Sunday, October 30, 2016

E-Mails

Whose emails? You know whose emails!

Okay, as I understand it, the FBI looked through Hillary's emails for years, found nothing in them which they could use against her, but when FBI Director Comey was forced to publicly admit as much, he still said he was "troubled." And now they've found more emails from Hillary in an unrelated investigation of Anthony Wiener, so they're going to investigate those -- because they're from Hillary. And Comey announced it to Congress. Because -- Hillary.

Well, it's obvious that many Democrats -- including me -- see this as evidence as bias against the Democratic Presidential candidate, and unwarranted interference in the election campaign. It's equally obvious that many Republicans think they if enough emails are examined, Hillary will finally be nailed for -- something, I don't know. Ask them.

The question is, how many voters' minds will the latest "email scandal" change? Who knows? Some "pundits" say it will actually hurt Trump by firing up Democrats and swaying some undecideds who agree with us that this is a neverending hunt for something which isn't justice. On the other hand, one Fox News outlet claims to have polling data saying that Comey's announcement will make 34% of all likely voters less likely to vote for Hillary. I think that gives you a good idea of the grasp on reality by some on the Right. I doubt if 34% of voters have even heard about Comey's announcement.

A Republican attorney, a former White House ethics lawyer for Bush Jr, Richard W. Painter, has filed a complaint against Comey over his announcement, saying it violates the Hatch Act, which ensures “that federal programs are administered in a nonpartisan fashion.” That makes for a dramatic headline -- if the headline mentions the complaint was filed by a Republican. But was Painter already one of those Republicans who were in the Clinton camp?

I think I noticed one Trump supporter who has criticized Comey's announcement, a Fox commentator, I'm sorry, I can't find her name now. So that makes definitely at least one Trump supporter critical of Comey's announcement -- unless I misread the story or am remembering it wrong. But will that one Trump supporter switch her vote because of this? I doubt it.

Clinton's supporters are the same as they were -- sick of hearing email-related allegations against Hillary -- except more so. Trump's supporters: also same as they were: convinced that Hillary is evil somehow and that her emails will finally prove it to the whole world, somehow -- except more so.

Which way will undecided voters be moved by this latest fooferah? I imagine that will depend on whether they hear more stories about it from us or from them.

So maybe now -- yes, now -- would be a good time for you -- yes, you -- to stand up and get loud about this election. Thank you.

"Voter Fraud Is Already Underway"

"It turns out that Donald Trump was right, in a manner of speaking, when he warned about the possibility of illegitimate votes being cast. In fact, it's already happened in Iowa, during the early voting period. There are two mitigating factors there that weaken The Donald's argument, however. First is that a grand total of three fraudulent votes have been cast, and, they are the only such votes in Iowa in the last 12 years. Second is that all three votes were for Trump.

"Terri Rote, who is the first of the trio to be arrested and charged, says that she voted twice because the polls are 'rigged,' and that she was convinced her first vote would be counted for Hillary Clinton. Rote has been an eager attendee at Trump rallies, and also regularly takes to Facebook to post inflammatory messages, with 'those blacks' being a favorite target. In any event, the speed with which Rote's misdeeds were discovered illustrates something we and others have said many times: These days, it is very hard to cast fraudulent votes."
Zenger, at ElectoralVote.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Dylan: "The News About The Nobel Prize Left Me Speechless. I Appreciate The Honor So Much."

Hey, look at this, on the website of the Nobel organization:

Bob Dylan: “If I accept the prize? Of course.”

On 13 October, 2016, the Swedish Academy announced that this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature is awarded to Bob Dylan "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition".

This week Bob Dylan called the Swedish Academy. “The news about the Nobel Prize left me speechless”, he told Sara Danius, Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy. “I appreciate the honor so much.”


So, are all of those people who've been trashing Dylan for being too arrogant to accept a Nobel Prize rushing to apologize? No! That's very strange: everyone can see now that they were wrong.

No, instead, they're now trashing Dylan because he's said that he will come to Stockholm to accept the prize "if at all possible," instead of definitely.

I think they're bearing out my theory that they -- "they" being millions of idiots all over the world -- were going to trash him, and will continue to trash him, no matter what he said or says or did or does or didn't or doesn't say or didn't or doesn't do.

That leaves the question of whether Dylan knew that if he was quiet for a while, these great herds of idiots would trash him,, making themselves look idiotic in retrospect, and whether he intentionally was silent for so long in order to give them plenty of rope in which they could entertainingly entangle themselves. If so, I must say: Mr Dylan, well-played! If millions of idiots are going to behave so idiotically whenever your name is mentioned, you might as well have some fun with them, if you can. They've been doing it to you for over half a century now. I don't blame you a bit.

If I'm reading you completely wrong, then of course I'm just one more idiot, and I apologize.



Open Letter To Robert Reich

Robert Reich on Facebook, 28. October 2016, recording a conversation he had with a Republican who disapproves of Trump but is afraid to say so:

"He: At least I’m no Giuliani or Gingrich or Pence. I’m not a Trump enabler.

"Me: I’ll give you that."


Wrong, Robert. Don't give him that. Don't let him off the hook. He is a Trump enabler, and so is every other Republican who doesn't speak up and lets people assume he or she approves of Trump. A Republican who claims to you in a private conversation that he's reasonable, but is afraid to behave in public as if he is reasonable, is not reasonable. Sometimes being reasonable requires the courage to let it show.

"Me: Wait a minute. Isn’t this how dictators and fascists have come to power in other nations? Respected leaders don’t dare take a stand."

You're absolutely right about that. Well, that's part of it: people who let fascists rise up in their own ranks, who are just cowards and won't speak up against it. Another part is the rest of the people letting the fascists and their cowardly colleagues get away with it. In this case by not giving Republicans nearly enough blame for Trump and other right wing monsters. That makes the rest of us enablers too. Trump will certainly not be the last prominent Republican fascist, he is not the only prominent Republican fascist now, and this is much too important for you and I too be polite about it.

I know that you and many other Democrats, including Barack Obama, want to be conciliators and foster a more civilized and respectful political discourse. And a more civilized and respectful political discourse would be a good thing.

But conciliation only happens when both sides give. You and Obama and other would-be centrist Democrats keep reaching out, and keep getting punched in the face and used for your trouble, and we all suffer from it. Obama appoints a Republican like Comey to the head of the FBI, where Comey perpetuates the same decades-long fishing expedition against the Clintons in which he participated back in the 90's when he was working for Kenneth Starr. (I know that Comey insists that he is no longer a Republican. He's a Republican and he lies about it.) Just one recent example of how conciliation doesn't work when it's one-way, when only one side is centrist. You need to wake up and realize that it has been decades since there has been anything like a reasonable Republican who's interested in working with Democrats for the good of all, and act accordingly. It has been a long, long time since any part of the GOP was still in any way the party of Lincoln. Teddy Roosevelt was the last thoroughgoing example of that. The Republicans who have spoken up against Trump aren't doing it out of friendship for the Democratic Party, they're just trying to keep the Republican Party from destroying itself. If they had ever been interested in working with Democrats, they would have spoken out against extremists in their own ranks long before anyone suspected that Trump was, or would become, a Republican.

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Cars Nominated For Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame



I read today that the Cars are among the 2017 nominees for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and my reaction is:

They're NOT IN YET?! Crosby, Stills & Nash, the Eagles, The Mamas & the Papas, Billy Joel, The Lovin' Spoonful, AC/DC, ZZ Top, John "Cougar" Mellencamp, Metallica, The Hollies, Alice Cooper, Guns N' Roses, Heart, Cat Stevens, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, Green Day and some other borderline cases besides about whom I could very well have complained, made it into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame BEFORE the CARS?!

