Category Archives: Open Thread

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…

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.

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.

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?”

Open Thread for Monday, February 3, 2020

What America needs now is a really nice guy. Fortunately, we've got one.

What America needs now is a really nice guy. Fortunately, we’ve got one.

I almost did a Virtual Front Page, but that would have been the third in just eight days! I don’t want to spoil y’all, so we’re going for an Open Thread instead. They’re easier: I don’t have to come up with a lede and rank the items in importance, and I can pull in opinion, which is more in my wheelhouse anyway. (I was the front page editor at two papers in the ’80s, but that was a long time ago — or so everyone keeps telling me and Joe Biden.)

The hard thing about VFPs is, there are a lot of rules. Things are looser in an Open Thread:

  1. Why don’t we all just ignore Iowa and New Hampshire? — Not a bad idea, particularly given that Iowa is caucuses, not even a primary. Have you READ the rules of this insanity? People standing around in groups, and then if their group is less than 15 percent of the total in the room, they regroup and the losers gravitate to second choices? It’s like ice-breaker games at that team-building retreat the soulless corporation you work for made you go to. (See what I did there? Two dangling prepositions in one sentence! Can I write, or what?)
  2. Senate hears closing arguments — Switching over to news now… and can you imagine that they’re still going through the motions as though this were still an actual trial being conducted by an actual credible deliberative body. I don’t see how the House managers made themselves get up this morning and do this. But at least they are doing their duty, so my hat’s off to them.
  3. Super Bowl halftime show was ‘sexual exploitation,’ Franklin Graham says — Really? Ya think? I knew that and I didn’t watch it. Has Graham been doing a Rip Van Winkle for the last five or six decades? Has he been somehow walled off from popular culture? Why the news flash at this particular point?
  4. Earth Fare grocery chain closing all stores, including in Columbia — This just in, and it kind of blew my mind. It suggests a lot of questions: Why now, instead of back when Whole Foods opens? Do we think Whole Foods will last since Amazon has taken it over and corporatized it? Couldn’t Earth Fare have hung on a little longer to see what happened there? How do small local shops like Rosewood Market and 14 Carrot hang on while Earth Fare can’t? Business and the way it works is just such a mystery to me…
  5. Super Bowl Ads 2020: Strange, Serious, Smaaht, And So Very Expensive — Some of y’all probably watched this, so tell me: Were there any really good ones, ones I might want to go watch on YouTube?
Did anyone besides me find it kind of hard to read the Roman numeral with that odd thing between the L and I?

Did anyone besides me find it kind of hard to read the Roman numeral, with that odd thing between the L and I?

The Open Thread that wasn’t

So we can sell wine now? All RIGHTY then...

So we can sell wine now? All RIGHTY then…

I started putting this Open Thread together on Saturday at a Barnes & Noble in Memphis where I had gone to do some work while my wife was otherwise engaged. (Actually, she was at a soup kitchen downtown where her brother and sister-in-law volunteer, helping them out. I felt bad about not being with them, but I did get some work done.)

Anyway, when I realized they were back at the house, I dropped the blog post (I had only started it because I’d run out of work things I could do without reaching clients on the phone) and went and joined them.

It was an eclectic Thread I had in mind, just based on stuff I’d found interesting in that day’s Washington Post. Here you go:

