Category Archives: Open Thread

Open Thread for Friday, February 17, 2023

Some people get jittery. Others get depressed. Both conditions are quite common.

A few quick topics:

  1. Why a Strong Economy Is Making Stock Investors Jittery — Oh, that’s easy. It’s because stock investors are always jittery. They wouldn’t know what to do if they weren’t having a nervous breakdown several times a day. The great weakness of our economic system is that it’s so dependent upon the faulty nervous systems of these people.
  2. 50 years ago, depression ended a campaign. That’s changed, politicians say. — It’s been 50 years, and I still think Eagleton should have stayed on the ticket. Now, John Fetterman is reaching out for help, in a different world. Depression is sort of the common cold of psychological disorders. Hey, I’ve been diagnosed with it, decades ago. And like most people, I saw somebody, got treated and moved on. Why should it be any different for legislators? If only poor Bruce Willis had something so treatable.
  3. The all-volunteer force turns 50 — and faces its worst crisis yet. — Yeah, here I go showing you things from publications to which you probably don’t describe. But I’m sorry, that’s where I get ideas. Here, Max Boot is talking about the problem of having a professional military that most of the population knows nothing about. The solution, of course, is a draft — and not selective service, either, but universal national service. But it ain’t gonna happen because it’s politically impossible. He’s just defining the problem.
  4. Alec Baldwin Didn’t Have to Talk to the Police. Neither Do You. — I’ve seen a number of these pieces recently saying the reason Baldwin faces charges now is that kept blabbing — not only to the authorities, but to the world. I understand the reasoning, but I would really find it hard not to tell investigators everything I knew about a homicide about which I had personal knowledge. What do y’all think?
  5. My wife’s cousin dies at 81 — When my wife and I were first dating, I was at her house one night when she was busy organizing some of her family’s photos (back then, “photos” were things on paper — prints). I asked her how a picture of Major League star catcher Tim McCarver had gotten in there, and learned that he was her first cousin. To me, he was one of the stars of the great team the Cardinals had in the late ’60 — I had seen him play in spring training. She and I would later seem him play during his one year with the Red Sox. In the last part of his career, I became a Phillies fan watching him catch for Steve Carlton — who had been a rookie with the Cards when Tim was a big star. I enjoyed hearing his voice all those years he was even more famous as a broadcaster, but to me he’ll always be a ballplayer. I loved having him as my familial link to the bigs, and I’m sorry he’s gone.

Tim on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1967, in the second of his four decades playing in the bigs.

Open Thread for Wednesday, January 18, 2023

This is what a Leopard 2 looks like. This one was just a prototype, but it was the only image I could find in the public domain.

First time I’ve done one of these lately — since September, I think. And excuse the typo — I actually gave a date as 2023 in my headline there, and of course that’s obviously some weird date off in the future, from some sci fi story or something.

Anyway — it’s even longer since I’ve done a Virtual Front Page, but these topics won’t work for that, since some of the items are opinion pieces. Oh, well, here you go…

