Discussion thread

As I’ve run out of things to say today, I’ll let readers speak, and about any topic on their minds.  If you want something to start with, and you needn’t discuss it, here’s a NYT op-ed calling for Trump to resign before his coronavirus policies continue to kill Americans.

Now I’d be delighted if Trump would quit. He has been a massive failure as President, cozying up to dictators, mishandling the pandemic (even promoting quackery—still), dividing the country, telling lie after lie, and, well, I won’t upset myself by repeating all that he’s done, though it’s culminated this week with his intimation on Twitter that perhaps he’d delay the election because mail-in voting is “fake voting”.

Or course, Trump’s resignation would make Pence the President until January, and I’m pretty sure that either one of them would be defeated in November. And seriously, does anyone think this narcissist would resign? Quitting the most powerful job in America wouldn’t seem to be in Trump’s playbook. Thus the premise of Egan’s piece—that it’s even in Trump to resign, is ludicrous. And, if you omit that, the rest of the article is the familiar litany of Trump’s misdeeds and malfeasances.

But you can talk about anything you want, and if the comments are few, I’ll shoot this dog.

134 Comments

  1. dd
    Posted July 31, 2020 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Andrew Sullivan just posted his weekly essay and it is among his best ever (and I have been reading him since the 80s.)

    He discusses the new book by James Lindsay and Helen Pluckrose “Cyncial Theories” and uses it as a sprinboard to much else.

    So, subscribe and become a paying customer already.

    “The Roots Of Wokeness
    It’s time we looked more closely at the philosophy behind the movement.”

    https://andrewsullivan.substack.com/p/the-roots-of-wokeness

    • Stephen Pilotte
      Posted July 31, 2020 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

      Read the essay. Loved it. Pre-ordered the book by Helen Pluckrose. Thanks for the link.

    • jezgrove
      Posted July 31, 2020 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

      Great article by Sullivan, thanks dd!

    • rickflick
      Posted July 31, 2020 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

      Enjoyed his take on the book. Also, is take on tRump vs mail-in voting tweets. He comes down worried people don’t take him seriously enough. His refusal to accept defeat could lead to violence.

  2. BobTerrace
    Posted July 31, 2020 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Sub

    • Mark R.
      Posted July 31, 2020 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

      Mariner

      • Mark R.
        Posted July 31, 2020 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

        Damn, didn’t tick the box.

  3. Posted July 31, 2020 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    Question for Americans, to what extent is US coronavirus policy set at state level, as opposed to federal level?

    • Posted July 31, 2020 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      Every state has its own health department and responsibility for its citizens but the Feds can help enormously if they choose to. The biggest problem with the US response to the virus is that Trump chose not to help for the most part. Early on he went with denial of its seriousness. That failed, obviously, but he never admits to mistakes so he will only take action when he sees it as “winning” the day’s media battle. This recent article gives a good snapshot of how broken this administration’s response to the virus has been:

      https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2020/07/how-jared-kushners-secret-testing-plan-went-poof-into-thin-air

      • Damien
        Posted July 31, 2020 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

        Thank you for enlightening us, non Americans.

        Please do not give up the fight.

        • Posted July 31, 2020 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

          We’re just waiting for the disease to take its course. Salvation is a vaccine, though I don’t put it past Trump to screw that up, and electing Biden. Until then, we continue to wear our masks and keep our distance, of course.

          • David Harper
            Posted July 31, 2020 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

            Much Covid-19 vaccine research is being pursued in places other than the United States, of course, so salvation may come from abroad.

            • Posted July 31, 2020 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

              True, but it’s the manufacturing and distribution of the vaccine here in the US that concerns me. I have no doubt that the drug companies and universities working on the various vaccines are doing their best but Trump will try to warp things to serve his own political agenda. Examples include demanding that the vaccine be produced in the US, accept only a US vaccine since any others won’t be “safe”, distributing it through his own buddy system as a reward for loyalty to Trump and failing to distribute it in a timely fashion to Blue states or states with Democrat governors. He may allow insurance companies and health care providers charge a very high price for each vaccine dose. He may fail to provide an easy way for low income people to get vaccinated. He’s sown distrust of government, science, liberal-run institutions to the extent that not enough people are willing to accept the vaccine. I’m sure their are other ways he can screw this up that are just not coming to mind.

    • Mark
      Posted July 31, 2020 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

      Imagine that President Roosevelt had left the fighting of WWII up to the individual states, and that he periodically said that Emperor Hirohito assured him that Japan was not behind the Pearl Harbor attack. That is kind of like the US federal response to Covid-19.

    • eric
      Posted July 31, 2020 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

      It’s almost entirely at the state level. But we have a lot of state governors and legislatures as conservative as Trump (and whose reelection may be linked to his), so they’re happy to follow his lead, allow church services, open up businesses etc…

    • Posted July 31, 2020 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

      What Paul said. Among the many things that was needed early on was a mandate, from the top for wearing masks and enforcing social distance. This should have happened at both the national and state levels, with an effective system of popularizing and endorsing these practices thru the media. But going maskless and coming together in large groups became a political issue about ‘freedom’ and keeping the economy going.

      • Posted July 31, 2020 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

        No doubt this is all known, or has been written about further down, and I haven’t read it yet.

