Category Archives: Blogosphere

Here’s why I don’t do more Virtual Front Pages now

Actually, I almost forgot: I'm kind of interested in THIS. Maybe I'll post about it later.

Actually, I almost forgot: I’m kind of interested in THIS. Maybe I’ll post about it later.

… or Open Threads, for that matter.

I tried to do one yesterday, but I just could not bring myself to be interested in anything that was in the news.

So instead, here’s a brief list of the kinds of stories I’m NOT interested in right now, so maybe you’ll understand:

  1. The latest idiocy from Trump — You know — not wearing a mask, firing yet another inspector general, pushing through an embarrassingly unfit nominee to head up U.S. intelligence, “Obamagate,” insulting various women’s appearance on Twitter. It gets tiresome.
  2. Joe Biden’s running mate choice — In particular, all the opinion pieces saying he’s GOT TO pick some lefty, or pretty much anyone except Amy Klobuchar. When the truth is, Klobuchar is the one truly suitable candidate whose name is being mentioned. That’s been the case for a long time now. I just want to get to the election, and get a new president. The prelims are boring me.
  3. Features on how to cope with the stress of quarantine — Because, as I’ve explained, I have trouble identifying with all that because I find this state of affairs to be just fine — personally. I feel terrible about people who are truly suffering — those who have the disease, and the loved ones of those who’ve died, the people who have lost jobs that aren’t coming back, and the people of Hong Kong who are seeing their hopes of freedom dim. But please, enough about how tedious this is and how we can find creative ways to distract ourselves. Oh, I’ve also had enough reporting on the idiots who are resuming gathering in crowds as though this were over.

You get the idea. There’s a sameness out there that is stultifying. And I just haven’t been inclined to post about it. Which is why you get posts like the long one obsessing about a small news item from 1911. I just find those things more interesting. Sorry.

Oh, wait: Just remembered that I’m kind of interested in the subject reflected in the picture I just put at the top of the post. Maybe I’ll post about that later. If it happens

A header from another time

another time

Just noticed this at the top of the blog.

Obviously a header image from another time.

At least, I HOPE the beach doesn’t look like this. This was taken several years ago in front of the Conch Cafe, located where Surfside Beach and Garden City come together.

And then there’s that ad — does Sting have Alzheimer’s? (No, he doesn’t. I can’t click on those ads — Google Adsense would have a fit — but I looked it up.)

 

The official, properly considered, Robert Redford Top Five List

the natural

I hadn’t intended to do this. There’s something inherently uncool in doing such an obvious, vanilla, whitebread Top Five List. Barry would never stop giving me grief about it, if Barry actually existed. Actually, I suspect Jack Black would never let up, if he found out about it. So don’t tell him.

Actually, a cool list would be, say, a Jack Black list.

But no, this is about the ultimate whiteguy A-lister from a generation ago, or more. I mean, next we’ll be doing, I dunno, a Clark Gable list or something. Or so Barry would say.

But I have to do this to set things right. In a recent comment on this blog, reacting to a side conversation about a clip from “Three Days of the Condor” — really a Max Von Sydow conversation, not about Redford at all — Bryan Caskey snuck up while I wasn’t looking and posted this:

Top Five Robert Redford Movies
1. Jeremiah Johnson
2. The Sting
3. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
4. Sneakers
5. Spy Game

Ahhhhh! No way! Totally apart from the very worst thing about it — more on that in a moment — he put “The Sting” (a relatively desperate attempt by Hollywood to recapture the Newman/Redford magic of the previous) above “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid!” That should have cancelled the whole list outright, but there it is, still on this blog, and I feel responsible and must set the record straight.

So, here is the official bradwarthen.com Top Five List for Robert Redford.

But wait. I didn’t mention the worst thing: He left “The Natural” off his list altogether! We’re talking about a film that not only makes my Top Five list for all sports films, but is at the TOP of my Baseball Movies list! And he’s a sports guy and I’m not!