  1. Heavy tanks — and a push from the U.S. — are key to Ukraine’s success — This is an editorial from The Washington Post. It’s pretty persuasive. You might also George Will’s column, which is chock full o’ historical perspective. Ukraine needs them to hold off the increasingly desperate attacks coming from Putin. And this sure beats the U.S. sending troops, for a number of compelling reasons. All we have to do is persuade Germany to let the Ukrainians have those Leopard 2 tanks they’ve been holding back. Yes, we all appreciate Germany being a more peaceful country. It beats what we saw in the two generations before 1945. But meine Freunde, you don’t have to fight. You just have to make it possible for the Ukrainians to defend themselves. This is about as different as you can get from sending Panzers full of Nazis to pound all those Untermenschen to the East…
  2. Microsoft to Lay Off 10,000 Workers as It Looks to Trim Costs — Yikes. First the buggy whip industry, then newspapers, and now this. American ingenuity (see Max Boot, below) needs to come up with the Next Thing in a hurry. This is not good news, especially since it’s part of a series of such announcements coming from Big Tech.
  3. What if Diversity Trainings Are Doing More Harm Than Good? — A provocative title on an op-ed piece. I dunno. Did North Vietnam’s reeducation camps work? Is there solid research available on that? I know that the Captain had awful trouble persuading Luke to “get his mind right.” In my own personal experience, I always had trouble seeing the need for it. I would think, You say the company should have a workforce that looks like the community it seeks to serve, and we all need to work together better? I’m with you. Now let’s get back to work… Of course, I reacted that way to anything that took me away from the work — even recreational outings.
  4. World’s oldest known person, French nun Lucile Randon, dies at 118 — Wow, that’s impressive. And in the picture with that link, she looked amazingly good for her age just a year ago. God bless her. Of course, I’m reaching an age at which I can’t help thinking, so where does this put me in the running for the title?
  5. China records 1st population fall in decades as births drop — Which is very bad news for a country that wants to dominate the world. Good luck with that now, what an inadequate number of kids trying to support all those pensioners. As the big brains of Beijing realized too late (in 2016), this is where draconian One Child policies get you.
  6. U.S. politics is awful — but our science and technology offer hope for the future — This is a good column from Max Boot. He’s had a bunch of good ones lately, which reminds my I should go back and mention him on the list of columnists I’ve been enjoying. Anyway, I hope people read all the way to the end, where he says, “We need to maintain our lead by spending more on research and offering more opportunities for foreign-born talent.” You bet.

By the way, on that last part about reading “all the way to the end”… yeah, I know a lot of, probably most of, my readers can’t do that, not having subscriptions. I don’t know what to do about that. I can either bring up thoughtful ideas from the outlets that actually publish such things, or we can sit around yelling at each other on a grossly superficial level about the latest outrages on social media — which is free.

I’m planning to write about that in a subsequent post. If I have trouble finding the time to do so, please remind me…

An image from the James Webb Space Telescope, grabbed from a NASA site.


Open Thread for Tuesday, September 27, 2022

It’s about time for one of these:

  1. Joe Cunningham really doesn’t want me to vote for him — I need to write a separate, full post about this, but I wanted to mention his latest before it falls off my radar: Now, he wants judges in S.C. to be directly, popularly elected. You know, you can say all kinds of sharply critical things about our system of judicial selection, but I can’t imagine anything more likely to make it worse than this. It’s one of those few things about the way we run this state that makes me look at other states and be thankful that at least we don’t do that. “Popular” judges, being motivated to make only popular decisions. Wow.
  2. Recruitment officer wounded in latest attack on a Russian draft office — This is awful on so many levels — that Putin is calling these people up for his indefensible war, that this officer who was just doing his unsavory job was shot, that the guy who shot him couldn’t think of any better way to express his outrage (so someone gets shot, and the shooter has ruined his own life), and that the shooter’s friend got drafted despite not being one of the experienced troops that Putin had said this draft was limited to. No winners here. But you know what’s worse? That same day in another part of Russia, a gunman shot up a school, killing 17 people, 11 of them children. Remember when the Russians just wanted to get their hands on American blue jeans? That was fine; blue jeans are great. Now they’re importing the very worst things our culture has to offer…
  3. The dollar is surging. The pound is falling. — Wow, we should have postponed our 2010-11 trip to England until now. Anyway, the dual link is to NPR talking about what a rising dollar means, and The Washington Post discussing the pound. I’m sorry that this is happening right after the passing of the queen. Now folks who don’t understand how things work are going to blame King Charles III, and the guy’s just getting started. Of course, we know this is really the responsibility of the new PM and her team.
  4. USC postpones football game because of hurricane — Excellent idea! I hope every other football team in the country gets inspired and does the same thing — whether they see a hurricane coming or not. I mean, you never know with these things — they’re even hitting Canada now! My recommendation is to postpone all football until, say, 2042. And keep watching that weather! If it still looks menacing, put them off a bit longer…
  5. Thousands evacuate as Hurricane Ian barrels toward Florida — I hope they all get out safely, because one way or the other, it’s coming…
  6. NASA smashes into an asteroid — I think this is awesome, and I look forward to finding out whether it worked — in terms of altering the rock’s course slightly. It’s good to see us doing cool things in space. Now, back to the moon!