  1. We need a major redesign of life — This is a provocative piece about how our expectations of life are built around the assumption that people wouldn’t live much past 65, if that. “Long lives are not the problem. The problem is living in cultures designed for lives half as long as the ones we have.” What sense does it make, for instance, for people to retire in their 60s or even 50s if they’re going to live to 100? It’s interesting even though I look askance at some of the findings such as: “To thrive in an age of rapid knowledge transfer, children not only need reading, math and computer literacy, but they also need to learn to think creatively and not hold on to ‘facts’ too tightly.” Really? I think one of the problems we have today is that too many have abandoned belief in facts altogether. But maybe that was just awkwardly worded. Of course, if you mean people need to be flexible and learn new facts as they arise, I’m with you…
  2. Whaddya mean, I’m funny? — This was a nice little profile on Joe Pesci, whom I’ve enjoyed in so many movies in the past. Remember John Travolta’s line in “Get Shorty” about wanting to get into movies, and someone says, but you’re a loan shark, and he replies that “I was never that into it…”? Well, it turns out Joe Pesci was never that into acting — which is why Martin Scorsese had such a hard time talking him into coming out of retirement. Ironic, given how good at it he is. Anyway, I haven’t had the time to watch “The Irishman” yet, but this further whetted my appetite.
  3. Ice preserved a tiny puppy in near-perfect condition for 18,000 years. Scientists are fascinated. So am I. Even if you don’t read the piece, you have to look at the pictures. It’s from the time when domesticated dogs were starting to evolve from their wolf ancestors. And this puppy looks like its alive, and only sleeping…
  4. Facing impeachment, the president strives to look hard at work — This was mildly interesting, although not as much so as the other pieces. Basically, it answers the question (which frankly had not occurred to me), Why is this man popping up in Afghanistan and going to see the Queen? Basically, it says Trump is taking a page from Bill Clinton’s playbook: “Then-President Bill Clinton survived his 1998 impeachment in part because the economy was roaring and because he appeared to many voters to be relentlessly focused on doing the business of the American people.”
  5. So which is it, Charlie or Charley? — This rather stupid topic does not come from The Washington Post, so don’t blame them. Being a lifelong editor, things like this really bother me, whereas probably no one else cares. While I was at that Barnes & Noble, I was listening to some Spotify to drown out the noises of the cafe. And I happened to look at that screen as this number came on (see picture below), and I immediately wondered, “So which is it? Charley Musselwhite or Charlie Musselwhite?” I decided the album cover, which says “Charley,” was more likely to be right than the Spotify text — but then, Wikipedia has “Charlie!” Does Musselwhite himself even care? Probably less than I do. I need to relax; after all, it’s not his official given name, right? It’s not like they spelled his surname “Musclewhite” or something. Oh, and don’t even get me started on “Charly,” which should have been called “Flowers for Algernon,” which by the way was an awesome book.

As a postscript… I went looking for a photo for this post among what I shot in Memphis over the last few days, and settled on the above shot of an aisle in a Kroger. All the years I lived in Tennessee, it was illegal to sell wine in grocery stores. Since that changed (and this is the first time I’ve been back since that happened), the grocers have been making up for lost time. The picture doesn’t even show the whole aisle. There’s about six feet more of wine shelves behind me…

Musselwhite

Open Thread for Thursday, August 22, 2019

Hardee

We’re overdue for one of these:

  1. Trump now thinks he’s God. Or at least the Chosen One — There are news stories about his embracing the idea of being the Second Coming, but you might enjoy reading Alexandra Petri on the subject instead. Or Gail Collins… Actually, I feel sorry for these satirists. How can you exaggerate this guy for comic effect? They try, but it’s not easy. He’s always determined to outdo any joke anyone can make about him.
  2. … and he is wroth, very sore, at his Chosen People — The way our first Transactional President thinks, he has done things to pander to supporters of Israel, so Jews should be slavishly loyal to him. You know, like the evangelicals. Every day, we learn more about the depths of this man’s ignorance. As one pro-Israel Jew put it, “In reality, what matters most to us are the exact values that the president is spending his term trashing. We care about equality and justice, and we embrace the notion that this is a nation of immigrants and opportunity for all.”
  3. Ransomware Attacks Are Testing Resolve of Cities Across America — I thought I’d throw in a piece about something real happening in the world, since Doug will dismiss my first two items as “just words.” But wait. This is happening in cyberspace, right? So it’s only happening virtually
  4. What Rep. Abigail Spanberger learned after clashing with progressives — She learned they were a bunch of vindictive loonies, basically. Remember my piece about Mikie Sherrill the other day? Well, Rep. Spanberger is a fellow moderate Democrat who also served her country before running for office (in her case, in the CIA). The two women have D.C. apartments on the same floor, and walk to work together. Anyway, I urge you to read about her and the other Democrats who matter, and stop doing Donald Trump’s bidding by focusing on the Squad, who are not representative of the Democratic Party. (If they were, the Dems would not now hold the House.)
  5. Sanders to unveil $16tn climate plan, far more aggressive than rivals’ proposals — Translated from The Guardian‘s own special dialect of headlinese, “$16tn” means 16 trillion dollars. (It took me a moment to suss that out.) But Bernie’s not worried a bit, because he has an economist advising him who tells him we can just keep printing more money.
  6. The road to ignominy is paved by John Hardee — Does this guy get up in the morning thinking, I’m not in enough trouble yet. I should do something else? Meanwhile, Katrina Shealy wants to end the practice of naming roads after living people. Good luck. I’ve been advocating that for almost three decades.

