February 13, 2021

At the Still Too Cold Café...

 ... there’s still no new sunrise photo. I’m locked in by the subzero cold and waiting for Wednesday to get back to half-normal life. But there’s the indoor fun of a Saturday night café, so please join me in the long overnight conversation.

They're voting on guilty/not guilty. UPDATE: 57 to 43. Trump is acquitted.

That happened fast!

"Yet, there was a glaring omission in the substance of the House arguments. The managers... only briefly touched on proving any 'state of mind' needed for such a conviction."

"That is why I have referred to their case as more emotive than probative. It lacked direct evidence to support the claim that Trump wanted to incite an actual insurrection or rebellion against the United States, as alleged in the article of impeachment. I do not believe that an acquittal was inevitable in this case, but it was all but assured by critical decisions made by the House in this impeachment. The unforced errors discussed below raise the question of whether the Democrats 'tanked' the trial.... The House is not alleging reckless or negligent conduct leading to a riot. It is alleging incitement to actually seek rebellion or overthrow of the country. The article specifically refers to section 3 of the 14th Amendment in its prohibition of anyone holding office if they 'engaged in insurrection or rebellion against' the United States. Even moderate senators who condemned Trump for his speech would be highly unlikely to convict on such an article. The House made it easy on those seeking acquittal.... The House brief in the Senate further highlighted the lack of direct evidence on Trump’s state of mind. It laid out an emotionally charged but legally incomplete case for the Senate. To convict, the House needs to show Trump was more than reckless. It crafted the article as inciting an actual rebellion or insurrection, not mere negligence."

"A perpetual stew, also known as hunter's pot or hunter's stew, is a pot into which whatever one can find is placed and cooked. The pot is never or rarely emptied all the way..."

"... and ingredients and liquid are replenished as necessary. The concept is often a common element in descriptions of medieval inns. Foods prepared in a perpetual stew have been described as being flavorful due to the manner in which the ingredients blend together, in which the flavor may improve with age.... Wattana Panich restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand, has continued to maintain the broth from the same perpetual stew for over 47 years.... William Gibson references a perpetual stew served on the Bridge in his novel Idoru.... Danny Devito, as the character Frank Reynolds, references a perpetual stew served to and from his Vietnamese sweatshop workers in the TV show It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia." 

From the Wikipedia article "Perpetual stew," which I'm thinking about this morning... after the Senate voted to allow witnesses at the Trump trial and I think I overheard from the TV that I am not watching that the trial could go on for months. Months? Why not years? Why should it ever end? Keep it seething and quietly simmering forever! Why end it and only create the need to start anew with a third impeachment, a fourth impeachment, a fifth impeachment? Just keep this impeachment going, now and forever, one and inseparable...

I'm curious enough about the William Gibson reference that I bought the Kindle version so I could search for it. Alas! There's only one "soup" in the book and that's not it. No "stew," no "potage," no "chowder"... Yes, I can read the book, I know.... and, of course, that's a better use of my time than watching the pot.

UPDATE: "House managers drop call for witnesses after Trump lawyers agree to admit Herrera Beutler’s claims" (NYT). Read that headline carefully. It doesn't mean that the lawyers admit HB's claims are true, just that they agree that her statement can be admitted as evidence. The statement is that Kevin McCarthy said that — while the riot was ongoing — Trump said over the telephone that the rioters were "more upset" about the election than McCarthy was. 

"Heading into the 2020 election, most of the U.S. media was uninterested in, if not outright hostile to, any reporting that might have helped President Trump’s re-election bid."

"As a result, the Lincoln Project continued to enjoy media veneration even as the magnitude of its scam became increasingly obvious. But with Trump now safely vanquished, the Lincoln Project is dispensable, and the protective shield it enjoyed against any real journalistic scrutiny is — like its reputation and prospects for future profiteering — rapidly crumbling.... From the start, it was obvious that this disgraceful collapse was the inevitable end for this group. The very idea that this freakish hodgepodge of life-long D.C. Republican consultants were men of profound conscience defending the Republic was a complete and total joke. They are life-long grifters, responsible for some of the most grotesque and amoral attack ads in the modern era, with a very long and recent history of advocating the exact opposite values of what they claimed to represent once they opportunistically identified the optimal Trump-era profit model: namely, relentlessly fleece scared and gullible #Resistance liberals of their cash by posturing as brave and principled warriors against Trumpism. But their lucrative scheme could never have succeeded without the knowingly fraudulent cooperation of liberal networks such as MSNBC and CNN. Over and over, those Democratic Party spokespeople masquerading as TV journalists — knowing exactly who these bottom-feeding GOP operatives have always been — encouraged their misguided and trusting viewers to regard the Lincoln Project as a selfless and noble bulwark against Trumpism rather than the scamming, grifting, lowlife con it so obviously was from the start."

"While a close call, I am persuaded that impeachments are a tool primarily of removal and we therefore lack jurisdiction."

"The Constitution makes perfectly clear that presidential criminal misconduct while in office can be prosecuted after the president has left office, which in my view alleviates the otherwise troubling 'January exception' argument raised by the House."

To say "close call" is to hedge his political bet. To rely on the jurisdictional ground avoids the question on the merits. Who knows if he'd consider that a "close call" too?

The NYT seems to know, because it has this:
The leader had let it be known that he believed Mr. Trump committed impeachable offenses and told advisers and colleagues he was open to conviction as the best way of purging Mr. Trump from the Republican Party. He even said publicly that Mr. Trump had “provoked the attack.” 

"Some owners even chose to be buried at the pet cemetery, since they could not be buried alongside their pets at human cemeteries..."

"'It was so important for some people that they stay together that they decided to be interred in a pet cemetery.'"

The quote is from Allison C. Meier, "a writer and licensed New York City sightseeing guide who gives tours of the city’s cemeteries." 

Another quote from Meier: "The way that people refer to their pets changes. On a lot of old dog graves, they call them a gentleman — like, 'He’s a great gentleman. He lived like a gentleman.'"

The original meaning of "gentleman" is "A man of gentle birth, or having the same heraldic status as those of gentle birth; properly, one who is entitled to bear arms, though not ranking among the nobility... but also applied to a person of distinction without precise definition of rank" (OED).

Later — and by later, I mean in the 16th century — it became "A man of superior position in society, or having the habits of life indicative of this; often, one whose means enable him to live in easy circumstances without engaging in trade, a man of money and leisure. In recent use often employed (esp. in ‘this gentleman’) as a more courteous synonym for ‘man’, without regard to the social rank of the person referred to." And apparently, without regard to the species of the being referred to.

Are you teaching your sons to be gentlemen (with or without the use of that word)? Are you teaching your dogs? 

The NYT tells its readers about the woes of life in a "tiny home" during the lockdown...

 ... in "The Drawbacks of Living in a Tiny Home During a Pandemic Lockdowns are harder when you’re stuck in a small space and can’t stockpile food or toilet paper."

And the 2 top-rated comments are:

I've got news for you: most NYC apartments don't have the storage for weeks of supplies, either. 


Hooray for Ms. Jacques' and her children and how they are managing in their tiny home. As a former apartment dweller in New York City, I thought I'd mention that many a New Yorker would kill to have that kind of 660-square foot space...and with a loft!

The article uses the term "tiny home" to refer to all sorts of abodes — a converted "cargo trailer," a tricked-out school bus, and a renovated detached 1-car garage — but never mentions apartments, the tiny homes New Yorker's have dealt with forever and without any sort of trend to create a structure of delusion around the challenge. For those who did let the "tiny home" delusion inflate their spirits pre-pandemic, the cramped space seems to hurt in some special (trendy?) way.

