Her Majesty’s a pretty nice girl— Unfortunately, I think she got a bit knackered with all the celebrating today, and I’m glad she’s going to take a break tomorrow. After all, she’s 96. And while I thought “Charles III” was an interesting “what-if” drama, I’m in no hurry to get to the real thing. I don’t think many of us are…
Are the Movies Liberal? — An interesting, although not awesome, piece by a critic at the NYT. The subhed is, “Everyone knows Hollywood is progressive. But look at the films it churns out. They tell another story.” Well, yeah. Because as the piece says, movies are for everybody, and so they generally offer something for everybody, in order to keep the bucks rolling in. The piece makes some interesting points — and some that are off-kilter — but it’s an interesting read, even though it falls short of having all the answers.
Top Democrats challenging McMaster say Republicans setting the wrong course for SC — Well, yeah, but what are you gonna do about it? I means in terms of actually getting elected so you can do anything about it? I have to say I’m not terribly impressed, and probably won’t sacrifice my chance to have an actual say in who represents me in June by asking for a Democratic ballot. I did so in 2018 because James offered me somebody I could actually feel positive about voting for — and of course I went on to do far more than just vote. I don’t see anyone offering me that this year.
Russia Now Controls a Fifth of Ukraine — That’s depressing, even though 100 days ago, we would have expected it to be all of Ukraine by now. I just hope the country can continue to hang on, and that we continue to do what we should to help.
Some things that aren’t actually in the news right now, or at least not on the front page, although some are admittedly related:
‘Ted Lasso’ and ‘Fleabag’ and all the shows that are too awesome to watch (so I won’t) — Since this was in America, the Jesuit magazine, I thought maybe it would have a moral. Like, I don’t know, why I should watch these shows, or why I shouldn’t watch these shows. But it didn’t. It was just kind of a fun read about an aspect of what it’s like living in the Golden Age of Television. And I identified with part of it, which was the idea that this Jesuit brother can’t let himself watch these shows because they’re too good. He ends up caring about the characters to the point he can’t stand to watch bad things happen to them. I can identify with that.
Charles Whitman had a tumor; is that what did it? — The Buffalo shooting, of course, was about racism, which made sense in that context. The Texas school shooting didn’t appear to be about racism, so it became about how pathetic America can’t bring itself to deal with the 400 million guns out there. Also painfully true. But I saw the Texas guy also shot his grandmother, which made me think of Charles Whitman, who killed his wife and mother before he climbed that tower in 1966. And I thought I remembered the autopsy showed he had a brain tumor. And yes, Wikipedia mentioned that, but also said no one knows whether that made him do what he did. But what if it did, and we knew it? What if that was the explanation for all these mass shootings? Because, you know, racism exists, and too many guns exist, but somehow most of us don’t want to go out and kill a bunch of people. If we found out they did it because of tumors, we could just screen everybody for the tumors, and maybe cure them. Wouldn’t that be great?
When Preachers Are Predators — OK, this one is sort of about something in the news, even more so than the one before, but it’s not from the news pages; it’s opinion. Anyway, I’m just passing it on because Frank Bruni was onto something right here: “Men of God behave in ungodly ways. That’s not because they’re uniquely or especially evil. It’s because they’re men. Religious institutions countenance — and cover up — sin and even crime. That doesn’t mean they have any monopoly on hypocrisy. It means they’re institutions.” Yep. It’s not that there’s something inherently horrible about being Baptist, as opposed to being something else.
Don’t know much about history — Yeah, I majored in history — my second major, anyway. And I still enjoy reading about it. But the main thing it keeps teaching me is that I don’t know squat about history. Even the bits I’ve studied to death — say, the Second World War, which ended only eight years before I was born — constantly shock me with the things I don’t know about them, things I should have known. And then if I move away from those bits, I swim in an ocean of things I didn’t know. Recently, I started watching a documentary series on Prime about The First World War. I’m on the fourth episode, and I just had no idea. None at all. For instance, about the extent to which it really was a world war, and not just a bunch of white guys in trenches in France. (I’d seen “The African Queen,” but that was about it.) For instance, you know about the Siege of Tsingtao — you know, where the Japanese went up against the Germans, and beat them? In China? Huge deal. I had never heard of it. I don’t think I’d even heard of Tsingtao (where about 10 million people live), but you know how they’re always changing the names of Chinese places. Anyway… is history like that for you?
Did you know they wouldn’t let Nicholas Kristof run for governor? — Another thing I didn’t know, and should have. I saw a piece by him today and the explanatory blurb said, “Mr. Kristof is a former Times Opinion columnist. He was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor of Oregon this year.” And I thought, “was?” Turns out they disqualified him because of something about residency. Too bad. He’d have been a good governor, I think. Just as he was a very, very good columnist. So it was good to see a piece by him in the NYT.
