October 24, 2020

At the Saturday Night Cafe...

 ... you can write about anything.

ADDED: I'd forgotten to upload my sunrise photo so I put up the café without documenting my run to the sunrise, but here it is belatedly:


"A weird obsession with skin and blood."


It's a podcast about Kamala’s womb rhetoric, Obama’s cages, football patriotism, a female socialist President, bleeders, books bound in human skin, believing or disbelieving that Hunter’s laptop is real, anti-racist Boogaloo Bois, and the chimney-top dandelion.

"Insisting that the Hunter Biden laptop is fake is a trap. So is insisting that it’s real."

A WaPo headline that made me laugh. I am a little desperate for laughs, but still. I laughed. This is a column by Thomas Rid, who wrote "Active Measures: The Secret History of Disinformation and Political Warfare" and a professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. Excerpt: 
[I]n the likely continued absence of certainty either way, the Biden leaks deserve the full potential-disinformation treatment. This means three concrete things. First, every individual little fact — every email, every text, every photo — must be independently verified when data is surfaced in such a suspicious way, not just one piece of information. Genuine photos, for example, could be there simply to add credibility to forged emails surfaced along with the photos — shielding a few forgeries with genuine content would be a time-tested active measures tactic. 
Second, the absence of a denial by the Biden campaign or Hunter himself should not be treated as a tacit admission of authenticity. Mixing facts with forgeries has another time-tested effect: It sets a trap for the victim. If Hunter or the Biden campaign started selectively denying pieces of the reporting ostensibly from the laptop, they would give oxygen to the operation, extend its life-cycle and get entangled in a losing battle about discussing what’s fact and what’s not....

This second point is a response to something I said yesterday: "If they're not real, Biden would strongly, clearly assert that the emails are fake. What reason could there be to fail to make a clear assertion? I think the answer is that he knows it's an assertion that can be proven false, leaving him plainly exposed as an outrageous liar."

Rid's third point is:  "[W]e must resist the temptation to jump to premature conclusions on 'a Russian plant' without good evidence — 'classic earmarks' are not nearly enough. The Mac Shop story, and even the files, could still be genuine, no matter how unusual the setup sounds.... If we continue to ascribe too much power and influence to shadowy foreign spies, downplay our own agency and blame our domestic political problems on outside interference, then we are not only behaving like the old-school Soviet active measures playbook wants us to behave — worse, we’re becoming a little more like Russia ourselves."

"It’s easier to believe that objects of human skin are made by monsters like Nazis and serial killers, not the well-respected doctors the likes of whom parents want their children to become someday."

Says Megan Rosenbloom, author of "DARK ARCHIVES/A Librarian’s Investigation Into the Science and History of Books Bound in Human Skin," quoted in "Yes, Books Were Bound in Human Skin. An Intrepid Librarian Finds the Proof" by James Hamblin (NYT).
In fact, anthropodermic bibliopegy was not the practice of some singularly heinous regime.... Human skin leather looks indistinguishable from that of other mammals, and only recent developments in DNA sequencing technology have made it possible to tell a skin-bound book from a forgery. The making and selling of such books was pursued at many times and in many places, including late-19th-century America. John Stockton Hough, a Philadelphia physician, is known to have bound three textbooks about reproduction in the skin of Mary Lynch, a local woman who died at 28 in 1869 of tuberculosis and a parasitic infection. During an autopsy, Hough removed and preserved skin from her thighs, and then bound his books with it — presumably as a form of homage....

Rosenbloom [details]... the techniques of tanning, soaking and scraping the “hides” to preserve them. At times her descriptions seem gratuitously to indulge the same morbid fascination that has long drawn people to these objects....

Cremated remains are manufactured into all sorts of keepsakes: paperweights, gazing balls, blown-glass "art," jewelry. Is that more acceptable because it's processed into glass and retains none of the feeling of a human body?

What if a dying person wanted her skin used to make a keepsake book? My hypothetical requires the future dead body to want to be used to make a book — what book would you want to be if you wanted to be a book? — and someone who wanted to receive such a book. Presumably, the cost would be high, so deduct that from your inheritance before you say, sure, I'd love a copy of "12 Rules for Life/An Antidote to Chaos" bound in the skin of my late father. 


"By the way, Kamala will not be your first female president. She will not be your first female president. That’s not the way it’s supposed to be."

"We’re not supposed to have the socialist… Look, we’re not going to be a socialist nation. We’re not going to have a socialist president, especially any female socialist president. We’re not going to have it. We’re not going to put up with it. It’s not going to happen." 

Said Trump, at his rally in The Villages, Florida. Transcript. He chuckles over "especially a female socialist president" — so it's a joke, an inside joke for you people who think women are irrational and disabled by empathy. 

Presumably, he realizes that many of us are picturing Joe Biden stepping — or getting pushed  — aside soon after he wins, if he wins, and Kamala Harris elevated to the presidency. Trump is scaring us about socialism and mixing in the idea that socialism presided over by a female is an especially dangerous form of socialism. He does go on to say that Harris is the most liberal member of the Senate, so there's something especially dangerous about Harris's "socialism," but he does say "any female socialist president," so he frames it as a stereotype of women. I see that he's using that form in a kind of stand-up comedian mode, and I recognize it as humor, but it only works as humor because the stereotype is understood and has some relationship to what people believe is true. 

Should Trump have said "especially any female socialist president"?
pollcode.com free polls

"The NBA and the NFL are struggling with lower ratings, as fans clearly do not want political messaging mixed with their sports."

"So how should the leagues support and promote an anti-racism position without becoming political and alienating fans?" — Brett Favre asked President Trump (at the White House), WaPo reports, here.

Trump said the sports leagues could “promote an anti-racism position without becoming political and alienating fans,” but they need the players to "stand and salute, or put their hand over their heart, or at least stand for the national anthem and salute" — “They’re going to have to start respecting our country. It’s very simple. And you start by respecting our flag."

"But if Biden wins, your borders will be gone and your country will be gone, frankly. Look, this is not a man that’s capable."

"When I meet with these heads of state, the one thing I can tell you, they’re sharp. They’re sharp. They’re not off. They’re sharp. This is not a man that can handle the job.... All he talks about is COVID, COVID, COVID because they want to scare people. And we’ve done so well with it. Now it’s 99.8%. I mean, you look at what’s going on and we’re rounding the turn. We’re rounding the corner. We’re rounding the corner beautifully. But Joe Biden was very disrespectful last night to President Barack Hussein Obama.... At last night’s debate, though, he was very disrespectful, really disrespectful. When he said that he, Joe, was vice president, not president, blaming Obama when trying to make excuses for the failed immigration policies, right? You saw that? 'I wasn’t the president. It was him.' Because we talked about cages, right? I said, 'Joe, you built the cages.' Remember, they tried to say 'cages for children.' And they said, 'Trump built cages.' And then they found out it was a little problem. There was a picture in the New York Times, the failing New York Times.... It was built under Obama/Sleepy Joe Biden. And so did you notice when I kept saying, 'Why did you build the cages, Joe? Why did you?' And he just kept talking. He didn’t want any part of it. But they started it. If you want jobs, safety, and borders, you have to vote for the party of Abraham Lincoln, Honest Abe. Vote Republican."

Said President Trump at a rally in The Villages, Florida yesterday. Transcript.

"If you are black and hold elected office in America, coming to Atlanta is like coming back to the womb."

Said Kamala Harris, yesterday in Atlanta. Transcript.  
[Donald Trump] had the gall... to suggest that he keeps a ledger, and you’re on one side of his ledger if you don’t wear a mask, you’re on another side of his ledger if you wear a mask. And now look where we are. Now look where we are.… 
Even before he was running for office when he questioned the legitimacy of the birthplace of the first black president of the United States, has been so weirdly obsessed with trying to get rid of whatever Barack Obama created. Think about that. We don’t need presidents who have weird obsessions. What is that about?... 