ADDED: Blogger no longer autocompletes tags, so I have to remember or guess what my tag is. Here, I guessed "tiny home." No. It's "tiny house." I have a personal stake in the "home"/"house" distinction — because of my last name — and I rankle at the sentimentality of referring to real estate as a "home." And now I really must quote Bob Dylan:

“What kind of house is this,” he said
“Where I have come to roam?”
“It’s not a house,” said Judas Priest
“It’s not a house . . . it’s a home”

"The defense lawyers contended that Democrats were pursuing Mr. Trump out of personal and partisan animosity, using the word 'hatred' 15 times during their formal presentation..."

"... and they cast the trial as an effort to suppress a political opponent and his supporters. 'It is about canceling 75 million Trump voters and criminalizing political viewpoints,' [Trump's lawyer Bruce] Castor said. 'That’s what this trial is really about. It is the only existential issue before us. It asks for constitutional cancel culture to take over in the United States Senate. Are we going to allow canceling and banning and silencing to be sanctioned in this body?'" 

Write Peter Baker and Nicholas Fandos in the NYT, in an article that begins, "Former President Donald J. Trump’s legal team mounted a combative defense on Friday focused more on assailing Democrats for 'hypocrisy' and 'hatred' than justifying Mr. Trump’s own monthslong effort to overturn a democratic election that culminated in last month’s deadly assault on the Capitol."

"Hatred" is a strong word. We're told Trump's lawyers used it 15 times. I would like to understand the usage, but this NYT article doesn't give us even one of the 15 "hatred" quotes. Was it just a hot-headed substitute for partisanship? Trump antagonists "hate" him — don't they say that themselves? How much power does it have anymore? 

And here, I found the transcript. Here are some of the hatreds: 

"A few weeks into riding, [Michelle] Schaeffer, 34, posted a suggestion on the 395,000-member Peloton Facebook page."

"Riders there frequently rave about the soaring emotions and meaning they get from the teachers’ words combined with the physical intensity. Posts about crying during rides are common. Wouldn’t Christian music — maybe gospel — be even better, Schaeffer wondered, even more intense? Responses were rapid. 'Just stop. Please don’t turn Peloton into another political/grievance battle. Drop it,' wrote one. 'Perhaps you could find your Christian ... whatever ... at church?' wrote another...."

How does a modern-day meaning-making community work? And is there room for old-school religion? Americans in recent decades have been rapidly ditching religious services and looking for spiritual uplift, meaning and transcendent community through experiences like yoga and spin classes, political activism and cooking — more and more of it online.... 
Casper ter Kuile, a Harvard Divinity School... said Peloton is part a much bigger trend he calls "unbundling." Within that, people are now browsing in a variety of places for the things they once got all at a congregation: worship, scripture, life transitions and social justice among them. As a result, he said, American religious life is very unstable, very individualized. "When religion is infusing these secular spaces, it troubles the concept of religion, but also troubles the strict secularity we’ve come to expect."
Ter Kuile noted the irony of people — Peloton riders — challenging religious institutions while they are themselves part of an activity many see as cultlike. He says that’s more about institutional religion’s current branding problem. "They’d trust Peloton as a cult but not the Catholic Church as a religion," he said.

The Trump lawyers' "Fight" montage is devastating and — if you're not bent on getting Trump convicted — hilarious.


Maybe this cheerful, rousing song with cheer up Trump haters:

Love story déjà vu.

On February 11th, the NYT published "What Makes for a Great Literary Romance?/Passion, sacrifice, a twist: 125 years of book reviews offer the clue to Love Potion No. 9.," which I blogged here

On February 12th, WaPo published "Stop dismissing love stories. They’re exactly what we need to survive covid-19." I just saw that headline this morning, and remembering my recent blog post, including a memory that it was in the NYT, I worried that I'd misindentified a Washington Post article as a NYT article.

No. It's a different article. It's also evidence that editors are wracking their brain for stories during the lockdown. And notice the difference. The NYT has gone back into its archive, found a way to make an article collecting snippets of old articles and analyzing them. What are the elements of a love story? WaPo addresses the reader's inner life. It assumes we are struggling to survive in the lockdown and purports to prescribe the remedy. We all need the same thing. Exactly. 

And we're all really snooty, too, apparently. We dismiss love stories. We think we're too lofty and intellectual for them. Hah! That's awfully presumptuous. And yet the tone is one of a confidential girlfriend, perhaps someone who, in nonlockdown times, would say I know what you need and force you to go out to a bar.

Oh, no. WaPo isn't copying the NYT. Nor is it scraping the bottom of the barrel of Covid-19 stories. It's doing something even more tedious: Valentine's Day has cycled around on the calendar again. Both newspapers are doing what they think they must do every year — pandemic or no pandemic — publish Valentine's Day articles. 

The WaPo article combines Valentine's Day and coronavirus. It notes the "sheer coincidence" that some new movies "star couples who feel trapped or isolated in some way." (It's silly to write "star." Actors star in movies. They play characters. The characters don't star in the movies.) 

We're told that all of these movies about trapped/isolated couples deliver the same message:
Honesty is crucial. Candor is hard, even — and maybe especially — when you’re stuck in close proximity to someone for an extended period of time.... [P]roximity makes grievances harder to keep under wraps. But rather than treating forced togetherness as a death sentence for a relationship, these stories treat it as a catalyst for their characters to develop deeper understanding of each other and commit to stronger partnerships.... 

Does that make you want to watch a trapped-couples movie for Valentine's Day?  We haven't watched a love-story movie in a long time, unless you count Season 4 of "The Crown" (the trapped couples being Prince Charles and Diana). We rarely watch actual movies, maybe only 2 in the last month or so. Which movies? "The Trial of the Chicago 7" and "Struggle: The Life and Lost Art of Szukalski."

Something else we've enjoyed — also distinctly un-couples-y — are the 2 "With John" HBO shows:

1. "Painting With John":


2. "How To With John Wilson":

February 12, 2021

At the Friday Night Cafe...

... you can talk about whatever you want.

"On Earth, you've got to do something with your life... to prove you're alive..."

A pithy montage of incitement hypocrisy.

"Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and his top aides were facing new allegations on Friday that they covered up the scope of the death toll in the state’s nursing homes from the coronavirus..."

"... after admissions that they withheld data in an effort to forestall potential investigations into state misconduct. The latest revelations came in the wake of private remarks by the governor’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, and a cascading series of reports and court orders that have nearly doubled the state’s official toll of nursing home deaths in the last two weeks....  In a conversation first reported on by the New York Post, Ms. DeRosa told a group of top lawmakers on Wednesday during a call to address the nursing home situation that 'basically, we froze,' after being asked last summer for information by the Trump administration’s Department of Justice.... 'We were in a position where we weren’t sure if what we were going to give to the Department of Justice, or what we give to you guys, and what we start saying, was going to be used against us and we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation,' Ms. DeRosa told lawmakers, according to a partial transcript obtained by The New York Times...."

"For academics playing word games, this is fun. For gangs of 'woke' students — or Times employees, who have managed to 'cancel' a series of the paper’s top writers recently — it can produce a feeling of enormous power and self-importance."

"But if you’re Macron or any sensible European observer, seeing a United States in which playing the national anthem or displaying the flag is deemed 'offensive' and 'problematic,' in which professors are suspended or threatened for quoting Supreme Court opinions verbatim when they contain unapproved language and which has seen months of urban riots tearing apart some of America’s biggest cities, how could you not say 'no thanks'? By its fruit the tree is known, and the fruits of woke leftism in the United States have been poisonous. No honest observer could claim that our campuses are friendlier, our cities healthier or our institutions more productive as a result of its introduction. The defenders of woke theory say that France is becoming more diverse, and that’s why it needs more of the overt race-consciousness and blame-assignment that their theory provides. But, of course, France’s increased diversity is precisely why it’s right to shun a philosophy of race that is affirmatively based on racial name-calling, division and guilt-mongering."

