September 7, 2020

Posted by orrinj at 9:11 PM


Posted by orrinj at 5:38 PM


Trump's 'cash crunch': Where exactly did the president's $800 million go? (Bob Brigham, 9/07/20, Raw Story)

President Donald Trump's re-election effort is burning through cash and may face a crisis during the final two months of the 2020 presidential campaign, according to a new analysis by The New York Times.

"Money was supposed to have been one of the great advantages of incumbency for President Trump, much as it was for President Barack Obama in 2012 and George W. Bush in 2004. After getting outspent in 2016, Mr. Trump filed for re-election on the day of his inauguration -- earlier than any other modern president -- betting that the head start would deliver him a decisive financial advantage this year," the newspaper reported. "It seemed to have worked. His rival, Joseph R. Biden Jr., was relatively broke when he emerged as the presumptive Democratic nominee this spring, and Mr. Trump and the Republican National Committee had a nearly $200 million cash advantage."

"Five months later, Mr. Trump's financial supremacy has evaporated. Of the $1.1 billon his campaign and the party raised from the beginning of 2019 through July, more than $800 million has already been spent. Now some people inside the campaign are forecasting what was once unthinkable: a cash crunch with less than 60 days until the election, according to Republican officials briefed on the matter," The Times reported.

Posted by orrinj at 10:52 AM


Liberty's Discontents (Arnold Kling, 9/07/20, Library of Economics & Liberty)

In 1997, Arthur Herman published The Idea of Decline in Western History, a book that examines the role doomsayers have played in promoting ideologies that reject the core Western values of individualism, capitalism, and democracy. [...]

Herman dwells on

the conflict between culture and civilization, or Kultur and Zivilisation... which was so important and so dear to the German academic tradition.

... Zivilization was the world of politeness and sophistication, but also of commerce and urban society. It was constantly changing, materialistic, and even superficial... Kultur, by contrast, was permanent and spiritual.

... But Kultur could also be used in the anthropological sense, to signify the artistic, literary, and material heritage of an historical people.

Many cultural pessimists seized on this distinction to articulate what was wrong with Western modernity. The cultural pessimist claims that whatever material prosperity our society has produced, it has dulled the individual spirit and stifled the collective soul.

"I am concerned that today's cultural pessimists are unsympathetic to the principle of free speech and willing to use mob bullying against those with whom they disagree."
Herman's description of cultural pessimism emphasizes its dangers. Cultural pessimists reject nonviolence and democracy, so that they provided intellectual justification for both Nazi and Soviet tyranny. I am concerned that today's cultural pessimists are unsympathetic to the principle of free speech and willing to use mob bullying against those with whom they disagree.

Currently, historical pessimism might be represented by Tyler Cowen (The Great Stagnation), Peter Turchin (Ages of Discord), Ross Douthat (The Decadent Society), Martin Gurri (The Revolt of the Public), or Yuval Levin (A Time to Build). These authors see signs of decline in slow productivity growth and the inability of elites to solve problems posed by new technology and cultural change. But they fear nihilistic destruction and instead prefer reform.

Cultural pessimism might be represented today by Nikole Hannah-Jones (originator of The 1619 Project in the New York Times that portrays the United States as founded to pursue slavery), Greta Thunberg (young climate activist), or Bernie Sanders, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (politicians advocating for socialism). These public figures see fundamental sin in America's democracy, technology, and economic system.

All you really need to know about the pessimists is that they are unhappy that we do ever less labor for ever more wealth which we consume in ahistorical peace, health and freedom.

Posted by orrinj at 10:44 AM


Posted by orrinj at 10:39 AM


Trump said it was a lot easier to pay off Stormy Daniels than Melania: Michael Cohen (Sarah K. Burris, 9/07/20, Raw Story)

Recalling the discussion with Trump, Cohen says the president claimed $130,000 "is a lot less than I would have to pay Melania."

