August 8, 2020

At the Saturday Night Café...


... you can write about anything.

Susan Rice talks about doing Sunday show appearances after the Benghazi attack — She was "a team player."

From an interview in The Atlantic with Edward-Isaac Dovere:
Dovere: The Sunday-show appearances around the Benghazi attack have become so much of your public identity. Your mother actually warned you not to do it, and thought Hillary Clinton should have instead. In the end, that became an issue getting in your way to be Obama’s secretary of state, and continues to be an issue Republicans attack you over now.

Rice: She said, “Why you?” And I said, “The White House asked me to do it.” And she’s like, “Well, where’s Hillary?” And I said that she’d been asked, but declined. And I presumed—I hadn’t had this conversation with her—that she had had an extraordinarily draining week, having lost four Americans in an American overseas facility, and all the pain and trauma that that entails for the people of the State Department, for the families, for everybody. But I agreed, as a team player. And her instinct was, “I smell a rat. You shouldn’t do it.” And I said, “Mom, don’t be ridiculous. I’ve done this many times before.” She was absolutely right.

Dovere: What did that experience teach you about the way that politics, and at least cable news, political media work?

"When you commit arson with an accelerant in an attempt to burn down a building that is occupied by people who you have intentionally trapped inside..."

"... you are not demonstrating, you are attempting to commit murder. I believe that city staff could have died last night. I cannot and I will not tolerate that.... Don’t think for a moment that if you are participating in this activity, you are not being a prop for the re-election campaign of Donald Trump — because you absolutely are. If you don’t want to be part of that, then don’t show up."

Said Ted Wheeler, quoted in "Portland mayor rips into rioters for ‘attempting to commit murder" (NY Post).

"Some say, 'It’s a great opportunity for my kids to learn compassion.' I’m a pretty compassionate person, but..."

"... at least show some respect. [The Department of Homeless Services] is just putting 283 people into a neighborhood basically in the middle of the night?... It’s this slow slide... How can families stay here? Does the city want families to stay?"

Said a woman quoted in "NYC moms fleeing Upper West Side amid crime and chaos" (NY Post).
The Lucerne, on 79th Street and Amsterdam, and Hotel Belleclaire, on 76th Street and Broadway, were recently converted into homeless shelters, with nearly 300 vagrants between them. Ten of the men are registered sex offenders, including convicted rapists, child molesters and child-porn possessors — all living a block away from a school playground.

Sunrise, 5:59 and 6:17.



"It is entirely possible that, with the benefit of hindsight, we will conclude that measures to control the virus shortened or stunted more lives in the long run..."

"... than were saved in the short run. Intellectually, we may accept that we are harming more than we are helping but emotionally, morally, we bridle at the notion of putting a price on life. The over-seventies, we say (I write this on my 71st birthday) plus those with underlying health conditions, are real, living, breathing people, whom we can count and who are known to us. It feels indecent to weigh their worth against an abstract idea of humans unknown who could be future casualties of our efforts to save loved ones today. Save those we know! Let the Devil do his work, but save the physically fragile of 2020. That, however, is not always how we act. Deep down, we know we can’t. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) uses quality adjusted life-years (Qalys) to compare the worth of medical procedures, treatments and drugs. One Qaly equals one year of perfect health (or two years of 50 per cent health, and so on). The NHS is said to regard a £30,000 Qaly as the upper limit for good value for money..... It may be crude, callous, arbitrary, tasteless, but we have to make choices and to make choices we have to weigh. What’s more, we do weigh — all the while protesting otherwise. We should be more honest."

From "We can, and must, put a price on human life/This pandemic has brought into sharp focus a question that Christians have been encouraging us to dodge for centuries" by Matthew Parris (The London Times).

I'm not endorsing his statements. £30,000 per "Qaly" sounds like a scary warning about single-payer health insurance to me. I'm interested in the problem of focusing on shortened lives to the point of not  being sufficiently concerned about stunted lives. And yet when a life is shortened — that is, when a person dies — it's a specific event. You can count the deaths (even if you can't count the "quality" and quantity of the years that were lost).

How can you count the stunted lives?! You can only guess what the losses in the future are. You won't even be able to measure the losses a year or 5 or 10 or 20 years from now. Who knows what the kids who are languishing at home now would have done if they could have gone to school more? Who knows what careers would have developed if this had been a good time to start or grow a business?

And surely there will be some benefits to this period of forced inaction. We'll never be able to figure out what they are, but maybe we're becoming less shallow and materialistic. We're seeing what economic activity is nonessential, and there's got to be some creative destruction in the wreckage.

Wow! What a blunder in Maureen Dowd's new column!

Do you see it?

"It’s hard to fathom, but it has been 36 years since a man and a woman ran together on a Democratic Party ticket."

Hello?? It's been 4 years. What's the problem here? When the woman isn't the secondary member of a pair, it's hard to see her as a woman at all??!

Here's the whole column: "No Wrist Corsages, Please/Has America grown since 1984, or will the knives still be out for Biden’s running mate?"

How long will it take to get a correction? There's already at least one comment over there taking her to task for this blunder.

By the way, check out the photograph of Geraldine Ferraro: she's wearing a dress with a pattern I've got to call brick wall.

UPDATE at 9:39 a.m.: The gaffe has been corrected. It's rewritten this way now: "It’s hard to fathom, but it took another 36 years for a man to choose to put a woman on the Democratic ticket with him."

At the bottom of the column is an acknowledgment of the rewrite: "Correction: Aug. 8, 2020/An earlier version of this column incorrectly stated the history of the Democratic ticket. It has been 36 years since a man chose a woman to run as his vice-president on the Democratic ticket, not 36 years since a man and a woman ran together on a Democratic Party ticket."

"Why We’re Demanding No Cops for Veep/If Joe Biden wants to signal his commitment to the message of the Black Lives Matter movement, he shouldn’t pick a former police officer or prosecutor."

Headline at The Nation.
Since its inception, our policing system has been used to terrorize, subjugate, and, when necessary, kill Black people.... Finally, space is opening up for real, substantive change to systemic racism and policing in America.... Former vice president Biden must stand with this movement, including the Black women who propelled him to the Democratic nomination, and make clear through policy and his VP choice that he is on the right side of justice and will put in place policies that protect Black people. This means he cannot have someone who has been a top cop or in the pocket of the police on the ticket, because doing so would not only signal that he is not committed to protecting Black lives but also might discourage the voters he needs to defeat Donald Trump....
Excluded by this demand — as detailed in the article — are Senator Amy Klobuchar, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Senator Kamala Harris, and Representative Val Demings. Acceptable are: Senator Elizabeth Warren, Representative Barbara Lee, Representative Karen Bass, and Stacey Abrams.

"Where Do Republicans Go From Here?/The party looks brain-dead at every spot Trump touches. But off in the corners, there’s a lot of intellectual ferment."

That's just the new David Brooks column, but I'm linking to it because it has a very cool illustration by Tim Enthoven. And I like that it fits so squarely into my tag "what Trump did to the GOP" which you might enjoy clicking on for a trip down memory lane.

Here's some Brooks:
If you came of age with conservative values and around Republican politics in the 1980s and 1990s, you lived within a certain Ronald Reagan-Margaret Thatcher paradigm. It was about limiting government, spreading democracy abroad, building dynamic free markets at home and cultivating people with vigorous virtues — people who are energetic, upright, entrepreneurial, independent-minded, loyal to friends and strong against foes....
But somehow that wasn't enough. Other Republicans offered other "paradigms." First on the list, Brooks himself!
On Sept. 15, 1997, William Kristol and I wrote a piece for The Wall Street Journal on what we called National Greatness Conservatism. We argued that the G.O.P. had become too anti-government.
They argued for "ambitious national projects, infrastructure, federal programs to increase social mobility." Brooks thinks John McCain, in 2000, represented their idea. George W. Bush, who won that year, had his own paradigm:  Compassionate Conservatism. That was, per Brooks, "an attempt to meld Catholic social teaching to conservatism." There were more paradigms offered up:
Sam’s Club Republicans, led by Reihan Salam and my Times colleague Ross Douthat, pointed a way to link the G.O.P. to working-class concerns. Front Porch Republicans celebrated small towns and local communities. The Reformicons tried to use government to build strong families and neighborhoods. The Niskanen Center is an entire think tank for people who have leapt from libertarianism.

