October 17, 2020

At the Saturday Night Cafe...

... you can talk about whatever you want. 

"Pre-bunking the Obscurantism."


It's a podcast. Pre-bunking, Obscurantism, cartoons, censorship, murder, Sacha Baron Cohen as Abbie Hoffman, Billie Eilish, Ice Cube — a reading of the last 24 hours of this blog... with digressions and expansions. Including a reading from "How to Talk Dirty and Influence People."

"Mr. Baron Cohen... wrote his thesis on 'the Black-Jewish alliance' and identity politics in the Civil Rights movement. So he was primed to play the puckish Abbie Hoffman."

"'Essentially, he was trying to be a stand-up comedian,' Mr. Baron Cohen said of the man who co-founded the Yippies and preached flower power. 'He was very influenced by Lenny Bruce and he realized that if he could make people laugh, he could get them engaged in the cause.'... [Aaron] Sorkin, who wrote and directed the Chicago 7 film, said that the day Mr. Baron Cohen shot his scene on the witness stand reminded him of the day Jack Nicholson shot his courtroom scene in 'A Few Good Men,' noting, 'Everyone wanted to watch; 120 extras didn’t care that the camera wasn’t on them, they stayed to watch.'

"[I]n an attempt to defend [Billie] Eilish — a sincere attempt, often from other young women — a new narrative is being formed around her body."

"Now, it’s about Eilish’s 'bravery' in having a body atypical for celebrities because she’s seemingly not a size 0. It’s a common refrain anytime a woman in the public eye is seen eating in public, having hips in public, or having rolls in public.... The goal of this kind of noxious positivity is to make clear that not being thin — either intentionally or not — is just as worthy of celebration as thinness has been since basically forever. But this is a false equivalence; we praise thinness because we think it tells us something about someone’s worth, their inherent beauty, their value as a person. The issue isn’t so much celebrating one type of body over another, but rather celebrating a body for its bravery, as if there’s something impressive about existing in the world even though your body doesn’t conform to narrow standards of beauty. Refusing beauty norms, or merely falling outside of them, isn’t that brave; it’s just an inevitability since those standards are increasingly harder to attain. Arguably, every woman in the world is brave in that regard because none of us are meeting every characteristic of perfection, whether we want to or not. Eilish has been vocal in the past about why she wears clothes '800 sizes bigger' than she actually is. 'It kind of gives nobody the opportunity to judge what your body looks like. I don’t want to give anyone the excuse of judging,' she told Vogue Australia in 2019. 'Anything you look at, you judge.'... Calling someone brave for merely existing in the body they have doesn’t take power away from thinness, and it doesn’t create any kind of equilibrium in culture.... The truth about Eilish’s body in those paparazzi photos — the truth about most women and their bodies — is really boring: It’s just a body, and you get the one you get."

First, I'd just like to say, the idea that there are beautiful celebrities who wear size zero is absurd. The chest measurement for size zero is 30 inches! Please point me to any adult with a 30 inch chest. This is not any sort of beauty ideal. But people say "size 0" the way people used to say "thin as a reed." Nobody is thin as a reed, and if they were, it would freak you out. 

Second, I'll say that women's bodies are not boring.

"'Pre-bunking' — Shouldn’t that mean something like: making false ahead of time?"

Texts Meade this morning, sending me a link to "Pre-bunking falsehoods: How Wisconsin voters can avoid falling for election misinformation" (in the Madison newspaper, The Cap Times). 

You can imagine the dismal path to linguistic error. They know the word "debunking" and "pre-" rhymes amusingly and denotes an earlier point in time, so pre-bunking! 

But "pre-bunk" gets over 58 million hits in a Google search, so it's not a special dumbness of Madisonians.

The word "bunk" means "Humbug, nonsense" and goes back at least to 1900, according to the OED, which provides these historical examples:
1900 G. Ade More Fables 15 He surmised that the Bunk was about to be Handed to him. 
1916 H. Ford in Chicago Tribune 25 May 10/1 History is more or less bunk. 
1919 Rebel Worker (N.Y.) 1 Feb. 3/3 The usual bunk about ‘disloyalty’ is being employed to..blind them to their own interest. 
1921 Glasgow Herald 3 May 3 As an American friend said..‘Tell your people at home it is all bunk the United States intends to keep out of European affairs.’

"Debunk" — which goes back to 1923 — means to remove the bunk. We understand the prefix "de-." If you want to remove the bunk in advance, you're talking about pre-debunking. Without the "de-," you're just "bunking" — adding the nonsense!

But there's no word — not in my dictionary — "bunking" — in the sense of adding bunk... though adding bunk is a common enough activity. Maybe we could get that going. It's less obscure than "obscurantism." For now, "bunking" means sleeping in a not-too-fancy bed around other people. So we do have the option of nodding off. But stay awake, dear friends. We may learn something. 

"They will not pass. Obscurantism and the violence that goes with it will not win. They won’t divide us."

Said French President Emmanuel Macron — at the crime scene — quoted in "Teacher in Paris suburb decapitated, allegedly after showing cartoons of prophet Muhammad in class" (WaPo). 

What exactly is "Obscurantism"? Wikipedia says: 
Obscurantism and Obscurationism describe the practice of deliberately presenting information in an imprecise, abstruse manner designed to limit further inquiry and understanding. There are two historical and intellectual denotations of Obscurantism: (1) the deliberate restriction of knowledge—opposition to disseminating knowledge; and (2) deliberate obscurity—a recondite literary or artistic style, characterized by deliberate vagueness. 

The term obscurantism derives from the title of the 16th-century satire Epistolæ Obscurorum Virorum (Letters of Obscure Men, 1515–19), that was based upon the intellectual dispute between the German humanist Johann Reuchlin and the monk Johannes Pfefferkorn of the Dominican Order, about whether or not all Jewish books should be burned as un-Christian heresy. Earlier, in 1509, the monk Pfefferkorn had obtained permission from Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor (1486–1519), to burn all copies of the Talmud (Jewish law and Jewish ethics) known to be in the Holy Roman Empire (AD 926–1806); the Letters of Obscure Men satirized the Dominican arguments for burning "un-Christian" works. 

In the 18th century, Enlightenment philosophers applied the term obscurantist to any enemy of intellectual enlightenment and the liberal diffusion of knowledge. In the 19th century, in distinguishing the varieties of obscurantism found in metaphysics and theology from the "more subtle" obscurantism of the critical philosophy of Immanuel Kant, and of modern philosophical skepticism, Friedrich Nietzsche said: "The essential element in the black art of obscurantism is not that it wants to darken individual understanding, but that it wants to blacken our picture of the world, and darken our idea of existence."
"The essential element in the black art of obscurantism is not that it wants to darken individual understanding, but that it wants to blacken our picture of the world, and darken our idea of existence."

Think of this teacher! Who was he? What was his name?! It's not in the Washington Post article, but here, here's a later-published article in The Guardian: "Teacher decapitated in Paris named as Samuel Paty, 47."

"'Censorship!' cries the right, even as the left hollers 'Twitter’s not the government!' But... this isn’t really a great example of censorship, private or public."