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


A racist conspiracy theory called the 'great replacement' has made its way from far-right media to the GOP (Nikki Ramirez, 9/07/20, Business Insider)

The conspiracy theory creates a dangerous dynamic in which believers view immigrants and non-white citizens as an existential threat to their communities. And the theory is not a purely academic endeavor; it seeks to mobilize believers into action against their supposed "replacement." This mobilization manifests itself in various ways, including political activism against immigration, efforts to encourage white women to have more children to bolster demographic growth, and, in an extreme form, deadly violence against immigrants and communities of color. 

The theory has reared its head in violent outbursts such as the murder of 51 people at the Al Noor mosque and Linwood Islamic Center in Christchurch, New Zealand, the killing of more than 20 mostly Hispanic shoppers in El Paso, Texas, and the screams of angry young men who shouted "Jews will not replace us; you will not replace us" at the August 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where anti-racist demonstrator Heather Heyer was murdered by neo-Nazi James Fields Jr. Field's online behavior before Unite the Right indicates support for Nazi ideology and white racial purity. 

Elements of the "great replacement" conspiracy theory have also recently appeared in the statements of prominent conservative politicians. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) recently appeared on Fox News' Justice with Judge Jeanine and said that Black Lives Matter protests were part of "an attempted cultural genocide going on in America right now." Gaetz claimed that "the left wants us to be ashamed of America so that they can replace America," a message he later repeated on Twitter.

It's no coincidence that Gaetz echoed the "great replacement" talking points on Fox, as the network has played a role in promoting the conspiracy theory to American conservative audiences for years.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


The Idea that a Scientific Theory can be 'Falsified' Is a MythIt's time we abandoned it (Mano Singham, September 7, 2020, Scientific American)

J.B.S. Haldane, one of the founders of modern evolutionary biology theory, was reportedly asked what it would take for him to lose faith in the theory of evolution and is said to have replied, "Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian." Since the so-called "Cambrian explosion" of 500 million years ago marks the earliest appearance in the fossil record of complex animals, finding mammal fossils that predate them would falsify the theory.

But would it really?

The Haldane story, though apocryphal, is one of many in the scientific folklore that suggest that falsification is the defining characteristic of science. As expressed by astrophysicist Mario Livio in his book Brilliant Blunders: "[E]ver since the seminal work of philosopher of science Karl Popper, for a scientific theory to be worthy of its name, it has to be falsifiable by experiments or observations. This requirement has become the foundation of the 'scientific method.'"

But the field known as science studies (comprising the history, philosophy and sociology of science) has shown that falsification cannot work even in principle. This is because an experimental result is not a simple fact obtained directly from nature. Identifying and dating Haldane's bone involves using many other theories from diverse fields, including physics, chemistry and geology. Similarly, a theoretical prediction is never the product of a single theory but also requires using many other theories. When a "theoretical" prediction disagrees with "experimental" data, what this tells us is that that there is a disagreement between two sets of theories, so we cannot say that any particular theory is falsified.

Fortunately, falsification--or any other philosophy of science--is not necessary for the actual practice of science. The physicist Paul Dirac was right when he said, "Philosophy will never lead to important discoveries. It is just a way of talking about discoveries which have already been made." Actual scientific history reveals that scientists break all the rules all the time, including falsification. As philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn noted, Newton's laws were retained despite the fact that they were contradicted for decades by the motions of the perihelion of Mercury and the perigee of the moon. It is the single-minded focus on finding what works that gives science its strength, not any philosophy. Albert Einstein said that scientists are not, and should not be, driven by any single perspective but should be willing to go wherever experiment dictates and adopt whatever works.