We don’t need presidents who have weird obsessions — that's a striking line, but a devious insinuation. What is that about? The Atlantans — who make black politicians feel like they're in a womb — are expected to complete the thought: It's about Donald Trump being a racist.

We are looking at families that are getting up at the crack of dawn, to drive to sit in their car in a food line for hours. Praying that they can get to the end of the line before the food runs out. One in five mothers in America is describing her children under the age of 12 as being hungry. We’re in the midst of a hunger crisis in America.... 

October 23, 2020

The chimney dandelion.


Photo by Meade. I don't go on the roof!

Write about whatever you want in the comments.

"In the wake of protests following the May 25 killing of George Floyd, a member of the 'Boogaloo Bois' opened fire on Minneapolis Police Third Precinct with an AK-47-style gun and screamed 'Justice for Floyd'..."

"... as he ran away, according to a federal complaint made public Friday. A sworn affidavit by the FBI underlying the complaint reveals new details about a far-right anti-government group’s coordinated role in the violence that roiled through civil unrest over Floyd’s death while in police custody. Ivan Harrison Hunter, a 26-year-old from Boerne, Texas, is charged with one count of interstate travel to incite a riot for his alleged role in ramping up violence during the protests in Minneapolis on May 27 and 28. According to charges, Hunter, wearing a skull mask and tactical gear, shot 13 rounds at the south Minneapolis police headquarters while people were inside. He also looted and helped set the building ablaze, according to the complaint, which was filed Monday under seal.... As police clashed with protesters, Hunter and other members of the Boogaloo Bois discussed in private Facebook messages their plans to travel to Minneapolis and rally... 'Lock and load boys. Boog flags are in the air, and the national network is going off,' the complaint states... 'Go for police buildings,' Hunter told [another Boogaloo member], according to charging documents.... Hunter had bragged about his role in the Minneapolis riots on Facebook, publicly proclaiming, 'I helped the community burn down that police station' and 'I didn’t’ protest peacefully Dude ... Want something to change? Start risking felonies for what is good.'"

To what extent are "Boogaloo Bois" associated with anti-racism? There are some useful links at Wikipedia article "Boogaloo Movement." Look for the footnotes at the line "There are also groups that condemn racism and white supremacy, although attempts by some individual elements of the movement to support anti-racist groups and movements such as Black Lives Matter have been met with wariness and skepticism as researchers are unsure if they are genuine or meant to obscure the movement's actual objectives."

"Absurd, stunning, insane overlords."


 It's a podcast. Topics — 
Biden said he’d end the oil industry, Ghislaine Maxwell’s nonabsurd deposition, what “is” is, a passion for ponies, McConnell’s bruises, the media help Joe Biden, Sean Ono Lennon calls Facebook “insane overlords,” and Johnny Rotten demonstrate how to love your wife to the very end.

"Mr. Biden was given ample opportunity to deny the authenticity or facts of the Bobulinski information at Thursday’s debate; he didn’t..."

"... A call to Hunter Biden’s attorney was not returned by our deadline. All of this is news. The press corps that is ignoring it spent four years writing about Donald Trump’s Moscow business. The correspondence meanwhile blows up Rep. Adam Schiff’s claim that the Hunter story is Russian 'disinformation.' It raises real concerns about what security risks Hunter might pose for a Biden administration. And it raises questions about Joe Biden’s involvement. The former vice president is running on trust and good judgment. The Hunter tale is at best the story of a wayward son and indulgent father. At worst, it is an example of the entire Biden clan cashing in on its name with a U.S. rival...."

From "The Biden ‘Family Legacy’/What we learned from the text messages of Hunter’s partner Tony Bobulinski" by Kimberley Strassel (Wall Street Journal). No paywall encountered. Lots of detail about what's in the texts — too much to cut and paste.

"I don’t understand what you mean by ‘female.’ I don’t understand what you mean by ‘recruit.’... What do you mean by ‘romantic’?... What do you mean by ‘know’?... What do you mean by ‘prostitution’?... What’s a sex toy?... I don’t know what you mean, if she looked like a child.... What do you mean by ‘school’? Let’s characterize ‘school.’"

Questions asked by Ghislaine Maxwell during her deposition that shed some light on why the thing is so terribly long but yields no juicy information, quoted in a NY Post column, "Inside Ghislaine Maxwell’s absurd deposition — ‘What do you mean by ‘prostitution’?"

It doesn't sound the slightest bit absurd. It sounds extremely intelligent, situationally aware, and laser-focused. 

"While riding her beloved horse she had words with her mother, nothing more than a lot of close relationships encounter.... The tragedy is that she had the world at her feet, horses and ponies were her passion and would have been throughout her life."

Wrote the assistant coroner, quoted in "Equestrian, 16, kills herself near stable after mom tells her to ride slower" (NY Post).

"Mitch McConnell says he has no health concerns after photos show bruising/Questions raised about pictures showing severe bruising on his hands and some around his mouth."

The Guardian reports (with a photograph showing lots of purple). 
Asked on Thursday if “there anything going on we should know about?”, the Kentucky Republican said: “Of course not.” McConnell answered a follow-up question by saying he had no concerns, and did not answer a question about whether he was seeing a doctor....

It's not stunning if you see the evasion as a tacit admission that the emails are authentic, and at this point isn't that the assumption nearly all of us have made?

If they're not real, Biden would strongly, clearly assert that the emails are fake. What reason could there be to fail to make a clear assertion? I think the answer is that he knows it's an assertion that can be proven false, leaving him plainly exposed as an outrageous liar.

Sean Ono Lennon calls Facebook "crazy" and cries out against "baseless cancellations by our social media overlords."

After that conspicuous hit, Facebook reversed itself, claiming to have "mistakenly flagged" the account as an "imposter": Who, exactly, is Liz Bourgeois@Liz_Shepherd? On her Twitter page, she identifies herself as "@Facebook comms, formerly @TheDemocrats and @SpeakerPelosi. Mom of 2 tiny humans."

This is all very fishy. She's obviously a Democrat and completely open about it, and I take it she works at some level at Facebook and that "comms" means "communications" —  that is, public relations. It is bad PR to cancel Bret Weinstein and have Sean Ono Lennon pop up as his friend to call you insane overlords. 

Who believes Facebook just flagged Weinstein's account as an imposter? Why would such a harsh unreviewable cancellation message be sent to a person who'd just gotten flagged as an imposter? Automatic actions like that obviously can go wrong, so who believes it's something Facebook has set up to be unreviewable? Indeed, Facebook seems to have reviewed it, though if the method Weinstein used was getting Sean Ono Lennon to tweet about the injustice, that is hardly available as a method of review for anybody else. 

"It can't be reversed" — but it was reversed! Facebook didn't follow its own stated procedures. There's a special injustice in that. There's an alternative path to relief for some people — famous people or semi-famous people with ultra-famous connections — and the rest of you deplorables can slip down the memory hole forever.

Biden makes a "big statement," answering "yes" to Trump's question "Would you close down the oil industry?"

From the transcript of last night's debate:
Trump: "Would you close down the oil industry?"

Biden: By the way, I have a transition from the old industry, yes. 

Trump: Oh, that’s a big statement.  
Biden: I will transition. It is a big statement. 

Trump: That’s a big statement.

Biden: Because I would stop....

Trump: That’s a big statement. 

Biden: Well if you let me finish the statement, because it has to be replaced by renewable energy over time, over time, and I’d stopped giving to the oil industry, I’d stop giving them federal subsidies. You won’t get federal subsidies to the gas, oh, excuse me to solar and wind. 

