Archive for September, 2017

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What they said…

September 30, 2017

I couldn’t care less about the NFL and Trump’s recent tempest-in-a-tweet-storm struck me as just throwing red meat to his crowd of easily-played supporters. Mostly, I’m wondering if we’ll ever get past this Cult of the Presidency thing that’s been going on.

But I did come across a couple of good responses to Trump’s tweet storm this week. My emphasis below.

Matt Welch at Reason gives a good analysis from a libertarian view. It’s pretty long, so I’ve only listed the ‘lessons’ without their explications. But it’s worth a read.

9 Lessons from the Trump/NFL Anthem Wars

1) The most offensive aspect about mixing politics and sports is the conscripted tax money and police power. […]

2) Donald Trump made the conscious choice to revive a near-moribund social controversy for political advantage. […]

3) Almost every sentence containing the phrase “we must” in reference to strangers is a bad sentence, particularly coming from a president. […]

4) Freedom of political expression for athletes is directly proportional to their freedom of contract. […]

5) Trump is on the opposite side of the criminal justice reform cause that sparked all this stuff in the first place. […]

6) Fantasizing about ordering ungrateful “privileged” athletes around is one of the lower tendencies in American sports fandom. […]

7) Public patriotic rituals are already political, and should not be a one-way ratchet. […]

8) Telling the president to get bent is a healthy democratic response. […]

9) Culture-war dissidents deserve a shout-out, too. […]

And Jay Nordlinger gives his conservative take at National Review.

Trump, the Flag, and Us

[…] I never had any use for Colin Kaepernick’s stunt. I don’t like this exploitation of national-anthem time. I also believe in safe zones — zones free of politics, such as concerts and games. I’m semi-famous for it (though only semi-)! An essay on safe zones is included in my recent collection, Digging In.

Kaepernick really disgusted me when he wore a shirt touting Fidel Castro — and socks depicting cops as pigs.

At the same time, I counseled benign neglect, borrowing Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s (radioactive) phrase from the late ’60s. […]

The issue was dying out. There were just a few embers. Then Donald J. Trump got into it, of course. He is an arsonist in American politics. We used to call Sharpton & Co. “racial arsonists.” The president is his own brand of arsonist. (Actually, Trump and Sharpton are a lot alike, as I’ve argued before: two New York media creatures.) Also, Trump insists on being at the center of attention, always.

There’s an expression for such men: “the bride at every wedding, the corpse at every funeral.”

You heard Trump, revvin’ up that crowd: “Get that son-of-a-bitch off the field right now! Out! He’s fired!” Blah blah blah. Roar roar roar. And that changed everything.

We Americans are a patriotic lot. We’re also a cranky, independent-minded, nonconformist lot. We don’t like to be told what to do, especially by Authority. We don’t like to be bossed around. So, pre-Trump, kneeling meant one thing — and then it meant a big middle finger to the Man, a.k.a. Trump, a.k.a. POTUS.

Context is everything. Everything. It took Donald J. Trump to make anti-kneelers sympathetic to kneelers. Indeed, he turned some anti-kneelers into kneelers themselves.

He crudifies everything he touches — including conservatism, including patriotism. There is a difference between patriotism and jingoism. Between patriotism and crude nationalism, crude flag-waving. […]

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Strange sights

September 17, 2017

“Postcards from Saturn” is an NPR video about discoveries made by the Cassini probe.


And “How Not to Land an Orbital Rocket Booster” is a short tutorial from SpaceX.

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Constitution Day

September 17, 2017

Here’s John Stossel (again).

Raise a glass to its authors.

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Athens on the Potomac

September 12, 2017

Hey, we’ve done it! $20,000,000,000,000! To quote Feynman again:

"There are 1011 stars in the galaxy," [Richard] Feynman once said. "That used to be a huge number. But it’s only a hundred billion. It’s less than the national deficit! We used to call them astronomical numbers. Now we should call them economical numbers."

Take it, John.

And Andrew does a parody of Cosmos.

Jon Gabriel joins in:

But John Stossel gets the last quote.

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