"What it does represent is something the right has becom[e] keenly alive to: the left’s exercise of power over cultural spaces where right-wingers are being driven toward extinction. That power isn’t new, of course, but for a long time, its practical effect was mostly a matter of focus, or at worst, as social psychologist Jonathan Haidt puts it, asking 'Can I believe it?' about narratives that flattered left-wing views, and 'Must I believe it?' about those that favored the right.... Sure, Twitter insists that the Biden story violated prior policy about publishing potentially hacked materials, lest the platform encourage further malfeasance — but would Twitter apply that standard to the recent New York Times investigation of Trump’s tax returns, considering that whoever leaked them to the Times quite possibly committed a federal crime?... I myself am alternately enraged and grieved by our president; I aspire to expedite his exit from the national stage by every legal means. But I do wonder whether the sort of thing we saw on Wednesday actually accelerates the arrival of that happy day — or whether the left, like Streisand, might be contributing to the very outcome they most want to avoid.... [S]uch actions can only call attention to how lopsided and largely unaccountable the left’s own power is in the cultural sphere. There’s a reason that President Trump likes to spotlight that imbalance.... So if you want to hasten him out of office, a preemptive self-balancing, rather than a more muscular tilt, might be the counterweight America actually needs." 

She's telling lefties to tone it down for their own good. Eschew censorship because it might not work to get them where they want to go. That is, there's no love of freedom, no notion of freedom as an end — only a means.  I put the key line in boldface: "I aspire to expedite [Trump's] exit from the national stage by every legal means." 

ALSO: I guess WaPo is conceding that the Hunter Biden material really did come out of his computer. This line is just sitting there: "The New York Post published a story based on a trove of leaked emails allegedly found on a laptop belonging to Hunter Biden, son of Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate." That's stood for a day and a half, uncorrected, even though the commenters over there are screaming about it. AND: I do see the word "allegedly." The problem is that there's no "allegedly" between "laptop" and "belonging to Hunter Biden," so it seems to concede that the laptop was Hunter's and the question is only whether the emails were found in it. I regard that as a writing problem, not an intentional concession.

October 16, 2020

At the Friday Night Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

"Democrats, too, were interested in cultivating the rapper.... But Ice Cube’s team left with the impression that Biden’s team was less committed."

"According to a person familiar with the discussion, Biden aides told the rapper they agreed with much of his plan but that they wouldn’t engage more fully until after the election.... As September wore on, Ice Cube and his advisers continued to lobby the White House during conference calls. On Sept. 14, the performer and his representatives — again not eager to be seen at the White House — quietly met in a Washington hotel with a group of Trump aides.... Ice Cube's group had prepped for the meeting by consulting with Claud Anderson, a Black economist and author who has argued that African Americans are being served poorly by both parties. In the following days, Ice Cube's team continued to hash out ideas with the White House and eventually elicited a promise of $500 billion in funding to be included in Trump’s election-year plan.... On Oct. 11, Cube released a video in which he made clear that he wasn’t endorsing Biden or Trump. But he expressed criticism of Democrats.... 'Straight up, I believe the Democrats, they’ve been nice, they’ve been cordial so to speak, I don’t really see them pushing their policies in any particular direction. It’s still "minority, minority, minority, people of color" shit that don’t necessarily include us, that don’t necessarily include Black Americans,' he said."

The key Trump person was Jared Kushner, who had a friend, Ken Kurson, who knew Ice Cube's business partner from back in the 1990s, when he was was bassist for the rock group Green. Kurson recommended Ice Cube, praising his 1988 album “Straight Outta Compton” as “a work of American genius on par with” F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” and George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.”

"Do not think you can escape the eyes."


It's a podcast about the past day on the blog: "Trump’s Covid, Biden’s Court-packing, the falconer named Parrot, the masculinities of Trump and Biden, the eyes of Texas, and fitting a third child into your sedan."

"In states that have raised the age when children can stop riding in car seats, the chance that parents have a third child decreases."

"The reason? Since most sedans don’t fit three car seats in the back seat, buying a minivan or SUV could be a deterrent, researchers suggest." From "The Three-Child American Family, Under Siege/Car-seat woes, the cost of day care and now the pandemic. Yet a rising number of parents still want more than two children" (NYT).

The University of Texas school song, "The Eyes of Texas," is disparaged as originating in minstrel shows.

I'm reading a WaPo column by Cindy Boren: "Texas players told to stand for school song, despite its origin in blackface minstrel shows." 
The lyrics to “The Eyes of Texas” were inspired in part by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, who after the Civil War was a teacher at what would become Washington and Lee University, where he made an impression on future UT president William Prather by repeatedly telling students that “the eyes of the South are upon you.”... 
Edmund T. Gordon, a professor of African and African diaspora studies and anthropology at Texas, said (via Texas Monthly) that Prather reminded his own students that “the eyes of Texas are upon you,” inspiring a pair of UT students in 1903. Their song debuted it at an annual campus minstrel show, according to Gordon, who said the students probably were wearing blackface when they performed it. 
The melody is based on “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,” which has its own origins in minstrelsy and other stereotypical depictions of Black people. 

Football players have called for replacing the school song. I feel an instinctive resistance to breaking traditions, but let's think about that history. And look at the lyrics! The state has eyes and is always watching you: "The Eyes of Texas are upon you/All the livelong day/The Eyes of Texas are upon you/You cannot get away/Do not think you can escape them/At night or early in the morn/The Eyes of Texas are upon you/'Til Gabriel blows his horn."

There really is something wrong with this song. It's oppressive even if you don't know the background story. It speaks of surveillance and endless oppressive work. 

Maybe a lot of college kids think the song is just funny and surreal. Eyes that you cannot escape. 

"Trump is a more caricatured version of masculinity — aggressive, physically tough, physically strong, never back down."

"What Biden is offering is a more complex 21st-century version of masculinity. It’s compassion and empathy and care and a personal narrative of loss ."

Said Jackson Katz, who's made a documentary called "The Man Card: Presidential Masculinity from Nixon to Trump," quoted in "Trump, Biden and masculinity in the age of coronavirus" by Matt Viser (WaPo). 
Both Biden and Trump are targeting a swath of White working-class voters in the industrial Midwest... 
At an anti-sexual-assault rally in 2018, Biden told a crowd at the University of Miami, “If we were in high school, I’d take [Trump] behind the gym and beat the hell out of him.” He later expressed modest regret for the comment. “I’ve been in a lot of locker rooms my whole life,” Biden added. “I’m a pretty damn good athlete. Any guy that talked [the way Trump does] was usually the fattest, ugliest SOB in the room.” 
At the time, Trump had a rejoinder. “He is weak, both mentally and physically, and yet he threatens me, for the second time, with physical assault,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “He doesn’t know me, but he would go down fast and hard, crying all the way. Don’t threaten people Joe!”

I can't believe I have to pay attention to a falconer named Parrot.

 Life with Trump is getting a bit surreal...

The bizarre theory, which is outre even by the standards of the right’s usual Benghazi claims, also alleges that Osama Bin Laden’s body-double, rather than the terrorist mastermind himself, was killed in 2011. All those claims come from a falconer who says he uncovered secrets about Al-Qaeda, Iran, and U.S. intelligence in his work as a falconer for Middle Eastern power players. Alan Howell Parrot, the subject of a 2010 documentary about his falconry called Feathered Cocaine, has shot to new fame on the right after a video interview with him played over the weekend at the American Priority Conference, a pro-Trump event held at Trump’s Miami resort. In the video, Parrot, interviewed by conservative personality Nick Noe and the father of a former Navy SEAL who died in Benghazi, makes a series of bizarre claims alleging collusion between Iran, former Vice President Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton ahead of the attack. 
That's from "Trump Touts Falconer’s Benghazi Blood-Sacrifice Conspiracy Theory/Trump’s endorsement of the insane story shot it to national prominence, fueling the bizarre allegations about blood sacrifice and Bin Laden body doubles" at The Daily Beast which I'm reading because I had to go searching for the background to this question — by Savannah Guthrie — from last night's town hall with President Trump: 
"Just this week, you retweeted to your 87 million followers, a conspiracy theory that Joe Biden orchestrated to have SEAL Team Six, the Navy SEAL Team Six, killed to cover up the fake death of Bin Laden. Now, why would you send a lie like that to your followers?"