        Although tRump told the populace from the start of the pandemic in the U.S. that the feds had been left with no resources from prior presidents, that was a lie. Starting with the presidencies of George W Bush and that of Barack Obama, an effort was made to come up with a plan for national emergencies such as pandemics. TRump’s gang was given a “playbook” and a day (at least) of instruction from it. They chose to discard and disregard it. He claimed that emergency stockpiles were too small and too old.

        When it came time to ensure that all states had the necessary PPE, et al, tRump didn’t take responsibility to obtain it through one source using federal clout. Each state was left to its’ own devices which created havoc, high prices and inadequate supplies. This was very dangerous for all the individuals working to save Covid-19 patients, and the populace. The same negligence occurred in regards to obtaining equipment essential for patients.

        Yes, he helped with two military hospital ships and assisted in the set up of overflow facilities for if/when hospitals had no more room. Wahoo!

        But, in terms of using the funds and power of the federal government to assist renters, unemployed, uninsured, small businesses, etc.: he didn’t do it to the extent needed. The one and only federal funding (so far) was poorly distributed and more went to large businesses than to small ones. Follow up as to who got what and whether or not the big businesses were retaining employees as was supposed to be the rationale for the funds to them, didn’t happen. Trump, as far as I know, hasn’t provided the necessary state and local funding needed to survive the pandemic. He’s been especially bad in response to Democratic states vs. Republican ones. The second round of funding is still awaiting agreement by Congress and the signature of the President.
        Unless it has changed some of the funding in it is (as previously) is not for Covid-19 purposes. (I.e. remodeling of the FBI building across from the tRump hotel in DC.)

        He was a bad model, not wearing a mask until recently. He undercut his science experts. He gave dangerous misinformation about potential cures for Covid-19 (Hydroxychlorquine. Injected bleach.)He pressured states to open sooner than was safe. As a result, many more people contracted Covid-19 and many more have died. He’s more concerned about the appearance of the health of the economy than he is of the actual health of the citizenry.

        And this is just on Covid-19. Not the damage he’s done to our country in the rest of the world during his presidency. I’m going to stop here as it makes me crazy. Sorry to write so long. Since we can’t all survive his presidency, may most of us do so. And, if you’re in the U.S., survive and are entitled to vote, VOTE!

    • GBJames
      Posted July 31, 2020 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

      Because Republicans control the Executive and Senate, they abdicated the role of policy lead. This left it to governors. And in many states governors themselves abdicated. Consequently the US has no coherent coronavirus policy and we lead the world in self-induced death and economic destruction.

      It didn’t have to be this way. Only incompetence and anti-scientific stupidity can give us this horror show.

    • Posted July 31, 2020 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

      It even goes down a level or two from the state. In Colorado each county has a health department, and sometimes within a given county, there are cities that have their own health departments. This just adds to the chaos when there is no national leadership. Throw in the fact that most Republican sheriffs will not enforce any mask mandates, and it gets more ridiculous. The most effective enforcers of wearing masks are the retail establishments – many won’t let you in the front door without a mask.

  4. Posted July 31, 2020 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    I don’t believe that Trump will quit either. Instead, he will wait and see how Republican efforts to suppress the vote work out. He’s doing his part by deliberately hobbling the US Postal Service hoping that, if things go badly for him, he can claim that the system was rigged because it is taking so long to get the vote in. He may also try to claim victory if he’s ahead at some point in the vote counting process and then declare that waiting any longer will give cheaters more time to cheat. There are so many ways in which he can sow uncertainty and division. If he loses, he will be doing everything in his power to rile up his base into thinking that it was a stolen election. He will have a couple of months to do that between Election and Inauguration Days.

    • Posted July 31, 2020 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

      Some think that he will hold on with his teeth if necessary. To the point of just not leaving, claiming the election was fraudulent, which it will be if he has anything to do with it.

      https://edition.cnn.com/2020/06/11/politics/donald-trump-joe-biden-2020-election/index.html

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted July 31, 2020 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

      I hoped he would quit earlier with some bullshit excise but I think that boat has sailed now and also it’s more clear what a criminal he is so he probably doesn’t want to leave office for fear of being thrown in jail.

    • Moishe
      Posted July 31, 2020 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

      Trump has to hold on for two reasons, the first being that he will be facing much legal, if not criminal, liability upon leaving office. Even if he pardons himself the pardon will only exempt him from federal charges, while the various states may still bring charges.

      The second reason is that, because he is in Putins’ pocket, if he loses the election Putin will have no further use for him, and will possibly disclose Russian involvement in Trumps’ finances through Deutche Bank, as well as any other sordid details (think pee tape).

      At least if he loses the US president and the village idiot will cease to be the same person.

      • merilee
        Posted July 31, 2020 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

        Can he actually legally pardon himself??

        • Posted July 31, 2020 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

          As with many things of this nature, the Constitution doesn’t explicitly prevent a self-pardon. Most legal scholars suggest that he can’t but there’s nothing to stop him from trying. The Supreme Court would have to sort it out. I think it would be insane for them to allow it but there are no guarantees they won’t. The conservative justices could say that if the Constitution doesn’t prevent it then he can pardon himself. If he loses the election, I bet he tries. Trump has no shame at all. In his mind it would be only fair considering how mean everyone has treated him. As many commenters have mentioned, even if his pardon is allowed, it only protects him from Federal charges. States are ready to go after him regardless.

