August 22, 2020

At the Saturday Night Café...


... you can write about whatever you like.

Social media didn't care about Kamala.

From "Michelle Obama won the Democratic convention" (Axios):

The political eye.

"Former Vice President Joe Biden saw no immediately measurable increase to his substantial lead over President Donald Trump following this week’s largely virtual Democratic National Convention..."

"A new Morning Consult poll of 4,377 likely voters conducted Friday found Biden leads Trump by 9 percentage points, 52 percent to 43 percent, statistically unchanged from a Monday survey of 4,141 likely voters, when he led the president by 8 points."

The NYT is running an article titled "Is the ‘Convention Bounce’ a Thing of the Past?"

"In a society that respects science, expertise confers power.... Illegitimate political power can be disguised as expertise...."

"In late February, [Italian philosopher Giorgio] Agamben began... to criticize the 'techno-medical despotism' that the Italian government was putting in place through quarantines and closings.... The emergency declared by public-health experts replaces the discredited narrative of 'national security experts' as a pretext for withdrawing rights and privacy from citizens. 'Biosecurity' now serves as a reason for governments to rule in terms of 'worst-case scenarios.' This means there is no level of cases or deaths below which locking down an entire nation of 60 million becomes unreasonable. Many European governments, including Italy’s, have developed national contact tracing apps that allow them to track their citizens using cellphones.... [The term 'social distancing']... 'appeared simultaneously around the world as if it had been prepared in advance.'... His point is that social distancing is at least as much a political measure as a public health one, realized so easily because it has been pushed for by powerful forces....  'For fear of getting sick,' Mr. Agamben writes, 'Italians are ready to sacrifice practically everything — their normal living conditions, their social relations, their jobs, right down to their friendships, their loves, their religious and political convictions.' In fact, 'the threshold that separates humanity from barbarism has been crossed,' Mr. Agamben continues, and the proof is in Italians’ treatment of their dead. 'How could we have accepted, in the name of a risk that we couldn’t even quantify, not only that the people who are dear to us, and human beings more generally, should have to die alone but also — and this is something that had never happened before in all of history from Antigone to today — that their corpses should be burned without a funeral?'"

From "Meet the Philosopher Who Is Trying to Explain the Pandemic/Giorgio Agamben criticizes the “techno-medical despotism” of quarantines and closings" by Christopher Caldwell

Agamben uses the word inoperosità  — which translates to idleness —to refer to "instances of common customs or historic institutions getting emptied out of their long-held meanings... that can generate new systems of belief and new dangers." We imagine that we are hanging back from a life to which we can return, but we will never go there again. Something new is coming into being.

"Mr. Biden is far better known than Mr. Dukakis was and he has shown a resilience to caricature that Mr. Dukakis did not have."

"Mr. Trump is viewed unfavorably by a big swath of voters. His lack of credibility with many Americans has undercut his ability to deliver an attack. The nation is more pessimistic than it was when Mr. Dukakis faced Mr. Bush, who as Ronald Reagan’s vice president was effectively running as an incumbent.... 'This is going to be tricky for them: Biden is a pretty well-known quantity,' said Susan Estrich, who was Mr. Dukakis’ campaign manager. 'The way you usually burst balloons is paint the other guy as a risk.' Mr. Dukakis, proud and disdainful of politics, refused to believe these kind of attacks would hurt them, and did not heed the advice of his staff that he fight back. He allowed Mr. Bush to define him before Labor Day.... His opponents even raised questions about Mr. Dukakis’s mental fitness, decades before Mr. Biden faced the same. Conservative groups were circulating rumors, with no substantiation, that Mr. Dukakis was hiding the fact that he had been treated for depression. As the summer came to an end, Mr. Reagan was asked if Mr. Dukakis should release his medical records. 'Look, I’m not going to pick on an invalid,' he said. Mr. Reagan later said this was a failed joke, but by design or not, it succeeded in thrusting the rumor to the center of public attention. Mr. Dukakis called a news conference to say he had never struggled with mental illness."

From "A Glimmer of Hope for Trump? How Bush Mounted a Comeback in 1988/For Biden, a cautionary tale. For Trump, a search for his own Willie Horton" (NYT).

Speaking for Wisconsin, I'm glad it doesn't get any worse than Wisconsin Dells.

We could have been Rhode Island...

Understanding Trump as a standup comedian. A laugh track is revelatory.

Thanks to Guildofcannonballs in yesterday's Rose McGowan conversation.

August 21, 2020

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can write until the sun comes up.


For those of you who spoke highly of "Little Miss Sunshine" when I was critical of this new Netflix thing "Cuties"...

... in this post of mine yesterday.

I hated "Little Miss Sunshine" when it came out (as I said in January 2007). Here's something I wrote in December '09, reacting to a list of the worst movies of the decade:

Rose McGowan is trending on Twitter because of this tweet... which expresses something pretty close to how I feel.

"Objection! Mr. President, Susan B. Anthony must decline your offer of a pardon."

"Anthony wrote in her diary in 1873 that her trial for voting was 'The greatest outrage History ever witnessed.' She was not allowed to speak as a witness in her own defense, because she was a woman. At the conclusion of arguments, Judge Hunt dismissed the jury and pronounced her guilty. She was outraged to be denied a trial by jury. She proclaimed, 'I shall never pay a dollar of your unjust penalty.' To pay would have been to validate the proceedings. To pardon Susan B. Anthony does the same."

From "Susan B. Anthony Museum Rejects President Trump's Pardon Of The Suffragist" (NPR). The headline says the "museum" rejected the pardon, but to be technical, it's the executive director, Deborah L. Hughes.

Is accepting a pardon for an unjust conviction like paying a fine that is the sentence for an unjust conviction?

To answer yes — as the museum's director does — you must be thinking that the conviction was never anything real. It's simply a nullity, so you don't pay the fine and you don't want a pardon. Either fine-paying or pardon-accepting gives substance to the thing that you consider nothing.

To answer no is easier, but that doesn't mean it is more desirable. All you need to say is that the fine is a burden but the pardon is the relief from a burden or the fine expresses the idea that you were wrong but the pardon expresses some other idea, perhaps that you were completely in the right but also possibly that you did commit a crime but we forgive or we like you so much anyway that we want to do something beneficent for you.

Has Trump reacted to the pardon-rejection yet? What should he say? He could say that the executive director of the museum is entitled her opinion, but he thinks Susan B. Anthony would appreciate the gesture? But I think he should say that he agrees with the museum that Susan B. Anthony doesn't need a pardon because she was a great woman, dedicated to a great cause, and her greatness dwarfs the petty conviction that was imposed on her, but he wanted to do the little part that he could and to correct the record books and remove the blot, and that he cheerfully accepts the rejection of the pardon.

I live-blog my first reading of Joe Biden's convention speech.

