October 10, 2020

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can write about anything you like.

On the Overlode Trail in Blue Mounds.


Beautiful fall colors today. Perfect weather. Sublime conversation. What did you talk about today? 

"We, the Unimpeachably Great Hooples."

The podcast is up! Listen here or — better yet — subscribe at iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

"We don't want to make 'em too unhappy, James... Would you teach all the action kids... would you teach us all to do the James Brown boogaloo?"

That's James Brown in 1964, found in an NPR article from last May, "Who Owns 'Boogaloo'?" which I got sidelined into while trying to find out if there was a special 1970s meaning to the word "boogaloo." This is a question I had researching the song "All the Young Dudes"... and let's take a minute to listen to Mott the Hoople: 


Wikipedia informs us that David Bowie — who wrote the song — offered "All the Young Dudes" to Mott the Hoople after they rejected "Suffragette City." "All the Young Dudes" was a big hit single for Mott the Hoople — their biggest. The answer to the question what's a "hoople" is: "Hooples... 'make the whole game possible, Christmas Clubs especially, politics, advertising agencies, pay toilets, even popes and mystery novels.' Obviously they're squares...."

But I'm thinking about "All the Young Dudes" this morning because I used the song title as a framework from the title of my podcast yesterday: "All the dangerous dudes are on the other side." There are some tricks to devising titles for episodes of the Althouse podcast, but I use things that are in the podcast and fit them together, sometimes using the form of a song title. In that case, the podcast discussed the Google Adsense policy banning "dangerous and derogatory" material, the line from the Wisconsin protests "All the assholes are on the other side," and the use of the word "dude" by a man who was arrested in an alleged plot to kidnap the governor of Michigan. Approving comments this morning, I saw that Joe Smith had recognized the presence of "All the Young Dudes" in the podcast title, and it made me want to read and understand the lyrics, something I've never done, even though I'd listened to the song — the David Bowie version — as I was working on the podcast.

Reading the lyrics at Genius.com, realizing I've never paid attention to the words, I'm surprised to see "boogaloo" in the chorus:
All the young dudes

Carry the news

Boogaloo dudes

The annotation says "In the 50s, “boogaloo” referred to a type of Latin music. But by the 70s, it referred to this..." And "this" is a video that is currently unavailable! And that's why I was looking for the 70s meaning of "boogaloo." I lived through the 70s. My memory of it is that the boogaloo was a dance. I'm stunned to see James Brown doing it all the way back in 1963. The reason the show host says "We don't want to make 'em too unhappy, James" is that after James did a joyous boogaloo, he was asked to do a sad boogaloo, which of course, he could also do and did so well that it could be a joke that he could make us — or whoever the "action kids" were — unhappy... and not just unhappy but too unhappy.

I'm just going to guess that the 70s meaning, the one referred to in the song, is the sexual meaning you can see at Urban Dictionary:
What that says about the right-wing terrorists of the 2020s is something I might riff on when I read this post out loud later today for the podcast. 

ADDED: The NPR article says the James Brown clip is from 1964 (or 1963), so I excluded the possibility that "the action kids" were the extras on the Dick Clark TV show "Where the Action Is," because that wasn't on TV that early. The years in the 1960s are very fine-tuned in my memories! The show debuted in 1965, and, as Wikipedia verifies, the extras on the show were, in fact, referred to as "The Action Kids"! So James Brown is dancing in 1965 or later.


AND: And in the 1970s — as as Leo Sayer sang in the 70s — before you can eat, ya gotta dance like Fred Astaire:

In financial stress from the pandemic, "Museums Sell Picasso and Warhol, Embrace Diversity to Survive."

Bloomberg reports.
Museums are not only selling works long off the market but acquiring pieces by female, Black and Latino artists, and -- they hope -- gaining new visitors who will see themselves reflected in the hushed halls.... 
This week at Christie’s, Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, New York, sold its sole Jackson Pollock painting for $13 million and Springfield Museums in Massachusetts offloaded a Picasso for $4.4 million.... 
“Museums have amazing power,” [said Adam Levine, the new leader of the Toledo Museum of Art] “When we put something on the wall, it becomes unimpeachably great.” It also becomes unimpeachably valuable, and museums are under pressure to give power and value to those who’ve been underrepresented. Levine’s first acquisition was Black artist Bisa Butler’s large-scale quilted portrait of Frederick Douglass, whose title alludes to his speech to abolish slavery.

Oddly, Bloomberg fails to tell us the title, but let it be known that it refers to his "speech to abolish slavery." (By the way,  "speech to abolish slavery" is also bad writing.) I looked it up. It's called "The Storm, the Whirlwind, and the Earthquake" and it was made just this year. But once it's on a wall in the Toledo Museum of Art it's "unimpeachably great," so what an admirable acquisition by the museum!

Indeed, every acquisition of the museum is "unimpeachably great," at least in the amazing power of the mind of Adam Levine.

In Baltimore, the city’s encyclopedic museum is selling three signature works -- by Clyfford Still, Brice Marden and Warhol -- to raise $65 million.

These are all white men made unimpeachably great by the hanging of their painted rectangles on the walls of museums. Take them off the wall... and then what?! Dump them on the market — while all the other erstwhile great junk floods the market — and use the proceeds not to keep museum workers on the payroll — these people are losing their jobs like mad — but to heed the call of an "imperative" wafting through the cultural air:

A key Abstract Expressionist who spent the final decades of his life on a Maryland farm, Still gave his “157-G” painting to Baltimore as a gift. It’s estimated to sell for $12 million to $18 million and some funds are to be used to buy works by women and people of color. “The imperative to act and address decades of inaction around equality in the museum is enormously important,” said Christopher Bedford, museum director. He says the emphasis on diversity will “ensure that the story we are narrating is the full and true story.”

Yes, ensure, please, ensure. Here, Andy, quick, paint this: 

Ah! The fullness! The trueness! 

ADDED: I've replaced the link at the top of the post with one that shows various artworks, including the painting Clyfford Still gave to the Baltimore museum, presumably to establish his unimpeachable greatness:
Is the museum somehow ethically obligated to hang onto that, when it can be converted into a 4296-foot-tall stack of one dollar bills? That's my conceptual art: a 4296-foot-tall stack of one dollar bills — representing the low-end estimate of the sale price of that Clyfford Still — 12 million dollars.

