January 16, 2021

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk 'til dawn.

"Adnan Oktar... a Muslim televangelist and cult leader... proselytised about religion while scantily clad women bopped robotically beside him."

"He and his followers had connections and influence stretching across the world.... The core female members were called 'kittens' and the men 'lions,' and many were recruited from powerful and wealthy families. The local tabloids loved it: an Islamic 'sex cult' run by Istanbul’s Hugh Hefner with a few Quranic verses thrown in. But, after a trial that has gripped Turkey, Oktar’s organisation... been shown to have committed serious crimes and destroyed the lives of many members. In an 480-page indictment prosecutors laid out charges including sexual abuse, fraud and organised crime that reached deep into Turkey’s elite.... Their message of religious understanding and liberal values resonated with [one woman who escaped the group after 10 years]. In it she found another option to the secularism common in her social class. Soon, the group edged out her old friends and her family. 'They were like best friends around me,' she said. 'I mean, they were taking a lot of care of me. They make you feel like you’re indebted to them, so you want to do something in return. Slowly your reality starts getting distorted. Very slowly, not fast. It’s not like "OK, you joined us, now you can’t go out any more."'"

"The Cornish hotel flying a flag for QAnon’s cult delusion/Conspiracy theories spawned in America are taking hold in unexpected corners of British society."

 Reports the London Times.

The Camelot Castle Hotel in Tintagel, Cornwall, may be themed on Arthurian legends but the flag flown over its tower last year stood for a more modern myth.... Guests at the hotel, which displays a Q flag, said that the owner left conspiracy theory material in their bedrooms.... 
Since Mr Mappin, heir to the Mappin and Webb jewellery business, which holds a Royal Warrant, hoisted a Q flag above the battlements of Camelot Castle Hotel last January he has hosted a regular video broadcast called Camelot TV. 
In a coded message on Wednesday to his 20,000 subscribers, he likened QAnon to an oak tree. “If the roots are strong, all will be well in the spring . . . 2021 is all about the rebirth of our civilisation,” he said. 
Oh, come on. That's got to be an intentional reference to "Being There":

"Justice Sotomayor opens her dissent in U.S. v. Dustin Higgs by saying the names of every person executed by the federal government over the past year."

Sister Helen Prejean continues her summary, here, at Twitter, but here's the full text of the dissent, issued yesterday. Excerpt: 

"A Capitol Police lieutenant was suspended for wearing a MAGA cap during the Jan. 6 riots but told his colleagues he did it to get fellow officers out of harm's way."

"If you took the fact out that he is the president of the United States and look at the conduct of the call, it tracks the communication you might see in any drug case or organized crime case. It’s full of threatening undertone and strong-arm tactics."

"Senate Democrats could vote to abolish the legislative filibuster, and then pass Biden’s plan on a party-line basis."

"But West Virginia senator Joe Manchin has vowed to keep the filibuster in place. In effect, this means that all regular legislation will need 60 votes to clear the Senate. The only exception to this rule are bills passed through the budget-reconciliation process, which enables legislation pertaining to the federal budget to pass the upper chamber with a simple majority.... [I]t’s hard to see how Biden could really believe there are 10 GOP votes for a $15 minimum wage, or $350 billion in fiscal aid to states, or, frankly, most of the items in his proposal. It’s possible then that this gesture toward bipartisanship is intended to fail: Perhaps, the idea is to make the GOP an offer it can’t accept — but which the voting public overwhelmingly supports — and then say, 'Well, we tried for unity but those Republicans wouldn’t even support the $15 minimum wage that red state voters are clamoring for, so we’re just going to roll everything into one giant, partisan reconciliation bill.' Alternatively Biden may simply be making an opening offer full of provisions he’s ready to concede for the sake of a bipartisan compromise. Regardless, the proposal strikes a weird balance between maximalism and pragmatism.... Hopefully, Biden & Co. know what they’re doing." 

A fantastic example of the problem of humor that some people are going to take for truth.

"As mayor, I will regularly get around the city by subway, bus, or bike, because that’s the way most New Yorkers get around..."

"... and that’s how I’ve been getting around for 25 years. I will build bus rapid transit networks like the 14th street busway in every borough. I will have a fully electric bus system by 2030. [inaudible 00:10:59] electric buses. New York can move our people around in a way that’s sustainable for our neighborhoods and our planet. Building this forward-thinking transit network will require municipal control of the city’s subways and buses. As mayor, I will fight to get control of our subways and buses so we can control our own destiny." 

Said Andrew Yang, announcing his candidacy for mayor of New York City.

What vision! The transportation solution for New York City is buses. Lots of buses. They'll be electric, so that's supposed to be good for the environment, but the method of getting around is the same old method. The bus! I've lived in NYC — 1973 to 1984 and 2007 to 2008 — and the last form of transportation I'd use is the bus. Maybe 3 or 4 times in the early 70s, and never again. 

The problems were not anything that would be helped by running the bus on a battery instead of gas. It was that buses were penned in by street traffic, so the wait could be terribly long and you'd know that once you get on, the ride would be slow. There you are, standing at street level, wondering why you didn't just keep walking and whether you'd be where you were going by now if you had.

January 15, 2021

A dreary sunrise...

IMG_2204 ... but it's a café nonetheless.

"There was an eerie sense of inexorability, the throngs of Trump supporters advancing up the long lawn as if pulled by a current."

"Everyone seemed to understand what was about to happen. The past nine weeks had been steadily building toward this moment. On November 7th, mere hours after Biden’s win was projected, I attended a protest at the Pennsylvania state capitol, in Harrisburg. Hundreds of Trump supporters, including heavily armed militia members, vowed to revolt. When I asked a man with an assault rifle—a 'combat-skills instructor' for a militia called the Pennsylvania Three Percent—how likely he considered the prospect of civil conflict, he told me, 'It’s coming.' Since then, Trump and his allies had done everything they could to spread and intensify this bitter aggrievement. On December 5th, Trump acknowledged, 'I’ve probably worked harder in the last three weeks than I ever have in my life.'... Militant pro-Trump outfits like the Proud Boys—a national organization dedicated to 'reinstating a spirit of Western chauvinism' in America—had been openly gearing up for major violence. In early January, on Parler, an unfiltered social-media site favored by conservatives, Joe Biggs, a top Proud Boys leader, had written, 'Every law makers who breaks their own stupid Fucking laws should be dragged out of office and hung.' On the Mall, a makeshift wooden gallows, with stairs and a rope, had been constructed near a statue of Ulysses S. Grant.... I followed a group that broke off to advance on five policemen guarding a side corridor. 'Stand down,' a man in a maga hat commanded. 'You’re outnumbered. There’s a fucking million of us out there, and we are listening to Trump—your boss.' 'We can take you out,' a man beside him warned." 

"Federal prosecutors offered an ominous new assessment of last week’s siege... saying in a court filing that rioters intended 'to capture and assassinate elected officials.'..."