Open Thread on Technology for Tuesday, August 23, 2022

The Singularity hasn’t arrived, but we’re all pretty obsessed with the Matrix, as it currently exists…

Editor’s note: I wrote this on Tuesday, but didn’t post it because I thought it wasn’t very good. But today — Friday — I decided not to waste that time I spent typing it. So here it is, with only slight editing. But I didn’t take the time to edit all the places where it said “today,” which at the time meant Tuesday.

I have to be careful here. After all, there are already those who see me as an old guy (the insolent puppies). I don’t want to give them any additional reason to see me as Uncle Ben in “Spider-Man,” looking in the physical, dead-tree newspaper for a job (which shows you how long ago 2002 was), and seeing a help-wanted ad for a computer analyst, moans, “My Lord, even the computers need analysts these days!”

All my adult life, I was always on the leading edge of technology — when newspapers went from typewriters to mainframe, and then from mainframe to PCs, I was one of the people who learned it first and taught the others. I paginated the editorial pages before the rest of the newspaper followed. When I got canned in 2009, I was the only person at the paper actively blogging and regularly interacting with readers online.

But lately I’ve been noticing something a bit unsettling. Gradually, the news I read is less about what people do, and more about what their technology does. I’m not saying the singularity is imminent — artificial intelligence is still too stupid — but we’re moving in that direction, in terms of what we pay attention to. Maybe it’s because we’ve spent too much time observing stupid people, and no longer notice the intellectual limitations in the tech.

Anyway, these were all in The Washington Post today:

  • You’re charging wrong: 5 ways to make gadget batteries last longer — Hey, I love my iPhone and my iPad, and am on decent terms with my PC. But I’ll respect them all more — especially the iPhone — when the batteries are better. Or at least, more reasonable. Here’s what reasonable would look like: When I take off my phone and am not using it — which means when I’m sleeping — it should be charging, and without damaging the battery. And please, don’t do this thing where you take all fricking night to charge. Ever since that started, I’ll wake up in the night and reach over to unplug it, because it’s been a couple of hours and should be charged — but it’s nowhere near done, because it’s aiming to finish around 5 a.m. I’ve tried turning off this “convenient” feature in the past, but failed. So it charges all night, but gradually. But what if I needed to grab it and go in the middle of the night?
  • How a photo of a woman yelling in a guy’s ear became a viral meme — That sounds stupid, doesn’t it? That’s because it is. Not as stupid, say, as ‘haul videos” were, but pretty dumb. Apparently, it’s news because as a meme, it is somehow evocative of other memes, and has meaning to someone who spends all his or her time thinking about memes instead of, say, great literature. It’s an actual international sensation, apparently.
  • Strangers rallied worldwide to help this Maryland mom find where she parked her car — In this case, the amazing part isn’t about the technology. The amazing thing is the way this lady managed to lose the car she had hurriedly parked on the way to take a child to the doctor. Which is reasonable to anyone who has had to spend a little time remembering exactly where in the lot, or the garage, the car was parked. That I get. What blows my mind is that she didn’t even know in which nearby parking garage she had parked it. Which means she arrived at the doctor so flustered that she didn’t know how she’d gotten there, even roughly. So after unsuccessfully searching, she posted something about it on social media, and went home, defeated. And people around the world jumped in to solve the mystery, and two days later, someone found it. Which is cool, and even nice. But how did this happen to begin with?
  • Down and out and extremely online? No problem: Just enter a new ‘era.’ — You’ll have to read a few grafs of the story even to understand what it’s about. But when you do, you may react as I did, wondering how anyone could become this lost in narcissism. (Which is really something, coming from a guy who blogs.) And then, you’ll wonder about something even more perplexing: Who would actually watch such a thing? Compared to this, haul videos actually made sense.
  • Former security chief claims Twitter buried ‘egregious deficiencies’ — I put this last, but this morning, this was actually the lede story on the app. So Elon Musk isn’t the only one complaining. But then, he’s looking for something in Twitter other than what I see, and enjoy. I use it all the time, and it works great. I post something, and it shows up, and people interact with it. Yeah, lying to regulators is a bad thing and all, but if you want to go after a social medium that really sucks, take on Facebook. Or Instagram. Or Snapchat. Twitter remains my fave.