So anyway, here is the official bradwarthen.com Top Five List for Robert Redford:

  1. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid — I probably wouldn’t start the list with this — the second and third films are better — but this is a Robert Redford list, and without this film, we wouldn’t know who Robert Redford is. Also… it’s a unique Redford movie. It’s the only film he appeared in in which his character was cool. After that, he competed with himself to see how uncool he could make his characters. Including Roy Hobbs. Definitely including Jeremiah Johnson, the dullest Mountain Man in the Rockies. The Sundance Kid is one of the coolest characters ever in a Western. Watch, and see what Redford did with him — and then tell me one other character he did that with. You can’t. Newman’s characters were almost always cool. Redford’s never were.
  2. All the President’s Men — Every time I see this film, I’m blown away at how good it was. I don’t remember being that impressed with it when it was new, but it’s amazing. And it’s because of the little things. It has the most realistic depiction of the interview process that I’ve ever seen. The naturalistic awkwardness that Redford as Woodward and Hoffman as Bernstein experience as they try to get people to talk to them and put their story together is probably painful for laypeople to watch — but if you made your living doing that kind of thing, you’d recognize it, and be impressed. And you’ll also see why I preferred being an editor to going through the daily grind of being a reporter. It’s very, very real.
  3. The Natural — To Bryan’s credit, I was reminded of this film’s awesomeness when Bryan put this video on Twitter, with its invitation, “If you’re missing baseball, watch this.” You should definitely watch that compilation, and think about how much poorer it would be without the clips from “The Natural.” That film corrected a huge literary mistake, committed by Bernard Malamud. Malamud’s novel stripped all nobility from Roy Hobbs, and condemned him not only to lose in the end, but to deserve it. Totally depressing. It totally missed why Americans, back when they were real Americans, loved baseball. The film understood all of that, was unembarrassed about it, and crammed it all in with no apology.
  4. The Great Gatsby — If you try to look this up on IMDB now, they’ll show you the Leonardo DiCaprio version, which is just sad. There’s a certain amount of personal involvement here: This was the movie that inspired me to wear a white linen suit when I got married that same year. (Try even finding one of those.) But it’s great. No one can sound as plain and uncool as Redford calling people “old sport.” It’s pure mastery. And it has Sam Waterston — and Edward Herrmann in a cameo, playing the piano! Oh, and see if you can find the guy who played Hershel Greene in “The Walking Dead” — he’s in it! In a key role! (Talk about a guy with a cool Top Five list!)
  5. The Candidate — I was going to put Jeremiah Johnson here, but I didn’t, just to be cantankerous. Jeremiah’s good, but it’s maybe too popular among my more libertarian friends, who think that being a mountain man is a sensible way to live. So I thought I’d go with something that in its own way was kind of groundbreaking — the story of a political candidate who only ran because he was promised he would lose — and has Peter Boyle as a political operative.

Butch-Cassidy-Film-Still-2-800x640

(Almost an) Open Thread for Monday, April 27, 2020

Yeah, you know -- like the Spanish Flu, right?

Yeah, you know — like the Spanish Flu, right?

Thought I’d throw together one of these for you…

  • Graham expects recurrence of coronavirus cases in the fall — I only posted this for one reason: Doesn’t everyone expect this? I mean, I’ve been hearing this as long as I’ve been hearing about the “novel” coronavirus, so since… I don’t know… maybe January? I’ve heard, over and over, that we should get ready for a pattern like the Spanish Flu, where it landed for a while, went away, and then hit much harder in the fall of 2018. But since I don’t see a lot of headlines saying this, and sometimes I see things that seem to be obviously avoiding it, maybe it’s news to some people. So I include it here, in case…

And you know what? I’m tired now. And that one’s enough for a conversation. And I need to save energy for work, of which I need to do some today. If you have other subjects, bring them up…

I had no idea the man possessed such talent

Moore (at left, at keyboard) et al., in 1963, during their "Beyond the Fringe" days...

Moore (at left, at keyboard) et al., in 1963, during their “Beyond the Fringe” days…

Phillip Bush — who we all know does possess such talent — brought this to my attention today. I had no idea Dudley Moore was so gifted. I know him mainly for his silly comedy work of the 1970s:

Wow.

In case you missed this obvious bit of mastery, Phillip helps you appreciate it better:

Yes, just what I was thinking, about three minutes into it.

Anyway, thought I’d share that with you. I’ll post something else soon. Might tell you something about my time in the hospital last week.

Happy April! Here’s an Open Thread for the weekend

… since it’s a bit late to call it a Friday thread. Sorry to be so chary with the posts. As I’ve explained, this crisis has me busier working at home than I was at the office. One thing after another, as clients try to communicate their way through it all.

As I’ve also said, I expect it to slow down at some point, and to start feeling the lack of economic activity out there. It just hasn’t happened yet. And I’m glad to have the work.