Plants grow in lunar soil brought to Earth by Apollo astronauts — OK, this was, like, 12 days ago, and at the time tweeted it out with the message, “How I use my various newspaper apps: I plow doggedly through the tangled forest of shrieking madness and malevolent stupidity, and occasionally I find something interesting — such as this item….” But I include it here, because it sort of fits the theme of this post… It also could have been headlined, “World’s Smallest Farm…”
I’ll stop now. I just thought I should post something, and these are things I’d been thinking about…
Charles Whitman on his front porch, sometime before he climbed the tower.
Nato needed now more than ever – Biden — This is from the BBC. Unlike U.S. media, they pay attention to stuff like this. Which is helpful. Anyway, Joe said of Finland and Sweden, “They meet every Nato requirement and then some.”
SC COVID-19 cases spike for 7th week straight — Just thought I’d mention that, since folks don’t seem to be paying that much attention to it. Everywhere I turn, people keep getting it — in my family, among people I contact for work, and so forth. And yet you don’t hear that much about it, and you go places and hardly anyone is wearing masks. Which is weird.
Columbia Starbucks workers on strike, days after first SC store unionizes —
Boy, they didn’t wait around long, did they? This was at the Millwood store. I’ve never been there; have you? Nevertheless, I’m sure they have good coffee. Now if we can just get the one on Gervais Street back. That was my fave. I’m digressing again, aren’t I? Maybe I should drink some more coffee.
‘Pharma Bro’ Martin Shkreli has been released from prison — Talk about some bad news, huh? Worse, he wasn’t put away because of the really bad thing he did. This was sort of an Al Capone case. They got him on securities fraud, rather than for raising the price of a life-saving drug from $13.50 a pill to $750. And is our world any better now? No. The pill is still over $700. Oh, but he’s learned his lesson, right? He posted on FB, “Getting out of real prison is easier than getting out of Twitter prison.”
Pic the Bro posted on Facebook to mark getting out of prison. You can tell he’s reformed, right?
Signs of Progress in Russia-Ukraine Talks — Which sounds good, although this portion of the subhed doesn’t sound great: “Ukraine Offers Potential Concessions.” The terms should be “Russia pulls out, and leaves Ukraine alone forever.” Doing that without any “concessions” out of Kyiv should weaken Putin to the point of ending his regime, which would leave the world better off. But of course Zelenskyy has to deal with reality, not perfection. I do like the part about Moscow saying it will lessen pressure on the Ukrainian capital. Translated from the Russian, that seems to say, “We now know we can’t take Kyiv”…
Our cameras turn to the world of sports… This happened days ago, but this is my first post since then. I’ll just say what I said after the disappointment of watching St. Peter’s lose: “At this moment, I very much look forward to watching Duke take the Tarheels apart…” Meanwhile, the Lady Gamecocks continue toward their inevitable victory.
Here I am doing an Open Thread twice in one week. It’s almost like I’m getting serious about this blogging thing again. Well, that remains to be seen, but I hope you enjoy it…
Joe goes to Europe — Here’s hoping the sane countries of the world continue to show a united front against Putin, and that it has a salutary effect. As long as they’re meeting, maybe they can suggest to Germany another place where it could go to buy its gas.
The Zelenskyy-Churchill comparison — Several times over the last few days, I’ve heard or seen discussions of the Ukrainian leader, and Churchill comes up. Which I enjoy. My fave was something I heard on NPR with a British participant who said “extraordinary” a lot — like every sentence or two — and I love the way that sounds in RP. But why always Churchill? Just because we know he was a European leader who was in a tight spot against an authoritarian invader, and it had a happy ending? I guess it’s better if we see him as Winston than as Paul Reynaud. Oh, you never heard of Reynaud? Well, that’s my point… Or maybe it’s because Churchill also addressed Congress. I dunno…
I’m finding myself sorta, kinda cheering for Nancy Mace this time — Which is not what I or anyone else would expect. I mean, I always got along with Nancy personally, but that was years before she first ran for public office. Anyway, there are two reasons for this sorta, kinda position: 1. Her opponent is Katie Arrington. 2. Donald Trump seems to be really, really for Katie Arrington. Of course, this “sorta kinda” thing only goes so deep. I sort of cringed when NBC called Nancy “one of South Carolina’s rising stars.” I mean, I remember when national media called Nikki Haley that — actually, they still do. And I remember when they thought Mark Sanford was serious presidential fodder….
