of Republican wins this year....

Yes, it's totally based on the "Twilight Zone" episode "The After Hours."

"Marsha White, in her normal and natural state, a wooden lady with a painted face who, one month out of the year, takes on the characteristics of someone as normal and as flesh and blood as you and I. But it makes you wonder, doesn't it, just how normal are we? Just who are the people we nod our hellos to as we pass on the street? A rather good question to ask . . . particularly in the Twilight Zone."

I love the sigh at 0:11...

ADDED: Remember how sighing got Al Gore in trouble debating George W. Bush in 2000? Paul Begala remembers (quoted in the NYT in September 2016):
Right away I picked up a problem about Gore during debate prep: a raw, unbridled contempt he had for Bush. It wasn’t the usual “my worthy adversary and I have different ideas.” He would sometimes sigh when I was talking, or frown, or roll his eyes. And his tone and language too — it all communicated that Gore thought Bush was an idiot. “You don’t deserve to be on stage with me” was Gore’s basic attitude.
So what we saw was after they did what they could at the prep stage. I am so eager to see how Biden — if he really is the Democratic nominee — deports himself at the debates with Trump. It would be quite something if he makes the Gore mistake and relies on sighing to let us know what he thinks of Trump.

AND: I created a "sighing" tag, and going back to add it to old posts, I discovered that I'd already remarked on Biden's sighing — and in the debate context. Of course, Biden was horrible in the debate he did in 2012 with Paul Ryan. The laughing, I remember well. But there was also sighing. From my simulblog of the event:
8:36: While Ryan is talking about Medicare helping his mother and grandmother, Biden sighs long and loud. Sighing! Remember when Gore got in no end of trouble for sighing? How can Biden not know that?!

At the Backyard Diner...


... the early lunch crowd is rolling in.


"But now, as the pandemic eases its grip, companies are considering not just how to safely bring back employees, but whether all of them need to come back at all...."

"... [T]hey are now wondering whether it’s worth continuing to spend as much money on Manhattan’s exorbitant commercial rents. They are also mindful that public health considerations might make the packed workplaces of the recent past less viable.... In a recent email to employees, JP Morgan Chase, which until last year had been the largest office tenant in New York City, said the company was reviewing how many people would be allowed to return. More than 180,000 Chase employees have been working from home.... Twitter, which has hundreds of employees in its New York office in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, told all its employees on Tuesday that they could work remotely forever if they want to and if their position allows for it.... 'If you got two and a half million people in Brooklyn, why is it rational or efficient for all those people to schlep into Manhattan and work every day?' said Jed Walentas, who runs the real estate company Two Trees Management. 'That’s how we used to do it yesterday. It’s not rational now.'...  Real estate taxes provide about a third of New York’s revenue..."

From "Manhattan Faces a Reckoning if Working From Home Becomes the Norm/Even after the crisis eases, companies may let workers stay home. That would affect an entire ecosystem, from transit to restaurants to shops. Not to mention the tax base" (NYT).

The Democratic Party brand is believe the scientists, trust the science — but...

"Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will co-chair a task force for Joe Biden's campaign on climate change, a source with direct knowledge of the planning tells CNN..." (CNN).

ADDED: Now, a fair response to my prodding would be to say that scientists cannot be the final word  — the "end all" — and that they should "have a little bit of humility" and politicians ought to "listen to [their] advice" but they must balance many factors in making their decisions about "what’s best for the economy." My quotes there are all from Rand Paul, as he questioned Anthony Fauci at a Senate hearing yesterdays. Transcript. You might not realize it if you rely on mainstream media, but Dr. Fauci agreed with Rand Paul — he only offers the scientific advice, based on his area of expertise, and it needs to be fitted into a larger picture with many other pieces having to do with things beyond his expertise:
I have never made myself out to be the end all and only voice in this. I’m a scientist, a physician, and a public health official. I give advice, according to the best scientific evidence. There are a number of other people who come into that and give advice that are more related to the things that you spoke about, about the need to get the country back open again, and economically. I don’t give advice about economic things. I don’t get advice about anything other than public health. So I wanted to respond to that. The second thing is that you use the word, we should be humble about what we don’t know. And I think that falls under the fact that we don’t know everything about this virus, and we really better be very careful....
We don't know everything about climate change, and the scientists who specialize in the field should be humble and they tell us to be very careful, but at they same time they know they don't know economics and can offer no expert advice on that score. The politicians are supposed to be the ones who take all the advice and balance everything. In that light, a member of Congress is a good choice to co-chair a task force on climate change. Within that category, to select Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tells us a lot about how Joe Biden wants to balance all the factors in making climate change policy... at least for now as he postures for us voters. What he will really do if he wins the presidency, I really have no idea.