Here are some topics. Maybe you’ll have some better ones:

  1. SC coronavirus cases at 1,700; 147 new cases Friday, 3 more deaths — The grim math keeps churning.
  2. Henry takes another incremental step; still won’t do what’s needed — His approach seems… random. We’ve just got to stop interacting with each other in person. We’re one of only a dozen or fewer states now that haven’t just told people to stay home. Ask Mandy; she’ll tell ya.
  3. An outbreak of incompetence — Jennifer Rubin riffs on Jared Kushner’s stunningly ironic statement that “when you elect somebody” you should “think about who will be a competent manager during the time of crisis.” As she notes, down here on the state level (the level that Jared doesn’t want touching any of his federal stuff), we see the stark difference between competent governors, and those who take their cues from Jared’s father-in-law. Ahem. Hey, I did what I could to elect a good ‘un. And Mandy, too. Wasn’t enough, I guess.
  4. Did y’all see Karen Pearson’s obituary? — If not, I thought you might like to have the link. As y’all know, we lost a good blog friend last week.
  5. Explore your family history for free on Ancestry while cooped up at home — I’m jealous. I’m cooped up at home but am too busy to spend the time on my own tree. But yeah, if you’re idle, or relatively so, this is a great time to form a new obsession. My own tree now has 8,120 people on it. Yeah, I know. Maybe it’s time I rested on my oars and let someone else have a chance…
  6. Want something to make you smile? Check out the bears — I figure I’m at least a Yogi, striving to be a Berenstain. That’s all. Nothing else to say…

bears

Open Thread for Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Did you get one of these? Did it kinda scare you for a second?

Did you get one of these? Did it kinda scare you for a second?

Yeah, another late-in-the-day post. I continue to be really busy with my day job. Hope to stay busy, but who knows?

Some topics:

  1. McMaster orders closing of nonessential SC businesses — Holy Moly! Did you get one of those bulletins (above) on your phone? Made it seem really dramatic, didn’t it? My wife said it startled her for a second. Well, it’s not an order for everybody to stay home, but he’s inching in that direction. Henry’s problem, I fear, is that he’s way overly concerned about the opinions of people like this.
  2. Coronavirus cases in SC pass 1,000. Four additional deaths reported — The grim numbers roll on. And they’ll climb for awhile.
  3. Residents ordered to stay home for 14 days, exceptions for essential businesses — No, no, no — Henry didn’t man up and take the next step. That’s the local officials in Mt. Pleasant. Misleading headline.
  4. But… don’t a lot more people than that actually have it? — Notice there is no link on this one, because I can’t find an answer to my question. When we read that 1,000 people have it in SC, we know that the real number has to be higher than that. Tests are scarce, and generally only people who are symptomatic are tested — right? And people often have it for a couple of weeks before feeling symptoms and therefore getting tested. So… the real number of people walking around and infecting other people could be WAY more than these grim numbers we’re hearing, right? Someone out there must be trying to do the math to make an educated guess of how many really have it. But I’m finding it. Maybe I’m searching wrong. Surely thousands of other people are thinking the same thing…
  5. Should We All Be Wearing Masks In Public? Health Experts Revisit The Question — Uh, yeah. Anything that retards the transfer of those strands, right? I’m doing it anyway. Mostly. But mainly I’m hardly going anywhere. We’re planning an early-morning visit to an unspecified Walmart tomorrow, to resupply. And yeah, we’ll wear masks.
  6. McConnell claims impeachment ‘diverted the attention’ of Trump administration from coronavirus response — Are you kidding me? Senator, Trump was impeached for being an idiot. The impeachment didn’t make him an idiot. You’re confusing cause and effect. Or something. Whatever you’re doing, it’s offensively stupid. You’re saying he wouldn’t have said things would be hunky-dory by Easter if he hadn’t been impeached, right? That’s what you’re saying? Wow. Just wow…

That’s enough for now. Maybe y’all will have some happier topics to bring up…

Doug just gave to Mandy’s re-election. You can, too…

A file photo of Mandy on the first morning we set out on the Leave No One Behind bus, October 2018.

A file photo of Mandy on the first morning we set out on the Leave No One Behind bus — October 30, 2018.

I was happy to retweet this earlier today:

And I was even happier to see that someone took me up on it: Our very own once and future Doug Ross (currently on hiatus from the blog on account of a New Year’s resolution):

Thanks, Doug! I appreciate the fact that you appreciate what a positive force Mandy is in the Legislature and in our state.

Anyway, should any of y’all like to give as well, follow the link on her initial tweet…

I couldn’t believe even Trump did this

Look at me! I have the most popular show on TV! Isn't this great? I'm a hit!

Look at me! I have the most popular show on TV! Isn’t this great? I’m a hit!

My wife showed me this last night, and I assumed it was a joke. It looked like a real Tweet, but I figured it was from The Onion or something like that, spoofing Trump’s obsession with his own popularity.