"The original cast of 'The Real World: New York' recently wrapped filming in their original loft at 565 Broadway..."

"... a source close to production confirmed to Page Six on Thursday after much speculation" (NY Post). 

Great. I love "The Real World" — at least as it was in the first 3 or 4 seasons. I dropped out after that. The new season will have the cast from the first season, now almost 30 years older. I think when I dropped out of the viewership it was because the people were too young. I started out maybe 10 years older, but that thing went on for 33 seasons. When the people are 20 — or 30 or 40 (!) — years younger than you, their problems and antics get really tiresome. You're talking about a whole season of episodes and getting to know many characters. I seem to remember that after the really excellent 3rd season, things went into decline. I don't think it's merely that I got older and more age-separated from the cast. The show's manipulators seemed bent on getting pretty people to do sexual things to each other. They were always getting into a hot tub and drinking. That's even boring to do, but it's horrible to watch.

"A Louisiana man who thought 'Gorilla Glue Girl' Tessica Brown was 'lying' ended up in the emergency room himself after he applied the powerful adhesive to his lip."

"Len Martin, 37, said he tried out the Gorilla Glue challenge for himself after Brown to prove that it was 'not as serious as she was trying to make it'.... The aspiring rapper filmed himself gluing a Red Adhesive cup to his upper lip....  [H]e denied that he pulled the latest stunt for attention. 'I would never want to stick no Gorilla Glue to my lip and have it stuck there and go through all the situations that I had to go through,' Martin said.... 'You got Valentine’s Day coming up. I can’t even kiss my lip.'"

What's a "Red Adhesive cup"? What is kissing your own lip? Why did Len Martin think the unbelievable part of the Tessica Brown story was whether it would be terrible to put Gorilla Glue in your hair rather than whether she really thought it wouldn't be terrible to put Gorilla Glue in her hair? These stories. Why am I blogging this when I didn't blog the original Gorilla Glue Girl story? I try, at least some of the time, to deny attention to people who are seeking attention or maybe only just getting too much attention, but this guy seems to exemplify the problem of people spending too much time isolated with their smart phone and idly, idiotically searching for something to do. 

You're responsible enough, Donald.

I just wanted to elevate something I jotted out in the comments section to the previous post. The post is mostly about a spiked NYT column that criticized a NYT decision to fire a reporter who had said the n-word. 

The columnist's focus on the speaker's intent connected to what I said was "the question I think should be at the core of the impeachment trial but is not: Did Trump intend that the crowd break into the Capitol and terrorize the members of Congress?"

In the comments, David Begley said, "Ann is correct in focusing on Trump’s intent. Did the House Managers even talk about intent?" 

I responded:
I was not willing to sit through the hours and hours of presentation of other things that I already knew. I wanted them to focus on the decisive question: Trump's responsibility. Some people have a low standard and think that if Trump stirred up the crowd and made them feel energized to do what they independently decided to do, he's responsible enough. But they're choosing, I think, to offer nothing to those of us who think Trump needs to have specifically intended the breaking into the Capitol. Can anyone point me to the part of the trial where my concern is addressed? I'm not willing to stare at a smokescreen.

The post title is a play on an old Obama quote that I've always found highly amusing, but I'm quite serious in asking my question. Whether or not I am part of that You're-responsible-enough-Donald crowd, I want to be pointed to the part of the trial that addresses the question: Did Trump intend that the crowd break into the Capitol and terrorize the members of Congress?

ADDED: I'm reading "Takeaways From Day 3 of Trump’s Impeachment Trial/The House managers concluded their case by asserting that the Jan. 6 violence wouldn’t have happened without former President Donald Trump and that his supporters believed he had invited their help" in the NYT. 

It confirms my sense that my question was never focused on. 

The "takeaways" are, first: 
The angry, violent mob came to Washington at Trump’s invitation, the prosecution concludes.

But there is nothing wrong with drawing a big crowd of protesters. The huge crowd was overwhelmingly peaceful. Some portion of it became a mob and resorted to breaking into a building. But to say that isn't to say Trump caused the break in. And you don't need a "invitation" to go to Washington. We all have a right to travel to Washington and to protest whatever we want. Protests tend to take place at the site of the thing that is being protested. And speakers speak to crowds. We don't normally condemn that. I want to see consistency and clarity on these issues. Should Black Lives Matter speakers be denounced because they draw crowds and stir up emotions and later some of the crowd becomes a violent mob? 

The second "takeaway":
Even after the attack, managers say Mr. Trump showed a ‘lack of remorse.’
This is a makeweight argument. If you don't confess that you've done wrong, you're tarred as lacking remorse. Of course, if you do confess, you've confessed. That's even better for the prosecution. 

The third "takeaway:
Vice President Mike Pence’s presence looms large as a traitor, victim and hero.
So what? What relevance to Trump's guilt? 

The fourth "takeaway":
Trump still appears to have enough votes to be acquitted.
Not surprising and not anything that counts against Trump.

The New York Post publishes the Bret Stephens column that the New York Times spiked.

It's not that Stephens, a regular NYT columnist, can or would just give the rejected column to another newspaper to publish. The Post tells us the column — which defends the NYT reporter who got ousted for saying the n-word — "circulated among Times staffers and others" and the Post got hold of it "from one of them, not Stephens himself." Presumably, the Post publishes it because it is newsworthy — not as an opinion on the news but because the spiking of it is news, so we need to see what it is. 

Let's read it:

Every serious moral philosophy, every decent legal system and every ethical organization cares deeply about intention. 

It is the difference between murder and manslaughter. It is an aggravating or extenuating factor in judicial settings. It is a cardinal consideration in pardons (or at least it was until Donald Trump got in on the act).

Speaking of Donald Trump, it's the question I think should be at the core of the impeachment trial but is not: Did Trump intend that the crowd break into the Capitol and terrorize the members of Congress?  

It’s an elementary aspect of parenting, friendship, courtship and marriage. A hallmark of injustice is indifference to intention.

Yeah, why are the House Managers indifferent to this distinction? I am getting distracted! This Stephen's column reads like a criticism of the House Managers case against Trump. Trump said something, perhaps without any intention of causing the harm, but the harm did ensue. To care about the harm and not what the accused person intended is a "hallmark of injustice." Noted!

February 11, 2021

At the Too-Cold Night Café...

 ... it’s another day without a sunrise photo. I can’t do my morning run when it’s below zero out there. I’ve got a few more of these double lockdown days (that is, days of confinement caused by Covid and by coldness). But it’s snuggly warm inside, so let’s settle in for some conversation. 

Did you watch the Trump trial?  I did not. Even with the double lockdown, I did not. Did anything new come out? I’ll read the news in the morning. My sense is that what was presented is what I have already heard. But who knows? Maybe they nailed him today. 

Other topics are most welcome. For example, have you written any poetry at any point in your life (and if so why), what is your favorite smell, have you ever joined or considered joining a cult (and if you had to be in a cult, which cult would you join), would you ever support a violent revolution (and would you have been a Loyalist in the American Revolution), are you trying to lose weight (and what are your diet tips?), and... anything else you would like to add?

"Until the World Trade Center was built, most skyscrapers were supported by simple steel or concrete frames."

"But that meant that interiors were interrupted by columns. For the Trade Center, architects and engineers, including Mr. Robertson, sought to create column-free expanses for commercial tenants. He did that by making the towers giant steel tubes, with about half of the weight borne by exterior columns. The rest of the weight was carried by the towers’ steel-and-concrete cores. Floors were supported by lightweight steel trusses linking the exterior columns to the cores, giving tenants column-free spaces measuring about three-quarters of an acre. According to Mr. Robertson, the buildings had been designed to withstand the impact of a Boeing 707, but the planes flown into the towers were heavier 767s. And his calculations had been based on the initial impact of the plane; they did not take into account the possibility of what he called a 'second event,' like a fire. When the planes struck the towers, they sliced through the steel frames, but the buildings remained standing. Many engineers concluded that conventionally framed buildings would have collapsed soon after impact. The twin towers stood long enough to allow thousands of people to escape."