The course of every intellectual, if he pursues his journey long and unflinchingly enough, ends in the obvious, from which the non-intellectuals have never stirred.
    -Aldous Huxley, Point Counter Point

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Roger Angell at a HundredRaising a glass to The New Yorker legend--born five years before the founding of this magazine, and a contributor for the past seventy-six--as he celebrates a milestone birthday. (Mark Singer, September 7, 2020, The New Yorker)

Born five years before the founding of this magazine--but a contributor for only the past seventy-six--Roger Angell has spent his one-hundredth summer in customary fashion. In late June, he and his wife, Peggy Moorman, drove a spring-chicken '97 Volvo wagon from their covid refuge, in the Catskills, to Brooklin, Maine, and settled into their gray-shingled camp on a point overlooking Eggemoggin Reach, with Deer Isle in the near distance. Angell began coming to Brooklin in 1933, the summer before he turned thirteen. That was the year his mother, Katharine Sergeant Angell White, and his stepfather, E. B. (Andy) White, each a foundational source of The New Yorker's DNA--Katharine primarily as a fiction editor and nurturer of writers, Andy as progenitor of the magazine's editorial voice--bought an eighteenth-century farmhouse, with an attached barn, in North Brooklin, situated above a large pasture, pond, and woods that sloped down to a gravelly beach on Allen Cove, on Blue Hill Bay.

The Passion of Roger Angell: The best baseball writer in America is also a fan
Roger Angell, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this weekend, is the best baseball writer in America, and for 50 years he's written from a single vantage point: that of a fan who cares deeply about the game. (TOM VERDUCCI, July 21, 2014, Sports Illustrated)

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


"It Takes a While to Perfect Your Soul": A Conversation With Sonny Rollins: The jazz immortal on baseball, Bird, Coltrane, his ceaseless spiritual journey and an explosive upcoming archival release from 1967 (Lee Mergner, 9/04/20, Tidal)

Arguably the greatest living jazz musician, Sonny Rollins turns 90 on Sept. 7. The legendary tenor saxophonist was forced to stop performing in 2012, because of a respiratory problem he believes was exacerbated if not created by toxic fumes in the aftermath of 9/11. Rollins was living in an apartment not far from the Twin Towers and was forced to evacuate his building amidst the debris and pollution. He went to Boston, where four days later he gave a concert that was eventually released as the Grammy-winning Without a Song: The 9/11 Concert album. That's just one of the many inspirational and nearly apocryphal stories about Rollins. Perhaps the most famous tale concerns his taking a hiatus from gigging and recording in 1959 to improve himself, and then going out from his apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan to practice on a pedestrian walkway of the Williamsburg Bridge.

With the passing of his wife and manager Lucille in 2004, Rollins now lives alone in upstate New York, listening to sports (mostly baseball, as a recovering Mets fan) and news on the radio, reading voraciously and practicing yoga. Minus the opportunity to play his horn, he's become increasingly devoted to his own spiritual development.

Known for his very critical ear toward his performances on record, he has given his blessing to the release of a collection of live and studio recordings from Holland in 1967, when he toured and appeared with bassist Rudolph "Ruud" Jacobs and drummer Han Bennink. Slated for a limited-edition vinyl release Nov. 27 on Resonance Records, with additional formats to follow, Rollins in Holland features the saxophonist at the peak of his powers, playing with his signature fiery brand of rhythm, intensity and humor.

Sonny and I have been friendly since the early '90s, when I first contacted him for coverage in JazzTimes, a publication I oversaw for nearly three decades. In the ensuing years, we'd talk on the phone or exchange letters -- yes, letters in the mail -- though the subject was most often baseball or politics rather than music. In this recent freewheeling talk for TIDAL, he shared his thoughts and memories of those '67 recordings, of his colleague John Coltrane (with whom he famously "battled" on "Tenor Madness") and of growing up in the Sugar Hill section of Harlem.

Although a very politically aware individual who in 1958 recorded "The Freedom Suite," a remarkably prescient expression of support for the civil-rights movement, in this case Rollins was in a more reflective mood and preferred not to talk about the state of the country in detail. Rather, he wanted to explain his philosophy of life, which is greatly influenced by Eastern religion and spirituality. In the end, he did wonder how far Donald J. Trump would get if he counted back from 100.

Good news for you and me, baseball is back, though who knows for how long.

I'm happy about that, but I don't want guys to get hurt or sick just because I want to see some baseball. And I don't want guys to get hurt just because these rich owners want to make more money.