I'm sorry, I just can't take this seriously. Let the people come and point their fingers at me and mock me for complaining, just as I point and mock at those complaining over Bob Dylan being the 2016 inductee into the Literature Hall of Fame, otherwise known as gettin' a Nobel.

It's stupid to call it the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to begin with, am I right? Sports have Halls of Fame. Arts are supposed to have Academies or Institutes or like that, am I right or what, Amurrka?

Whatever. I really just came here to say that I like the Cars. The rest is really -- are you kidding me? Joan Jett?! -- whatever. I like the Cars, and the rest of this is NONE OF MY BUSINESS. It's their Hall of Fame and they can do whatever they want to -- the Eagles?! THE EAGLES GOT IN 18 YEARS AGO AND THE CARS AREN'T IN YET?!?! -- it's their Hall of Fame and they can do whatever they want to with it, period, and it's silly for me to get upset about anything like this and I know it's silly, and that's all there is to that. THE MAMAS & THE PAPAS?!?!!! Alrighty then. NEXT!

I think the Cars are a great band. That's all I wanted to say.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Straight Democratic Ticket, Is What I Recommend

At 4:02 today, Ex-US Representative Joe Walsh @WalshFreedom of Illinois tweeted:

On November 8th, I'm voting for Trump.

On November 9th, if Trump loses, I'm grabbing my musket.

You in?


About an hour later, having apparently suffered in a meantime a backlash over that tweet severe enough to alarm even him, Walsh explained in an interview that he was "talking metaphorically."

Walsh is an unbearable jackass.

Metaphorically speaking, of course. He's not actually a donkey. That part was metaphorical.

The part about him being unbearable was not. And I'm not the only one who feels that way. Walsh was one of the Tea Party freshmen Congesspeople voted in in 2010 and voted out again in 2012. He has repeatedly gotten into trouble for speaking in a racially insensitive manner and repeatedly had to explain that he was speaking metaphorically and so forth and that what he really meant was, and so forth.

Earlier this year, Walsh Twitter account was suspended -- not for the musket tweet, but for something much worse which Twitter deleted, which I won't repeat here. Walsh had to explain that he hadn't really meant what he said and promise to cut it out to get his account back. In an interview the next day, Walsh said of what was in the deleted tweet which he hadn't really meant that way:

That's crazy and stupid and wrong. It would end my career and it's wrong."

It would end his career -- AND it's wrong. Nice to see a man of integrity who has his priorities right.

My point is just to remind my readers, once again, that Trump didn't come out of a vacuum, that Trump really isn't even much of an anomaly in the GOP. As much as the Republican primaries seemed to be a complete cluster****, they in fact did not nominate him completely by accident.

Of course, for those of you who live in the many parts of the US represented by Republicans who aren't distancing themselves from Donald Trump, it's probably not even necessary for me to point out that Trump is not an anomaly. This is more for those of you watching all the Republicans running full speed away from Trump on the nationwide news and in places where he's messing up the campaigns of the local Republicans.

You know of any Republicans running for office or for re-election in areas where Trump leads Clinton in the polls, who are distancing themselves from him? Me neither. Isn't it a remarkable coincidence how closely bad poll numbers for Republicans and Republican moral outrage at Trump coincide?

No Republican politicians running for office anywhere should be considered completely free of association with Trump. The main difference between "moderate" Republicans and jackasses like Trump and Walsh is that the "moderates" have a better sense of when it's expedient to keep their mouths shut -- or, for example, to distance themselves from a colleague who's going down like the Hindenburg, or to pretend that they think Hillary is just swell and always have thought so. And, of course, the "moderates" are running for office in places where people like Trump and Walsh are very unpopular.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Wadenbeisser

The last 12 twelve days of tempest in the teapot of culture have given me an idea for what might be a fascinating documentary film. It could be entitled Wadenbeisser, and examine people who have complained about other people receiving the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Wow -- it has really only been 12 days since Dylan's Nobel Prize was announced. It feels like much longer than 12 days. There has been so much criticism of the award in those 12 days, which I have been able only to partly ignore. It seems incredible that such an immense volume of hostile nonsense and ignoble resentment could have been produced in just 12 days.

"Wadenbeisser," always with a capital W, is a German noun, one of those German nouns which is spelled the same in the singular and the plural, which literally translates to a "calf-biter" or "calf-biters," and figuratively refers to someone whose behavior is reminiscent of that of a small dog which charges a person, barking furiously, and bites the person in the calf. A Wadenbeisser is someone who is figuratively small, in the sense of shallow or petty, attacking someone of greater (figurative) stature.

Wadenbeisser might be a good name for this documentary, because, of all the impassioned denunciations of various Nobel Prizes in Literature which I have read, none has been a tiny fraction as interesting as the written work of the denounced Laureates.

Bob Dylan's award may have kicked off the greatest of these storms of boring and petty discontent, because he is so famous. But I'm also thinking of the outrage expressed when William Golding, VS Naipaul and Mario Vargas Llosa won The Big One. I'm sure there have been many earlier cases in which the Wadenbeisser have been deservedly forgotten. I would dig such cases up primarily to mock them, of course, and to underscore the greater stature of the winners.

In the case of William Golding, at least one Wadenbeisser usually wrote much better stuff than his complaints about the prize: Gore Vidal, who usually was not a Wadenbeisser at all. Indeed, typically he was arrayed against the petty-minded and the resentful. He will deservedly be long-remembered. Just hopefully not for bitching because Golding got the prize in 1983, and not his pals Burgess and Calvino.

(In case the name Golding rings a bell but you can't quite place him: he wrote novels, drama, verse and non-fiction. He wrote Lord of the Flies and published at least 12 other much less famous volumes before his prize in 1983, and 4 volumes afterward, not counting a posthumously-published novel.)

There would have to be a special place in the film for those criticizing awards going to writers not one line of whose work they had read, and of course, I am among that special class of Bozos: I've complained about the number of Literature Nobels going to Scandinavian writers, but I shouldn't have, because I haven't read them. And I'm always bitching about other people talking about texts they haven't written, which makes me a double Bozo for bitching about these Nordic bards unknown to me, and I'll take my licks for it. I'm not one of those people, like Donald Trump, who think that no one can see fault to which the faulty party does not admit.

Ann Arbor

I live in Ann Arbor, there, I said it. (I've been saying, online, that I live in Detroit. Ann Arbor is in the Detroit metro area. Sort of.)

Ann Arbor is, far and away, hands down, no question, the friendliest city I've ever been in. One example: the streets are kind of confusing at first, so at first I asked strangers for directions now and then, but I soon got kind of embarrassed to do that because I knew that, EVERY TIME I asked for directions, whoever I asked would completely drop whatever they were doing and explain and explain until they were convinced I was oriented. Every time. And then, sure enough, came the times when people asked ME for directions, and I stopped everything and made sure they were going to get where they needed to go...

What spurred me to write this is that on Facebook a discussion broke out about Ann Arbor, and every comment I saw said it was a nice place, with one exception, a woman who said it was the unfriendliest place she's ever been and she couldn't wait to leave. Someone responded to that that it might have something to do with the vibe she was putting out.

And that made me think about my next-door neighbor. I've gotten along fine with most of the people I've encountered in Ann Arbor. One of the few exceptions is my next-door neighbor. I'd never met him before when one day, he came up to the fence while I was mowing my lawn with my non-motorized push mower and told me that my lawn looked like shit. I asked him what was his point. I guess I must've looked rather annoyed when I said that, and I'm big and scary-looking, so maybe the look on my face scared him out of saying anything else. (I'm 6'3", 300lbs and scars on my face. Think Edward James Olmos, Tommy Lee Jones and Danny Trejo. And you know what? I bet in real life all three of those guys are just big ol puppy dogs, gentle and harmless as can be. I could be wrong. Then again I could be completely right.) Anyway, he didn't tell me what his point was, and that was the end of the only conversation we've had so far.