How about that huge trans-gender athlete thing in the State House? — My main reaction is that I look around at South Carolina, and I try to figure out why either side gets so passionate about something that so rarely crops up. Meanwhile, we’ve got people talking about taking funding away from the people who are supposed to be keeping our roads drivable, so they can pander by saying they lowered taxes. I wonder whether some of those who want to abandon a core responsibility of government are also pushing hard on the high-school sports thing?
Anybody gonna go see James Taylor? — I did, when he was here three years ago. Great show. I saw him decades ago in Memphis as well — one of my kids still has the T shirt, I think — but this was even better. So I recommend it…
James Taylor at the Colonial Center in 2019. It was great. I was far away, but they had those big screens…
At the moment, apparently, there’s nothing to watch…
Have I even done one of these this year? Well, I’m doing one now:
Ukraine Refuses to Surrender Mariupol; Thousands Trapped — Or, I could have brought up one of many other angles. I don’t know what to say beyond the fact that I want it to end as soon as possible — with Russia as the clear loser. I fear that second condition would take awhile, though. But Putin must fail.
Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Confirmation Hearings Begin — As y’all know, confirmation hearings are not one of my fave things. But a lot of folks out there take interest in them — may even be watching them. Thoughts? (That is to say, original, non-talking-points thoughts?) Have at it.
Thoughts on NCAA tournament basketball? — If so, y’all bring them up. I tried bringing up the topic earlier, but y’all weren’t interested. For my part, here’s the thing that makes me the happiest to have been wrong on my bracket: St. Peter’s. Here’s the thing that makes me saddest to have been right: Memphis losing to Gonzaga.
And the Lady Gamecocks won again — If you’ll recall, this is the full text of my NCAA women’s “bracket:” “But if you want to know who’s going to win, it will be the Lady Gamecocks. Duh…” So, you know, no surprises yet.
Thoughts about Frank Martin, or his replacement? — Yes, a record third basketball headline in a row. You’ll note that the link is to a story about Murray State’s Matt McMahon. So, what’s the thinking: That after this weekend, maybe they can get him cheaper?
Film recommendation — “De Gaulle.”— A new feature, if y’all are interested. I’m thinking about highlighting films I’ve found that maybe no one else has mentioned to you. Anyway, one thing I like about Amazon Prime is that it surprises me sometimes with something I’d never heard of. This weekend it was “De Gaulle.” Not only was it engaging to watch, but I learned a lot. Stuff I should have known, but didn’t, about such a key figure in such recent history. It’s in French, but if you’re a subtitles guy like me (I always have them turned on), that shouldn’t matter.
I thought ORANGE was the new black! What do they call this — Viet Cong Chic?
This is an experiment. Normally, blog posts get ignored on Fridays. Especially on Fridays such as this one, when people are having their routines disrupted by weather as well as COVID.
But I just thought I’d see if the sheer shock of me posting an open thread would draw attention and spark responses. Probably not, but we’ll see…
Vaccine boosters protect against severe illness from omicron, CDC says — Yes, they do. That’s why I got one. Good thing, too. The case of COVID I have is mostly just… tedious… It occurs to me I should provide an update on my condition, but there’s not much to say. I estimate that today — one week after receiving the test result — I feel 10 percent better than I did yesterday. But I still feel crappy. Beats being really sick, though. Also, I don’t want to bore y’all. I keep talking to people who say, Yeah, I had it last week, or I got diagnosed on Saturday, but I’m better now. Woman I talked to today said she’s had it twice — before and after vaccines. She assures me that after is way, way better.
Meat Loaf, whose operatic rock anthems made him an unlikely pop star, dies at 74 — I’m very sorry for Mr. Loaf, but of course the first thing that occurred to me was, I had no idea Meat Loaf was only 74. I mean, that’s just six years older than I am. Back when he and I were both young, I assumed he was way older — like, at least the age of the Beatles or the Stones (I mean, Ringo is 81!). I know this sounds kind of stupid, but I have thoughts like that a lot these days. I was less familiar with Louie Anderson, but I had a similar, and even sharper, reaction: He was exactly my age! Why did this kid die?
9 questions I have about the new, more ‘inclusive’ M&M mascots — First, this is an excuse to share an Alexandra Petri column, which I haven’t done in awhile. Second, as I said on Twitter in response to this, there are days when I worry that I’m not spending my time being sufficiently productive and useful to the world. Then I look at how the marketing folks at M&M are spending THEIR time, and I feel somewhat better…
Alex Murdaugh faces 23 new counts of financial crimes, adding $2.3M to missing money — Just curious whether ANY of y’all are following this. I know some people are, because this is about as obvious a click-based waste of scarce journalistic resources as I’ve ever seen. I’m just curious about one thing: Every picture that runs with these stories is exactly alike, except in one way — Murdaugh’s jail jumpsuit is always a different color. How many does he have? Are the other prisoners jealous of his wardrobe? The many, many stories may address this, but I’m not about to start reading them to find out.