Transcript (with punctuation improved in spots based on the video):
Good evening, Ella Baker, a giant of the civil rights movement left us with this wisdom: give people light and they will find the way. Give people light.
I give this post my "light and shade" tag (one of my favorites).  I don't remember ever hearing about Ella Baker, but it's a good quote, and it sets up a theme, and gives us something we can use to test the success of this speech. He must give light. He cannot simply claim to be the light. Jesus said, "I am the light of the world," but Biden is not Jesus.
Those are words for our time. The current president has cloaked American darkness for much too long, too much anger, too much fear, too much division here.
I don't yet know if Biden is going to claim to be the light, but he has asserted that Trump is the dark. The dark is defined as anger, fear, and division, but I don't know how the Democrats can say they are not part of that darkness. The speech is already marked with divisiveness: The other side is the darkness and we bring the light.
And now I give you my word. If you entrust me with the presidency, I will draw on the best of us. Not the worst. I’ll be an ally of the light, not the darkness.
So he's not the light, but an ally of the light.
It’s time for us, for We, the People to come together and make no mistake. United, we can and will overcome this season of darkness in America.
"We can... overcome." Not: We shall overcome. He didn't Lyndon Johnson it! If he'd said "We shall overcome" it would have tied to the Civil Rights Movement, and he did begin the speech with a quote from "a giant of the civil rights movement," but he's not talking about racial justice specifically here. He's talking in the most generic way about light and darkness. There's nothing about any specific people, just all the people, the ethereal entity "We, the People," which needs to "come together."
We’ll choose hope over fear, facts, over fiction, fairness, over privilege....
Pretty much everyone chooses those things in the abstract, but he's telling us what we will do. What's the evidence of that? It seems to me that We, the People have been, in reality, choosing the negative side of each of those binaries, but if Donald Trump can be made to embody fear, fiction, and privilege, then it's correct to say we'll choose hope, facts, and fairness if only we vote him out of office.

Biden accepts the Democratic Party nomination for President, but if he is elected, he'll be "an American President," working for everyone, "not just our base or our party":
This is not a partisan moment. This must be an American moment. Someone with a cause for hope and light and love — hope for our future, light to see our way forward, and love for one another. 
I've been wondering where's the love. He's offering love — love and hope and light. That's all very abstract, of course.
No, nearly a century ago, Franklin Roosevelt pledged a new deal in a time of massive unemployment, uncertainty, and fear. Stricken by a disease — stricken by a virus — FDR insisted that he would recover and prevail, and he believed America could as well. And he did. And we can as well. This campaign isn’t just about winning votes. It’s about winning the heart and yes, the soul of America — winning it for the generous among us, not the selfish when needed for workers who keep this country going, not just the privileged few at the top, winning for those communities who have known the injustice of a knee on the neck, for all the young people [who] have known only America being  rising inequity and shrinking opportunity....
The metaphorical "knee on the neck" has affected whole communities... but weren't these communities in cities run by the Democratic Party?
And now history has delivered us to one of the most difficult moments America has ever faced: four historic crises.
The 4 crises are: the pandemic, the economy, the "call for racial justice," and climate change.
As many have said America is at an inflection point...
Inflection point! (I blogged about the term "inflection point" twice yesterday — 1, 2 — after Kamala Harris used it in her speech.)
We can choose a path to becoming angrier, less hopeful, more divided, a path of shadow and suspicion or, or we can choose a different path and together take this chance to heal, to reform, to unite, a path of hope and light.
As if the idea of light could meet 4 crises. By the way — only 4? Why not 6?

Back to Joe:

In Scranton, Trump stepped on Mr. Biden’s general-election rollout.

In "Joe Biden Accepts Democratic Nomination: ‘I Will Draw on the Best of Us’/Mr. Biden urged Americans to have faith that they could 'overcome this season of darkness,' and he pledged to bridge the country’s divisions in ways President Trump had not," the NYT observes that Trump — "[s]hedding the political tradition whereby each party defers to the other during the week of its nominating convention" — has been trying " to step on Mr. Biden’s general-election rollout" but "with little success."

What's the evidence of "little success"? Is it the way Rasmussen's "approval index" jumped 6 points overnight from Wednesday to Thursday? The Times is just making an assertion — essentially wishful thinking. Trump, deviating from tradition, is having "little success." Just report what you want to be be true! Meanwhile, you'd think Joe Biden was some sort of religious transfiguration — the embodiment of light! It's so stupid that I'm drawn to read the transcript of the speech Trump gave yesterday in Joe Biden's home town of Scranton.

Maybe later I'll get to some of the convention speeches. I will confess to being seated in front of the TV at one point last night. It was just Chris Coons talking into the camera. I tried to watch for approximately 20 seconds, then said "Why do I have to listen to Chris Coons?" and got up and left. Oh! And I saw a triple-split screen of the [Dixie] Chicks singing the national anthem. Why them? Because long ago, in 2003, they outraged country music fans by openly opposing the war in Iraq? But Joe Biden voted for the war in Iraq. Because after all these years they dropped the word "Dixie" from their name, though they kept "Chicks"? The name Dixie Chicks was interesting because of the rhyme and the specificity. Now, they are generic, and why do these dames get to be all women?

I think it's that there's some idea that they have been irritating the deplorables since 2003. The Democrats wanted to pick that scab, remind people of the pain of that war their candidate supported?! "When the war was debated and then authorized by the US Congress in 2002, Democrats controlled the Senate and Biden was chair of the Senate committee on foreign relations. Biden himself had enormous influence as chair and argued strongly in favor of the 2002 resolution granting President Bush the authority to invade Iraq" (The Guardian).

Now, let's look at what Trump said in Scranton:

August 20, 2020

At the Thursday Night Café...


... you can write about anything you like.

That's this morning's sunrise, at 6:13.

"Reed Hastings is the founder and CEO of Netflix. Here is he and his leadership team — the whole lot of them grooming little girls for sexual exploitation."

"These are little girls, and this Netflix show has the acting like strippers as a way of finding their way to liberation. What is wrong with these Netflix people? Do they not have children? Do they think our daughters are only valuable insofar as they can cosplay as sluts who are sexually available to men? What is wrong with you, Netflix?"

From "Cuties" by Rod Dreher (at The American Conservative).

The Titania McGrath take:

"I know a predator when I see one," said Kamala Harris.

At the Democratic Party convention last night. Transcript.

I found a clip of it:

And YouTube thought I'd like to see this next:

"Even after a final term with schools closed for the pandemic, Sam Sharpe-Roe was optimistic about the coming school year."

"Teachers from his West London school had given him grades — three A’s and one B — that were strong enough to secure him a spot at his first choice of university next month. But after the British government used a computer-generated score to replace exams that were canceled because of the coronavirus, all his grades fell and the college revoked his admission. Mr. Sharpe-Roe, along with thousands of other students and parents, had received a crude lesson in what can go wrong when a government relies on an algorithm to make important decisions affecting the public.... Nearly 40 percent of students in England saw their grades reduced after the government re-evaluated the exams, known as A-levels, with the software model. It included in its calculations a school’s past performance on the tests and a student’s earlier results on 'mock' exams."

From "British Grading Debacle Shows Pitfalls of Automating Government/The uproar over an algorithm that lowered the grades of 40 percent of students is a sign of battles to come regarding the use of technology in public services" (NYT).

Kathy Griffin dabbles in fat shaming, and one of her followers serves up an impressively well-drawn poster of "The White Couple From St. Louis."

UPDATE: I can't believe I omitted the "men in shorts" tag. Fixed.

"Harris saying 'inflection point' seems like kind of a call-out to FiveThirtyEight readers, to be honest."

"We’re still waiting for the first vice presidential nominee who says 'regression analysis' on stage though."