This saturation in tech news today reminded me of another story about something I want to complain about, from last week:

How to send text messages from the comfort of your computer — The only reason I read this was because I use an iPhone for my phone, and a PC for my computer. Which means I’m up the creek, unlike people who use all Apple products — their texts are shared smoothly on all their platforms. So I started reading, thinking that maybe, just maybe, I won’t have to shell out a fortune to get a Mac when my Dell gives out. And I read on even though the subhed warned me what was coming: “The process ranges from ‘surprisingly simple’ to ‘ugh’ depending on your mix of devices.” Of course, they save the “iPhone + Windows” scenario for the end, at which point they say that it’s technically possible, but…

So I kind of wasted my time there…

Open Thread for Thursday, June 2, 2022

A screenshot from WSJ video…

Some news, and a few odds and ends:

  1. The latest horrible, senseless shooting — Because it keeps happening, over and over and over. This one bought his “AR-15-style weapon about an hour before the attack.”
  2. 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…
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Non-news Open Thread for Thursday, May 26, 2022

Too awesome to watch?

Some things that aren’t actually in the news right now, or at least not on the front page, although some are admittedly related:

  1. ‘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.
  2. 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?
  3. 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.
  4. 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?
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Open Thread for Thursday, May 19, 2022

Joe, hanging out with Scandinavian friends.

Haven’t had one of these lately, so here goes:

  1. 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.”
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. U.S. Stocks Continue Their Recent Declines — Looks like it might be time soon to think about buying some stocks…
  5. Sick of Massacres? Get Rid of the Guns. — That’s the headline of a Gail Collins column in the NYT. That Gail; she’s such a wacky kid. Where does she get these ideas?…
  6. ‘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?


Open Thread for Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Here we go again:

  1. 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”…
  2. Mick Mulvaney gets new gig with major TV network — Further proof that the standards at “major TV networks” have really plunged dramatically.
  3. Lindsey Graham went off the rails when questioning Ketanji Brown Jackson — Kevin Fisher’s “City Watch” column steps beyond the bounds of the city, and mostly I agree with it. And before 2016, Graham would have agreed as well. Of course, that’s when he went off the rails, not last week.
  4. 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.
  5. But was Will Smith wrong to slap Chris Rock? — He’s apologized, as gentlemen will do. But do gentlemen really sit still for disrespect directed at their wives?

Open Thread for Wednesday, March 23, 2022

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…

  1. 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.
  2. Meanwhile, Jackson hearings go on and on and on — But I already complained about that in my previous post. I suppose U.S. senators were occupying their time like this — you know, performing for their respective bases — in early December 1941 as well…
  3. 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…
  4. 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….
  5. 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?
  6. 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…

Open Thread for Monday, March 21, 2022

At the moment, apparently, there’s nothing to watch…

Have I even done one of these this year? Well, I’m doing one now:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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?
  6. 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.

Open Thread for Friday, January 21, 2022

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…

  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. 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…
  4. Blinken and Lavrov pledge to keep talking as military buildup continues around Ukraine — I thought I’d mention, at least in passing, what is probably the most important and ominous thing going on in the world right now, in case anyone wants to talk about it.
  5. 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.




Friday Open Thread: Money and Baseball

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Open Thread for Thursday, August 26, 2021

Screenshot 2021-08-25 at 10.17.38 AM

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.)

  1. 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…
  2. Charlie Watts was a gentleman in the world’s most dangerous band — I kind of enjoyed this as a a second-day take on our loss of this guy. So I pass it on.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. A naked baby helped Nirvana sell millions of records. Now 30, he’s suing the band for ‘child pornography.’ — Of course, it’s not just politics that displays the fact that, as our lawyer friend Bryan often says, this is a stupid time to be alive. You really don’t have to read beyond the headline to get that point, I think.
  6. The viral Milk Crate Challenge has left people injured. Doctors are begging them to stop. — I just included this in case the other posts didn’t convince you about the rampant stupidity thing that is sort of this post’s theme.

I didn’t really mean to embark on such a riff. But actually, it’s an important reason why I don’t post as much as I used to. Everywhere I look, I find it hard to take the foolishness…

Open Thread for LATE Wednesday, June 2, 2021

We got the deck job done on Saturday!