  5. Joseph McClain
    Posted July 31, 2020 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    I can envision a number of scenarios in which Trump would resign. I would expect that he would cite health concerns in doing so. He would have almost as high a public profile as he does now, with his Twitter account and media attention.
    It would be another form of declaring bankruptcy, saving face by walking away and not “losing.” He can walk away from the economy, the coronavirus…everything! And criticize from the sideline, hold rallies, etc.

    • Paul S
      Posted July 31, 2020 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

      You’re attempting to anthropomorphize tRump.

      • GBJames
        Posted July 31, 2020 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

        !

        • merilee
          Posted July 31, 2020 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

          ❗️❗️

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted July 31, 2020 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

        😊

      • Posted July 31, 2020 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

        LOL !!!

  6. DFMGV
    Posted July 31, 2020 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    If Trump resigned The presidency live during the Hannity show on Fox News, it would be the highest rated television show in the history of the world, that would be the perfect way for the narcissist Trump to go out.

    • jezgrove
      Posted July 31, 2020 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

      Sounds a small price to pay – make sure that he claims it as his own!

  7. Curtis
    Posted July 31, 2020 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    The worse things about Trump are his contempt for facts, law and decency and the way he has degraded politics. Unfortunately, I don’t see these things ending after he leaves. He has brought out the worst in both his supporters and detractors. Trump derangement syndrome is very, very real and I expect it to be long lasting.

    Everything revolves around him and the coronovirus shows it best. There are pro-Trump views and anti-Trump views. Clearly, Trump’s view are more nonsensical but that does not mean progressives stick with the science.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted July 31, 2020 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

      I find this latest Lincoln Project video hopeful. https://youtu.be/nhscswJudYM

      • rickflick
        Posted July 31, 2020 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

        Good one. Is anybody listening?

        • merilee
          Posted July 31, 2020 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

          Great one!

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted July 31, 2020 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

        Ain’t nobody meaner. Glad to have ’em on our side this go-round.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted July 31, 2020 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

          Yeah just enough mean I think.

  8. amyt
    Posted July 31, 2020 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    I open and read every post here. I know readers are not supposed to tell PCCE what to write about.
    I keep hoping for another travel story from PCCE. It would be a nice distraction for all parties concerned.

    • Posted July 31, 2020 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I have been meaning to write some other travel stories.

      • Posted July 31, 2020 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

        You have already teased us about an epic 1972 hitch-hiking trip back from the wedding in Texas. I would love to hear about it.

    • Posted July 31, 2020 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

      Not naked please!!!
      🤣

      • C.
        Posted July 31, 2020 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

        When this virus is over, what with the regrown hippie hairdo and all, he might have to reenact that mountain climb for post-covid posterity.

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted August 1, 2020 at 5:29 am | Permalink

        Why not? We saw our host had an impressive tensor Fascia Lata, what else will we discover? 🙂

  9. Posted July 31, 2020 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Just started reading American Nations by Colin Woodard. He argues that there are 11 distinct cultural ‘nations’ that make up US North America, such as Yankeedom, Greater Appalachia, Deep South, El Norte, New France, New Netherland etc. Fascinating stuff & only finished intro. Any of you read it? I’d say PCC[E] is New Netherland!

    • Leigh
      Posted July 31, 2020 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

      Echos of Nine Nations of North America — read that — very superficial.

      I imagine this new iteration will be equally so.

    • savage
      Posted July 31, 2020 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

      The most famous work of the genre ought to be Albion’s Seed. It’s hard to pinpoint ethnic differences precisely, but that does not make them irrelevant or nonexistent.

      My takeaway has been that assimilation is somewhat a myth and that immigrants keep a lot of their cultural values.

      Even in highly developed countries, there are some remarkably sticky legacies. You can for instance trace the impact of the Austro-Hungarian Empire or manorialism by looking at electoral maps today.

      • GBJames
        Posted July 31, 2020 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

        I found Albion’s Seed extremely interesting.

  10. DrBrydon
    Posted July 31, 2020 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been wondering what ever happened to the word “prejudice”? It seems like we have ‘racism’ on one end, and ‘bias’ on the other. Both of those seem to carry a connotation of being beyond control. Prejudice seemed to allow for personal growth.

  11. Randall L Schenck
    Posted July 31, 2020 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    I will leave this article about our sociopath in the white house. And please do not get offended by it. After all, you do not have to read it.

    https://www.salon.com/2020/07/30/yale-psychiatrist-backs-mary-trumps-diagnosis-of-her-uncle-he-is-mentally-incapable-of-leading/

    • Posted July 31, 2020 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      I’m offended that you thought I would be offended.
      But seriously, I think the diagnosis has to be in the ballpark. The man cannot talk about any subject without bending it into being about him.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted August 1, 2020 at 6:18 am | Permalink

      Psychiatrists confirm what we knew all along.
      The only thing missing is the leverage that Mr Putin cum suis in all probability have over this POTUS.