"[A]n unpopular hero to civil libertarians, the Devil incarnate to an unlikely alliance of feminists and morality preachers, a conundrum to judges and juries..."

"... and a purveyor of guilty secrets to legions of men slinking off from porn shops or the mailbox with brown paper parcels."

Hustler’s June 1978 cover caught the enigmas of a magazine that was at once salacious, satirical, perverse, decadent, gleefully immoral and hypocritical. It portrayed a woman upside down and half gone into a meat grinder, with a plate of hamburger below. A “seal of approval” noted: “Prime. Last All Meat Issue. Grade ‘A’ Pink.” A caption quoted Mr. Flynt, “We will no longer hang women up like pieces of meat.”... 

"'Love is strange,' wrote Thomas Pynchon, citing the 1956 Mickey and Sylvia hit single, in his 1988 New York Times review of Gabriel García Márquez’s novel 'Love in the Time of Cholera.'"

"As we get older, he continued, 'we may begin to regard love songs, romance novels, soap operas and any live teenage pronouncements at all on the subject of love with an increasingly impatient, not to mention intolerant, ear.' This sort of marginalization of love stories — that, for one thing, they don’t qualify as 'legitimate' novels — threads through the 125 years of The New York Times Book Review. And yet there are lessons to be learned about the necessary ingredients for a good love story from even these sorts of condescensions — along with the review that took them more seriously, of course." 

Andrea, Jennifer, and The 2 Williams.

I assured you that I would write this post. It's something that should be very fun for me, but I've made it obligatory. I said "It's one of my favorite stories ever." And then, fooling about in the comments:
Every task seems like more fun than the subject I regard as the ripest of the week, Andrea, Jennifer, and The 2 Williams. 
What is wrong with me? I just got up to make my 5th cup of coffee! 
Did William Shakespeare drink coffee? Did William Faulkner?... 
"He didn't have coffee, he didn't have vanilla, he didn't have cocoa. Imagine writing Hamlet without a cup of coffee. That's amazing."... 
Faulkner drank, but not so much coffee. 
"Jeezus Christ! Have you ever heard of anyone who drank while he worked? You’re thinking of Faulkner. He does sometimes—and I can tell right in the middle of a page when he’s had his first one"

So, yes, the "2 Williams" are Shakespeare and Faulkner. They were in the news last night because Andrea — Andrea Mitchell, the NBC News chief Washington correspondent — tweeted something so mind-bogglingly stupid — stupid, evil, and hilarious — and Jennifer — Jennifer Rubin, the WaPo columnist — lunged horribly after Andrea's tweet. These people — Mitchell and Rubin — are supposed to be the elite, but they are not even elite enough to keep from stumbling over a high-school level literary reference or even to think of making sure — with the quickest Google — they're not making a gaffe. 

Andrea saw what looked like it might be an opportunity to mock Ted Cruz.

Imperfect rhymes.

I don't know what poems and raps you are working on, but me, I needed a rhyme for "infinite." I resorted to using a website called Rhyme Zone, which informed me that there were no perfect rhymes, but it listed near rhymes, ranking them according to nearness, with 100 being a perfect rhyme.

First on the list was "pinion nut," with a 92 rating. Less near were "intimate," "indiscriminate," and "Berlin summit," at 88. The most interesting suggestion was "sinful lust," 84....

Conversation at Meadhouse:
ME: Do you know what a pinion nut is?
MEADE: Opinion nut?
ME: No! A ...  ... ...  pinion ... nut?
MEADE: Not some nutty guy with an opinion?
ME: No. Pinion. Nut.
MEADE: Like a pine nut?
ME: That's what I thought too. No. The hardware kind of nut. 

It's hard to move forward poetically from "infinite" to "pinion nut" but probably actually a better move than going for "sinful lust." Actually, the best solution is to use "opinion nut"!

Speaking of infinite, you're probably wondering whether it's going to take me forever to get to that story I will call Andrea, Jennifer, and The 2 Williams. If I'd seen that last night, I'd have jumped right on it. But I went to sleep at the Tom Brady bedtime (8:30 p.m.), so I missed my chance to be an earlier noticer of this ripe, ripe tidbit. I saw it first thing when I woke up (at 3:30 a.m.), but I knew it had been noticed all over the place. I'll have to bring more to the table than a simple acknowledgment of the evil, hilarious screwup. But I assure you I mean to get to it. It's one of my favorite stories ever. It's nearly 8 a.m., so I've been warming this place up for 4 hours. It's time to face the music. The next post will be "Andrea, Jennifer, and The 2 Williams."

Speaking of sons...

"Instagram took down the account of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the political scion and prominent anti-vaccine activist, on Wednesday over false information related to the coronavirus. 'We removed this account for repeatedly sharing debunked claims about the coronavirus or vaccines,' Facebook, which owns Instagram, said in a statement. Mr. Kennedy, the son of the former senator and U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, worked for decades as an environmental lawyer but is now better known as an anti-vaccine crusader." 

We say "motherly" and "fatherly" and even "daughterly" but not "sonly."


ADDED: "Sonly" is a word. The OED has it dating back to c1443. 

R. Pecock Reule of Crysten Religioun... He schal haue sonely drede to god lest he offende god.

"Sit high for a bigger view and better three-dimensional perception? Or lower, to sense g-forces more accurately?"

"Being that our eyes and ears are at the same height (they're a package deal, right?—either they're all up or all down), they can't be split up and repositioned. Perhaps if our bodies were designed by racing car engineers, our inner ear sensors would have wound up around our navels (which is approximately our center of gravity)."

That was published last September. I'm seeing it this morning because I've been clicking on this and that after noticing a "recently published" item in the OED: "sit-up-and-beg." 

This is an adjective "Designating an upright posture or sitting position, esp. in a vehicle" — as in "The old-fashion ‘sit up and beg’ driving position is an irritation." (That's a 1991 quote from Time magazine, and it led to a discussion here at Meadhouse over whether "old-fashion" is illiterate. Conclusion: Not only is it not wrong, it usually expresses the meaning you want better than "old-fashioned.")

"Sit-up-and-beg" can also refer to "a bicycle which, owing to its relatively high handlebars, must be ridden in an upright sitting position." You can also just use it as a noun to refer to a bicycle that forces you to ride in that position: "You see people dressed up, wearing high heels.., pottering along on a sit-up-and-beg—that's the kind of cyclist I'd like to be." OED got that one from @MirandaFrance1 on Twitter in 2020. Good to know the OED is watching the development of the English language on Twitter. And it's that Twitter addition that caused this old word to make today's "recently published" list.

And I'm delighted to see I have a tag for "posture"! With 10 old entries! 10!

A funny thing about that OED entry is that it never mentions dogs. Surely, "sit-up-and-beg" comes the old dog trick.


Why do people want their dog to assume a begging position? A lowly urge, no?

The ambiguous "drops."

Headline at Hollywood Reporter: "HBO Drops Pair of Mike Judge Comedy Series."

I know "drops" is supposed to sound cool, like when some pop star "drops" a new recording. But it's such a saggy, sad word, and sometimes — as in that headline — it sounds like the very thing they're trying to get us excited about just got cancelled

Oh, no! Wait. I'm reading this article now:
'QualityLand' and 'A5' will not move forward as the 'Silicon Valley' co-creator continues to juggle the new take on 'Beavis and Butt-Head' for Comedy Central.
These shows did get dropped in the old-timey sense of cancelled/rejected. The word has ambiguity whichever way you want to use it. 