Said Nate Silver at 11:03 PM in the FiveThirtyEight live-blog of the Democratic Party Convention last night.

A reader sent me there, because I too reacted strongly — though quite differently — to Kamala Harris's use of the phrase "inflection point." I'd seen a lot of news sites pulling that quote and, like Silver, pleased with it. But here's what I blogged at 7:55 this morning:
I'd like to see person-in-the-street interviews testing whether people even understand what it means to say we're at an "inflection point." I don't think I've ever used the phrase "inflection point" on this blog...  The literal meaning of "inflection" is bending. America is at the point where we are bending? But what is a bending "point"? I've heard of the breaking point. And one often speaks of bending as something that is done to avoid breaking. If we're bendable — and perhaps therefore not breakable — aren't we always bending? Is there some particular place for bending, and why is it now? Why are we at "an inflection point"? I have to infer that it means that we're at a point where if we stand rigid, we risk breaking. The next phrase is "The constant chaos leaves us adrift." We're "adrift" and "afraid" and "alone." And therefore it is time to bend....

"Inflection point" has a specific meaning in math, and that has led to its use in the business context... Politicians who believe that ordinary people hear "inflection point" as plain English are perhaps betraying an excessive alliance with business and finance.
Silver heard a "call-out" to himself as a highly trained statistics analyst — with a strong background in math and economics. I heard it in an emotional and literary way — with empathy for the less-well educated. I feel sympatico with this Matt Yglesias tweet (from yesterday morning, before Kamala said "inflection point"):

Who is Misty Obama?

I took that screen shot at Drudge just now.

I looked up the Wikipedia list of famous people named Misty. There were only 19 people on the list. Oddly enough, 3 of them were porn stars.

Did Drudge deliberately write a headline with a ridiculous double meaning? free polls

"Steve Bannon, 'We Build The Wall' organizers arrested, charged with defrauding donors."

Fox News reports.
"As alleged, the defendants defrauded hundreds of thousands of donors, capitalizing on their interest in funding a border wall to raise millions of dollars, under the false pretense that all of that money would be spent on construction. While repeatedly assuring donors that Brian Kolfage, the founder and public face of We Build the Wall, would not be paid a cent, the defendants secretly schemed to pass hundreds of thousands of dollars to Kolfage, which he used to fund his lavish lifestyle," acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said.

"One Harvard political scientist tweeted about pictures of 'Montana cows! Iowa corn! Hawaii beaches! New Mexico mountains. What’s not to like? Better than a noisy convention hall!'"

"Which might be paraphrased as, 'Who needs crowds anyway?' By way of answer, an entirely corporeal Donald Trump was filmed pitching up at an aircraft hangar in Yuma, Arizona, to speak to several dozen mostly non-mask-wearing enthusiasts, who were seated in the blistering heat. The president seemed in no doubt that the physical interplay between the speaker and the spoken to is a critical part of persuading others that something exciting is going on. This has been conventional political wisdom since the dawning of the era of mass communication. You need to show everyone that crowds of others love you and support you. It was true at Nuremberg, it was true at those meetings of the Supreme Soviet whose written minutes would record that the speeches of the Leader were punctuated by 'stormy applause.' It’s true of democratic politicians, hence the clasped spouse and the cheering delegates.... The implicit question here is, do we need crowds any more to furnish us with social proof?...  For the past ten years the most successful TV comedies haven’t told you when to laugh, or how. Not Curb Your Enthusiasm, not The Office, not The Thick of It, not Fleabag. There is no social proof here any more, you’re on your own. In fact putting laughter tracks on those shows would destroy them. In the 2020s my laughter emerges from my own unique sense of humour, which you, the comedian, just happens to have appealed to."

From "Will we ever feel the power of crowds again?/Now that empty stadiums and online political rallies are normal, many won’t want to rejoin a mass of swaying bodies" David Aaronovitch (in The London Times).

A new poll has Biden and Trump tied in Minnesota.

Trafalgar Group has Biden at 46.9% and Trump at 46.5%.

I looked at FiveThirtyEight to see what kind of reputation Trafalgar Group has, and I found that "Trafalgar is a Republican pollster with a slight bias toward the GOP."

"We’re at an inflection point. The constant chaos leaves us adrift. The incompetence makes us feel afraid. The callousness makes us feel alone. It’s a lot."

That seems to be the standout quote from the Kamala Harris convention speech.

It's a lot. I mean, it says a lot that that is the best that can be extracted. I will read the transcript in a minute and see if I can find anything better.

But that quote! First, "inflection point." I'd like to see person-in-the-street interviews testing whether people even understand what it means to say we're at an "inflection point."

I don't think I've ever used the phrase "inflection point" on this blog. I mean aside that time I quoted somebody saying "We’re at this inflection point where we want people to know where their quinoa is coming from." And one other time in a quote (about YouTube having an "inflection point" at which it detects fake clicks). I use the word "inflection" only to refer to the way people speak, not to refer to a place — something like a crossroads or a fork in the road... you know, like the place where John Kasich stood to give his Democratic Party convention speech, in which he said "America is at a crossroads" (actually, it was the gravel path leading to his own pretty nice house).

Actually, "at a crossroads" sounds old-timey, and "at an inflection point" sounds new — like new jargon, meaningless new jargon. The literal meaning of "inflection" is bending. America is at the point where we are bending? But what is a bending "point"? I've heard of the breaking point. And one often speaks of bending as something that is done to avoid breaking. If we're bendable — and perhaps therefore not breakable — aren't we always bending? Is there some particular place for bending, and why is it now? Why are we at "an inflection point"? I have to infer that it means that we're at a point where if we stand rigid, we risk breaking.

The next phrase is "The constant chaos leaves us adrift." We're "adrift" and "afraid" and "alone." And therefore it is time to bend.

ADDED: "Inflection point" has a specific meaning in math, and that has led to its use in the business context, as Investopedia notes:
Based on mathematical charting models, the inflection point is where the direction of a curve changes in response to an event. To qualify, the shift must be noticeable or decisive and attributed to a particular cause. This principle can be applied to a variety of economic, business, and financial information, such as shifts in the gross domestic product (GDP) or changes in security prices, but it is not used in reference to normal market fluctuations that are not the result of an event.
Politicians who believe that ordinary people hear "inflection point" as plain English are perhaps betraying an excessive alliance with business and finance.

Why is "No. She" trending on Twitter?

Because Trump tweeted this:

To read some of the ripostes beginning with "No. She," go here. For example:

Trump tweets that it is his "great honor" to be the most pro-gay President ever.

"The morning after the last election, I said, 'We owe Donald Trump an open mind and the chance to lead.' I meant it."

Why start with something so unbelievable?

That's the first line of the Hillary Clinton's convention speech last night. Transcript. Video:

ADDED: Here's the tweet Trump put up as Hillary was speaking last night. The video focuses on the Democrats' disruption of the transition of power:

August 19, 2020

At the Otter's Café...


... swim for your life.

"It's not the worst end."

Possibly the most famous quote with the word "calamari" in it got uttered at the Democratic Party convention last night.

"The calamari comeback state of Rhode Island casts 1 vote for Bernie Sanders and 34 votes for the next President Joe Biden."