    • rickflick
      Posted August 1, 2020 at 9:02 am | Permalink

      The last line of the article is sobering:

      If he succeeds in forcing a second term, he will likely use it purely for revenge, and I agree with Dr. Trump (the niece) that our democracy and our nation as we know it will not survive.

  12. Paul S
    Posted July 31, 2020 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Question to readers. Are you feeling lethargic lately? I didn’t expect Covid to have a huge personal impact because I’ve worked from home since 2013 so that aspect isn’t much of a change. However I’m feeling more out of sorts that I anticipated. I’m falling behind on home projects and work is starting to seem like work.

    Is it just me?

    • GBJames
      Posted July 31, 2020 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

      Not just you. I worked from home for 20 years and finally retired last fall with plans to travel. The lethargy is real. I fear that winter will be particularly difficult.

    • Curtis
      Posted July 31, 2020 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I alternate between lethargy and anger.

      For my family, the last 5 months have been one piece of bad news after another. Fortunately, none of the news has been major but a lot of moderately bad news adds up without any balancing good news.

      • GEORGE SEPSO
        Posted July 31, 2020 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

        I would add, “befuddlement”, to lethargy and anger. But why alternate between them? Mind them all at once—the better the prospect of achieving catharsis and embrace of the simplicity of despair! Just a riff on a sentiment of Baudelaire’s.

    • DrBrydon
      Posted July 31, 2020 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I feel it, too. I work in technology sales, and am home-based, but typically travel several times a month. Haven’t traveled since early March. I feel motivation flagging.

    • C.
      Posted July 31, 2020 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

      Definitely not just you. I spent March-May at home, found it all too easy to eat too much, drink whenever, sleep 10-12 hrs a day or night or whenever, struggled to read books, struggled to finish movies, struggled to clean anything, struggled to get out of my pj’s, struggled to do any home exercises like yoga, gained 12 lbs. I took a part time job for the desperately needed cash and felt better almost immediately, even weighed against my severe social anxiety. Now I have to start my old job up again, at home, online, and I feel the fear of uselessness creeping in all around me again. I think many, not just looneys like me, are having similar issues. How those with kids, or without jobs are managing, I can’t imagine. At a time when we desperately need to come together we must stay apart for the safety of all. ‘It’s a cruel world indeed.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted July 31, 2020 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

      Is it just me?

      Nope. Ennui — whole lot of it goin’ round.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted July 31, 2020 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      It’s the lack of vacation I think. I took this week off and didn’t do much because not much to do during a pandemic but the change in pace was nice.

    • Steve Pollard
      Posted July 31, 2020 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      Well, I’ve had a different experience. I retired 9 years ago and since then I’ve enjoyed choral singing, being a school governor, and volunteering in the local library, all activities that have had to stop or been curtailed thanks to Covid-19.

      But I have still been able to tend the garden, do a bit of DIY, go for long walks with Mrs P pretty well every day, catch up with the family (UK/France/Italy) every Sunday evening on Houseparty, enjoy choir practice and governor meetings on Zoom, and do a lot of reading (and re-reading). Plus, for a couple of months, the roads were empty and the skies were clear and silent. And now we can see the kids and grandkids face to face once again!

      When I retired, I committed myself to doing the 28-mile circular walk around my home town once a year. My usual time for the past few years has been 7.30-7.45. This year I managed 7.08. Lockdown can be good for you!

      • Paul Matthews
        Posted July 31, 2020 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

        Wow, doing a 28-mile walk is very impressive, especially in such a short time and also given that, if you retired 9 years ago and have grandkids, you’re presumably not in the first flush of youth. I was going to ask how you train for that, but I guess that’s what those long walks with Mrs. P are for. Do you do it race-walker style or the way most regular folks walk?

        • Steve Pollard
          Posted August 1, 2020 at 3:07 am | Permalink

          I am two months younger than our host.

          For most of my life, I have found it easy to get into a steady 4mph stride and keep going. I put in a couple of longish walks to prep for the big one, and just got on with it. I mentally break the walk down into a dozen or so stretches of 2-5 miles, and focus on finishing one leg before allowing myself to think about the next one. I guess the extra walking I’ve done over the past few months has upped my fitness levels a bit: I was a bit stiff afterwards but no aches and pains the next day!

          • Paul Matthews
            Posted August 1, 2020 at 8:11 am | Permalink

            I’ve done quite a lot of walking and hiking in my life but I suspect the longest walk was no more than 28 … kilometres. Even in my younger days (mid to late 30s) when I decided to do a lot of the peaks in the Adirondack mountains in New York State I found physical issues could be a problem: one knee would usually start bothering me at around the 20 to 25 km mark. I was going to ask you about that kind of thing but it sounds like it isn’t really a problem for you, which is great.

            4 mph is a good clip. I think that’s about what I do at my top walking speed … but sustaining it for 7 hours is another matter! And what about eating?

            • Steve Pollard
              Posted August 1, 2020 at 11:30 am | Permalink

              I am lucky enough never to have had any joint issues (apart from…well, never mind). Quite a few of my contemporaries have had to have new knees or hips, but I’ve not had any problems.