And by the way, what does it say about America that something new called "QualityLand" is shunned and they're bringing back "Beavis and Butt-Head"? Personally, I loved "Beavis and Butt-Head" — as an MTV show in the early 1990s. It's a quarter century later, though, America. 

I thought I was a little childish watching that when I was in my 40s, but who would have thought that 20+ years later, a reboot of the thing would be what was happening on HBO? What was on HBO, 20+ years ago? Here's a list of the best of HBO in the 1990s, topped by "The Sopranos." 

Watching "The Sopranos" in the 1990s, I might have wondered, What would HBO be in the 2020s? If the only fact I had from the future was HBO will be generating new episodes of "Beavis and Butt-Head," I would have been terrified. What the hell will have happened to America?!

"TV coverage of the trial on Tuesday afternoon averaged 11 million viewers on broadcast networks ABC and CBS and the three main cable news outlets — CNN, Fox News and MSNBC."

"NBC also aired coverage but its audience figures weren't available at publication time. The first day of Trump's previous impeachment trial in January 2020 also drew 11 million viewers across six networks, including NBC. Tuesday's average will obviously climb above that mark when NBC's total is added. MSNBC grabbed the largest audience with 2.87 million viewers from 1-5:15 p.m. ET, a little ahead of the 2.66 million who watched the trial on CNN. Fox News averaged 1.95 million viewers, followed by ABC (1.8 million) and CBS (1.74 million), according to Nielsen fast national ratings."

February 10, 2021

An Afternoon Café...

 ... in case you need to talk.

I can see that the impeachment trial is back, but I am not watching. Feel free to talk about it or anything else.

"Greene Gains Popularity With Republican Voters Following Committee Fight/Georgia freshman is now as prominent nationwide as House GOP leaders."

"30% of GOP voters view Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene favorably, up 11 points since last week/Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican, is liked by 22% of Republicans, up 7 points during that time/59% of voters nationwide have an opinion of Greene, matching prominence of Cheney and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)." 

"Surprising words from the country that gave us Derrida and Foucault :)"

Tweets Jordan Peterson, looking at "'Out-of-control woke leftism and cancel culture' from the U.S is a threat to FRANCE because it 'attacks' the nation's heritage and identity, French politicians and intellectuals say" (Daily Mail). 

This is a good nudge to think deeply about how the "woke leftism and cancel culture" has used and distorted the grand French philosophers beyond recognition. The French don't recognize what we've done to the philosophy we appropriated. Our lefties are doing Frenchface... badly.

From the Daily Mail article:
The collection of intellectuals arguing that France is being contaminated by the leftism of America was buoyed on last year after French President Emmanuel Macron appeared to side with them. In a speech in October on the 'Fight against Separatism', Macron warned against leaving 'the intellectual debate to others' as he cautioned of the 'certain social science theories entirely imported from the United States'....


This month also saw the publication of a book by social scientists Stéphane Beaud and Gérard Noiriel in which they claimed that race is a 'bulldozer' that destroys other subjects....  Historian Pierre-André Taguieff argued... that the 'American-style black question' was a 'totally artificial importation' to France. He said that it was all driven by 'hatred of the West, as a white civilization'.... 

James Lindsay — author of "Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity―and Why This Harms Everybody" — has a response at Peterson's tweet: "They have a complicated relationship with those thinkers, who were wrong, yes, but who were also bastardized by American Critical Theory frauds the French would certainly not respect in the least." 

The second-oldest person in the world just survived covid 19.

"A 116-year-old French nun who is believed to be the world’s second-oldest person has survived COVID-19 and is looking forward to celebrating her 117th birthday on Thursday" (Fox32).
"She didn’t ask me about her health, but about her habits," David Tavella, the communications manager for the [nun's] care home.... "For example, she wanted to know if meal or bedtime schedules would change. She showed no fear of the disease. On the other hand, she was very concerned about the other residents."

"If Donald Trump directly caused the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6, then Democrats need to prove it...."

"Americans need to see all the evidence. And I’m worried that Democrats won’t supply enough of it. Citizens need testimony and documentation that painstakingly lays out the theory of the case: how Trump planned to claim fraud well before the election and how he followed through afterward, using false statements and frivolous lawsuits to deceive his followers into believing that he hadn’t really lost; how his political team helped bring the angriest and most extreme of those followers to D.C. on the day the results were being certified and whipped the crowd into a rage; how Trump himself then pointed that mob at Congress; and how the president both demonstrated and magnified his complicity by refusing to intervene for long hours as his supporters rampaged through the U.S. Capitol. Yet as I write, opening arguments have begun in Trump’s Senate trial, and Democrats aren’t even sure whether they’re going to call witnesses.... [E]ven the most meticulous case is unlikely to sway the 17 Republican senators that Democrats would need to convict Trump....  [But it is] important is to lay out the entire case before the large number of Americans who haven’t understood exactly how the events of Jan. 6 unfolded or how much Trump and his allies did to foment that insurrection....  And what America needs most right now is some politicians who demonstrate what it looks like to do the right thing for the nation even at some personal political cost."

I would add that we need to see a fair trial. It doesn't matter that the outcome is already obvious. The Democrats have brought us this far, and they need to follow through in a way that impresses us with its legitimacy. It's hard to do that when the judges are lined up by party and they're all self-interested in the outcome and were involved in the incident at the heart of the case. But to cut matters short will make things worse and leave Trump supporters aggrieved and believing that a great injustice was perpetrated.

ADDED: Rereading this post, I can see that a Trump antagonist might say: Since Trump is going to win, Trump supporters will have no occasion to cry injustice. That attitude could stoke confidence that the House Managers can conduct the trial in any manner that they find politically advantageous. I think that would be a terrible mistake. Once you take up the powerful weapons of government, you must demonstrate that you are circumspect and trustworthy. 

ALSO: I cut down the quote so I wouldn't copy too much, but one of the lines I left out is something that I thought would be too distracting. Now, I find, I'm still thinking about it, and it's nagging at me, so I need to include it. It's what comes right after the quote in my post title: 
To be clear, I believe Trump deserves to be convicted of grave crimes against the republic and barred from ever again running for office.
You see the problem! McArdle hasn't seen the evidence that is needed to convince the public, and yet she is already convinced. And there's something about that "To be clear, I believe..." that seems like she feels pressure to assure WaPo readers that she's on the right side — Don't worry, I know he's guilty, it's those other people that I, like you, am worried about

I do give McArdle credit for saying "I believe" and not "I know." And I notice she says "deserves to be convicted of grave crimes" not "is guilty of grave crimes." That's rather sneaky, because you could say "deserves to be convicted of grave crimes" even if you think he may not actually be guilty of the crime charged. You may simply think Trump is horrible and has done so many things that are wrong that he deserves to have something pinned on him. 

"Meandering Performance by Defense Lawyers Enrages Trump/The former president was particularly angry at Bruce L. Castor Jr., one of his lawyers, for acknowledging the effectiveness of the House Democrats’ presentation."

Maggie Haberman reports (at the NYT). 
Mr. Castor, the first to speak, delivered a rambling, almost somnambulant defense of the former president for nearly an hour. Mr. Trump, who often leaves the television on in the background even when he is holding meetings, was furious, people familiar with his reaction said. On a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the angriest, Mr. Trump “was an eight,” one person familiar with his reaction said.... 
None of the lawyers from the first impeachment trial who defended Mr. Trump returned for the second round. And most of the team he initially hired abruptly parted ways with him days before the trial began.... 
Senator Bill Cassidy, a Republican from Louisiana, castigated Mr. Trump’s defense lawyers in explaining why he voted “yes” on the question of whether the Senate has jurisdiction in the case even though Mr. Trump is out of office. Asked why he believed they did poorly, Mr. Cassidy replied to reporters, “Did you listen to it?” “It was disorganized, random — they talked about many things, but they didn’t talk about the issue at hand,” he said.