I mean, really, is there any competition? I found "Top 12 Quotes About Calamari." It includes one by Scott Adams: "If you think it's easy to write jokes about fried calamari, you've probably never tried."

I don't trust this list, though, because it includes, as #10: "I want to be a poet, from head to toe, living and dying by poetry" — by Federico Garcia Lorca. Maybe if you're a poet — from head to toe (from fin to tentacle) — you can visualize how that's about calamari.

If we extend our tentacles into "squid" quotes, we've got Aldous Huxley:
The leech's kiss, the squid's embrace,
The prurient ape's defiling touch:
And do you like the human race?
No, not much.
There's also this insight from Marlon Brando: "The most repulsive thing you could ever imagine is the inside of a camel's mouth. That and watching a girl eat octopus or squid."

And here's something Clare Boothe Luce said about the Democratic Party: "Its leaders are always troubadours of trouble; crooners of catastrophe ... A Democratic President is doomed to proceed to his goals like a squid, squirting darkness all about him."

Titania's back on Twitter.

"You should have killed me while you had the chance..."

"Gardening has been a solace to so many... because it invokes the prospect of some kind of future, however uncertain and unpredictable it may be."

"'When the future seems either very bleak, or people are too depressed to imagine one, gardening gives you a toehold in the future'.... It can also help reconcile us to the inevitability of our demise. At the Barn garden, Tom Stuart-Smith told me that every spring... he goes around the garden with a notebook, to make plans about where to add things in the autumn. 'I think a lot about next year, but I also think, absolutely, about what it’s going to be like when I am dead,' he said. The future promised by a garden may not always be ours to enjoy, but a future there will be, with or without us in it.... Under the current circumstances, I have no great confidence that my mother will ever again travel to London and see this garden of mine. 'Have you room for a honeysuckle?' she wrote to me. I planted one in a sunny spot against the wall, in the hope that the near-invisible trellis of wires that I hammered to the brick will help it stand upright, as if it were doing so on its own."

From "The Therapeutic Power of Gardening/Can anxious minds find solace working with plants? A therapist and her husband, a garden designer, say yes" by Rebecca Mead (The New Yorker).

Have you been gardening during the coronavirus lockdown?

ADDED: "Gardening has been a solace to so many... because it invokes the prospect of some kind of future..." Invokes?! Should be evokes. If The New Yorker is already getting stuff like that wrong, the future looks kind of dismal!

ALSO: From the New Yorker cartoon bank, there's this from May 2019 by Roz Chast:

If the trolls were saying "The world is falling apart, and YOU'RE GARDENING?!?" back in May 2019, imagine what they're saying in 2020.

"Clinton’s ascendance, a generation ago, didn’t just mean a preference for pragmatism. It meant a belief in the transformative powers of youth."

"The Democratic Party of the nineteen-eighties—of Walter Mondale, Dick Gephardt, Dan Rostenkowski, and Geraldine Ferraro—was a traditional operation, dependent on political machines in declining cities and the workingman politics of big unions. The Party that Clinton celebrated at the 2000 Democratic National Convention.... had been remade in his image: telegenic, optimistic, assured of its own expertise.... [T]he vision belongs to the Parkland survivors and the Sunrise Movement and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez....

Everything's viral!

"The security guard blurted 'I love you' to Joe Biden in an elevator. One viral video later, she nominated him for president" (WaPo).

I didn't watch the convention, so I am willing to believe that the Democratic Party actually did the nomination this way. And I don't think that's me losing touch with reality. We've got a freakish reality right now.

I read the headline to Meade and said, "Now, what do you think happened?" And he said, "I don't know." I said, "Do you think that means she was actually at the convention and she nominated him?" He immediately said, "Yeah." Obviously, no one was "at the convention," so it's only a figure of speech. Let's read:
On Tuesday night, Jacquelyn Brittany, a 31-year-old African American security guard... became the first person to put his name into nomination for president....
Jacquelyn epitomized for the Biden campaign the dynamics of the primaries: The hopes of Biden, who was spurned by others, rested on Black women and working-class voters, who would eventually resurrect his campaign....
Here's the nomination — the elevator operator elevating Joe Biden, "resurrecting" him with her female working-class blackness:

There's also this, reminding you that service workers are judging you and may want to deny you service because they don't like your kind:
Jacquelyn said she has bristled at online commentary suggesting that she was merely star-struck by Biden [when she encountered him in her elevator and subsequently made a video that was considered "viral"]. A week earlier, she said, she had escorted Oprah Winfrey into the building and had not made a big show of that. She said that she has never escorted President Trump and does not want to. “I keep telling them, ‘If he comes, I’m taking off that day.’ ”

August 18, 2020

At the One Duck Café...


... you can write about anything you want — including Day 2 of the Democratic Conclave. Is anyone watching?


"At a time when the pop charts were dominated by cloying songs such as 'A Horse with No Name' and 'Joy to the World' and the playlists of burgeoning FM radio stations were heavy on..."

"... James Taylor; Crosby, Stills & Nash; and the Eagles; Creem respectfully ceded coverage of those artists to Rolling Stone. It championed, instead, proto-punk bands such as the Stooges, the MC5, ? and the Mysterians, and Count Five; mavericks such as Lou Reed, Dr. John, Marc Bolan, and George Clinton; and nascent heavy-metal acts, including Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Alice Cooper. 'Unlike Rolling Stone, which is a bastion of San Francisco counter-culture "rock-as-art" orthodoxy, Creem is committed to a Pop aesthetic,' Ellen Willis wrote in The New Yorker. 'It speaks to fans who consciously value rock as an expression of urban teen-age culture.' The original staffers... saw the magazine as a cross between Mad, the satirical comic book, and Esquire circa the height of New Journalism....  Try as he might, [publisher Barry] Kramer never succeeded in turning Creem into the sort of cash-cow life-style magazine that Rolling Stone became. Its steadiest advertisers included A-200 Pyrinate Liquid ('one shampoo kills lice and nits'), Boone’s Farm wine, and mail-order head shops that hawked pipes, personalized roach clips, and something called the 'grass mask.' ('Shit, what a hit!')"

From "The Overlooked Influence of Creem Magazine/A new documentary makes the case for America’s only rock ’n’ roll magazine'" (The New Yorker).

ADDED: I tried to find an image for that item called the "grass mask." First, I turned up a lot of random junk that mostly gave me additional ideas about what it could be. I just wanted an old 70s ad. Then I put "grass mask" and "shit, what a hit" in quotes and that narrowed the hell out of the results to the point where I got to this PDF of a 1974 issue of an alternative newspaper called The Living Daylights....

There are no ads, so it's just somewhere in all that writing. If you readers would divide up the work, it's 28 pages, and maybe 28 of you could each read a page. If you find "grass mask"/"shit, what a hit," please write out the whole sentence and tell us the page number. Thanks! Lately, I've been nostalgic for the 1970s. Something about New York City going to hell has got me thinking about how the hell that was NYC in the 70s (when I lived there) was so much better than the fresh hell that is New York City today. But in any case, The Living Daylights seems to be from Australia. I've got no nostalgia about Australia. What does "the living daylights" refer to anyway?

"At first, it’s hard to fathom how a public restroom with transparent walls could possibly help ease toilet anxiety..."