I thought it was carrying things a bit far, suggesting even as a joke that he would brag about his TV ratings when he’s giving national briefings about something that could kill 200,000 Americans.

But then I looked. And there it was, in his Twitter feed:

Even after I saw that, I figured something was missing that would explain it. I started looking around for news stories about it, and didn’t find any right away — although there was a lot of buzz about it on social.

This morning, I found some coverage, buried way down below other stuff. But basically, they treated it as routine.

This is how far we’ve fallen in normalizing his behavior. The president of the United States puts out something you would only expect from a profoundly maladjusted child, bragging about how everyone’s watching him while thousands of people are dying around him. In the world we knew before 2016, his aides would be trying to gently maneuver him into a padded room, and preparing to invoke the 25th Amendment…

Open Thread for (late) Thursday, March 26, 2020

Isn't this gorgeous? I don't even LIKE the color orange, but this drew me from quite a distance on my walk today. I've never seen azaleas this color.

Isn’t this gorgeous? I don’t even LIKE the color orange, but this drew me from quite a distance on my walk today. I’ve never seen azaleas this color.

Sorry not to have posted today. I’m drawing to the close of one of the busiest weeks I’ve had with ADCO since the end of the 2018 campaign. I expect things to slow down some (maybe a lot) now, but these last few days at home have been pretty packed. A lot of clients communicating about the coronavirus — letting their clients know what they’re doing, how to do business with them from afar, those kinds of things.

I still get out and take walks, hence the pictures above and below, showing nature is continuing to do its thing despite all.

Here are some topics, starting with the worst news:

  1. The coronavirus took our friend Karen Pearson today — We sort of had warning of it yesterday, but this sad news is still hard to take. Karen was one of the vulnerable, with previous health problems. And we have a lot of friends and loved ones like that. Karen had been a member of this blog community since at least 2007 — when I looked back at her comments just now, there were 133 pages of them. So we all knew her. She was always a thoughtful and considerate commenter. She was a kind lady. This will not be the end of such tragedies that strike close to home. I think Mandy was talking about Jack West, son of Gov. West, late yesterday when she tweeted, “A friend of mine died today from COVID19. I would love for this to be the last time I type that sentence. Please isolate … and take care of yourselves.” Amen.
  2. U.S. Leads the World in Known Cases — A horrific milestone. Here’s another: U.S. death toll hits 1,000. And there’s so much more to come. No, we’re not going to come roaring back by Easter…
  3. Henry still won’t tell us to stay home — But cities are doing it. I can’t decide what is causing his hesitation. Can it be as simple as wanting to play to the Trump crowd? I hope not. I hope he’s really trying to do his best by us.
  4. Is anyone having a worse allergy season than usual? — Speaking of nature. This may seem silly to mention in the face of a deadly pandemic, but for me it actually is kind of related. Bad allergy days can make me feel like I’ve got some sort of bug, just crappy all over, and I can’t help thinking, “Is this how it begins…?” But mostly it’s just my eyes itching worse than in many a year. Are any of y’all experiencing the same?
  5. Joe Biden reminds us: Help is on the way — Yeah, we’re still having an election this year — maybe. I mentioned this Jennifer Rubin column in a comment yesterday, but I thought I’d share it more prominently, because she does a good job of setting out the reasons that we can take some comfort from knowing Joe is out there, ready to take this guy’s place.
It's not as awesome as the orange azalea, but it's impressive. This volunteer tulip popped up spontaneously 3 or 4 feet from the nearest flower bed in our yard. We didn't plant it. And we've lived her more than 22 years and never seen it before.

It’s not as awesome as the orange azalea, but it’s impressive. This volunteer tulip popped up spontaneously, 3 or 4 feet from the nearest flower bed in our yard. We didn’t plant it. And we’ve lived her more than 22 years and never seen it before.

Open Thread for Tuesday, March 24, 2020

A retired Shakespeare (Kenneth Branagh) in his garden...

A retired Shakespeare (Kenneth Branagh) working in his garden…

I didn’t post yesterday because I was too busy with work — all of which I’m doing from home, of course. A number of clients are hurrying to get out various communications related to coronavirus. But I’m not sure what will happen when they’ve said all they can about that. We’ll see.