Trump speaks as if he's lost the ability to think and is just reading from a note card.

From the August 6th transcript, I'm talking about everything after "radical left agenda":
Joe Biden’s policies put China first and America last, and that’s what he’ll continue to do, if he ever got this shot. And you will have a disruption in the market, the likes of which our country has never seen. You will have a crash in the markets, because he’s going double and triple your taxes. He’s going to do things that nobody ever would ever think even possible. Because he’s following the radical left agenda. Take away your guns. Destroy your second amendment. No religion, no anything. Hurt the Bible, hurt God. He’s against God. He’s against guns. He’s against energy, our kind of energy.
No anything?!

Just yesterday, I was saying that Biden had spoken as if he "is losing the ability to maintain the boundary between what is said behind the scenes with his advisers and what is appropriate for speech to the general public." Trump spoke as if he were losing the ability to maintain the boundary between his inner thoughts and what is appropriate for speech to the general public. Within your own mind, I can see having short prompts for areas of thoughts like "Hurt the Bible, hurt God," but these are reminders to use material that conveys that feeling. They are not the actual material that you would present for public consumption!

"Hurt God" is especially ridiculous. Does he believe in God? Is God not omnipotent in Trump's theism? Did he mean hurt God's feelings?

August 7, 2020

Sunrise enigma.

It was an austere sunrise:


But right at my vantage point, I found this:


Nice performance art!

"His first self-imposed date for naming a running mate, around Aug. 1, came and went. The first week of August, another timeline he publicly floated..."

"... is nearly over, and an aide confirmed that an announcement would not happen this week. Mr. Biden has reached the final stage of his deliberations and is expected to name his choice shortly before the Democratic National Convention, which begins on Aug. 17.... This kind of approach — being openly meditative about the issue at hand, with a penchant for missing his own deadlines as he mulls his options — is in line with how Mr. Biden has made other big political choices throughout his career. Those who have worked with him over the years describe nonlinear decision-making processes with input from allies and family members, a barrage of questions from Mr. Biden, and a habit of extending deadlines in a way that leaves some Democrats anxious and annoyed, while others say it brings him to a well-considered decision, eventually.... Yet as the process has stretched out, each day has also brought intensive lobbying, uncertainty for the contenders and, increasingly, visible factions...."

From "Why Joe Biden Keeps Missing His Own V.P. Deadlines/On issues big and small, Joseph R. Biden Jr. will not be rushed, including the critical choice of a running mate. He’s deliberative, and he doesn’t mind extending his timetable — again and again" (NYT).

Did that article answer the question why Biden keeps missing his own deadlines? Nonlinear decision-making processes?? Isn't the answer really more about how he limited his range of choices by promising to pick a woman and then got overtaken by events that made it seem as though he had to pick a black woman and now he has no good choice? I wouldn't call that nonlinear. I'd call that disastrously linear!

By the way, there's no difference between "decision-making" and "decision-making processes," so "nonlinear decision-making processes" really set off my bullshit detector.

"Crunchy candy bar since 1930 – I’m a candy enthusiast and I’ve never even heard of a Zagnut bar."

"But," writes CrossBoss, about today's NYT crossword, "I did enjoy watching this commercial."

"Faizel Khan was being told by the news media and his own mayor that the protests in his hometown were peaceful, with 'a block party atmosphere.'"

"But that was not what he saw through the windows of his Seattle coffee shop. He saw encampments overtaking the sidewalks. He saw roving bands of masked protesters smashing windows and looting. Young white men wielding guns would harangue customers as well as Mr. Khan, a gay man of Middle Eastern descent who moved here from Texas so he could more comfortably be out. To get into his coffee shop, he sometimes had to seek the permission of self-appointed armed guards to cross a border they had erected. 'They barricaded us all in here,' Mr. Khan said. 'And they were sitting in lawn chairs with guns.' For 23 days in June, about six blocks in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood were claimed by left-wing demonstrators and declared police-free.... On Capitol Hill, business crashed as the Seattle police refused to respond to calls to the area. Officers did not retake the region until July 1, after four shootings, including two fatal ones.... Much of the violence [business owners] saw and the intimidation of their patrons came from a group these business owners identified as antifa, which they distinguished from the Black Lives Matter movement. 'The idea of taking up the Black movement and turning it into a white occupation, it’s white privilege in its finest definition,' Mr. Khan said. 'And that’s what they did."

From "Abolish the Police? Those Who Survived the Chaos in Seattle Aren’t So Sure/What is it like when a city abandons a neighborhood and the police vanish? Business owners describe a harrowing experience of calling for help and being left all alone" (NYT).

The top-rated comment over there — by a lot — is:
This is pretty amazing because I certainly don't recall the NYT reporting on the chaos while it was occurring. The NYT reports made it sound like Seattle was having a block party when in fact the opposite was true. I saw some reports of the chaos on Facebook, but figured it was just right wing propaganda. I guess I'll have to get serious about getting the truth from many news sources going forward. It's naive to think that news reporting is not influenced by political agendas of those reporting it. I'm liberal, but I still like to know the truth even if it flies in the face of my beliefs and forces me to rethink them rationally.
2 highly rated responses to that comment:

This morning at sunrise — the first bit of fall color.


"Hello. I am Mark Zuckerberg. I am a human. Just like you."

I like this cartoon.

"Publishers Fret Over Obama’s ‘Failure to Perform’/Michelle finished her book. Why is Obama having trouble living up to his part of their lucrative contract?"

Headline at American Spectator.
Contracts that come with a reported $65 million advance, such as the one signed by Barack and Michelle Obama in February 2017 with Penguin Random House (PRH), will inevitably include [a "failure to perform" clause].... At the time the Obama deal was made in early 2017, insiders were telling Publishers Weekly that books by both Michelle and Barack would be released in fall 2018. Michelle’s book, Becoming, was released by PRH’s Crown division on schedule in November 2018 and has exceeded expectations. Barack’s book will be released at least two years behind schedule with no publication date in sight....

Why did Biden say the African American community is not diverse?

Here's the full statement we've been puzzling over:
"What you all know that most people don't know, unlike the African American community with notable exceptions, the Latino community is an incredibly diverse community, with incredibly different attitudes about different things," Biden said. "You go to Florida, you find a very different attitude about immigration in certain places than you do when you're in Arizona. So it's a very different, a very diverse community."
Quoted in "Biden tries to clarify remarks suggesting lack of diversity in the Black community/The former VP said he recognizes African Americans are not a monolith — "not by identity, not on issues, not at all" (NBC News). The "clarification" is not a clarification at all, just a reversal:
"In no way did I mean to suggest the African American community is a monolith — not by identity, not on issues, not at all," Biden said in a thread of tweets. "Throughout my career I've witnessed the diversity of thought, background, and sentiment within the African American community."
I think what happened is that Biden, in cognitive decline, is losing the ability to maintain the boundary between what is said behind the scenes with his advisers and what is appropriate for speech to the general public.

An honest clarification would be something like: We're trying to win an election, and that means patching together blocs of voters, and realistically, it works to consider black voters as one big group, and it doesn't work to do that with Hispanic voters. But that's something for us to take into account as we craft our public statements, not something that belongs in the public statements.

It's a bit like George H.W. Bush running for reelection in 1992 and saying "Message: I care." It seemed to be the idea he was supposed to keep in mind, not something to say out loud. He got mixed up!

"Why Your Boomer Parents Are Obsessed With Sarah Cooper/More than anything, older Democrats and #Resistance types want to ‘trigger’ the president."