Growing up in Sugar Hill, did you go to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx?

Yes, I lived closer to the Polo Grounds, where the Giants played, but I went to Yankee Stadium because my team was the Yankees.

Where was the Polo Grounds?

It was on the Manhattan side, very close to me, about six or eight blocks north of us and down the hill on Eighth Avenue. I could walk there. I used to go to [popular swing musician and bandleader] Andy Kirk's house. His son was a good friend of ours, so we'd go to his house and we could see right field of the Polo Grounds. I used to see Carl Hubbell, the great pitcher who struck out the famous hitters.

Famous for his screwball. My father lived at 6th & Lehigh in Philadelphia, and when he was a kid, he and his friends would walk the 15 blocks to 21st & Lehigh and stand with their gloves outside Shibe Park, behind home plate, and wait for foul balls to come back over the roof. That was a day's entertainment. I miss the days when ballparks were right in neighborhoods, and the players often lived in our neighborhoods. Did any live near you?

Willie Mays lived around the corner when he was playing with the [New York] Giants. He could walk to work, really.

Did you play stickball or baseball?

I played stickball and softball. We used to go to Yankee Stadium and there were ballfields outside the stadium, so we'd play softball there. Other than that I played stickball on the streets.

The New York City game.

It was great. I'll never forget one particular homerun.

Did it go through a window?

[laughs] No, it just went a long way. Several houses up and over the roof. I'll never forget it, man. We lived on a block with houses on one side and the other side was a park going down. But that one side, I always wondered what would happen if we ever hit one and broke a window. But it never happened that I remember. Everybody loved baseball then. The people watched us from the windows. A lot of the older guys got a kick out of watching us play.

What was the ball in stickball? Was it a bunch of tape, balled up? I think we used what we called a pimple ball.

It was a rubber Spaldeen, usually a red color. A little smaller than a regular baseball.

Glenn Dryfoos

ATJ #62 
Sept 7, 2020

In honor of Sonny Rollins' 90th birthday, I've asked OJ to post a recent interview with Sonny where you can get a better sense of the man from his own words than from anything I could write.  To go along with the interview, here Is a small sample of my favorite recordings by our greatest living jazz musician.

Bouncing With Bud - Not yet 19 years old, in August of 1949 Sonny announced his arrival as a fully-formed jazz master on this recording with Bud Powell (piano), Fats Navarro (trumpet) and Roy Haynes (drums).  Amazingly, Hayes is 95 and still active:

The Way You Look Tonight - with his mentor, Thelonious Monk:

Body and Soul - although Lester Young was the primary influence on most tenor players of his generation, Sonny was transformed when he heard Coleman Hawkin's 1939 recording of Body and Soul and set out to capture the master's big tone (first by using a tenor reed on his alto sax, and then switching to tenor).  Here Sonny tackles the tune without a rhythm section:

The Eternal Triangle - Verve's Norman Granz had the inspired idea to record a blowing session with Rollins, Dizzy Gillespie and the other great sax-playing Sonny, Sonny Stitt.  Dizzy reportedly lit the fuse on the fireworks that followed by calling up each Sonny a few day before the session and telling him that the other Sonny was practicing hard and gunning for him.  Rollins solos first, then Stitt:

Tenor Madness - Rollins only recorded one song with his great friend and rival for the title of greatest tenor man ever, John Coltrane. Trane solos first, then Rollins.

Count Your Blessings - Sonny had a soft spot for pop songs that weren't otherwise part of the jazz vernacular, in particular songs associated with Bing Crosby.  This one was introduced by Bing in the movie White Christmas:

The Surrey With the Fringe on Top - Sonny pioneered the concept of the piano-less trio...that is, a horn playing only with bass and drum:

I'm An Old Cowhand - No one but Sonny would have the vision to turn a Crosby novelty tune that tells the story of a city slicker-wannabe cowboy ( into a modern jazz classic:

They Say It's Wonderful - This is video of Sonny at an incredibly youthful 78 to give you an idea of his power, presence and charisma as a performer. 

