Weekend Assorted Links

1. Steve Spence’s legendary sub-5:00 mile streak comes to an end after 43 years.

2. Who do the Duke and Duchess of Sussex think they are? Afua Hirsch explains.

“If the media paid more attention to Britain’s communities of color, perhaps it would find the announcement far less surprising. With a new prime minister whose track record includes overtly racist statements, some of which would make even Donald Trump blush, a Brexit project linked to native nationalism and a desire to rid Britain of large numbers of immigrants, and an ever thickening loom of imperial nostalgia, many of us are also thinking about moving.

From the very first headline about her being “(almost) straight outta Compton” and having “exotic” DNA, the racist treatment of Meghan has been impossible to ignore. Princess Michael of Kent wore an overtly racist brooch in the duchess’s company. A BBC host compared the couple’s newborn baby to a chimpanzee. Then there was the sublimely ludicrous suggestion that Meghan’s avocado consumption is responsible for mass murder, while her charity cookbook was portrayed as somehow helping terrorists.

Those who claim frequent attacks against the duchess have nothing to do with her race have a hard time explaining these attempts to link her with particularly racialized forms of crime — terrorism and gang activity — as well as the fact that she has been most venomously attacked for acts that attracted praise when other royals did them. Her decision to guest-edit British Vogue, for example, was roundly condemned by large parts of the British media, in stark contrast to Prince Charles’s two-time guest editorship of Country Life magazine, Prince Harry’s of a BBC program and Kate Middleton’s at Huffington Post, all of which were quietly praised at the time.

Her treatment has proved what many of us have always known: No matter how beautiful you are, whom you marry, what palaces you occupy, charities you support, how faithful you are, how much money you accumulate or what good deeds you perform, in this society racism will still follow you.”

3. Trump takes credit for decline in cancer deaths. The American Cancer Society says he’s wrong. How long until their funding is cut further?

“The President has a history of proposing to cut funding from the National Institutes of Health’s budget, which includes funding for the National Cancer Institute, an agency that leads, conducts and supports cancer research. The final budgets that Congress approved ended up being more generous than Trump’s proposals.

Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz wrote on Twitter, in response to Trump, that ‘cancer rates dropped before you took office. Hopefully they keep dropping because Congress rejected your cruel research budgets, which sought billions in CUTS to @NIH and the National Cancer Institute. This is good news despite you – not because of you.'”

And so it goes, in these (dis)United States of America.

4. Why do people believe in hell?

“How can we be winners, after all, if there are no losers? . . . What success can there be that isn’t validated by another’s failure? What heaven can there be for us without an eternity in which to relish the impotent envy of those outside its walls?”

Tucker Carlson Thinks You’re Stupid

The New York Times* reports on how. . .

“. . . a right-wing media world that typically moves in lock step with the president has struggled to reconcile Mr. Trump’s surprise escalation with his prior denunciations of open-ended conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Adding:

“Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s former chief strategist, said that he and other supporters of the president were still hunting for an effective defense. ‘This is a very complicated issue, and the people who support President Trump, from Tucker Carlson all the way to Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham, are really trying to work through this,’ Mr. Bannon said on Monday. ‘What you’re seeing now — live on television, live on radio — is people working through what this means.”

Carlson broke ranks with his fellow Fox News nutters this way:

‘It’s hard to remember now, but as recently as last week, most people didn’t consider Iran an imminent threat,’ Mr. Carlson said at the start of his Monday show, going on to mock Mr. Trump’s secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, for saying intelligence agencies had identified an undefined Iranian threat. ‘Seems like about 20 minutes ago, we were denouncing these people as the ‘deep state’ and pledging never to trust them again without verification,’ Mr. Carlson told viewers, eyebrow arched. ‘Now, for some reason, we do trust them — implicitly and completely.'”

The Times summarizes:

“Just as the political world was caught off guard by the killing of General Suleimani, so was the conservative media complex. As reports of the missile strike in Baghdad that killed the general emerged on Thursday, Mr. Hannity phoned into his Fox News show from vacation to offer vociferous praise. That same night, Mr. Carlson warned his viewers that ‘America appears to be lumbering toward a new Middle East war.'”

Credit where credit is due, it’s nice that Carlson occasionally demonstrates independent thought.

But all is not well with him. The Times again:

“After his Monday segment on General Suleimani, he introduced a five-part series, ‘American Dystopia,’ chronicling urban decay in San Francisco.”

Because I find it weirdly entertaining, I watch an occasional Fox News segment. Lo and behold, Monday night I caught the first part of “American Dystopia”. Granted there is a lot of competition for this, and I am only a sporadic viewer, but the segment may very well have been the low point in Fox News television history. At least I nominate it for that.