Game action at Ebbets Field, Brooklyn between the Dodgers and Pirates on May 30, 1955
By Bryan Caskey
I figured I would give everyone a new thread to chew on since it’s been awhile since the last one. Here’s some of the top headlines around the state and country.
U.S. inflation: Inflation accelerated last month and remained at its highest rate in over a decade, with price increases from pandemic-related labor and materials shortages rippling through the economy. I know Brad doesn’t do much on financial news. However, this is important. Any person shopping for groceries or filling up a car’s gas tank is already feeling the pinch of inflation.
Dawn Staley: The University of South Carolina agreed to pay Ms. Staley $22.4M over the next seven years. She’s certainly earned it, and this makes her the highest paid women’s college basketball coach in the land. She will keep USC women’s basketball as a force for years to come. If you haven’t had a chance to go see them play, you’re missing out.
The Border: President Biden has announced he’s going to reimplement President Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy if Mexico agrees. I guess we’ll have to see what the Mexican government wants to do.
Catch-22 in Congress. Yesterday, Senator Sinema has announced that she isn’t voting for the reconciliation bill until the House passes the infrastructure bill that has already passed the Senate. This is sort of a problem, since some House Democrats have said they aren’t voting for the infrastructure bill until the reconciliation bill is passed by the Senate. Sounds like someone is going to have to back down, or the Catch-22 scenario happens and no money gets spent at all.
Baseball: Dodgers and Braves play for the NL pennant, while the Astros and Red Sox are both on the hunt for the AL pennant. I think it will be Red Sox and Dodgers, but I’d love to see the underdog Braves pull another rabbit out of their hat. The photo above is from the Dodgers back when they were the Brooklyn Dodgers, playing at Ebbets Field.
I initially typed, in the headline, “August 25, 2921.” That would have been… revelatory. But then, who would care what we say about it, eight centuries from now?
(And then, since I didn’t get it posted last night, I had to change the day as well.)
Hawaii governor says ‘now is not the time’ for tourists to visit — Every once in a while you see a headline that emphasizes dramatically how different this moment in history is from every other. And that’s what this headline does. Let’s just say Burl and I didn’t hear anything like that back when we were both living on Oahu 50 years ago. Now I’m waiting to hear something similar from Henry McMaster — something that shows he is aware of the difference between now and other times. I expect to be waiting a long, long time…
Stop Politicizing the Misery in Afghanistan — Amen, Frank Bruni. It’s a good piece, and I’d take it a bit farther: We need to stop doing this with every fricking thing in the world, not just Afghanistan. Back in the days when our nation’s politics were functional, and often even rational, I was dismissive of people who complained about “politics” intruding upon this or that. I would say, “Politics” is simply our term for how we, in a free society, discuss and deal with issues that affect us all in the public sphere. The term describes something that is not only not bad, but essential. But that has changed in recent years. For a couple of decades, the mindless competition between the two parties got more and more poisonous. And then came Trump, and everything got exponentially worse, and disconnected from reality. It’s one reason I blog less than I used to — there is less opportunity to discuss anything in a way that leads to any sort of practical consensus on anything. This is worth a separate post, if I can get to it.
Inconclusive review of virus origins prompts calls for more probes: ‘We have to get to the bottom of this’ — No, we don’t. This is an example of what I’m on about with the previous item. Again, this is stupid, Trump-era politics. Supposedly, we’re supposed to respond to it in one of two stupid ways: Either we see it as essential to get to the bottom of how “Ji-na” inflicted the “Kung-Flu” on us, or to somehow demonstrate the opposite, conclusively. Which is not only impossible (I mean the “conclusively” part, in such a complex situation), but in no way essential at this moment in history. We don’t “have to get to the bottom of this” right now. What we “have to” do is beat the virus, and save as many lives as possible. And that’s enough. As for how it started, I can’t see how that’s immediately relevant, unless we’re looking to identify someone to prosecute, or seeking a premise for war. I suppose it’s also good, looking ahead, to have tips on how to avoid such pandemics in the future. But it’s nowhere near the most essential aspect right now.
We got the deck job done on Saturday! Don’t mind the scraps of wood lying about.
Y’all, I started doing this yesterday, but stuff came up and I didn’t finish. Anyway, I’ll change the date in the headline and try again:
Our top story tonight… — Imagine Garrett Morris shouting that. (I really appreciate his News for the Hard of Hearing, now that I’m, you know, that way.) Remember the project I was working on, on my deck, when I cut up my hand? Well, the hand is pretty close to 100 percent now, and we got it done over the weekend! Staining will be completed once it’s weathered a bit.