"The oddity in all of this is the people Trump despises most, love him the most."

"The people who are voting for Trump for the most part... he wouldn’t even let them in a fucking hotel. He’d be disgusted by them. Go to Mar-a-Lago, see if there’s any people who look like you. I’m talking to you in the audience.... I don’t hate Donald... I hate you for voting for him, for not having intelligence... I do think it would be extremely patriotic of Donald to say 'I’m in over my head and I don’t want to be president anymore.'... It’d be so patriotic that I’d hug him and then I’d go back to Mar-a-Lago and have a meal with him and feel good about him because it would be such an easy thing to do."

Said Howard Stern, quoted at CNN.

"Armed members of the Michigan Home Guard stood outside Karl Manke's barbershop, ready to blockade the door if police arrived."

"They were determined to help Manke, 77, reopen his shop Monday, in defiance of state orders, and dozens joined them, wearing Trump sweatshirts and Trump cowboy hats and waving Trump flags. They gathered not because they desperately needed haircuts but to rail against Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s approach to fighting the coronavirus outbreak in Michigan, one of the nation’s worst hot spots. They were channeling President Trump’s support of such protests, but some also were taking aim at the state’s Republicans, who they say have not done enough to 'liberate' the state from safety measures that have ground life to a halt.... The protest and others like it — including two last month that included demonstrators with swastikas, Confederate flags and some with long guns inside the capitol — have alarmed lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. But after Trump appeared to urge the militia members on, tweeting that they are 'very good people' who 'want their lives back again,' they have forced Michigan’s Republican lawmakers to strike a delicate balance, managing a deadly virus while also being careful not to contradict Trump or alienate their conservative supporters.... Protesters in Michigan have sought a radical turnabout in the state’s response to the pandemic, with some demanding that Whitmer lift all restrictions. Many come from fringe movements and harbor deep suspicion of health officials.... While Trump won the state by 10,700 votes in 2016, there are signs Michigan is shifting to the left as it again stands to be a major battleground in 2020.... Now, some see signs that Trump’s attacks on Whitmer — and his support of hard-line protesters — could further endanger his prospects...."

From "Armed militia helped a Michigan barbershop open, a coronavirus defiance that puts Republican lawmakers in a bind" (WaPo).

You can see the slant of the article, even as it gives you so many reasons to doubt it. Is Trump doing well in Michigan? Will this protest movement help him or hurt him? WaPo wants to assure us that the state is moving left and Whitmer represents the future, and it wants to pressure Republican legislators to stick with Whitmer's approach and to steel themselves against the rowdy freedom freaks. But there's Trump, giving those protesters reason to love him, even though he doesn't give them that much. He just says they're good people who want their lives back. That's not saying they're going about it exactly the right way, just that he loves them. Meanwhile, the elite media and politicians find them stupid and toxic — deplorable. But Trump is "endanger[ing] his prospects" we're told. Who can believe that? Only the willfully blind. And why not go for willful blindness if you hate Trump? Your alternative is to root for the disease to flare back up and kill the freedom freaks you deplore. You don't want to say that, but isn't it what you think?

"Just about everyone, regardless of hearing ability, picks up information from seeing others’ faces, and most people lip-read to some degree."

"But deaf and hard of hearing people do it more, especially in noisy places. I don’t sign, but people who do also use facial expressions to help to connote meaning in American Sign Language. When I’m somewhere noisy, and a person speaking to me is wearing a mask, my speech comprehension is abysmal. I can understand about 20 percent of what is being said, which is functionally useless. Early in the pandemic, at the end of a stressful two-hour grocery trip, the cashier was trying to explain that she couldn’t use my reusable bags. She seemed frustrated when I couldn’t answer simple questions. She was clearly stressed and needed to call in a second cashier before I understood what the problem was.... The pandemic has made it even clearer that the world is not made for people with disabilities."

From "I’m Deaf and I Lip-Read. All Those Masks Are Presenting a Problem" by Nehama Rogozen (in Slate).

Before reading this article, I hadn't thought about the problem masks present for people who rely on lip reading to interact with other people. People with disabilities stir special sympathy. But notice that she is also talking about how we are all disabled in our ability to understand each other people when half the face is covered. No smiles. No frowns. No lip-pursing. No slack-jawed awe. No yawning. Without the ability to see a facial expression, we may lose interest in other people. Why do we want to have conversations? Rogozen speaks of her difficulty getting through a supermarket check-out line, and we have a lot of motivation to do that, to get the things we need as we live our at-home life. But we may slip away from deeper conversations if they do not connect us to a human face.