It was only about 7-10 minutes long. It consisted of an interview with a policewoman who was repeatedly asked what would happen if particular crimes were committed in San Fransisco. Her default answer “you’d be issued a citation” was supposed to highlight the utter failure of progressive social policies. Other viewers and I were supposed to be disgusted by the lax enforcement of criminal laws, but anyone who has paid any attention to what the most informed people working with addicts have to say knows that criminalizing drug use has proven totally ineffective.

Carlson intimated that if we just incarcerated every heroin user the problem would be solved.

The video footage was something you’d expect from a crew of middle school students reporting on urban decay. . . repeated close ups of syringes and repeated close ups of human feces. Over and over to give the impression the entire city was overrun by needles and human waste.

No context was provided for where the footage was shot, how big of an area it was, and whether it was even close to representative of the entire city. Viewers were supposed to conclude that every block in San Fransisco has an assortment of troubled drug addicts on its sidewalks, who, along with other people, randomly shit on the same sidewalks.

It’s weird how San Fransisco’s real estate is among the most expensive in the country when all of its streets are lined with syringes and shit.

Of course, in this case, Carlson is carrying the President’s water, using absolute bullshit reporting in an attempt to tarnish the Speaker of the House, who continually gets the better of the President.

I’m sure Pelosi would be the first to admit that San Fransisco isn’t perfect and that homelessness is a tough, tough challenge. That’s just demonstrating a firm grasp of reality, something Fox News, Carlson more often than not, and the President find difficult.

*sorry Domingo

New Year’s Assorted Links

1. Most memorable sports images of the decade.

2. Unconventional strategies for practicing Spanish.

3. The culture that is Sweden. Lunch lady slammed for food that is ‘too good’.

4. What will you do to stay weird?

5. How TV predicted politics in the 2010s.

“Shows like ‘Veep’ and ‘House of Cards’ offered a new, darker theory: The system can never work if everybody in politics is terrible and venal and self-serving—and the very nature of Washington makes people terrible and venal and self-serving.

‘Veep,’ a kind of inverse of ‘The West Wing’ that premiered in 2012, was a farce about ambitious politician Selina Meyer and her marginally competent, politically hungry staff. . . . And her disdain for the actual public is glaringly obvious. (“I’ve met some people, some real people, and I’ve got to tell you, a lot of them are f—ing idiots,” she says in the first season.) Where the staffers in ‘The West Wing’ were fast and loyal friends, Meyer’s staffers mock and undermine one another other without mercy. The closest thing Meyer has to a friend is the devoted body guy who brings her snacks on demand and whispers useful facts in her ear in public settings. In the series finale, she sets him up to take the fall for a political scandal—and watches FBI agents haul him away, out of the corner of her eye, as she delivers a nomination acceptance speech at the party convention.”

Youngest is still not over Selina’s sacking of “devoted body guy”.

6. California is booming. Why are so many Californians unhappy? There’s more to it than UCLA basketball bottoming out.

All The Books Donald Trump Recommended in 2019

28 in total. Take that Obama. AMAZING he got that many in on top of the tweeting, golfing, campaigning, draining the swamp, defending himself against the Do Nothing Democrats, and just generally making America Great Again. What further evidence do we need that he is truly a stable genius. Also impressive, the books are closely related one to another. People are saying no president in history has ever read with as much purpose.

 

 

Stalemate

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Just finished The Great Successor: The Divinely Perfect Destiny of Brilliant Comrade Kim Jong Un, Anna Fifield’s masterful biography of North Korea’s third dictator.

Long story short, the West has underestimated his dictatorial acumen ever since he assumed power. He’s much more like his grandfather than his father, meaning especially brutal, strategic, and politically shrewd. His position inside North Korea is extremely strong.

North Korea’s economy has improved under KJU whose loosening of rules, or looking the other way rather, has freed up market activity throughout the country. Far from an “invisible hand” though, entrepreneurs have to pay off local authorities to ignore repressive laws on the books. No one is starving anymore, but some people are malnourished due to a lack of variety in their diets.

On the other hand, and most importantly, concentration-like labor camps packed with alleged political dissidents continue to operate with the same brutality. I suspect the people in those camps face the most inhumane living conditions on the planet. No one has ever been known to escape one.

And yet, President Trump shows no concern for those victims. Instead he talks of condos at North Korea’s Wonson beach resort.

Despite cozying up with KJU, the New York Times reports, “U.S. Braces for Major North Korea Weapons Test as Trump’s Diplomacy Fizzles“.