  1. McMaster discourages groups of 3+ people — But he still won’t go the full “everybody stay at home” route, unlike California and Illinois. What do y’all think about this? Is he underreacting?
  2. What about all those partying punks? — I don’t have a link with this one, because I’m not talking about the kids on spring break in Florida. I heard this morning from someone who lives around the USC campus (no, not Kathryn Fenner — someone else) who is really fed up with the students around her constantly partying. A neighbor keeps calling the cops, and they quiet down momentarily, then resume making jackasses of themselves. (I find myself idly wondering whether any of them are our governor’s tenants, but I have no knowledge that they are.) I guess there’s no cure for stupid at that age.
  3. Senate nears passage of $2 trillion stimulus deal — I’ve got to ask: Are any of y’all paying much attention to this? Are you hanging on every word? Are you heavily invested (other than financially, which I suppose we all are) in whether the Democrats or the Republicans get their way on this? Does it seem like this debate is going on in another universe, one where it’s still 2019 or something? Apparently, some people on Wall Street care, though. News that they’re nearing agreement has caused stocks to recover somewhat today.
  4. Trump says he may soon push businesses to reopen — This is one of those “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” moments… And if reminds me of a separate post I’m thinking about writing, posing the question, “Do you ever get the sense that we’re devolving as a species?”
  5. Fauci on Trump: ‘I can’t jump in front of the microphone and push him down’ — That’s pretty much what I thought the people standing around POTUS at these briefings are thinking.
  6. Seen anything good on TV? — I saw an interesting movie my wife had borrowed from the library (which of course is now closed, so no more of those). It’s called “All Is True,” and it’s about the last three years of Shakespeare’s life, when he retired to Stratford after the Globe burned down. It stars Kenneth Branagh (although it’s hard to recognize him) and Judi Dench. It was interesting. I was particularly fascinated to think that at 49, Shakespeare did actually stop writing. How could he — a guy who had always been so prolific? Had he just said everything he wanted to say? Oh, and last night I started watching that Netflix series about the origins of British football — “The English Game.” Not bad so far…

The English Game

Open Thread for Friday, March 20, 2020

The deli-meat wall at Walmart.

The deli-meat wall at Walmart.

A variety of things we can yammer about as we sit at home:

  1. The breakdown of our food distribution system? — Last night I tweeted the above picture from Walmart with the words, “The deli meats section at Walmart tonight. Every item, gone. This is insane, people. Cut it out…” I was actually getting kind of a creepy feeling walking around the store. No sugar. No rice (except in those microwaveable single-serving packs). What if our food distribution breaks down to where we actually can’t get what we need to eat? But in spite of the specter of imminent starvation, I had to smile when I got Mandy Powers Norrell’s reply to my tweet: “Food Lion in Lancaster didn’t have tofu vegetarian dumplings. I thought I was the only person who ate them.” I’d have thought she was the only one, too, in Lancaster anyway…
  2. Is selling off your stocks really the worst thing a person can do? — This is one of those things where I’m tone-deaf, because it’s about money. But I’ve had trouble getting shocked at Sen. Richard Burr selling off his stocks before the market tanked. Yeah, I get that he sort of had access to extra information, but anyone could have gotten a gut feeling any time this year, and dumped his stocks. But Tucker Carlson says “There is no greater moral crime…” Even if I grant that it’s wrong — and I suppose it is — I think I can think of some worse ones. What do y’all think?
  3. Judge approves $520 million settlement in Santee Cooper lawsuit — Remember when this would have been HUGE news? It was the third story down on an eblast yesterday from Columbia Regional Business Report. What was the top story? Here ya go: “Food truck owner serving barbecue, sense of normalcy.” I guess that sort of is a man-bites-dog story, right now. As for the Santee Cooper thing — I have to confess my eyes starting glazing over at these stories shortly after the nuclear plant project was abandoned in 2017.
  4. Kirsten to the rescue! — Did you see that Kirsten Gillibrand has stepped out on a limb and endorsed Joe Biden? Bryan Caskey tweeted that it was “Like Jeb Stuart showing up late at Gettysburg.” I replied “No, because Lee was actually DEPENDING on Stuart…” People stopped thinking about, much less expecting anything from, Sen. Gillibrand months ago.
  5. Tulsi shows Bernie how it’s done — See, Bernie? You just drop out, and endorse Joe. It’s easy. Yes, the Gabbard juggernaut has come to an end, despite the support she enjoyed from our good friend. I think Doug’s a little disappointed in her.
  6. Earworm of the Day: Elenore, by the Turtles — I’ve actually had this one stuck for a couple of days. Had to look it up. I learned that it was intended to be a bad song, a sarcastic reply to the record company execs who kept pestering the Turtles for another song like “Happy Together.” From Wikipedia: “The band recorded “Elenore” as a parody of the type of happy-go-lucky pop songs they themselves had been performing, but with deliberately clichéd and slapdash lyrics such as: “Your looks intoxicate me / Even though your folks hate me / There’s no one like you, Elenore, really’…” But as a joke, it failed. Turned out to be another hit.