October 9, 2020

At the Truth-and-Life Café...


 ... you can talk about whatever you like.


"The Plot Against Gretchen Whitmer Shows the Danger of Private Militias/These groups have no constitutional right to exist."

Let's read this NYT piece by Mary B. McCord, identified as "legal director for Georgetown Law’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection and a visiting professor" and "the acting assistant attorney general for national security at the Department of Justice from 2016 to 2017."

The real target of this 25th Amendment talk is... Joe?!

In Wisconsin, the libertarian is polling at 4%. Very strange, considering how crucial the Biden/Trump choice is here.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports on the new Marquette poll
Biden leads Trump by 46% to 41% among likely voters surveyed, a shade better than his 4-point advantage last month. For the second poll in a row, Libertarian candidate Jo Jorgensen was backed by 4%.... The margin of error for the full sample was plus or minus 4.2%

John Lennon turns 80.

"All the dangerous dudes are on the other side."

It's a podcast... the podcast where I read the last 24 hours of the blog to my dear husband and you get to eavesdrop. It's the text of the blog plus whatever I jump off into from there. You can stream it below and you can find it on any of the various podcast things like iTunes, where it would be great if you'd subscribe. The title will explain itself (or not):


"The conservatism of talk radio only partly overlaps with institutional conservatism, that of right-wing Washington think tanks, magazines and the Republican Party itself."

"By the early 2000s, it had embraced a version of conservatism that is less focused on free markets and small government and more focused on ethnonationalism and populism. It is, in short, the core of Trumpism — now and in the future, with or without a President Trump.... If you visit a carpentry shop or factory floor, or hitch a ride with a long-haul truck driver, odds are that talk radio is a fixture of the aural landscape. But many white-collar workers, journalists included, struggle to understand the reach of talk radio because they don’t listen to it, and don’t know anyone who does.... Because of the ocean of content, one must listen to it at great length, a daunting task for anyone not already sympathetic with a host’s conservative views....  Each show has its own long-running inside jokes and references, a kind of linguistic shorthand that unites fans and repels outside examination.... By 1963 President John F. Kennedy was so worried about what an aide called this 'formidable force in American life today,” which was able to “harass local school boards, local librarians and local government bodies,” that he authorized targeted Internal Revenue Service audits and the use of the Federal Communications Commission’s Fairness Doctrine to silence these pesky conservative broadcasters. The result was the most successful episode of government censorship of the last half century. Conservative broadcasters have never forgotten it, and it is a key reason that a conspiracist mind-set has such a grip on listeners. Since 2003, Rush Limbaugh, who got his start working in radio as a teenager in the mid-1960s, has mentioned the Fairness Doctrine on nearly 150 episodes. He credits the rise of talk radio to the lifting of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987 by the Reagan administration."

From "Talk Radio Is Turning Millions of Americans Into Conservatives/The medium is at the heart of Trumpism" by Paul Matzko, author of “The Radio Right: How a Band of Broadcasters Took on the Federal Government and Built the Modern Conservative Movement" (NYT).

By the way, Trump is doing a virtual rally on the Rush Limbaugh show today — here.

"In a YouTube video from May, Caserta claimed in a 30-minute diatribe that 'the enemy is government.' Caserta recorded the video in front of an anarchist's flag..."

"... and a map of Michigan. He did not post on YouTube again until three weeks ago. In that video, Caserta does not speak and simply loads and poses with a long gun while wearing a shirt that says 'F--- The Government.'... On TikTok, Caserta posted selfie videos railing against the state, along with antigovernment hashtags.... 'The price of freedom is eternal vigilance,' he said in a video posted Wednesday. In one video, Caserta is wearing a Hawaiian shirt, which is typically associated with the boogaloo movement. On Facebook, he posted about guns and Covid-19 conspiracies and espoused conflicting political ideologies, including anarchism. Caserta's Twitter timeline appears to show his rapid descent into radicalization. In 2018 and early 2019, Caserta largely liked and posted about comedy shows, podcasts like 'The Joe Rogan Experience,' motivational quotations and selfies. Caserta's only likes after the onset of the pandemic mention conspiracy theories about Bill Gates and a meme about hogtying police officers." 

I'm seeing people on the right trying to associate Caserta with the left because of that anarchy flag. I see this at Townhall: "Anarchist Who Plotted Against Whitmer Also Said This About President Trump."

Go there if you need video of Caserta saying, "Trump is not your friend, dude. And it amazes me that people actually believe that when he's shown over and over and over again that he's a tyrant. Every single person that works for government is your enemy, dude." 

Does that line indicate that Caserta is an extremist of the right or an extremist of the left? I say right, because he's addressing righties, saying they need to be more extreme. Why would a lefty extremist address someone who believes Trump is his friend? And call him "dude"? "Dude" is a somewhat nice thing to call somebody. A lefty extremist would, I think, say something closer to "you fucking asshole."

"In Democracy Without Journalism? Pickard outlines a series of proposals to create a more robust news media in the United States and thus a more democratic society."

"He calls for the creation of a fund that would support local journalism, especially in the country’s growing number of news deserts, and for stronger privacy restrictions and more regulatory bodies to prevent further consolidation in the industry. All of these policies are perfectly reasonable and, as Pickard shows in the book’s sections on other countries, are currently enjoyed by many other parts of the world. But he also recognizes that the notion of a government-funded media system remains anathema to many in the United States... In his book’s last chapters, Pickard surveys many of the ongoing battles between Republicans and Democrats over the role of the FCC, as well as the prospect of more public subsidies for newspapers, radio, and television. Instead of effective corporate regulation, the Fairness Doctrine—the 1949 replacement for the Mayflower Doctrine, which constrained broadcasters from editorializing—had long served as a consolation prize for media reformers. It required broadcasters to cover socially important issues and to fairly present opposing sides. But even that proved too much for Republicans, who repeatedly framed the policy as an attack on broadcasters’ free speech until it was revoked by Congress in 1987."

So little regard for freedom of speech and what makes America extraordinary. Such easy identification with "other countries" — which ones?! — where government-funded media are "currently enjoyed." You know, it probably is pretty easy for most people to "enjoy" life within the controlled environment of government-funded media. We're already so close to forgetting the free speech tradition.