Open Thread for Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Parker-Mustian

Yes, I’m back from vacation.

While I was gone, there was of course the Democratic debates, which were tiresome and off-putting. I can’t wait to see this nomination process come to an (successful, I hope) end.

Talk of that was swept away over the weekend by violence in Texas and Ohio, and threatened violence here at home.

To plunge in:

  1. Mass murder in Texas and Ohio — Again, the horror sweeps the nation. And again, our political system will prove itself completely incapable of reducing the risk of such incidents in the future. The utter futility is reflective of the soul-sickness in our country. It’s related to why Trump is president. It’s related to why I can hardly bear to watch these debates. There’s so much foolishness, and so little rational action. American government, and American politics, is stricken with an impotence, accompanied by pointless sound and fury. It didn’t used to be like this — and I know that sets off some of you, who simply don’t recall when the nation actually used to rise up and deal with problems when they confronted us. You’re wrong, but I’ve learned I won’t convince you of that. Anyway… will we ever snap out of this, and what will it take?
  2. Threatened violence, and real racial hatred, here at home — There’s the public conversation, which talks about what this former Cardinal Newman student did and threatened to do, and what the school and law enforcement did and didn’t do about it — a circumscribed conversation, limited in the MSM by the longstanding prohibition against identifying minors. Then there’s the sort of sub rosa conversation, in which everyone knows who he is and who his family is, and lots of talk reflects the reverberations of all that. Setting the gossip aside, let me raise a question that addresses the heart of this: I’ve seen a suggestion that what this boy was doing was simply trying to win a competition among his peers to see who could be the most outrageous. Which is more shocking: The threatened violence, or the fact that our society is so sick that children could conceive of such a competition?

You know what? That’s all I’m going to post for now. Somehow I find myself not as interested in utterly unnecessary, manufactured trade wars with China or whatever. But y’all can bring up whatever you like.

Where I was last week. It was crowded this day, but mostly pleasant the rest of the time.

Where I was last week. It was crowded this day, but mostly pleasant the rest of the time.

Open Thread for Tuesday, July 16, 2019

"I've called you all hear today to announce..." Oops! wrong photo...

“I’ve called you all hear today to announce…” Oops! wrong photo…

Some things I’ve been meaning to post about the last few days, but have been too busy:

