Saturday Morning Open Thread: Victory Lap

Winning so much, and yet still not tired of winning. Alex Goldstein, “former press secretary & senior political advisor to former MA Gov. Deval L. Patrick“, in Politico:

As Team USA shatters world records and scores win after historic win, Trump’s Twitter account, his favored megaphone, has been virtually mum. Since the one awkwardly worded meme he blasted out to his feed on August 5, with his own photo in front of an American flag, Trump has tweeted about the Olympics exactly zero times. He’s attacked the media, retweeted compliments to Donald Trump, pumped up his rallies. Not a word about the events that people are tuning into every night.

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, is seizing the opportunity to ride the wave of these feel-good Olympics…

Why has Trump hit the mute button on the Olympics, while Clinton has pumped up the volume? There’s a good reason for that, and a surprising one. The spectacle of America vanquishing its global rivals is—ironically, amazingly—utterly terrible for the “America First” candidate.

A big part of his political message, the one you hear at his stump speeches, is that America has grown weak. America doesn’t win anymore, he says. “Crippled America” is the title of his most recent book. He alone can Make America Great Again. As someone who’s been around a few campaigns, believe me: The Olympics is about the worst thing that could have happened to the Trump train. Here’s a candidate whose message depends entirely on convincing Americans that they’re living in a failing nation overrun by criminal immigrants. And for the past two weeks, tens of millions of Americans have been glued to a multi-ethnic parade of athletes, winning easily. “Make America Great Again” has never felt more out-of-touch than it does against the backdrop of tenacious, overachieving American athletes driven by their own journeys in pursuit of the American dream…
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Open Thread: Happy Independence Day, India!

Our own Schroedinger’s Cat reminds us of the holiday, and shares a rather fascinating video:

Home to every religion in the world and twenty-two official languages; India’s amazing linguistic and religious diversity is its strength. This diversity is reflected in Indian art, be it Hindustani classical music or popular Hindi cinema. India’s struggles are many and it still has a long way to go before it reaches its full potential, but those are topics for another day.

But today I want to celebrate this milestone by celebrating India’s unity in diversity. First broadcast on 15 August 1988 on Doordarshan, “Mile sur mera tumhara, to sur bane hamara ( when my note (musical) melds with yours, it becomes our note)”… Bhimsen Joshi gets its started in Hindi, then we travel the length and breadth of India, from north to south and from east to west, ending in Hindi again. I counted fourteen languages including Hindi…

Click over to SC’s blog for a list of languages, and a growing compilation of the celebrities involved.


(Maa Tujhe Salaam)



Monday Morning Open Thread: Geekbait!

I had no idea this movie was coming out, and now I cannot wait. Taraji P. Henson! Octavia Spencer! JANELLE MONAE!… and rocket ships.

Since the book it’s based on won’t be released till September, I may have to read Rise of the Rocket Girls while I’m waiting.

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Apart from finding other reasons to grit through this election season, what’s on the agenda as we start the week?



Open Thread: RuPaul Is A Wise Soul

And I’m not just saying that because he’s a Clinton supporter (though that doesn’t hurt). In light of his first Emmy nomination, NYMag‘s E. Alex Jung interviewed RuPaul:

What do you think about Hillary Clinton and the Democrats?
[Laughs.] I fucking love them. I have always loved them. And let me just say this: If you’re a politician — not just in Washington but in business and industry, you have to be a politician — there are a lot of things that you have to do that you’re not proud of. There are a lot of compromises you have to make because it means that you can get this other thing over here. And if you think that you can go to fucking Washington and be rainbows and butterflies the whole time, you’re living in a fucking fantasy world. So now, having said that, think about what a female has to do with that: All of those compromises, all of that shit, double it by ten. And you get to understand who this woman is and how powerful, persuasive, brilliant, and resilient she is. Any female executive, anybody who has been put to the side — women, blacks, gays — for them to succeed in a white-male-dominated culture is an act of brilliance. Of resilience, of grit, of everything you can imagine. So, what do I think of Hillary? I think she’s fucking awesome. Is she in bed with Wall Street? Goddammit, I should hope so! You’ve got to dance with the devil. So which of the horrible people do you want? That’s more of the question. Do you want a pompous braggart who doesn’t know anything about diplomacy? Or do you want a badass bitch who knows how to get shit done? That’s really the question…

I wanted to talk about the shooting at Pulse in Orlando. You made a statement at the Trailblazer Awards, and I wanted to hear about when you first heard the news and how it impacted you.
I have a long, long relationship with Pulse nightclub for years and years. It’s a safe space. It’s a safe haven — a place where people can meet our tribe. It always has been. To have it encroached by such an evil force hurts very deeply. I’m 55. I’ve witnessed so many assaults — emotional assaults, physical assaults, all of that. I was assaulted after the first attack, assaulted again just by how the media handled that stuff. So, it was a hurtful situation, and even more hurtful that I don’t believe that we as a people, as a culture, have really learned from it and how to deal with it.