An article in Mel Magazine... whatever that is. I ended up there because that NY Magazine article I blogged in the previous post linked to another Mel article, "LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA’S LIP BITE IS A WARNING FOR EVERY STRAIGHT DUDE SELFIE/THIS IS AN INTERVENTION" ("While you may think it’s wry... [l]ip-biting is not cute. It is not going to get you laid. And it’s not what the country was founded on. If anyone should know that by now, it’s Lin-Manuel Miranda." No mention of Bill Clinton! His lip-biting worked... 30 years ago.)

So... on to Sarah Cooper, the TikTok comedian who lip syncs to snippets of Trump speaking. She doesn't try to imitate Trump, just to demonstrate that something he said is weird and dumb, mostly by facial expressions. The author at Mel, Miles Klee, says Boomers think this is the funniest thing ever and keep pushing Cooper on younger people who are not equivalently amused. Why?

Klee says Cooper is a centrist Democrat, and "nothing in her routine is too edgy or niche to upset or confuse an older audience," and older folk enjoy feeling hip enough to have something from TikTok to share — especially something from a black woman. But younger people may feel the humor is too gentle. It's just repeating Trump's own words, not attacking him for his "cruelties."

And then there's the theory that this kind of comedy is really getting to Trump:
... Cooper’s fans have developed a baseless theory that Trump’s promises to ban TikTok in the U.S. stem from his fury over her videos on the app. This ties back to their delight whenever the president rage-tweeted at Alec Baldwin. What’s funny to them in those SNL cold opens isn’t necessarily the scripted comedy but an anticipation of Trump’s “meltdown” response. This is their version of the conservative obsession with “triggering the libs,” where political humor is measured by how much it pisses off your opponent. The libs love imagining Trump in a tantrum after the Axios interview, and they’re much too eager to believe that in his vendetta against TikTok, he’s merely lashing out at a woman who “owned” him there.
I'm a Boomer, but I've never believed this idea that Trump would "melt down" and become crazy or enraged by these imitations of him. He's already more or less of an imitation of himself. He created this character Trump, and he plays him on TV and the internet. It's already comic. If other comics copy his comedy, that's a tribute to his comic creation. I do see other people buying that theory, but am I to believe they're buying it because they are older? Maybe it's mostly that age correlates to centrism, and they're just not as eager to see harsher attacks on Trump, and therefore they have a greater stake in believing that these gentle spoofs are effective.

As for me, I started sharing Sarah Cooper back in mid-May. Here was my take at the time:
I think she's great and also that it's complicated, trying to understand why [the video clips] 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.
If I was right, then that's the reason serious Trump haters are resisting Sarah Cooper. And it should be some kind of alert about what love for Cooper's Trump really means!

Teens are mocking Lin-Manuel Miranda on TikTok.

Yeah, I know, Trump is making noise about ending TikTok, so maybe the Trump hating Broadway rapper will be saved by a man he loathes, but it's interesting that the new generation — Generation Z — has a new point of view, and, for them Lin-Manuel Miranda is not a brilliant and completely hip visionary. He's a figure of fun.

New York Magazine explains:
And it’s not just one meme but a variety of them: The most prevalent is the lip-biting meme, which involves mocking the endless stream of selfies Miranda has taken wherein he gazes foppishly at the camera while chewing his lip. There’s also a bit of audio floating around of Miranda reading an erotic excerpt from The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao which has become fodder for endless derision — one teen superimposed themself cringing over a series of lip-biting selfies, nearly vomiting when Miranda accentuates the word “clit.” Another popular video is just a clip of Miranda, tousle-haired and lying in bed, telling the viewer “I’m clutching my balls because they’re warm” — no commentary needed. And, of course, there are the endless parodies of him rapping.
The last 3 links in that paragraph all go to TikTok — so click them while they still work. They're all very funny.

The New York Magazine article relies heavily on this Rolling Stone article, "Why Gen Z Turned on Lin-Manuel Miranda/Teens on TikTok have begun mercilessly mocking the Pulitzer Prize-winning Hamilton playwright."

Both articles try to figure out if the Gen Z kids are targeting Miranda because "Hamilton" is insufficiently woke, in that it doesn't deal with slavery and Native Americans and the female characters are all about wanting to have sex with the character Miranda played on stage, Alexander Hamilton. The TikTok stuff is silly, though. Laughing at “I’m clutching my balls because they’re warm” has nothing to do with a desire for more wokeness. That video is, fittingly, about going to sleep and, perhaps, a man's vanity in thinking people want to watch him get into his sleeping position.

August 6, 2020

At the Boardwalk Café...


... you can pace around all night.

And thanks for using the Althouse Portal when you shop at Amazon.

"Facebook removed hundreds of accounts on Thursday from a foreign troll farm posing as African-Americans in support of Donald Trump and QAnon supporters."

"It also removed thousands of fake accounts linked to conservative media outlet The Epoch Times that pushed pro-Trump conspiracy theories about coronavirus and protests in the U.S. Facebook took down the accounts as part of its enforcement against coordinated inauthentic behavior, which is the use of fake accounts to inflate the reach of content or products on social media. The foreign pro-Trump troll farm was based in Romania and pushed content on Instagram under names like 'BlackPeopleVoteForTrump' and on Facebook under 'We Love Our President.'"

NBC News reports.

"He took objection to the word 'Styrofoam.' He said, 'This is so uncharacteristic of your work, to put something as time-dated as the word "Styrofoam" into it.'"

So said Robert Hunter, talking about Jerry Garcia's only problem with "Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo," quoted in "Jerry Garcia’s 50 Greatest Songs" (Rolling Stone).

"Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo" is one of those titles that calls to mind no actual song, but once I start playing it, I know what it is:

#33 by the way. My favorite Jerry Garcia song is ranked at #46, so I'm not really into the numbers. For the record "Uncle John's Band" is #1. The other "uncle" song — "Me and My Uncle" — is not even on the list. [ADDED: It shouldn't be. It was written by John Phillips.]

I like that Jerry cared about the timelessness of the words.

"I know that I am dealing with some form of low-grade depression. Not just because of the quarantine, but because of the racial strife..."

"... and just seeing this administration, watching the hypocrisy of it, day in and day out, is dispiriting.... I have to say, that waking up to the news, waking up to how this administration has or has not responded, waking up to, yet another, story of a Black man or a Black person somehow being dehumanised, or hurt or killed, or, falsely accused of something, it is exhausting. And, and it, it has led to a weight, that I haven’t felt in my life, in, in a while.... Barack’s in his office, making calls, working on his book. I’m in my room, the girls are on their computers. But right around five o’clock, everybody comes out of their nooks, and, we like, do an activity, like, puzzles have become big, just just sitting and doing these thousand piece puzzles.... So Barack has taught the girls [the card game] spades, so now there’s this vicious competition.... It’s almost like they needed the world to stop a little bit. You know they didn’t realise that they were, that the world they were on, and the way they were living it, was so treadmill-like. So fast and furious. Um, because it was all they ever knew.... [The pandemic is an opportunity to] decide how you want to show up in the new world. Because it will be a new world."

Said Michelle Obama, in her podcast, quoted at The Guardian.

I wonder if Michelle Obama suffers from the medical condition, depression. I hear "some form of low-grade depression" to mean that she feels low or sad based on the current conditions, not that she has clinical depression. But perhaps she does, and I would hope that people who suffer from depression feel supported by her words.

As for the Obamas, under lockdown, doing puzzles at the end of the day — I imagine that millions of people, reading about that, feel uplift just to picture the beloved family around a table in the evening  laughing and talking over a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle. I am not kidding when I say that typing out that sentence brought tears to my eyes. What is more wholesome than a married couple with their adult children working on a complicated puzzle together? Such a beautiful life, and yet they still think of the troubles of the world and carry that weight along with them.

What puzzles do you imagine them doing? Maybe Van Gogh's "Starry Night" or Edward Gorey's "Cat Fancy" or this William Morris tapestry. That's what the Obamas in my evening fantasy are doing, and if someone made a puzzle out of an intricately detailed painting of the Obamas doing a puzzle, I would do that puzzle and so would millions of Americans. It might cure low-grade depression.