More recently, a next-door neighbor on the other side said that she and her guy loved the wild look that my yard had, and envied it. Now was that the real truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, or was she just being nice, because I'd just told her about my only conversation so far with the next-door neighbor on the other side? I really don't know. I hope that, to some people at least, my place really does have a beautiful wild sort of look. But whether it was true or whether it was complete bullshit, it was a very nice thing to say, and guess which neighbor I like better? Go ahead, take a "wild" guess.

Ann Arbor is a very liberal city politically. How liberal? Well, for example, I have seen only ONE Trump sign in town.

And it's right next door, in the front lawn of that smooth character who felt the need to start his very first conversation ever with me by telling me that my lawn looked like shit.

I wonder whether that guy would describe Ann Arbor as a friendly city. And I wonder whether his impression of how friendly the city is might have to do with the vibe he's putting out.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Paranoid Losers

I remember when I started to relax because I realized not only that Hillary had won the nomination, but that Bernie was losing his power, and that with every day that passed when he wouldn't admit that he'd lost and wouldn't endorse her, he lost more power, and with every day that passed, it mattered less and less what he did. Whom did Bernie hurt the most waiting too long to acknowledge reality and throw his support to Hillary? (Not that he's ever thrown all of his support to her: saying that she's clearly the 2nd-worst choice of the 2 people who have a chance to be elected is not the same as a real endorsement.) He hurt himself above all. He could've made a huge impact in this election, instead of being a huge pain in the ass before finally making a much smaller impact.

He could've been a hero, if he had any sense of how politics works.

Today, a few months after Hillary trounced that paranoid old man for the nomination, that grumpy old guy who constantly complained that he was being cheated and who saw imaginary conspiracies against him everywhere, I'm starting to relax again, as it sinks in that she's going to beat another paranoid, grumpy old man who also constantly complains that he's being cheated and also sees imaginary conspiracies against him everywhere.

And just as in Bernie's case it matter less and less what he did the more he waited too long to concede, so it matters less and less what Trump says and does with each passing day, as it becomes more and more clear to more and more people how crazy and unreal all the things he's talking about are.

Bernie and Donald should get together and trade conspiracy theories about how Hillary screwed them over. As time goes by it will become harder and harder for both of them to find anyone who wants to listen to them, the overgrown tittybabies. And the rest of us can just get on with things here in the real world. Hopefully at some point soon people will generally realize that Debbie got screwed over for no good reason, for no reason whatsoever other than Bernie's irrational personal animosity for her, and she can get on with things here in the real world too.

Donald Isn't Happy

Donald Trump is in a funk, is how Jenna Johnson of the Washington Post describes it in a story published on Thursday.

Donald Trump feels sorry for himself, and he's complaining about how he's wasted $100 million dollars of his own money on his Presidential campaign.

I feel sorry for him, but only for one reason: because I think about how screwed-up a person in his circumstances has to be, mentally, in order to feel sorry for himself. But maybe it's not so much his circumstances right now, as him worrying, consciously or subconsciously, about how many of those chicken we've all come to learn about during the campaign are going to come home to roost.

Maybe there's more reason to feel sorry for him than appears at first glance. He was famous before the campaign, but he's much more famous now, and that bright light has shone upon some really ugly things, and there's really no telling how things will end up for him. How many businesses and business partners have cut ties with him already, because of things he's said and done on the campaign, and things which have come to light because of the campaign? How many more will cut ties with him?

Will the campaign have an effect on how his lawsuits go? (I really don't know the answer to that question, I don't know enough about lawsuits.)

Will he be criminally prosecuted, for sexual assault, or fraud, or tax evasion, or something else?

He has to at least subconsciously know that he's going to lose the election. He still says he's going to win part of the time. He continues to say one thing about that and then the opposite, just as he's done on all sorts of topics throughout the campaign. A candidate who's truly confident about winning an election doesn't complain for months about how he's going to be cheated out of victory -- not even part of the time. Maybe he can see as clearly as anyone how badly he's going to lose.

Who knows? Is there any way of telling how much he believes of what he says? For example, he says the campaign has been a waste of $100 million of his own money, and any time Trump mentions an amount of money, you have to wonder how much smaller the actual amount in question is.

He seems a lot less scary than he did just a short while ago, and for someone who has relied so heavily on bullying, intimidating, abusing people and feeling untouchable, there actually is something sad about him losing at least some of that power. Don't get me wrong, it's definitely a good thing when a predatory person isn't allowed to behave as badly as he used to, no if's and's or but's about that. But I'm just trying, just for a moment, to imagine how it all must feel for Donald.

But I don't know whether I can stand much more than a moment of that.

Get out there and vote, if you haven't already. Trump must not just be defeated, he must be defeated by as wide a margin as possible. If ever there was an American election in which every single vote sends a message, it's this one.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Dylan's Nobel: None Of Your Business. His Response? See Previous Answer

A thought experiment: imagine that you -- yes, YOU -- were in your home, and someone you weren't expecting suddenly broke down your front door, barged into your home followed by a crowd of journalists with cameras and microphones, tossed $1000 in cash into your lap and demanded that you stand up and dance, and you didn't stand up. Who would be the impolite and arrogant party in such a case?

Bob Dylan's failure to acknowledge his Nobel Prize in literature is "impolite and arrogant", according to a member of the body that awards it.

Well, I'm sorry Per Wastberg feels that way.

The way I feel about all of this is: the people who are expressing outrage at Dylan being awarded the Nobel Prize are, at the very best, worse than impolite and arrogant. It's none of your business whom they give their prizes to. They're not your prizes to give.

And I think that Per Wastberg is being worse than impolite and arrogant in expecting a certain response from Dylan.

I'm not upset with Dylan at all about the prize or about his lack of response to it. Because I think that it's none of my business, and also none of Per Wastberg's business, what Dylan does or says about the prize. I wonder why he hasn't responded. But I don't think he owes me or anyone else an explanation of his silence.

Here is exactly what I think Dylan owes me, and you, and Wastberg: absolutely nothing. And that's exactly what, in my opinion, celebrities in general owe their fans: absolutely nothing. And it's also what Wastberg and the other Nobel people owe to the public, or to the people you think they snubbed, and it's also what any of the Nobel laureates owe any of the people at the Nobel organization: absolutely nothing. None of the above ever pledged that they owed anything to anyone, with the possible exception of the people who award the Nobel Prizes, and if they ever made any such solemn pledge, to the public or to the prize winners or to whomever, well, they shouldn't have.

When I'm (FINALLY!) awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, if and when I publicly react to the news of the award, and how I react, will be none of your business. Whether or not I take the money will be none of your business, and if I take it, what I do with it will be strictly between me and the Internal Revenue Service, and whether or not I show up at the award ceremony will be none of your business, and whether or not I give a Nobel Lecture will be none of your business, and if I give a lecture, what I say in that lecture will be none of your business. If the lecture consists of the 5 words "thnk yu verr mutch pleez" and you are outraged that that was my Nobel Lecture, you have my hearty permission to blow that outrage out of your ass.

And here's why: that agreement we came to about all of these and all related matters? That never happened. You hallucinated that.

Those of you who are outraged at Dylan for not making a statement about the prize: has it occurred to you that he may have been silent so far because he honestly doesn't know how he should react, and he's taking his time and thinking it over very carefully before he says anything? (Maybe in part because he knows that whatever he says will be blown out of all proportion by millions of idiots, and that there will be no way of coming close to pleasing them all?)

I have no idea why he hasn't responded, I'm just speculating. I'm not too worried about it one way or the other. It's none of my business. I just feel for someone who has so many complete strangers expecting so many different things from him for absolutely no sane or otherwise justifiable reason. For his sake and for the sake of many other famous people, I wish all of you judgmental, moronic creeps would just get your own damn lives. But it doesn't seem that anything remotely resembling that will happen soon.