From the Wikipedia article "Facial expression." Caption: "Photographs from the 1862 book Mécanisme de la Physionomie Humaine by Guillaume Duchenne. Through electric stimulation, he determined which muscles were responsible for different facial expressions. Charles Darwin would later republish some of these photographs in his own work on the subject, which compared facial expressions in humans to those in animals."

Concern about coronovirus sets Paul Manafort free.

The Washington Times reports.

"Last week, the share of people staying home was 36.1 percent, on average, or about 119 million people."

"That’s a drop of 7.7 percentage points from the average during the peak period for sheltering in place.... The share of people staying home remained far higher than the U.S. average before the outbreak, which consistently hovered around 20.7 percent of the population, or about 68 million people.... No state saw a larger drop in the share of people staying home last week than Michigan, even though its stay-at-home order remained in place. While half of the state’s residents stayed home on average during the preceding six weeks, that number declined by nearly 11 percentage points last week, as approximately one million people there started moving around again...."

The NYT knows where you've been and who's been bad or good. Michigan tops the list of bad — the moving-around flouters. Wisconsin holds 4th place among the bad. And the NYT doesn't mention this, but it's a sign that Trump will be reelected... unless everything starts going to hell. Again.

Go to the link to see the county-by-county map — "Where people started leaving home again/Percentage point change in the share of people staying home." How does the NYT know this? It uses data from Cuebiq, which takes "a representative sample of about 15 million smartphone users nationwide who have agreed to share their location data with certain apps." It's not snooping on you. You agreed! With certain apps.

Quite aside from that invasion of our privacy — by our lax acceptance of the demands of apps — there's the insinuation that we're violating our state governments' orders if we do not stay home. But where are we required to stay home? Not here in Wisconsin. We're free to leave the house. It really irritates me to hear mainstream news and commentary speaking of a requirement to stay home. The requirement is social distancing! Maybe in New York City, you need to stay home to avoid violating the strictures of social distancing, but that's not true in most of the country. If people are leaving home to take walks or go food shopping, they're not disregarding orders.

Whether people are thinking for themselves and following their own ideas about how much social distancing they want or need instead of following orders — that's another matter entirely. And I don't think the certain apps are measuring that.

Sunrise, 5:39.


The "actual" sunrise time was 5:35. How much earlier can the sunrise get? 18 minutes earlier. That's not so different, is it? I've made it this far. When I began my running for the sunrise (on September 9th), it was a 5:57 CDT sunrise. Each day since April 26th has been my earliest sunrise in this running ritual. I'll max out on June 10, with the 5:17 sunrise, and that will continue through June 19th, after which we will will begin to emerge from the challenge of what to do with more than 15 hours of light in one day.

And, by the way, that was a Type #4 sunrise.

May 12, 2020

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk 'til dawn.

(And don't forget to use the Althouse Portal to Amazon.)

"Biden must improve his unscripted speaking. There is nothing more urgent for his campaign aides to address."

Urges Tom Rogers, an editor-at-large at Newsweek.
When Biden is talking with a teleprompter, he commands the situation much better than Trump. But in his living room media appearances so far, he stumbles, fails to complete sentences, searches for words, repeats the same points, has difficulty hitting the right points and does not take points to a deeper level, making his comments seem overly general and superficial....

If Biden's speaking does not improve, it will play into the most obvious critiques of his candidacy. The Trump campaign will go after Biden as an establishment politician of the Washington, D.C., "swamp," who therefore talks in "political speak"; or it will characterize him as "confused," and therefore standing for nothing; or it will paint him as "too old" to handle the job.

I believe Biden is capable of making this jump.... If Biden can clearly articulate the case against the president—especially his mishandling of the coronavirus crisis—he has a real shot at cutting through all the Trump campaign's attacks. This critique is easy to lay out. The administration has clearly failed on many levels, as Joe Scarborough crystallizes every day on Morning Joe....

So, this is a message to Biden's campaign staff: Figure out how to fix this issue, and fix it quickly....
Yeah, fix it. Make him as crystalline as Morning Joe. Get on it! Quick!

This is such a hilariously unhelpful column. The campaign obviously knows of this problem, but it can't figure out how to fix this issue. The man is 77 and he is what he is. He won the nomination by being just that and nothing more. You can't "fix" that. There's no fixing. He'll win or lose by offering himself up as what he is and nothing more. You know him. Obama knew him. The man who called Obama "articulate" is articulate enough — enough to get this far, anyway. They've got to let Biden be Biden. That's all there is and all there will be — unless they want to replace him. There's no fixing!

Don't try to get me to vote for Biden by telling me he's the hater's choice and I'm a hater.

At first I couldn't understand this Politico headline: "Trump is getting trounced among a crucial constituency: The haters/In 2016, Donald Trump cleaned up among voters who disliked him and Hillary Clinton. This year, Biden is winning big among the comparable group."

