I won’t be able to do write ups today, in all likelihood, but you’re likely to see them tomorrow morning.
Archives for 2020
All good things must come to an end. Captain C, thanks for taking us along on your trip! ~WaterGirl
We come to the end of the journey. The day after the baseball game was my last full day in Japan; I went to the Ota Museum and wandered around Shinjuku and Shibuya for a bit, before spending the evening hanging out with C. The next day, I went to the lovely Shinjuku Gyo-en National Garden in Shinjuku, before departing by train to Narita and leaving Japan at 6:20pm on Friday, arriving back at JFK at 6:15pm that same Friday. All in all, one of the best trips of my life and one I hope to repeat (with different specifics; I’d like to see Hiroshima, Kobe, Nara and/or Hokkaido if possible).
While Tower Records is a late, lamented chain here in the US (and in most of the world), in Japan it survives, as their Japanese unit was sold off a few years before their bankruptcy. This particular one is eight stories high, and as I discovered when C and I visited it earlier in the trip, has an entire floor dedicated to K-Pop, and another to J-Pop. We went to the floor which had various Jazz, Blues, World, and Electronic music and spent some time there. As with Los Apson, I showed great restraint and only purchased 3 CDs (albeit 2 of which were 3-album sets): A 3-disc set by the Sun Ra Arkestra, a 3-disc set by Bill Laswell (including some Material), and a collaboration by Bugge Wesseltoft and Prins Thomas.
We can save 60,000-100,000 lives in the weeks and months ahead if we step up together.
Wear a mask. Stay socially distanced. Avoid large indoor gatherings.
Each of us has a duty to do what we can to protect ourselves, our families, and our fellow Americans.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) December 30, 2020
I’m trying to watch the West Wing again, which I used to love, but it is just so detached from our current reality that it seems like science fiction.
I look at the last photo and I suddenly believe that spring and summer will be here soon. ~WaterGirl
In August of 2019, I spent a few hours at the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado as a detour on my way to Taos and Santa Fe. The first sight of the dunes is startling and the photos don’t begin to capture how immense they are.
The approach to the dunes is across the Medano Creek, which was just barely running. In the spring the snow melt causes it to be a fast-flowing stream which makes it popular for water play.
Hawley of Missouri announced he’ll object to the certification of the Electoral College votes next week. David Plouffe thinks Hawley will have company in effecting a brief and pointless certification delay. Plouffe also predicts the spectacle will foreshadow a repulsive clown show in the next Republican primary:
Hawley willing to shred our democracy to improve his talking points for the inevitable QAnon Debate in Roswell, NM. They’ll all have to follow now. The 2024 GOP primary will be a race to the bottom like none we have ever seen.
— David Plouffe (@davidplouffe) December 30, 2020
There’s good reason to suppose Plouffe’s prophesy will come to pass. Even elite invertebrate Marco Rubio is attempting to bolster his anti-elitist cred by slapping an 80-year-old physician around. It would work better if Rubio managed to land blows on Fauci instead of punching himself in the face, but Marquito’s pathetic antics aside, he does have an unerring instinct for following his party down identity rabbit holes, having latched onto and discarded every dominant strain of Republicanism in its turn.
There’s an interesting piece in The Atlantic that explores UC Berkeley sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild’s theory about Trumpism, i.e., the narrative Trump cultists perceive in our political drama, and how that might evolve when the object of veneration is sulking in Palm Beach rather than the Oval Office:
Hochschild is telling us that Trumpism is not just a garland of public-policy proposals that any other Republican can drape around his or her neck. And it is more complex than a personality trait, or a talent for saying mean stuff on Twitter. Rather, Trumpism is an emotional planet that orbits around Trump’s star. Breaking the connection between Trump and the better part of the GOP will require either that Trump disappears (an unlikely proposition) or that a larger star emerges from the Republican backbench (also unlikely).
At the end of our conversation, I asked Hochschild what she’s learned from the past four years. “I used to think of political identity as something more solid,” she said. “I now think of political identity as like water that’s always going somewhere, that needs to go somewhere, but where it goes depends on the lay of the land, the rock formations that stand in its way,” she told me. She’s still waiting to see where Trump moves the mountain.
Somehow, this made me feel better. I’ve been pessimistic about America ever since the election. I’m overjoyed that we’re getting rid of the buffoonish monster, of course, but it’s distressing that 74 million people voted for four more years of chaos and calamity. Or, to put in more accurately, 74 million voters no longer recognize chaos and calamity when they see it.
Hochschild’s quote about political identity as a fluid thing sounds right, but that said, I think it’s possible Trump won’t “move the mountain” at all. He’s a lazy fuck, for one thing, an obese, 74-year-old man with a poor diet and habits. He doesn’t give a shit about anyone but himself, so it’s hard to imagine him putting serious effort into grooming a successor. From Trump’s perspective, even Ivanker is just a reflection of his own greatness, not really a separate person with ideas of her own.
So, absent any credible sluices to channel it forward, maybe Trumpism just stagnates, like a fetid bog, while the country surges past it. Maybe we’ll be living in such a different reality three years from now that the thought of GOP primary contenders aping Trump will seem preposterous. I don’t know about you, but that possibility cheers me up a bit.