  1. Mark Sanford considers presidential run against Trump — Yikes. Beyond that, this one actually has me speechless. Of all the people out there in the GOP who probably SHOULD run — John Kasich, anyone? — this is what we get. He may run against him, and he may even do it for the right reasons (and not just, you know, for revenge). But he’s still, well, Mark Sanford….
  2. What’s up with ‘Prime Day,’ anyway? — Did any of y’all participate in this attempt to have a Black Friday in July? Did you get a good deal, or do you just feel manipulated and maybe even duped?
  3. Trump’s racist Tweets — Were they racist, or just nativist… or xenophobic? Or is that a distinction without a difference? In any case, they were stupid, crude and beyond the bounds of decent society — in other words, par for the Trump course. What bugs me is that, by attacking AOC et al., he’s distracted from the previous story I really wanted to talk about, which is…
  4. What Is Nancy Pelosi Thinking? — I thought this was a pretty stupid headline on a usually smart podcast — “The Argument” at the NYT. It refers to her coming down on the young folks who call themselves “the Squad.” Well, I’ll tell you what she’s thinking: Shes thinking she likes having a Democratic majority. You know what gave her a Democratic majority? Moderate Democrats beating Republican incumbents in purple districts. AOC didn’t do squat to help in this goal — she beat a Democratic incumbent — and daily she does all she can to endanger those essential moderates in the next election. At any other time, I would say freshmen should be seen and not heard, and not even seen much for that matter. At this moment, it goes double. Anyway, that’s what the speaker’s thinking…
  5. How Nikki went to the UN, and Henry got to be governor — You already pretty much know the story: Trump owed McMaster something fierce, for being the first statewide elected official in the country to endorse his presidential bid. And Henry wanted to be governor. So Trump made Nikki Haley, a person with no known qualifications for the job, the nation’s ambassador to the U.N. Anyway, it’s spelled out in narrative form in that book you keep hearing about.
  6. ‘I don’t care if they have to stay in these facilities for 400 days’ — Jaime Harrison, who’s running against him, brought my attention to this quote from Lindsey Graham about not caring if detainees at the border have to stay locked up. It’s a bit more nuanced than that — he was talking about a subset of men he claims are criminals. But that’s usually Trump’s excuse, too. We know for whom the dog whistle blows. It’s not for people who do nuance.

400 days

Open Thread for Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Williamson

It’s shaping up to be a busy news day. And there’s other stuff…

  1. McMaster forces vote on USC president while students are away — An illustration of the “When the mice are away, the cats will play” principle. Really? It’s come to this? The duly constituted authorities are so afraid of the kids in their charge that they can only act when school is not in session? What a weird, screwed-up world we are living in. And an odd calculation on McMaster’s part.
  2. President Trump cannot block his critics on Twitter, federal appeals court rules — This is fascinating, and here are my three reactions: 1) What a snowflake! The most powerful man in the world feels the need to block the people who disagree with him, and does it in a way that people can see it? 2) It’s always fun to see him lose another court battle. 3) I find the ruling disturbing. Trump’s feed is his feed. It is not a government program. It’s where he expresses his stupid self, and he should be able to edit it as he chooses. This seems a weird, contrary application of the First Amendment. It’s like saying newspapers have to run every letter to the editor that they get — which in the old days was physically impossible, but that’s not the point. The point is that editors, under the First Amendment, are empowered to decide what is published under their auspices. We edited in a way radically different from Trump — giving priority to letters that disagreed with us — but it was our choice to make.
  3. The Meaning of Marianne Williamson — In case you caught her act in the debate and are still going, “What the…?,” I pass this Ross Douthat column along. I like that it includes the term, Great Awokening, which cracked me up a bit, and that the blurb or subhed or whatever says, “There’s more in heaven and earth than what’s dreamed of by normal politicians.” Increasingly, we live in a world that rivals the ’60s for weirdness. We need a Tom Wolfe or Joan Didion to chronicle it for us.

Actually, I think I’ll stop with those three. The first two alone are plenty, and would have been separate posts if I weren’t so busy today…

4. Oh, another thing I forgot to mention: Was I supposed to know who this Epstein guy was before the sex scandal stuff? From the coverage, I get the impression I was supposed to know of him. But I didn’t…

5. Which reminds me: Speaking of billionaires or whatever, what’s with this Tom Steyer guy running for president? I’ll ask him the same thing I wondered when De Blasio got into it: Did you think the world was waiting just for you? You’re no Sexy Sadie

6. And speaking of billionaires and running for president, Ross Perot is dead.

OK, I’m done now.

I told you there was a lot going on. I just forgot some of it for a moment.