"'Teaching,' for figures of her calibre, is often a word that means giving scripted lectures and then fleeing into the wings, or charging mega-dollars for a sun-drenched guru experience at a resort."

"Glück is a classroom teacher, at home in a small group, around a table. Dozens of great books, winners of awards, were shaped by her vigilant editing in the classroom, which often continues in her apartment and garden in Cambridge. This is part of why so many people seemed to feel that their own lives had somehow been recognized by the announcement of the Nobel. When I was growing up in Vermont, a few mountains over from her, Glück’s work was everywhere; she still feels to me like a seventies figure, something in the key of Joni Mitchell, because of all the bookshelves and coffee tables of that era where her books were found. She was 'our' poet. Now I think of all the waiters and cheesemongers and cabbies and neighborhood people in Cambridge who know her, and think of her as 'their' poet.... When I told her how a friend was courting his new, young wife by reading aloud poems from her book 'The Wild Iris,' she laughed and said something like 'that book is very useful for people who prefer to view their carnal needs in spiritual terms.'"

Writes Dan Chiasson, in "How Louise Glück, Nobel Laureate, Became Our Poet For decades, she has taught us the contours of our own inner lives" (The New Yorker).

The way Chiasson talks about the 70s, I thought he should be approximately my age, but he was born in 1971, 20 years after me, so "something in the key of Joni Mitchell" doesn't mean that period of young adulthood that I lived through, but — perhaps — that place out there where other people had the advantage of adulthood. I'm thinking the way he feels about 1970s Joni Mitchel — ladies of the canyon? — is about how I felt about beatniks... 
"Beat Generation" sold books, sold black turtleneck sweaters and bongos, berets and dark glasses, sold a way of life that seemed like dangerous fun—thus to be either condemned or imitated. Suburban couples could have beatnik parties on Saturday nights and drink too much and fondle each other's wives....

Which reminds me — here, you can buy "Wild Iris," if you'd like to view your carnal needs in spiritual terms.

The Nobel Peace Prize finds a safely nice place to go.

October 8, 2020

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk about whatever you like.

I've discontinued Google AdSense ads.

 Email received today from Google was the last straw for me:

In the last 24 hours: 
New violations were detected. As a result, ad serving has been restricted or disabled on pages where these violations of the AdSense Program Policies were found. To resolve the issues, you can either remove the violating content and request a review, or remove the ad code from the violating pages. 
4 pages were reviewed at your request and found to be non-compliant with our policies at the time of the review. Ad serving continues to be restricted or disabled on those pages.

I'm tired of checking to see what's supposedly a violation. I get so many of these and they're often posts that are nothing but a quote from a commentator in the NYT. But to see that the review didn't okay these pages... it's just mind-bending. I can't waste my energy dealing with this bullshit. In every case, I'm told that I've violated their policy with "Dangerous or derogatory content," which I find insulting. Here are recent posts that have been found in violation of that policy — even after review: 

"In a disturbing number of the recent cases of the police being called on black people for doing everyday, mundane things, the calls have been initiated by white women" — the post title is a quote from NYT columnist Charles Blow and the post is only a quote from Blow! 

"'Take the Shutdown Skeptics Seriously/This is not a straightforward battle between a pro-human and a pro-economy camp; — by Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic" — a post that quotes The Atlantic. I say: "Now, there's the kind of title that calls out to me. Moderate, promising to look at both sides. It's the second-most "popular" article right now at The Atlantic. The first is: 'The Coronavirus Was an Emergency Until Trump Found Out Who Was Dying/The pandemic has exposed the bitter terms of our racial contract, which deems certain lives of greater value than others' by Adam Serwer, which is the sort of evil pot-stirring I loathe. I won't do a link for that one. You can find it yourself if you want. I don't want to reward that sort of thing." 

"Flipping the pride" — a post showing gay men are appropriating the name "Proud Boys" for themselves. It's just a presumably gay guy dancing in a rainbow outfit and wig. This is a pro-gay post!

"If Trump and Pence both get very sick, it’s not clear who would be president/President Pelosi? Invoking the Succession Act would lead to chaos" — the post title is a headline from an article by lawprof Sanford V. Levinson, which I proceed to discuss! 

How did these articles get flagged? By robots or by opponents of this blog? What kind of review does Google have that would reinforce the idea that this is "Dangerous or derogatory content"?! Review by robots or by opponents of this blog? I can't imagine an unbiased human being finding all — or any — of these posts to have "Dangerous or derogatory content." It could be that I'm getting flagged for crap in the comments....

I'm not dealing with it any more. So enjoy ad-free Althouse.

Really bad Biden/Harris sign I've been seeing around Madison.


It's so awful! The facelessness, the man in back, the messy hair for her, and his hair doesn't look like Biden's at all! It seems more like Bill Clinton. And why is the man in back? It reminds me of all those pictures of Biden sniffing women's hair. 

"In the words of the popular American yoga teacher Shiva Rea, namaste is 'the consummate Indian greeting,' a 'sacred hello' that means 'I bow to the divinity within you from the divinity within me.'"

"Deepak Chopra... says namaste means 'the spirit in me honors the spirit in you' and 'the divine in me honors the divine in you.'... When you bow to another, you are honoring something sacred in them. You are acknowledging that they are worthy of respect and dignity.... Some claim that the greeting has been infused with a religious meaning that doesn’t exist in Indian culture....  Most Indian religions agree that there is something divine in all individuals.... Beginning in the 1830s and 1840s, the influential philosopher and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson, in dialogue with a number of other thinkers, invented a form of spiritual practice that encouraged Americans to actively address the divine soul in others every time they spoke.... One need not be a Hindu, or a Buddhist, or a yoga teacher, to say namaste.... What matters most [is]... Do you truly recognize them as a fellow human being worthy of dignity, bonded in shared suffering and capacity for transcendence?"

I thought the recommendation was going to hinge on the social distancing of bowing as opposed to a handshake or a hug, but it was about spiritual connection. That took me by surprise, and of course, I am delighted that it fits the "divinity" theme established on the blog (and the podcast) today.

"Completely flabbergasted that they would choose a white American lyric poet. It doesn’t make sense. Now my street is covered with journalists."