              I usually have a carb-heavy meal the night before, and snack on energy bars and Kendal Mint Cake while walking; I rehydrate with electrolyte tablets dissolved in orange squash. I don’t know if that’s based on good science, but it seems to work for me!

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted August 1, 2020 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

              Yeah my feet are messed up and they have messed up my knees recently. I have a good compounding lotion that has helped with the nerve pain and my orthotics and taking magnesium have helped. Slowly things seem a bit better over the last two or so years of it being extra bad.

              • rickflick
                Posted August 1, 2020 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

                Glad to see you’re doing better.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted August 2, 2020 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

                Yeah my feet are far from normal but at least they don’t feel like they are bruised & on fire all the time.

    • Debra Coplan
      Posted July 31, 2020 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

      Nope, not just you. I am procrastinating on everything and can’t seem to get moving. Although I’m not too social of a person, I’m finding this isolation a little tough.

    • Steve Gerrard
      Posted July 31, 2020 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

      Not just you. At two in the afternoon, I should be working at home, yet here I am browsing the internet again, searching for an interesting web site again, scanning for a stimulating article again, reading the comments in hopes of inspiration again, penning a “clever” reply again, hoping to find that elusive happiness we all imagine we had before this all started. The months do seem to go by quickly, so there’s that at least.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted July 31, 2020 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

        Yes I’m easily distracted these days. I can get into a zone but it takes a lot.

      • rickflick
        Posted July 31, 2020 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

        There’s always gardening.

    • Paul S
      Posted July 31, 2020 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

      Thanks all for the replies. I’m concerned that the changes in behavior don’t seem rational since my work/home life is relatively unchanged.

      Maybe I miss the little things more than I realize.

      Ennui may be the word of the day, thanks Ken

  13. merilee
    Posted July 31, 2020 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    🐾🐾

  14. Posted July 31, 2020 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    In the spirit of sometbing different, I have been intrigued by the many photos and videos of pets, and even wild animals… bears, sea-lions, macaques, lining-up to be photographed. They even pose! But surely they have never seen nor understood a photo.
    It all adds to my observation that there is only one type of personality on earth that we share with animals, birds, and, possibly, some insects…
    And did you see that extraordinary clip of three dressed d*gs one of whom pushes a cat into line to be photographed?

    George in France

  15. C.
    Posted July 31, 2020 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    Sam Harris and E.O. Wilson have new books being released in the next few weeks. Bill Hayes (Oliver Sacks’ partner) has one out soon as well called “How We Live Now: Scenes from the Pandemic”, which I am looking forward to, but in a morbid, sad sort of way. NYC has had an experience that my small town life cannot begin to imagine.

    Any other books to look out for?

  16. Posted July 31, 2020 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    In the space of two weeks, I’ve been called “racist” and “right-wing” online, my link to science webinar on Nextdoor was reported, a neighbor called the police on us for a barking dog that we don’t have, and our City Council Member – our CITY COUNCIL MEMBER – went ballistic because my husband used the phrase “idealistic global vision” in an email and told him, “If you meant that as anti-Semitic, I’m going to be deeply offended!”
    (Sounds like someone is deeply offended anyway.)
    Uuuugggghhhh.
    I’m nowhere near a celebrity, but I am a writer, and I’m writing a book on woke culture too – specifically, how to climb out of it and repair your community.

    • jezgrove
      Posted July 31, 2020 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

      Sounds like you’ll certainly have some experiences to draw on – good luck!

      • Posted July 31, 2020 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

        And I started writing the book BEFORE all this happened.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted July 31, 2020 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

      That comment about “anti-Semitic” is wild. No, if I wanted to be anti-Semitic I’d have used caps. Good grief.

      • Posted July 31, 2020 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

        After this she made a speech at the City Council meeting saying she had made “a personal commitment to myself to call out racism, anti-Semitism, and bullying” and exhorted everyone not to use the words global, globalization, or globalist because it was a “dog whistle” for/”obliquely referencing” George Soros (I seriously didn’t even know he was Jewish, and anyway, my husband was referring to 18 different donors of which Soros was only one) and for everyone to “be careful with your words” and “be kind.”
        (I thought, “Great idea there.”)
        We reached out to her rabbi (our neighbor) and talked with friends of ours who are Jewish. We did get some context that helped about why that word was a trigger for her, but she went from zero to outraged so quickly they also shook their heads.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted July 31, 2020 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

          Yes well the problem is hers not yours and her telling you not to use certain words sounds like bullying and censorship to me, esp from a government official.

  17. Filippo
    Posted July 31, 2020 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    My topic, related to logical, rational critical thinking:

    Is an astronaut, running on a treadmill inside the International Space Station on the same day as a marathon is taking place on the Earth’s surface, running in that marathon?

    (“Taking place” seems an apt phrase. Is the event not happening at a specific place?)

    Incidents (there may be more):

    – U.S. astronaut Sunita Williams allegedly running the Boston Marathon in 2007.

    – British astronaut Tim Peake allegedly running the London Marathon in 2016.

    Seems to me that, to run a given marathon, one has to run on the course laid out at the location of the event, which I gather is on the surface of the Earth within the city limits of the given municipality (Boston, London, New York City, etc.).