Friday, October 21, 2016

What 31 Years Did

I just found out that last June, a man I used to know and profoundly annoy personally was named the first-ever Poet Laureate of Knoxville, Tennessee.

I... Don't know how to feel about this.

The first time I ever heard him, or heard about him, for that matter, was in 1985, when he suddenly showed up at a small private party in Knoxville, playing guitar and harmonica and also a tambourine he'd attached to one foot somehow and singing Bob Marley's "Redemption Song." It was also the first time I'd ever heard that song.

The song and the man have never sounded better to me than they did at that moment back in 1985. Yeah, all downhill from there. Kidding. The beer and the weed and party and the newness of him and of the song all had a lot to do with how he sounded to me at that moment.

And now he's Poet Laureate of Knoxville. I guess it goes to show you... something.

For 31 years I've wondered whether he was singing at that party because, living nearby, he heard a party going on and just decided to drop in and jam, or if they paid him to play. It wasn't his fault, not in the slightest, but I happened to be homeless and starving at the time. In large part because I was profoundly clueless about economics. Economic things such as whether that was him dropping in on friends or a paid gig. Like whether the people who'd invited me to the party were rich enough to summon musicians whenever they felt like it, as if they were Medieval monarchs, or whether they seemed rich to me because I was homeless and missing meals... and clueless about economics... and it has occurred to me just very lately that I'm still profoundly clueless about economics, and very lucky to no longer be going hungry, and profoundly clueless about who knows what all else... I constantly wonder about things which I assume are not all that mysterious to some others.

Such as about how a guy goes from hanging around (not a lot. Like I say, I annoyed him. Sorry. Really, I am) with the likes of me to becoming Poet Laureate of the Great Bermuda Triangle of the Appalachians, la-dee-freakin-da, while I became... well -- while I became The Wrong Monkey, whatever that is.

So give me my freakin Nobel Prize already because I used to hang out with and annoy the very first Poet Laureate of Knoxville, Tennessee.

The last time I talked with him, or the last time I remember, was in 1992, and although usually he had been very nice to me, very patient, this time, for the first time, he completely lost his patience (Or -- another example of the sort of thing I wonder about all the time -- had he completely lost his patience with me quite often before this, and this was just the first time I'd noticed?) and exclaimed, "What's wrong with you?!" and I told him I didn't know. I guess I know now that it was autism, and that is was being undiagnosed and not knowing that it was autism, not knowing that I could learn about my condition and thus mitigate it at least to a certain extent, knowing that there are certain things the vast majority of people tend not to like.

I don't blame him for exploding at me like that, really I don't. But since then I haven't wanted to be his friend either. I don't blame him for hurting me, but all the same, it hurt. And I wondered, and I've wondered since then, if we ever were friends before that or if it only occasionally seemed that way to me. I wonder whether that moment was at all memorable to him. And if so, what was it like? Like nothing much at all? Or did it make him feel bad that he lost his temper? Or did he feel good because it seemed I'd finally, finally gotten the message: "Fuck off!" ? Or was that not the message, not then and never? Have I greatly overstimated (or underestimated) the annoyance I caused him?

And I wonder how to wind up a weird blog post like this one. I wonder about so many things. All the time.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Who Cares Whether Trump Concedes?

I'll tell you who: fewer and fewer people. His own campaign leaders are bending over backwards to say that he didn't really mean what he said about not conceding, the same way they've been bending over backwards to say that about so many other things he's said the whole campaign long. You think you've been seeing lots of Republicans distancing themselves from Trump up until now? That will be nothing compared to the mass migration away from him if/when he refuses to admit he lost after Hillary stomps him on November 8.

Yes, it's true that up until now, there has been a gracious concession speech by the loser in every single Presidential election -- usually the night of the election, a little while later in 2000 -- after which there is a bunch of talk from both sides about how the other side fought a great campaign but now it's all about bringing the country together, yada yada yada. There might be no gracious concession speech this time and no talk from Trump about everybody getting behind President Clinton, but that will be just one more thing Trump was the first at, one more way in which he makes himself a bigger and bigger jackass, and supportable by fewer and fewer people.

Many pundits have been saying that Trump never wanted to win anyway, and that his real plan is to start a Trump TV New Network. So many pundits have been saying this that if Trump didn't want his own news network a week ago, he might want one now. As far as that having been his plan right from the start -- I'm not totally convinced yet that there is anything in Trump's mind as complex as a plan.

Anyway, if he does start a Trump TV News Network, it will give us all a chance to see how fast a TV news network can go bankrupt.

I hope you all remember just exactly which political party it was which allowed Trump to take it over -- partly, temporarily, but still -- and that you'll all vote the straight Democratic ticket for that reason if for none of the very many other good reasons.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Philosophy or Physics 101 For Journalism Students

In philosophy or physics, the notion that there is no such thing as objectivity is not new. 3 centuries ago Bishop Berkeley was giving objectivity some blows, which to some seemed and seem like knockout punches, and in the 20th century Werner Heisenberg and others gave some substantial scientific underpinning to subjectivism -- the assertion that everything we know is subjective and that objectivity is nothing more than an illusion -- a viewpoint which, in philosophy or physics, may not be universal, but which by no means is unfamiliar any longer. Try to introduce it into a discussion of journalism by journalists, however, and you may well be treated as an annoyance who is interrupting the grown-ups.

Well, journalists, the feeling is mutual, frankly. It's astounding that you are so well-insulated, in the 21st century, from the notion that there is no such thing as subjectivity. If you're covering politicians and politics, tell us your opinions of those politicians -- not just in op-ed pieces, but all of the time. Are 94% of you Democrats? That would be a good thing for the public to know. Republican would say -- some currently are saying -- it's proof that you're biased. I would say that you spend your careers studying Democrats and Republicans up close, which naturally makes you the leading experts on Democrats and Republicans, and that if so many of you prefer Democrats, it probably means Democrats are by far the better major party.

*sigh* I know we're a long way from getting there, practically. But conceptually, it's a very simple step to grasping that the best way you can inform the public is to share your opinions with us. "But's it's only our opinions!" you'll object. "It's always people's opinions whenever they communicate," I'd respond. And we always are aware -- well, some of us are aware -- that we're dealing with opinions, with subjective viewpoints. The problem is that you regard this thing you call "objective reporting" as more than subjective opinion, when really it is less. You start with your subjective opinions about the politicians you cover and the things they do, and then you subtract everything which might betray how you feel about what you cover, until you have reduced it to what you call "objectivity." This "objectivity" is not more information than your opinions, it's much, much less. It's a paltry sliver of all that you know.

All I can do is share with you my opinions and experiences -- which is all that you or anybody can do (in my opinion). And for me, this subjectivism is very clear and obvious. As I learned about philosophy and physics and art and other things, suddenly I could feel relativity, could feel the way that everything I know and experience is subjective -- feel it in a physical way as well as intellectually. And there's no way now to un-feel it or un-know it, to become once again unaware of it, and, for example, unaware of how a painting by Matisse of a potted plant is far richer in information than any photograph of a potted plant could be, because it's far more subjective. I'm not familiar with a page of Nietzsche's work that doesn't appear (to me, of course!) to take this lack of objectivity for granted -- but if you want an example of a passage where this is particularly obvious, check out the famous rant of the crazy person in the froehlichen Wissenschaft who keeps exclaiming that God is dead, saying things like "Aren't we continually plunging, backwards, sideways, forward, in every direction? Is there still an up and a down?"

Belief in objectivity is like belief in God: very comforting, extremely useful in some ways from certain points of view, and entirely farfetched, and some of us are past it and occasionally frustrated waiting for the rest of you to catch up.