Open Thread for Monday, June 24, 2019

Trump Haley

A few things going on out there…

  1. Trump imposes new sanctions on Iran — Just because it’s the latest and it’s also, you know, important…
  2. Oped: Trump-Haley in 2020 — OK, when you stop screaming after reading that headline,  consider that the piece begins with these words: “I’m proud to have founded the Democrats for Trump movement in 2016.” Yikes, who knew there was such a thing? Kind of starts this guy, Andrew Stein, in a bit of a credibility hole, doesn’t it? Also, Bill Kristol asserts that the guy “pled guilty to lying in a financial fraud.” Oh, and he looks the part.
  3. ‘We don’t trust you!’: After fatal police shooting, black residents confront Buttigieg — And apparently, some of them are ticked that he took off in the middle of this crisis to come to Columbia on Saturday. It will be interesting to see how the young man handles this situation.
  4. What Happens After Amazon’s Domination Is Complete? Its Bookstore Offers Clues — I learned a few things from this piece about how Amazon does very little to prevent the sale of shoddy, counterfeit books via its platform. Here’s a sidebar story…
  5. OK, I’m envious of Jeff Bezos — No, not because he’s a gazillionaire, although that’s a nice bonus, but because of the way he is able to order his working day. His goal “Make three good decisions a day and no meetings before 10 a.m.” Sounds like the perfect job description to me. I’d be glad to do it for 1 percent of what he makes.
  6. Stonewall and the Myth of Self-Deliverance — Probably the most interesting opinion piece I read over the weekend. I liked it, but what I liked best wasn’t the main point. (His main point was that oppressed groups seldom end the oppression on their own.) I liked a secondary, perhaps you would even say implied, point: That demonstrations are not the best way to effect social and political change. Bit of a hobby-horse of mine, as y’all know. I need to make a point to check out more by this guy, Kwame Anthony Appiah. He’s sufficiently iconoclastic that there’s no telling where he might go, so I might end up hating his stuff. But I doubt he’d be boring.

Open Thread for Monday, June 17, 2019

tanker

A few things we might talk about — just don’t cough!

  1. Four years after Charleston church massacre, what have SC lawmakers done? — Nothing, if you’re talking about keeping people like Roof from getting a gun.
  2. Iran Threatens to Exceed Nuclear Deal’s Limits on Uranium Enrichment — We’re in a fix, aren’t we? POTUS has alienated our allies on the nuclear deal, which they have scrambled to try to save. Now, he wants them to back him on on the latest Iranian provocations. Would you, in their place? Meanwhile, Iran seems poised to tell us all to go to hell…
  3. Supreme Court Hands Democrats A Win On Racial Gerrymandering In Virginia — No, NPR, they’ve handed America a win, coming down against the practice that’s tearing our country apart. Question is, what do we do next? How do we slay this dragon so it stays dead?
  4. Trump tosses Mulvaney out of Oval Office for coughing — The story notes that Trump “has called himself a ‘germaphobe’ and labeled the practice of shaking hands ‘barbaric.'” I’m reminded of the brilliant “Bern Your Enthusiasm” skit: You sure it wasn’t a cough and a wipe?
  5. Where does your plastic go? Global investigation reveals America’s dirty secret — The report “tracks how US waste makes its way across the world – and overwhelms the poorest nations.” You might be tempted to dismiss this as yet another evocation of The Guardian’s never-ending Evil America theme (it’s part of a series called “Toxic America”), but that doesn’t mean it’s not a serious problem.
  6. Buttigieg says it’s ‘almost certain’ the United States has had ‘excellent gay presidents’ — He was speaking statistically. When asked to speculate which ones, he demurred: “My gaydar doesn’t even work that well in the present, let alone retroactively.” I like that sort of humility in a candidate. On other topics, Jennifer Rubin had some good things to say about Mayor Pete today.
No cough! No shake! And definitely not a cough AND a shake!

No cough! No shake! And definitely not a cough AND a shake!

Open Thread for Tuesday, June 11, 2019

I didn't have any pictures to go with any of these topics. So here's a pic of the back of my truck...