Trump: Yeah. 

Biden: Why are we giving it to oil industry? 

Trump: We actually give it to solar and wind. That’s maybe the biggest statement. In terms of business, that’s the biggest statement.... Because basically what he’s saying is... he is going to destroy the oil industry. Will you remember that Texas? Will you remember that Pennsylvania, Oklahoma?...

Biden: He takes everything out of context, but the point is, look, we have to move toward net zero emissions. The first place to do that by the year 2035 is in energy production, by 2050 totally.

Did Biden misspeak, is he misstaken about the feasibility of ending the oil industry, or is this really a serious plan?

I see at Politico, "Conservatives pounce on Biden’s desire to move away from oil/The former vice president said he would stop giving the industry federal subsidies, to the consternation of President Donald Trump and his supporters."

That headline suggests that Biden didn't mean to say "yes" to the idea of closing down the oil industry, only to ending federal subsidies. Yes, that's the position Biden took after the debate, according to Politico: "After the debate, Biden clarified to reporters that he didn’t want to end the fossil fuel industry, but rather get rid of subsidies for fossil fuels." No direct quote. I wonder what he said.

... Biden initially answered in the affirmative when asked if he would close the oil industry, even if he tried to clarify it later and stress that none of his changes would happen right away. The problem for Biden is that he is running against someone ready and willing to pounce on any perceived mistake — see Hillary Clinton’s emails — and amplify them as loudly as possible, even if or when it gets away from the facts.

Like pouncing on perceived mistakes is a special, bad thing that Trump does. It's what all vigorous candidates do. Is WaPo so used to babying Biden that it thinks Trump is a big bully for holding him to his statements and taking them seriously?! 

It calls to mind how, at a Democratic presidential debate, Biden said “no new fracking.” It might be a popular thing to say in a Democratic primary, but not in a general election, where fracking is a significant employer in states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio and Texas. His campaign clarified immediately afterward that he wants no new fracking permits on public lands, a position that would let most fracking continue. “I am not banning fracking,” Biden felt the need to say in Pittsburgh months later, in September. 
To this day — even at this final debate — Trump seizes on that one line from that one March debate to inaccurately describe Biden’s position. “He was against fracking, he said it,” Trump claimed Thursday night.

That's basic competence from Trump. The author of the WaPo article strains to protect Biden. As long as he "clarifies" his statements afterwards, Trump shouldn't quote the original statement? Imagine if the press offered that kind of protection to Trump! His worst wordings are restated over and over. 

"From time to time, I’ll have my inward explosions because sometimes it’s like banging your head against a wall. But then there’ll be what you might call a heated situation..."

"... and I’ll notice halfway through that she’s winking at me. Moments like that are so genius and rewarding because something in her has clicked and she’ll be teasing me like she’s always done when I’m being a bit saucy!" 

Doctors, he says, insisted on medicating her, ‘and I really got fed up with the advice they were giving. A lot of them were suggesting narcotics of some kind to subdue her, but why would I want to do that? When someone’s coming towards their last few years, to then deny them the freedom and fun of running, jumping, being in the sun, chatting — why would I take that all away and have her be a comatose victim? It would be easier for myself but not for her, and that’s where my first concern lies.’

October 22, 2020

At the Tranquility Café...

IMG_0749 ... you can talk about anything except the big debate. Go one down for the debate stuff.

It's the big debate night!

 Do you think something big will happen tonight? Or just a typical debate? 

ADDED: My son John is live-blogging, here.

"The inside is out."


It's a podcast of the odd last few hours on a blog called Althouse. Topics: "Sacha Baron Cohen, Giuliani, and revenge porn; WaPo reports from the inside of Trump’s head; Biden ad, Sam Elliott, and Tegridy Farms; Bobulinski and The Big Guy; grasping the stinging nettle; Schumer orates against Amy Coney Barrett; antitrust and Google; Obama at the drive-in calling Philadelphians lazy."

"In the 465-page document, [Ghislaine] Maxwell repeatedly denies and dismisses numerous allegations, and insists she never saw the financier have sex with anybody."

"' never saw any inappropriate underage activities with Jeffrey ever,' she said. Asked if she was aware of any non-consensual sexual acts between Epstein and masseuses, she replied: 'All the time that I have been in the house I have never seen, heard, nor witnessed, nor have [had] reported to me that any activities took place, that people were in distress, either reported to me by the staff or anyone else.' She also said she never hired anyone under the age of 18 to work in Epstein's homes and never participated in any sexual activities with them. Asked whether she believed that Epstein had sexually abused minors, she said: 'I can only testify to what I know. I know that Virginia is a liar.' Ms Maxwell also called Ms Giuffre an 'awful fantasist.' ... A well-connected socialite, [Maxwell] is said to have introduced Epstein to many of her wealthy and powerful friends, including Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew. Friends said that although Ms Maxwell and Epstein's romantic relationship lasted only a few years, she continued to work with him long afterward...."

"And with Joe and Kamala at the helm, you’re not going to have... to argue about them every day. It just won’t be so exhausting."

"You might be able to have a Thanksgiving dinner without having an argument.... When Joe and Kamala are in charge, they’re not going to surround themselves with hacks and lobbyists, but they’re going to appoint qualified public servants who actually care... Our democracy is not going to work if the people who are supposed to be our leaders lie every day and just make things up. And we’ve just become numb to it. We’ve just become immune to it. Every single day, fact checkers can’t keep up. And, look, this notion of truthfulness and democracy and citizenship, and being responsible, these aren’t Republican or democratic principles, they’re American principles. They’re what most of us grew up learning from our parents and our grandparents. They’re not White or Black or Latino or Asian values, they’re American values, human values, and we need to reclaim them. We have to get those values back at the center of our public life. And we can. But to do it, we’ve got to turn out like never before.... We can’t be complacent. I don’t care about the polls. There were a whole bunch of polls last time, didn’t work out, because a whole bunch of folks stayed at home and got lazy and complacent.... I love you, Philadelphia. Honk if you’re fired up, honk if you’re ready to go. Are you fired up?"

Said Barack Obama, at a rally yesterday at a drive-in in Philadelphia.

"By many measures, Google is a great organization... But why then does it need to pay Apple billions of dollars to keep competitors at bay?"

"The law is demanding that Google prove its greatness by playing the game, not by buying its way out of it. Being exposed to more competition might also serve as a stimulant for the company: Insulation from competition can be a narcotic.... [Some] may urge us to trust that large companies like Google are fundamentally well-intentioned. That view became dominant among antitrust officials during George W. Bush’s administration and has now prevailed for 20 years. It has left us with an economy that is too concentrated — unfair to workers, smaller producers and entrepreneurs. It has deepened economic inequality. It has also put so much political power in so few private hands that it alarms politicians on both the left and the right."

"The nomination of Amy Coney Barrett is the most illegitimate process I have ever witnessed in the Senate and her potential confirmation will have dire, dire consequences..."

"... for the Senate, for the Supreme Court and our entire country for generations to come.... Democrats will not lend a single ounce of legitimacy to this sham vote in the Judiciary Committee. Democrats will not lend a single ounce of legitimacy to this awful, awful hearing. We are voting with our feet, we are standing together and we are standing against this unprecedented mad rush to jam through a Supreme Court nomination just days, days before an election."

Senator Schumer proclaims (transcript).

Strange gesture suggested — "If Biden were willing to grasp the nettle..."

I'm just glancing at the New Yorker... erstwhile home of Jeffrey Toobin, who made a strange gesture the other day — grasping and getting stung. I think I would have laughed at that headline in any case — "Joe Biden and the Possibility of a Remarkable Presidency/If Biden were willing to grasp the nettle, the sting would be real, but history would judge him well for trying." 
What is this stinging nettle? 