"People keep telling me how humble I am. I’m not humble. But I thought, I come from a country that is not thought fondly of now, and I’m white, and we’ve had all the prizes. So it seemed to be extremely unlikely that I would ever have this particular event to deal with in my life...."

Said Louise Glück, who just won the Nobel Prize for Literature today, quote in "'I Was Unprepared': Louise Glück on Poetry, Aging and a Surprise Nobel Prize." 

You can listen to her read her work here:

"Fleetwood Mac’s 'Dreams' is number 1 on iTunes this morning. Van Halen’s singles take up a third of the top 100."

Showbiz 411 reports. I was just blogging a few days ago about the reason for the current popularity of "Dreams" — here. Remember — doggface208, cran-raspberry juice, skateboarding? And you know why everyone wants to listen to Van Halen right now.
Ironically, one of the songs selling best is a Van Halen cover of The Kinks’ 'You Really Got Me.'"
I don't know what's ironic about that. The point is simply that the royalties go to the songwriter, so Ray Davies gets the windfall. And Stevie Nicks gets the money for the current "Dreams" craze caused by Mr. Doggface. I don't find it strange at all that old songs are popular and money is made for things written half a century ago. Half a century ago is exactly right in my zone. I love The Kinks. So let me give you this:

"Six men charged in alleged plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer."

"At a meeting, the men discussed attacking a Michigan State Police facility, and in a separate conversation one defendant suggested shooting up the governor’s vacation home, authorities allege" — NBC reports.
At a meeting in July, allegedly attended and recorded by one of the informants, the men “discussed attacking a Michigan State Police facility, and in a separate conversation after the meeting, Garbin suggested shooting up the Governor’s vacation home," authorities said. Then at a July 27 meeting, Fox and an informant discussed a possible kidnapping of Whitmer, with the defendant allegedly saying: “Snatch and grab, man. Grab the f---ing governor. Just grab the b----. Because at that point, we do that, dude — it’s over.”

"Fixating on the divine fly."

The new podcast (reading the blog posts of the last 24 hours or so):


Was the fly on Mike Pence's hair divine intervention?

This is a question that occurred to me as I was recording my reading of the previous post — "Was there any discussion of 'systemic racism' during the debate?," — which has a bit to say about the fly that landed and lingered on Mike Pence's hair during the debate. It made it hard to listen to what Pence was saying, which I see, reading the transcript, was trenchant and substantive. Was the fly a meaningless, random occurrence or could it have been divine intervention? 

Surely, an omnipotent deity, if He cared about the outcome of American elections, could simply cause the person he wanted to win. Why would he merely put a thumb on the scales as We the People weigh the choices? And such a tiny thumb, a little fly, so lightweight that it made no impression on the mind of Pence as it stood staunchly on the man's silvery coif! He had no idea of that thing as he burbled about respect for our earthly justice system. Yet perhaps it tipped the election. Who can know?!

But I had divine intervention on my mind after what Trump said yesterday (transcript):
Hi, perhaps you recognize me? It’s your favorite president. And I’m standing in front of the Oval Office at the White House... A short 24 hours [after receiving the drug Regeneron], I was feeling great, I wanted to get out of the hospital and that’s what I want for everybody. I want everybody to be given the same treatment as your president because I feel great. I feel like perfect. So I think this was a blessing from God that I caught it. This was a blessing in disguise. I caught it. I heard about this drug. I said, “Let me take it.” It was my suggestion. I said, “Let me take it,” and it was incredible the way it worked.... You’re going to get better. You’re going to get better fast, just like I did. So again, a blessing in disguise....

I blogged that video yesterday, here, and then — because it was thematically relevant — I added video of the aged actress Jane Fonda saying "I just think COVID is God’s gift to the Left." So, people are talking about divine intervention. It's an idea that landed on my head and has been lingering — depositing eggs of ideas, one might say, to extend the metaphor. 

By the way, look what The New Yorker put in its crossword on Monday:

23 Down: "________ Jane, celebrity epithet of 1972." So many possible clues for "Hanoi." They had to want to go there. Is it, for them, just a funny old nugget of pop culture? 

Anyway, back to the question whether divine intervention could come in the form of a fly? I think of the play "The Flies" ("Les Mouches") by Jean-Paul Sartre. This is something that occurred to me as I was reading the previous post out loud, but I couldn't talk about the play off the top of my head — my almost certainly flyless head. I hadn't read it in 50 years. I had to end the recording and find some sort of recap. I'll use this, randomly:

Was there any discussion of "systemic racism" during the debate?

I need to read the transcript, in part because I want to do a word search, but in part because I, like so many of you, became distracted when a fly landed on Mike Pence's hair and stayed there for quite a long while. I thought it would never leave. Pence has helmet hair, so zero chance of feeling the weight or movement of the fly, and the fly barely moved. We talked about whether the fly was stuck or dead and whether it symbolized racism, being a discordant black dot on highly structured white hair. 

Here's the transcript. I see, searching it, that Kamala Harris never said "racist" or "racism," let alone "systemic" or "systemically." But Mike Pence said "systemically racist," and it is in this portion of the debate, where I was distracted by the fly in Mike Pence's hair. Let's work through this carefully, beginning with the question framed by the moderator, Susan Page. I've made some corrections to the transcript, which I'll note with boldface.
In March, Breonna Taylor, a 26 year old emergency room technician in Louisville was shot and killed after police officers executing a search warrant in a narcotics investigation, broke into her apartment. The police said they identified themselves. Taylor’s boyfriend said he didn’t hear them do that. He used a gun registered to him to fire a shot, which wounded an officer. The officers then fired more than 20 rounds into the apartment. They say they were acting in self-defense. None of them have been indicted in connection with her death. Senator Harris, in the case of Breonna Taylor was justice done?...

Notice that Page did not mention race at all. Taylor was identified by her age, her occupation, and her city. The question relating to indictment should be right in the zone where former prosecutor Kamala Harris can display the most expertise. Will she show respect for the process? Will she accuse the grand jury of racism and perhaps explain that white people carry racism into their decision-making whether they realize it or not? That is, will she demonstrate a belief in systemic racism or "implicit bias" and invite us to understand and share the belief in an enlightened new way (which is, I think, what the Black Lives Matter movement would like us to do)?

Harris answers:

October 7, 2020

At the Sunrise Café...

... you can write about whatever you like — except the VP debate, which has its own post, one post down.