"The detention memo, written by Justice Department lawyers in Arizona, goes into greater detail about the FBI’s investigation into [Jacob] Chansley, revealing that he left a note for Pence warning that 'it’s only a matter of time, justice is coming.' 'Strong evidence, including Chansley’s own words and actions at the Capitol, supports that the intent of the Capitol rioters was to capture and assassinate elected officials in the United States government,' prosecutors wrote.... 'When questioned as to the meaning of that statement, Chansley went on a lengthy diatribe describing current and past United States political leaders as infiltrators, specifically naming Vice President Mike Pence, former President Barack Obama, former Senator Hillary Clinton and U.S. President-elect Joe Biden as infiltrators involved in various types of wrongdoing,' prosecutors wrote. 'Although he stated his note was not a threat, the Government strongly disagrees.' The prosecutors’ assessment comes as prosecutors and federal agents have begun bringing more serious charges tied to violence at the Capitol.... In Chansley’s case, prosecutors said the charges 'involve active participation in an insurrection attempting to violently overthrow the United States government,' and warned that 'the insurrection is still in progress' as law enforcement prepares for more demonstrations in Washington and state capitals...."

From "'Strong evidence' suggests Capitol rioters intended to ‘capture and assassinate’ officials, US prosecutors say" (Fox News). Chansley is the rioter who's getting extra attention because he costumed himself in a fur hat and horns. He also, as the detention memo says, "has spoken openly about his belief that he is an alien, a higher being, and he is here on Earth to ascend to another reality."

"In his illuminating book 'The Ministry of Truth' a biography of '1984' and its influence, Dorian Lynskey makes a persuasive case that..."

"... the novel is structured in a way that heightens its ambiguity. Yes, the brute force of totalitarianism is an inextricable theme, but the novel’s narration — with its texts within texts — also enacts its own phantasmagoria, a world where both everything is true and nothing is true. Lynskey credits Orwell with anticipating what Hannah Arendt would describe in 'The Origins of Totalitarianism,' published a year after Orwell died: 'The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e., the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e., the standards of thought) no longer exist.'"

The top-rated comment over there is: "To accuse the opposition of being Orwellian while actually being Orwellian has become the stock and trade of the right. How Orwellian." 

Does it make sense to refer to a "biography" of a book? Well, first, it's in the book's subtitle, "The Ministry of Truth: The Biography of George Orwell's 1984." Second, "bio" means life, so we can understand the extended use of the term: It means that the book has a life. Third, I suspect the usage is explained in the book, and it's my blogging practice to buy the book in Kindle form so I can do a search when I have a question of this magnitude. 

But, wait. I'm reading the OED definition of "biography": "A written account of the life of an individual, esp. a historical or public figure; (also) a brief profile of a person's life or work. Later more generally: a themed narrative history of a specific subject in any of various written, recorded, or visual media." An example of that more general use is the 1999 book title: " H2O: a biography of water." And there's an 1848 book title: "The plant; a biography." 

So I don't have to buy the book, but I will. Such is my dedication to this blog. Here's the closest thing to an explanation for the use of the concept "biography" to refer to a book about a book:
There have been several biographies of George Orwell and some academic studies of his book’s intellectual context but never an attempt to merge the two streams into one narrative, while also exploring the book’s afterlife. I am interested in Orwell’s life primarily as a means to illuminate the experiences and ideas that nourished this very personal nightmare in which everything he prized was systematically destroyed: honesty, decency, fairness, memory, history, clarity, privacy, common sense, sanity, England, and love....

"Adolfo 'Shabba-Doo' Quiñones, who grew up dancing in a bleak public housing project in Chicago and went on to become a pioneer of street dance in the 1980s..."

"... and one of its first celebrities after appearing in the hit movie 'Breakin’,' died on Dec. 29 at his home in Los Angeles. He was 65.... He shimmied in the video for Chaka Khan’s 'I Feel for You,' and he was the choreographer and lead dancer of Madonna’s 'Who’s That Girl?' world tour in 1987. He also choreographed (and appeared in) the video for Lionel Richie’s 'All Night Long' and advised Michael Jackson on the video for 'Bad.' Us Weekly called him the 'Bob Fosse of the Streets.' 'Shabba-Doo was an absolute Los Angeles dance legend,' the rapper Ice-T... 'We throw that word around. But not anybody can say they invented an entire dance style.' Even before 'Breakin’,' Mr. Quiñones had made a mark on the dance world in the 1970s. He danced as a teenager on 'Soul Train' with an influential ensemble called the Lockers. That group... became known for its development of the 'locking' technique, typified by rhythmic, freezing dance movements...."

"Oh, hello, nice to see you, have a seat — let’s stress-eat some chips together. Let’s turn ourselves, briefly..."

"... into dusty-fingered junk-food receptacles. This will force us to stop looking, for a few minutes, at the bramble of tabs we’ve had open on our internet browsers for all these awful months: the articles we’ve been too frazzled to read about the TV shows we’ve been meaning to watch.... For nearly a year now, many of us have been locked in a controlled environment, a closed lab of selfhood: the Quarantine Institute of Applied Subjectivity. Our homes have become biodomes designed to study the fragile ecosystems of Us. All our neuroses and addictions and habits are under the microscope. Willpower, productivity, resilience, despair. We have turned into scientists of ourselves. And so I watch myself eating chips.... The chips come like ocean waves, like human breaths, serial but unique, each part of a huge eternal rhythm but also its own precious discovery.... I believe we have reached the point, in fact, where it would be shameful to leave only what’s left.... If we stop, it will end, but if we keep going, it might last forever...."

January 14, 2021

In the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk all night.

"'There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law.' Those words are as true today as when Abraham Lincoln spoke them."

"As I said last summer when mob violence gripped our streets, so I say again about the mob violence at our nation’s Capitol last week: those persons responsible should be held accountable in the courts to the full extent of the law. The House has passed an article of impeachment against the president, but the Senate under its rules and precedents cannot start and conclude a fair trial before the president leaves office next week. Under these circumstances, the Senate lacks constitutional authority to conduct impeachment proceedings against a former president."

Tom Cotton says, in a statement (which I'm quoting in full).

"The Founders designed the impeachment process as a way to remove officeholders from public office—not an inquest against private citizens. The Constitution presupposes an office from which an impeached officeholder can be removed. Fidelity to the Constitution must always remain the lodestar for our nation. Last week, I opposed the effort to reject certified electoral votes for the same reason—fidelity to the Constitution—I now oppose impeachment proceedings against a former president. Congress and the executive branch should concentrate entirely for the next week on conducting a safe and orderly transfer of power. After January 20, Congress should get on with the people’s business: improving our vaccination efforts, getting kids back to school, and getting workers back on the job."

Click on my "Tom Cotton" tag. Tom Cotton is getting a lot of things right. 

Remember the poll I had on November 23? "Trump voters only please: If you had to pick the 2024 GOP nominee right now: Trump/Tom Cotton." I said, "My poll, my options — do your own poll if you don't like the constraints." Tom Cotton looked like the most apt alternative to me at the time. And you Trump voters who answered the poll — or whoever answered the poll — chose Cotton over Trump, 55% to 45%. Let me see how that choice is holding up:

Trump voters only please: If you had to pick the 2024 GOP nominee right now:
pollcode.com free polls
ADDED: Poll results:

Biden shows no leadership... I mean... Biden tries to stay above the fray.