I didn’t have any pictures to go with any of these topics. So here’s one of the back of my truck…

I thought I’d point to several things that have been interesting in the last few days:

  1. Harpo gonna do some world-shakin’! — Dick Harpootlian had a huge impact on what happened at the State House this year, for a rookie. Of course, it helps if you’re a rookie who already had a larger-than-life profile, and who really doesn’t mind getting people stirred up. But I bet the Democrat wasn’t fully prepared for the letter to the editor that said he’s a lot like Trump in these regards.
  2. Richland penny program has $154M in rising costs. Can all projects still get done? — This is Doug’s cue to say, I knew it all along! And the rest of us, who knew we had real infrastructure needs and that the penny was a logical way of paying for them, can say, How did Richland County screw up this program as much as they have, and how do we fix it going forward? So, you know, something for everybody…
  3. Did the Democrats’ abortion inflexibility just give Trump four more years? — This is a Michael Gerson opinion piece. He voiced the thought I’ve had in my mind since the fire-breathers browbeat my man Joe Biden into backing down on the Hyde Amendment. Marc Thiessen, a guy with whom I seldom agree on anything, had a similar piece.
  4. Want to See My Genes? Get a Warrant — First, I don’t agree with that sentiment. But I’m pondering a larger piece on the use of genetic genealogy to fight crime, and I’m offering this piece as an appetizer to get the conversation started.
  5. Anybody know of a good Davy Crockett biography? — I rewatched the 1960 version of “The Alamo” in recent days, and also not long ago rewatched portions of the latter-day one with Billy Bob Thornton as the King of the Wild Frontier. And I’m burning to understand What Davy was doing down there? I mean, I know he had time on his hands and was up for something new after losing his re-election to Congress, but nothing I’ve seen fully explains his motivation in going there, staying there, and dying there…

I guess that’s enough for a start…

FalloftheAlamo

Open Thread for Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Way to go there, Father!

Way to go there, Father!

Just to toss out a few possible topics:

  1. Belgian monks resurrect 220-year-old beer after finding recipe — Some news we can all agree is good. Actually, the recipe is from the 12th century. They haven’t produced it in 220 years because the monastery was burned down by French revolutionaries. Further evidence supporting my firm belief that on the whole, the French revolutionaries were a bunch of a__holes. And don’t even get me started on that Buonaparte…
  2. Hitchens on what was wrong with ‘Master and Commander’ — This piece is more than 15 years old and Christopher Hitchens is dead. But I just ran across it (trying to remember, upon writing the item above, how O’Brian spelled “Bonaparte”) and thought I’d share it, for Bryan and Mike and anyone else interested.
  3. Democrats’ Impeachment Divide Tests Pelosi — Oh, come on, people. Just get behind Joe and fix the problem in 2020. Yes, he should be impeached. He richly deserves it. But will it solve the problems posed by Trumpism? No, it will not.
  4. ‘I Don’t Want an Exciting President’ — An opinion piece by Michelle Goldberg, and as usual, I disagree. She counsels Democrats against choosing Joe just because they think he can win. She says they should follow their passion. I give this for their passion. If they’re excited about someone other than Joe, they should take a sedative. Enthusiasm of the masses, devoid of thought, is not the way out of this problem. It’s how we got Trump to start with. Anyway (he says, shifting gears suddenly), Joe’s the only candidate worth getting excited about. So there.
  5. ‘Grab ‘em by the ballot box’: Activists at SC State House target abortion bans in 2020 — I don’t know about you, but I am really, really dreading the role that abortion is likely to play in next year’s election. The passions are stirred on both sides, and I’ve just told you how I feel about people and their passions.
  6. Bond film extra killed with fatal dose of chemsex drug, jury told — Uhhhh, what’s a “chemsex drug?” Sounds like something invented by, well, a Bond villain. Which I suppose is why this is being played prominently by The Guardian.

Open Thread for Monday, April 15, 2019

I'm Jon Snow, and I know nothing about what happens after Season 7, episode 5!

I’m Jon Snow, and I know nothing about what happens after the fifth episode of Season 7!