It is painful to watch a legal proceeding where one side has far, far better legal representation than the other. Castor is a former prosecutor, so perhaps he's used to being on the side that is much better represented and has skills honed through encounters with overworked, underprepared criminal defense lawyers. I don't know if I want to feel sorry for Trump for his lack of representation, when there are so many people struggling with insufficient legal assistance. It's easy to ignore such people. They're not in the spotlight. 

ADDED: Trump is a conspicuous victim of poor representation. But I do feel bad about it. I want to see a fair fight. Yet perhaps it is his fault for trying to dictate what his lawyers must argue and leaving them in the position where their only alternative was to walk away, leaving Trump to scramble for someone, anyone who will represent him, and those are the characters who are struggling to hold up Trump's end of the fight. It's a grisly spectacle, but Trump has responsibility for it. 

It was at precisely the 9-minute mark that I turned off the Bruce Castor opening statement, because I didn't need to watch someone else's nightmare.


He's revealed that he changed what he was going to say because the House Managers' presentation was so good and rambled about how we all feel emotional when we've witnessed violence and — seeming to want to discourse on the subject of the specialness of U.S. Senators — he takes us back to his childhood, when he used to listen to a record — an old-time LP on a record player, remember those things? — and his parents had a record of Senator Everett Dirksen, I bet some of you remember Everett Dirkson, oh, my, he had a deep, resonant, sonorous voice, he would intone, intone with such seriousness, about gallant men... that's what the record was called "Gallant Men," though of course, today, it would need to be "Gallant Men and Women" — chuckle, chuckle — because, you know, women, women are gallant too. Shall we talk about gallantry? Gallantry is important in this world, and Senators can be gallant! Some folks say ga-LANT, accent on the second syllable, but whether you say GAL-lant or ga-LANT, whether you be Democrat or Republican, male or female, Kansan or Nebraska — whoever, wherever, from whatever walk of life that may lead you here today to this great chamber, this chamber that was breached — breached! — on that horrible day, you know that violence is wrong, violence is terrible, and violence against the most gallant, most serious, resonant, sonorous-voiced chamber that has ever graced the face of this earth, from the great, gallant Everett Dirkson, through the ages, down to you, you most sonorous and gallant denizens of this sacred chamber, it was a most awful event that occurred that day, January 6th, and it made me think of that time when I was but a little boy, barely able to operate the record player, with its tone arm and its revolutions per minute setting, but I would work oh so hard to cue up that voice, that wonderful voice of Everett Dirkson, why that man, speaking of gallantness — gallantry — it reached me in the depth of my being — though I was but a little boy — and I thought someday, perhaps I too, could find my way to the Senate Chamber and I could stand before it and open my mouth and speak, speak in my voice, a voice that would perhaps have matured in the deep, warm, chilling depth of the deep voice of Everett Dirkson, and I would be standing there, speaking, and... oh, my God, please, let me wake from this nightmare!

February 9, 2021

At the Tuesday Night Cafe...

... you can talk about whatever you want.

Lawyer tells judge "I'm not a cat."

"I’d say that publicly asking Breyer to retire would be an easy way for any Democratic pol thought to be vulnerable to a progressive primary challenge — or who wanted to run for president — to stand out."

"Your basic White House-mad senator isn’t going to lose much sleep over Breyer’s sensitivities or the arcane etiquette of the legal profession...."

Said Ed Kilgore, quoted in "Will Stephen Breyer Take One for the Team?" (NY Magazine).

"The public had a right to know, and Fox had a right to cover, that the president and his allies were accusing Smartmatic (and others) of manipulating the election results, regardless of the ultimate truth or accuracy of those allegations."

From the motion described in "Fox Files Motion to Dismiss Smartmatic’s $2.7 Billion Defamation Suit/In a court filing, Rupert Murdoch’s media company says it had the right to broadcast the debunked claims of election fraud promoted by President Donald Trump’s legal team on Fox News and Fox Business" (NYT).
“It’s a strong move on their part to try to come out and dismiss the claim,” said Timothy Zick, a professor at William & Mary Law School who specializes in First Amendment law. 
Mr. Zick said that Fox was making use of the concept of “neutral reportage,” arguing that it could not be sued for defamation while covering the news. “They’re arguing that shields Fox News as an organization for simply reporting on the controversy, which is a matter of public interest,” he said. 

It's -1° — feels like -12° — here in Madison, Wisconsin, so I'm pretty much stuck indoors today, but...

 ... I still can't picture myself turning on the television and watching the damned impeachment trial.

"I believe Althouse wants to protect her blog from reprisal by the woke crowd, but I think the main reason for her prohibition of the-word-that-shall-not-be-uttered is that she is disgusted by it, and disgusted by people that use it."

Wrote Roughcoat in the comments to yesterday's post about the firing of a NYT reporter who had spoken the n-word aloud. 

I said: 
I think once you've been informed that something makes some other people feel bad, you need a good reason to keep doing it. 
I learned the n-word was bad when I was a little child doing the "eeny meeny miney moe" rhyme, which in the early 1950s in Delaware had the n-word. As far as I knew, it was just another one of the nonsense words, like "miney" and "moe." Another child informed me that she had been taught that it makes "colored people" feel bad. I had no idea why this was so, no idea what it meant, but that was enough for me. I didn't want to make anybody feel bad. If there was a special group with a special sensitivity about the word, I just felt bad that I didn't know about it before, and I would never use it again. That's the kind of ethics I learned as a child. 
It's not about "disgust" for the people who use the word. It's about consideration for people who could be hurt....

"An Israeli company unveiled the first 3-D-printed rib-eye steak on Tuesday, using a culture of live animal tissue.... Aleph Farms’ new 3-D bioprinting technology — which uses living animal cells..."

"... as opposed to plant-based alternatives — allows for premium whole-muscle cuts to come to market, broadening the scope of alt-meat in what is expected to be a rich area of expansion for food companies. ...  The new meat-making process, developed with research partners at the Israel Institute of Technology, prints living cells that are incubated on a plant-based matrix to grow, differentiate and interact to achieve the texture and qualities of a real steak. It has a system similar to an animal’s vascular system, which allows cells to mature and nutrients to move across thicker tissue, resulting in a steak with a similar shape and structure to traditional cow tissue before and during cooking. 'It’s not just proteins, it’s a complex, emotional product,' says Aleph chief executive Didier Toubia."

It made me think the steak scene in the 1986 movie "The Fly," Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) is testing his teleportation device by running a half of a steak through it. He then cooks the teleported and unteleported halves of the steak and feeds them to his girlfriend Ronnie (Geena Davis). The unteleported steak, Ronnie says, "tastes like a steak" As for the teleported steak: "Oh... Oh, oh, tastes funny." She spits it out. "It tastes... synthetic." 

Brundle theorizes: "The computer is giving us its interpretation... of a steak. It's, uh translating it for us; it's rethinking it, rather than reproducing it, and something is getting lost in the translation.... The flesh. It should make the computer, uh crazy. Like those old ladies pinching babies. But it doesn't; not yet because I haven't taught the computer to be made crazy by the... flesh. The poetry of the steak. So, I'm gonna start teaching it now."

"Semicolons are ugly, pretentious and unnecessary; they immaturely try to have it both ways."