Sri Lanka Faces An Environmental Disaster As A Ship Full Of Chemicals Starts Sinking — This is terrible, and I’m concerned, but as usual, I’m always befuddled. As usual, I have to go to Google Earth to remind myself where Sri Lanka is. I always go, “Sounds like East Asia, but isn’t it closer to Africa?” Which is kind of right. It’s that chunk that broke off of India. Now that I’ve got that sorted, I can be properly concerned for the folks who live there. And the environment, too, of course. (Yeah, I know: What kind of idiot can’t remember where Sri Lanka is? Yeah. I feel that way about those who don’t know where Ecuador is.)
Earlier today I said that at some point, I’m going to write a post about how tired I’ve been getting lately of reading and hearing the news of the day, and I might just stop at some point, because I’m sick of hearing the same unpleasant stuff over and over.
This is not that post. I don’t have time now to write that post. But as a tiny example of what I’m talking about…
Right after I wrote that, I went for a walk around the neighborhood. And I started out by listening to the last half-hour news summary on NPR. The stories were:
Secstate Blinken in Jordan. OK, I do want a summary about that. But I didn’t need the long digression about how Hamas doesn’t want aid from anybody because they don’t need it because Iran keeps giving them all the money they need as long as they keep firing missiles at Israel and getting them to strike back.
Amazon buys MGM. Mildly interesting, but you notice how all our major economic news lately is about people buying and selling entertainment content? Does this bode well? I enjoy my movies, but maybe we should start shifting back to making useful things…
Where COVID came from. I forget what the upshot was, but I think it was probably like the other gazillion stories I’ve read and heard, which said, “We don’t know.” In fact, I’d be perfectly happy for you to not mention the subject again until you DO know. At least, thank God, we didn’t have to listen to a discussion of the President of the United States saying “Jina” caused the “Kung Flu.”
There was some sort of plot to pay bloggers in France to pass on lies sowing doubt about vaccines. Something was mentioned about Russian involvement. Not that I want the Russians to go back to putting nukes in Cuba and shooting people trying to cross the Berlin Wall, but at least back then they weren’t perpetually insulting everyone’s intelligence.
The Dow was up. OK, nice. But talk about monotonous. One day it goes up. Another day it goes down. It seldom does anything interesting, and if it did, it probably wouldn’t be good.
After that summary, I switched to a Kara Swisher podcast that promised to be interesting, but it wasn’t.
So I switched to Pandora. I do that a lot lately.
So what is this? Ennui? I’m just getting kind of… jaded from this stuff. Was it always this tiresome and repetitive, or is it me?…
How America Is Marking the Anniversary of George Floyd’s Death — A couple of days ago, I was wondering why I was seeing so many opinion pieces talking about George Floyd (such as the one that follows). Then I figured out why. I’ve never had a lot to say about anniversaries of recent news events, but maybe you do. Thoughts?
If Only There Were a Viral Video of Our Jim Crow Education System — I thought this was the best of the George Floyd pieces I saw. It’s by Nicholas Kristof, and I think it’s dead-on, because it brings up an actual policy problem that we can do far more about — if only we will — than we can anything specific to Mr. Floyd’s horrific death. As Kristof writes, the circumstances of that death enable people “to feel indignant and righteous while blaming others. But in some areas, such as an unjust education system, we are part of the problem.” Yup.
Since I’m dictating, not typing, I won’t have too much to say. but I thought I would give y’all a place to comment on the passing parade.
Justice for George Floyd – The jury delivered the best verdict it could have done. Of course, they couldn’t REALLY provide justice to George Floyd. But they did what could be done. Meanwhile, Merrick Garland says the Justice Department will investigate Minneapolis.
Second Amendment sanctuary community – Sounds pretty silly, doesn’t it? But apparently, Greenville County council spent a good bit of time discussing whether to become one of those.
Why Trump Is Still Their Guy – This is another lengthy thinkpiece by Thomas Edsall, well researched as always. But it never arrives at a satisfactory why. Nothing as good as my Rabbit Hole thesis, anyway. (Not really my thesis, but I have embraced it.) Interesting stuff, though. References to such things as “ontological insecurity” and “egocentric victimhood.” You might find it interesting.
Well, I said I wasn’t going to say much, and that took me awhile, so I’ll stop there. I’ll just mention that I went to the orthopedic surgeon today. She agreed that there doesn’t seem to be tender nerve damage. Movement is pretty limited , probably because of swelling. I got a new splint, and I go back next week.