But then I understood, and I saw that it was talking about me. It's a reference to people who don't like either major party presidential candidate and have to decide which one to vote for. Traditionally, that's called picking "the lesser of 2 evils." The "evil" is in the candidate, not in the poor voter who is forced to pick one of them. How dare Politico put the word "hater" on us!
“There are a number of people who hate politics and politicians, and they play somewhat of a swing role in the country,” said Mark Mellman, a Democratic pollster.

In 2016, he said, “the people who decided the election were people who disliked both Clinton and Trump, and they voted overwhelmingly for Trump. This time, it’s a smaller number of people who dislike Trump and Biden, but that smaller number of voters is voting for Biden.”
What does it mean to "hate politics and politicians" but to still want to vote? Biden is more of a "politician" from the world of "politics," so if the "hate" were really for "politics and politicians," the "haters" should embrace Trump, because he rose up out of commerce and entertainment and dared to do his own thing that by some crazy fluke worked. I found that too weird to vote for, but if I'd been more motivated by a hatred for politics and politicians, I'd have voted for him. And — who knows? — maybe this time I will. Call me a hater and I'm more likely to. Don't try to get me to vote for Biden by telling me he's the hater's choice and I'm a hater.

"Billy doesn't respond well to pressure. Leave him alone."

Joe Rogan and Brendan Schaub talk about people who can't deal with any kind of adversity:

The re-closening.


A strategic strong play with bananas, oranges, cantaloupe, and pineapple.

I love the Room Rater, and I don't blame him for misspelling "cantaloupe." You ever try to write "cantaloupe"? Any way you write it seems wrong. Wikipedia says:
The name cantaloupe was derived in the 18th century via French cantaloup from Italian Cantalupo, which was formerly a papal county seat near Rome, after the fruit was introduced there from Armenia. It was first mentioned in English literature in 1739... The South African English name spanspek is said to be derived from Afrikaans Spaanse spek ('Spanish bacon'); supposedly, Sir Harry Smith, a 19th-century governor of Cape Colony, ate bacon and eggs for breakfast, while his Spanish-born wife Juana María de los Dolores de León Smith preferred canteloupe, so South Africans nicknamed the eponymous fruit Spanish bacon. However, the name appears to predate the Smiths and date to 18th-century Dutch Suriname: J. van Donselaar wrote in 1770, "Spaansch-spek is the name for the form that grows in Suriname which, because of its thick skin and little flesh, is less consumed."
That's more than you needed to know about South Africa! Yet, it's interesting. Spanish bacon. I guess that's like "Welsh rabbit."

You may want to know what was that first mention of cantaloupe in 1739, and I have the (unlinkable) OED at hand, so let me tell you:
1739 P. Miller Gardeners Dict. II. at Melo The Cantaleupt [sic] Melon:..the of a rich vinous Flavour.
Spelling was crazy in the old days. I'm looking through these OED examples. In 1763, we get  "Cantaleupe" ("The held in the greatest esteem by all the curious in Europe"), 1777 brings  "Cantalupe" ("The Melon is a Crimson Cantalupe"), 1786 gives us "Cantaleupe,"  1808 has "the rock-cantelope," 1839 has "Cantaloup," in 1860 Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote "cantelopes," 1863 brings "cantalupe, 1883 has "cantelope," and only finally in 1890 do we get the "proper" spelling "cantaloupe." Why that one stuck, I don't know. I think "cantelope" was the best, sound-wise, and that was the one Room Rater picked, so kudos to Room Rater, for strategic "misspelling."

And speaking of Room Rater, I love this discussion he started yesterday about the comparative rating of the Canadian and the American room:

AP bans the "archaic and sexist" term "mistress."

My son John notes (on Facebook).

But what's the alternative? AP recommends "companion" or "lover."

That made me laugh. "Lover" is so silly. How many times have I heard Trump talk about Peter Strzok and his "lover" Lisa Page?

But to oust a word, you need a replacement word. has these synonyms for "mistress":
concubine, girlfriend, paramour, prostitute, roommate, sweetheart, chatelaine, courtesan, doxy, inamorata, ladylove, moll, shack, sugar, sweetie, bedmate, best girl, dream girl, fancy woman, kept woman, main squeeze, old lady, other woman, shack job
Some of them are inappropriate, referring to prostitution (including the unfamiliar words "chatelaine" and "doxy") or to a financial arrangement that may not exist ("kept woman"). I like "bedmate," but not all sexual acting out happens in bed (especially the kind that ends up in the news). The concrete specificity of "bedmate" is a plus but also a minus. So I must say that the word that jumps out as the word to oust "mistress" is...