The NYT headline is "As Trump is impeached for a second time, Biden tries to stay above the fray."
... President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has maintained a studied cool, staying largely removed from the proceedings... Mr. Biden’s focus on the governing challenge ahead... it also underscores the contrast between his cautious, centrist approach to politics and the anger of many Democratic officials and voters over Mr. Trump’s assaults on democratic norms.

Actually, this little article is rather critical of Biden, even with that coolness spin. He's "removed," "above the fray," but is that good? Some people would like him to express hotness — anger and leftism — not this "cautious, centrist approach."

I like cool, calm centrism. My problem with Biden is that he's not imposing his restraint on his party, just standing back and standing by* as his party goes on a wild pursuit of something other than "the governing challenge ahead."

I have to give this post my "Democratic Party in Trumpland" tag. That tag should be relegated to the dustbin of the blog's archive. But the Party loves the stomping ground of Trumpland. They don't want to leave. They don't care about the dawning of Bidentime. 


 * Reference: 


Is the impeachment funny?

Karl Marx wrote that history repeats itself, "the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce." 

Is the second impeachment funny

My son John has a Facebook post reacting to the impeachment with jokes:
The most impeached president in American history! I wonder if Trump is tired of all this winning… 
Half of all impeachments of an American president have been of Trump!... 
We’re going to have impeachment, like you wouldn’t believe. A lot of people are saying he’s the best president ever at getting impeached. No one had ever heard of impeachment before Trump.
I said, "Is it funny?" 

John said, "Is it funny to turn the tables on the pompously powerful?" and I — copying the humor of "No one had ever heard of impeachment before Trump"* — said, "There are very pompously powerful people on both sides."** 

I don't want to be part of the that's-not-funny crowd, but I do wonder if those who are wielding the power — using the mechanism of government — are themselves clowning. I heard some of yesterday's speechifying, and I detected a lack of sobriety. There's a lot of political theater, and I'm wondering if this show is a farce.

Trump is almost out the door. He's being kicked as he leaves. And there's the prospect of conducting the impeachment trial after he's out of office.*** Farce?


*   Last June, Trump asserted that "nobody had ever heard of" Juneteenth before he made it "very famous."

** Reacting to the violent protests in Charlottesville in April 2017, Trump said there were "very fine people, on both sides."

***  Makes me think of this.

"Some say the riots were caused by Antifa. There was absolutely no evidence of that. And conservatives should be the first to say so...."

"The President bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding. These facts require immediate action by President Trump, accept his share of responsibility, quell the brewing unrest and ensure President elect Biden is able to successfully begin his term. The President’s immediate action also deserves congressional action, which is why I think a fact finding commission and a censure resolution would be prudent."

Said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, speaking on the House floor in yesterday's debate on the impeachment.

Trump got his message out on Twitter.

Transcript here. Excerpts: 
I want to be very clear, I unequivocally condemn the violence that we saw last week. Violence and vandalism have absolutely no place in our country and no place in our movement. Making America Great Again has always been about defending the rule of law, supporting the men and women of law enforcement and upholding our nation’s most sacred traditions and values. Mob violence goes against everything I believe in and everything our movement stands for. No true supporter of mine could ever endorse political violence.... Whether you are on the right or on the left, a Democrat or a Republican, there is never a justification for violence, no excuses, no exceptions. America is a nation of laws....

"The ability of companies such as Facebook, Twitter and Google to control what people see online is so potent, it is the subject of antitrust hearings...."

"But the decision by Amazon to push Parler off its dominant cloud-computing service illustrates just how powerful its content-moderation capabilities are as well.... [T]he companies that provide the technical infrastructure that powers websites and services where people express opinions have vast power as well, though they rarely use it. They include little-known companies that register website domains for customers; so-called content delivery networks, which can boost the speed at which webpages load; and Internet service providers, which connect homes and businesses to the Web.... [Amazon's] Amazon Web Services is the dominant provider of cloud infrastructure services, which let customers rent data storage and processing capabilities over the Web instead of running their own data centers.... [AWS's] Trust & Safety team, which has fewer than 100 workers, acts only on complaints received. In its reply to Parler’s suit, Amazon said it received reports in mid-November that the social network was 'hosting content threatening violence.'... It accused Amazon of conspiring with Twitter to take the smaller competitor offline just as it was significantly gaining users in the wake of Twitter permanently banning Trump.... 'Without AWS, Parler is finished as it has no way to get online.'" 

Here's the top-rated comment at WaPo: "If you support a baker choosing to not selling a wedding cake to a same-sex couple, then it follows you must support a company choosing not to do business with a customer that behaves in a manner contrary to the company's known parameters. As the same-sex couple was told, go find someone else to bake your cake. Parler should do the same. If they can't, perhaps it's the 'cake' they are trying to bake."

IN THE COMMENTS: MayBee takes on the cake analogy:
Parler was already on AWS. 

So the baker (aside from scale, monopoly considerations, and anti trust issues) situation would have to be more like: 

The gay couple hired the baker, paid the baker, and then on the day of the wedding the baker refused to deliver the cake. The baker, however, delivered a lot of cakes to your ex-boyfriends wedding on the same day. And then the baker announced you were dangerous.

"QAnon reshaped Trump’s party and radicalized believers. The Capitol siege may just be the start."

WaPo headline. 

Subhed: "The online conspiracy theory, which depicts Trump as a messianic warrior battling ‘deep state’ Satanists, has helped fuel a real-world militant extremism that could haunt the Biden era."

Oddly, that makes QAnon sound like the leader of the movement — QAnon, not Trump. But the impeachers portray Trump as leading an insurrection. Is Trump the evil mastermind, or more of a dupe, standing in the middle of things, thinking he's a fine leader and surprised by the violent turn taken by his adulators?

From the long article:

Another bloggiversary: This blog is 17 years old, and the record of blogging every single day is still intact.

That's 6,210 days. There have been 61,712 posts — not counting this one. An average just under 10 posts a day. There were 3,644 posts last year — again, just under 10 posts a year. You can see the number per year and per week for the 17 years in the side bar. I don't count the posts each day — or any day — to see if I'm hitting 10. 

The number of posts per day isn't a goal. I just have my way of looking around, seeing what's bloggable to me, and hanging out with the blog, mostly in the morning, until it feels done. One day, the whole thing might feel done and I'll walk away. More likely, I will ramble along until — one way or the other — I am incapacitated.

January 13, 2021

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk all night, but don't talk about the re-impeachment here. Go one post down for that. Keep Trump out of this one. This is a Trump-free safe space. Let's talk about safe spaces and other concepts that recently were big but have disappeared. A difficult topic, because who can remember what is forgotten. What's the most important thing you forgot recently? What's your favorite time of day? What songs can you think of that depict romantic love as a very casual, easy-going activity? Do those songs annoy you or were you hoping they'd influence potential partners not to be too demanding? 