Meanwhile, from the leader of our once-great country…

trump tweet1

For what it’s worth, he did send out a followup seven minutes later saying, “Federal Government is working very well with the Governors and State officials. Good things will happen! #KILLTHEVIRUS”

Maybe someone had a word with him. I don’t know who that would be, though, since pretty much all of the grownups have left his administration.

And yeah, I’m still using that plug-in on my Chrome browser that renders Trump’s tweets in a special typeface. They come in the regular old way on my phone and iPad. But somehow this seems to bring out their essence….

You know, there’s nothing new about this. But as many times as we’ve seen this kind of childishness, I still have to ask my self occasionally, What kind of person, in a leadership position, thinks that is something appropriate to publish for the world to see?

trump meeting

Open Thread for Saturday, March 14, 2020

The toilet paper aisle at Walmart Friday evening.

The toilet paper aisle at Walmart Friday evening.

It’s been a long couple of days for me, helping ADCO clients with various coronavirus-related communications needs. It’s been affecting members of my family far more directly. For instance, one of my daughters works at the Richland County courthouse. Others are dealing with other shutdown-related challenges at their places of work, or figuring out how to keep working with the challenges presented by the virus.

I’d be interested in hearing from y’all as to how you are affected, even if it’s just inconvenience. Meanwhile, here’s some news:

  1. Trump declares ACTUAL state of emergency this time — But let’s not look upon him as the boy who cried wolf, just because he previously declared a state of emergency in order to divert billions from national defense to his border wall. This time it’s real, and the only thing wrong with his doing it now is that he didn’t do it sooner. Of course, he’s not taking responsibility for not doing it sooner. But just how much do you expect from this guy? We take what we can get. He’s done it, and we need to pitch in and do what we can to help each other get through this.
  2. Henry follows suit — Closes schools in Kershaw and Lancaster counties, among other measures.
  3. Unlikely pair of Pelosi and Mnuchin join forces as Washington’s crisis negotiators — Thought this was interesting. Nancy and Donald aren’t speaking, so she deals with Mnuchin. The House goes on to pass the relief package. Meanwhile, Sen. McConnell is AWOL…
  4. Stocks bound back, big time — I was going to say that maybe we should all give the president a pat on the back for finally getting serious — but he actually got a bigger thank you than any of us could give him. You know how important a booming stock market is to him. And not only to him, of course.
  5. Learning to Live With the Coronavirus — This is Friday’s edition of the NYT podcast, “The Daily.” I don’t know if y’all have been listening to the shows theyve been doing with Times science reporter Donald G. McNeil Jr., but they’re well worth your time. He’s very good at putting it all into perspective, and giving practical advice for dealing with the situation. If you don’t have time to listen to it, there’s a transcript. But it’s better if you listen.
  6. Companies that feed America worry about restocking stores — Look at the pictures I posted above and below, and then imagine if those were food shelves. The problem is if we don’t have enough workers to produce and deliver food, and unpack it stores.

Dang. I was looking for something fun to alleviate all of the above, but didn’t find anything right away. And this post has been delayed long enough. I meant to post it last night…

... and here's where the disinfecting wipes used to be.

… and here’s where the disinfecting wipes used to be.

Your Virtual Front Page for Thursday, March 12, 2020

I found this image of the coronavirus on Wikipedia.

I found this image of the coronavirus on Wikipedia.

Hey, you think we’ve got bad news today — tomorrow will be Friday the 13th! I might follow the CDC recommendations for Methuselahs like myself and stay home tomorrow:

  1. Stocks Plunge 10% in Dow’s Worst Day Since 1987 — That’s according to The Wall Street Journal, and I guess they oughta know. Evidently, traders were not reassured by Trump’s address to the nation last night.
  2. No March Madness, no Broadway, no Major League Baseball, no bugger all! — The cancellations keep coming like a torrent. The SC Philharmonic will perform this weekend without an audience — something that might prompt ponderings that are way existential, or lead you to ask questions about trees falling in the forest.
  3. Lindsey Graham will quarantine himself — He was at the same place where Donald Trump was also exposed to someone with COVID-19 — Mar-a-Lago.
  4. Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have tested positive for coronavirus — This is an important milestone in the nation’s consciousness about the disease. We have now entered the “people we like and feel that we know” stage. I heard an expert on a podcast today say America didn’t fully take AIDS seriously until Rock Hudson died of it. He said we won’t take the measures that were effective in China and South Korea until something like that happens to someone we know and like. Is this COVID-19’s Rock Hudson moment, or a precursor of it?
  5. Biden, Sanders Deliver Coronavirus Speeches to Contrast Trump — Biden pointed to the need for steady leadership, which we definitely don’t have now, in the face of such a national crisis. That other guy also said some stuff.
  6. McMaster wants $45 million in SC surplus to go to fight coronavirus — The cash would go to DHEC. It would be used to save lives, instead of going to a vote-buying tax credit. Which is praiseworthy.