And here are the rules for the card game spades. Key rule: "The spade suit is always trump."

ADDED: "There's a tramp sittin' on my doorstep/Tryin' to waste his time/With his methylated sandwich/He's a walking clothesline/And here comes the bishop's daughter/On the other side/She looks a trifle jealous/She's been an outcast all her life/Me, I'm waiting so patiently/Lying on the floor/I'm just trying to do my jig-saw puzzle/Before it rains anymore...."

The government wants you to "stop talking to people and get back to staring at your phone."

John observes, looking at this:

Bird + girls + sunrise.


Unobstructed view:


Can you tell whether it's elevating and not racist to compare Black Lives Matter artists to cavemen?

I'm trying to read "New York’s Sidewalk Prophets Are Heirs of the Lascaux Cave Artisans/What street art adorning boarded-up storefronts tells us about our shared political realities and the ways our stories are connected. A critic’s tour deciphers the signs and symbols" in the New York Times.

Maybe to answer my question you need to know more about the racial identification of the writer, whose name is Seph Rodney. I'm just going to give you a sample of the prose:
What became apparent to me is that in the intervening millenniums between those cave paintings and the killing of George Floyd, the messages we share, like the sociopolitical circumstance that impel them, have become more complex. Now street artists take account of the qualified legal immunity protecting police officers, the Black Lives Matter movement and the ramifications of a dysfunctional democracy, among other realities, using a well-developed visual language of cultural memes that illustrate the ideological battles among regional, racial and cultural factions. When we see the image of thin, green-skinned, bipedal beings with teardrop-shaped black apertures for eyes, we typically read “alien.” But when I see the image of such a creature holding a sign that reads “I can’t breathe,” I grok an urgent message: Even aliens visiting from light years away understand the plight of Black people in the United States because this situation is so obviously dire.
IN THE COMMENTS: Jamie said:
I stopped processing his prose before he said "grok," but woke back up when I got there. I hate when people who aren't Heinlein use "grok" to connote their deep understanding... Those people almost invariably missed the point of Stranger In a Strange Land.
The OED has an entry for "grok" — U.S. slang, "arbitrary formation" by Robert A. Heinlein, from 1961. It is defined as "To understand intuitively or by empathy; to establish rapport with" or " To empathize or communicate sympathetically (with); also, to experience enjoyment." The 2 quotes from the book that are in the OED are: "Smith had been aware of the doctors but had grokked that their intentions were benign" and "Now that he knew himself to be self he was free to grok ever closer to his brothers." The OED also gives these quotes:
1968 Playboy June 80 He met her at an acid-rock ball and she grokked him, this ultracool miss loaded with experience and bereft of emotion.

Governor Cuomo begs rich people who've relocated to their out-of-the-city houses: "You gotta come back."

He wants them back in New York City but he knows what they're thinking: "If I stay there, I pay a lower income tax, because they don’t pay the New York City surcharge." That quote is from Cuomo, who doesn't find it hard to read minds, not when it comes to rich people and tax avoidance.
Some of the city’s wealthiest neighborhoods lost as many as 40 percent of their residents between March and May, thanks to the COVID-19 outbreak. And new levies — a billionaires’ tax, an ultra-millionaires’ tax, etc. are among several ideas Dems are eyeing to plug Albany’s $30 billion two-year budget hole — will only push the rich to flee permanently. Taking their tax money with them. It’s no coincidence, after all, that New York, where “1 percent of the population pays 50 percent of the taxes,” as Cuomo notes, has been steadily losing residents....

Is Kanye West colluding with the Trump campaign?

What is CNN saying:
[T]here are a handful of Trump-orbiting GOP operatives pushing West's helter-skelter, supposedly independent campaign for president. According to CNN, one such operative with ties to the Trump campaign, Lane Ruhland, has filed paperwork to get West on the ballot in Wisconsin.... West cannot win the election. He's missed too many deadlines to get on the ballot in too many states. But he could be a spoiler for President Donald Trump's reelection by siphoning off key portions of the Black vote in select states like Wisconsin and Ohio, with filing deadlines this week. The artist who once declared that former President George W. Bush "doesn't care about Black people" (and who former President Barack Obama once called "a jackass") appears to be being played by conservative operatives....
Oh! If a conservative made that inference — that West is an ignorant pawn — there would be accusations of racism. Give the man the respect of presuming — when you need to make a presumption — that he understands how things work.
Remember: West briefly went full MAGA, praising Trump for the economy and their shared "dragon energy" -- an evolution that paralleled his embrace of evangelical Christianity, which inspired his last album. A messianic streak also fits the impulse to run for president, but there isn't anything holy about this run....
Yes, that's why it makes more sense to assume that he's purposely helping Trump! How is he being played? Another way to look at it is that he accepts that he may help Trump because he doesn't believe the Democrats deserve the black vote, which they take for granted. That corresponds to what he's said about his run. That's not "being played." Being played! That's so insulting!
This is not an insurgent independent campaign -- this is dirty tricks from the slice of the white-bread conservative establishment that had posters of the infamous late Republican operative Lee Atwater on their walls growing up. West may feel that he's on a mission from God rather than the recesses of GOP operatives. This conservative-backed attempt to draw away voters from the left always seems to lure in enough "useful idiots" to make it worthwhile.
Who are you calling idiots?! Is CNN saying that unless black people vote for the Democrats, they're idiots?

If the question is where was Biden — literally — when this photo was taken, then the knee answers the question.

He does look odd sitting on the floor like that. But it's a picture. It was posed. Whoever posed him probably thought he looked more youthful and vigorous sitting on the floor. They had a chair for him. Who'd have the ex-Vice President over to watch a football game and not provide him with a chair? It's an absurd photograph, and you can see why it was chosen to express the idea that Biden is diminished and hiding his diminishment.

His champions spring to his defense on the literal conditions under which the photograph was taken, but that only makes me think more about the real question: Is Biden up for the job? The answer to that isn't as easy as pointing out the mayor's knee, but it is as easy as Biden sitting down in the presence not of an Iowa town's mayor but in the presence of a reasonably neutral tough professional interviewer and taking questions for 90 minutes — something as challenging as what Trump has been doing repeatedly.

ADDED: Here's the Trump ad that uses the photograph:

August 5, 2020

At the Wednesday Night Café...


... you can write about whatever you want.

And thanks for using the Althouse Portal when you shop at Amazon.

Life, disrupted.

The confidante.

Did you know that's called a "confidante"?

I ran across that bit of furniture arcana after reading the headline "Biden confidants see VP choices narrowing to Harris and Rice" (at AXIOS). Maybe you're fascinated by the endless discussion of Biden's VP choice — it is interesting that it's between Harris and Rice, but didn't you already know that? — but I got distracted by the spelling "confidants." Is it "confidant" or "confidante"? Seems like the "e" belongs... or is that just something you add when the person is female?

"Confidant" is correct. The OED says it originated after 1700, although the noun "confident" — with the same meaning and an accent on the first syllable — had already been in use for a century. The "-ant" ending — as opposed to the "-ent" — comes from French. And it's because of French that you get the separate female form, adding an "e." It's what they do in France.

The female version — "confidante" — has a second meaning: "A name given by the English designer George Hepplewhite (d. 1786) to a species of settee.... 'an upholstered settee with somewhat triangular seats beyond the arms at each end.'" That strange item you see pictured above. It can also refer to "Two chairs coupled on an s-plan" or "three chairs, joined like the spokes of a wheel."

It's hard to come up with new ideas in seating! Once you invent the chair and the sofa and maybe the lounge and the stool, there really isn't much left that anyone is really going to want.

"Look. Come on, man. I know you're trying to goad me, but I mean, I'm so forward looking to have an opportunity to sit with the President or stand with the President and debate."

Joe Biden doesn't need a tell-an-elephant-from-a-lion test! Just watch him, listen to him and judge.