Watch Trump get impeached — live.

"On the surface, it’s a little weird that digital culture in 2021 would become suddenly obsessed with 200-year-old folk songs about men on whaling boats."

They sound like prehistoric oddities, which is part of the appeal. Simplistic in structure, they are deliberately repetitive and full of ideas and references that feel very, very far from life right now. Aside from the word Wellerman, they’re full of harpoons and pierheads and the specifics of butchering whales; the most recognizable lyrics are lines about 'rounding the Cape' and the love of bonny brown-haired lasses. Sea shanties are also resiliently uncool. They’re songs about whaling and strong winds, and they sound the way a bowl of New England clam chowder looks: imprecise, sort of lumpy, and, not to put too fine a point on it, very white.... One person is the song leader, setting the pace and singing the verses, but the engine of the song is in the repeating chorus that everyone sings together over and over again. They are unifying, survivalist songs, designed to transform a huge group of people into one collective body, all working together to keep the ship afloat. Right now, it’s not safe to gather in groups. Every news story is about division, deadlock, anger, and the massive gulf between the left and the right.... It’s hard to think of a more unexpectedly appropriate musical form for a bunch of people yearning for physical (and political and spiritual) connection."

"Given the smaller number of seditious members in the Senate, McConnell’s task is far easier: Conduct a quick Senate trial; convict Trump and..."

"... ban him from future office; expel Cruz and Hawley; and then vote to censure others who tried to deny voters the president and vice president they chose. McConnell should do these things not because it is the only moral, decent course, but because he is smarter than McCarthy and knows that to do any less would starve his members of financial support and set them up for losses from pro-democracy primary challengers or Democrats. And we know one thing: McConnell is not dumb." 

Don't misread "smarter than McCarthy." I myself did a double take. That's what I get for skipping right to the end of a column. In context, it's clear that Rubin is talking about House minority leader Kevin McCarthy. 

The headline is screwy. Deadwood?!

Anyway, what you see there shows the problem of starting something. If you do one thing, as soon as you do it, people will say, you haven't done enough. You've got to do one more thing and one more thing.

Me, I liked Mike Pence's letter rejecting the use of the 25th Amendment. He set the tone I like to hear. Maturity, moderation, future-looking optimism, order, working together.... I wish Joe Biden would say something like that. Where is he in all of this anyway?

Blue morning.



Look at the top 2 best-selling books at Amazon.

List here. Orwell's "Animal Farm" ranks high too — at #18. Isn't it amazing that "1984" seems so continually relevant? I clicked into my Kindle, and it was the book that was already open. I'd been doing a search on a word — "fight" — after it came up in the context of re-impeaching Trump:

I note that the Trump quote [the Democrats included in the Article of Impeachment] did not make my list "The 7 most violence-inciting statements in Donald Trump's speech to the crowd on January 6th"! I thought "fight like hell" sounded too much like ordinary politics to make the list. We fight for our rights, we fight in political campaigns, we fight in court. Are we going to outlaw the word "fight"?! We'll be descending into Newspeak.

But it was this more general concept about Newspeak that was important — from the essay on Newspeak in the back of the book: 

"This was not a protest, this was a well-organized insurrection against our country that was organized by Donald Trump."

Said Representative Jim McGovern, Democrat of Massachusetts, Chair of the House Rules Committee, opening the debate this morning on the Article of Impeachment, quoted in "The House begins debating impeachment charge against Trump." (NYT). McGovern asserted that he looked into some people's eyes and "saw evil." I'm seeing the live vote embedded at the Times, and it is strictly along party lines...

... even though the text of the article says "Republicans were fracturing over the vote." And:

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, has embraced the effort as a means to purge Mr. Trump from the party, according to people who have spoken to him, and at least five House Republicans planned to vote to impeach.

I'm interested in seeing how the proof will be accomplished. McGovern sets a high bar in calling it "well-organized" and an "insurrection against our country" and saying that this organizing was done by Trump. 

ADDED: I'm interested in this notion that you can look into eyes and see evil. I remember how ludicrous it seemed when George W. Bush said he looked into Putin's eyes and "got a sense of his soul" — and decided he was "straightforward and trustworthy." 

But here's an article from 2011 in Scientific American, "The Eyes Have It/Eye gaze is critically important to social primates such as humans. Maybe that is why illusions involving eyes are so compelling." That's about the relatively objective issue of misperceiving where eyes are looking. Harder to study whether there is evil in there! 

Do courts allow witnesses to testify about what they feel they saw in someone's eyes? I have not researched this question, but I believe it would not be acceptable to testify "I looked into his eyes and saw pure evil." 

Why I put AdSense ads back on the blog — self-defense.

Last October, after years of taking offense at Google for sending me email telling me I had offensive material on this blog, I discontinued my participation in Google Adsense. That is, I opted out of using advertising to monetize this blog. At the time, I wrote: 
I'm tired of checking to see what's supposedly a violation. I get so many of these and they're often posts that are nothing but a quote from a commentator in the NYT. But to see that the review didn't okay these pages... it's just mind-bending. I can't waste my energy dealing with this bullshit. In every case, I'm told that I've violated their policy with "Dangerous or derogatory content," which I find insulting. Here are recent posts that have been found in violation of that policy — even after review... 
Click through to see what I'd written, but suffice it to say that there was nothing that could possibly be considered "dangerous" or "derogatory." I said:
How did these articles get flagged? By robots or by opponents of this blog? What kind of review does Google have that would reinforce the idea that this is "Dangerous or derogatory content"?! Review by robots or by opponents of this blog? I can't imagine an unbiased human being finding all — or any — of these posts to have "Dangerous or derogatory content." It could be that I'm getting flagged for crap in the comments.... 

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

Well, I am going to deal with it now and in the future.  I just turned AdSense ads back on. At least, Google was nice enough to offer me cake....

... yeah, Google, your AI did a nice job of knowing what I like. Cake. I like cake. But it's not yummy cake that has me coming back. And it's not the income from the ads. I realized I can use AdSense in self-defense. Google has the power to delete this blog. Whatever force caused those exasperating notifications is still out there, exerting pressure, whether I'm getting notifications or not.

As I noted in that October post, "It could be that I'm getting flagged for crap in the comments." In the comments there, Yancey Ward said: 

It isn't your content that is getting flagged, Ms. Althouse, it is what we commenters are saying - they are flagging the separate blog post which contains all of the comments at the end. You just have too many of us deplorables.

I'm pretty sure that's what happened, and I gave up ads because it seemed like too much work to go searching for what might be the problem in the comments. But the mechanism for reporting abuse to Google remains. This presents a risk to me, and I think the risk has increased in the past week. So I want those notifications. I'm worried not only that Google will overdo its censorship but also that haters of this blog — of the comments section of this blog — will come in here with pseudonyms and write violent threats and racist crap for the purpose of drawing censorship down upon me. 