"... but a counterintuitive design by one of Japan’s most innovative architects aims to do just that.... Even in Japan... residents harbor a fear that public toilets are dark, dirty, smelly and scary. To cure the public’s phobia, the non-profit Nippon Foundation launched 'The Tokyo Toilet Project'.... 'There are two concerns with public toilets... The first is whether it is clean inside, and the second is that no one is secretly waiting inside.' The design relies on a new smartglass technology that turns the walls opaque when the door is locked. 'At night, they light up the parks like a beautiful lantern'...."

Forbes reports.

Suspending Titania.

I thought Meade was playing "For What It's Worth" because I'd written a post this morning with the title "What's that sound?"

My post was about that goofball sound Cardi B made when she was interviewing Joe Biden. I was thinking about the song as I wrote the post...
I think it's time we stop
Children, what's that sound?
Everybody look what's going down
... because the question "what's that sound?" is so familiar from that old song.

But that's not at all why Meade was playing the song. Unbeknownst to me, that song was played at the Democratic Convention last night! They brought out old Steven Stills and paired him with trendy Billy Porter:

Were people listening to the lyrics?
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and a-carryin’ signs
Mostly say, "Hooray for our side"
Well, that's a convention, isn't it? Hooray for our side.

Perhaps the most striking line in the song is: "Paranoia strikes deep/Into your life it will creep." That's why you need to stop and pay attention — Everybody look what's going down.

How could Don Jr. not have anticipated this? Or is this some kind of genius that I'm failing to grasp?

In case you missed it...

I object to the use of children in politics but that was a lot better than this...

And this...

IN THE COMMENTS: Wince said:
Why weren't they shown taking a knee?
Simultaneously, Bob Boyd:
Were they all kneeling?
Which was exactly what Meade said here in real space.

The answer to Wince is: They were shown from the chest up, in the familiar coronavirus-y style of people Zooming from home. That's why it's so funny to ask "Were they all kneeling?"

"North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has ordered pet dogs to be confiscated in the country’s capital, saying the pooches represent Western 'decadence'..."

"Kim issued the directive in July to round up the pets, claiming they were part of 'a "tainted" trend by bourgeouis [sic] ideology,’' a source told the English edition of Chosun Ilbo, a South Korean newspaper. 'Ordinary people raise pigs and livestock on their porches, but high-ranking officials and the wealthy own pet dogs, which stoked some resentment' among the lower classes, the source said. 'Authorities have identified households with pet dogs and are forcing them to give them up or forcefully confiscating them and putting them down.' But while the oppressive regime says the move is to clamp down on capitalist extravagance in Pyongyang, the dog owners are fearful that given North Korea’s food shortage — and propensity for eating dog meat — the directive has only come about to feed the masses."

The NY Post reports.

It does stoke resentment if the wealthy are keeping pet animals, which must be fed, and the masses of people are hungry. If you are going to ban the pets because of this and confiscate them and kill them, what is the ethical argument for not using the meat?

"There was one glaring omission from Michelle Obama’s 20-minute Democratic National Convention speech Monday night — Kamala Harris."

"That’s because the former first lady recorded her rousing speech before Joe Biden selected Sen. Harris of California as his running mate. The speech was delivered remotely like all others at the DNC because of the coronavirus pandemic, and The Associated Press reports it was filmed before Harris was named last week as Biden’s VP candidate, indicating the choice was so close to the vest and down to the wire that even the Obamas were not in the loop."

The NY Post reports.

So they'd rather have us believe that what was served up last night was pre-recorded a week ago — it was that stale! — than have us think that Michelle Obama didn't want to say anything about Kamala Harris.

"As the mob dispersed to watch another fight, the main offender circled back around — kicking the defenseless driver in the face from behind, instantly knocking him out with his head cracking on the road."

"'What the f–k is you talkin’ about n—er!' the attacker — wearing a shirt with 'SECURITY' on the front and back — screamed after the thud of his victim’s head hitting the ground. The victim was then shown bleeding from a large wound in the back of his head as he appeared unconscious throughout another almost 2½-minute clip. The woman was shown sobbing nearby as the mob held her back and appeared to rifle through his truck. 'Black live matter, n—er!' one man continually ranted as other people checked the victim was still alive. Even as he remained unconscious, a woman was heard taunting him, 'Get your b-tch ass up!' Police in riot gear had to assist ambulance crews helping him as they were confronted by 'a hostile crowd,' Portland police said in a release. The victim was taken to a local hospital with serious injuries, police said. 'The incident is under investigation and no arrests have been made,' the force said. It was unclear what sparked the confrontation, but some witnesses tweeted that he had tried to intervene in an altercation between the mob and another person. Police said that 'protesters were chasing the truck before it crashed, and they assaulted the driver after the crash.'"

From "BLM mob beats white man unconscious after making him crash truck: video" (NY Post).

It's not a convention, it's a conclave: "Kicking off a four-day conclave during which they hope to both win over moderates who are uneasy with Mr. Trump’s divisive leadership..."

"... and energize liberals who are unenthusiastic about their own nominee, Democrats reached for the recent past. They showcased Mr. Sanders, the leader of the left and their reigning presidential runner-up; a handful of Republican defectors, including former Gov. John R. Kasich of Ohio; and the most popular figure from the previous administration, Mrs. Obama.... Mrs. Obama portrayed the Trump era as a gallery of social and political degradation: a government defined by 'chaos, division and a total and utter lack of empathy' and guided by the ethos that 'greed is good and winning is everything.' She warned that children had seen the country’s leaders 'emboldening torch-bearing white supremacists,' and she faulted unnamed people for recoiling from the phrase 'Black lives matter' — a description that plainly applies to the president."

So says the New York Times, in "Democrats Begin Virtual Convention, Hailing Biden and Denouncing Trump/Driven online because of the coronavirus, the program spanned the ideological gamut, from socialists to Republicans. 'Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country,' Michelle Obama said."

I just want to talk about the substitution of the word "conclave" for "convention." Does it express what has changed about the event? The etymology of "conclave" is — according to the OED — the Lat "con-" which means "together" and "clāvis" which means "key." So originally it was a place that could be locked up. An obsolete early meaning is "A private room, inner chamber, closet." In the 1300s, it took on the specific meaning, "The place in which the Cardinals meet in private for the election of a Pope." By the 1500s, "conclave" also meant "Any private or close assembly, esp. of an ecclesiastical character." And that's it. So the NYT, in using "conclave," draws attention to how small and closed off this thing is. With a whiff of the ecclesiastic.


"De Blasio says he didn’t know Democratic National Convention was this week."

I get email that makes Michelle Obama remind me of Glenn Close in "Fatal Attraction."

The subject line is "are you ignoring us?"

I'm not going to be ignored!

I FAILED to respond!

"My beautiful, beautiful fifth Avenue in New York has been looted in pillage. It was allowed to happen..."