    If running on a treadmill approximately 200 miles above the earth – for a brief moment ones closest point of approach (assuming that CPA coincidentally happens to be reached on that given day), and otherwise at greater distances from the marathon site in the range of 200<d<8200 nautical miles (Earth's diameter approximately 8000 mi), then surely one can no less reasonably claim to run a given marathon on a treadmill inside his private abode, say, 20 miles outside the municipal limits.

    And why restrict it to municipality-sanctioned and -located marathons? Can an ISS astronaut no less legitimately run an Olympic marathon? The same with an astronaut being on or in orbit around the moon or Mars, or on a planet orbiting Alpha Centauri or located in the Andromeda galaxy?

    Suppose there were an official ISS Marathon. Can't anyone anywhere on Earth no less legitimately claim to be running that marathon?

    I have done a reasonable Google search several times, inputting phrases/statements like, "Sunita Williams did NOT run in the Boston Marathon while on the ISS." No joy. I find it hard, and am not so solipsistic as, to believe that there is not at least one more skeptic out there.

    My inner conspiracy theorist is awakening – is Google biased in its search results? NASA and a tsunami of other sites – presumably advocates of rational, logical critical thinking – hold that astronaut Williams ran the Boston Marathon.

    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/expeditions/expedition14/exp14_boston_marathon.html

    I guess the PR potential was just too much to resist. I guess it's "true" because apparently so many want it to be "true." Re: "The Emperor's New Clothes" and the Woke challenging the biological basis of sex. I beseech thee, Brethren – am I missing something here? Am I losing the cognitive thread?

    • Steve Gerrard
      Posted July 31, 2020 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

      The official participants in the Boston Marathon are determined by the organizers, as are the rules and the course. According to the article,

      “The Boston Athletic Association had issued Williams bib number 14,000. The bib had been sent electronically to NASA, which had forwarded it to Williams.”

      Assuming that the Boston Athletic Association was the official organizer, it is their call. They can designate alternate routes if they see fit; in this case they designated one in space.

      It is of course sensible to be skeptical at first of a “bib sent electronically,” whatever that might mean, but in the end, if the BAA says she ran, she ran. We live in a post-modernist world, where critical theory teaches us that we create our own reality.

      • Filippo
        Posted July 31, 2020 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

        ” . . . official participants . . . are determined by the . . . Boston Athletic Association . . . it is their call. They can designate alternate routes if they see fit; in this case they designated one in space.”

        I look forward to the day that the BAA no less rationally designates a route outside the Boston city limits on the surface of the Earth. I also look forward to the BAA’s magnanimous and congenial reaction should, say, NY City Marathon Movers and Shakers decree that they have been vouchsafed the knowledge that the NYC Marathon route runs through some portion of Boston.

        ” . . . if the BAA says she ran, she ran.”

        ‘Abraham Lincoln faced with some thorny issue that could be settled by a twist of language, or a slight abuse of power, asks his questioner how many legs would a dog have, if we called the dog’s tail, a leg. “Five,” the questioner responds confident in his mathematical ability to do simple addition.

        “No,” Lincoln says. “Calling a dog’s tail a leg, doesn’t make it a leg.”’

        timpanogos.blog/2007/05/23/lincoln-quote-sourced-calfs-tail-not-dogs-tail/

        Apparently, whatever the BAA (apparently a private corporate tyranny) says is true must be true.

        “We live in a post-modernist world, where critical theory teaches us that we create our own reality.”

        When you say that, are you being satirical? If so, forgive me if your satire is too subtle for me. Do I reasonably, correctly take it that you oppose post-modernism? We may live in an increasingly post-modernist world. That does not mean that one must acquiesce or submit or subordinate oneself to it.

        • jezgrove
          Posted July 31, 2020 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

          I’m all for the space route, on the basis that even I might be able to complete e marathon in zero gravity!

          • jezgrove
            Posted July 31, 2020 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

            Oops, I meant to add: “When you say that, are you being satirical” – almost certainly, given the venue!

  18. Diana MacPherson
    Posted July 31, 2020 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying the DOJ would decide if the election would be delayed I think for me crystallizes how incompetent the whole US government now is. Even I, some ordinary Canadian, knows Congress decides on an election delay but a senior member of the US government doesn’t know this!

    • jezgrove
      Posted July 31, 2020 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      Not knowing that kind of stuff is part of the selection criteria for a “senior member of the US government” these days, I suspect.

      • Posted August 1, 2020 at 4:46 am | Permalink

        Although not *caring* is an even bigger qualification for joining the tRump team.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted July 31, 2020 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

      A “senior member of the US government” who was first in his class at West Point, an honors graduate from Harvard Law School, and is himself currently fourth in line for succession to the US presidency — yet remains too much the Trump lackey to contradict Dear Leader by saying out loud what everyone even vaguely familiar with the US constitution knows to be true.

      As James Comey put it, Donald Trump eats people’s souls a bite at a time. And for all his overt, eschatologically fundamentalist religiosity, Pompeo’s shriveled little (metaphorical) soul has been consumed completely.

      • rickflick
        Posted July 31, 2020 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

        You have to wonder how someone with his credentials could allow himself to be used in this way. Obviously, he has achieved much and would deserve great appreciation and respect before he fell under the wing of a psychopath. Why would he throw away a fine reputation to bath in the ugly glow of such a man as tRump, and watch his (metaphorical) soul shrivel like the wicked witch of the west?