Let's talk about the VP debate.

1. I don't know if I'll say anything tonight, but here's a place for you to talk. I'll be moderating comments through quickly, at least unless I fall asleep. 

 2. I wish Harris were not wearing false eyelashes. It's causing her to blink a lot, which isn't good for making a connection with the viewer. 

 3. Neither candidate is answering the question asked. Now, Pence is going overtime to get to a question. 

 4. Harris is going big and emotional. 

 5. My son John is live-blogging, here.

6. Harris is more fun to watch than Pence. He’s so earnest and sincere, so steadfast. She’s smirking and reacting, looking surprised, jerking about, seeming pleased to have something to jot down. I wonder if he has a plan to irritate her or if he’s just being his usual, unchanging self. 

7. The fly of racism landed in Pence’s hair. No one is listening. All are staring at the fly, which seems to have become stuck in the silver fibers. Ah! Finally, it flits off. We’re released to return to the substance. 

"This year he really packed on the pounds, looking like he was fat enough to hibernate in July and yet continuing to eat until his belly seemed to drag along the ground by late September."

According to Alaska’s Katmai National Park and Preserve, describing the fattest brown bear, the winner of "Fat Bear Week," The Guardian reports

Trump talks up drug treatments... calls his contracting of the disease a "blessing in disguise."

ADDED: On the subject of divine intervention:

"Gloria Scott decided it was time to call an electrician in early August after she flipped on a light switch in her kitchen and sparks flew out of an overhead fixture, tripping her circuit breaker..."

"Electrician John Kinney fixed the problem... But.... he couldn’t stop thinking about Scott, 72, living with her dog in her dilapidated house in Woburn, Mass., a suburban working-class community about 12 miles outside of Boston. 'She reminded me of my nana, who passed away 10 years ago,' said Kinney, 37, who runs Kinney Electric... The following Monday, Kinney returned to Scott’s home with an offer: 'I have a lot of friends — how about if I put together a group to come over and help you fix things up around here,' he recalled telling her. 'There will be no cost to you whatsoever.'... 'This has been a heartwarming experience for the whole town.' Victor Oliveira, owner of VCO Landscaping, said he was excited to redesign Scott’s front and back yards after he read about her on Facebook.... 'Gloria’s in seventh heaven and seems at a loss for words about what we’re doing,' he said. 'She’s gone from living alone to having a bunch of new friends.... I can’t believe that all of these volunteers keep showing up day after day to help me.... I wish that I could think of something to do for them. They’re an incredible band of brothers.... Now, I hope we can do the same for all of the other Glorias out there. Nobody should have to go through life alone.'"

Photo by John Kinney.

"Triumph of the Care Bears."

You can listen to the new podcast here or find it wherever you get your podcasts (e.g., iTunes):


Liberal comedians have turned away from sarcasm, "because people will momentarily wonder if you’re not on their side," but "the right has embraced it."

"The conservative humorist who has found the most success with this technique is now the President of the United States.... In his love of insults, his penchant for hyperbole and his commitment to shtick — that knowing performance of himself that blurs the line between personality and persona — Trump is unprecedented among American presidents. The most striking feature of his rhetorical style is how much it resembles that of a nightclub comic.... Organizations like The Times and CNN have to take the president seriously. When he says something that isn’t true, they must soberly point out that it isn’t, even when the intent of the untruth is not to deceive but to achieve some rhetorical effect. As a result, news organizations unequipped to cover an ironic president get lumped in with partisans who misconstrue his irony in bad faith. Both groups are cast as humorless scolds, solidifying the loyalty of MAGA types who think of themselves as in on a joke the media does not understand. Ambiguous irony also lets the president hedge his bets. Trump is constantly saying things he doesn’t mean (Jim Acosta is 'a real beauty'), or things he kind of means but goes on to retract (his authority is 'total'), or things he didn’t mean at first but later does ('build the wall'), or things nobody thought he meant that he apparently did ('lock her up'), as well as things he seemingly did mean before he retroactively declared them sarcasm — like his televised claim that injecting bleach might stop the coronavirus. Ambiguous irony opens up space for Trump to revise the meaning of his statements later, when he knows how they have played. This miasma of ill-defined but ever-present irony makes Trump virtually impossible to mock, because that job is taken. The real Donald Trump acts as if he’s doing an impression of some normal-looking, occasionally self-aggrandizing president we don’t know about.... Trump has effectively neutralized political comedy by shifting the place where jokes happen from the soundstage to the White House."

"Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe on Tuesday declassified notes of former CIA Director John Brennan showing that he briefed former President Obama on Hillary Clinton’s alleged 'plan'..."

"... to tie then-candidate Donald Trump to Russia as 'a means of distracting the public from her use of a private email server.' My interest in this story is not simply the serious underlying allegation but the lack of coverage by major networks or media outlets.... [T]he responses from Clinton allies have not addressed the substance of the document before simply dismissed any inquiries.... If these notes have been fabricated or misrepresented, it would show a breathtaking effort to lie to the voters before the election. If these notes are genuine, it would indicate that the FBI was aware of an effort by the Democratic presidential candidate to tag Trump with a Russian collusion scandal. We know that Clinton’s campaign funded the Steele dossier and that Steele shopped the dossier with the media to try to generate coverage to influence the election.... It seems that journalism is suspended until the election when reporters might be allowed a modicum of curiosity into such stories."

"Not sure if this was intentional...."

This made me look up old posts on this blog with the "Leni Riefenstahl" tag. I found "Is Michael Moore like Leni Riefenstahl?" from 2004 (the first year of this blog). Somebody else had compared Moore to Riefenstahl, and I said:
There are many huge differences between Moore and Leni Riefenstahl, though. Quite aside from the fact that she was working in support of Hitler and Moore is working against Bush (and Bush is no Hitler, despite some noise to the contrary), Riefenstahl would have snorted at the lack of artistry in Moore's work. She was all about beautiful and precise visual imagery. "Triumph of the Will" does not pound at you with voiceover assertions, it aims to lure you and seduce you with sequences of images. Moore's type of propaganda is far, far easier to resist, because it is immediately and constantly apparent that he is propagandizing. That is a lot fairer to the viewer: your resistance is instantly activated. You can decide what you want to think. What Riefenstahl did was incomparable.
And, from November 28, 2016, "As a filmmaker, Mr. Bannon, 63, has cited both the Nazi propagandist Leni Riefenstahl and the left-wing documentarian Michael Moore as models." The post title is a quote from a NYT article. I wrote:
Why is Leni Riefenstahl is called a "propagandist" and Michael Moore is a "documentarian." The same word — whichever you choose — applies to both. Riefenstahl was unquestionably a great film artist, far more interested in film as art than Moore. See the excellent, nonpropagandistic documentary about her, "The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl." Moore is an out-and-proud propagandist. What's wrong with that if your cause is good? Riefenstahl presents the problem of what's wrong with art if your cause is bad.