Remember Nikki being so happy a while back to have Sarah Palin’s endorsement? Just thought I’d mention that…
Just a few random things…
SC attorney tells court how he ‘misread the case’ and got Michael Slager 20 years — A couple points to make. Counselor, it wasn’t you. It was your client. You see, he shot a defenseless, fleeing man in the back five times. Tried to shoot him eight times, but missed three times. Killed him, as you would expect would happen. Why would we ever want this guy out? I just can’t believe time in our overloaded criminal justice system is being wasted on this nonsense. It’s an outrage. If I were a Black Lives Matter protester — I’m not, but if I were — I’d look at this and see one thing: Part of the system saying to another part of the system, “Whoa! I know we didn’t mean to give this white cop 20 years! All he did was shoot a black fella!” And the other part of the system deigning to listen to it.
Minnesota Officer Who Shot Daunte Wright Meant to Fire Taser, Chief Says — Oh, come on! This had to happen in Minnesota? Right now? Let’s talk about something else: I used to work with a guy in Wichita. He was an editor on the sports desk. He’d be minding his own business trying to get the paper out, like all of us, and something would go wrong, and he would cry out, with pain, but also with the comic sense of a guy doing standup in the Catskills, “Do I need THIS?!?!?” He did this a lot, usually late in the night when things were quieter, after the daytime people had gone home. And it would crack me up. You had to be there. Anyway, right now I’m hearing America say, “Do I need THIS?!?!?” Only it’s not funny, at all. It’s horrible. Because, to answer the question, we most assuredly do not need this.
SC’s Nikki Haley says she won’t run for president in 2024 if Trump seeks reelection — I see Maayan Schechter wrote this. I need to ask her: How do you get your fingers to type “Nikki Haley,” and soon after type “run for president,” without your fingers having a seizure? I’ve seen quite a few reporters do it, and I always wonder. Anyway, I don’t care whether she runs or not, for at least three reasons: 1) She’s Nikki Haley, and I know Nikki Haley. I have a pretty good grasp of her lack of qualifications. 2) Even if she were qualified, I’d cross her off my list the moment I saw she would decide based on what Donald Trump would do. 3) We have a president. A really good one. A qualified one. Why on Earth would I, or any sane person, be interested in anyone else?
Who knew the era of the Mercury Program was such a bummer? I was there, and didn’t notice.
Been super-busy lately what with Lent, Easter, and basketball — not to mention work — but here are some items I’ve meant to do separate posts about:
America Has a Ruling Class — And that’s a good thing, if I remember correctly from reading this way last week. An excerpt: “There are good reasons to be skeptical of career politicians and entrenched elites. Even when they don’t have all the answers, outsiders can draw attention to unrecognized problems. That skepticism becomes dangerous, though, when it pits an unconventional affect and good intentions against the practical demands of governing. The defining task of politics isn’t to speak truth to power. It’s to use power to achieve shared goals.” Yep. And thank God Joe Biden is now our president. It’s worth a read.
When the Pandemic’s End Means the Return of Anxiety — Yep. I happily — but briefly — hugged some of my grandchildren on Easter. But beyond that, I can do without a return to “normal,” and all that hurrying about, going places, having to eat out (which to me is a burden), go to social events, and such. I haven’t had time to put the post together, but maybe this NYT item can kick off a conversation. Oh, dang. It’s WSJ. Huge firewall. OK, I may have to post about it later, but it’s much on my mind now.
The Right Stuff Grounded After One Season on Disney+ — Hey, I’m surprised it made it this far. I am a fanatic for Wolfe’s book, and for the original movie, which utterly stunned me by so effectively putting on film something that was mostly about Wolfe’s narration style. By contrast, I don’t think anybody affiliated with this depressing TV series — which doesn’t even have Chuck Yeager in it! — ever so much as glanced at the book. Watch this, and you won’t ever get the sense that we were once an amazing country that did amazing things. You’ll just be bummed out. Who knew the Mercury program was such a downer?
The woman being blamed for blocking the Suez Canal — Look, I’ve read the Aubrey-Maturin books, so I know that every British sailor during the Napoleonic Wars knew there was nothing more unlucky than having a woman on board a ship, except maybe leaving port on a Friday. Might as well have a Jonah aboard. Oh, it’s OK to bring along the gunner’s wife maybe, as long as she doesn’t look like Mrs. Horner in The Far Side of the World. And here the Egyptians went and put a woman in command of a ship! (And she even looks kind of like a Mrs. Horner, to me — see below.) What did they expect? How powerful is the bad luck generated by such a mistake? I’ll tell you: This woman commands a completely different ship, and it was hundreds of miles away from the Ever Given at the time, and this bad thing still happened. So now you know why it happened. So, lesson learned.
