Jason Kottke sings the hits

In response to the Atlantic article  I posted yesterday about impeaching Mr. Trump, blogger-whom-I-look-up-to Jason Kottke wrote (emphasis mine):

Reading this, I was struck by a real sadness. What a massive waste of time the Trump presidency has been. America has urgent challenges to address on behalf of all of its citizens and they’re just not getting much consideration. Instead, we’ve given the attention of the country over to a clown and a charlatan who wants nothing more than for everyone to adore and enrich him. Meanwhile, the US government and a populace bewitched by breaking news is stuck in traffic, gawking at this continually unfolding accident. And we somehow can’t or won’t act to remove him from the most powerful job in the world, this person that not even his supporters would trust to borrow their cars or water their plants while on vacation. What a shame and what a waste.

My reoccurring thought about President Trump’s first two years has been exactly that: what a waste of our nation’s time. Don’t we have real issues to debate, conservative vs liberal? We don’t have time for a deranged egomaniacal lunatic to work out his starved narcism on the world stage. There are much more pressing issues at stake than manufactured embellishments and stubborn hyperbole.



WOW: Quit everything, study science to cure your own rare disease …

This story of a woman named Sonia Vallabh is remarkable. She lost her mother to a rare disease that causes insomnia, which killed her within a relatively short amount of time. Once Sonia found out she carried the same mutated gene, she quit her job, studied for her Ph.D., started research and is on her way to hopefully finding a cure. Wow. Yes, to science. Yes, to human intuition, resilience, determination and strength.

From Wired:

Not long after Sonia found out that she was a carrier of fatal familial insomnia, a scientist friend named Stevie Steiner gave her a thumb drive. It was full of research on prion diseases. Sonia had never imagined that so many people studied them, given their rarity. She and Eric became obsessed with learning more. Sonia had taken a few biology classes in college, but Eric, a Chinese language major, had avoided them almost entirely, satisfying his curriculum requirement with a course called Cropping Systems of the Tropics. “I had to go on Wikipedia to remember what dominant versus recessive meant,” he says. They sat in on classes at MIT, trying to pass as undergraduates, and started a blog, which they used to organize their thoughts and speculate on therapies.

Within a few weeks of the diagnosis, Sonia had quit her job to study science full time, continuing classes at MIT during the day and enrolling in a night class in biology at Harvard’s extension school. The pair lived off savings and Eric’s salary. Sonia had expected to take a temporary sabbatical from her real life, but soon textbooks and academic articles weren’t enough. “The practice of science and the classroom version of science are such different animals,” Sonia says. She wanted to try her hand in the lab. She found a position as a technician with a research group focusing on Huntington’s disease. Eric, not wanting to be left behind, quit his job too and offered his data-­crunching expertise to a genetics lab. The deeper they dove into science, the more they began to fixate on finding a cure.

the excellence of wringing hands in restlessness

The chorus of dissent will crescendo. Thank goodness.

The above tweet will eventually link you to this article. You’ll want to read that one.

The Washington Post reports:

Rudolph W. Giuliani claimed Wednesday night that he “never said there was no collusion” between President Trump’s campaign and Russia leading up to the 2016 presidential election. In a remarkable, at times contentious, interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo, the president’s lawyer appeared to contradict his own past statements about collusion as well as what Trump and his supporters have repeatedly asserted.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

In early 2015, a man who runs a small technology company showed up at Trump Tower to collect $50,000 for having helped Michael Cohen, then Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, try to rig online polls in his boss’s favor before the presidential campaign.

NPR reports:

More than half of registered voters say they have made their minds up against supporting President Trump in 2020, according to a new poll. In a PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist Institute survey released Thursday, 57 percent of registered voters said that they would definitely not support Trump in 2020, and would instead “vote against” the president by supporting one of his announced opponents.

Axios reports:

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie settles scores in “Let Me Finish,” a memoir out Jan. 29 from Hachette Books, writing that President Trump “trusts people he shouldn’t, including some of the people who are closest to him.”

Christie asserts that Trump has a “revolving door of deeply flawed individuals — amateurs, grifters, weaklings, convicted and unconvicted felons — who were hustled into jobs they were never suited for, sometimes seemingly without so much as a background check via Google or Wikipedia.”

The Daily Beast reports:

Rick Gates, the former campaign aide to Donald Trump, is cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into whether individuals from the Middle East worked with the Trump campaign to influence the election, according to two individuals with first-hand knowledge of the investigation.

Gates has answered questions specifically about Psy Group, an Israeli firm that ex-employees say drew up social media manipulation plans to help the Trump campaign, according to sources familiar with the questions.

Mueller’s team also asked Gates about interactions with Psy Group’s owner, Joel Zamel, and Lebanese-American businessman George Nader, who worked as an emissary for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the sources said.

Gabriel Sherman reports at Vanity Fair:

The shutdown and related chaos has pushed Donald Trump’s approval rating to new lows, with even Rasmussen, his polling happy place, pegging him at 43 percent. But the White House believes this is only the beginning of his troubles.

In recent days, according to a source briefed on the conversation, Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani has told people privately that he expects Robert Mueller to deliver the first installment of his report, dealing with obstruction of justice, “within the month.” “Rudy thinks it will be soon,” said a person who’s spoken with Giuliani. “It’s only a matter of time.”