Trump's answer, from the transcript, was: "That was a retweet." That's a retweet! What's the matter, don't you understand retweets?!!

Joe Biden stumbled into saying he opposed Court-packing but then he got up and bumbled back into obscurity.

Sorry to take so long getting from post #1 to post #2. I'm not doing these posts in the order of importance, and I'd originally intended to put up a quick series of posts using the transcripts from last night's town halls. Please don't infer anything from the fact that the first post — on Trump's evasiveness about his covid tests — remained isolated at the top of the blog for so long. And thanks for all the comments! 

Now, let me move on to the second thing, from the transcript for Joe Biden's town hall. I'm going to focus on what he's said about Court-packing. This is a topic I've been meaning to blog about for a few days — as I've discussed in at least a couple podcasts — but I hadn't seen the right text to get me started. It's generally hard to write about evasiveness, but a transcript like this really helps, and I do think I know what he's been up to. 

That is, as I've said in the podcast, I think Biden is focused on getting elected and only wants to say what will be useful to that end, and he doesn't want to lose either the Court-packing fans or the opponents of Court-packing, so he's just — rather lamely — going with refusing to talk about it. There's an effort to create pressure on the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett, and Court-packing has some effect as a threat, but I think, because the votes are there to confirm, that the pressure is all about the election.

So... to look at the transcript. A questioner, a Democrat named Nathan Osburn, brought up the "polariz[ation]" on the Supreme Court and asked: "So what do you think about ideas from people like Pete Buttigieg and others to put in place safeguards that will help ensure more long-term balance and stability?" I don't know what these "safeguards" are — or even who "people like Pete Buttigieg" are — or who's like Pete Buttigieg. I mean, I'm just being jocose, I know he means Pete Buttigieg, but I haven't been following Pete Buttigieg's plan for the Supreme Court. I could look it up, but let's see if Biden explains the question he's tasked to answer so the home viewers can follow along:

Savannah Guthrie interrupted Trump aggressively and actively battled him throughout last night's town hall, but she failed to pin him down and left me still wondering...

... whether Trump failed to get tested the day of the debate with Joe Biden. That debate was September 29th. Look at how annoyingly evasive Trump is and how Guthrie never figures out the right question to do anything more than exaggerate the annoying evasiveness. 

I want a clear answer to the question whether it's possible that Trump already had the coronavirus during the debate and whether, suspecting that he was becoming ill, he avoided getting tested on the day of the debate. 

October 15, 2020

At the Wednesday Night Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want — including the 2 town halls that are about to begin, with Trump on NBC and Biden on ABC.

"May we riot now?"


It's a podcast. Topics: Joe and Hunter Biden, Facebook and Twitter, Chuck Todd and Rachel Maddow, George Floyd and Ice Cube, Generation Alpha, the feminist Medusa monument and the isolated anarchist. 

I read the text of the last day of this blog and expand and digress as I see fit at the time.

"The term Generation Alpha is usually credited to Mark McCrindle, a generational researcher in Australia who... told me that the name originated from an online survey he ran in 2008..."

"... that yielded a slew of now-discarded monikers, many of which focused on technology (the 'Onliners,' 'Generation Surf,' the 'Technos') or gave the next round of humans the burden of undoing the damage done by the last (the 'Regeneration,' 'Generation Hope,' the 'Saviors,' 'Generation Y-not'). One popular option from the survey was 'Generation A,' but, McCrindle told me in an email, he thought the name for a cohort that would shape the future shouldn’t 'be labelled by going back to the beginning.' So once the Latin alphabet was exhausted, he hopped over to the Greek one—'the start of something new.' A consensus has formed around Generation Alpha, but it may be a temporary one. The generic 'Generation [Letter]' format began with Generation X. 'It was meant to be a placeholder for something a bit uncertain or mysterious, almost like X in some algebraic equation,' [sociology professor Dan] Woodman told me. Generation Y followed, though it was usurped, at least in the U.S., by Millennials; nothing has overthrown Generation Z. Placeholder names, in a way, make generational generalizations easier. 'They’re almost like empty labels that you can put anything in,' Woodman said. He thinks Generation Alpha will stick for at least a little while, but can also see how it might get replaced by something 'a little more descriptive.' The history of generational labeling is littered with names that gained some traction, but not enough. Gen X has been referred to as 'Baby Busters,' the 'slacker generation,' 'latchkey kids,' and the 'MTV Generation,' though the placeholder won out. The same, so far, has been the case for Gen Z, whose proposed alternate names include 'iGeneration,' the 'Homeland Generation,' 'Multi-Gen,' 'Post Gen,' and the 'Pluralistic Generation.'" 

From "Oh No, They’ve Come Up With Another Generation Label/How much do members of “Generation Alpha,” or any generation, really have in common?" in The Atlantic — but that was back last February. Now we could consider Generation Covid, as these poor kids are getting a big chunk of their childhood distanced and muted. It's making them different, and we'll see how they turn out.

I looked up that article because I mentioned Generation Alpha in the podcast yesterday. I was hoping they rebel against the prudery and the repression of the millennials. I said I was talking to them, talking to "babies." Are they they babies of America right now, these people I'm investing my hopes in? Yeah! Babies, those who will be born over the next 5 years, and kids up to the age of 10. What are these people going to be like — after living through the lockdown and witnessing the heightened, hysterical, hypocritical empathy of the millennials.

Ice Cube isn't completely against Trump, which deeply troubles some people

"The artist thinks that this is a feminist statue because it doesn’t portray the usual subject — Perseus, the Greek mythic hero who killed Medusa, cut off her head, and..."

"... used it as a weapon against his foes. [Luciano] Garbati claims that by reversing the roles, having Medusa carrying around the head of Perseus, that this is some radical political act. It is not. The only way this might have been true is if she had maybe been holding his genitals aloft or stomping on his body. As it is, this is nothing more than yet another naked female figure made by yet another white male artist — a.k.a. business as usual. What about the great craft, you ask? The craft is routine. This is generic casting and modeling at best. Mostly, this Medusa looks like a way-too-big version of all those little models of Michelangelo’s David sold at any Florentine gift shop..., As an object, this sculpture is dead, optically inert, intellectually barren.... Really, it is conceptual art 101 at its most obvious and simplistic.... In the real story Medusa turned men to stone. Here she … holds a man’s head. But really she’s still the total object of the male gaze here...."

Other articles about "Medusa With the Head of Perseus": 

Pesky blog problem.

Blogger forced me to accept the new Blogger. Last May, I was getting the message "The legacy interface will still be optionally available" and I kept opting for old Blogger, but now that's been taken away. I'm trying to adapt to it, but it has one terrible problem. When I try to add tags, it no longer makes suggestions as I start to type. Not only do I have to type every letter, I have to remember what tags I already have and in what form. Some names are only the last name, others are first and last, and others include a title (like "Justice Kennedy"), and some are all lower case. I have to search my blog to avoid starting a new tag.