That last one will probably get me in enough trouble, so I’ll just stop now….
The captain being blamed — even though she wasn’t there.
Still from Suez Canal Authority’s YouTube video of the freed ship under way.
A few things to chew on:
That lubberly ship is free — Nice going there, Egypt. Right now, I’m picturing being the captain of a ship that has already decided to go all the way around the Cape of Good Hope, and now has to decide whether to keep going or turn back. Of course, nowadays, it’s unlikely he’d be the one to decide. Anyway, I doubt anyone will seriously consider my solution for this problem: Stop building ships that carry 200,000 tons of cargo.
Chauvin trial gets underway — Not much to report yet, so again I’m thinking about how fascinating it is that this guy’s name is the one from which we derived the term for an “irrational belief in the superiority or dominance of one’s own group or people, who are seen as strong and virtuous, while others are considered weak or unworthy.” Probably not relevant to the court case, but that’s what the name always makes me think of.
Reagan was shot 40 years ago tomorrow — This was brought to my attention by an interesting piece in the WSJ by the FBI agent who was first on the scene, and led the investigation. This got me to thinking about how all the culture warriors, on both sides, seem to knowwhy that guy in Atlanta shot all those people a couple of weeks back. And yet the guy who shot Reagan was motivated by something no one would ever, ever have guessed: Jodie Foster. Check out the photo below, which ran with the WSJ piece.
But this poor guy thinks movie theaters are poised for a big comeback — No, I don’t think they’re going away entirely. But speaking as a guy who used to love going to the movies (I became the movie reviewer at my first paper purely for the chance to see new releases with the paper paying for the tickets), and has zero interest in taking out a loan to go watch a film while wedged in with a bunch of talkative, fidgeting strangers, I wouldn’t want to be in this guy’s business.
This was just before the Reagan shooting. Hinckley stands out from the crowd because of his expression.
Only five shopping days left until the Ides! Let me throw a few topics out there to keep the plebs and patricians entertained…
The humongous COVID relief bill — Anything else to say about that? Then say it. Let me just throw this in: You know how not one, single Republican voted for it, even the few allegedly moderate ones? (As I’ve said, the role of Republicans in this debate was played by moderate Democrats.) Well, one Republican is already bragging on something the bill does for folks back home. Really.
Merrick Garland confirmed — Very good news. But when I heard the vote was 70-30, my first reaction was that I wanted the names of all who voted “nay,” “so I can make sure they’re all on my Never Forget List.” (One good note: Lindsey Graham voted for him. Occasionally, he still does something that reminds us he’s the guy who believes elections have consequences. But while he’s quietly doing that, he’s cranking out pooge like this. So yeah, he’s still on the list. As his hero would say: Sad.) I’ve always liked this guy, and following this process has made me like him more. I don’t know of any negatives. So, good news. We’re back on the track of having a Justice Department we can respect.
The “ex”-royals — Anyone have anything to say about this? I really don’t, except that I was appalled at all the news stories building up to that interview, and all the ones I’ve seen since. Why do we care? As I said in a Tweet, I’m not being anti-royal here. I’m an anglophile, and the monarchy is part of what makes Britain Britain. But at the same time, I don’t get people’s fascination with the whole celebrity soap-opera thing. People are weird. I didn’t get Diana, either. You know how in “The Queen,” Blair had to badger Her Majesty into responding emotionally to the way the people felt about Diana? One of the few times I disagreed with Tony. She’s not a soap opera star. She’s the sovereign.
What about that Cuomo guy? — I’ve never paid much attention to this guy, which was probably wise on my part. I’m not hearing anything good about him. And I don’t just mean the nursing-home deaths. I mean, who hires a 25-year-old “health adviser?” This guy does, if he likes her looks. Wow. Have you seen the picture included with this story about the gov making his unwelcome moves on a tiny, vulnerable, appalled young woman? He looks like Dracula with his latest victim. What a jerk. By the way, I have a problem with the hed to that Gail Collins column I linked to above: “Sex and the Single Governor.” He married Kerry Kennedy in 1990 and they have three kids. Yeah, they divorced in 2005. But he’s Catholic; she’s Catholic. He’s not “single.”
The Most Popular Shows You’ve Never Seen — This is an interesting piece in the WSJ. I hope you can get past the paywall to read it. The subhed is “Even when TV was a ‘vast wasteland,’ it brought us together.” Basically, it makes a point I’ve made many times here about popular music and other aspects of popular culture in our society: We have a lot more we can choose from, but we share fewer cultural experiences. As this piece says, “TV is a metaphor for what ails, or at least divides, society. With fewer shared experiences—even trivial ones—we find ourselves in smaller social and political groups.” Yep.