"Journalistic Objectivity"

Ain't no dang such thing, as Hunter S Thompson tried so hard to tell us. All it is and all it has ever been is journalists choosing not to tell us a great deal of what they know about the things they're supposedly reporting about.

"It's true that Trump is batshit-crazy and might nuke the human race out of existence 10 minutes after taking office; but for us to SAY so right out in PUBLIC would be UNFAIR and would violate our sacred principle of JOURNALISTIC OBJECTIVITY!"

Yes, people actually say crazy things like that. People who are employed as journalists. The vast majority of people who are employed as journalists in the US live by such insane rules, it seems, unfortunately. More craziness:

A story has been going around lately, to the effect that 94 percent of political contributions from journalists in the US go to Democratic political campaigns. I don't know whether that figure is accurate. If it is, it's not the crazy part. The crazy part is that right-wing news outlets are reporting it, and claiming that it's proof of liberal media bias.

94 percent. That's similar to the 97 percent of meteorologists who say that climate change is happening, and is caused by human activity. Do we say that meteorologists are biased because they don't split 50-50 on this issue? No! (Well, some people who work for Exxon and are completely full of shit all day every day for a living probably do say such things.) The fact that so many of the people who study the climate all day every day for a living say that global warming is real and man-made lends creedence to that point of view. As it should. We don't demand that stories promoting pollution get equal time with clean air and water and non-poisoned food. Because, at least when it comes to the environment, we're not all completely insane.

If it's true that 94 percent of the people who study politics in the US all day every day for a living contribute to the Democratic Party, then that is a very powerful argument that the Democratic Party is the best one which America currently has.

Or at least it would be, if 40 to 95 percent of the American population didn't have their heads up their asses. Or if journalists dropped the "objective journalism" and instead actually shared their insights and experiences with the public as fully as they could, instead of limiting themselves to that thin sliver of what they know which "journalistic objectivity" will let them say right out loud in public. A Google search for journalists against journalistic objectivity suggests that the madness of "journalistic objectivity" is still very-well entrenched, and will be with us for a while.

The nightmare of the Trump campaign has caused a few political journalists to think about their principle of "journalistic objectivity."

But they need to keep on thinking. They learn quite a lot about politics and politicians, naturally, by spending their whole careers observing them up close. Imagine what the public could do with such knowledge! But this nightmare, this huge Orwellian mistake the journalists call "journalistic objectivity" keeps the greater part of this knowledge bottled up inside the press pool. Occasionally a little bit of it will dribble out into an op-ed piece or a hot mic. But tragically, most of the most important things political journalists know die with them, because to share that knowledge would be "subjective."

Yes, journalists need to keep thinking about this, very hard, and maybe someday more than a handful of them will come to a level of wisdom regarding their own profession which in other professions is just common sense.

Imagine if the people who had the closest access to politicians, and whose job, supposedly, is to inform the public about politics, actually did so. Without the filter. Told us everything about the experience of seeing politics up-close. Everything includes how they feel about all that they've seen, and which politicians they support as a result.

Okay then. I'll keep doing everything I can to nudge journalists in the direction of that great Ah-ha moment.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Billionaires

Just now it happened one too many times: Bernie Sanders talking about billionaires as if they were all the same.

If you think that the Koch Brothers, Bill Gates, Sheldon Adelson, Mark Cuban, the Bass family, George Soros, Donald Trump (assuming he actually is a billionaire), Warren Buffet, the Waltons and Jeff Zuckerberg are all the same politically because they're all billionaires, you haven't been paying attention. If you think their daily lives are similar, you're wrong again.

In Philadelphia, Joe Miller, the character played by Denzel Washington, reads from a court decision related to the Federal Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973:

"This is the essence of discrimination: formulating opinions about others not based on their individual merits, but rather on their membership in a group."

I don't know whether that's an exact quote from such a court case, but it's either exactly or very close to what Denzel says in the movie.

And it's not hard to understand: every time say "they're all the same," you're discriminating and you're wrong, whether "they" are black people or white people or gay people or straight people or Democrats or Republicans or poor people or rich people.

Billionaires aren't all the same. Some were born poor, some inherited a "mere" few million dollars, some inherited billions. Some work extremely long hours, some about 40 hours a week, some have never worked in their lives and don't intend to. Some have given away almost all of their money, some have given away none and scrap and fight for every penny.

Some support any politicians who will lower the amount of taxes they have to pay (aka Republicans), some support politicians who raise minimum wages and support unions and protect the environment, aka Democrats.

They're not remotely close to being all the same in any way except for their net worths.

And Bernie Sanders is an idiot. (And quite possibly a millionaire.)

Sunday, October 16, 2016

For A Change: Reacting To Positive Reactions To Bob Dylan's Nobel

Leonard Cohen on Dylan's Nobel:

“To me, it's like pinning a medal on Mount Everest for being the highest mountain.”

It's been well over 24 hours since I first read that and I'm still trying to figure out just exactly what Leonard means. And I mean that as a compliment to Leonard.

Billy Bragg:

"'Yes to dance beneath a diamond sky with one hand waving free...' for this alone Bob Dylan deserves the Nobel Prize."

I've also always especially liked that line -- although to be perfectly honest, I'm still trying to figure out exactly what it means. It's from "Mr Tambourine Man." Probably more people are familiar with the Byrds' cover version of that song than with the original recording by Dylan, on the album Bringing It All Back Home. The original has many verses which didn't make it into the Byrds' version, including the one with the line about dancing with one hand waving.

Joyce Carol Oates:

"Asked about Nobel for Dylan: inspired & original choice. his haunting music & lyrics have always seemed, in the deepest sense, 'literary.'"

Take that, "literatti"!

Salman Rushdie:

"From Orpheus to Faiz, song & poetry have been closely linked. Dylan is the brilliant inheritor of the bardic tradition. Great choice."

Take THAT, "literatti"! Oof! That's gotta hurt! I've never read anything Rushdie has written which wasn't brilliant, including this. I was about to add that everything I've heard him say was brilliant too, but actually, I've seen him on some talk show where some of his utterances were banal. Still, if I had been able to pick the winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature, I would have picked myself, and my 2nd choice would have been Rushdie. And of course Rushdie is right. If we were to exclude singers from the category of poets, we could start with Homer -- you all up for that, "literatti"?

Both Rushdie and Oates are considered to be on the Nobel short list. And previous years' winners weigh in on each new prize, so it can to some extent be taken for granted that a fair portion of them approve. So take that even more!

Another short-lister, Philip Roth, has for some reason been mentioned quite often by people objecting to the prize going to Dylan. It would be quite ironic if Dylan and Roth happened to be friends and were at this moment on the phone laughing and joking about these objections. I don't know, though: utterances of Roth's such as this, from a 2005 interview with the Guardian, make me wonder how well he and Dylan would get along: "I'm exactly the opposite of religious, I'm anti-religious. I find religious people hideous. I hate the religious lies. It's all a big lie." Dylan's religious. Which means either that he would find Dylan hideous, or that he meant to say that he found some religious people hideous, not all.

I know this post is supposed to be all positive reactions, but for some reason Reza Aslan's response made me laugh:

"I'm sorry but this is total bullshit."

Good for you, Reza! Don't hold back!

As you may know, there is one writer in particular whose reaction to the prize has been very eagerly awaited, but who has not said one word about it, despite appearing in public since the award was announced: Bob Dylan.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Bob Dylan Ist Nicht Richard Wagner

(Ich kommentiere jetzt einen Aufsatz, der auf Englisch erschien, auf Deutsch. The End is Near.)

Alex Ross schreibt im New Yorker, Bob Dylan sei Richard Wagner.