Now, he did say "I'm so forward looking to have an opportunity" instead of "I'm so looking forward to having an opportunity," but it's speech, man. Talking is what it is. Trump makes his own mistakes.

ADDED: "Yo, Semites" is hilarious, but think more deeply about it. It means that Trump has very little interest in our national parks. I'd like someone to ask him if he has ever, on his own, outside of any political or business reason, traveled through the great landscapes of America. Has he ever hiked in Zion or the Badlands or Glacier? Has he seen the sunrise in Bryce Canyon? Which parks has he visited it? Did he ever go to one just to see it? Has he ever taken a road trip across America? Can he even drive? What's the farthest he, personally, has driven a car? I can only picture him driving a golf cart! Distance: 18 holes.

"The faculty letter gives the impression that many Princeton professors believe their institution is rife with anti-Black racism and that the university must risk abandoning long-standing core values..."

"... to be anti-racist. But most signatories who responded to my queries hold neither of those beliefs.... Outside observers should be sophisticated enough to understand that universities are socially and politically complex communities where faculty members don’t always say what they mean, especially when asked to sign on to a group letter with hundreds of their colleagues in a moment of national crisis. 'Much as I’m averse to aspects of any letters signed by more than one person—chiefly that they represent a form of mostly benign and well-intentioned thuggery—I’m convinced we live in a moment where we have to be seen as being part of a solution to what is clearly a problem,' [humanities professor and poet Paul] Muldoon told me... in his thoughtful email. 'That means that, as in the case of the Princeton letter, some ideas may need to be overstated to be stated at all.' ... I am concerned that some faculty members are unwilling to publicly criticize a demand that they scoff at privately. Can they really be counted on to protect academic freedom in a faculty vote? And I wish more faculty members would say whatever they actually think with clarity and precision, rather than indulging in hyperbole that does more to muddy and polarize than to clarify."

Writes Conor Friedersdorf in "The Princeton Faculty’s Anti-Free-Speech Demands/Some of the signers of a controversial open letter don’t stand behind its most alarming demand" (The Atlantic).

Sunrise — looking east and west.

It was one of those mornings when the eastern view is distinctive:



But the clouds in the west are sumptuous and so there is a glorious western sunrise:



"Etymologists trace the term 'guys' to the historical figure Guy Fawkes. It’s evolved from the name of one man..."

"... who attempted to assassinate King James I in 1605 to an informal address for a group of people in contemporary American English. But when used to address your colleagues, it’s a gendered greeting that could be sending signals about who is ― and isn’t ― included in your workplace."

From "Instead Of Saying 'Hey, Guys!' At Work, Try These Gender-Neutral Alternatives/Raise your awareness of gendered language on the job" (HuffPo). Here's a list of alternatives (none of which question the "hey," which I grew up hearing was rude): "hey team, hey crew, hey all, hey folks, hey people, hey peeps, hey y'all, hey everyone, hey pals, hey friends." You could just say "hello" or "good morning."

Anyway, you can decide for yourself — or be bullied — about how gender-neutral you want to be about your greetings in various settings. I mostly wanted to express surprise that the term "guy" comes from Guy Fawkes. I looked it up, and that is the etymology of "guy." (Referring to a person. There is another line of etymology for the "guy" has to do with ropes and wires, and that's related to "guide.")

The evolution of "guy" for a man began with the effigies that were burned on Guy Fawkes Day. These were dressed in "grotesquely ragged and ill-assorted garments" — according to the OED. By 1836, the word was used to refer to "A person of grotesque appearance, esp. with reference to dress; a ‘fright.'" By 1847, in the U.S., it became another way to say "man" or "fellow":
1847 ‘Lord Chief Baron’ Swell's Night Guide (new ed.) 41 I can't tonight, for I am going to be seduced by a rich old Guy.
1863 C. Reade Hard Cash III. xiii. 270 I wouldn't speak to you in the street for fear of disgracing you; I am such a poor little guy to be addressing a gentleman like you...
1898 Milwaukee (Wisconsin) Sentinel 22 Jan. 4/7 I s'pose you got a Bible you'll let a guy look into....
When did "guy" become so common as a way to address somebody? I'm no etymologist, but I trace it back to the 1971 "Hi, guy" commercial for Right Guard:

Why am I getting tinglings of deja vu? Oh, yeah. I already wrote this post! Last year!

"His response was in fear, and now that he realizes what happened, he wanted me to say to the protesters … that he was sorry, that’s he’s profoundly sorry."

Said Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, quoted in "Husband of Los Angeles district attorney charged with pointing a gun at BLM protesters" (WaPo).
On March 2, David Lacey, the husband of Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, emerged from their home to point a gun at Black Lives Matter protesters on his front porch, telling them, “I will shoot you” in a viral video of the incident. More than five months later, the California attorney general’s office on Tuesday filed three misdemeanor charges for assault with a firearm against David Lacey, 66. The charges further complicate a stiff reelection battle for Lacey (D), who is Los Angeles County’s first Black district attorney and the first woman to hold the job. Amid a national reckoning with racial injustice, Lacey has been assailed by protesters for declining to charge police officers in violent incidents, and has recently lost the endorsements of several top California Democrats....
I don't know why I didn't notice this story at the time. The video — which I'm just seeing this morning — is very striking. Not only does Lacey point the gun directly at somebody, but he's got his finger on the trigger:

"Thousands of videos quickly popped up using the audio, with people carrying, caring for and kissing loaves of bread. But they picked the wrong carbohydrate."

From "Mi pan, su su su: how a dancing llama and a nonsensical song captivated TikTok/Acoustic remix of Miel Pops Russian cereal jingle becomes a strange anthem for a stranger time" (The Guardian).

By the way, I knew all about this days ago — from sitting around gazing at TikTok! If you don't understand what's so lovable about TikTok, that article might help.

"Is that normal?"

"The deputy director of the Department of Homeland Security says federal officers in Portland suffered 113 eye injuries while guarding a courthouse from activists armed with powerful lasers."

"The usually green beams produce uncomfortable heat, unlike common small red pointers, Ken Cuccinelli said Tuesday at a Senate subcommittee hearing on the clashes in Oregon. 'We’ve had a number of officers who have days-long blindness. So far they’ve all kind of come back, if you will,' Cuccinelli said. 'But you also get what’s called flash blindness. Think of it as the old Kodak cameras where you get that blue spot and you can’t quite see your entire field of vision for a period.'... Although Cuccinelli said all officers recovered their sight, he said activists appear to be aiming to maximize damage.... Cuccinelli said lasers create problems for officers, who cannot look toward the beams to identify suspects.... Cuccinelli said some protesters are indeed peaceful, but others aren’t. 'This is sort of the Portland formula: there’s peaceful protesting until 10 or 11 o’clock, and then they go away. And maybe some of them come back, but the group that comes back is A.) much bigger, but also they come back for violence,' Cuccinelli said."

The New York Post reports.

August 4, 2020

At the Monday [I mean Tuesday] Night Café...


... have a seat at one of the socially distanced tables, enjoy the WiFi, and write about whatever comes to mind.

And when you take breaks to shop, please think of using the Althouse Portal to go into Amazon.

"#MeTooSTEM founder admits to creating Twitter persona who 'died' of COVID-19/BethAnn McLaughlin invented @Sciencing_Bi, a Hopi anthropologist who died of COVID-19."

Ars Technica reports.
This certainly isn't the first time a fake persona has manifested on social media.... But the particular case of @Sciencing_Bi is unique because of its unusually long duration—the Twitter account was created in October 2016....