There are various ways to deal with the problem of commenters who are here to hurt me, and some of them are too labor intensive. Some of them would diminish (or destroy) the flow of the comments. The comments at their best are phenomenal, and I'm very happy with the good commenters and have greatly appreciated their company these last 17 years. (Bloggiversary #17 is tomorrow.) But one thing I can do is to put the ads back up and then use the notifications to identify the comment threads that have something Google sees as a problem. Then it's a limited task to look for what needs to be deleted.

I delete comments without prodding from Google when I see threats of violence. I delete comments with the "n-word." I probably have a standard that's close to what Google is identifying, so I'm going to accept the help from Google now. I can't read every comment on every post — there are close to 4 million comments on this blog — but I can comb through the comments sections on posts where I get a Google notification. Google is getting vigilant about material that I don't want either — and, of course, I don't want a festering problem that I cannot see and that is undermining the existence of this blog. 

And that's why there are ads on this blog.

January 12, 2021

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk all night.


And here's a picture of me on my 70th birthday, ice skating:


Photo by Meade.

And thanks to all who wished me a happy birthday.

"Trump’s Twitter feed... was a window into his deranged and disordered mind. The insults, grandiosity, lies, threats, bigotry and incitement..."

"He was a menace to the world, but he was a genius of the genre: nasty, irreverent, oddly addictive. It will be strange to revert to humdrum, cautious political platitudes after drinking the wine of uninhibited, free-association populism. Here are some recent tweets by President-Elect Joe Biden. 'In 10 days, we move forward and rebuild — together.' 'In 2020 we’re going to build a brighter future.' 'I’m filled with fresh hope about the possibilities of better days to come.'"

Writes Nicholas Goldberg (LA Times via Yahoo News).

Maybe people will drift away from social media. How did we get so caught up in it in the first place? Trump was part of a wave of excitement over Twitter, and with him banished — along with other vivid voices of the right — it might not have any energy at all. Why look? What's there? An old man babbles about his fresh hope of a brighter future?! If you don't have people to bounce off of, what will you tweet about? 

I remember when Twitter first got started. I already had a successful blog, but I thought this "microblogging" should work for me. But almost immediately, I saw how much it depended on going back and forth with other people who were right there next to you on the platform. I was used to sole possession of my blog's front page, and I could choose to interact with commenters on the comments page or link to other blogs, but I had a sense of this being my own place. I liked that. I'll embed a tweet here if I want to go after something I see over there. 

But I've watched Twitter develop. It's so full of journalists and politicos who snap back and forth, and Trump fit right in and amped everything up. It's so fast and vicious and crazy. Now, he's going to be extracted? Who will the lefties — the people who are left (in 2 senses) — engage with? Each other?

Do I hope the whole place falls flat? I hate the censorship. And if it falls flat as a consequence, that's poetic justice. 



"President Trump on Tuesday showed no contrition or regret for instigating the mob that stormed the Capitol and threatened the lives of members of Congress..."

"... and his vice president, saying that his remarks to a rally beforehand were 'totally appropriate'” and that the effort by Congress to impeach and convict him was 'causing tremendous anger.' Answering questions from reporters... the president sidestepped questions about his culpability.... 'People thought what I said was totally appropriate,' Mr. Trump told reporters at Joint Base Andrews, en route to Alamo, Texas, where he was set to visit the border wall.... 'If you look at what other people have said, politicians at a high level about the riots during the summer, the horrible riots in Portland and Seattle and various other places, that was a real problem,' he said."

"Which comes closer to your point of view: democracy in the United States is alive and well or democracy in the United States is under threat?"

"Do you think that extremism is a big problem in the United States, or don't you think so?... Do you think that - the Republican members of Congress who tried to stop the formal certification of Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 presidential election were undermining democracy or protecting democracy?... Do you think that - the individuals who stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6th were undermining democracy or protecting democracy?... Do you think that President Trump should resign as president, or don't you think so?... Do you think that President Trump is mentally stable, or not?... Do you consider what happened at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th a coup attempt, or not?... Do you want to see the individuals who stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6th held accountable for their actions, or not?... Do you hold President Trump responsible for the storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, or not?... Do you think that law enforcement officials did everything they could to prevent the initial storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, or don't you think so?..."

Lots of great question at this new Quinnipiac poll. Read the details.

"Pseudocoup. Can be pronounced like Sudoku if wordplay demands it."

"An attempt to overthrow the government that, due to both poor planning and execution, fails in an incredibly underwhelming fashion." 

Urban Dictionary. Entry dated January 9, 2021. Declared "Word of the Day" on January 13th.

"We began preparing for Inauguration Day last year."

Write Guy Rosen, VP Integrity, and Monika Bickert, VP Global Policy Management of Facebook, setting off my bullshit detector. Last year was 12 days ago. I'll keep going. I want to read the original document, not the NBC News summary — "Facebook bans all 'stop the steal' content" — that I can see is getting lots of links. 

I don't believe Facebook would ban everything with the 3-word phrase. That would include all sorts of people who are just talking about what is the biggest news story going. It must be that "stop the steal" is a search term, and there's some additional judgment going on. 

Back to Rosen and Bickert:

The downfall-of-Trump conspiracy theories will go on for 100 years. They will never end in my lifetime. I have accepted this reality.

Americans love our great conspiracy subjects. The JFK assassination.... Area 51... We were talking about that last night, and I happened to say, "Truthers. Remember Truthers. What were the Truthers?" 

I had to stop and think which conspiracy subject had the people called "Truthers." I remembered: 9/11.

Now, 2 hours before sunrise, I'm seeing the headline "Some members of Congress fear the Capitol mob attack was an inside job" (Axios). Oh no. It's like the 9/11 Truther theory: inside job!

It will never end. We're just getting started. 

Do I need to worry that this is the conspiracy theory that gets you ousted from social media? Is it a left-wing conspiracy theory or a right-wing conspiracy theory? If I say it looks like a left-wing conspiracy theory because it's Axios so I'm probably safe writing about this, am I wafting a right-wing conspiracy theory and therefore vulnerable?

First sentence of the Axios article: "An information gap following the Capitol assault has fueled fears among members of Congress that it was an inside job involving the Capitol Police." So, in the absence of evidence — an "information gap" — you can speculate about anything and feel afraid. Then the gap itself can be said to "fuel fears." 

There's only one member of Congress identified in the article, Tim Ryan, "a lone Democratic congressman from Ohio": 

"I’m not the one storming the capital, I’m literally changing the world by putting my life and thoughts and love out there on the table 24 seven. Respect it."

Said Lana Del Rey, quoted in "Lana Del Rey Reveals, Immediately Defends New Album Chemtrails Over the Country Club Cover" (New York Magazine). I've seen controversial album covers before, and I really don't know what micro-infraction she thinks people are detecting...

... I'm just here to quote the comment, "For Christ’s sake folks (not just Lana)—it’s spelled 'Capitol'—I feel like no one knows this?"

Here's the title track, in case you might enjoy the music (and the visuals):

Here are the lyrics, in case you, like me, don't want to strain through the mumbling to get to the words but somehow still care what she might be saying. 