With some research, I discovered that Blogger maxes out at 5,000 tags. It won't suggest tags anymore if there are that many to scan! I suppose the idea is no one is likely to come close to 5,000. 

Could I have more than 5,000 tags? Is that the problem! If I knew and if I knew how many more than 5,000 I have, I would delete that number of tags. I'd go back in the archive and find the names that I thought were going to be more important that never got more than one post or two. If I was only 10 tags over 5,000, that would be easy. But maybe I'm 10,000 over. Is that possible? Even then, I would do the work if only I knew that cutting those tags would restore the functionality, but I don't know. 

I'm undertaking the work of going back into the archive, finding unimportant tags and cutting them. I do it in small sessions and keep hoping that I'm getting down closer to 5,000 — even though I realize I may already be below 5,000 and the number of tags might not be the problem at all. 

UPDATE: A reader emailed: "I can tell you that through 2018, you had 7,147 tags. So trying to get under 5,000 is probably not a good plan." I suppose I was edging toward 10,000 tags and facing impossible work trying to get below 5,000. And I was destroying my own tag-work! I have now stopped, preserving all my tags and free to create new tags. What I need to do is remember tags and search the blog to check what the old tags are where I can't remember. This is a little burdensome, but it's far easier than the alternative. 

"May we riot now?"


That's a photo I took in the Wisconsin State Capitol building in September 2011. I ran across it by chance as I was looking through old photographs. I thought it deserved another look here in 2020.

The context is explained in this old post (which has video of the scene). It was some time after the peak anti-Scott Walker protests, but singing and dancing continued in the rotunda. At the time, I determined that WNPJ was the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice. But what were "The Raanistas"? I'm seeing Red & Anarchist Action Network. Here's an item from 3 months ago at the r/Anarchism subreddit, "Any RAANistas still around?" There's only one answer: 
I was (kind of) a RAANista back around 2009-2010, just before it all kinda folded. I was still relatively new to anarchism around that time and isolated from other anarchists, so the extent of my involvement was pretty much posting on the forums lol. [There's] a thread here ... a few years back talking about RAAN....

I'm giving this my "solitude" tag — because of the idea of an anarchist feeling "isolated from other anarchists." Everybody's looking for love. Notice the hearts on the banner... And then "it all kinda folded." 

I'm trying to understand why #FireChuckTodd is trending on Twitter. It was not immediately obvious.

I'll just give you a screen shot of what filled my screen when I clicked on #FireChuckTodd:
That first one made me think I'd missed a town hall with Trump and Chuck Todd. But no, the town hall is tonight. 

Here's an AP article that went up today: "NBC faces backlash after agreeing to Trump town hall."
NBC News faced a sharp backlash to its decision to host President Donald Trump for a town hall Thursday in direct competition with ABC’s event with Democrat Joe Biden, including a social media call to boycott the network.

Well! That's what happens when you cancel the debate and don't put the 2 men on the same stage (which is what Trump wanted).  The networks are in competition. Why should ABC own the airwaves by signing up boring Biden for a town hall? NBC got Trump and is putting the Trump show on at the same time. It's just commerce. And by the way, the networks are at a disadvantage these days, with all the streaming media. That's a reason for them to compete aggressively, and it's also a reason for us not to get bent out of shape by 2 shows on at the same time. We'll be able to stream either show on YouTube and elsewhere. I've had a TiVo for more than a quarter century, and that's how long it's been since it's mattered to me that 2 things are on at the same time.

Apparently, Rachel Maddow freaked out (but doesn't she need something every damned night to freak out about?):

During an interview with Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, Maddow asked whether she was “as mad as everybody else” about the Trump town hall. “I’m not touching that,” Harris replied. In a second reference to the town hall as her show ended, Maddow spoke as the words “Apparently They Are Not Kidding” were shown on the screen behind her.

I think it's great that the shows are on at the same time. It implicitly argues that there should have been a real debate — something I agree with. And it's kind of like another chance to vote, but the question isn't Who do you want to be President? It's Who would you rather watch on TV? And then we can compare the ratings. 

I'm sure Biden supporters are irked by the prospect of seeing that "vote" by Americans, because, of course, we expect Trump to win. He's much better TV, even for those who loathe him. In fact, I bet Rachel Maddow, in her own private space, clicks her remote to Trump. 

What's the point of watching Biden? Waiting to see if the questions are at all challenging? Putting up with tedium in the hope of seeing him remain arguably lucid or waiting for a truly embarrassing screw up? That's not a good show. You'll hear if there's a big screwup, and if you don't hear about it, you'll know he remained decently lucid. 

What more do you need? The excitement is with Trump. The election is about Trump. Biden is simply this weird person to whom we will turn our attention if he gets elected. When/if Trump is finally ousted, everyone will wake up and look at Biden and be free — at long last — to freak out about this odd old man whom we're stuck with as the next President. 

Rachel Maddow will be free to insist that he get the hell out of the office he has no business clinging to. Get out of the way and let Kamala take over — Kamala, who was never made the slightest connection with the American people, whose statements are all about as enlightening as "I’m not touching that."

By the way, Biden's town hall is scheduled to go 90 minutes, while Trump's is only 60 minutes. So if you want mainly to know how well Biden is holding up late at night, you can watch all of Trump, then switch over to the last 30 minutes of Biden. 

"Late porn star"? I don't get Andy Ngo.

I checked to see whether that screen shot is a real tweet by Ngo. It is: here. Something is very wrong.

How the NYT and the Washington Post have caught up on the New York Post Hunter Biden story.

The NYT has this story, which, it says, went up 11 hours ago: "Allegation on Biden Prompts Pushback From Social Media Companies/Joe Biden’s campaign rejected assertions made in a published report that were based on unverified material from Trump allies. Facebook and Twitter found the story dubious enough to limit access to it on their platform." 

The reaction of the social media companies — censorship — is most prominent, followed by Biden's reaction — rejection of the assertions and questioning of the material. The social media reaction is presented as reinforcing the Biden campaign rejection and — it is implied — justified by the "dubious" quality of the report. That the NY Post put the material in a news article isn't mentioned in the headline.

The Washington Post story, which went up at 10:45 CDT, has a much shorter headline, stressing the aggression of Trump supporters and the lateness of the attack: "Three weeks before Election Day, Trump allies go after Hunter — and Joe — Biden." 

From the NYT article: 

October 14, 2020

The notion that Twitter's the place to go to see what's happening — destroyed by Twitter.

UPDATED: "Twitter CEO admits handling of blocked Post article was ‘unacceptable’" (NY Post).

At the Wednesday Night Café...

... you can write about whatever you like.



"Nasty tenacity."


"Nyctinasty, Goldfinger as feminist critique, Trump losing to the worst candidate ever, the female Scalia, and agonizing over all those times you might have said 'sexual preference.'"

A podcast.

ADDED: I thought I was recording on my iPad with my AirPod Pros, but I was wrong. They were still paired with my iPhone. So the recording was done with the iPad microphone, and, quite unfortunately, there are a few times when I gently nudge the iPad and the resulting recorded sound is a godawful racket. Live and learn. 

The tenacity — the nasty tenacity? — of the people of New York City?

