Derangement syndrome falls prey to derangement!


Why derangement works:
We had a brief moment of hope when we read this featured headline on today's front page at Slate:

"Does Trump Even Realize He's Done Anything Wrong?"

Good lord! It almost sounded like Dahlia Lithwick was going to consider the possibility that something is seriously wrong with Donald J. Trump in the general area of mental illness, mental health or cognitive ability. Maybe she'd even spoken to some competent specialist who had brought some specialized knowledge to bear on this general question.

Could Donald Trump be a "sociopath?" Do people so afflicted have the ability to know when they're doing something wrong, possibly something heinous?

We'd love to see an appropriate specialist discuss such obvious questions. Lithwick spoke to no such person, and the press corps never will.

At present, Trump is engaged in dangerous, deranged attacks on the still-anonymous whistle-blower. He's also making dangerous statements about Rep. Schiff. We wonder if a specialist could shed any light on such relentless behavior.

In our view, the press corps simply isn't sharp enough to tackle such a question. Then too, there are the three million ways they keep repeating, and reinforcing, the various Trump talking points.

At present, the talking points in question most directly affect Candidate Biden. As we've stated in the past, we regard him as a terrible candidate in a field of terrible candidates.

That said, the way the cable corps keeps giving wide berth to the president's points threatens Biden's candidacy with annihilation. It also helps us see how bogus claims about more competent candidates gained such wide berth in the past.

On cable, anchors constantly play tape of Trump making unfounded or blatantly bogus claims without explaining—preferably in advance of playing the tape or reading the tweet—that the statement in question is unfounded, bogus or false.

Beyond that, you can't make a statement like this without undermining the reach of the truth:

"Trump was asking the Ukrainian government to dig up information/dig up dirt on Biden."

Inevitably, that statement tends to imply that there actually is "information" to be dug up, and that Trump wants the Ukrainians to produce real "information"—actual information, information that's actually accurate.

In truth, it's highly likely that Trump has been hoping to push the Ukrainians to produce bogus claims about Biden. Pundits keep saying that Trump has been seeking "information" without articulating this less flattering possibility.

Unless Trump is in the grip of some type of psychiatric derangement, that possibility seems very strong. Our pundits don't seem to be up to the task of addressing either of these possibilities. Again and again, they repeat Trump's claims about Biden, then move quickly on.

In the article whose headline filled us with hope, Lithwick calls the current political situation "Stupid Watergate." As we read her disappointing effort, we glumly said this:

We've noticed!

COUNTRY MUSIC MEETS IMPEACHMENT: Kathy Mattea knows about coal!


So does Bernie Sanders:
We've always had a good impression of country music star Kathy Mattea.

Check that! Our good impression was formed some years ago when we first watched this YouTube tape.

On the tape, Mattea joins Suzy Bogguss in singing Teach Your Children, the Graham Nash anthem which, among other possible constructions, urges us people to learn from each other in spite of apparent differences.

Appropriately for current purposes, the Mattea/Bogguss performance took place at the Grand Ole Opry, in 1994. We especially like it for the obvious pleasure the two women take, all through their performance, from singing with each other.

Interviews with Mattea are widely featured during Ken Burns' 16-hour film, Country Music, which debuted on PBS over the past two weeks. We'll admit it—we didn't know how big a star Mattea was until we checked her bio after watching the series.

As a musical genre, country music is remarkably invisible to those of us who live in or around those famous "eastern/bicoastal elites." For ourselves, we owned albums by Doc Watson—even this Folkways album, The Watson Family—before we arrived in college as a freshman in the fall of 1965.

But even we, with our hipper-than-thou understanding of the full sweep of American culture, didn't know how big Mattea was until we read her bio at several places last week. The Ken Burns site tells us this:
Kathy Mattea is among the most commercially successful and respected female country artists of her era, infusing 1980s country with a fresh, stripped-down style and a unique blend of traditional country roots and attention to the stories being told. Growing up outside Charleston, West Virginia, Kathy’s tastes were eclectic.

Her love of traditional country was solidified after she left West Virginia University and took a job as a tour guide at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville. It broadened when she started earning extra money singing on demo tapes for songwriters pitching their tunes on Music Row.

After signing a recording contract with Mercury, Kathy teamed with independent producer Allen Reynolds. Their creative alliance resulted in hit singles for more than a decade, including “Love at the Five and Dime” (1986)—her first Top 10 hit on the country charts, peaking at No. 3—and her biggest No. 1 success, “Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses,” which captured the 1988 CMA award for Best Single. Mattea cemented her star status by becoming CMA’s Female Vocalist of the Year in 1989 and again in 1990. Her Top 10 hit “Where’ve You Been,” co-written by husband Jon Vezner and Don Henry, earned Kathy the 1990 GRAMMY Award for Best Female Country Vocal. She won again at the GRAMMYs in 1993 with her Gospel-influenced Christmas album, Good News.
In one of the coming-to-Nashville stories Burns loves, Mattea advanced from museum tour guide to two-time top female vocalist. Warning! All these references to Top 10 and No. 1 hits are references to "the country charts," whose contents may escape the notice of the bulk of our own liberal tribe.