Finde ich nicht. Ja, Wagner war einmal de riguer fuer gewissen Kreisen, die sich fuer die ganze Welt hielten, and dann spaeter passierte dem Dylan etwas aehnliches. Aber ein Kuenstler kann nichts fuer seine Anhaenger und was alles fuer Quatsch sie sagen ueber ihn und sich selbst. Wagner begruesste den Wagner-Kult und strengte sich an, ihn nach Moeglichkeiten auszunuetzen und aufzubauen, und machte sich zum nicht-ganz-heimlichen Koenig von Bayreuth, wo sein Geist immer noch regiert.

Dylan hat sich immer sehr skeptisch jeglichen Dylan-Kult gegenueber gehalten, und gegen Kulte um Kuenstler ueberhaupt.

Ross erwaehnt, dass Dylan einmal den Antisemit Wagner einen Erzkriminell genannt hat. Und nicht ohne Gruende, erwaehnt Ross leider nicht.

Ross schreibt:

"As the novelist Hari Kunzru has observed, a Nobel citation can exponentially increase a writer’s audience and help keep independent publishers afloat; in 2016, that opportunity was lost."

Der Literature-Nobel ist nie humanitaere Nothilfe gewesen. Dylan ist nicht der erste reiche Preistraeger. Wenn er denn reich ist. Ich weiss nicht, ob Dylan alles weggegeben hat fuer karitative Zwecke. Vielleicht kennt ihn Alex Ross persoenlich, und vielleicht ist Dylan tatsaechlich erstaeunlich steinreich. Aber wenn schon, er waere damit nicht der erste Steinreiche, der einen Nobel in Literatur bekam. Weder Mann noch Churchill war ein Obdachloser.

"What matters is the explosive fusion of words and music, and in both cases" [In dem Fall Wagner wie in dem Fall Dylan] "music is the igniting element."

So. Ross, wie viele Anderen, die behaupten, Dylan bekaeme den Preis zu Unrecht, hat verstanden, dass Dylan ein Musiker ist. Stimmt, ist er. Ross weiss auch, dass etwas Besonderes passiert in der Kombination von Dylans Wortern und Dylans Musik. Das stimmt auch, und ist auch der Fall immer wenn ein gutes Lied gut vorgetragen wird.

Aber wenn man von Dylans Musik wegsieht, und die Worte allein, an und fuer sich betrachtet, auch dann sind sie etwas preiswuerdiges. Noergler wie Ross -- es gibt deren sehr viele -- wollen Dylan dafuer bestrafen, dass er auch, darueber hinaus, ein Musiker ist, was seine Leistung nur noch imposanter macht, anstatt seine Talente als Dichter zu relativieren.

Am Ende dieses Stueck Noergelei schreibt Ross ueber Dylan:

"He deserves the Nobel Prize."

Gut, dass Ross nicht vergisst, das zu erwaehnen; naemlich, anderenfalls haette man nie wissen koennen, dass er so meint. Am Anfang seiner Essay behauptet Ross:

"My Dylan fandom is as immoderate as anyone’s."

Sehr viele Stuecke in den letzten paar Tagen fangen so an: "Es gibt gar keinen groesseren Dylan-Fan, als ich" -- Nur um fortzufahren: "Aber [...]"

Friday, October 14, 2016

"Jokerman" By Bob Dylan



I guess this is my favorite Bob Dylan recording. If I'm going to actually argue about it, and try to make the case that this year's Nobel Prize in Literature is no joke whatsoever, then this will be Exhibit A. (Don't worry, he's written lots of other great song lyrics too. I would have no problem getting to Exhibit Z before we even get to the album covers and oh yes the books too.) The video is pretty striking. If you don't like listening to Dylan -- some people don't -- you can turn the sound off, and you might still get a kick out of the video.

If the visuals don't do anything for you either, most of the song's lyrics appear on the screen in the video. All of those words were written by Bob Dylan, and Dylan's words seem to be what everybody's currently arguing about.

Honestly -- how is this anything but poetry of a very high order?

Standing on the waters casting your bread
While the eyes of the idol with the iron head are glowing
Distant ships sailing into the mist
You were born with a snake in both of your fists while a hurricane was blowing
Freedom just around the corner for you
But with the truth so far off, what good will it do?

Jokerman dance to the nightingale tune
Bird fly high by the light of the moon
Oh, oh, oh, Jokerman

So swiftly the sun sets in the sky
You rise up and say goodbye to no one
Fools rush in where angels fear to tread
Both of their futures, so full of dread, you don’t show one
Shedding off one more layer of skin
Keeping one step ahead of the persecutor within

Jokerman dance to the nightingale tune
Bird fly high by the light of the moon
Oh, oh, oh, Jokerman

You’re a man of the mountains, you can walk on the clouds
Manipulator of crowds, you’re a dream twister
You’re going to Sodom and Gomorrah
But what do you care? Ain’t nobody there would want to marry your sister
Friend to the martyr, a friend to the woman of shame
You look into the fiery furnace, see the rich man without any name

Jokerman dance to the nightingale tune
Bird fly high by the light of the moon
Oh, oh, oh, Jokerman

Well, the Book of Leviticus and Deuteronomy
The law of the jungle and the sea are your only teachers
In the smoke of the twilight on a milk-white steed
Michelangelo indeed could’ve carved out your features
Resting in the fields, far from the turbulent space
Half asleep near the stars with a small dog licking your face

Jokerman dance to the nightingale tune
Bird fly high by the light of the moon
Oh, oh, oh, Jokerman

Well, the rifleman’s stalking the sick and the lame
Preacherman seeks the same, who’ll get there first is uncertain
Nightsticks and water cannons, tear gas, padlocks
Molotov cocktails and rocks behind every curtain
False-hearted judges dying in the webs that they spin
Only a matter of time ’til night comes steppin’ in

Jokerman dance to the nightingale tune
Bird fly high by the light of the moon
Oh, oh, oh, Jokerman

It’s a shadowy world, skies are slippery grey
A woman just gave birth to a prince today and dressed him in scarlet
He’ll put the priest in his pocket, put the blade to the heat
Take the motherless children off the street
And place them at the feet of a harlot
Oh, Jokerman, you know what he wants
Oh, Jokerman, you don’t show any response

Jokerman dance to the nightingale tune
Bird fly high by the light of the moon
Oh, oh, oh, Jokerman


Well, if none of that does anything for you -- well. Sorry for wasting your time. To me, this is as good as it gets.

I've sort of surprised at how vehemently I've been defending the choice of Dylan for this year's Nobel Prize in Literature. Because I'd heard his name mentioned as a possible winner for years, and I thought -- meh. But yesterday, when he won, I started listening to things like this again, and -- yeah. Ai r uhgree. Dylan r grate pohett. Ai r uhgree with Noebell!

Hillary Could Win Texas

Stunning Texas Poll Shows Hillary Clinton Is Close To Turning Lone Star State Blue, reads a headline at Pliticus USA, and the story proceeds: "The bedrock Republican state of Texas could go for Hillary Clinton as Donald Trump's Lone Star state lead has shrunk to within the margin of error [...]"

Back in 2013 in my blog post Texas Is Purple, I tried to spread the word that Texas is not as solidly Republican as many people outside of Texas believe it is. So although I'm very happy that Hillary is now making it close in Texas, I'm not nearly as stunned as some people are.

Besides the fact this story may help to correct the widespread erroneous assumption that Texas is a deep-red Republican stronghold, I'm very happy about it because Texas has 38 electoral votes, and because, of its 36 US Representatives up for re-election next month, 25 are Republicans, and it would be nice to flip a lot of those House seats.