"... by an incompetent mayor that doesn’t have a clue. Look at what’s happened to our diamond. New York was a diamond for the country. Look how far it’s gone down. And Chicago, the mayor literally raised up the drawbridges to prevent hordes of rioters from ransacking the city. Can you believe it? Can you believe it? 17 officers were injured in Chicago... during a weekend spree where 78 people were shot and 18 died. That’s worse than Afghanistan, which we’re getting out of. That’s worse than Iraq, which we’re almost out of. That’s worse than Syria, which we’re out of, except we kept the oil, but that’s okay. We don’t have to talk about that. But this is the future that Joe Biden plans to bring to every city, town, and suburb in our nation. And you know, for those suburbs, I keep hearing about suburban women. I made the … Oh. Well, in one speech recently, I called you suburban housewives and they all loved it, but what I got, they said, 'Sir, I don’t know if that’s politically correct.' I said, 'Don’t worry about it. They’ll get over it.' Right? But we saved the suburbs. The suburbs, and you know what I’m talking about. And they said about the rule, it’s a rule. Very strong. It’s like a law. They said, 'Sir, we can amend it.' I said, 'No, I don’t want it amended.' 'No, we can really amend it. Bring it down.' 'No, I don’t want it. I want it terminated.' And we terminated it. It’s gone. And it’ll be re-instituted if Joe Biden comes in."

Said Donald Trump in Oshkosh yesterday. Transcript. He was in Wisconsin, doing a speech, getting the jump on the Democrats, who were supposed to be in Wisconsin for the first day of their convention. Trump seemed to have something of a rally going. How did that happen? It grabs your attention, his rally style.

As for the Democrats' speech last night... well, I don't know. I don't listen to anything political in the evenings. It's not how I furnish my brain. But I did read enough of the transcript of Michelle Obama's speech to know she said "You know I hate politics."
Now, I understand that my message won't be heard by some people. We live in a nation that is deeply divided, and I am a Black woman speaking at the Democratic Convention. But enough of you know me by now. You know that I tell you exactly what I'm feeling. You know I hate politics. But you also know that I care about this nation. You know how much I care about all of our children....
You know I hate politics too!

What's that sound?

Here's the transcript of the entire interview (and isn't it great that Biden is doing interviews?!):
Cardi B: (00:05)
Oh, snap. Is [inaudible 00:00:07] real?
Joe Biden: (00:08)
How are you doing?
Cardi B: (00:09)
Hi Biden, how are you?
Joe Biden: (00:10)
How are you? The name’s Joe.
Cardi B: (00:14)
Well hello there Joe.
Joe Biden: (00:16)
Hi, [crosstalk 00:00:16] as a matter of fact, watch me and my daughter. The love of my life, the life of my love. She’s a fan of yours.
Ashley Biden: (00:22)
Hi, how are you?
Cardi B: (00:23)
Hi, how are you?

August 17, 2020

At the Monday Night Café...

... feel free to write about anything except the convention (which you should talk about in the comments to the previous post).



The photos were taken at 6:06 a.m., which was also the actual sunrise time. I'm surprised how nice these looked, considering the sky was almost completely clouded. And I got caught in the rain:

I have no interest in the convention. I consider it a nonexistent event.

But if you'd like a place to talk about it, you're welcome to use this comments section.

ADDED: I dipped into the running commentary at the NYT. Saw this:
That felt like the first big “moment” of this event – 30 seconds of silence on TV backed by a montage of Americans with their eyes closed. I can’t remember anything like that on television before.

"She started feeling uncomfortable. She couldn’t concentrate on the topic because all she was seeing was this old man on camera in her bedroom."

Said the mother of a high school freshman, who took a photograph of her math teacher on camera, without his shirt on. The mother is quoted in "San Jose teacher suspended after appearing topless in online class/East Side Union High School District superintendent says ‘situation is under investigation’" (Mercury News). That headline is egregious click bait, since it hides the fact that the teacher was male.

The temperature was 103° that day.

"I was just glad that my daughter realized, ‘Hey, this isn’t right’ and said something. This should be one of those zero tolerance-type of things. He needs to be out. If he thinks this is OK, what more is going to happen later if we let it slide?"

You tell me. Where does that slippery slope go? It's 103° and a male teacher does his on-line high school class bare-chested? What's "going to happen later"?

Anyway... obviously poor judgment by the man. Something is wrong there — but it does simply seem to be about excessively casual clothing and extreme heat.

"A New York Times reporter who won a Pulitzer Prize for his role perpetrating the Russia collusion hoax was tasked with framing the news that a former top FBI lawyer was to plead guilty..."

"... to deliberately fabricating evidence against a Donald Trump campaign affiliate targeted in the Russia probe. The resulting article is a case study in how to write propaganda. Adam Goldman broke, and cushioned, the news that former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith was to plead guilty to fabricating evidence in a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant application to spy on Trump campaign affiliate Carter Page. His job was to present the news as something other than an indictment of the FBI’s handling of the Russia collusion hoax, to signal to other media that they should move on from the story as quickly as possible, and to hide his own newspaper’s multi-year participation in the Russia collusion hoax.... The 434-page Horowitz report identified major abuses by the FBI that violated Page’s civil liberties....  Here’s how Goldman puts it: 'Republicans have seized on a narrow aspect of the inquiry — the investigation into Mr. Page — in a long-running quest to undermine it.'... FISA abuse was never a 'narrow aspect' of the inquiry and everyone should have 'seized' on it because lying to a FISA court and violating an American’s civil liberties are evil."

Writes Mollie Ziegler Hemingway at The Federalist. Much more at the link.

"Have you noticed how the left moves seamlessly from one batshit conspiracy theory to another, while calling the right paranoid?"

Asks Glenn Reynolds, linking to "The Manufactured Hysteria Over Mail Delivery."

It's the week of the Democratic convention — whatever that is. I'm afraid the party got hoodwinked into making the post office the big issue this week. Isn't it mostly a bargaining chip in a deal that will soon be closed? Shouldn't all of Trump's other many purported deficiencies be highlighted?

To convince me that the Democratic Party isn't making a mistake, you'd have to argue 2 things. First, that Trump's other supposed deficiencies really are not such a big deal, and second, that Trump is headed to victory and the Democrats’ best strategy is to undermine his second term with allegations that he cheated.

"This trailer for Days of Heaven has a bit of her narration. At 1:09, there's a beautiful shot of Linda Manz."

The quote in the post title is from my son John (at Facebook). He links to "Linda Manz, Star of Days of Heaven and Out of the Blue, Dies at Age 58/Though her credits were few, she left an indelible mark on film culture" (Variety).
She went in for the Days of Heaven casting call and ended up with the plum role of Richard Gere’s kid sister in the gorgeously-lensed Texas panhandle period piece.... ... Malick struggled to find cohesiveness while editing, and struck upon the idea to have Manz record a freestyle narration. “No script, nothing,” Manz recalled to the Voice. “I just watched the movie and rambled on . . . I dunno, they took whatever dialogue they liked.” The humorous incongruity of a city kid offering commentary about Texas farmers in 1916 (and also weighing in on Bible tales and whatever else was buzzing in Manz’s mind) is the first and most hummable melody in this cinematic symphony.
Here's the opening sequence Variety is talking about:

"The Week Old Hollywood Finally, Actually Died/The streaming services are in charge, and bringing a ruthless new culture with them."

A NYT article by Ben Smith.
[O]n Aug. 7...  WarnerMedia abruptly eliminated the jobs of hundreds of employees, emptying the executive suite at the once-great studio that built Hollywood.... In a series of brisk video calls, executives who imagined they were studio eminences were reminded that they work — or used to work — at the video division of a phone company. The chairman of WarnerMedia Entertainment, Bob Greenblatt, learned that he’d been fired the morning of the day the news broke.... Jeffrey Schlesinger, a 37-year company veteran who ran the lucrative international licensing business, complained to friends that he had less than an hour’s notice....