There's nothing wrong contemplating God/Under the chemtrails over the country club/We're in our jewels in the swimming pool/... It's beautiful, LSD, normality settles down over me/I'm not bored or unhappy, I'm still so strange and wild/... Washing my hair, doing the laundry/Late night TV, I want you on me.... 

"There came a moment, around the time I turned 70...."


"The situation this country is facing is anything but amusing"/"Oh, who cares? Honestly. One of the few joys of being as old as we both are is it is not our problem."

I just happened to reach Episode 5 of Season 3 of "The Crown" last night, the eve of my own 70th birthday. The episode title is "The Coup."

January 11, 2021

At the Monday Night Café...

... you can talk about whatever you like.

"Hours after it went offline on Monday, the social media start-up Parler filed a lawsuit in federal court accusing Amazon of violating antitrust law..."

"... and asking for a temporary restraining order to prevent the tech giant from blocking access to cloud computing services. Amazon told Parler over the weekend that it would shut off service because 'a steady increase in violent content' on the site showed that the company did not have a reliable process to prevent it from violating Amazon’s terms of service. Amazon said it would ensure Parler’s data was preserved so that it could migrate to a new hosting provider. Millions of people turned to Parler after Twitter and Facebook barred President Trump following the riot at the Capitol last week. Apple and Google both kicked Parler out of their app stores at the end of the week, though users who already had downloaded the app could still use it. But the app relied on Amazon’s cloud computing technology to work.... Parler did not provide direct evidence showing Amazon and Twitter coordinated the response. Instead, it pointed to a December news release announcing a multiyear strategic partnership between Amazon and Twitter, and it made references to Twitter’s own challenges policing its content."

Okay, Joe. Thanks. I will link back to this if it ever seems you might be stoking the flames of hate and chaos.

"But 'dilettante' is one of those words which deter people from taking up new pursuits as adults."

"Many of us are wary of being dismissed as dabblers, people who have a little too much leisure, who are a little too cute and privileged in our pastimes.... We might remember... that the word 'dilettante' comes from the Italian for 'to delight.' In the eighteenth century, a group of aristocratic Englishmen popularized the term, founding the Society of the Dilettanti to undertake tours of the Continent, promote the art of knowledgeable conversation, collect art, and subsidize archeological expeditions. Frederick II of Prussia dissed the dilettanti as 'lovers of the arts and sciences' who 'understand them only superficially but who however are ranked in superior class to those who are totally ignorant.'... The term turned more pejorative in modern times, with the rise of professions and of licensed expertise. But if you think of dilettantism as an endorsement of learning for learning’s sake... [m]aybe it could be an antidote to the self-reported perfectionism that has grown steadily more prevalent.... '[I]ncreasingly, young people hold irrational ideals for themselves, ideals that manifest in unrealistic expectations for academic and professional achievement, how they should look, and what they should own'.... Fluid intelligence, which encompasses the capacity to suss out novel challenges and think on one’s feet, favors the young. But crystallized intelligence—the ability to draw on one’s accumulated store of knowledge, expertise, and Fingerspitzengefühl—is often enriched by advancing age."

When's the last time you learned a new skill? If you had to identify 5 new skills to learn — which is something some older person in that article did — what 5 would you give yourself? The guy referred to in the article took on chess, singing, surfing, drawing, and juggling. I wish I could think of just one thing — one or 2. You know, tomorrow is my birthday, and it's one of the Big 0 birthdays. I'd like to think about something to do about it. The skill, perhaps, of stopping time. Apparently it's fine not to be good at it at all — a pure dilettante. But you can only slow the perception of the passage of time, and the relevant skill is boring yourself. What an awful skill! 

"German Chancellor Angela Merkel considers it 'problematic' that Twitter would toss President Trump off its social media platform..."

"'This fundamental right can be intervened in, but according to the law and within the framework defined by legislators — not according to a decision by the management of social media platforms,' Merkel spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters in Berlin. 'Seen from this angle, the chancellor considers it problematic that the accounts of the U.S. president have now been permanently blocked,' he added."

Many American are quick to say that freedom of speech is only a right that can be asserted against government, so there's no right — or even an interest in freedom of speech — that can be asserted against a private company like Twitter. But the German Chancellor speaks of "fundamental rights."

"House Democrats on Monday introduced an article of impeachment against President Trump for inciting a mob that attacked the Capitol last week, vowing to press the charge..."

"... as Republicans blocked a separate move to formally call on Vice President Mike Pence to strip him of power under the 25th Amendment.... Democratic leaders were confident it would pass, and pressured Republican lawmakers to vote with them to beseech the vice president, who is said to be opposed to using the powers outlined in the Constitution, to do so. It was a remarkable threat. If Mr. Pence does not intervene 'within 24 hours' after passage and the president does not resign, House leaders said they would move as early as Wednesday to consider the impeachment resolution on the floor, just a week after the attack.... Last minute changes were made late Sunday to include a reference to the 14th Amendment, the post-Civil War era addition to the Constitution that prohibits anyone who 'engaged in insurrection or rebellion' against the United States from holding future office. Lawmakers also decided to cite specific language from Mr. Trump’s speech last Wednesday, inciting the crowd, quoting him saying: 'If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.'"

Here's the text of the article of impeachment.

I note that the Trump quote they included did not make my list "The 7 most violence-inciting statements in Donald Trump's speech to the crowd on January 6th"! I thought "fight like hell" sounded too much like ordinary politics to make the list. We fight for our rights, we fight in political campaigns, we fight in court. Are we going to outlaw the word "fight"?! We'll be descending into Newspeak.

The fork as a weapon.

In the previous post, discussing a WaPo article about various characters in the January 6th incident at the U.S. Capitol, we encountered a man named Pete Harding, who "said that the only weapon he carried was a dinner fork, which he put in his pocket." He said — humorously, I think — "Fortunately, I didn’t have to wield the kitchen fork menacingly."

So I want to look into the topic of the fork as a weapon. When I was a college student and went through a phase of thinking I might take a course in "creative" writing, I considered writing a story about a perfectly friendly dinner between 2 characters that somehow escalated into a murder scene, with the fork as the weapon. Why not the knife?! The knife isn't interesting. The fork would be interesting, no?

Interesting — but way too much work! Too much work to write the description. And, of course, too much work to commit murder with a fork. But it would be a gruesome scene. It's for someone else to scribble out details like that. Like Harding's fork, my fork story remained in my pocket, unbrandished. 

But is a fork a plausible weapon? There's something called a military fork:

But we're talking about the table utensil of our time. 

I see that using a fork to fight is common enough in popular culture to have a page to itself at TV Tropes

[I]f chaos breaks out at the dinner table, a diner may have to get creative with what they have on hand, turning their utensils into an Improvised Weapon. Normally played for laughs (especially if there's Sword Sparks), but if the chips are down, things can get pretty ugly: this can lead to sickeningly devastating effect in the hands of someone skilled/determined enough.... Subtrope of Improvised Weapon. Compare Frying Pan of Doom....