The OED Word of the Day is "nyctinasty." Despite the enticing components — NYC and nasty and the faint whiff of tenacity — it's purely a botanical term: "The tendency of leaves or other parts of a plant to take up different positions at different times, usually in response to regular (esp. nightly) changes in light intensity or temperature. Also: a nyctinastic movement."
Certain leaves as well as flowers may fold up at night. These so-called ‘sleep movements’ of plants, brought about by the alternation of night and day, are the most common nasties and are termed nyctinasties.
Does the usage example jokingly extract the word "nasty"? I had to check! It turns out "nasty" is a botanical terms, meaning "A nastic movement." "Nastic" means "Of a plant movement: caused by an external influence that does not affect its direction." 

You'd think such a word would have taken up a figurative position by now, but if it has the OED hasn't yet taken note.

Senator Hirono schooled Amy Coney Barrett for saying "sexual preference." It's an offensive term... as many people just learned yesterday.

Here's a good clip showing Hirono's earnest, mildly contemptuous attitude toward the Supreme Court nominee and editing in the use of "sexual preference" by a few notables, including Joe Biden and Ruth Bader Ginsburg: I was surprised to hear that "sexual preference" has become — at least in some circles — a politically incorrect term. I could immediately see the reason for objecting to it: It vaguely suggests that sexual orientation is a choice, even though I don't think it's true that we choose our preferences. It might suggest that who we love — and who we feel sexually attracted to — is lightweight, more like which flavor ice cream we like better than another. Yes, you prefer to have sex with a blonde, but if you can't have the blonde, the brunette will do just as well. 

Why not get bent out of shape about "sexual orientation" then? Orientation suggests pointing east or west on a landscape. All you have to do is turn around and you'll have a different orientation. 

And why the focus on immutability anyway? I think even if sexual attraction is a matter of choice,  your choice is worth of respect. Choices are important and a good foundation for rights in a free society. Think of freedom of religion, freedom of conscience, freedom to have political opinions and to speak about them. These things matter in part because they can change and you do have a choice. 

Indeed, the right to have an abortion is referred to as the right to choose. It's about individual autonomy. Let me quote the 3-Justice opinion that determined the outcome in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (the case that partially overruled Roe v. Wade in 1992):
These matters, involving the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State.

But I took Hirono's scolding to heart. Even though what I've just said is what I genuinely think upon reflection, my first reaction was: Oh! I didn't know this was offensive! Have I offended?! I knew I could look in my 17-year blog archive and in my classnotes from conlaw2 to see if I'd used the offending phrase.

"And you know, Biden, he can’t stand up to the lunatics running his party. He can’t even find his way off the stage without them."

"Look what’s happened. Yesterday, he didn’t know the name. He said, 'You know the guy, I think he’s a Mormon, right.' He said, 'He’s a Mormon.' He was talking about Mitt Romney. He forgot Mitt Romney’s name. Can you imagine that? Can you imagine. Then he didn’t know where he was. He said, 'Where the hell am I? Where am I?' No, he’s shot folks. He’s shot. I’m running against the single worst candidate in the history of presidential politics. And you know what that does? That puts more pressure on me. Can you imagine if you lose to a guy like this? It’s unbelievable. It’s disgusting. It’s disgraceful. If he wins, the radical left will be running the country. He won’t be running the country. The radical left will take over."

Said President Trump at a rally in Johnstown, Pennsylvania yesterday. Transcript here.

Trump reveals his own inner turmoil: "It’s unbelievable. It’s disgusting. It’s disgraceful." That refers himself. He wants to be a winner, but he is not only losing (apparently) but losing to "the single worst candidate in the history of presidential politics." That's really really losing. Unbelievable! Disgusting! Disgraceful! Even if he ekes out a win — why was it close? It should have been a landslide with such a pathetically bad opponent. It's got to hurt. But he's out there on the stage showing you his wounds. There's something phenomenally energized about that. So optimistic... or oddly distanced. A comic view of life.

But on the way out, he's telling us: The radical left will take over! And that is the message that hits me hardest. Biden may be a fairly mild manifestation of liberalism, but he won't stand up to the left-wing element within the Democratic Party. Are they "running his party"? Maybe not quite yet. Are they "lunatics"? It depends on what counts as "running" the party and ready to "take over" and how you define "lunatic," but I'm afraid of the people of the left. I've been wondering if perhaps those of us who are afraid of American left-wingers would be better off if Biden won, because it might relieve pressure that would otherwise build for the next 4 years. Eventually, a Democratic Party candidate will win the presidency. Would it be better to have this person in 2025 or 2029 — after 4 or 8 more years of exclusion from power? 

How much of an empty figurehead would President Biden be? Was he really incapable of remembering the name Mitt Romney? I looked it up. Here, from Fox News (with video): "You may remember, I got in trouble when we were running against the senator who was a Mormon, the governor, OK?"

"Justices Scalia and Thomas disagreed often enough that my friend, Judge Melissa Parr, teaches a class called Scalia Versus Thomas..."/"Well, I’ll wait till the movie comes out."

From "Amy Coney Barrett Senate Confirmation Hearing Day 2 Transcript." 

Lindsey Graham made a joke. The class title — "Scalia Versus Thomas" — must have reminded him of all those movie titles — like "Godzilla vs. Rodan." 

Jokes are telling. Isn't it interesting that they're all gathered to grill Barrett on her judicial methods, the question on the floor is "People say that you’re a female Scalia. What would you say?," she's trying to explicate the details, and the pushback is something that translates to: Hey, keep it simple for us dummies and low-attention folk. You're getting into the weeds

Here's her full answer leading up to Graham's joke. It's not even long:

October 13, 2020

At the Tuesday Night Café...


... you can talk about whatever you like.

That's the western view, showing fall colors, at 7:18 a.m. Here's the eastern view at 7:01, pre-dawn. Sunrise was at 7:10.


"On retiring from acting, Nolan bought a remote farmhouse in Spain, where she forged a career... creating montages from her early publicity shots that deconstructed the notion of glamour in a feminist critique of the commodification of women."

"'Part of me was living behind this screen of men’s expectations,' she explained. 'That’s why I made some of them quite grotesque — the idea that I was this passive woman, being looked at. But behind my eyes, I knew what was going on.'" 

Nolan played the character who was painted gold and who appears in the opening credits with "the face of Sean Connery’s 007 and the typography of the film’s titles... projected on to her gilded and nearly naked silhouette."


She was also the woman standing over Paul's grandfather in the casino scene in "A Hard Day's Night":


Here's a photograph of her at her Wikipedia page, showing her in her natural mature beauty in front of one of her photo montages, showing herself in her cinematic glamour:

Is the montage "a feminist critique of the commodification of women"? I think it's easier to argue that the woman painted gold in "Goldfinger" and used as a place to project the images of others is a feminist critique of the commodification of women. But no one wanted to argue that at the time. It wasn't the intent of the filmmakers, and feminist critique was the intent of the montage-maker.

"The difficult empathy of the porcupine."


It's a podcast — Amy Coney Barrett talks to the Senate, Joe Biden talks to an empty rotunda, and Donald Trump wants to kiss everybody.



"How does it feel to be nominated for the Supreme Court of the United States?" — Lindsey Graham asked Amy Coney Barrett.

I got the feeling he resorted to this question — which sounded like the way athletes are interviewed after winning a game — because Barrett had given such short answers to his questions that he'd run out of substantive questions. But I think this is pretty interesting. I like her answer, and it leads Graham into opining that he and all of the Senators are insane. (Scroll to 1:21:56 if it doesn't automatically start in the right place.)