"The reference to 'the Big Guy' in the much publicized May 13, 2017 email is in fact a reference to Joe Biden..."

"I’ve seen Vice President Biden saying he never talked to Hunter about his business. I’ve seen firsthand that that’s not true, because it wasn’t just Hunter’s business, they said they were putting the Biden family name and its legacy on the line.... The Biden family aggressively leveraged the Biden family name to make millions of dollars from foreign entities even though some were from communist controlled China," 

The gooiest ad I've ever seen — with a tinkling piano playing the National Anthem and the hilariously sentimental voice of Sam Elliott.


That ad played during the World Series. I'm not watching the World Series. I read about the ad in that WaPo article I linked to in the previous post. According to WaPo: "While Trump on Tuesday appealed in person to his most ardent fans with divisive themes, Joe Biden’s campaign beamed in to the nation’s living rooms during the World Series with a much broader audience in mind." 

Yes, whoever made that ad, sure had the "broader audience in mind." I can picture clever fellows laughing at their own work, comparing it to a "South Park" parody, and joking about how dumb Americans are. 

Watching that ad, a few seconds in, Meade said "Tegridy Farms," and toward the end, I said, "This is for the dumb people" and "Actually, this is very effective." I could feel the emotion they were trying to put over. Joe will bring us together — no reason why and don't you worry your head about what he'll actually do while you're in a hypnotic fog of phony-baloney togetherness.

I'm looking for the right "Tegridy Farms" ad to convey Meade's point. There's this, but as Meade said, "It doesn't have enough of that voice — you know, like that guy... that guy in 'The Big Lebowski.'" I say: "Sam Elliott! You do realize the voice in the Biden ad is Sam Elliott." Meade thought it was just some guy doing his damnedest to sound like Sam Elliott. No, that's actually Sam Elliott. You might think Sam Elliott is such an extreme that he'd be reserved for the comic exaggeration of the voice of a narrator...


... but the Biden campaign is using him utterly seriously, to stir our soulfully deep desire for America.


Why don't they just give us the marijuana already? Then we could sit back and laugh at all this absurdity. Ah, but then you'd be like me, abstaining.* They need you to vote. You've got to melt into a pool of goo and yet maintain sufficient semblance to a human creature to check a box on a mail-in ballot.


* No, I'm not on marijuana. It doesn't even work on me. I'm naturally this way.

"Trump weighs firing FBI chief..." "Trump aims for adulation..." — the Washington Post reports on the inside of Trump's head.

I feel a little embarrassed for the Washington Post, embarrassed and disgusted. They flaunt their disregard for journalistic standards with front page headlines that state — as if it were verified fact — what's going on in Trump's psyche. These are front page headlines right now:

1. 1. "Trump aims for adulation. Biden goes virtual. The two are running vastly different presidential campaigns." The facts here are that Trump is doing rallies, while Biden is staying out of view. "Trump has been spending heaps of cash staging crowded rallies designed to motivate his most fervent fans...." Where is the evidence that Trump is seeking "adulation" as opposed to simply trying to win the election using a method that has worked in the past and that he's good at? The rallies are shown on TV, and it's free coverage, so, like paid advertising, it's a way to reach people who are holed up at home. WaPo is gratuitously inserting the popular Trump-is-a-narcissist theory into its news headline. 

2. "Trump weighs firing FBI chief after election amid frustration with Wray, Barr." Does WaPo know Trump is weighing firing Christopher A. Wray and that he's frustrated with him? The article — based on unnamed "people familiar with the matter" — says there have been repeated discussions. I assume the sources were not present for the discussions but somehow in a position to have heard about them — otherwise WaPo would put it more strongly than "people familiar with the matter." This material is at the top of an article that eventually gets around to material about Hunter Biden's laptop. I'm thinking the trip into Trump's mind — for the weighing and frustration — was developed to distract readers from the real news that had to be put in the paper. If we keep reading, we see this:

Is that "Borat" sequence with Giuliani "revenge porn"?

I didn't get around to the Giuliani story yesterday. I'd put a lid on my blogging at 12:56 PM when I finished my podcast and got to work painting my closet. I hadn't even thought about the display of video, recorded with hidden cameras in a private hotel room, edited into movie, and presented as out-of-context clips/stills to stun/shock/outrage/delight the people of the entire world. But sitting down to blog this morning, I thought: revenge porn

Do we accept that the rules of life in American society today include video recording private behavior and selecting the most revealing moment to put on the internet for everyone to see? If what Sacha Baron Cohen did is accepted, then why can't everyone set up a little camera in their hotel/bedroom and lure someone into that space and see if they get something that they're interested in putting on the internet? This could be used to hurt any person.

Quite aside from the ethics of treating other people this way, the trick — which the clever man Sacha Baron Cohen did not invent — has been enough of a problem over the years that laws — criminal laws — have been passed. Googling "giuliani" and "revenge porn," I found these tweets:
I contemplated whether Maria de la Torre might be a pseudonymous comedian (like Titania McGrath), but no, I think she's this college professor. A professor can still use humor, but I think she's at least partly serious. The idea that criminal law protects only the victims you view as good people is legally wrong and blatantly unethical. And by the way, it's an idea that was used to allow rapists to escape conviction! 

Giuliani might not want to argue that what was done to him was revenge porn. It's inconsistent with his assertion that nothing happened — he was just tucking in his shirt. 

I have not research the revenge-porn issue in any depth, and I assume Sacha Baron Cohen has his legal advisers and the scene was planned with an interruption that occurred exactly where it needed to end to preserve the argument that it was not a violation of criminal statutes. But I do think it is a violation of social norms to lure a person into an intimate encounter for the purpose of recording compromising video. And yet, it's a practice as old as photography, and there's a long list of political figures who've been tricked and disempowered this way.

Oh! That reminds me! Today's the day the Ghislaine Maxwell deposition is coming out. So much sexual exposure this week. 

October 21, 2020

At the Deep Blue Café...


... you can write about whatever you want.

"Fixing a hole."


It's a podcast about the posts of the day — with digressions and expansions. 

Topics: "Will Trump win, Facebook censors Babylon Bee, Megyn Kelly insults Michael Savage, WaPo covers Biden blandly, Covid less deadly lately, random Amazon weirdness, Black people supporting Trump, the female Toobin."

What if a woman had been caught — like Jeffrey Toobin — masturbating on camera during a Zoom business call?

This is my second burning-a-witch-at-the-stake post of the day... and I did not go looking for more witch-burning material. It fell on me in the normal course of blogging. 

I'm reading "Rose McGowan slams Jeffrey Toobin defenders amid ‘#MeToobin’ scandal" (NY Post): 
“Can you all imagine if a conservative woman was caught masturbating on an @zoom meeting like #MeToobin? If it had been a liberal woman? If it had been a [woman of color]?” the #MeToo activist wrote Tuesday on Twitter. 
Responding to another Twitter user, she mused, “Do you think there’d be liberal ‘intellectuals’ rising to defend her? She’d be burned at the stake.

Really? I think if a woman mishandling her computer camera exposed herself accidentally, there would be tremendous sympathy and an immediate understanding that it would not be talked about — about like what you'd do if you walked in on someone using the toilet. If the circumstances indicated that she was intentionally exhibiting herself — could that have been the case with Toobin? — then I think people would regard her as having a very serious mental problem and would close ranks around her and try to protect and help her. In either case — accidental or intentional — I don't think a woman would have been as badly treated as Toobin — who has been ruthlessly ridiculed and humiliated.