The new WarnerMedia chief executive, Jason Kilar, spent the formative years of his career as the senior vice president of worldwide application software at Amazon, known for its grim corporate culture.... Many of the new leaders are admirers of the culture at Netflix, which is hardheaded and unsentimental....
WarnerMedia includes HBO, which has its new streaming service, HBO Max.  The executive in charge of it is Casey Bloys, who is, we're told, "a great programmer, not a power player or politician of the old model. "
He has, he said in a telephone interview, told his new team that he wants programming on the streaming service that will complement the buzzy, complex adult shows like “Watchmen” and “Succession” that HBO is best known for. He is pointed [sic] to straightforwardly fun titles that appeal to younger audiences like “Green Lantern” and “Gossip Girl" as models for broadening out the service....

Democrats are hoping "rage moms" will boost them to power.

I'm reading "The ‘Rage Moms’ Democrats Are Counting On/As millions of American families face an uncertain start to the school year, the anger of women who find themselves expected to be teacher, caregiver, employee and parent is fueling a political uprising" by Lisa Lerer and Jennifer Medina in the NYT.
“Right now, I think women have just had it up to their eyeballs,” [Elizabeth] Warren said in an interview. “They no longer feel isolated and one-off in how they couldn’t figure out how to make the system work, and recognize the system is broken, and nobody’s making it work.... They’re fired up. And I love it.”...

[T]he backlash against Mr. Trump has been burning since the day after his inauguration, when millions of women joined protests across the country. Their fire has endured through #MeToo, waves of teachers’ strikes led by predominantly female unions, the outcry against school shootings, and Black Lives Matter demonstrations, a movement started largely by female racial justice activists. For the second election cycle in a row, a record-breaking number of female candidates are running for federal office. Mr. Biden’s selection of Ms. Harris was widely seen as a nod to the energy women have given the Democratic Party during the Trump era....
There's a lot in that article about the need for government support for those who are engaged in childcare. There should be rational policymaking in that area. Closing the schools because of coronavirus has highlighted our reliance on schools as childcare (as opposed to simply education). There's nothing more important that bringing up the next generation, yet it's something that's handled quite haphazardly. I'd like to see much more rationality. But somehow the discussion is about "rage moms" and Democratic Party power. That's so disgusting.

First of all, don't call women "moms." Women and men have a strong interest in raising children well. And women and men can and should form political opinions that take this interest into account.

And don't call women "rage moms." Rage implies irrationality, so you're trading on a sexist stereotype that women are irrational. Women and men are subject to rage, and it's not usually a good thing — especially around children!

ADDED: Another sexist stereotype inherent in "rage moms" is that the anger of females is lightweight and not dangerous. That's the same stereotype that lets people slough off the concerns of females. The pop-culture trope is "You're cute when you're angry."

When you were a child did you have a "rage mom"? I didn't, and I'm glad I didn't. If you did, tell me about it — Did you "love it" (to quote Elizabeth Warren, effusing about ginning up the anger of women for the aggrandizement of the Democratic Party)?

How many millions of women are out there in America trying to take care of their real children and hearing the message that they should be enraged because the government isn't helping them enough with their grueling labor? Would  you like to be a little kid with a rage mom?

"Want to Flee the City for Suburbia? Think Again/The 20th century is full of examples of the false promise of suburban living."

I clicked on that headline in the NYT. It's a column by Annalee Newitz, a science journalist and author of the "Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age."
The 20th century offers object lessons in why fleeing cities for suburban and exurban settings can backfire — even if it seems like a good idea at first. In the early 1900s, many large cities were suffering from the side-effects of rapid industrialization: they were polluted, full of high-density housing with bad sanitation. Crime flourished.... There were disease outbreaks, too... In response, a new wave of utopian thinkers proposed moving to... “the garden city”... As the craze for these British-style garden cities grew in the States, Frank Lloyd Wright wrote about building a uniquely American version. ... Wright argued that the Usonian city wouldn’t be a flight from modernity.... Brand-new inventions like telephones, radio and automobiles meant everyone’s work could be done remotely....
Great! What's the problem? Why isn't this the answer today, when the ability to work remotely is much more well-developed?

20th century suburbia was not "Utopia." There were racially exclusionary policies, the houses were more expensive in reality than in theory, and people needed cars. That's the basis of Newitz's warning about "the false promise of suburban living." She concludes:
Ultimately, the garden city future is a false Utopia. The answer to our current problems isn’t to run away from the metropolis. Instead, we need to build better social support systems for people in cities so that urban life becomes healthier, safer and more sustainable.
Some designers expressed Utopian ideas, but that doesn't mean it had to be Utopia to be worth doing at all. You have to live somewhere, and the alternative is also not Utopia. There's a lot that Newitz isn't saying here. Underlying her conclusions is, I think, a recognition that the cities are in decline — perhaps even approaching a death spiral. For the good of the city and all the people who don't have the means to leave, the more well-off people are encouraged to stay. If they go, the place will collapse. So please, city people with the means to relocate, stay here, keep paying taxes and give your  wealth to the noble cause of making "urban life... healthier, safer and more sustainable."

Neither the city nor suburbia is Utopia, but what happens when the city is virulently dystopian? How long are people supposed to tough it out? Perhaps Newitz's point is only a small one: Don't imagine suburbia to be any better than it is. You're always trading one set of benefits and problems for another.

But you're always taking your own selfish interests into account even as you want to support the good of the group. In a real disaster, of course, you will run. Is the disaster here yet... and when is it too late to run?

But don't you want to be optimistic? Ironically, if you're optimistic about the cities at this point, you're more like the theorists of suburbia, who dreamed of Utopia.

Trump is putting children in cages hotels... and it's an outrage.

"The Trump administration has been using major hotel chains to detain children and families taken into custody at the border, creating a largely unregulated shadow system of detention and swift expulsions without the safeguards that are intended to protect the most vulnerable migrants.... Children as young as a year old — often arriving at the border with no parents — are being put in hotels under the supervision of transportation workers who are not licensed to provide child care.... But because the hotels exist outside the formal detention system, they are not subject to policies designed to prevent abuse in federal custody or those requiring that detainees be provided access to phones, healthy food, and medical and mental health care...."

The NYT tells us in "A Private Security Company Is Detaining Migrant Children at Hotels/Under emergency coronavirus orders, the Trump administration is using hotels across the country to hold migrant children and families before expelling them."

The top-center of WaPo's home page: A map of Wisconsin, divided into 7 "states."

I see that the southeast gets to be all or part of 6 of the 7 states.

Here's the article: "The seven political states of Wisconsin" by David Weigel, who seems to have gotten much of his info from Ben Wikler (I knew Ben when he was a teenager):
“The history of polling relative to election results in Wisconsin suggests that this election will be won or lost by a nose,” said Ben Wikler, who took over the state’s Democratic Party in 2019. “Democrats should run as though we’re three points behind and might be able to win at the very final moment if we do absolutely everything in our power.”
He's not taking Wisconsin for granted!
So how is Wisconsin still so close? To understand it, we broke it down into seven political “states.” Democrats win landslides in the two most populous counties, Milwaukee and Dane. Republicans in 2016 won nearly everywhere else — the suburban WOW Counties (Waukesha, Ozaukee, Washington), the rest of Southeast Wisconsin, the old swing counties of Northeast Wisconsin, and formerly Democratic areas in the Southwest and Northwest.