Y’all can talk about what you want, but as for the suggested topics from me, I’m going less for today’s headlines, to talk about things I find more interesting:

  1. Don’t tell me what happens on Game of Thrones! — A couple of weeks ago, I signed back up for HBO Now after a two- or three-year hiatus, so I could watch Season 7 of GoT before the first episode of Season 8 came out. I didn’t quite get there, having only finished the 5th episode from 7 just last night. Jon Snow, the Hound and some others have just set out north of the Wall. But of course, today, everybody’s trying to tell me about the episode released last night. Why are they doing that? If you wanted to see it, you watched it — or, you’re saving it, and you don’t want people telling you about it. Right?
  2. Is America Hopelessly Polarized, or Just Allergic to Politics? — This is interesting. This study found that yes, increasing numbers of Americans don’t want their kids to marry someone of that other party, but it also measured their strong wish to just not hear about it, no matter what you think. In fact, lots of folks “aren’t happy with an in-law from the opposing party discussing politics, but many are just as unhappy with an in-law from their own party who insists on political conversation.” So just shut up, already…
  3. Trump and the Annihilation of Shame — Actually, this Bret Stephens column isn’t so much about Trump as about someone who was his opposite. It’s inspired by the passing of Charles Van Doren, a man who did something shameful and actually had the decency to be ashamed of it. How quaint, right? Loser! Sad…
  4. Keep the Aspidistra Flying — That’s the original title of a story by George Orwell, which Hollywood for some reason changed to “A Merry War,” which makes zero sense — it has nothing whatsoever to do with what happens in the film. Anyway, I’m sharing this bit of arcana because my wife and I stumbled over it on Amazon and watched it, which is one reason I’m still behind on Game of Thrones. Anyway, it’s about a guy who is a whiz at writing advertising copy who chucks it all to become a poet — but in the end chucks that to go back to earning a living. I sort of enjoyed it. It was instructive.
  5. Maybe Lloyd Webber should be in the hymnal — This is another episode of me not thinking about what I should be thinking about in church. Yesterday was Passion Sunday — Palm Sunday to you prods — and we sang a couple of hymns suitable to the liturgy. But as we held our palm fronds and heard the Gospel reading about the triumphant entry into Jerusalem, I kept thinking it would be great if we were singing “Heysanna, Hosanna” from “Jesus Christ Superstar.” It’s a great song, and really captures the moment: “If every tongue were still the noise would still continue; the rocks and stones themselves would start to SING…” I like the way that note on “SING” rings out…

That’s about it for now. What do YOU want to talk about?

A scene from 'A Merry War,' a title that makes no sense.

A scene from ‘A Merry War,’ a title that makes no sense.

Open Thread for Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Moisture Festival 2010, photo by Michelle Bates

Moisture Festival 2010, photo by Michelle Bates

I’m super busy with catching up on work, but I wanted to give y’all something new to chew on.

If you are old enough, you will remember something on television called a “variety show,” and you will also remember that periodically someone would come on such a show whose claim to fame was the ability to keep a number of plates spinning simultaneously atop spindly sticks. (And yes, young people, we actually watched this, because the Beatles might come on next — also, there was no Netflix.) Well, me pausing in catching up on work to post this is like that — another plate set to spinning.

Some topics:

  1. House fails to override Trump’s veto of emergency declaration challenge — Which you knew was going to happen because arithmetic. So now, this particularly stupid saga moves on to the courts.
  2. Charges dropped against actor accused of lying about a hate-crime attack — If there’s a moral to this story, I have no idea what it is. But if this development means we hear no more about this particular episode, I’m all for it.
  3. SC House passes millions in tax breaks to lure Carolina Panthers across border— Really? As in, seriously? I liked that Henry proposed some light rail as part of his pitch on this. Could we just have that, without the football?
  4. 2020 presidential candidate to make commencement address at SC university — I just include this as an example of the newfangled type of headline that doesn’t tell you anything more than it has to to get you to click. Here’s the Old School version: “Cory Booker to speak at S.C. State graduation on May 10.” (I even padded it, as the usefulness of “Cory” and “on” are debatable.) Note how I told you everything you might conceivably want to know, in less space. Now you don’t have to click. You can thank me later.
  5. Tory rebels asked by No 10 if they would back Brexit deal if May quit — You can see the appeal of this plan to the PM. It’s a twofer: She’d get a win, and she wouldn’t have to deal with stupid Brexit any more.