"When it comes to black people you see who maybe are showing support for Trump, I think it’s because Trump is actually talking to young black male voters."

"He’s directing ads toward them. They are a group that never get courted. Black people don’t get courted either as a whole. But that old Democratic regime speaks to old black men and they think everybody else in the black community and black families are going to fall in line. Trump is targeting young black males in promos and marketing. It works."

Said Charlamagne Tha God — who says he's voting for Biden (because of Harris) — quoted in "Charlamagne tha God: I understand why black voters are drawn to Trump" (NY Post).

When Charlamagne Tha God had Biden on his show last May, Biden uttered the unforgettable line: "Well, I tell you what, if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black."

Small hole repair.

I needed to buy some 3M High Strength Small Hole Repair, and I got sidetracked into reading the question and answer section at Amazon. This is the most up-voted exchange: 
Question: How many calories does this have? I am looking for an alternative to cream cheese? 

Answer: 1 tbsp of 3M patch plus has about 30 calories. This is slightly less than 1 tbsp of whipped cream cheese which has about 35 calories. The textures are very similar and it makes great substitute, though there is a slight grittiness from the "nanotechnology". This nanotechnology, a secret ingredient not listed on 3 M's label, a is claimed by competitor company Red Devil to be "little balls of glass". While glass itself is not toxic, it can create a mild constipation such as you might have experienced when eating mud pies or sand cookies.

It's always nice to stumble into a backwater of weird Amazon.  

"Two new peer-reviewed studies are showing a sharp drop in mortality among hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The drop is seen in all groups..."

"... including older patients and those with underlying conditions, suggesting that physicians are getting better at helping patients survive their illness.... Patients in the study had a 25.6% chance of dying at the start of the pandemic; they now have a 7.6% chance.... Doctors around the country say that they're doing a lot of things differently in the fight against COVID-19 and that treatment is improving.... Doctors have gotten better at quickly recognizing when COVID-19 patients are at risk of experiencing blood clots or debilitating 'cytokine storms,' where the body's immune system turns on itself...." 

How The Washington Post is keeping up with the news about Joe Biden.

This — this!!! — is on the front page:
From the article — here — we learn that Jill Biden "prioritizes a nicely set table" and that requires candles, the Biden family likes pasta and chicken pot pie, and that dinner is — get this — "a tradition" in the Biden family. Moreover, to "splurge," Jill likes a martini and french fries, while Joe, "who doesn’t drink, famously devours ice cream cones." His "ice cream obsession" makes him "relatable."

Their "pantry" is "stocked with staples familiar to shoppers of suburban grocery stores... including peanut butter and grape jelly, sliced deli cheese, eggs and Haagen-Dazs ice cream." Mmm. You might want to put some of that stuff in the refrigerator. Ice cream in the freezer. I guess they weren't expecting anyone to actually read this bilge. Pantry, indeed. Oh, guess what? In the Biden family, they like apples and red grapes... and low-fat yogurt. Jill does all the cooking — "she enjoys it, especially with her family around, music on and a glass of wine by the stove."  

To be fair to The Washington Post, there are 2 other Biden-related items on the front page:

Megyn Kelly calls Michael Savage an "absolute douchebag."

2 questions of balance: 1. Does Amy Coney Barrett weigh as much as a duck, and 2. Is Facebook applying its anti-violence policy equally to conservatives and liberals?

Regular readers know I'm not a fan of the Babylon Bee website. I don't think it's original or sophisticated enough, but I very much want the big social media platforms to apply their various content-related policies with neutrality as to viewpoint. They ought to test any censorship of the right by asking whether if the equivalent material were presented by the left, they'd do the same thing. 

I'm reading a Fox News article about Facebook's decision to censor a Babylon Bee piece titled "Senator Hirono Demands ACB Be Weighed Against A Duck To See If She Is A Witch." The fictional quote from Hirono is: "Oh, she's a witch alright, just look at her! Just look at the way she's dressed and how she's so much prettier and smarter than us! She's in league with Beelzebub himself, I just know it! We must burn her!" And: "In addition to being a Senator, I am also quite wise in the ways of science. Everyone knows witches burn because they are made of wood. I think I read that somewhere. Wood floats, and so do ducks-- so logically, if Amy Coney Barrett weighs as much as this duck I found in the reflection pool outside, she is a witch and must be burned.'" 

The threat of burning and the verbal image of burning a human being — a specific, famous person — is violent. It's certainly not a true threat, because witch burning is a familiar trope in American discourse and because, if somehow we're confused about whether literal witch burning is a possibility, we can be confident that Barrett weighs significantly more than a duck.

Babylon Bee CEO Seth Dillon tweets: "So after a manual review, Facebook says they stand by their decision to pull down this article and demonetize our page... They say this article 'incites violence.' It's literally a regurgitated joke from a Monty Python movie! In what universe does a fictional quote as part of an obvious joke constitute a genuine incitement to violence? How does context not come into play here? They're asking us to edit the article and not speak publicly about internal content reviews. Oops, did I just tweet this?" 

I'm not impressed by the "regurgitated Monty Python" argument. Not everyone knows the movie. I saw it long ago but didn't remember this part, which actually isn't a good reference point if the aim is to make Hirono look stupid and wrong. Watch:

There, you see that the character who proposes the duck-weight test is attempting to devise a method of convincing the mob that the woman is not a witch. So the Bee lacks originality — cutting and pasting text from a movie script — and it isn't even very good at selecting what text to use.

But Facebook doesn't have a policy against unoriginality, inapt quoting, and lame humor. Facebook teems with that stuff. The question is whether equivalent violent language — with reference to a real person — is censored the same way when it is posted by non-conservatives. I don't know the answer, but if Dillon wants to make an argument that works on me, he needs to point to similar things from the other side that Facebook has not targeted.

10 signs Trump will win again.

I'm reading "A Trump 'surprise' victory is in the offing -- here are the 10 tea leaves pointing to it/Just as in 2016, there are tea leaves, if you will, indicating that President Trump will win again" by Tom Del Beccaro (at Fox News). 

I'll just give you one of the 10 items. This is about Florida: 
In 2008, Democrats held nearly a 700,000 voter registration advantage and Barack Obama carried the state by 236,148 votes. By 2012 that advantage slipped to 558,272 registrations and Obama won there by 74,309 votes. 
In 2016, Democrats had a 327,483 registration advantage and Trump carried the state by 112,991 votes. Now the Democrats' voter registration advantage is down nearly 200,000 to just a 134,242 lead, which Politico called a “historic low.”...

October 20, 2020

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

"Anatomy lesson."


Podcast topics today: "Toobin’s transgression, narwhal pardon, naked parody, trust-busting, Rush the Stoic, this hidden wellspring of spit, nude man in the forest, and Hunter Biden and the subjectivity of truth."

"Facebook and Twitter's frantic attempts to stop the spread of the New York Post's Hunter Biden story didn't prevent the article from becoming the top story about the election on those platforms last week."

Axios reports. 

I like this quote:
"This gets at the fundamental question that we're facing in 2020 of what is truth, what is information and how does a platform like Twitter or Facebook evaluate truth?" Bryce Webster-Jacobsen of cyber intelligence firm GroupSense tells Axios. "Nudity and terrorism and violence — those are pretty objective measures. Truth is much more subjective."

That's especially funny on the Althouse blog today, which began with a post about the subjective assessment of nudity on Instagram. 

"On the way to the game camera, I hear a 'hey.' Of course, me being by myself in the woods not thinking anybody else is anywhere around, it startled me, shocked me."

"I hear, 'I’m naked,' and I looked down and he’s standing there in the middle of the creek. He’s not wearing anything at all."