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted July 31, 2020 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

          Pompeo is a world-class suck-up who likely had designs of his own on the US presidency — plans he’s probably pissed away through his close association with Trump, even though he could’ve bailed out earlier this year by running for Kansas’s open US senate seat.

          Suck up and kick down is the motto for ambitious little weasels like Pompeo.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted July 31, 2020 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

            We’ve all encountered too many Pompeos in various places throughout our lives.

          • rickflick
            Posted July 31, 2020 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

            Good to know you’re on his case.

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted July 31, 2020 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

              I got him clocked, Rick. 🙂

          • Posted July 31, 2020 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

            He and Mrs. Pompeo seem to have had some glorious future in mind post-tRump since they’ve been routinely holding dinner parties with “important” people at the expense of the U.S. citizens’ pocketbook.

        • Posted July 31, 2020 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

          Maybe, just maybe, he’s a devious little arse hoping for the early downfall of the drunkard who’s in charge. He got it wrong, damn it, the drunkard is still on his feet. Just. 😜

      • jezgrove
        Posted July 31, 2020 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

        Comey played his own part in this nightmare with eleven days to go before the 2016 vote, IIRC.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted July 31, 2020 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

          He did indeed, but not out of malice. (I see Comey as a Shakespearean character of sorts. He has a tragic fault — not hubris exactly, but a high regard for the rectitude and incorruptibility of one James R. Comey, and for that of the FBI & US Justice Department as reflections of it. He got caught in an awkward situation when Bill Clinton barged onto attorney general Loretta Lynn’s plane on the tarmac of the Phoenix airport in July 2016, in the middle of the presidential campaign and of the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server — causing Lynn to half-ass recuse herself — and completely misplayed it.)

          Anyway, his tragic fault notwithstanding, Comey got a good look at Donald Trump up close, and has keen insight into the nature of Trump’s utterly corrupt character.

          • Historian
            Posted July 31, 2020 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

            Loretta Lynch, not Loretta Lynn. 😊

            • Posted July 31, 2020 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

              Yeah. But how many gold albums does Loretta Lynch have?

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted July 31, 2020 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

              Yeah, that’s what I meant, the one who hasn’t been played by Sissy Spacek … yet, anyhow. 🙂

  19. jezgrove
    Posted July 31, 2020 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    More joy about Trump’s adventures in Portland: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jul/31/dhs-intelligence-reports-journalists-portland-protests

  20. Mark R.
    Posted July 31, 2020 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    I don’t have children and don’t know many friends who have school-age children; so I ask those of you with school-age children/grandchildren, do you want to send them back to school where you live? And if you don’t, but live in a state where the governor is hell bent on opening schools, what are you going to do? I’ve been reading a lot of articles about home-schooling and “Pod-schools”.

    Having school-age kids would really make this pandemic more difficult, and there doesn’t seem to be any easy answers; especially since there is no leadership, just chaos. I feel bad for parents out there.

    • Posted July 31, 2020 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

      Writing from Germany — the schools here opened up partially in June as a trial run, with kids who were having trouble at home, and then with one third of each class coming at a time. It worked ok.

      Each state is responsible for how to do it, with varying degrees of competence, and plenty of concern for the coming school year where the whole country is planning to open all schools pretty much as normal, only with masks and more distancing. It’s mostly the teachers who are worried, being older.

      My ill-informed thoughts are that the most important thing is for flexible and practical planning, and quick recognition of any outbreak and all the mechanisms for contact tracing in place and efficient.

      If that is the case, I think it’s best for kids to be in school as much as possible. Home learning, even in the best of cases lacks too much of the social contact, and independence of learning (away from parents and parental control).

    • jezgrove
      Posted July 31, 2020 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

      We’re in the UK, so the situation has been relatively bad (we’ve had the worst excess death rate in Europe during the pandemic according to figures published today).

      Our youngest (12) is due to return to school in September. It isn’t a huge concern for us – pupils will be having limited contact with others (different classes arriving at different times, using different entrances, and staying together in “bubbles” – lunch will be brought from home and eaten in their classrooms). It doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun, but the kids tend to mostly socialise with a small number of friends in their class and, at most, they won’t be mixing with children outside of their year group. Like many girls of her age, she only has a few close friends and she almost exclusively spends time with them anyway.

      The older two are 16 and 17. The sixteen-year-old got to miss his public exams (GCSEs) which was a mixed blessing – no exam stress, but his mock exam results weren’t great and he was finally realising that he would need to work much harder to improve on them when schools here locked down. His results now will be an impenetrable mix of his earlier work, his predicted grades, and past achievements by students from the school. (Needless to say, parents’ reactions to this approach to their offsprings’ exam results has been controversial, to put it politely!) All being well, he will be starting 6th form college a 15-minute train ride away in September. His older sister takes the same train journey and will be starting her second year of A-levels. For both of them, tuition will alternate between a week in college and a week of online lessons at home. Again, we’re not particularly concerned about their health when weighed against the impact of not continuing their learning in class (at least some of the time).

