Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Holiday Shopping Blogging

I haven't read it yet, but it just won a National Book Award and looks good.

The Problem With The Note

No normal people actually read it. Its audience was the people who should have known better, but for some reason didn't.

The Note purported to reveal Washington’s secrets. In fact, its purpose was the exact opposite: to make the city, and US politics, appear impossible to understand. It replaced normal words with jargon. It coined the phrase "Gang of 500," the clubby network of lobbyists, aides, pols, and hangers-on who supposedly, like the Vatican's cardinals, secretly ran DC. That wasn't true — power is so diffuse. But Halperin claimed he knew so much more than we did, and we began to believe it.

Once you believe that, it’s not hard to be convinced that politics is only comprehensible, like nuclear science, to a select few. There were those chosen ones — the people who'd flattered Halperin to get a friendly mention in his newsletter, the ones he declared to be in the know — and the rest of us. Halperin wrote about Washington like it was an intriguing game, the kind that masked aristocrats played to entertain themselves at 19th-century parties: Everyone was both pawn and player, engaged in a set of arcane maneuvers to win an empty jackpot that ultimately meant nothing of true importance.

Holiday Season

Semi-vacation for the next couple of days, so blogging will be random...

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Tuesday Evening


I Am Very Surprised

I thought that given his own history, Trump would be completely disgusted with the actions of Roy Moore and would fight very hard to keep him out of the Senate.


Afternoon Thread


By Any Other Name

Charlie Rose has always been a mystery to me. I get that he has fans, but I never understood why. I suppose he had a more "high brow" show than most, in some sense, but Charlie Rose was always about, well, Charlie Rose. Some interviewers enable their guests to speak, and some impose their views on their guests and most guests find it hard to battle back. "Exactly right, Charlie."

But forget the PBS show, which is what I'm describing. The CBS morning show? So weird.

What Do You Think Happens In A War

This could be applied to basically every hawkish US foreign policy endeavor, but assuming that some of their proponents are well-meaning and not just on the boards of arms dealers, what exactly do people think happens when you start arming people to blow other people up or start blowing them up yourself? Either you're encouraging one side to turn the other side into rubble, or you're just aiming for some scaled up version of "an armed society is a polite society." Give everyone weapons and hope this means they don't use them.

Nobody could have predicted...

No Solution

The thing about the Irish border is issue is that...I haven't actually seen a solution. I don't think anyone has one. Other than just not having a border, of course, which...

In an exclusive interview, Ireland’s foreign minister said his country still has a veto - and is prepared to use it.

Simon Coveney told the Standard that trade talks will not be allowed to begin until the UK also agrees to maintain the open border between the Republic and Northern Ireland.

He said: “Anybody who thinks that just because the financial settlement issue gets resolved […] that somehow Ireland will have a hand put on the shoulder and be told, ‘Look, it’s time to move on.’ Well, we’re not going to move on.”

Sweet Little Lies

Related, if not the same, is that there's a tendency to pain certain actions by the Trump administration as somehow being unprecedented or "not what America is about" or whatever. The degree matters in all such things, of course, and not everything that is similar is precisely the same, but pointing out that no, actually, all (or most of) this was happening before, is not a defense of Trump. Or to put it another way, when the Trump era is over, I hope all the shit that was "bad" under Trump is still thought to be bad.

Sometimes Lost

I don't expect Republicans to be good. I think it's reasonable to expect (and be disappointed that they don't) that the supposedly objective media gives things the appropriate weight and actual evenhanded coverage instead of the bothsidesism that is the lazy (and worse) version. We should still expect (demand) our own side to be good.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Late Night

What did liberal college students do wrong today?

Monday Night

Rock on.

And I'm Back

Never quite recover an OS system crash, but I think I've sort of managed. Thanks to random internet person who suggested "change this BIOS setting for your hard drive."

The Crusty Paw

And Charlie Rose.

I Can't Drive 55

I think most people have what is to me an acceptable unacceptable attitude about speeding, but for most people that means maybe they'll drive 80.
Fox News host Jeanine Pirro hit with speeding charges after cops clock her driving 119 mph upstate

Afternoon Thread

Still in computer hell. Managed to coax a dos prompt to appear and hook up an external drive so at least there will be backups. Then to see if formatting and reinstallation works or if it's just time for a new machine (or at least new drive).

Somebody Wants To Be Fired

5 sources!

National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster mocked President Trump’s intelligence at a private dinner with a powerful tech CEO, according to five sources with knowledge of the conversation.

Over a July dinner with Oracle CEO Safra Catz — who has been mentioned as a candidate for several potential administration jobs — McMaster bluntly trashed his boss, said the sources, four of whom told BuzzFeed News they heard about the exchange directly from Catz. The top national security official dismissed the president variously as an “idiot” and a “dope” with the intelligence of a “kindergartner,” the sources said.

Actually She Wanted Me

We can debate somewhat where the line between "being a bit too aggressive when drunk" and "serial sexual harasser" is (I'm not defending the former, just that not all bad behavior is precisely the same level of bad), but this really bad.

In the course of reporting this story, I was told by a male reporter who’d worked at Politico at the time that my instinct was right. He said that the day after that night at the bar, Thrush told him about the incident, except with the roles reversed. I had come onto him, the reporter said Thrush told him, and he had gently shut it down.

In a statement, Thrush denied that he disparaged me to colleagues at Politico. He said that “the encounter described [in this story] was consensual, brief, and ended by me.”

The source said that Thrush frequently told versions of this story with different young women as the subject. He would talk up a night out drinking with a young attractive woman, usually a journalist. Then he’d claim that she came onto him. In his version of these stories, Thrush was the responsible grown-up who made sure nothing happened.

If I Turn It Off And Then On Again 500 Times

Between trying to blog on a netbook and trying to recover my other computer...extra sucky blogging day!

Peak Car

Aside from my general "not going to work" perspective, I don't get the people who think that self-driving cars will somehow make car commutes better. There's still the peak driving problem, and even optimistic scenarios about the entire fleet being self-driving cars being able to increase highway capacity and improve the flow of cars, a 30% increase of capacity on the 405 ain't gonna help much. In addition, I'm not sure how "no one will need to own their own car"is compatible with "most people commute at the same time." Cars are big. We have this thing called rush hour. Self-driving cars aren't going to change that even if they work, which they won't.

Morning Thread

Yum, just had some really good spaghetti carbonara.