Said Casey Sanders, quoted in "Video goes viral after hunter finds naked man in woods" (WGN9), a story from 2014 that I ran across today.
After a couple of minutes questioning the man, trying to determine if his mental state was stable enough to approach, the man told Sanders he had been drinking creek water and eating rotten crab apples. He then asked the hunter if he had anything to drink.... For the next hour, Sanders helped the man out of the woods....

Why am I reading that today? Well, I was looking for an image — hopefully something in the high art category — that would fit the phrase "naked man in the woods." Most of the hits were about this video, though I did find this relatively nice painting by Edvard "The Scream" Munch:

But, you may wonder, why is Althouse looking for a high-art representation of a naked man in the woods. It's a long story, and, surprisingly enough, it has nothing to do with Jeffrey Toobin. It's too complicated to explain though. It has something to do with the definition of the word "fuck" that I was given by my sister when I was very young and that I lived with for a few years. A simple tableau: a man and a woman naked in the woods. That became a reference point in a discussion when we needed to make fun of a man with a name that rhymes with "fuck." 

There. Don't you love incomplete explanations?!

AND: This post is for all you commenters who are saying Althouse needs to write about Hunter — Hunter Finds Naked Man in Woods.

"A team of researchers in the Netherlands has discovered what may be a set of previously unidentified organs: a pair of large salivary glands..."

"... lurking in the nook where the nasal cavity meets the throat. If the findings are confirmed, this hidden wellspring of spit could mark the first identification of its kind in about three centuries. Any modern anatomy book will show just three major types of salivary glands: one set near the ears, another below the jaw and another under the tongue. 'Now, we think there is a fourth,' said Dr. Matthijs Valstar, a surgeon and researcher at the Netherlands Cancer Institute and an author on the study, published last month in the journal Radiotherapy and Oncology."

The NYT reports. I need to make a new tag for this: anatomy. I've got a lot of old posts that can take this tag, but I hadn't made it before.

Perhaps this new structure could have something to do with the mystery of the loss of the sense of smell, something I wish researchers were more interested in.

"You know, I’ve loved to point out we all only get one life. We don’t get a do-over in the… Well, we do. Actually, we get a do-over every day if we choose to look at it that way."

"Once we’re old enough and mature enough to understand what life is and that there is only one, then you do get do-overs, an opportunity to fix what you think you might not have done so well the day before, which is an operative philosophy of mine. But the fact that I have that option and that opportunity compared to where I thought I would be at this time? I mean, that’s 'go get the hallelujah chorus and have ’em start singing to me,' because that’s exactly where this is — and the future? Far more optimistic than pessimistic, attitudinally, to me, because of the support systems I have, the people that are helping me, family. Ooh! Anyway, that’s it."

Said Rush Limbaugh at the end of his long opening monologue yesterday, in which he revealed that after getting his stage 4 lung cancer last January, he did not think he'd live to October.
It was hopeless. It was absolutely hopeless. Yet a treatment regimen was begun, and the first two of them failed. (chuckling) I mean, big-time failed. The third one? Magic! It worked. That’s where we were able, over the course of months, to render the cancer dormant.
But there some news now that the cancer has progressed.

The article about Jeffrey Toobin that I want to read.

Maybe I'm just not trying assiduously enough. (I'm only saying "assiduously" so you won't be distracted by wondering if I'm making puns.) But I can't find what I'm looking for. It's difficult to get past all the things that restate allegations I already know and present them as weird, confounding, and way out of line with anything in human nature that we can understand. 

What I would like to read is something that fits Toobin's behavior into human nature that we can understand. And by "Toobin's behavior," I mean the behavior understood both as a mistake and as deliberate. Either he intended his self-touching to be on camera or he didn't. The nakedness and self-touching, I'm assuming, was intentional.

I invite discussion of the question whether other people — perhaps lots of other people — are reacting to the extended lockdown and the use of remote video-conferencing by indulging in transgressions beyond the camera frame, which tends to show only the upper body. Is it so strange to imagine participating naked from the waist down? I believe I've heard late-night comedy hosts — who sit behind desks — joke "I'm not wearing pants." The idea and even the reality of Zooming while pantsless — it's not unique to Jeffrey Toobin, is it? 

Actually masturbating is a major escalation beyond the silly comfort of pantlessness, so there is that, but, again, I invite you to discuss the topic. (Or is the word "masturbating" being used to describe the mere grasping of one's naked erect penis?)

Many Zoomers — including, I think, Toobin — are using laptop computers, and this creates a risk of repositioning the camera. You might close the lid as a way to end your participation, creating a brief view of your lower body before the camera shuts off. This could explain what Toobin calls a "mistake."

We also need to consider whether a person — perhaps Toobin — is actually excited by giving his interlocutors a quick glimpse — that it's exhibitionism. A person might derive kinky pleasure from flashing a quick glimpse of his nakedness. A person — perhaps Toobin — might think: They'll wonder What the hell am I seeing? No way! He may trust that they won't do anything about it. They'll just think: Oh, poor Jeffrey, so embarrassing. We'll all just pretend we didn't see that

If Jeffrey — or whoever — thinks like that, he could also progress to thinking something more like: I am free! I can do this and get away with it! They'll all pretend they didn't see! And then he chooses to do it, for the fun, for the transgression, for the liberation from boredom.

I'm not recommending this line of thought and behavior, just trying to think how could he? Just thinking like a novelist... and like a person with a moral compunction against singling out one person and treating him like he's way off the norm. A sympathetic reading of a person demands that we see his actions as recognizable human behavior.

"The Justice Department plans to accuse Google of maintaining an illegal monopoly over search and search advertising in a lawsuit to be filed on Tuesday..."

"... the government’s most significant legal challenge to a tech company’s market power in a generation, according to officials at the agency. In its suit, to be filed in a federal court in Washington, D.C., the agency will accuse Google, a unit of Alphabet, of illegally maintaining its monopoly over search through several exclusive business contracts and agreements that lock out competition, said the officials, who were not authorized to speak on the record. Such contracts include Google’s payment of billions of dollars to Apple to place the Google search engine as the default for iPhones... By using contracts to maintain its monopoly, competition and innovation has suffered, the suit with argue.... The lawsuit may stretch on for years and could set off a cascade of other antitrust lawsuits from state attorneys general.... The lawsuit will likely outlast the Trump administration itself. The government’s case against Microsoft took more than a decade to settle.... While it is possible that a new Democratic administration would review the strategy behind the case, some experts said it was unlikely that it would be withdrawn under new leadership."

Instagram censored a photo that was a parody of another photo that it did not censor.

You'd think the parody picture is more justified, since it's parody. It adds humor value. It comments on something that is already on the platform. And it's the creative work of the woman in the picture.


Obviously, the image is on Instagram now, so let's read about the controversy, here, in a column by Lacey-Jade Christie, at The Guardian:
On Friday, Australian comedic juggernaut Celeste Barber...

Oh? She's a juggernaut? I go over to her page and click "follow."

... posted the latest in her #CelesteChallengeAccepted series of parody images to her audience of 7.3 million: a side-by-side photo of her imitating a post from former Victoria’s Secret model Candice Swanepoel... ... Instagram wouldn’t let fans share Barber’s post, notifying some users that it “goes against our community guidelines on nudity or sexual activity”. Swanepoel’s post, meanwhile, went unreported.... Barber [says] Instagram has apologised, saying their images were mistakenly censored. [She is] now working with the platform to help update their guidelines for the future. 

If you read that whole article, you'll see there's a lot of speculation that Instagram is censoring bodies that are not thin — that there's "fat-shaming" going on. 