August 16, 2020

At the Sunday Night Café...


... you can write about whatever you like.


The photos were taken this morning at 6:00 and 6:02.

"There are many people who are voting for Trump who are in environments where it’s politically untenable to admit it because he’s become so toxic."

"But I’m still not convinced that not telling your business associate or the people in your Rotary Club or the people in your country club is the same thing as not telling a pollster," said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster, quoted in "'Hidden' Trump Voters Exist. But How Much Impact Will They Have?/Republicans insist that millions of Americans want to vote for Trump but won’t admit it. Polling experts tell a different story" (NYT)
“The idea that people lie, it’s an interesting theory, and it’s not like it’s completely off-the-wall,” said David Winston, a pollster who works with congressional Republicans. “But it’s obviously a very complicated thing to try to prove because what do you do? Ask them, ‘Are you lying?’”...

If voters were indeed afraid of voicing their support for the president, Mr. Winston said [there would be] an uptick in the percentage of undecided voters rather than a rise in support for Mr. Biden....

While the effects of a hidden Trump vote are certainly overstated by the president’s allies, that does not mean that no evidence exists that polls are missing some of his voters. A small percentage of his support is probably being undercounted, and has been in the past, public opinion experts said. And in states like North Carolina, where the margin of victory could be narrow, the undercount could make a difference between a poll being right or wrong.

"Even in the 1970s, and through the 80s, when NYC was going bankrupt, and even when it was the crime capital of the US or close to it, it was still the capital of the business world..."

"... it was culturally on top of its game - home to artists, theater, media, advertising, publishing, and it was probably the food capital of the US.... In early March, many people (not me), left NYC when they felt it would provide safety from the virus and they no longer needed to go to work and all the restaurants were closed. People figured, 'I'll get out for a month or two and then come back.' They are all still gone. And then in June, during rioting and looting a second wave of NYC-ers (this time me) left. I have kids. Nothing was wrong with the protests but I was a little nervous when I saw videos of rioters after curfew trying to break into my building. Many people left temporarily but there were also people leaving permanently. Friends of mine moved to Nashville, Miami, Austin, Denver, Salt Lake City, Austin, Dallas, etc. Now a third wave of people are leaving. But they might be too late. Prices are down 30-50% on both rentals and sales no matter what real estate people tell you.... People who would have rented or bought say, 'Hmmm, everyone is saying NYC is heading back to the 1970s, so even though prices might be 50% lower than they were a year ago, I think I will wait a bit more. Better safe than sorry!' And then with everyone waiting... prices go down. So people see prices go down and they say, 'Good thing I waited. But what happens if I wait even more!' And they wait and then prices go down more. This is called a deflationary spiral.

A big "Streisand effect" for an otherwise obscure tweet: "Kamala sounds like Marge Simpson."

That's the entire tweet, from a Trump adviser I've never noticed or cared about, Jenna Ellis. But it's a big deal, because anti-Trumpers went big, attacking it. Why does it even matter? People like Marge Simpson, she has a distinctive voice, and somebody noticed a similar quality in Kamala Harris's voice.

The "Simpsons" show itself responded, I'm reading in "Marge Simpson claps back at Trump adviser Jenna Ellis for Kamala Harris dig: I 'feel a little disrespected'" (Fox News).

Here's the show's tweet:

I guess I should congratulate the show for drawing attention to itself. It's so weird that it's still on the air. Not only is it the longest running scripted prime-time TV show, it has 10 more seasons that the show that's in second place.

I hate the idea that we're not supposed to make fun of Kamala Harris. No one unmockable should be given access to great power. By the way, she herself is always laughing, laughing when nothing is even funny. We're supposed to put up with a person laughing at nothing and also to be banned from laughing at something?! That's not my idea of America. Trump says he'll "make America great again." What's the counteroffer? Make America grim again?

Don't hike in the woods wearing sandals.

That's the central message in "Joyce Carol Oates’ foot photo is freaking everyone out."
“So important to wear proper hiking shoes,” the National Book Award winner tweeted, sharing a graphic close-up of her foot. “Never/ever walk in the woods in sandals. the instep of my left foot this morning--poison ivy? poison oak? must’ve stepped in something...”
Bonus JCO tweet at that link:

Things that are not surprising! Those who get in are the most elite. They got in despite the discrimination. They have a mark of distinction.

Here's the NYT article, "Justice Dept. Says Yale Discriminates. Here’s What Students Think."

ADDED: Immediately upon publishing this post, it became obvious to me that Singal is being sarcastic. So we're on the same page.

"Restaurants are fragile; they compete with each other, but the collective of local restaurants is antifragile for that very reason."

"Had restaurants been individually robust, hence immortal, the overall business would be either stagnant or weak, and would deliver nothing better than cafeteria food — and I mean Soviet-style cafeteria food. Further, it would be marred with systemic shortages, with, once in a while, a complete crisis and government bailout. All that quality, stability, and reliability are owed to the fragility of the restaurant itself."

A quote from the 2012 book "Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder," that I quoted before, in a comment on a 2013 post of mine called "Notes on success from 2 Scotts — Adams and Fitzgerald — and one Bob."

The quote is newly interesting in this time of the coronavirus! Individual restaurants are dying like mad — "One in three New York restaurants won’t open after the pandemic." Does that "Antifragile" quote inject optimism into this horrible experience? The "collective of local restaurants" will do well because the individual places go under? Does that still apply when a third of the restaurants go under within one year... and the ones that survive are disabled from picking up the slack? The customers who would pack the remaining restaurants are building up the desire to come back whenever it's possible to eat out again.

Why was I reading that old post? I saw that Scott Adams tweeted a link to a post of mine yesterday, and it made me wonder how many times I'd blogged about him. Answer: 204. Most of that is from January 2016 and later, but there are 2 earlier posts, one from 2011 (about boredom) and the one from 2013 with the "Notes on success." Fitzgerald is F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Bob is, of course, Bob Dylan.

"She talks about life and how we should live. That’s the way in America. In Britain, people look at that and go, 'Who do you think you are?'"

Said a former senior courtier, talking about Meghan Markle and quoted in "The British Monarchy Is a Game. Harry and Meghan Didn’t Want to Play" (NYT). The article is by British reporter Tanya Gold, who says:
The royal family is a sacrifice at the center of Britain’s national life, fuel for the creation of a national soul because we can’t think of anything better. Sometimes it works. Often — and increasingly — it doesn’t. We dress them up in coronets. We play with them like toys. It has nothing to do with admiration or love. They submit to us, not we to them.

And if they are to survive this monstrous game? They do what is required.... They allow the nation to project what it wants on them. The Sussexes did not understand this. Harry confused sacrifice with service. Meghan confused it with fame.

I always thought Harry chose a woman, however subconsciously, who would free him... “‘Fundamentally, Harry wanted out,’ a source close to the couple said. ‘Deep down, he was always struggling within that world. She’s opened the door for him on that.’”