St. Thomas - Sonny came of age on the New York jazz scene with a number of other musicians whose families came from the West Indies (Randy Weston, Art Taylor and Roy Haynes to name just a few).  Sonny almost always included a tune with an island beat in his live sets.  His most famous calypso was the first one he recorded, on his classic album Saxophone Colossus:

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM

THE TIGHTENING NOOSE (profanity/degeneracy alert):

Leaked Details From Michael Cohen's Shocking Trump Memoir (National Memo, September 07 | 2020)

Trump admired Vladimir Putin, writes Cohen, because he wrongly believed that the Russian president is " the richest man in the world by a multiple." Trump loved Putin, Cohen wrote, "because the Russian leader had the ability 'to take over an entire nation and run it like it was his personal company -- like the Trump Organization, in fact.

"Trump's sycophantic praise of the Russian leader during the 2016 campaign began as a way to suck up and ensure access to the oligarch's money after he lost the election," the Post reports. But Cohen says Trump also believed that Putin's hatred Hillary Clinton, which dated back to her support for the 2011 protest movement in Russia, "could strengthen Trump's hand in the United States."

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM

TO BE FAIR... (profanity alert):

Trump said to disparage evangelical Christianity as '[********]' before 2016 vote (Times of Israel, 9/07/20)

A tell-all memoir by Michael Cohen describes a scene ahead of the 2016 election in which Donald Trump allegedly said after meeting a group of prominent evangelical Christian leaders, "Can you believe that '[********]' ? Can you believe people believe that '[********]' ?" the Washington Post reported Monday.

Cohen said the US president made the comments following the departure of the religious leaders after they laid their hands on him in prayer at a meeting in Trump Tower.
"The cosmic joke was that Trump convinced a vast swathe of working-class white folks in the Midwest that he cared about their well-being," Cohen wrote, according to the newspaper. "The truth was that he couldn't care less."

...if they actually believed they couldn't support him.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


GoT: Modern Air Doctrine Would Have Really Helped Daenerys TargaryenThe aerial fiasco also demonstrated Daenerys' weaknesses as foreign invading power (Sebastien Roblin, 9/07/20, National Interest)

While her ally Jon Snow advances troops south by land, Daenarys moves her Unsullied infantry by sea to rebase her forces at Dragonstone, a fortress which offers a convenient staging ground for her ultimate goal: the capture of the capital of King's Landing, held by the villainous Cersei Lannister. Daenerys flies over her fleet with her two dragons, confident in her supremacy as Cersei has no air force, and her infantry and cavalry lack effective anti-dragon weapons.

Cersei's advisor Qyburn, however, has developed and mass-produced huge crossbows called 'scorpions'--ballistas which have the range and penetrating power to harm Daenerys's dragons. In the real world, ballistae were first developed by the Greeks and Romans as a form of naval and siege artillery (they played a role in Caesar's conquest of modern day France and Great Britain) and had an effective range of a few hundred meters.

Cersei's pirate-ally Euron Greyjoy deploys his ballista-equipped fleet to ambush Daenerys' forces, and knocks the dragon Rhaegal out of the sky with a surface-to-air barrage. Daenerys attempts an attack run on Eurons' fleet, but is forced to disengage in the face of heavy incoming fire.

Though the danger posed by the ballistae to Daenarys' dive-bombing attack is credible, the long-range volley which kill the dragon Rhaegal at high altitude is less so.

Though Euron uses an island to conceal his ships from Daenarys' fleet in an enfilade firing position, Daenerys should have had a huge spotting and scouting advantage simply because she can fly far overhead. Furthermore, as Euron's non-magical weapons are constrained by laws of physics, they should have a relatively short effective range, as they lose penetrating power over longs distances and lack guidance systems, a high rate of fire, and a blast effect. Usually one or two of these qualities are found in real-world anti-aircraft weapons.

However, Daenerys' fiasco makes more sense when considering how militaries often suffer their heaviest losses when surprised by relatively new technologies and tactics or which they haven't developed countermeasures.