I'm thinking that a lot of what is happening is automatic, based on users reporting a picture as a violation. The photo of Swanepoel is conventionally pleasing with artistic lighting and a serene expression. The mind remains calm. She's simply lovely. La la la. Nothing to complain about. The photo of Barber is — as Barber intended — quite rousing. I think it's hilarious, a commentary on the bullshit that is the Swanepoel photograph. Barber engages the mind, makes you feel critical. With a roused mind, you may think, hey, that's wrong. Something bad is going on. It makes me uneasy. People who have that reaction may hit the complaint button. 

Another explanation is that the breast is more covered in the Swanepoel picture. In Barber's parody, the hand is in the same position, but the overflow of breast is more extensive. And Barber's fingers seem to be grasping, while Swanepoel's fingers are gracefully at rest. Now, compare the faces. There's much more of a sense that Barber is pleasuring herself, while Swanepoel is merely absorbing the fading rays of the sunset. That is, there could be a neutral policy that Barber violates and Swanepoel does not. 

I'm still all for Barber in this dispute. I think she's hilarious. But I'm not buying the Guardian's fat-shaming theory. In fact, The Guardian is kind of fat-shaming! I don't think Barber is fat.

October 19, 2020

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can write about anything you want.

"Queen Elizabeth II has approved a rare royal pardon for an inmate convicted of murder who used a narwhal tusk to help stop a terrorist attack..."

"... in which two people were killed before the assailant was killed by the police on London Bridge. The decision to pardon the murderer, Steven Gallant, was in recognition of 'his exceptionally brave actions,' which 'helped save people’s lives despite the tremendous risk to his own,' a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice said in a statement on Monday. If a parole board approves, Mr. Gallant’s minimum 17-year sentence would be reduced by 10 months. The attack in November 2019 began at a prisoner rehabilitation conference... Mr. Gallant, who was imprisoned in 2005, was among a crowd of people who banded together to take the assailant down with an unconventional weapon: the narwhal tusk, which had been a wall decoration at Fishmongers’ Hall, the historic building that hosted the conference. He was in the hall for the day on a prison day-release program when he heard noises and saw injured people."

Here's my post from the time of the incident.

"The New Yorker has suspended reporter Jeffrey Toobin... because he exposed himself during a Zoom call last week between members of the New Yorker and WNYC radio."

"Toobin said in a statement to Motherboard: 'I made an embarrassingly stupid mistake, believing I was off-camera. I apologize to my wife, family, friends and co-workers. I believed I was not visible on Zoom. I thought no one on the Zoom call could see me. I thought I had muted the Zoom video".... 'Jeff Toobin has asked for some time off while he deals with a personal issue, which we have granted,' CNN said in a statement."

Vice reports, referring to this as the "Zoom Dick Incident."

Who believes he thought he was off camera? Even if he thought he had "muted the Zoom video," how could he not make absolutely sure before bringing his penis out and why would that be something he'd do during a Zoom call anyway?!

ADDED: The headline at The Washington Post is "The New Yorker suspends writer Jeffrey Toobin after accidental Zoom exposure," and the highest rated comment is: "How do you know it was 'accidental'? Wouldn't more neutral language be to just say he exposed himself and quote him as saying it was inadvertent? Isn't it for the investigation to determine whether it was an 'accident' or not?" 

AND: There's an update — a hell of an update — at Vice now: "This piece has been updated with more detail about the call and the headline has been updated to reflect that Toobin was masturbating."

"New morning."


A podcast in which I read the text of the blog and expand and digress. Topics: Freeway privilege, Dylan’s New Morning, a rapped confession, water for a blood bath, Trump wants suburban women, voting without cognition, voting with hatred.

"Some meaningful number of voters who are clear-eyed about Trump and his manifest failures—even those who think he is plainly doing a bad job—will stick with the president..."

"... because they believe Democrats are worse and the media aren’t to be trusted. And these aren’t voters who are glued to Fox News and reading Breitbart News. Often they don’t think about politics at all—and they certainly don’t follow the daily machinations of Washington. They’re typically not on Twitter. Instead they swim in a cultural soup of Trumpism, surrounded by friends, family, and social-media acquaintances who do live more exclusively in a right-wing-media ecosystem. Even if Biden pulls off a landslide victory, that ecosystem will remain. And so will the dislike of Democrats and distrust of the mainstream media. Getting rid of Trump won’t end the opposition’s problems."

Yes, it will be interesting to see what these people do if Trump is cut off after one term. I'm thinking something like the Tea Party will reconfigure itself, but also that much less polite people — having seen how aggressively Trump was torn apart every day of his entire term — will treat Biden just as harshly. 

If you knew you had dementia, would you refrain from voting? If you were caring for a person with dementia, would you refrain from helping them vote?

I would answer yes and yes, but I'm reading "Having Dementia Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Vote/Yes, you can help a cognitively impaired person participate in the election. But heed these two guidelines" in the NYT. 
The Census Bureau has reported that more than 23 million American adults — close to 10 percent — have conditions limiting mental functioning, including learning and intellectual disabilities and Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.... Many will be effectively disenfranchised.... Workers in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, as well as family members, may refuse to assist impaired voters because they believe that dementia disqualifies them. It doesn’t. A diagnosis of cognitive impairment does not bar someone from voting. Voters need pass no cognitive tests. They don’t have to be able to name the candidates or explain the issues.

Not everything is controlled by law. There is also a realm of ethics. Getting votes from people who don't understand what they are doing is rather obviously ethically wrong. The law is the way it is to keep the authorities from unfairly excluding people in a country where tests were once used in order to exclude black people. But there are many people who don't know what they're doing and they shouldn't be urged to vote. It's ethically correct for them to take themselves out of a choice-making activity that they don't understand. And it is ethically wrong to use an older person to collect a vote for the candidate that you want to win. 

The article ends with the conclusion of one personal story:

On Oct. 8, after considerable discussion, Judith Kozlowski helped her father make his selections. He allowed her to disclose that, after a lifetime of voting Republican, this time he had voted for Joseph R. Biden Jr....

"The women come up to me, the women who they say don’t like me, they actually do like me a lot. Suburban women, please vote for me."

"I’m saving your house. I’m saving your community. I’m keeping your crime way down. I keep hearing, you know, it’s all fake stuff. Remember they said last time about women. Women will never vote.... Then the end of the evening, they’re all crying. Oh my God, what happened?...  They want to... destroy your suburbs. I say that to the women because I keep hearing. They said, 'The women from the suburbs.' No, I think the women from the suburbs are looking for a couple of things. One of them is safety. One of them is good, strong security. And one of them is they don’t want to have low-income housing built next to their house. And you know, who makes up 30% of your suburbs? Minorities. African Americans. Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, minorities. Okay? People think, 'Is it racist?' It’s not racist. It’s the opposite. I’ve had people come to me and say, 'Thank you so much.' But they keep talking about the women from the suburbs. I say, 'I think we’re going to have a big resounding, "What the hell happened with women to the suburbs? They really like Trump a lot."' Only vote for me if you’re a woman from the suburbs....But it’s interesting because I really think that women from the suburbs are going to like Trump, because it is about safety. It is about safety. And when you see what happens in our cities, where they run and ransack. They’re anarchists. And you know what? They actually say the suburbs are next. And just so you know, it’s so important. These are Democrat-run states and cities.... Biden supports cutting police funding, abolishing cash bail. You’ve got a murder. Oh, let’s let them out. Oh, let’s let them walk the street. You see what’s happening in New York? What they’re doing to New York, our governor, what he’s doing to New York is horrible. And he called law enforcement, Sleepy Joey called law enforcement, recently, 'the enemy.' No, no. Law enforcement has done an incredible job."

Said Donald Trump in Carson City, Nevada yesterday. Transcript.

"Blood bath."