She says the process is "excruciating" and she had to question whether a sane person would go through with it. Her answer was: "Why should I say that someone else should do the difficulty if the difficulty is the only reason to say no? I should serve my country."

Graham: "A lot of people would say you've got to be insane to run for the Senate in this world. But good news for you: We've all chosen kind of crazy stuff to do."

Is Joe Biden excluding the public from his campaign events only to be safe from COVID and to keep us from seeing how few people would show up? No!

I think the answer is no. In the previous post, about an appearance in Cincinnati — "in the massive rotunda of Cincinnati's Union Terminal" — where there were only invited guests — "about 20 local Democrats and union leaders" — and the publicly stated reason was "to follow COVID-19 safety protocols," I wrote: "That's lots of safety... and also lots of protection from creating an embarrassing visual if nobody shows up."

I'd only thought of one unspoken reason for closing the event to the public — to shield Biden from making a spectacle of his inability to draw a crowd. But after publishing the post, I thought, no, there's clearly another reason. It's not merely that he might not draw a big crowd. It's that he might draw the wrong crowd. Even before the George-Floyd-inspired protests began, protesters were ambushing Biden events. Remember this, from March 3rd? No COVID precautions at that time, I see. That's almost 2 months before the current wave of anti-police protests (and riots) began. 

One can only wonder what sort of chaos might flare up within a public Biden event if Biden dropped the COVID shield. So remaining closed to non-insiders is overdetermined.

Side note: I needed to look up when George Floyd died, and I was surprised to see how Google responded — and not just to see who the most Google-important Georges are:

I was surprised to see George Floyd identified as "American hip-hop artist." I really thought that was simply a mistake, but clicking through to the Wikipedia page "George Floyd," I see what Google is doing. It is identifying a person by his life, even when he is far more famous — or perhaps only famous — because of how he died. This might be a standard Google policy. The Wikipedia biography does show some experience as a "hip-hop artist" (along with other, varied forms of employment):

"I thought you'd be interested that he went on and on about Joe Morgan... and himself"/"Yeah, it's mainly himself."

That was the conversation here at Meadhouse after I read this passage from the transcript "Joe Biden Campaign Speech Cincinnati Museum Center Transcript October 12"
Before I begin, let me say that I’m saddened to hear that one of my baseball heroes, Joe Morgan, second baseman, Red’s legend, Hall of Famer and a good man passed away. And my condolences to the Morgan family and his teammates and to his fans here in Cincinnati and all across the country. He played one year on the Philadelphia Phillies. Now, I’m going to get myself in real trouble, but I have a bad habit of telling you the truth. I happened to grow up in a household in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where, if you wanted to have dinner, you had to be Yankees fan because that was the farm called, the Triple A ball club was a Yankee ball club.

He obviously couldn't call to mind the name of the Triple A ball club in Scranton.

And my grandpop was an All-American football player, but he was a great Yankees fan. But it wasn’t hard back in those days. There was Whitey Ford and a few others, but in Delaware, if you are not a Phillies fan, and let me put this way, if I were not a Phillies fan, I’d be sleeping alone. My wife’s a Philly girl. You think I’m kidding. I’m not. But Joe actually played for a year in the Phillies if my memory serves me correctly, but he had fans all over the country. It’s amazing to be both the heart when he was a second baseman, and the voice as one of the great baseball announcers in history, of the same club. I mean, that’s a pretty incredible accomplishment. And so, my best to his family and to his fans, and he has fans all across the country. Folks, as my football coach says, “Go time, Joe.” It’s go time. This is the most important election of our lifetimes, not because I’m running, because what’s at stake....
The Union Terminal is a big conspicuous place in Cincinnati. I've been there. Photo from 2010:

So I wonder, how many people were there. The Cincinnati Enquirer reports "Biden spoke for about 35 minutes to about 20 local Democrats and union leaders in the massive rotunda of Cincinnati's Union Terminal." He goes to a "massive rotunda" and only got 20 people? Well, the article says "The event was limited to invited guests in order to follow COVID-19 safety protocols." It also says that local party officials "urged Biden supporters not to show up outside for safety reasons." That's lots of safety... and also lots of protection from creating an embarrassing visual if nobody shows up. 

Here's the Wikipedia article on the Scranton triple A baseball team, and the name of the team in the relevant years — 1919–1988 — was Heritage. Something metaphorical in Biden's forgetting "Heritage," but there's also a lot of basis for confusion as the team has a few different names since then — Red Barons (1989–2006), then Yankees (2007–2012), and now RailRiders (2013–present). [CORRECTION: “Heritage” is the heading for a section on a series of names, not a team name. And this team, in the relevant time period, wasn’t located in Scranton. Biden seems to have been talking about some other minor league team in the Yankee system!]

Why RailRiders? "The team name was submitted by Chuck Parente of Duryea. Although 'RailRiders' received the most first place votes by fans, 'Porcupines' received the most overall fan votes on the ballots ranked one through three. As a result, a porcupine was incorporated in the RailRiders' logo. The name of the team was a tribute to the Wyoming Valley's history as an economic powerhouse and railway center in the eastern parts of the state and Scranton's long contributions to the history of the US railroad and streetcar industries."

October 12, 2020

At the Monday Night Cafe...

... talk about anything.

Trump is doing a full-scale rally right now.

 You can watch here.

ADDED: He says he’s immune to Covid now so he wants to walk into the audience and KISS everyone — including “the beautiful women.”

Amy Coney Barrett's opening statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

From the transcript (the first line in boldface is the key line, the most predictable and indispensable line but I've also boldfaced something else that I think is distinctive and important): 
Ranking Member Feinstein and members of the committee, I’m honored and humbled to appear before you today.... 
As I said, when I was nominated to serve as a justice, I’m used to being in a group of nine, my family, nothing is more important to me and I am very proud to have them behind me. My husband, Jesse and I have been married for 21 years.... Our oldest daughter, Emma, is a sophomore in college.... Next is Vivian.... Tess is 16.... John Peter joined us shortly after the devastating earthquake in Haiti and Jesse, who brought him home still describes the shock on JP’s face when he got off the plane in wintertime Chicago.... Liam is smart, strong, and kind, and to our delight, he still loves watching movies with mom and dad. Ten-year-old Juliette is already pursuing her goal of becoming an author... and our youngest, Benjamin, is at home with friends. Benjamin has Down Syndrome.... My own siblings are here... Carrie, Megan, Eileen, Amanda, Vivian, and Michael.... My parents, Mike and Linda Coney, are watching from their New Orleans home. My father was a lawyer and my mother was a teacher, which explains why I became a law professor....

"At the Dust-and-Trash Café."


Description of the new podcast: "A firewall of Italianness, the invention of punctuation, toppling Teddy Roosevelt and Lincoln, the propaganda of mid-level violence, chugging cran-raspberry juice, goodbye to Joe Morgan, and doing the camel walk." 

Play it here or subscribe at PocketCasts (or anywhere else you may get your podcasts). Go here to subscribe on iTunes.

"People have described the Cuomo-de Blasio shenanigans as a beef between two Italian-American men."

"But their backgrounds are vastly different. De Blasio, who is from Cambridge, Massachusetts, adopted his mother’s surname. His father was a Wasp and a Yale graduate who lost a leg at Okinawa. He later abandoned the family and, stricken with lung cancer, killed himself. De Blasio molded himself into a hardworking Brooklyn man of the people. 'It’s sort of a false identity, like the shit-kicking version of George W. Bush, whereas Andrew is who he is,' the former city official said...."