That sounds funny, but remember that an improvised weapon — a fire extinguisher — was [allegedly] used at the Capitol and it killed a police officer. 

If the "Capitol mob" was "a raging collection of grievances and disillusionment" as The Washington Post says...

... in its headline, here, then doesn't that mean it wasn't an "insurrection" or much of a plan at all, just a coming together of disparate elements? Let's look at the long article. I'm reading it for the first time and making excerpts and comments as I go. I'm doing this without an agenda, just wanting to figure out what the hell happened and what it means.
Those who made their way to the grounds of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday hail from at least 36 states, along with the District of Columbia and Canada, according to a Washington Post list of over 100 people identified as being on the scene of the Capitol. Their professions touch nearly every facet of American society: lawyers, local lawmakers, real estate agents, law enforcement officers, military veterans, construction workers, hair stylists and nurses. Among the crowd were devout Christians who highlighted Bible verses, adherents of the QAnon conspiracy theory and members of documented hate groups, including white nationalist organizations and militant right-wing organizations, such as the Proud Boys. 
The list is just a limited cross section of the thousands of people who descended upon the area, yet some striking commonalities are hard to ignore. Almost all on the list whose race could be readily identified are White.

Not sure how that is done. But okay. The Washington Post seems to have compiled a list of 100 people — a hundred out of what? "thousands"? — and it's making assertions about these people, somehow "readily identifying" their race and capitalizing "White." How many of the 100 were in the category whose race was "readily identified"? 10? 80? I have no idea.

Most are men, yet about one in six were women...

2 grammar mistakes there. It needs to be "one in six was a woman" to get subject/verb agreement, and, for parallelism, it needs to be either "Most were men, yet about one in six was a women" or "Most are men, yet about one in six is a women." We can argue about whether past or present tense is worse (or an outright error). But enough tripping along the pleasant side road that is grammar. Back to the substance:

... also almost all White. Many left extensive social media documentation of their passions, ideologies and, in some cases, disillusionment and vendettas.

Great. This is what I've been waiting for. Reading the social media of the various participants in the breaching of the Capitol. 

Their paths to the nation’s capital were largely fueled by long-standing grievances and distrust, and yet planned in spontaneous and ad-hoc fashion.

Was there a plan?  If it was "spontaneous and ad-hoc" then maybe it was not a plan, just diverse individuals whose paths flowed together at that place and time?

Several reported pulling together their travel funds and schedules in just a handful of days. Some took a solitary journey, including flying from coast to coast alone, only to find a shared community upon their final destination in Washington. Others traveled in buses that departed Wednesday at dawn, filled to the brim with other Trump supporters....

Don't mix up the plan to go to a big rally and street protest with a plan to break into the Capitol (and don't mix up a plan to break into the Capitol with a plan to take Mike Pence or members of Congress hostage).

Several who traveled to Washington to support the “Stop the Steal” rally told The Post they were driven by two primary grievances: their opposition to the election results and the restrictions in place to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Lindsey Graham...

"[A]void books that are supposed to be 'good' for us. It isn’t necessary to read a single turgid sentence of Boring Saul Bellow..."

"... when there is a James Lee Burke to hand. Not every 'classic' is worthy of veneration: Tristram Shandy honks like John Coltrane, and is not nearly so funny. As for Midnight’s Children, it’s more fun to walk round town with a nail in your boot." 

From "Reading books is not meant to be a competitive sport" by Michael Henderson (London Times), which is mostly about not trying to read as much as possible, but that paragraph jumped out at me.

Are Americans still reading what is supposed to be good for us? Or is that a concept of the past? What's the last thing you read — or tried to read — because it was supposed to be good for you? If you wanted to force yourself to read something because you believe it's considered to be good for you, what would you pick?

"'Soon after he met me, he took me to lunch and told me he was in love with me. I thought it was sweet, but he was 11 years older and I had a boyfriend at the time who I was madly in love with.'"

"Eventually Mr. Fieger won Ms. Alperin after writing the catchy bass-driven track about her. She spent her late teens touring the world with him.... 'It played everywhere I went... It was in the elevator, it was in the dentist, it was on the airplane, in the market, played by every Top 40 band. It was everywhere. It was exciting, and it was everything.... When we broke up it was time to be my Sharona.... The word ‘my’ in that song says a lot. There’s not more of a possessive or obsessive word in the English vocabulary. He thought I was his soul mate, his other half, but it was a lot.'... Now a real-estate agent in Los Angeles, Ms. Alperin said that people will sing the song to her when she introduces herself without even realizing that she is the inspiration, and plead for pictures while she does open house viewings. 'There are good days and bad days... I’ve never gone a week without people singing "My Sharona" to me. It’s been with me all these years, and it would never do me any good to feel anything other than gratitude and humility about it. It’s nice to bring people excitement, and it’s a special thing in my life. I appreciate the wonderful experience it’s been.'"

I'm trying to figure out how old Alperin was when this relationship began.  The NYT does not give her age, and Wikipedia says: "When Doug Fieger was 25 years old, he met 17-year-old Sharona Alperin..." 

That's an 8 year difference, but Alperin says 11 years. Does that mean Alperin was 14 when Fieger took her to lunch and professed his love? 

Wikipedia links to a 2005 WaPo article that is based on an interview with Fieger. He says: "Sharona was 17. I was 25 when I wrote the song. But the song was written from the perspective of a 14-year-old boy. It's just an honest song about a 14-year-old boy." Hmm. There's that number: 14. 

WaPo didn't go looking for the real Sharona. Its interest at the time was George W. Bush. The contents of his iPod — remember those? — had been revealed and one of his songs was "My Sharona." WaPo says:
The New York Times revealed the presidential penchant for "My Sharona" -- about an underage vixen -- in a story about Bush's iPod mix last week.
Yikes. 2005 was so long ago. Imagine seeing "underage vixen" blithely tossed out like that today! 

But back then, WaPo saw it as an exciting way to get at George Bush. Think of him, listening to the lyrics "Never gonna stop, give it up, such a dirty mind/Always get it up for the touch of the younger kind." WaPo prints out those lines.

But what about the NYT today going back to "My Sharona"? It's no longer about kicking around George Bush. It's just a way to crank out some kind of pop culture article. It's interesting that Sharona is a real estate agent and people hearing her name are forever singing the song to her and not thinking that she is the girl in the song. But why didn't "but he was 11 years older" trigger some curiosity over there at the NYT? Whatever happened to feminism? It comes and goes! It's discovered and forgotten, over and over again. 

Speaking of Presidents, why are we, right now, slipping into a time of forgetting? #MeToo arose in 2017, the first year of the Trump presidency.

ADDED: In 2010, NPR quoted Sharona Alperin, speaking of first meeting Fieger: "I was about 16 or 17 at the time. He was nine years older than me." 9 years older back then, but 11 years older now? How did that happen?

January 10, 2021

At the Bird's Nest Café...


... you can talk all night. Talk about whatever you like, especially stuff that doesn't fit in the various posts of the day, whatever they were. What could be talked about? I'm thinking... maybe you can offer some topics. See if you can get people to answer your questions.