I'm reading "Has Trump Drawn the Water for a ‘Republican Blood Bath’?/And if he has, what should Biden do with his first term?" (NYT), a conversation between Gail Collins and Bret Stephens, which ends:
Bret: Oh, and speaking of the Senate: Did you hear Nebraska’s Ben Sasse tear into Trump during that phone call with his constituents? Too little, too late, in my view, though it’s always nice to hear what Republicans really think of their favorite president. 
Gail: Yeah, thanks to Sasse we can point to a sitting senator from his own party who accused him of screwing up the coronavirus crisis, cozying up to dictators and white supremacists and drawing the water for a “Republican blood bath.” Can’t get much better than that. Catch you again next week, Bret. God knows what will have happened by then.

I'm thinking — do you draw water for a blood bath? Just taking the metaphor seriously — and I'll put to the side the violence of the imagery — isn't the liquid for a blood bath blood

A "blood bath" is, in its oldest figurative meaning, according to the OED, "A battle or fight at which much blood is spilt; a wholesale slaughter, a massacre." Figurative in the sense of "bath." The blood is real blood. That goes back to 1843. The fully figurative meaning — "A dramatic loss or heavy defeat" — with both the bath and the blood as metaphor — is traced back only to 1967. 

Strangely enough, there is a nonmetaphorical meaning that predates all that — "A bath in warm blood taken as a tonic or form of medical treatment"! 
1834 London Med. Gaz. 22 Feb. 813 (heading) On blood-baths... According to a dark tradition,..the ancient kings of Egypt used to bathe in human blood when they were seized with leprosy. 
1895 Cincinnati Med. Jrnl. May 380/2 Although French doctors do not often prescribe these forms of treatment, ‘blood baths’ are not infrequently used....
I would like you to speak to the medical doctors to see if there’s any way that you can take a blood bath to cure the coronavirus. You know? If you could? And maybe you can, maybe you can’t. Again, I say maybe you can, maybe you can’t. I’m not a doctor. Have you ever heard of that? 

"In a music video for the song 'EDD' that was posted to YouTube on Sept. 11, Mr. Baines and another rapper, Fat Wizza, boasted about getting 'rich off of E.D.D.'..."

"... an apparent reference to the Employment Development Department. The rappers brag in the video about their 'swagger for E.D.D.' while holding stacks of E.D.D. envelopes, and about getting rich by going 'to the bank with a stack of these.' A disclaimer below the video says that it was made with props 'for entertainment purposes.' It is not clear when the disclaimer was added."

"Some critics would find the album to be lackluster and sentimental, soft in the head. Oh well. Others would triumph it as finally the old him is back. At last."

"That wasn’t saying much either. I took it all as a good sign. To be sure, the album itself had no specific resonance to the shackles and bolts that were strapping the country down, nothing to threaten the status quo. All this was in what the critics would later refer to as my 'middle period' and in many camps this record was referred to as a comeback album—and it was. It would be the first of many."

Wrote Bob Dylan in "Chronicles: Volume One" about the album "New Morning."

"New Morning" was released 50 years ago today.

For me, "New Morning" is the soundtrack of my sophomore year in college. These songs are intimately interwoven with my memories of that time. Can't you hear that rooster crowin'?

And there was that time we listened to "New Morning" in 2011.

Boxed in on the 405.

October 18, 2020

At the Sunday Night Cafe...

 ... you can write about anything you want.

"Sinking giggling into the sea."

It's the podcast:

Topics: A collective American identity, glimpsing The Beatles and Margaret Thatcher, clerisy heresy, the lion and the dromedary, and why can’t the broad left of America say "freedom."

"'Freedom' belongs almost wholly to the right. They talk about it incessantly and insist on a link between economic freedom and political freedom..."

"... positing that the latter is impossible without the former.... [T]he broad left in America has let all this go unchallenged for decades, to the point that today’s right wing — and it is important to call it that and not conservative, which it is not — can defend spreading disease, potentially killing other people, as freedom. It is madness. One thing Democrats in general aren’t very good at is defending their positions on the level of philosophical principle. This has happened because they’ve been on the philosophical defensive since Ronald Reagan came along. Well, it’s high time they played some philosophical offense, especially on an issue, wearing masks, on which every poll shows broad majorities supporting their view. Say this: Freedom means the freedom not to get infected by the idiot who refuses to mask up."  

Does the "broad left in America" — to use Tomasky's interesting term — really value freedom? Or is he suggesting that they use it only because it may make an impact on right wingers — don't call them conservatives! — who value freedom and don't wear masks as much as it seems they should? Notice Tomasky says left-wingers ought to use the concept of freedom offensively. He seems to mean that they ought to make noise about the limits on freedom, defining "freedom" to exclude whatever hurts someone else's interests. That is showing enthusiasm for the limits on freedom, not for freedom itself. Alternatively, Tomasky might mean that left-liberals ought to use the word "freedom" when saying what they want for themselves — things like safety and peace of mind — as they limit the freedom of others. 

But I don't think left-wingers these days like to say "freedom." That's why Tomasky has to go out of his way to prod them into saying it.

By the way, I like that he's writing about masks when "mask" is part of his name — Tomasky.

And do wear your mask when you go to an indoor public places or you're in an outdoor area where you can't be sure to keep more than 6 feet from everyone else. Do it to minimize harm to others! 

They've covered the popular "Lion Attacking a Dromedary” diorama at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh — do you see why?

Here's the article in USA Today: 
The museum’s interim director says the scene... has disturbed some because it depicts violence against a man described as an Arab courier.

Wait! Is the human figure a taxidermied human being?! 

The director, Stephen Tonsor, also says recent X-rays showed that the 1860s-era taxidermy was performed with real human bones from an unknown person. Tonsor says the museum’s ethics policy requires that any human remains respect the person’s cultural traditions and be done with permission “of the people whose remains are displayed.”

I replaced the dramatically lit photo from the newspaper with the Creative Commons image at Wikipedia (by Mike Steele), which shows the human figure much more clearly. Let's read more detail at Wikipedia:

Clerisy heresy.

I'm reading "An Ex-Liberal Reluctantly Supports Trump/How historian Fred Siegel came to appreciate the president’s defense of ‘bourgeois values’ against the ‘clerisy’" by Tunku Varadarajan (WSJ). 
[Fred Siegel] sees [President Trump] as a champion of "bourgeois values," under threat from the "clerisy," Mr. Siegel's word for the dominant elites who "despise" those values. He regards Mr. Biden as a "captive" of this clerisy, and running mate Kamala Harris as the "embodiment of it."...
By 2012... Mr. Siegel had developed an exceedingly low opinion of President Obama, whom he describes as "a faux intellectual with preacher's cadences and an academic veneer." In his opinion, "the worst thing" about Mr. Obama was "his effect on race relations. We couldn't have the cold civil war we have now without Obama, because he, in a very cunning way, exacerbated all of our racial tensions." 
Under Mr. Obama, Mr. Siegel says, "racial grievance" took on a "new legitimacy, and it came from a president talking in asides, and saying things between the lines. He didn't push back against anything, not even against the idea that Michael Brown said 'Hands up, don't shoot' in Ferguson [Mo.], which was just a fabrication."... 
"Ferguson allowed Ivy League grads to assert their 'natural leadership,' in opposition to lowlife cops and guys with pickup trucks -- again, the deplorables." In Mr. Siegel's understanding, wokeism holds that "the important truths are already known, and that the American aristocracy has to impose those truths on the country." These are "given positions" -- irrefutable and sacrosanct. Wokeism, he says, is a "perilous threat" to America and particularly to the First Amendment. "It says we don't need debate. We don't need free speech. We don't need freedom of religion. We need to obey."...