We haven't had a generic rage thread in a while. Isn't it mind-boggling that we actually grew accustomed to having Trump for diarrhea-mouth-in-chief? Like, as a commentary on how bodies won't generate a true shock reaction to an ongoing truth over the course of years? We don't always have a choice on what ceases to feel novel.
Anyway, this tweet stuck with me:
"The pandemic we ignored made our convict labor too sick to provide essential services" is the perfect epitaph for this country https://t.co/EPValMPCrq— Mass for Shut-ins (is a podcast) (@edburmila) August 20, 2020
To be honest, I don't totally understand why the summertime surge of Covid cases in the US is receding. Take a place like Florida. Their cases seem to have peaked in mid-July. But there's no mask order, and their social distancing doesn't appear to have changed since May.
Some places have instituted mask orders in response to the surge, and that would be convincing to me, but I don't understand why it's receding in the absence of any notable change in behavior, like Florida. Rebekah Jones was the scientist who was fired by Florida for refusing to fudge the data, and started her own dashboard, and hers is also showing a decline in cases.
What am I missing?
This semester I am teaching zoom-calculus, with an extended block of time. I usually pay attention to breaking the class time up so that it's not too deadly. Since we're virtual this semester, I thought it would be fun to introduce a rotating "play a song for the class, any song, you pick," among students, to serve as an intermission.
So for the first day, I get to be the one to play a song for the class. Options:
1. "Here is the song that was all the rage, back when I took Cal 1 myself, in '95." (Possibly choices: I Wish (I was a little bit taller), No Diggity, or maybe the Fugees. Or something grungey - Alanis Morrisette and Jewel were big in the dorms that year, iirc.)
2. "Here is a song that blew my mind, or that I was personally obsessed with, at your age." (Possible choices: David Bowie, the Cars, Steeley Dan, or mid-90s R&B.)
3. "Here is a song that evokes feelings that I'd like to engender in this community" - a song which gives me warm fuzzies about friendship or teamwork? I am happy to play such a song non-ironically, but I'm not sure I can think of something.
Anyway! What would you play for your calculus class of hopeful 18 year olds, during their very first global pandemic and potential dissolution of society?
Unfoggetarian writes Keep clicking through, there's a twist.
Heebie's take: It's one of those surreal housing listings. For maximum effect, I say look at the pictures before reading the description. You can look at the first few, and then jump to ~30, to more efficiently get the point.
(Jammies and I differed strongly over our reaction. He thought it was amazing: think of the storage possibilities! Of all that you could do with the space! I felt...otherwise.)
(This is intended to be our system for checking in on imaginary friends, so that we know whether or not to be concerned if you go offline for a while.)
Clearly I cannot keep this simple thing together. Maybe I'll just aim to keep one on the front page at all times.
I just love stories like this. Schoolteacher by day, intrepid adventurer...in his 60s. The contrast between the personality and the achievement brings me great joy.
I went to campus for the second time since March, so that IT could mess with my computer. After that I went to my office for a few hours.
Guys. GUYS. It's so good and bad. I was able to think so clearly there, in my actual office, by myself. I worked out my list of things to get done, and then I just did them, and then they were done. I kind of forgot how much better it works when you have a proper environment.
The sad part is that now I have to re-forget, and re-pretend until I re-believe it, that working at home works basically fine.
It's hard to be surprised by the malfeasance of Republicans at this point. Pretty much it only happens if you have an unchecked assumption that gets revealed. Here's one for me: I was genuinely shocked that the Senate went on recess without passing a stimulus bill. I didn't realize that I felt sure something would come through at the 11th hour, until it came and went. (It probably says more about the anxiety I'm carrying than the actual likelihood that they were going to get their act together.)
It's no more shocking than all the other ways in which they are cavalier and destructive towards people's lives, but allow me this small sputter, nevertheless: don't they fucking realize what hangs in the balance!? May they all carry internal festering wounds that yield unpleasant symptoms that doctors keep mistaking for STDs, and mis-treating as such, and may they pile up medical bills at the hands of quacks, after they become disillusioned, and may they rack up Covid exposures there.
I started reading Stoner, which is about as good as a novel can be...but I couldn't finish it. Mild spoilers (and just a few more sentences) under the fold.
When Edith comes between Stoner and Grace, I couldn't take it--not so much for Stoner's sake, but because Grace, who is a happy child, is going to be destroyed. It was just too much. And I was looking forward to some Stoner/Lomax drama! And I miss David Masters, too!
Back to Virgil Flowers. Thanks, Ajay!
(But I'll take recommendations for (gonna say it) high art lit that doesn't involve kids suffering.)
Nick S writes: This story about the relationship between Obama and Biden (and Clinton) is a pure Washinton insider story, but well done.
"I don't know who saw him sailing to the nomination," said Psaki. Biden's old-fashioned style of politics, she reasoned, "still taps into something in the American electorate. And maybe we're not seeing that because I live in a suburb of Washington, D.C., with a bunch of upper middle-class white people."
Or, as one former Biden official put it: "I don't think he really cares about what a 30-something Pod Save America host thinks about him, and that honestly might be why he's the nominee."
But even in victory, Biden and his aides often act like they have something to prove to the Obama team that doubted them. Some Biden allies noted that Obama's endorsement of Biden, when it finally arrived, lacked the effusiveness of his endorsement of Clinton. "I don't think there's ever been someone so qualified to hold this office," he said of Clinton in his video message in 2016. Four years later, in his endorsement video for Biden, he said: "I believe Joe has all of the qualities we need in a president right now ... and I know he will surround himself with good people."
It seems like the article is getting criticism for trying to stir up controversy when all the things described are fairly normal.
I thought it was an interesting read, precisely because it all seems normal but I hadn't thought about that precise dynamic of two separate figures from the Obama White House running for president four years apart.
Heebie's take: If it weren't the tensest moment imaginable, I think this kind of story is interesting and non-confrontational. When things are this tense, everything gets filtered through that lens, for better or worse. Also, everything the Trump administration does is clunky and large-scale: see photos of mailboxes being loaded up, for example. It's just a whole different kind of story to talk about mature adults who navigate differences between them with subtlety and nuance. It's possible that August, 2020, is not the time for a story about subtlety and nuance, but it's hard for me to take it as trying to gin up controversey.
It is perfectly obvious to me why Obama might not be whole-heartedly enthusiastic about Biden. It also makes sense to me that Obama and Clinton approach leadership far more similarly than Biden, and that all three are perfectly normal, mature adults who can navigate this kind of difference without making a huge stink about it.