Yikes. Here’s some nice music to make you feel better. It’s the isolated vocals from a Beatles song that seems appropriate to the moment: “Help!” I never really heard the background harmonies before. I was impressed:

Open Thread for Tuesday, March 10, 2020 (with possible live updates)

one column

The “possible live updates” is because I might post some additional stuff about the primaries today, if I feel like it. I might not, though. It’s really an awesome feeling to be able to say that, after all those decades when the paper had to come out every day no matter what, or else… or else… well, I don’t know what else, because we always got the paper out.

Today is a relatively mild news day, one in which the NYT is answering the question “Is Your World Safe?” with a “Yes, relatively so.” You can tell this by the fact that the lede story — the “Coronavirus Updates” one, is just one column(well, one wide column, more like a column and a half), with a small-font headline. (I explained the theory behind all of this in my very first Virtual Front Page post, back in 2009. Before I started calling it that.)

  1. Coronavirus Updates: Stocks Rebound as Washington Moves to Bolster the Economy — They led with it; I’ll lead with it. Here’s something you might find interesting: When stocks recover, the NYT sees it as worthy of one column. The WSJ sees the same news as worth two extra-wide columns. But before you jump to the conclusion that this is a liberal-vs.-conservative thing, I don’t think so, for two reasons: First, the WSJ has a totally different philosophy of front-page play, having nothing to do with ideology. You’re not comparing apple to apples. Second, financial news is the WSJ’s thing. They will always overplay it (from my perspective). Just as The Washington Post will always overplay stuff inside the Beltway.
  2. N.Y. governor orders containment zone in New Rochelle — I can see it now: Rob and Laura Petrie are getting on each other’s nerves. Rob is tripping over the ottoman and Laura keeps saying, “Oh, Rob!” She’s worried that with Richie’s school closed, he’s going to fall behind academically. Sorry. The only thing I know about New Rochelle is that it was the fictional home of the head writer of the Alan Brady show.
  3. Apparently, I shouldn’t have come in to work today — Have you seen the advisory from the CDC saying people over 60 should stay home, and prepare to stay there a really long time? Oh, come on. I mean, few of us like to think we’re old, but this is ridiculous. My parents, whom I’m about to go check on on my way home, are elderly and I worry about them — although you’d never guess it of my mom the way she gets around, and my dad always seemed closer to my age than his until the last couple of years. But come on. Does this mean I shouldn’t do my 10,000 to 15,000 steps every day? Or is it OK if I do them outside?
  4. Biden, Sanders duel in six states on another key day of voting — This is what I might add live updates about. Actually, it will probably be more like Tweets turned into comments. If I feel like it. This is an awkward, blah day of voting for headline writers. When we had the South Carolina primary, they could say “S.C.” A week ago today, they could say “Super Tuesday.” This time, it’s “another key day of voting.” Not much of a ring to it. Doesn’t really get your blood going, does it?
  5. The doubt of a ‘Bernie Bro’: A hard-charging Sanders supporter questions whether his tactics help or hurt — I found this fascinating: A Bernie Bro getting all introspective and having actual doubts! Oh, and let me point something out: Remember people getting on Joe for saying “Bernie Brothers,” like this was some indication of senility or something (perhaps the weakest example of Biden gotcha-ism I’ve seen)? Well, this guy says he prefers to be called a “Bernard Brother.” Really. So there, Twitter.

 

WSJ

 

Open Thread for Monday, March 9, 2020

Von Sydow's knight place chess against Death in 'The Seventh Seal.'

Von Sydow’s knight plays chess against Death in ‘The Seventh Seal.’