I first became aware of this story today, not from news headlines, but because every day I take a look at a few websites with electoral-vote maps, and today, on one of those sites, , I saw that Texas had gone from pink, "Likely GOP," to white outlined in pink, "Barely GOP." Red means "Strongly GOP," and ElectoralVote has just 81 electoral votes marked red right now. Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, Utah and Alaska are currently pink on their map, and besides Texas, the states in white outlined in pink, "Barely GOP," are Iowa, South Carolina and Mississippi.

I don't want to count my chickens before they hatch, and put those 38 electoral votes from Texas, or the 6 each from Iowa or Mississippi or the 9 from South Carolina, into Hillary's column prematurely. The most I can say, objectively, is that, right now, Trump's support is plummeting all across the country.

Reactions To The Award To His Bobness

I've calmed down a little bit since yesterday, when I was vowing to cut off contact with any of my friends who dared to mock Bob Dylan. I've calmed down, and realized that it's not as if I have too many friends. (After I win the Nobel and phony friends start coming out of the woodwork -- THEN I can start hastily cutting people off.)

The number and stature of people who have praised the awarding of the Nobel to Dylan has also calmed me down. It may be just a coincidence that I ran into a bunch of the h8ers first thing yesterday morning -- or maybe it was no coincidence. Maybe the h8ers were more in a hurry to express themselves than the Dylan fans.

The beginning of an article in the New York Times, the part showing on the Google News page was so cheesy -- "Now, Mr. Dylan, the poet laureate of the rock era, has been rewarded with the Nobel Prize in Literature, an honor that elevates him into the ..." -- that I had to click and see who had written it -- Nat Hentoff, maybe? No, it wasn't Hentoff, it was several people I'd never heard of. In the first paragraph I read:

Some prominent writers celebrated Mr. Dylan’s literary achievements, including Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates and Salman Rushdie, who called Mr. Dylan [...]

-- and I didn't want to read much more. This is a great example of why I hate the New York Times so much: mentioning a great writer like Salman Rushdie, who I hope wins the Nobel soon, in the same sentence with someone like Stephen King. That literally made me nauseous, Times. Thnx a lot!

But of course, the Times can do much worse still: check out Why Bob Dylan Shouldn't Have Gotten a Nobel by someone named Anna North if you want to read something so inept that it's hilarious:

Yes, Mr. Dylan is a brilliant lyricist. Yes, he has written a book of prose poetry and an autobiography. Yes, it is possible to analyze his lyrics as poetry. But Mr. Dylan’s writing is inseparable from his music. He is great because he is a great musician, and when the Nobel committee gives the literature prize to a musician, it misses the opportunity to honor a writer.

As reading declines around the world, literary prizes are more important than ever [...]


CBS News reports: Writers divided on Bob Dylan's Nobel honor. They cite a bunch of heavyweight writers expressing approval of the award, a few silly twits being silly ("A musician won the Nobel! Does this mean I have a chance at a Grammy?" Not if you can't write better than that.), the Vatican newspaper disapproving -- does this mean that Francis also disapproves, or that Francis needs to clean house at his newspaper as he's cleaned house elsewhere? -- and the truly amazing pile of bile over the award spewed by Irvine Welsh, the guy who wrote Trainspotting. (What, did Welsh think HE might've gotten it this year? Hahahahahaha...) No, seriously, what Welsh has said about the Nobel going to Dylan is profoundly disgusting. I don't want to quote it, you can find it easily if you want to with Google.

More unintentionally funny anger over the prize ("I get it: writing books is hard.") has been collected by the New York Post under the headline "Bitter critics slam Bob Dylan's Nobel Prize."

In my opinion, in all seriousness, if the giving of an award, any award, to someone -- anyone -- makes you bitter, you should go see a doctor right now, because that bug up your ass has grown dangerously large and your life is dangerously devoid of depth and joy. An award can be an occasion for joy. If it's an occasion for bitterness, yr doin it wrong. I looked at the Amazon sales ranks for Irvine Welsh and Anna North, and wow, I can understand them being bitter, but it's not Bob Dylan's fault that their stuff isn't selling. Bob Dylan's books are selling a little better than they did yesterday -- and significantly better than Welsh' and North's -- but also nothing spectacular. His records, though -- wow. Surely this must be a big boost from the news of the Nobel. If his records have been selling as well as this, day in and day out, year in and year out, then the $900,000 from the Nobel wouldn't amount to a week's pay for him, maybe not even a day's pay. But surely, the current situation represents a big bump from the Nobel. (Another illustration of the Tom Petty Its-Ab-So-Lute-Ly-Bass-Ack-Wards Law of Microeconomics.)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

I Need A Better Class Of Friends!

If you're horrified that Bob Dylan won the Nobel, I'm horrified at you. Truly.

All these Bozos who have managed somehow to surround me, shocked and horrified over Bob's Nobel. In less than an hour on Facebook this morning I blocked at least half a dozen people for dissing Bob. I have nothing to say them, no more than I have anything to say to people who support Trump or who maintain that we have "two terrible candidates." Then there are other cases, people with whom I've had good exchanges in the past, who seemed reasonable and intelligent, who are spewing all of this stupid anti-Dylan bile. I have nothing to say to them for the moment. At first I thought: I'll let this blow over, then I'll interact with them again like before... But do I really want to do that? This is the only life I have, do I want to spend it with people who can't appreciate Bob Freaking Dylan?

I don't know whether I want that. I'll have to think this over. Perhaps I've been much too lazy in seeking out my sort of people.

It's London in 1966 all over again: a buncha privileged twits who think they know a lot, and they don't know their asses from holes in the ground, and they're dissing Bob to a truly insane extent.

Okay, for one thing, if you're not only horrified, but also astounded that Bob won, well, that just goes to show that you don't know shit about the Nobel in Literature, because Bob has been a leading contender for a long time now. (The nominating process, the process of deciding who is in the running for the Nobel in Literature, is supposed to be a little bit more secretive than it actually is.)

I'm not going to try to make Bob's case here. I don't want to discuss it with the mental midgets who need convincing. And conversely, if you want to make the case why Bob doesn't deserve the Nobel, I don't want to hear it, and I'll cut off contact with you to keep from hearing it if I have to, and I'll curse myself for not having seen you for what you are days or months or years or decades ago.

I suppose it's good: certain great events occur, and they cause certain curtains to drop, and you see what sort of people you've been hanging with.

So. Perhaps you've noticed that I feel rather strongly about this. My annoyance this morning at once again not having won was very, very quickly outweighed by my horror at the reactions of people I had thought were my friends, people I had thought I was in tune with.

Not all of them, to be sure. Not each and every acquaintance of mine who's expressed an opinion on this award has expressed a negative one. Still, except for the satisfaction seeing the Nobel go to someone who so thoroughly deserves it, it's been a pretty shitty morning for me so far.

You got Me --

-- in a corner
You got me against the wall
I got nowhere to go
I got nowhere to fall

Take back your insurance
Baby nothin' is guaranteed
Take back your acid rain and
Let your TV bleed

[Chorus:]
You're jammin' me, you're jammin' me,
Quit jammin' me
Baby you can keep me painted in a corner
You can walk away, but it's not over

Take back your angry slander
Take back your pension plan
Take back your ups and downs of your life
In raisin-land

Take back Vanessa Redgrave
Take back Joe Piscopo
Take back Eddie Murphy
Give 'em all some place to go

[Chorus]

Take back your Iranian torture
And the apple in young Steve's eye
Yeah take back your losing streak
Check your front wheel drive

Take back Pasadena
Take back El Salvador
Take back that country club
They're tryin' to build outside my door

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Evan McMullin

Utah has not gone to a non-Republican Presidential candidate since Lyndon Johnson's landslide victory in 1964, when Barry Goldwater won South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and his home state of Arizona, and Johnson won everything else. But a poll of likely Utah voters released today shows Trump and Hillary tied at 26% each.