      My parents, both in their 80s, live nearby. In normal times, their social lives (church, memory groups, etc.) are more active than those of myself and my wife, so protecting them is probably the biggest worry about the social mixing that the start of the new school year will entail.

    • Torbjörn Larsson
      Posted July 31, 2020 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

      Writing from Sweden. We never closed schools since the science on those as factors in pandemics is not clear. (Same with masks – the whole of Scandinavia practice social distancing when we can, not masks.)

      The result we see is that they weren’t factors in our local epidemic. And the health of our kids is deemed better than in nations that closed schools by the Europe children authorities (but that is just a poll, YMMV) – children doesn’t fare well with closed schools. Also, now many economists come in with that our economy is relatively better than rest of Europe, likely helped by parents being freed up.

      [It’s late here, so I don’t have the energy to look up the references again, Also, the economy results are accumulating rapidly from various sources.]

    • Mark R.
      Posted August 1, 2020 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      Interesting, thanks for the information you three.

  21. Posted July 31, 2020 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    Last week I visited a friend in a different city here in Germany. I decided to risk the 4 hour train trip as the trains are less than half full, masks are compulsory and surfaces are cleaned regularly.

    My friend has an apartment with two other people, and after I’d been there for a couple of days, one of those people found that they’d had contact with someone (at a band rehearsal) who had tested positive for corona virus.

    She got tested, and a day later found out that she was also positive — so I had spent three days in a small apartment with someone who was positive.

    Thankfully, she didn’t infect any of us.

    At least one of the people who live in the apartment was not at all happy about all the safety measures for corona, and expressed this opinion before we found out one of us was positive. But this person also followed all the safety rules, simply because everyone else did.

    To put it bluntly, if Germany had leadership as irresponsible and stupid as the leadership of the US or the UK, this person might not have behaved so safely, and might have got herself infected, and infected the remainder of us.

    I’ve never before felt glad to live in a country purely because of its political leadership.

    And to all those who a couple of years ago were saying “Merkel is destroying Europe by letting in all those refugees”, well we got through that just fine. In contrast, how is it working out having 60 million of your native born people suddenly turn into Trump followers?

    • jezgrove
      Posted July 31, 2020 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

      An interesting story, Yakaru – just goes to show what basic hygiene etc. can achieve, even in enclosed spaces. And yes, I would happily swap “Boris” Johnson for Angela Merkel any day!

    • Torbjörn Larsson
      Posted July 31, 2020 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

      Yup. At least here, homes and work places are the engines of the pandemic. We are told “no hugs this summer” and “try to work from home the rest of the year”.

  22. Posted July 31, 2020 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    What dog?

  23. merilee
    Posted July 31, 2020 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    Another winner from The Lincoln Project:

  24. Blue
    Posted July 31, 2020 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    To discuss in re a(ny)thing, Boss ?

    Then … … kudos to .those f e w.
    who seem to know the difference
    between and, within their writings then,
    c o r r e c t l y use … …
    … … its and it’s.

    Blue

  25. ivarhusa
    Posted July 31, 2020 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    I’d appreciate learning how to submit ‘reader photos’ as I have done in the past. I lost his email! Mine is ivar@pocketinet.com I typically share bird pictures but insect, now, too. Many thanks.

  26. Ullrich Fischer
    Posted July 31, 2020 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    So, come on. Admit it. You were gonna shoot that dog anyway for pooping on your lawn and chasing your ducks! 🙂

  27. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted August 1, 2020 at 5:45 am | Permalink

    Since we are allowed to discuss basically anything:
    I have a great peeve with the South African ban on the sales of alcohol, not so much the ban per se, but its justification.
    South Africa banned the sale of alcohol and imposed a curfew simultaneously. The alcohol-related trauma in EC departments dropped by more than 50% (initially even by more than 70%), which is great, freeing resources in Hospitals for treating Covid-19.
    Now all these ministers, and even professors (Prof Charles Parry comes to mind), say the alcohol ban was responsible for the drop. However, the ban was imposed simultaneously with the curfew, lifted simultaneously with the curfew, and reinstated together with a new curfew. If one changes 2 variables or parameters at the same time, it is a logical error to ascribe the result to only one of them.
    This has been pointed out more than once, yet these officials and academics persist in (double down on) their error.
    Yet, there are good reasons to think the curfew was more important than the ban. That
    persistence in a logical error p….s me off inordinately.

    • Posted August 1, 2020 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      Wouldn’t it be nice if legislation were treated like experiments, with pre-stated outcome parameters to be measured as part of the laws/regulations?

      Also, I want a pony.

      • Nicolaas Stempels
        Posted August 1, 2020 at 11:17 am | Permalink

        Yes Robert, that would be nice indeed.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted August 1, 2020 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

        Keep digging through all the statutory manure; bound to be a pony down there somewhere. 🙂

  28. sugould
    Posted August 1, 2020 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    All my are concerns are about the election, and I can’t imagine anything going *right* this year:

    • As the GOP had been crippling the postal service for years, and now with Trump trying to kill it outright, will it be able to function through the election?
    • If we have massive mail-in voting, will the trump/the media/everyone hold off declaring the winner long enough for all votes to be counted?
    • Will Russia meddling in this election? Is Trump still stable enough to be an asset for Putin?


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