So... there you see what should be my answer to the tweet. To serve your own good ends, you can use aesthetic devices that have been used by others to accomplish evil. To give another example, Socialist Realism is a great style for poster art, even though it was created and used by the Soviet Union. 

In the headlines: Care Bears!

Trump comes back to the table: "If I am sent a Stand Alone Bill for Stimulus Checks ($1,200)...."

October 6, 2020

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk about whatever you like.

"If she wants it, she’s more than welcome to surround herself with plexiglass if that makes her feel more comfortable. It’s not needed."

Said Mike Pence's chief of staff Marc Short, quoted in "Pence, Harris teams at odds over plexiglass at debate" (WaPo).
Vice President Pence is requesting that no plexiglass dividers be placed on his side of the stage at Wednesday night’s vice-presidential debate, after an announcement Monday by the Commission on Presidential Debates that dividers had been agreed to as a safety measure to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
UPDATE: Pence team agrees to having plexiglass on his side "after viewing the setup during a walk-through of the debate hall" (WaPo).

"A race in North Carolina critical to control of the U.S. Senate has been thrown into turmoil over allegations of personal misconduct by Democrat Cal Cunningham..."

AP reports: "In the text messages to her friend, Guzman Todd told her she was intimate with Cunningham in his home, which she later characterized as 'weird.' In another exchange, Guzman Todd indicated that she was frustrated by the limited attention that he showed her. 'I’m just going to send to his opponent his naked photos,' Guzman Todd wrote. 'That will teach him.' 'You don’t deserve me Cal,' she said in a separate text message. She added in another, 'He knows (that I) can tank his campaign.'"

Things Nate Silver cannot get his mind around.

"I’d like to hear your point of view. I also acknowledge that you are personally insulting me right now. I don’t give permission to myself to be insulted."

"So thank you for insulting me. But now let’s declare our values and our action plan for those values and get the personalities out of the way altogether."

Said Deepak Chopra, quoted in "How to Have a Disagreement Like an Adult, According to Deepak Chopra/The longtime New Age celebrity has a working theory about how we can all get along. Your mileage may vary" (NYT). The quote is offered as something he might say in response to someone who has attacked him verbally.

I like the creamy center: "I also acknowledge that you are personally insulting me right now. I don’t give permission to myself to be insulted. So thank you for insulting me." I think the beginning — "I’d like to hear your point of view" — is a good buffer to the central part, and might keep "thank you for insulting me" from seeming too sarcastic. But I think the ending is weird and alienating — "declare our values" and "our action plan." It's so aggressively impersonal. I can see wanting to get "personalities out of the way" — to rise above the insults. But it's so coldly corporate. I feel like I'm at a crushingly boring meeting. Can't we be a little personal? Are personalities really out of the way when you swap in declarations of values and action plans or are you just demanding a form of conversation that fits your personality and puts me at a disadvantage?

I'm so pleased to see that my old colleague Thomas Mitchell has won a MacArthur "genius" grant.

From the MacArthur Foundation website:
Thomas Wilson Mitchell is a property law scholar reforming longstanding legal doctrines that deprive Black and other disadvantaged American families of their property and real estate wealth. Heirs’ property, a subset of tenancy-in-common property, tends to be created in the absence of a will or estate plan and results in “undivided ownership,” which means each of the legally defined heirs own a fractional interest in the property (rather than a specific piece or portion of the property)....

"Individuals with stable property rights are better able to participate in meaningful ways in our society. Growing up in San Francisco, I witnessed with much sadness the dramatic displacement of African American residents and businesses that occurred in part because the people affected lacked secure property rights. As a lawyer, I realized that certain property laws needed to be changed and better policies needed to be developed to give urban and rural African Americans, and other vulnerable people, stronger property rights that could enable them to build wealth and preserve important aspects of their history and culture...."

Eddie Van Halen has died!

I'm reading the news at my son John's blog. Lots of video clips over there. Sad!


"Cool scribblings, coming softly from fingers."

Over-emotive piano playing... photos that look like something by Wes Anderson... or Andy Warhol... the fake fear/courage distinction about covid, and the return of “mother’s little helper.” You can eavesdrop as I read my blog to my husband.

"Middle-class parents’ self-medication has long been recreationalized, even romanticized in America..."

"... think of sitcom dads pouring a drink and sinking into the BarcaLounger after a long day with Bob in accounting, or neurasthenic moms popping pink capsules while the casserole browns.... These powerful drugs were sold as a way to sedate women who didn’t fit the 1950s submissive ideal later satirized to chilling effect in 'The Stepford Wives.' In 1966, the Rolling Stones released their infamous track 'Mother’s Little Helper,' placing the blame on tranquilized mothers for needing a pill just to get through the day.... A particularly offensive ad from the ’60s called 'The Battered Parent Syndrome' implies that Miltown is the cure for any unhappiness a college-educated woman may feel about 'the guilt burden of this child-centered age' or having to 'compete with her husband’s job for his time and involvement.'.

From "Mother’s Little Helper Is Back, and Daddy’s Partaking Too/After the kids go to bed, the grown-ups are drinking and smoking pot to distract themselves from the hellscape that is pandemic parenting" by Jessica Grose (NYT). Here's that "battered parent" ad:

The article works to connect the story of housewives' tranquilizers to the present-day use of alcohol and marijuana during the pandemic. Grose gives us lots of cultural details and mostly keeps it light. We hear about ads and celebrities and memes on TikTok, but we're talking about the grim problem of drug and alcohol dependency.

We have nothing to fear but... Be afraid!! Be very afraid!!!