So… what did Nikki say again? — Over the weekend, Nikki Haley said of Trump, “We need to acknowledge he let us down.” Um… who was actually counting on him for something? You know what? These politicos who have ambitions far, FAR above their abilities would do better to try speaking to the whole country, not to deluded minorities. OK, I take it back… This is what Republicans who seek to lead should be saying. Instead of kowtowing to the crazies — as those 43 senators did on Saturday, they should be exerting leadership by explaining to the base the many ways it is wrong. And I suppose this gentle, Golly, maybe we were wrong approach is the way to go about it. But it still sounds bizarre…
Bitcoin Trades Above $50,000 for First Time — I don’t even know what that means. I just started subscribing again to The Wall Street Journal, which is leading with this at the moment. I enjoy reading the normal parts of the paper (politics, book reviews, opinion), but the stuff that the paper is historically known for is still unintelligible to me. Those words are nonsensical. So… a Bitcoin costs $50,000? I guess I’ll never buy one. Not that I intended to, anyway. I mean, stories about money bore me to tears, and this isn’t even about real money….
At least 12 dead in 4 states as power outages, record cold strike South — That’s terrible, and I’m not complaining or anything, but why aren’t we getting any of this? Someone ADCO works with in Texas has no power. My wife’s relatives keep posting pictures of iced-over foliage in Memphis, where the snow has fallen repeatedly. And last night, we had a thunderstorm and the temperature went… up to 58. Are we on the same continent?
That’s enough for now. I’m going to go take a walk, since the sun’s shining. Let me know what other topics y’all are seeing….
I don’t have time for it today, but dang it, I’m going to post something. And even though it seems my readers are only interested in arguing over whether schools completely reopen or D.C. becomes a state, I’m bringing up other stuff. Here you go:
We lose Captain Tom — He made it through the Burma campaign in WWII, but this hero of the current global struggle against a deadly threat fell in battle this week. God Bless and keep you, Captain Tom.
The Attention Economy — This is a different way of grabbing ahold of the problem I’ve been writing about lately, having to do with the way the internet has done nasty things to our brains for which evolution had not prepared us. It’s about Michael Goldhaber, who in the ’80s predicted “the complete dominance of the internet, increased shamelessness in politics, terrorists co-opting social media, the rise of reality television, personal websites, oversharing, personal essay, fandoms and online influencer culture — along with the near destruction of our ability to focus….” And other stuff.
We don’t have enough Walmarts now — This may seem unlikely to you, but I assure you it is a problem now. Remember how, a month ago, they announced the one on Bush River would close (as of tomorrow)? Well, this has messed with my life. That was my Walmart, the one closest to me. And now the next closest one is already overcrowded. I think I’ve been to it four times since the announcement of the closing (assuming the one they were closing would be even more poorly stocked than usual — which, by the way, is why I suspect it has been less successful), and on two of those occasions, back to back, they were completely out of shopping carts. I did not need this new hassle. I don’t like having to go out for supplies to start with, and now this…
THEN WHY DID YOU VOTE FOR HER? — Sorry about the shouting. I’m just reacting to this NYT story that tells us of the discomfiture of people who voted for Marjorie Taylor Greene. We are told that “Now the revelation of past social media posts has unsettled some who backed her.” Really? REALLY? Sorry. I’m shouting again… Here’s the thing: Even after all these decades of closely following politics, I continue to be amazed and appalled by people who vote for candidates about whom they know basically nothing. It’s one of the greatest flaws in our system, and it keeps getting worse instead of better. By the way, I didn’t finish reading the whole piece. It quotes Real People at some length, you see, and stories that go on like that tend to depress me.
So I guess I’m going to have to deal with this now — SC is now going to let people over 65 get the COVID vaccine. I’m still not through deal with this with my parents — they get their second shots on the 17th — and now you say I’ve got to go through it all again? Never mind the fact that I’ve never really gotten what you’d call 100 percent assurance that I’m not allergic to it. But I suppose I need to get started… although I have no idea how or where…
Frank Bruni makes me almost interested in the Super Bowl — I’ve come to really enjoy Frank Bruni’s columns over the last year or so. So when he wrote something about the Super Bowl — which, as I understand, is coming up soon — I decided to read it anyway. And something surprising happened: He made me slightly interested in his wish that this person named Tom Brady should win. That’s remarkable, Frank, and I congratulate you.
Senate confirms Austin as first Black defense secretary — No, actually, if you check, the Senate confirmed him as defense secretary, not “black defense secretary.” The white guys will report to him, too. Anyway, bottom line, this is good news. I’m looking forward to hearing similar news about Anthony Blinken. Things are taking shape.