The mounting pressure has also strained Giuliani’s relationship with Trump. “Rudy hates the job,” a Republican briefed on Giuliani’s thinking told me. “Trump is very hard to deal with.”

A friend of mine recently posted her profile picture. I’ll put it below the fold. I have absolutely no idea how she’s going to accept the news that her idol (and her sin of idolatry) will affect/change/ease her waining, absolutely bizarre system of belief.

Continue reading “the excellence of wringing hands in restlessness”

Market Watch: President Trump’s truthiness makes history as betting site pays out bigly

Winning for losing. 

Donald Trump’s loose grip on the truth just cost one gambling site dearly.

Before the president’s address on border security Tuesday night, Bookmaker.eu put the over/under on the number of lies he’d spew at 3.5. For bettors, it was a no-brainer, as hundreds of thousands of dollars loaded up on the over.

In fact, Bookmaker odds consultant John Lester told MarketWatch that the site has never seen such a lopsided response from its customers.

“Never in our 30-year history have we been this one-sided (9 to 1) on a wager,” he said. “You would have to go back to the early Mike Tyson fights (pre-Buster Douglas) to find a wager with comparable one-sided demand.”

Lester explained that no matter how much he adjusted the odds, hardly anybody seemed interested in taking the under. Smart move, considering the Washington Post found that there were at least six false statements during the address.

It’s going to be a marathon year

That’s me! Bib number 329. 

Last month my application was accepted to run the Chicago Marathon. I couldn’t be more excited and nervous. The race is in October.

My goal is to run it at a 7:45/minute pace (or better), which is somewhat doable at my current training trajectory. I’ll be 44 years old by then, which isn’t a bad pace for my age group.

I look at this acceptance as a badge of honor. As some spotlight in the darkness, or something much more stupendous than it is. I take this opportunity as seriously as if it were war. As if my running will result in a better universe. It’s completely delusional. But it’s what’s in my head.

In total, I’ve run three races in my entire life. One 5k turkey trot two years ago and two this last year: a 15k and an 8k. The last two races were here in Chicago proper, and the amount of people racing was astounding. I never realized how popular running really is. The 15k was the Hot Chocolate race and the race site claimed 40,000 people were involved in two different runs and one walk.

The turkey trot last November was also well attended, too. At the finish, there was a sea of people accepting their medals, grabbing bottles of water and free bags of popcorn.

It feels good to compete with such a vast age range with women, men, children, running pros and enthusiasts alike.

The one thing I found is that the finish line is a chaotic mess of finishers. I’m not big on crowds and crowds … they are a plenty.

I can only imagine what kind of chaos at the end of the Chicago Marathon.

When I told my parents about being accepted, they both were congratulatory, but they both expressed concerns about my knees. “I’m worried you’ll blow out your knees.” or, “I’m worried you’ll hurt yourself and you won’t know it.”

Which, I guess, is understandable. I’m not sure they understand the vast number of runners, size and shapes and ages, who run these things. Just because my uncle, a marathoner for years, has knee problems now, doesn’t mean that will also affect me. And if it does, it’s okay. I’ll move on. I also swim, bike, and am open to all sorts of lower impact exercise.

So I guess I have a new year’s resolution that I’ll be forced to keep … at least until October. It’s as if I have no choice. But the thing is, I’ve been preparing for this for years. On the playground as a kid, I remember running almost the entire recess. In middle school, my soccer coach created a position for me that did not limit me to defense, mid-field or striker. I could go anywhere on the field, because I could run nonstop for 90 minutes plus. I played soccer through college and then off and on pickup.

Running is in my blood. I love it. And it seems to love me. At least for now.

It’s my time for meditative long form exercise and I find it endlessly fascinating.

I guess I’ve never blown out my knees, so I’m a little skeptical. And if I were a praying man, superstitious or the like, I’d knock on a piece of wood right now. If my knees blow out before October, you and I both know I jinxed myself. Or my parents jinxed me. Or god has other plans for me. Or whatever number of “my knees gave out” explanations you might have.

So until then, I’m pushing forward with my 7:45 per mile goal … Follow me along and I’ll write about it as often as I can.

CHARLES P. PIERCE: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is Making All the Right People Crazy

Boston Mayor, Activists Rally To Ask Jeff Flake To Reject Kavanaugh Nomination

Getty ImagesAlena Kuzub

LOVE = referring to certain folks as “gray boys.”


In Tuesday’s Washington Post, Max Boot, the former imperialist cheerleader now d/b/a Never Trumper extraordinaire, addressed one of the nation’s pressing problems: the popularity of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, rookie congresswoman from New York and subject of a current conservative obsession bordering on a full-on manic episode. I admit, I was dubious about AOC. I thought that her joining Bernie Sanders in trying to submarine Sharice Davids in a Democratic primary was an obviously avoidable blunder, and I thought the hype surrounding her upset of Joe Crowley far exceeded the actual political accomplishment.

But then, for reasons we will get to in a minute, the entire conservative movement decided to make her a national brand, and it did its job splendidly well, and then she did the rest. Did they actually think that a collection of aging gray-boys was going to out-heckle a former NYC bartender? Did they think they were going to beat someone of her age and obvious savvy on social media? (Didn’t getting whipped like rented mules by the Parkland survivors teach them anything about that?) She literally danced in their faces, and then she danced in their faces again. And people loved it in ways the gray-boys will never understand.