I'm completely jaded about the highly polarized blabbing about Trump's "Don't let it dominate you, don't be afraid of it" speech:

I don't think people actually disagree about anything here. The virus is dangerous, and we need to do what we can to navigate the risks but we also must balance other considerations — such as the mental and economic wellbeing of the nation and the need for children to play and learn. We should be smart and rational and make good decisions given the information and expertise that is currently available.

But the election is breathing heavily down our neck, breathing more heavily than sick/not sick Donald Trump having gamely climbed a big flight of stairs and positioned himself on the balcony to tell us he's doing just fine. So the various commentators are acting as though we're at polar opposites.

Trump's opponents had to counter his "Don't let it dominate you, don't be afraid of it" with accusations that he was saying the virus isn't even a problem at all and you shouldn't take any precautions. But are they saying be very afraid and let it dominate you? No, they are not. The disagreement is bullshit. There's just some variation in how cautious you need to be or how much you ought to display cautiousness.

You know, a lot of people are talking about karma — because Trump didn't take enough care, he was sanguine, and then he got what was coming. So let me quote you a line from John Lennon's "Instant Karma": "Why in the world are we here?/Surely not to live in pain and fear?"

"Andy Warhol obviously just scribbled on a photograph. He spent, like, 1 minute."

I said after investigating this strange image we saw in the background as the author of a book about Jimmy Carter gabbed on "Morning Joe" just now.


Meade called my attention to the TV screen. I'm trying to write a blog over here, but he thought it thought it was very funny. It's so awful — that "Warholized" photograph. What idea of Carter is that supposed to convey? That he's arty? Criminal?

I said, "I think that is Warhol," because the only explanation for using such a bad, inappropriate image would be that it's actually a Warhol.

I looked it up. Yeah, it's Warhol. Here's a closeup fragment, to justify my quote up there in the post title, which is what I said when I saw it:
From the link (which goes to the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery):
Created in 1976 and jointly signed by Andy Warhol and Jimmy Carter, this portrait, commissioned by the Democratic National Committee, served as a fundraiser for the presidential campaign. Based on photographs Warhol took of Carter for the cover portrait of the New York Times Magazine two months before Carter's election in November 1976, the candidate appears solemn and pensive. Rectangular planes of juxtaposed colors intensify the tense expression. Carter would later explain that his "frowning and scowling" reflected financial stress and other concerns.... Carter greatly appreciated the print, noting that Warhol and other artists helped "turn the tide" in his campaign with their fundraising efforts.
Ha ha. Intensifying the tension. Carter liked it! None of that toothy smiling he'd used to steal his way into our squishy 1970s heart. Or maybe Carter didn't like it, but what are you going to say? It was Andy Warhol! Warhol! Making the obscure peanut farmer cool! Or making him ridiculous. Who could know??

Here's Jonathan Alter's book at Amazon:
ADDED: Following my practice of reading the 1-star reviews at Amazon, I encountered this gem: "Who knows how book reads as it was ruined with liquid calcium. Cant return items as post office wont let me ship the liquid sloshing around in the packing bag the bottle came in."

"The photographs in this book were taken by people I have never met, of places and things I have, almost without exception, never seen — but I must say: I intend to."

Said Wes Anderson, quoted in "When Life Looks Like a Wes Anderson Movie/An Instagram platform, now a book, documents real-life settings that look like frames from the director’s movies" (NYT).

Here's the Instagram page, for lots of cool photographs.

You can tell that the director's aesthetic has influenced many people to look at the world and see certain types of things and realize that they should be photographed and shared. Example:

7:06 a.m.


"Don’t just play, feel the notes softly come out from your fingers and heart. The main melody comes many times, must be played with different shapes, colors, characters."

Said Lang Lang, quoted in "Lang Lang: The Pianist Who Plays Too Muchly/On a new recording of Bach’s 'Goldberg' Variations, the superstar artist stretches the music beyond taste" (NYT).

Does "beyond taste" turn out to be something positive? The critic, Anthony Tommasini, says "I and many others have long found Mr. Lang’s performances overindulgently expressive and marred by exaggerated interpretive touches."
What does it mean to feel the notes come from your heart?... That approach risks making the music seem mannered, even manipulated.... What does it mean to play expressively? Compare classical music to film. Film buffs recognize overacting in a flash, and won’t put up with it. Mr. Lang, I think, does the equivalent of overacting in music; his expressivity tips over into exaggeration, even vulgarity.
Isn't nearly all pop music the equivalent of overacting? Why would classical music consumers retain a resistance to musical "overacting" when the whole rest of the culture has a taste for exaggeration and thrills. Look at our political discourse, and aren't the actors "overacting" these days? I haven't listened to Lang Lang, but for the purposes of reading Tommasini, I'm going to assume that Lang Lang is a man of our times.
He has won ardent fans for the sheer brilliance and energy of his playing. But many also respond to moments of deep expression, when he sure seems to be doing something to the music, almost always reflected in his physical mannerisms...
Musicians have always engaged us visually with physical mannerisms.
Taste is, of course, a subjective thing. But there is reason to question Mr. Lang’s.... Mr. Lang plays the Romantic repertory with a great deal of freedom, especially rhythmic freedom — what’s known as rubato. Bach’s “Goldberg” Variations certainly invite flexible approaches to rhythm and pacing. But it’s a question of degree, style, taste....

It’s like he’s attempting to show us how deeply he feels the music, to prove that it’s truly coming from his heart. But as a listener I don’t care about his feelings; I care about mine. He has to make this music touch me, not himself.
Tommasini dabbles in the risqué. Why isn't Lang Lang touching himself touching to Tommasini? That's the question I'm pondering at 5:56 in the morning!

AND: Here. You can listen and watch the notes coming softly out of the fingers:

ALSO: I wondered if "muchly" — a word in the NYT headline — is a word in bad taste. I looked it up in the OED and I see that as long ago as 1621 it was used to mean "Much, exceedingly, greatly," and it was in "later use" that it became a word deployed "with conscious humour." In 1922, James Joyce used in it "Ulysses": "Respectable girl meet after mass. Tanks awfully muchly."

October 5, 2020

At the Sun-and-Moon Café...


... you can write about whatever you want.


"I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 P.M. Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life."

"We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!"

Tweeted Trump a few minutes ago.