@Sciencing_Bi, identified on her profile only as "Alepo," claimed to be a female bisexual Native American anthropologist at Arizona State University who was involved with combatting discrimination and sexual harassment in the scientific community....
Wait. Wouldn't that have been easy to falsify? How many female bisexual Native American anthropologists could be at Arizona State University who were activated against discrimination and sexual  harassment?
In April, she announced that she had contracted COVID-19 and subsequently documented a months-long struggle with the disease. She specifically blamed her employer, ASU, for her plight, and she claiming that she and other teachers, staff, and students had been forced to remain on campus well into April. She also asserted that the school had cut her salary by 15 percent while she was hospitalized. Then on Friday, July 31, McLaughlin tweeted that @Sciencing_Bi—purportedly a close friend—had died of complications from COVID-19, followed by a series of impassioned tweets eulogizing her late friend. There was the usual online outpouring of condolences and grief alongside outrage at her plight and purported mistreatment by ASU....

A clever (or puzzling) sign.

Photographed by Meade today.

It's kind of hard to put it together, what with the disappearing "E." And once you see that "Bye Don," you have to wonder what exactly does it mean? To me, it's saying you're not really for Biden — you don't want that on you — but you just want to say "bye" to Donald Trump (who never gets called "Don," but... whatever).

"I ought to mention that he marked the parenthesis, in the air, with his finger. It seemed to me a very good plan."

"You know there's no sound to represent it — any more than there is for a question. Suppose you have said to your friend 'You are better to-day,' and that you want him to understand that you are asking him a question, what can be simpler than just to make a '?' in the air with your finger? He would understand you in a moment!"

Wrote Lewis Carroll in "Sylvie and Bruno," describing the gesture made while singing the words "this was their wish" in this stanza of a song:
“The Badgers did not care to talk to Fish:
They did not dote on Herrings' songs:
They never had experienced the dish
To which that name belongs:
And oh, to pinch their tails,' (this was their wish,)
'With tongs, yea, tongs, and tongs!'”
I print the entire stanza because of the badgers, of course, this being Wisconsin. But why — you might ask, marking the air with a "?" — am I fooling around inside "Sylvie and Bruno" this evening? I have an answer!

I was reading the Wikipedia article "Air quotes," which naturally traces the origin of air quotes. It gives Lewis Carroll credit for arriving at the basic idea — albeit only with parentheses and question marks — all the way back in 1889.

The oldest definite use of air quotes seems to be Glenda Farrell the 1937 screwball comedy, "Breakfast for Two":

Isn't that wonderful! But air quotes got too popular in the 1990s and became subject to derision, notably by Steve Martin, Chris Farley, and Dr. Evil. And here's George Carlin in 1996:

People got the message and restrained themselves, but air quotes were still around enough to make their appearance in the fall of 2002, in the thing I just watched that got me started on this little research project, Episode 3 of Season 9 of "Friends" — where Joey (ostensibly the dumbest person in the group) does not understand how air quotes work:

At the Crack-of-Dawn Café...


... let's have lunch.

"Six months after they met... [Jonas] Salk asked [Picasso's ex-lover Françoise] Gilot to marry him...."

"When Jonas proposed, she had replied, 'A relationship would be all right, but I don’t want to get married.... Because I don’t want to live with anybody more than six months a year. That’s it. I need my own time to myself, plus I have my children.' Jonas handed her a piece of paper. 'Write down everything that you don’t want,' he directed. 'I’ll give you an hour.' Françoise proceeded to write down those elements that would make the marriage unsuitable for her. Jonas read it over. 'Very good. It fits my life perfectly.' 'But we don’t know each other,' she cautioned, 'and it may be disastrous because you’re a scientist, and our lives are very far apart.' 'No,' Jonas countered, in what seemed more like a business transaction than a romantic moment, 'even if we’re not so happy, at least we’ll be like a citadel; we’ll be a fortress for each other.' Françoise thought about it. Both felt exhausted by the world and sought a refuge.... Though many could not fathom their marital arrangement, Salk and Gilot’s relationship matured as they grew to know each other better. 'We found new discoveries all the time,' Gilot recalled. And Salk maintained, 'I have achieved in terms of personal relationships as much with Françoise as I could possibly fantasize.'  When asked in an interview how she had ended up with two of history’s most powerful men, Gilot replied: 'Lions mate with lions.'"

From "The Last Love of Jonas Salk/The unusual union of a renowned artist and the discoverer of the Polio vaccine" (Nautilus).

"If you ever find yourself stuck on an uninhabited island in the Pacific, it turns out that writing SOS in giant letters on the sand works."

"At least, it did this past weekend for three men whose small boat had run out of fuel and drifted off course among the hundreds of islands and atolls of Micronesia.... Writing huge letters in the sand has proved helpful to travelers stranded in the Pacific in the past. In 2016, three men whose boat was overturned in Micronesian waters swam two miles to reach a tiny island, from which they were rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard after writing 'HELP' in the sand.... Later that year, two other people who had been missing for a week were rescued from a Micronesian island after they wrote SOS in the sand...."

From "3 Men Marooned in the Pacific Are Rescued After Writing SOS in the Sand/Three days after their boat ran out of fuel and drifted off course in Micronesia, the men were found in good condition after a plane saw their giant plea for help spelled out on the sand" (NYT).

ADDED: My first question was: Did the "Gilligan's Island" castaways ever write "SOS" in the sand? Someone at Quora once asked: "If the castaways on Gilligan's Island had spelled out 'SOS' on the beach, with rocks, how long should it have taken before planes had noticed the distress signal?" The question suggests that they did not try this method! Click on the link if you want to read speculation about where the island was and how often planes might have flown over back in the 1960s. Or click if you want to see the many other "Gilligan's Island" questions people have asked, such as: "If the professor on Gilligan's Island can make a radio out of coconut, why can't he fix a hole in a boat?," "How did the Gilligan's Island survivors live on the island with no resources for several years?," "Why was Gilligan's Island named after Gilligan?," "What is something from Gilligan's Island that is really kind of dark, but gets ignored?"

And my favorite: "Why wouldn't the other men on Gilligan's island just kill Gilligan considering that he was constantly putting their lives in danger and he foiled every attempt they ever had of being rescued?" I like that somebody answered that question:

"A curious outlier poll from the Democracy Institute shows Trump winning in Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania..."

"... and on course to win the Electoral College 309 to Biden’s 229. The Institute’s poll showed that 58 percent voters found Biden likable, compared to just 29 percent for Trump — but 58 percent also thought the Democrat was exhibiting ‘some form of cognitive decline, such as the early stages of dementia’; 60 percent thought Biden too old to be president; and 63 percent said he had not been ‘sufficiently critical of the violent rioting’. On the other hand, 61 percent approved of Trump’s handling of the protests and riots and 69 percent said the President was a ‘strong leader’, compared to just 24 percent for Biden. If anything, respondents suggested that Trump had not been firm enough with protesters: 48 percent said he had not been ‘tough enough’; compared to 25 percent who said ‘too tough’. The poll also points towards a potentially huge ‘Shy Trump’ voter cohort — only 27 percent of Trump voters said they were comfortable with people knowing how they’d vote, compared to 83 percent for Biden. And that’s the ones willing to tell pollsters what they really think."

From "Have we passed peak Biden?/The public are now focused principally on the economy — which is good news for Trump" by Freddy Gray (Spectator USA).

Elegant split-screen editing as Nike hopes to inspire togetherness.

Details at AdWeek: "Clever Video Editing Portrays a Message of Unity in Nike’s Latest Powerful Spot/Wieden+Kennedy produced the third ad in 'You Can't Stop Us' campaign."
Like the other two spots in the campaign, “You Can’t Stop Us,” which has the same name as the overall campaign, draws on the sense of community from being socially isolated during a global pandemic. However, unlike the other two spots, the third 1.5-minute video also touches on the feelings stirred by the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement following the police killings of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky.
The voiceover narration is done by Megan Rapinoe, the soccer player.

Ah! I'm glad to see that I didn't just imagine that I'd created a tag "oneness."

ADDED: I had to publish this post and click on the tag to see where I got the idea the idea that "oneness" was going to be important. I don't know whether to laugh or cry when I see that the last time I used it was on November 15, 2008 for "The Office of the President-Elect speaks!/Listen up!"

Oh, my Lord, did I think Obama was going to bring us together? No, no, actually not. I had my cruel neutrality:

The AXIOS on HBO interview with President Trump.