"Mario, as Andrew called his boss, was the son of Italian immigrants who had a corner grocery store. Mario graduated from St. John’s Law, top of the class, and, when no Manhattan firm would hire him, started out in Brooklyn; one of his clients was Fred Trump. Mario was a largely absent but highly demanding patriarch. Much has been made through the years, with little comment by Andrew himself, of Andrew’s desire to please or, as time has gone by, surpass his father. 'Mario was fucking brutal,' a former aide told me. 'Andrew was scarred.'"

"At 5-foot-7 and 160 pounds, Morgan, who was sometimes called Little Joe, was among the smallest great players in the history of the game."

"He was also among the greatest second basemen, and some, like Bill James, the groundbreaking interpreter of statistics, say he was the greatest of all. He won five consecutive Gold Gloves, led National League second basemen in fielding percentage three times and finished second six others. In an era when sliding base runners routinely tried to take out the second baseman to prevent double plays, Morgan was known as especially tough in the pivot." 

From "Joe Morgan, Hall of Fame Second Baseman, Is Dead at 77" (NYT). Other great baseball players who have died recently: Tom Seaver, Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, and Whitey Ford.

"I was just sitting there, and I'm like, 'OK, I'm not gonna sit here and wait for nobody to pull some jumper cables... I'm not gonna flag anyone down.'"

"'So I grab my [Ocean Spray cran-raspberry] juice, grab my longboard, started heading to work," Nathan Apodaca told NPR.
The story could have ended there. As many know by now, it didn't. As Apodaca rolled down a hill, he casually turned on his TikTok account, @420doggface208, and created a video that would make a cultural sensation of his fairly prosaic, if resourceful, commute to work. "When I heard 'Dreams,' that's when I figured, 'OK, this is it,' " said Apodaca, a 37-year-old father of two. After the video took off, that 1977 hit single, "Dreams" by Fleetwood Mac, catapulted back on the charts, tripling in sales. The band also reported its best week ever on streaming.... In its first hour on TikTok, the video gathered some 100,000 views. It now has more than 35 million. It has been crowned with meme status. According to figures from TikTok, 134,000 tribute videos have been made, inspired by Apodaca, totaling almost a half-billion views. The lieutenant governor of Montana, Mike Cooney, did a tribute, as did comedian Jimmy Fallon — and endless others....

From "TikTok Sensation: Meet The Idaho Potato Worker Who Sent Fleetwood Mac Sales Soaring."

NPR applies its genteel seriousness to analyze the instantly, easily likable clip. It's got to mean something. Apodaca offers his idea: "There's just too much chaos right now. Everybody just needed something to relax to and vibe out with." Well, he's right! 

Extra fact: Ocean Spray bought him a new truck. Oh! The free advertising it got! A new truck, cranberry colored and loaded with cranberry juice. Yet surely his promotion of the drink is worth millions. 

And, Mick Fleetwood expresses thanks:

The Senate Judiciary Committee begins its work on the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett.

Watch from the beginning here, at C-SPAN.

I turned on the TV and looked at CNN for about a minute before clicking off. Amy Coney Barrett was sitting stiffy, staring forward, her lower faced covered in a big black mask. Dianne Feinstein, maskless, was grimly chewing her out. Ghoulish. Unwatchable. 

I'll be paying attention from a distance, but I can't help believing I already know everything that will be said and where we'll end up. I'll comment on the proceedings as I see fit.

What percentage of the discussion will be about abortion? 85?

"A group of protesters toppled statues of former presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln and shattered the entrance to the Oregon Historical Society in Portland’s South Park Blocks..."

"... late Sunday before moving into other areas of downtown, smashing storefronts and engaging in other acts of destruction. Police declared the event a riot and ordered people rampaging through the city’s streets to disperse but did not directly intervene until nearly an hour after the first statue fell. The crowd scattered when police cruisers flooded the area, and officers in tactical gear appeared to make several arrests. Protest organizers had promoted the event on social media as an 'Indigenous Peoples Day of Rage.'...  The organizers had signaled their aggressive stance for the night, calling for 'direct action' and demanding that the video live-streamers and photographers who had become staples of such events stay away.... The group, about 200 strong, marched through downtown Portland, at one point occupying all four lanes of West Burnside Street. Most dressed head-to-toe in black. Many wore body armor, carried shields or wielded night sticks and other weapons. As the crowd reached the South Park Blocks, some threw chains on ropes on the Roosevelt statue, a bronze sculpture officially titled 'Theodore Roosevelt, Rough Rider,' as others took a blowtorch to its base and splattered it with red paint. They began to pull until the statue rocked from side to side before falling down at 8:51 p.m. The crowd erupted in cheers as dance music played on a large portable speaker....  The group then turned to the nearby Abraham Lincoln statue, pulling it to the ground at 8:59 p.m.... After toppling the statues, some protesters began smashing windows at the Oregon Historical Society, unfurling a banner that read, 'Stop honoring racist colonizer murderers.' A mural on the attached Sovereign Hotel building depicting the Lewis & Clark expedition was splattered with red paint...."

Can I get a little attention? Does anybody care this year? Seems like they would... this year, especially, but no... Anybody?

It's Columbus Day, but there's way less than the usual hoopla, even though you'd think there'd be more. I found this in the Washington Post, "Much of America has stopped celebrating Columbus Day, but the explorer remains revered in Italy." That's super mild. The observation that has replaced the observation of: There used to be an observation of the holiday, and now there's only the observation that the holiday is no longer observed.  
While many Christopher Columbus statues were toppled this year in the United States — dragged into Baltimore's Inner Harbor, beheaded in Boston — the towering marble monument to the explorer in his hometown, Genoa, Italy, is disturbed only by pigeons....

 “Some vague awareness of his colonialist brutality has only in the last few years made it into classrooms,” said Marina Nezi, a recently retired high school history teacher in Rome. “But [Italy has] a very long history, and school years are often not enough to tell the whole of it.”...  

“There’s a firewall of Italianness that has prevented the critique from breaking through and garnering a meaningful following,” [said Giulio Busi, author of “Christopher Columbus, the Sailor of Secrets."] Toppling his statues “feels like an attack on our nationality.”...

Did you know that with a firewall of Italianness, you can stop critique from garnering?   

In the New York Times, Christopher Columbus hasn't even been mentioned since October 9th. There's not even the observation that the holiday is not observed. Which is to say, it's really not observed. They didn't even see it. They didn't even see the non-seeing of it!

Now, the New York Post offers a cry for us to respect the old tarnished hero. It's a column by David Marcus:

"The building block of antifa is what's called an affinity group, people you live and work with and trust and know in real life...."

"All the planning is done within that closed bloc, and they don't let everyone know [what they're going to do]. I didn't know that they were going to burn the Portland Police Association when I joined. What they did was put a call out that said, 'Anyone show up in black that night at this place, and you can join the action.' That's called a semi-open bloc.... Basically they're baiting the police into overreacting.... They come in, they attack the cops, they get out. Antifa goes for a certain type of violence, a mid-level violence. Most people aren't practiced in violence, and what they'll do is, they'll either back down or they'll overreact. Antifa basically as a group does the equivalent of just pushing someone on the shoulder, and again, and again.... But a big thing for them is they have convinced themselves that they're doing something good. They're very big about trying to maintain, at least in their eyes, the moral high ground. Part of that is not killing people. They want that moral high ground and they construct it. And that's kind of what they do by using that mid-level of violence. They want you to overreact because not being extremely violent is how they convince themselves they're better. And it's also great propaganda...."