AND: Look what that means. Apart from the news item — he feels good and is about to leave the hospital — we can see the beginning of his new framing of the covid issue: Fear not! Don't let it run your life! We have great treatments, great medical personnel! It's the new-old Trump optimism. He's still advocating getting out and living your life. He's been through the illness and what he's learned is, it's not so bad. I'm sure his opponents will pounce with recitations of the number who have died — 215,000!! They'll take the side of closing up, locking down, hiding your face, waiting and waiting to get back to life. They may be right, but maybe people will vote for what they want: Freedom! Back to normal! Don't be afraid!

"Rooting for patriotism."

The new podcast is up — which means that you can eavesdrop on me reading this morning's posts (and last night's last post) to Meade and doing some extra commentary and some real-world conversation with Meade:

You can listen right there, but it's also nice to subscribe. Search for "The Althouse Podcast" on iTunes or use this RSS feed. I'm here on Breaker, here on Google Podcasts, here on Overcast, here on Pocket Casts, here on RadioPublic, and here on Spotify.

"Has Trump guaranteed himself the win by getting coronavirus and showing a more human side?"

Asks somebody on Quora. The top-rated answer comes Mark VandeWettering:
No, I don’t think so. If there is one thing I have to give Trump, his popularity has been remarkably consistent throughout his Presidency. Not actually good, mind you, but at least consistent. But I think that this bout with COVID-19 so close to the election isn’t going to actually boost him, and very well might hurt him. First of all, he’s sick because of his disdain for the consensus opinions for science and medicine.... Trump’s policies couldn’t even protect himself. He’s likely to recover... He apparently hasn’t learned much at all about showing a more human side. His followers will likely continue to follow, all the while tutting about how we should show empathy for him as he recovers in a luxurious, dedicated suite at Walter Reed. But I don’t think he’s going to gain a lot of followers.
Second-highest rated, from Wayne Spillett:

Dan Rather is afoot.

Seen because the name Dan Rather is trending on Twitter this morning. He seems to have a new book.

Do you like that aphorism? "Patriotism is rooted in humility. Nationalism is rooted in arrogance."

Patriotism is rooted in _________________.

How would you fill in that blank? Pick your favorite from my list and discuss other options in the comments.
pollcode.com free polls

ADDED: Let's also use a survey to examine the other half of the aphorism:

Nationalism is rooted in _______________.
pollcode.com free polls

AND: As long as we're doing surveys...

Dan Rather is rooted in _____________.
pollcode.com free polls

"So much teaching happens without us going into a classroom, and without us realizing we’re being taught."

Said Elizabeth Alexander, president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, quoted in "Mellon Foundation to Spend $250 Million to Reimagine Monuments/The initiative, the largest in the organization’s history, will support the creation of new monuments, as well as the relocation or rethinking of existing ones" (NYT). Full quote:
“The beauty of monuments as a rubric is, it’s really a way of asking, ‘How do we say who we are? How do we teach our history in public places?’ So much teaching happens without us going into a classroom, and without us realizing we’re being taught. We want to ask how we can help think about how to give form to the beautiful and extraordinary and powerful multiplicity of American stories.... The beauty of the deep study of history is when you realize there’s not just one story, and there’s not just two stories. You realize the power of this country is our multiplicity.”
The quote — in the post title — jumped out at me because I'd just blogged about President Trump's declaration from the hospital:
"It's been a very interesting journey. I learned a lot about covid. I learned it by really going to school. This is the real school. This isn't the let's-read-the-book school. And I get it. And I understand it. And it's a very interesting thing."
School beyond school. Of course, the education we receive outside of the classroom is immense. I presume it's far more than what we get inside school, even if we count the part of school that is our homework — the "let's read the book" part as opposed to just the "classroom." And, obviously, with covid, the line "So much teaching happens without us going into a classroom" is inapt, because the foundation president did not mean to exclude the teaching that happens with the child at home and the teacher on the computer screen.

Is respect for formal schooling on the decline? Are these 2 statements evidence of that? If they are, it's only implied. What they most noticeably do is give respect to other kinds of learning, and if recognition of learning is bestowed as a form of respect, that suggests all forms of learning are respected.

Says the retired law professor.

October 4, 2020

50 years ago, this evening, Janis Joplin died.

My son John has posted a tribute on his blog. He's put up some music videos. I just want to put this up — something I saw at the time and have always remembered — Janis Joplin talking to Dick Cavett about attending her high school reunion. It's heartbreaking:

At the Type #5 Café...


... you can write about anything you want.

I was pleased to see the Z shape that make this a #5 in my categorization of sunrise types: "This was the first sunrise type I identified. It's what made me start the list. There is a distinctive Z-shape where the sun is. It's hard to discern with the naked eye, but it shows up in the photographs." Yes, I couldn't see it in real time. It was an a-ha moment just now.


The Z! Type #5! So delightful!

"Yet upon learning that the fascist, Kremlin-controlled, Nazi-like dictator had become ill, Maddow launched a one-woman crusade demanding that her fellow liberals pray earnestly for his recovery."

"She first posted an extremely effusive tweet: 'God bless the president and the first lady. If you pray, please pray for their speedy and complete recovery…' Presumably in response to widespread liberal confusion and criticisms — wait, you spent four years telling us he’s a fascist racist Nazi-like despot and now you insist that we pray for his health? — Maddow devoted a segment on her show in which, with great passion and emotion, she urged her viewers to react to Trump’s COVID diagnosis with the same compassion and through the same prism as if a friend who smokes cigarettes learned she had lung cancer.... There are a few potential explanations that may account for this extremely unusual and confounding behavior of praying for, rather than against, the well-being of a fascist dictator. Perhaps Democratic leaders are simply pretending to be hoping for Trump’s well-being for political purposes while secretly hoping that he suffers and dies. Or perhaps national Democratic politicians have ascended to a state of spiritual elevation rarely seen in modern political history, in which they are capable of praying for even those they most dislike, including ones they believe are imposing fascism on their nation? Or perhaps, maybe more likely, Democratic leaders do not really believe the things they have spent four years saying about Trump...."

Writes Glenn Greenwald in "Why Are Democrats Praying for the Speedy Recovery of a 'Fascist Dictator'?/People typically rejoice over, not lament, the death of someone they genuinely believe is a fascist dictator'" (The Intercept).