ADDED: I clicked off at 5:46 because I couldn't tolerate the agitation of the interviewer with the interruptions. I think interruptions are important and wouldn't like an interviewer who let Trump filibuster, but the continual agitation along with the interruption feels hopelessly aggressive. You could tell from the first couple minutes that this guy, Jonathan Swan, thought he had a killer idea: Trump believes in the power of positive thinking and that's not the right approach for governing during the pandemic. But when that idea didn't take off as Swan— in his own positive thinking — may have visualized, he panicked and it showed. Maybe it will be fun to watch the rest and see if Trump is able to reduce Swan to a fluttering pile of feathers. So I may get back to this.

"The body of the woman is the overwhelming triumph of flesh. The woman is a concrete universal; she is a world..."

"... not an externalized world, but under the world, the warm interiority of the world, a compressed internalized world. Whence the prodigious sexual success of women: possessing a woman is possessing the world."

Wrote Gilles Deleuze, quoted in "To Fascinate and Unnerve/The philosophical leftovers of Gilles Deleuze" at The Nation.

I just thought I'd drop in over at The Nation to see what was going on. I do that now and then, maybe once a week at most. That "Fascinate and Unnerve" business seemed more promising that the other headlines I saw. For example: "The Deaths of 150,000 Americans Are on Trump’s Hands/Trump and his lackeys are guilty of criminal negligence, if not far worse. Who will hold them accountable?" Such evil pot-stirring.

But that Deleuze is something. Decades ago, one used to encounter so many statements like that, presented as impressively intellectual. They're funny now. I'd say the challenge is: What are we taking seriously that will be plainly ridiculous in 50 years?

"I'm not very social, I don't go out that much. Frankly my life consists of reading and painting and a few nights of nice sex."

"When you realise you've got something really good to do, at my age, you get very, very excited... It made me feel a lot younger, fitter. I realised: that's a stimulant. You're living. Life is exciting, interesting, thrilling."

Said the artist David Hockney, who is 83, quoted in The Daily Mail.
He said that he no longer cared for living in London and the artistic politics that went with it. He described living in Bridlington, East Yorkshire... He has recently been living in Lisieux in the Calvados region of France. 

August 3, 2020

At the Monday Night Café...


... you can write about whatever you want.

Not much sunrise on view this morning, but the photo was taken at 5:54 this morning. Actual sunrise time was 5:50.

And thanks for using the Althouse Portal when you shop at Amazon.

"President Trump said he was ready to approve a purchase of the Chinese video-sharing app TikTok..."

"... but only if the government received 'a lot of money' in exchange—an assertion of presidential power that appeared to lack precedent."

The Wall Street Journal reports.

"Rolling Stone felt comparatively stuffy, preoccupied with movies and politics and reluctant to cover loud and snotty subcultural movements like punk and metal..."

"... whereas Creem’s pages first coined those genre’s names: 'punk rock' by Marsh, about ? and the Mysterians, and 'heavy metal' by Mike Saunders, about Sir Lord Baltimore, both in the May 1971 issue.... Subversive humor was the Creem lingua franca. Snarky photo captions and regular features like the Creem Dreems (tongue-in-cheek pinups of artists like Debbie Harry and Bebe Buell) were clearly intended for — and driven by — adolescent hormones.... [S]een through today’s eyes, some of the old Creem content can seem puerile, even offensive. The casual sexism and homophobia is sadly typical of its time, and racial sensitivity was nonexistent. Yet its anarchic attitude and early embrace of new wave and punk inspired future musicians like Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, Pearl Jam’s Jeff Ament and Metallica’s Kirk Hammett, who all appear in the film. In one scene, R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe recalls the first time he ever saw a copy of Creem, during detention in high school, and being mesmerized by a photo of Patti Smith. 'From that moment forward my entire life shifted and changed dramatically,' Stipe says. 'I was like, what world is this? Most people want to fit in somewhere. Because of my otherness, because of my queerness, I was trying to find that gang. I wasn’t going to find it in my high school. I found it in Creem magazine.'"

From "The Wild Story of Creem, Once ‘America’s Only Rock ’n’ Roll Magazine’/A new documentary traces the rise and fall of the irreverent, boundary-smashing music publication where Lester Bangs did some of his most famous work" (NYT).

Here's the trailer:

"But Black people have never been nonexistent, or invisible, in the white sitcom."

"They have been invisible only in the way that Black people who service the margins of white world-making must be. In a genre whose conventions (and hilarity) thrive on white ridiculousness, Black people, relegated to the smallest of parts, exist to rein in the free play of whites, reminding viewers how safely deviant the main cast can be.... Black people on Seinfeld play a very particular role, defining the social edges of 'very,' or too much.... All the bombast, wackiness, and camp belong in the domain of the four protagonists — Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer, plus a rotating circle of co-conspirators.... [T]he group is selfish and deranged, delicious micromenaces to normalcy and etiquette who nonetheless enter and leave each episode with their worlds intact. When white characters run wild on Seinfeld, Black people are cops. They exist as agents of public decency next to whom our main characters appear all the more indecent.... Friends, the sitcom most frequently judged for its lack of black characters, stations its black actors on the mundane edges of urban life.... [B]lack characters play a significant role precisely because they are true strangers — estranged by city planning and the color line — for these main casts to bump up against...."

From "When Black People Appear on Seinfeld" by Lauren Michele Jackson (New York Magazine).

Example of what the author is talking about:

Things not garnered.

Via "Trump USAID appointee unloads as rocky tenure ends/The deputy White House liaison at the aid agency blasted Democrats and her colleagues for what she called 'rampant anti-Christian sentiment'" (Politico).

I don't agree that it takes a threat to motivate Google to do this.

Leading by setting an unscientific example.

I knew this was coming, and I'm expecting a lot more of this: "Let’s Scrap the Presidential Debates."

That particular example is by Elizabeth Drew and appears in the NYT today. I haven't read this yet, but I anticipate that it will not admit to a motivation to shield Biden from a test of his mental acuity:
The debates have never made sense as a test for presidential leadership. In fact, one could argue that they reward precisely the opposite of what we want in a president. When we were serious about the presidency, we wanted intelligence, thoughtfulness, knowledge, empathy and, to be sure, likability. It should also without saying, dignity....

This, by the way, isn’t written out of any concern that Donald Trump will prevail over Joe Biden in the debates; Mr. Biden has done just fine in a long string of such contests. The point is that “winning” a debate, however assessed, should be irrelevant, as are the debates themselves....
Ridiculous. How can you read that and not laugh? Not written out of any concern that Trump will do better than Biden?!

I am truly disgusted by this effort help Biden avoid debating. I've been writing about this for a while. Back on June 25th, I showed you a WaPo column by Karen Tumulty, "It’s time to rethink the presidential debates" and I said I expected "a push to eliminate the debates."

On July 8, I wrote, "The effort to rescue Biden from the demand to debate continues apace." That was based on a Thomas Friedman column, "Biden Should Not Debate Trump Unless …/Here are two conditions the Democrat should set." I said "It's not an outright argument to keep Biden out of the debates, but that's where it's headed." And: "[W]e need to see Joe perform in real time, on his feet, intensely challenged. He cannot weasel out."

"It's hard to believe that the hole President Trump dug for himself could get deeper, but it has."

Exclaims NPR in "2020 Electoral Map Ratings: Trump Slides, Biden Advantage Expands Over 270 Votes."

And yet it's still not reassurance enough — even this unfathomably deep abyss! — after what happened in 2016.

The hole is so deep that Biden is expected to win 297 electoral votes. That's 27 more than are needed to win. You have to imagine Florida going for Trump to see a way for him to get out of that hole.

"Trump gives Microsoft 45 days to clinch TikTok deal."