We are living with a Chinese curse. And no, I don’t mean what some call the “Wuhan virus.” I mean the one about, “May you live in interesting times.” (Although it might be wrong to call that saying “Chinese,” too.) At least, it’s an interesting day, to those who follow Wall Street:

  1. U.S. markets crater, forcing temporary halt to trading — That’s the Washington Post headline. The Wall Street Journal chose more, well, conservative wording: Free Fall in Oil Sends Shudders Through Markets. Actually, I don’t guess “free fall” is all that conservative; it’s just not quite as bad as saying the whole market has cratered
  2. Here’s how you can prepare for the coronavirus — From the “news you can use” department. Step No. 1, of course, is to wash your hands. Lady Macbeth would have been totally prepared for that eventuality.
  3. 6 More States Vote Tuesday. Here’s Your Guide To Michigan And The Rest — Here’s hoping Joe can put it away tomorrow. Of course, Bernie won Michigan in 2016. Which is why it would be great for Joe to win it tomorrow.
  4. Question: Who got the most votes ON Super Tuesday? — As see, no link on this one. I’m sort of hoping y’all can find one for me. This is something I’m curious about, but I can’t seem to find what I keep Googling for. In particular, I want to know how Joe did in California if you don’t count early voting. Has anyone seen any figures along those lines? Or is it impossible? Do they not report voting results that way?
  5. Biden will pick a woman as his running mate. But who? — This is a Fred Hiatt column. Of course, y’all know what I think: Amy Klobuchar all the way. None of the others who ran would do. This column widens the field by citing some female governors and mayors. But I don’t know them. At least those who ran for president have had some vetting…
  6. Max von Sydow, Star of ‘Seventh Seal’ and ‘Exorcist,’ Dies at 90 — OK, which are your favorite von Sydow movies? I’ve got to say that while I’ve seen him in such highbrow stuff as “The Seventh Seal” and found them good, my favorite performance is as the freelance assassin in “Three Days of the Condor.” Best scene: When he and Redford are trapped on an elevator together. Redford knows he’s there to kill him, and von Sydow’s character knows he knows, but they’re both trying to act like everything is normal. The tension is made greater by some smart aleck kids who hit all the buttons before getting off. Von Sydow smiles wryly at Redford and just says, “Kids… probably the same everywhere…” Here’s where you can stream some of his best films.

Open Thread for Monday, March 2, 2020

amy

Image from her campaign website…

You know, after this weekend, I just feel better about the whole world, and I’m in a generous mood. So instead of a Virtual Front Page, let’s go with an Open Thread, because they’re more fun:

  1. Klobuchar dropping out of 2020 race and endorsing Biden — You go, girl. Pete showed her the right thing to do, and she did it — and then went Pete one better. She remains my top choice for veep. What else can I say, except what David Leonhardt had to say today (see item No. 3.)
  2. Pete Buttigieg Will Endorse Joe Biden for Democratic Nomination — And then Pete followed suit. I’m reminded of what Frank Bruni said in his column in the NYT after Pete dropped out yesterday: that “the youngest of the Democratic aspirants did the grown-up thing.”
  3. Bernie or Biden. Period. — That’s the headline on David Leonhardt’s column today, and that’s where we stand. There are no other real choices. So it’s time to decide, Democrats: Go down the tubes with Bernie, or take back the White House with Joe. As Joe said Saturday night, after South Carolina had done its bit to make everything devastatingly clear, “win big or lose, that’s the choice.” At this point, the only likely role of Bloomberg would be to continue to split the moderate vote, and deliver the nomination to Bernie. So he needs to get out, too.
  4. Coronavirus: 2nd Person Dies In U.S.; New Cases Reported In Florida And New York — In this area, unlike in politics, the bad news keeps coming.
  5. Stocks Rally on Hopes for Stimulus Amid Virus Fears — Let’s hope the uptick continues.
  6. What popular chain businesses is Columbia missing? The State raises this question, and offers a lot of silly answers, but to its credit includes the one that matters: an Apple store. It raises doubt that we’ll get one, but come on, gimme a break: Augusta’s got an Apple store…
  7. Jack Welch, corporate America’s ‘manager of the century,’ dies at 84 — OK, I feel guilty about this, but as a guy who follows popular culture and not business, I confess that my first thought was, “Does this clear Jack Donaghy’s way to the chairmanship?”

A.I. is still really stupid, or it’s gotten pretty crafty

howdoyoufigure

This is why I’m not worried about Artificial Intelligence taking over the planet any time soon.

As you see, Artificial Intelligence remains pretty stupid.

Why would following Joe Biden make me “like” Elizabeth Warren?

OK, granted — since I’m a blogger, I have interest in seeing what all the candidates are doing. But certainly that wouldn’t be true of most people who follow this candidate or that? Would it? If so, tell me where I’m wrong. And if you make a good case, then I’ll start worrying about A.I., because that would mean it’s gotten crafty.

Oh, and then you can tell me when I started following Biden on Instagram, for that matter. Generally speaking, I don’t do Instagram…