Object lesson.

I've always hesitated to use the phrase "object lesson." I do use it, and I want to be able to use it, but it nags at me that I might not use it correctly. This morning in a post that was to some extent about misreading, somebody misunderstood me, and I wanted to thank him for the "object lesson." 

Because I took the trouble to research the phrase, I ended up writing "Thanks for providing such a striking example of the problem." Not that I figured out it would be wrong to say "Thanks for the object lesson," but just that I wanted out of that comments thread and into a separate post about the meaning of "object lesson," which explains to me why I'd always felt uneasy about using it. That is, I'd learned it from hearing others use it, but I wasn't convinced they were using it properly. 

Here's an example of the way other people use the term. This is Paul Krugman in a NYT column from January 4th: "The past two months have... been an object lesson in the extent to which 'grass roots' anger is actually being orchestrated from the top." And here's the NYT Editorial Board, from early December: "[T]he painfully slow pace of recovery following the last recession provided an object lesson in the limits of relying on low interest rates." 

See how flabby that is?! It's an object lesson in... flabbiness! 

Now, check out the Wikipedia article "Object Lesson." Historically, "object lesson" is something crisply specific: 

"I grew up in the ruins of a country that suffered the loss of its democracy..."

The many voices of Paul McCartney.

May I recommend this highly detailed episode of "The Beatles Naked" podcast? 

I'm not yet half way through, but I'm so impressed with the analysis. There's so much of it! With the music played, so you can judge for yourself. 

I was interested, for example, in the discussion of the emotional effect of any slightly out-of-tune singing. Is it "soulful"? And has our experience of it changed over the years as present-day music is electronically tuned to perfection?

And is it the case that there is a song that only Paul McCartney can sing and that song is "Helter Skelter"? The Wikipedia article on the song cites a number of cover versions, but the only one mentioned in the podcast is Bono's. It is mentioned with a scoffing laugh (just before saying that if Kurt Cobain had tried, he might have succeeded). I just annoyed myself by listening to the Mötley Crüe version. I also sampled a little of the Marilyn Manson "Helter Skelter." Here's the awful Oasis version.

I'm no expert, but I'd say if you're just going to do it like Paul and just approach what he did, why do it at all? As an homage? But it's an homage with a song that got its reputation twisted up into the Manson murders. Bono said Charles Manson "stole" the song from The Beatles and he was "stealing it back." 

Having just written about the connection between Trump's January 6th speech that — intentionally or unintentionally — seems to have inspired the storming of the U.S. Capitol, I'm interested to stumble so soon into this story of a vocal presentation that may have inspired murder. According to one Manson follower
When the Beatles' White Album came out, Charlie listened to it over and over and over and over again. He was quite certain that the Beatles had tapped in to his spirit, the truth—that everything was gonna come down and the black man was going to rise. It wasn't that Charlie listened to the White Album and started following what he thought the Beatles were saying. It was the other way around. He thought that the Beatles were talking about what he had been expounding for years. Every single song on the White Album, he felt that they were singing about us. The song 'Helter Skelter'—he was interpreting that to mean the blacks were gonna go up and the whites were gonna go down.

Of course, there's no way to hold The Beatles complicit in a murder scheme. At most, they could have thought that too many people are too attached to them and looking for messages and crazy connections and maybe they ought to stick to the peace-and-love songs so they don't accidentally inspire murder. It would be a different matter if The Beatles knew before they put out the White Album that there was a violent group set to rise up when The Beatles gave the signal "helter skelter."

Bring us the head of Hans Christian Heg!

The Wisconsin State Journal reports: 
A criminal complaint charged Rodney A. Clendening, 34, of Beloit, with felony theft after police said they identified him as the driver of a car into which the head of the abolitionist statue was placed on June 23, after a group of people, using another vehicle to assist them, pulled down the statue of Heg during a destructive night Downtown. 
According to the complaint against Clendening.... He walked toward the Heg plinth, just out of the camera’s view, and came back into view alongside two other men who were carrying Heg’s head. One of the men put the head into the trunk of the Ford. After the trunk was closed, Clendening went back to the driver’s seat and drove off. The car was seen a short time later on video footage at John Nolen Drive and East Wilson Street. A man who appeared to be Clendening got out and ran toward South Blair and East Wilson streets. A short time later, he was seen standing near a man police say was the driver of the Nissan used to pull down the Heg statue....

Getting the head back is important, but they are already spending $51,600 to recast it, and the plan is to have the statue reinstalled by "the middle of the year." 


If Trump knew there was a plan to storm the Capitol building, then his speech to the crowd was an incitement, even though he never told the crowd to commit any act of violence.

2 days ago, I read Trump's speech looking for any language that could support the claim that he incited the crowd to storm the Capitol. I wrote a post listing the 7 most violence-inducing statements. They're about fighting and showing strength and never giving up, but they're all consistent with an idea of having a big, traditional street protest — with lots of people marching and displaying their passion for the cause through big numbers, determined-looking faces, and lots words on signs and in chants and speeches. 

But what if Trump knew there was a plan to storm the Capitol? Then all those words are transformed! They become an incitement to the violence, especially if the people in the crowd know he knows. The avoidance of references to violence would be part of a shared understanding — like winking. We know what we're going to do. 

Now, at this point, I don't even know that there was a plan. 

Yesterday, I wrote about a New Yorker article titled "A Palm Beach Proud Boy at the Putsch," and, in the comments, Bob Boyd said, "Putsch implies a plan. There was no plan. It was a protest that turned into a riot." 

I replied: "That's your hypothesis. I await investigations. You have no way to know the extent to which subdivisions of the crowd were acting according to a plan." 

I'm not going to assume either way. Was there a plan or wasn't there? If there was a plan, when did it develop and who knew about it? If it was talked about on social media, the record exists. Wouldn't the FBI have seen it in advance and communicated to the President about it? But then, why was the Capitol not fully protected?! The vulnerability of the Capitol raises the inference that there was no advance knowledge of a plan.

This morning, I'm seeing this at Buzzfeed
The first glimpse of the deadly tragedy that was about to unfold came at 9 a.m. on the morning of the insurrection for one Black veteran of the US Capitol Police....
“I found out what they were planning when a friend of mine screenshot me an Instagram story from the Proud Boys saying, ‘We’re breaching the capitol today, guys. I hope y’all ready.’” 

Now, that's 9 a.m. on the day of the protest, so it could be a plan that arose at the last minute. But Trump's speech did not begin until 1:11 p.m. That's 4 hours of lead time. Perhaps that Capital Police officer is lying or mistaken or perhaps he doesn't exist at all and Buzzfeed is wrong. But it's a fact that can be checked with Instagram. And I want to see all that there in social media, all the evidence of a plan, and what law enforcement knew about this plan, whether Trump was informed, and why there wasn't better protection of the Capitol. 

I have held off from believing that Trump incited the crowd to breach the Capitol. You can see that in my 7 statements post. But if he was informed of a plan, then I will read all of those statements as an incitement, and I would have to say that he should resign.