From "The Conservative Trans Woman Who Went Undercover With Antifa in Portland/Confessions of a black bloc mole" (Reason)(a 10-day-old article I'm just getting around to reading).

"'I Feel Like I Have Dementia': Brain Fog Plagues Covid Survivors/The condition is affecting thousands of patients, impeding their ability to work and function in daily life."

The NYT reports.
It’s becoming known as Covid brain fog: troubling cognitive symptoms that can include memory loss, confusion, difficulty focusing, dizziness and grasping for everyday words....
“There are thousands of people who have that,” said Dr. Igor Koralnik, chief of neuro-infectious disease at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago, who has already seen hundreds of survivors at a post-Covid clinic he leads.... Leading theories are that it arises when the body’s immune response to the virus doesn’t shut down or from inflammation in blood vessels leading to the brain.... 
“It is debilitating,” said Rick Sullivan, 60, of Brentwood, Calif.... “I become almost catatonic. It feels as though I am under anesthesia.”... 
When [Erica] Taylor, 31, contracted the virus in mid-June, she thought she’d need only a brief break... One morning, “everything in my brain was white static,” she said. “I was sitting on the edge of the bed, crying and feeling ‘something’s wrong, I should be asking for help,’ but I couldn’t remember who or what I should be asking. I forgot who I was and where I was.”... She resumed working in early August, but her mind wandered and reading emails was “like reading Greek,” she said. By September, her employer urged a 13-week leave. “They finally landed on ‘You’re going to have to step away,’” said Ms. Taylor, who requested to volunteer for the nonprofit while on leave but was told no. “I’m gutted, to be honest.”

Much more at the link. Very disturbing stories. I hope this will be read and understood by those of you who've taken to saying that you hope you just get the disease and so you can get past it.  

And what if President Trump were experiencing symptoms of this kind. Would he admit it? I don't think he would. Perhaps he wouldn't even admit it to himself, but I'm pretty sure he'd tell us he feels great, tippy-top.

Trump's "'thread the needle' re-election strategy" has 4 "main elements" but only one of them is currently in place.

According to Amy Walter at the Cook Political Report.
The one element that's in place is "A united, enthusiastic and engaged GOP base."

The other 3 are: "A deeply flawed opponent,"  "Decent support among independent voters," and "Third-party candidates siphoning off enough votes to allow Trump to win key states."

Walter says, "Joe Biden has never been popular, but he’s also never been as unpopular as Hillary Clinton." I'd say that Biden is more like the absence of a candidate, putting the focus on Trump's flaws. And with the virus making everything bad, the badness falls more heavily, more directly on Trump. He's presiding over what's actually happening, and one can only imagine how Biden might have handled things. 

As for independents, we're told Trump trails Biden by 14 to 18 points in "the most recent national polling by Fox News, CNN and Pew." 

As for third party candidates, they're less important than in 2016.

"To Iranians at home and abroad, the death of the country’s most revered classical music singer, Mohammad Reza Shajarian, reverberated like the death of a rock or pop star in the West."

"After learning that he died Oct. 8 at age 80 at a hospital in Tehran, tens of thousands took to the streets of Iran’s capital to weep, mourn and sing his songs of love and peace. Angered that his music had been banned by the country’s Islamic regime, they also chanted anti-government slogans, including 'death to the dictator'.... Security forces arrived on motorcycles, swinging batons at crowds until they dispersed.... Mr. Shajarian was known as an ostad, or master, of traditional Persian music.... Mr. Shajarian typically used subtle metaphors and poetic allegories in his verses, and he rarely ventured into politics. But in 2009, he surprised many of his fans by speaking out against the government he had long supported, siding with demonstrators who challenged election results that led to ultraconservative President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s second term.... As security forces wielded batons and tear gas against protesters, Mr. Shajarian turned a work of Persian poetry into an anthem of resistance, singing 'Language of Fire and Iron' by Fereydoon Moshiri. 'Lay down your gun,' he pleaded, 'as I hate this very abnormal shedding of blood. The gun in your hand speaks the language of fire and iron. . . . Come, sit down, talk, hear. Perhaps the light of humanity will get through to your heart, too.' When Ahmadinejad labeled the protesters 'dust and trash,' Mr. Shajarian responded by telling the BBC: 'I am the voice of dust and trash, and [my voice] will always belong to dust and trash.'... 'My music has always been entirely connected to what happens in Iran,' he told German writer and Persia expert Marian Brehmer in 2011. 'The poems I choose to perform reflect our social history. My songs speak of people’s lives. I get my inspiration from the people. I need to be among them. Or else I wouldn’t be able to sing. I think of people’s longings.... Humanity should rule the world, not religion, nationalism or ideology. Humanity is the aim of all arts.'"

October 11, 2020

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can write about whatever you like.

"There is still no Trumpian equivalent of Bush’s antiterror and enhanced-interrogation innovations or Obama’s immigration gambit and unconstitutional Libyan war."

"Trump’s worst human-rights violation, the separation of migrants from their children, was withdrawn under public outcry. His biggest defiance of Congress involved some money for a still-unfinished border wall. And when the coronavirus handed him a once-in-a-century excuse to seize new powers, he retreated to a cranky libertarianism instead. All this context means that one can oppose Trump, even hate him, and still feel very confident that he will leave office if he is defeated... Our weak, ranting, infected-by-Covid chief executive is not plotting a coup, because a term like 'plotting' implies capabilities that he conspicuously lacks.... [L]iberalism under Trump has become a more dominant force in our society.... Its return to power in Washington... will be the unification of cultural and political power under a single banner. Wielding that power in a way that doesn’t just seed another backlash requires both vision and restraint. And seeing its current enemy clearly, as a feckless tribune for the discontented rather than an autocratic menace, is essential to the wisdom that a Biden presidency needs."

"He saw that many young people, wanting to be different, really end up being like everyone else... As a result, Carlo said, 'everyone is born as an original, but many people end up dying as photocopies.'"

Said Pope Francis, quoted in "Teen one step from becoming first millennial saint" (France 24). The teen is Carlo Acutis, who died of leukemia at the age of 15 and who made a website about miracles and now has been credited with one miracle.
Should Acutis later be credited with the second miracle necessary for sainthood, supporters have suggested he could become the Patron Saint of the internet -- though there already is one, 7th-century scholar Isidore de Seville.
Here's the Wikipedia article on Isidore de Seville. It says: "The Order of St. Isidore of Seville... a chivalric order formed on 1 January 2000. An international organisation... aims to honour Saint Isidore as patron saint of the Internet...." So I wonder if it's true that this man of the 7th century is already the Patron Saint of the Internet. There's a link to this 2002 Wired article
A group of Vatican elders is angling to give the Internet a patron saint –­ a holy helper with a dedicated connection to the Divine. The church's leading candidate is a seventh-century Spanish encyclopedist, Saint Isidore of Seville (560-636). A theologian and a scholar, Isidore was best known for his massive, 20-volume Etymologiae, ­an attempt at compiling all the world's knowledge, covering grammar, medicine, law, geography, agriculture, theology, cooking and all points between....

Discordantly enough, Isidore was "the last scholar of the ancient world," according to the Wikipedia article. Most impressive to me is that he invented 3 punctuation marks: the period, the comma, and the colon! Is that really true? I found this — "The mysterious origins of punctuation" (BBC):