What do you think needs to happen?
We need to talk about the subconscious mind. We need to talk about the hateful darkness that lives in each of us. We don’t all have it to that extent, but we definitely need to shed light on that area of us. All of us have been sold this idea that we deserve the whole world, and that everybody’s going to get the big house, the big cars, the two and a half children, and all of this stuff that the media sells us. And then people who don’t get it get angry. And they say, “Dammit, if I’m not going to get mine, no one’s going to get it!” So we get angry, and from the anonymity of a keyboard online, we troll people, we put them down. Some people go to the extent of killing people or being horrible in that way. And that’s obviously the extreme. But we all have that element. I think the way we approach this is we need to acknowledge that area of our consciousness that lives in all of us, and we need to start that dialogue. We need to recognize it when it pops up.

It’s all throughout the whole Trump thing: Ego wants to divide us up. Ego wants to believe that we’re separate from one another, but the truth is there’s only one of us here. So for us to move forward, we have to acknowledge that element in us, and then when it comes up, say, “Thank you for sharing, but I’m going do this, because I’m not going to act on my fragile ego.”…



Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Stay Calm and GOTV

Yes, it’s easy to get preoccupied with the noisy implosion of the other party…

What’s on the agenda for the new day?



Olympics Open Thread: Early Reviews

Anybody got a link (yes I am lazy) where I can watch the opening ceremonies on line?

NYMag has some nice clips of “What You Missed at the 2016 Rio Olympics Opening Ceremony” — and also a rant from a media reviewer:

Can anything be done to get the Olympics out of NBC’s clutches?

The network’s coverage of the opening ceremony in Rio de Janeiro was typically clueless and counterintuitive, cutting away to a commercial every few minutes, inserting “expert” commentary in a window in the lower left-hand corner, interrupting the spectacle to show us images of the US athletes preparing to enter next-door for the parade of nations (as if we didn’t already know that we were going to see American athletes if we stuck around). The entire thing was delayed, as is tradition whenever the games appear in another time zone — an increasingly ridiculous practice in the age of social media, which makes it possible to at least partially follow events live even if television does not deign to cover them that way…

The opening itself was rich enough and unusual enough to have stood on its own, without any verbal commentary. Never in my lifetime has one of these things done anything but glorify the country posting the games and repeat its national myths while downplaying any hint of drama or strife. This one was shockingly honest. It started with the creation of the water, then continued with the formation of the land and the jungle, the rise of indigenous people, the appearance of European colonists, the rise and fall of the slave trade, and the gradual subjugation of the countryside to roads and cities. The latter was conveyed very cleverly via the ceremony’s elaborate and colorful video projections, which cut white paths through green “forests,” carved the jungle into a patchwork of trapezoids suggesting farmland, then finally covered the stage with multilayered, boxlike high-rise apartments reminiscent of the dollhouse-style city sets in films by French director Jacques Tati.

The portrait painted was one of incredible creativity and industry arising out of racial and political strife. At one point the entire production paused to consider Brazil’s complicity in the global tragedy of climate change, using animated maps to show rising waterlines submerging coastal cities.

The whole thing might’ve been much more effective with subtitles giving us contextual bits of information, such as the fact that Brazil abolished the slave trade in 1888, or the population and demographic makeup of São Paulo at different points in its history, instead of having the narrators chime in with whatever insipid factoids the producers were reciting into their earpieces while reading Wikipedia in the control room. But this would require NBC, or whatever network eventually supplants them, to treat the opening ceremony as a news event and an artistic and political statement, rather than as the stuff that happens to appear between commercials. And it would require respect for the self-images of countries besides the United States. Based on NBC’s decades of condescension and disrespect, it’s hard to imagine such a thing ever happening…



Open Thread: To Strive, to Seek, to Find…

GIRLS RULE THE WORLD. Or at least the Olympics.

There are some pretty awe-inspiring stories this year. From the Washington Post, “Ten athletes representing 60 million people”:

… For the first time, a refugee team will compete at an Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. It will comprise those two Syrian swimmers, an Ethiopian marathoner, two Congolese judokas and five South Sudanese middle-distance runners. They will represent more than 60 million refugees across the world, the highest total since World War II, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency. They will provide a human story to a worldwide crisis. They will walk into Maracana Stadium during the Opening Ceremonies on Friday night under the same flag not as victims but as competitors.

“When they march into that stadium, there are 60 million people marching right behind them,” U.N. Foundation spokesman Aaron Sherinian said. “And the world needs to acknowledge those 60 million people.”

The International Olympic Committee formed the team with the assistance of the United Nations. It identified an original list of 43 candidates to make the team, a process that included a tryout camp at a Kenyan refugee camp. The IOC winnowed the list to 10 based on the status and ability level of the athletes…

[Yusra] Mardini escaped Syria on a small motorboat from Turkey, bound for Greece. The motor failed on the way, and she leaped out and, with another passenger, pushed the boat while swimming. Her body felt empty by the end, but she made it safely to the island of Lesbos. She does not look back on the journey as traumatic. It is, for her, an accomplishment: Sports saved her life.

“I remember that without swimming, I would never be alive,” Mardini said. “It’s a positive memory for me.”…