"There are so many things to fear in life, but punctuation is not one of them. That semicolons, unlike most other punctuation marks, are fully optional and relatively unusual lends them power; when you use one, you are doing something purposefully, by choice, at a time when motivations are vague and intentions often denied.... Are they ugly? That’s an opinion. Theodor Adorno said they looked like 'a drooping mustache,' but in his view, that’s good — all punctuation marks, and the downtrodden semicolon especially, are 'friendly spirits whose bodiless presence nourishes the body of language'; they ought to be defended. What’s more: Why does your text message, email, tweet, article or book need to be pretty? Is that not also a little pretentious? According to Kurt Vonnegut’s often-taught (and, if you read the full quote, both a little ironic and offensive) advice, 'all they do is show you’ve been to college,' but these days anyone can look up how to use a semicolon.... That semicolons aren’t popular on social media — where oversimplification and directness reign and the presence of too much grammatical flair is likely to limit 'engagement' — is perhaps the only argument some readers will need to be convinced of their value."

"My mom is a person that says like, 'You know, they killed their parents, and that’s wrong.'"

"I’m always like, ‘Yeah, it is wrong.’ I’m not supporting the fact that they killed their parents, and I never will. But it’s the background story that’s so much more important to me." 

"It’s as much a war movie as anything else, with a woman as the general, and her gender isn’t the chink in her armor."

Wrote Frank Bruni, in the NYT last October, in "Sigourney Weaver Goes Her Own Way/Delivering performances both profound and eccentric, the actress has refused to be pinned down or defined throughout her nearly half-century career. At 71, she’s still going her own (mischievous) way." 

There were 9 other articles with the word "chink" in The New York Times in 2020. Today, the NYT's delightful word puzzle "Spelling Bee" challenges us to make words out of these letters....

... and it rejects the word "chink." If you try to enter it, you'll be told "Not in word list." 

I wasn't surprised to see this. I'd long observed the Spelling Bee's rejection of the word "coon," which can be a racial slur but, obviously, is also what people who call an opossum a "possum" call a raccoon. Last November, I blogged (at great length) about the Spelling Bee's rejection of the word "nappy."

The reason I'm blogging about this issue again, with "chink," is that the NYT printed the word "chink" 20 times in its own articles in 2020! When is a bad word so bad it's censored when it appears in a non-bad context? Take a position.

You know what? I took a position back in 2012. ESPN had fired a reporter for using the phrase "chink in the armor" in a headline that was about a Chinese basketball player. I felt sorry for the reporter, who'd used "chink in the armor" many times before and didn't mean to crack a joke about the player's race, but I wrote:

February 8, 2021

At the Monday Night Cafe...

... you can talk about whatever you want. 

Page 7 of Trump's Trial Memorandum concedes the very fact upon which I've said his guilt hinges.

Here's a PDF of the document. From page 7: 
Law Enforcement Had Reports Of A Potential Attack On The Capitol Several Days Before President Trump's Speech.

Despite going to great lengths to include information regarding Mr. Trump's comments dating back to August 2020 and various postings on social media, the House Managers are silent on one very chilling fact. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has confirmed that the breach at the Capitol was planned several days in advance of the rally, and therefore had nothing to do with the President's speech on January 6th at the Ellipse. According to investigative reports all released after January 6, 2021, "The Capitol Police, the NYPD and the FBI all had prior warning that there was going to be an attack on the Capitol."

Obviously, Trump's lawyers think it's exculpatory that there was an advance plan. But I have been saying the opposite. Here's my January 10th post

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 [January 6th] 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 [of] 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....

But now Trump's trial memo asserts that there was a plan.  

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?... ... I want to see... 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.... 

"What if They Held an Impeachment Trial and Nobody Came?/Maybe it’s a good thing that we’re more focused on Biden. Or maybe we’ve just given up.... Let’s not start with impeachment trial No. 2...."

"Interesting how little anybody’s been talking about Trump’s trial this week, including us. Maybe the Super Bowl got in the way, but I’m thinking the country is maybe just Done With Trump. Now there’s a good slogan for a T-shirt.... The simple fact is that Trump is very likely to get away with inciting an insurrection against Congress and American democracy, thanks to the complicity of spineless and unprincipled Republicans. And to go back to your earlier point for a second, is there anything more disgusting than Kevin McCarthy asking Cheney to apologize for her vote to impeach?"

2 NYT editors — Gail Collins & Bret Stephens — have a dialogue that shows... what? That the elite wish the impeachment would just please go away?

"[I]nsisting on this taboo [of the n-word] makes it look like black people are numb to the difference between usage and reference, vague on the notion of meta, given to overgeneralization rather than to making distinctions."

"To wit, to get [NYT reporter Donald] McNeil fired for using the N-word to refer to it makes black people look dumb. And not just to the Twitter trollers who will be nasty enough to actually write it down. Non-black people are thinking it nationwide and keeping it to themselves. Frankly, the illogic in this approach to the N-word is so obvious to anyone who does make distinctions that the only question is why people would not look on and guiltily wonder whether the idea that black people are less intellectually gifted is true."

We talked about the ousting of McNeil a couple days ago, here. I commented on the loss of the old "use/mention" distinction. McWhorter is adding something important: Those who have rejected the distinction are perpetuating — and maybe even relying on — a racist stereotype. I hasten to add that McWhorter doesn't say "racist," "racism," or "stereotype." He says that those who've made it taboo to say the n-word — even just to refer to it — are making it "look like" they think black people are too dumb to understand the distinction. 

Why don't those who believe racism is pervasive feel compelled to analyze the racism in their own efforts to fight racism? Surely, their meaning well isn't enough. McWhorter is pointing out a background belief that is reflected in the ban on merely saying the "sequence of sounds" that is the n-word. If that isn't a call to do more "work" understanding systemic racism, then the game of critical race theory is rigged.

What percentage of the Super Bowl audience did not understand — and had no hope of understanding — the bandaged faces of the male dancers in the halftime show?

I didn't even get that we were supposed to see the face coverings as bandages. We were just guessing. We thought of jock straps and covid masks and mummies. We never even hit on the correct answer — which I'm reading about this morning — which is the kind of bandages wrapped over a face that's been subjected to plastic surgery. And if you'd told me that was what I was supposed to see, I wouldn't have had any idea why that was the chosen costume for the ordinarily festive event. It's been a drearily medicalized year with the covid lockdown, so why would you attempt to entertain us using some other medical thing — plastic surgery? Why would you do that this year — or any year? 

Here's a news report from news.com.au:
The Weeknd has performed his highly anticipated Super Bowl halftime show for 2021, and unexpectedly, his face was completely normal, with no real plastic surgery in sight. The 30-year-old has been teasing fans with wild face prosthetics and bandages for weeks leading up to the performance and new album release.

Ugh! I guess if I'd been a fan of this guy, I might have noticed his PR antics, and then it would have been amusing that he hadn't had plastic surgery on his face, and it might also have been funny that the dancers were wearing the kind of bandages that he had previously worn to tease us. But for those of us who hadn't seen his pre-game teasing, it was just weird and confusing. I guess The Weeknd didn't care about reaching out to any new fans. It was just an inside joke. An inside joke about plastic surgery

"As the quarterback has aged, he works out less with weights, which could leave him prone to muscle tears."

"Now it’s all about planks, lunges and squats, followed by more pliability exercises, such as doing crunches with a vibrating roller beneath his back." He also uses "resistance bands, to make muscles more pliable, soft and resilient." 

It's helpful to know what works for a highly functional body. He's 43 and he's minimizing the use of weights and looking to keep his muscles soft. There's a photograph of him in a bathing suit at the link, and compared to male fitness models, he looks out of shape. The phrase "dad bod" occurred to me. But he is in perfect shape. You have to question the use of weights and the pursuit of cut, swollen, hard muscles. 