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Wide-Ranging Israel Coalition Reaches Deal to Form Government — Buh-bye, Bibi! Well, it’s about time, don’t ya think?
  3. 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.)
  4. Mike Krzyzewski made college basketball history by never making excuses — For those who think we don’t have enough sports here. Just a nice piece about a guy who did a good job…
  5. China Three-Child Policy Aims to Rejuvenate Aging Population — I imagine this will be kind of a blow to Bud — even China is seeing the likely economic problems that result from a low birth rate. This was the lede story in The Wall Street Journal yesterday morning.

News I can do without

Oh, be quiet, Kitty. Jeff Bezos owns you now...

Oh, be quiet, Kitty. Jeff Bezos owns you now…

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:

  1. Mass shooting with multiple fatalities in San Jose. I definitely don’t ever want to hear about one of THOSE again. Especially since I know we’re not going to do anything about it. (And no, that’s not a pitch for gun control, because as you know, I’m pretty pessimistic that we could ever pass any gun control that would actually deal with the problem. But I’d sure like to be offered some hope.)
  2. 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.
  3. 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…
  4. 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.”
  5. 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.
  6. 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?…


Open Thread for Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Haven’t had one of these in a while. So here ya go:

  1. He worked with McMaster to elect Caslen. Now he’s leading USC’s new presidential search — I’m not so sure that’s good thing. I dunno. Is it a good thing? Or is it more like time to change the way we govern public higher ed in South Carolina?
  2. 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?
  3. 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.
  4. McMaster signs law protecting free South Carolina beach parking, amid home rule concerns — Hey, I can really dig that! But I have to say, Henry, I share those concerns. Nothing like throwing the voters something that doesn’t cost you anything, without considering the locals in the places where the cars descend.
  5. Giant Marilyn Monroe Statue Divides Palm Springs — This one’s pretty interesting, but I need to find a link without a paywall so y’all can read it. I’ll get back to you on that. Gotta run right now.
The statue recreates this moment.

The statue recreates this moment.





Open Thread for Wednesday, April 21, 2021


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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. NASA flies a helicopter on Mars, the first time an aircraft has flown on another planet – Which is a pretty neat trick, huh? Unfortunately , unlike with the first flight on this planet, there was no human on board. But there are pictures. See above.
  4. 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.

Open Thread for Monday, April 12, 2021

Remember Nikki being so happy to have Sarah Palin's endorsement? Just thought I'd mention that...

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…

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. The term ‘vaccine passports’ pushes every button on the political right — I heard this on the radio today. “The term ‘vaccine passports’ pushes every button on the political right,” a source explains. Sheesh. As I said on Twitter today while listening to this, “too bad we don’t have an anti-lunacy vaccine…” Sheesh again. These people.
  4. 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?
  5. Prince Philip: William and Harry pay tribute to grandfather — Glad to see Harry could make time for it. No, really, I am. Good to see family and duty outweigh all that other stuff for a moment.

Enough for now. I’m tired.

Prince Phillip

Very quick Open Thread for Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Who knew the era of the Mercury Program was such a bummer? I was there, and didn't notice.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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?
  4. 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.

The captain being blamed — even though she wasn’t there.

Open Thread for Monday, March 29, 2021

real suez

Still from Suez Canal Authority’s YouTube video of the freed ship under way.

A few things to chew on:

  1. 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.
  2. Loony Georgian Lin Wood wants to be SC GOP chairman — Apparently, he decided that not enough attention was being paid to the allegation that, when he voted in his home state of Georgia, he was living over here in SC. Which, when you think about it, is a lot of selfless bother to go to to prove to the world that there was indeed voter fraud in Georgia in 2020.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 know why 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.
  5. Remote Work Is Here to Stay. Manhattan May Never Be the Same. — Who cares about Manhattan? (Sometimes, the NYT can be so parochial.) It will never be the same anywhere. At least, that’s what one would hope. Which one? This one. I don’t know about you, but I don’t ever want to go to work in an office again, except my home office, of course. (There is one thing about this Manhattan angle that worries me, though — the potential threat to the New York subway system, which, as y’all know, I love…)
  6. 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 because of his expression.

This was just before the Reagan shooting. Hinckley stands out from the crowd because of his expression.