Reuters reports.
Trump said on Friday he was planning to ban TikTok amid concerns that its Chinese ownership represents a national security risk because of the personal data it handles.... The proposed acquisition of TikTok, which boasts 100 millions U.S. users, would offer Microsoft a rare opportunity to become a major competitor to social media giants such as Facebook Inc (FB.O) and Snap Inc (SNAP.N). Microsoft also owns professional social media network LinkedIn. Trump had dismissed the idea of a sale to Microsoft on Friday. But following a discussion between Trump and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, the Redwood, Washington-based company said in a statement on Sunday that it would continue negotiations to acquire TikTok from ByteDance, and that it aimed to reach a deal by Sept. 15....

"The feelings that hurt most, the emotions that sting most, are those that are absurd - The longing for impossible things, precisely because..."

"... they are impossible; nostalgia for what never was; the desire for what could have been; regret over not being someone else; dissatisfaction with the world’s existence. All these half-tones of the soul’s consciousness create in us a painful landscape, an eternal sunset of what we are."

Wrote Fernando Pessoa, the Portuguese poet.

Here's a statue of him at a café in Lisbon — seated, with his own table, like another customer.

cc — Nol Aders

A fascinating character!
Pessoa was a prolific writer, and not only under his own name, for he created approximately seventy-five others, of which three stand out, Alberto Caeiro, Álvaro de Campos and Ricardo Reis. He did not call them pseudonyms because he felt that they did not capture their true independent intellectual life and instead called them heteronyms. These imaginary figures sometimes held unpopular or extreme views....

Who are these people who say No Regrets!?

I was wondering, after blogging that WaPo article "I cut off all contact with my mother," where the author had "interviewed more than 50 people who have estranged themselves from family members" and had "yet to meet a single one who regrets it."

No Regrets is kind of slogan for some people, isn't it? Do you have no regrets? Here, listen to Edith Piaf sing "Non, je ne regrette rien" while you gather your thoughts:

And here's Elvis ("Regrets, I've had a few, but then again, too few to mention"):

I Googled "people who say no regrets":

"I think if they want to start trouble they should do it in their own town. We didn't ask for 'em, we ain't never done nothing to them. And I don't really see what the reason is for them being here."

Said Zinc resident Kenny Devore, quoted in "BLM protesters troop through 'America's most racist town': Demonstrators march to entrance of KKK national director Thomas Robb's private Arkansas compound as armed local residents watch them file past" (Daily Mail).
Sunday's protest was organized by Bridge the Gap NWA and also promoted by Ozarks Hate Watch.... Once in Zinc, the group posted pictures of armed men - some in military-style fatigues - standing in front of cars blocking a dirt road to Robb's compound....

There were no reports of any violence during the protest.... On Sunday night, after the protesters left Zinc 'All safe and secure,' Ozark Hate Watch member said that the protest had taken two months to plan amongst different activist groups.

They said that despite claims, 'our plan did not involve setting one foot on Lead Hill Road or making advances toward Tom Robb's property. We kept it close to the chest to give ourselves a tactical advantage for sake of security.'

'What happened in zinc today was history,' Aaron Clarke said in a Facebook Live video. He added that the group was not run out of town 'with their tails tucked between their legs. We went down there and nobody's been down there, nobody's ever protested in that community. ... We literally went and threw a barbecue in the KKK's backyard. We came down there to bridge the gap...what we did was we went into the community that has basically operated by the Ku Klux Klan and we extended our hand. We came down there with food for anybody who wanted food, they were able to get food,' Clarke said.
So did they "bridge the gap"? Are they declaring victory because they were not  "run out of town 'with their tails tucked between their legs'"? Isn't that a victory for the locals, who neither hid from the outsiders who marched into their town nor resorted to anything like violence or hostility? But the protesters are boasting about their 2 months of planning and their "tactical advantage" after walking into a town where nothing happened.

Is Zinc, Arkansas "the KKK's backyard"? I don't know, but I wanted to get a Google maps "street view" of the place, and it was not available. I could see that the place is very small. Here's the Wikipedia article for the town. Population 103. 37 households. Median household income: $20,036.
The last store closed in Zinc in the late 1960s and the post office closed in 1975. Zinc, in the 21st century, became the headquarters of a chapter of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK).... The "Christian Revival Center" near Zinc belongs to a preacher who is also the leader of the Knights of the KKK. The center hosts events connected with the KKK, including in 2013 a "Klan Kamp" called the "Soldiers of the Cross Training Institute" to instill "the tools to become actively involved" in the "struggle for our racial redemption."
There are 2 National Historic sites in Zinc: the Zinc Swinging Bridge and the Elliott and Anna Barham House:

CC Auntiepookie91

What's up with the Washington Post? The #1 most-read article right now is a piece from January 2019 about somebody's happiness at cutting off all contact with her mother.

This is disturbing:

I mean, I understand. Given the choice, I'd rather find out what happened in "I cut off all contact with my mother. It made my life much better" than wade through the latest rumors about how almost entirely peaceful things are in Portland and how some Republican isn't handling coronavirus optimally. I don't need to know about an isolated shooting somewhere and I make a point of looking away from the Boston Marathon bomber.

I guess WaPo correctly anticipated that the time was right to invite people, once again, to consider cutting off contact with relatives. It's kind of coronavirus-y:
Ten years ago, after decades of bitter fights and lukewarm reconciliations, I finally got the courage to cut off my mother completely. Our relationship brought me nothing but nuclear-level angst.
Your relationship brought you your entire life, but why fuss over technicalities?
After even the smallest interaction — an email or text message — I’d have panic attacks that lasted weeks. I’d stop sleeping, eat too much, fall through a wormhole into utter self-loathing.
Is this what we're identifying with today?
The cultural narrative around estrangement is that it’s a problem that needs to be solved.... I’ve interviewed more than 50 people who have estranged themselves from family members, and I have yet to meet a single one who regrets it. They regret whatever situation made it necessary. They regret not having a parent/sibling/family member they could come to terms with. They regret that their problems were severe enough to make estrangement look good. But they don’t regret doing it.
So every single one correctly judged the situation to be beyond finding a way to come together? Correct enough that they couldn't question their own judgment.
The most recent research suggests that up to 10 percent of mothers are estranged from at least one adult child, and that about 40 percent of people experience family estrangement at some point. Most people, though, fall somewhere less definitive on the estrangement continuum.... Some families talk by phone but never visit. Some email but never talk. Some see each other once or twice a year but keep their relationships superficial. Many sustain long periods of silence punctuated by brief reconciliations....

What they don’t typically do is talk to other people about being estranged from their families.... In my experience, estrangement makes people deeply uncomfortable. They wonder what’s wrong with you when you can’t get along with your family....
The author Harriet Brown, a professor of magazine journalism at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, is trying to get people to talk about estrangement, to see how common it is, and not to be so judgmental about those who opt for estrangement to deal with their family problems.

It fits with the cancel culture of 2020. That's a reason to revive this article. Why not cancel your own mother?!

"The coronavirus crisis means that states like Pennsylvania may be counting mail-in ballots for weeks, while President Trump tweets false allegations about fraud...."

"I spoke last week to executives, TV hosts and election analysts across leading American newsrooms, and I was struck by the blithe confidence among some top managers and hosts, who generally said they’ve handled complicated elections before and can do so again. And I was alarmed by the near panic among some of the people paying the closest attention — the analysts and producers trying, and often failing, to get answers from state election officials about how and when they will count the ballots and report results. 'The nerds are freaking out,' said Brandon Finnigan, the founder of Decision Desk HQ, which delivers election results to media outlets. 'I don’t think it’s penetrated enough in the average viewer’s mind that there’s not going to be an election night. The usual razzmatazz of a panel sitting around discussing election results — that’s dead,' he said.... [An] important change that many political types suggest: Get rid of the misleading 'percent of precincts reporting' measure. In states like Pennsylvania and Michigan, it would be easy to have 100 percent of precincts reporting their Election Day results — but have mail-in votes piled up in a warehouse, uncounted...."

From "How the Media Could Get the Election Story Wrong/We may not know the results for days, and maybe weeks. So it’s time to rethink 'election night'" by Ben Smith (NYT).