Also, Tom Brady goes to sleep at 8:30 p.m. I'd been trying to stay up until at least 9 so I'm not being ridiculous, but if Tom Brady goes to sleep at 8:30, at the age of 43, then 8:30 is the perfect adult bedtime, and I will cast aside my embarrassment at wanting to sleep before 9. 

And here's a video that influenced me even before Tom Brady won his 7th Super Bowl. He shows Men's Health — home of those fitness models who don't look like Tom Brady — what's in his refrigerator:


Now, when you're food shopping, you'll be thinking What would Tom Brady buy?

Note the T-shirt with one word on the front: "Pliability."

February 7, 2021

At the Sunday Night Café...

 ... talk about anything you want.

Including the Super Bowl.


I'm reading "How San Francisco Renamed Its Schools" in The New Yorker. Isaac Chotiner interviews the head of the San Francisco Board of Education, Gabriela López, whose evasive style of speech would be comical if it weren't so sad:
The mayor of the city, London Breed, released a statement saying, “What I cannot understand is why the school board is advancing a plan of all these schools renamed by April when there isn’t a plan to have our kids back in the classroom by then.” What’s your response to that? 
I know that when it comes to schools, any opportunity to cause further division is what the mayor has contributed to. And it’s unfortunate because we need to be clear about where we are in this process. What she’s talking about as far as reopening schools, that is what we’re working on every single day. The fact that people are pointing to “We don’t have a plan”—that’s completely false. 

"Like Stalin’s regime during the Great Terror, the Party doesn’t fear heretics; it needs them, because its power is renewed by crushing them."

"Malcolm Muggeridge called this the 'continuous performance' of power: 'A government based on terrorism requires constantly to demonstrate its might and resolution.'" 

ADDED: I'm suddenly remembering the old line, "Conservatives are always looking for converts, whereas liberals are always looking for heretics." I've heard that discussed many times, usually with the assumption that conservatives have a better strategy, and liberals are hurting themselves (the old "circular firing squad" problem). But reading the passage quoted above, I saw the looking-for-heretics strategy in a new light. 

"The Ministry of Truth" continues:
The perfect citizen is boring, a closed case; the challenge is to tear a free mind to pieces. Only that way can there be “victory after victory” in the bowels of the Ministry of Love: victory over the past, over the individual, over reality itself.

"We have to be very cautious in our celebration of these lawsuits, because the history of defamation is certainly one in which people in power try to slap down critics."

Said Yochai Benkler, "a professor at Harvard Law School who studies disinformation and radicalization in American politics," quoted in "Lawsuits Take the Lead in Fight Against Disinformation/Defamation cases have made waves across an uneasy right-wing media landscape, from Fox to Newsmax" (NYT). 
“The competitive dynamic in the right-wing outrage industry has forced them all over the rails,” Mr. Benkler said. “This is the first set of lawsuits that’s actually going to force them to internalize the cost of the damages they’re inflicting on democracy.” 
Mr. Benkler called the Smartmatic suit “a useful corrective” — “it’s a tap on the brakes” — but he also urged restraint....

The article also quotes the First Amendment lawyer Martin Garbus: “Will lawsuits like this also be used in the future to attack groups whose politics I might be more sympathetic with?” And yet:

Mr. Garbus, who made his reputation in part by defending the speech rights of neo-Nazis and other hate groups, said that the growth of online sources for news and disinformation had made him question whether he might take on such cases today. He offered an example of a local neo-Nazi march. 

Before social media, “it wouldn’t have made much of an echo,” Mr. Garbus said. “Now, if they say it, it’s all over the media, and somebody in Australia could blow up a mosque based on what somebody in New York says. “It seems to me you have to reconsider the consequence of things,” he added.

Wow! We are really losing the old-time devotion to free speech that stressed standing up for the principle especially when you disagree with what the speaker is saying. Both Garbus and Benkler know what they are giving up and make reference to the old way of thinking... right after they say they support burdens on freedom of speech. Just not too much! We need "a... corrective" and a bit more acknowledgment of "the consequence of things."

Here's the Wikipedia page for Martin Garbus. His eminence in the field of free speech law is mind-bending.

Are the anti-vaxxers rightwing?!

I'm wondering as I slog through a NYT article titled "A New Front in the Anti-Vaccine Fight Emerges in California/For months, far-right activists have rallied against masks and lockdowns imposed during the coronavirus pandemic. Now some protesters have shifted their focus to the Covid-19 vaccine." 

I see "far-right activists," but they are tied to other issues — masks and lockdowns. But "some protesters have shifted their focus" — that implies that some of the far-right activists have shifted from protesting masks and lockdowns to protesting vaccines. 

The article mentions the right but not the left:
For months, far-right activists across the country have been rallying against mask-wearing rules, business lockdowns, curfews and local public health officials, casting the government’s response to the virus as an intrusion on individual liberties. But as masks and lockdowns become an increasingly routine part of American life, some protesters have shifted the focus of their antigovernment anger to the Covid-19 vaccines. Last week at Dodger Stadium, the same small but vocal band of demonstrators who previously staged anti-mask and anti-lockdown protests in the Los Angeles area disrupted a mass vaccination site that gives an average of 6,120 shots daily. ...
So there are "far-right activists across the country" but also a "small but vocal band of demonstrators" in LA. Was the "small but vocal band" far right? Or did a sleight of hand take place there?

Another example of what I am suspecting is sleight of hand:
In the Covid-19 era in California, vaccine opponents have found themselves increasingly in alignment with pro-Trump, working-class people sometimes eager to embrace extreme tactics to express their beliefs....
I think what's barely getting acknowledged there is that vaccine opponents are left-wing, and they happen to be aligning to some extent with right-wingers. It's easy to understand "pro-Trump, working-class people" as right wing. But there's no cue at all with regard to the vaccine opponents. I'm guessing they are not working class.

Feels like -30°? Oh, I don't know...

... I was just out there at 4:30. Didn't even zip up my coat or put on a hat. It felt crisp and beautiful. I'd say I was out there for 4 minutes. I liked it!

Bruce Springsteen (and Jeep) call us (the Super Bowl watchers) back to the middle, to "the ReUnited States of America."


We see Bruce in Kansas, the geographic center of the contiguous 48 states, and he's mourning about how "the middle has been a hard place to get to lately." It's not overtly political, but I get the feeling that we're being told that the person who is President now, is more or less in the middle, and we ought to come together and feel good about that.

This is — Variety tells us — the first ad Bruce Springsteen has ever done. He'd never even allowed his songs to be used in ads.

But Springsteen has been openly political. Here's a message he put out just before the 2020 election:
There’s no art in this White House. There’s no literature, no poetry, no music. There are no pets in this White House. No loyal man’s best friend, no Socks the family cat, no kids’ science fairs. No time when the president takes off his blue suit, red tie uniform and becomes human. Except when he puts on his white shirt and khaki pants uniform, and hides from the American people to play golf. There are no images of the first family enjoying themselves together in a moment of relaxation. No Obamas on the beach in Hawaii moments or Bushes fishing in Kennebunkport. No Reagans on horseback. No Kennedys playing touch football on the Cape. Where’d that country go? Where did all the fun, the joy, and the expression of love and happiness go? We used to be the country that did the ice bucket challenge and raised millions for charity. We used to have a president who calmed and soothed the nation instead of dividing it. And a first lady who planted a garden instead of ripping one out. We are rudderless and joyless. We have lost the cultural aspects of society that make America great. We have lost our mojo, our fun, our happiness, our cheering on of others, the shared experience of humanity that makes it all worth it. The challenges and the triumphs that we shared and celebrated, the unique can-do spirit that America has always been known for. We are lost. We’ve lost so much in so short a time. On November 3rd, vote them out.

So, Bruce got what he said he wanted, the President who calms and soothes us instead of riling us up. And Bruce is driving a Jeep in Kansas to call us back into a dreamworld of Americana.