You're right, 26% each leaves 48 more percent. So could someone else win Utah? Yep, maybe, if this poll isn't a fluke. Gary Johnson? Well, he has 14% in this poll, which doesn't look too shabby compared to 26%. But Evan McMullin has 22%. Read all about it in this CNN article.

What's that? You say you don't even know who this McMullin guy is? Me neither. Let me do some research. Be right back.

Okay: shouldn't come as a shock to anyone that McMullen is a Mormon from Utah. He used to work for the CIA, he used to be a counsel for the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, he used to be the chief policy director of the House Republican Conference, a position he resigned only shortly before declaring his candidacy for President 2 months ago. His candidacy is supported by some prominent Never Trump Republicans.

Nationwide, he's polling around 2%, having pulled slightly ahead of Jill Stein. He doesn't seem to be making a really big splash anywhere other than Utah.

The last time a third-party candidate wan any electoral votes was in 1968, when George Wallace, running a pro-segregation campaign for the American Independent party, won Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and 1 of North Carolina's 13 electoral votes.

So, anyway, this McMullin character is definitely bad news for Trump in Utah. More bad new for Trump in Utah: the Salt Lake Tribune, Utah's largest newspaper, endorsed Hillary today. Oh, but that might not actually be such a shock to the Trump campaign: the Tribune also endorsed Barack in 2008 and 2012, and Barack still got trounced in Utah by John and Mitt. Seems the Tribune may have occasionally been just a smidge to the Left of Utah's voters in generally.

So, back to Trump 26%, Hillary 26%, Evan 22% and Gary 14% in Utah in today's poll: what does it mean? I don't know. It's just one poll. Up until now Trump had been way out in front in Utah, and maybe he still is and this one poll is a fluke. Or maybe Trump is through in Utah, and today's poll is just beginning of how bad it's going to get for him there. Or maybe it's somewhere in the middle. We'll see.

Utah has 6 electoral votes, and the latest projections show Hillary ahead by over 150 electoral votes even if Trump wins Utah, so none of this seems crucial right now to the outcome of the election for President. Still, the first loss of Utah by a Republican Presidential candidate since 1964 would be striking. If the Republican candidate actually ends up coming in 3rd in Utah, that would be extremely striking.

And if this poll is both not a fluke, if it's indicative of Trump's share of the vote plummeting not just in Utah but generally -- okay, that's me getting way ahead of myself. Never mind. There's no need for anyone to picture the happy dance I'm doing as I write this post.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Upgrade

I put the email back on both smartphones today. All by myself. 55 years old.

Then I shopped for a new smartphone. The guy at the phone store put my old number into the new phone, and the email too. He did the latter using the app, the recommended way. I removed the email accounts, which I had restored earlier today with the less secure method, the method without the app, from the two old smartphones.

Apps. So you just go into an apps store, even for free apps. That's how you get them. Or at least that's how the guy at the phone store put my email account into my new phone.

Old guy learns about smartphones and apps and stuff.

Does anyone else on Earth besides me miss the Droid Mini?


I know not very many of you do, because if you did, they would've kept making it and upgrading it and you wouldn't miss it because it'd still be here, but it's just about gone.

Just about. Verizon said they could probably fix me up with a Mini. Maybe.

I decided it was more prudent to go with a more up to date phone and another carrier.

Ah, Droid Mini. When you were still a thing you hit me right in the feels like the new droid from The Force Awakens. (Yeah, I finally saw it. It's actually not bad.) They don't seem to make 'em as small as you anymore.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

2005 Trump Tape ----storm, Day 3: The Headlines

Press TV: Most GOP voters back Trump despite leaked clip: POLL

"Most still back him" is the glass-half-full way of looking at it. The glass-half-empty way is: some have stopped backing him because of the tape. How many? Could be double digits. And that's huge, because he was already behind in the polls before the tape went public on Friday, and a lot of states are close. Remember, it doesn't matter who gets the most votes overall in the country (although Hillary is ahead there too); it matters who gets the most electoral votes.

CBS News: Donald Trump lashes out on Twitter at Republicans abandoning him over lewd tape

Again with these Tweets, a lot of people, notably Donald himself, are looking at things in a glass-half-full way. He's talking about how his supporters are disgusted with the "Republican elite," these "self-righteous hypocrites" who are abandoning him.

He's playing to his base, his hard-core support, and they love him for it. The glass-half-empty way of looking at this is that his base isn't getting any bigger, and his base alone isn't enough to elect him, and the lashing out makes him look like a crazed vengeful douchebag, and will mostly likely lose him votes among the other demographics which he needs: undecided voters and those who are currently backing Johnson or Stein.

NBCNews.com: Polls: Clinton Ahead in Florida, Pennsylvania

Ahead by 3 percent in Florida and 12 percent in Pennsylvania, to be exact. In polls which were conducted and done before Friday, before the 2005 tape surfaced, to be more exact. Keep in mind, the tape isn't the only thing that's been hurting him. The first debate hurt him. The Veep debate didn't help him at all, and Pence's reluctance to get behind Trump in a big way during that debate may have hurt him a little. And reports of Trump encouraging his supporters to interfere with vote in Pennsylvania may have hurt him in Pennsylvania a lot. You come in a big obvious crude way to try to interfere with people's voting rights, how do those people usually react? They usually fight back. it generally backfires big-time.

In other pre-tape-----storm polls, Ohio went from looking like it was going to Trump to looking dead even, and Iowa, South Carolina and Mississippi went from likely Trump to barely Trump. Trump's lead is getting smaller in other states too. I don't want to take an early victory lap like I did long before October in 2008 and 2012, because the 2016 Presidential election is an absolutely-unique, old, rules don't apply type of situation. So I'll just stick to the objective truth: It takes 270 electoral votes to become President. The polls indicate that if the election were held today and Hillary lost every single state where it's close, she still be elected with about 280 electoral votes. The polls seem to indicate that her total would probably be over 330, maybe over 360. And that's pre-tape. And the poll number are constantly getting better for her.

Christian Science Monitor: more about tweets from Donald from today: Increasingly alone, Trump lashes out at Bill Clinton before debate. Hours before a critical presidential debate, a damaged but defiant Donald Trump seized on never-proved sexual allegations against Hillary Clinton's husband as a growing group of Republican leaders called on the New York businessman to abandon his ...

So many ways all at once that Donald is damaging himself with this: 1) Never-proven allegations vs videotape? Videotape wins, Donald loses. The only people even interested in these allegations are the ones who are already with Trump: the morons who also believe that Obama is a secret Kenyan Muslim terrorist and that Hillary eats babies. Lashing out about this wins him no votes. The only question is how many votes it loses him. 2) Donald's not running against Bill, he's running against Hillary. 3) Already back in 1998, when Bill was still President, the great majority of the US was already tired of the GOP effort to make a scandal out of his sex life. They're 18 years' worth more tired of it now.

BuzzFeed News: The Apprentice Under Pressure To Release Unaired Trump Footage. Pressure is building on The Apprentice producers to release unaired raw footage of the show after Friday's release of a 2005 hot mic video of Donald Trump apparently bragging about sexually assaulting women and trying to have sex with a married woman.

How many more clips will surface, and how appalling will they be? I have to guess: lots of them, and very. Why? 1) Because Trump is who he is, because he's got such a big mouth, and because he's spent so much time near so many microphones and cameras. 2) Because people Trump has intimidated into hiding the worst stuff until will become less intimidated as Trump continues to self-destruct, and as they see others releasing tape and video and not being destroyed. It almost makes me wish we could postpone the election until March, or June, because I don't see any way that all of this can go except to get worse and worse for Trump and for the Republicans.

Oh, by the way, did you notice all the leaks from Julian Assange last week, which he had said could be so devastating for the Clinton campaign? That's all right: nobody else noticed them either.