As usual, we have a great point! As we watched the eight episodes of the Burns film, it occurred to us, again and again, that much of America doesn't know the stars, or the story, of the sprawling part of American culture known as country music.

Connie Smith? George Jones? Who the Joe Hill are they?

Also, what's the story behind Merle Haggard? Even this: Who the heck was the Carter Family? Can anyone name their names?

For many people held captive by the dominant culture of those eastern and bicoastal elites, these names, and these stories, will be unknown, perhaps a bit foreign. They will sometimes be derided as silly, although they form a very large part of the cultural framework of a very large part of the nation.

A very large part of this big sprawling nation would know Smith and Jones, and even Dottie West! Indeed, it occurred to us, as we watched the Burns film, that he was describing a large part of the culture of the current Trump voter—of those nagging people, The Others, who we liberals can't seem to bring under control, no matter how patiently we try to teach them how to vote, think and assess.

We don't know the stories of a one-time renegade like Haggard, or even of someone as thoroughly engaging and presentable as Mattea. To cite one more example, we ourselves didn't know that Mattea released an album entitled Coal in 2008. We continue the Burns bio to its completion:
After a mining disaster in her home state killed twelve miners in 2006, she came out with Coal (2008, produced by Marty Stuart), filled with songs about mining life and its repercussions, as a tribute, she said, “to my place and my people.”

Born: June 21, 1959; Hometown: Cross Lanes, West Virginia
But aren't those people everyone's people? For better or worse, and perhaps understandably, not necessarily, no.

For Mattea, a native of West Virginia, coal is part of a family tradition. When the album was released, USA Today provided a bit of background:
MANSFIELD (4/6/08): Kathy Mattea considered herself a grandchild of coal. Both the singer's grandfathers—one an Italian immigrant, the other of Welsh descent—had worked the West Virginia mines, but Mattea thought she had a generation's distance as she started choosing material for Coal, her new album of mining songs.

"I expected a set of stories," says Mattea, 48. "What I found was a connection to my own history, my own family, my own people."

Mattea, who placed 15 consecutive top 10 singles on the country charts in the mid-'80s and early '90s, had her best-known hits with storytelling songs such as Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses and Where've You Been. But the tales in songs such as Coal Tattoo and Red-Winged Blackbird struck closer to home.

"I thought I'd be slightly detached," she says. "Instead, it came from the inside out. That was the piece I didn't expect, to feel so much a sense that it was my place to tell the story. This record, it just reached out and took me."
Both her grandfathers worked in the mines. This is a part of the culture of country music which continues to play a role in our deeply troubled politics today.

We hope you'll give yourself the pleasure of watching Mattea and Bogguss sing Teach Your Children. It occurred to us, as we watched Burns' film, that there are things we liberals can learn from the history the film relates, even though it's plainly too late to stop our nation from sliding into the sea, as it's currently doing.

In 2008, Mattea recorded an album called Coal. According to the leading authority on her life, she followed with "a second album of bluegrass-influenced and primarily coal mining-themed songs, Calling Me Home." This makes us think of a very wise thing we saw a major politician do just a few years ago.

Is there any way out of our current morass, one which has formed around Donald J. Trump? We'll guess that there pretty much isn't, but it seems to us that there's a lot our own tribe might profitably think about in the sixteen hours of material presented in the somewhat bowdlerized Burns film.

We'll pursue that idea all week. Tomorrow, a pol sets a good example.

Tomorrow: Bernie Sanders talks coal—and the Okie from Muskogee

Ken Burns and the ultimate shape of impeachment!


PBS examines the Others:
We were surprised by something we saw on the front page of this morning's Washington Post.

The Post was reporting on certain voters' attitude toward the possible impeachment of Donald J. Trump. Right out there on page A1, the opening paragraph of the report said this:
PORTNOY ET AL (12/28/19): They don’t ordinarily agree with each other. They watch different channels, hear different versions of the news and view neighbors across a gaping, painful political divide. But in swing districts across the country, the idea of impeaching the president has brought some Americans together: They’re wary of deploying the Constitution’s ultimate weapon—one that takes the decision about who is president out of voters’ hands.
Interesting! Does impeachment (and removal) "take the decision about who is president out of voters’ hands?"

Just as a matter of fact, it does! In the present circumstance, let's get clear on what that means.

In November 2016, 62.98 million people voted for Candidate Donald J. Trump. We weren't numbered among them, and a substantially larger number of people voted for Candidate Hillary Clinton (66.85 million).

By the rules of the game, those 62.98 million people got Trump elected to office—and they got him elected to serve for four years. Even where it may be fully justified, impeachment seeks to take that victory away from that very large number of people.

Even where it may be justified, this is an obvious downside to impeachment and removal. For this reason, we have a strong prejudice against impeachment, except where absolutely necessary. This is why we've occasionally stated the view that "our system runs on elections, not on impeachment."

This doesn't mean that Donald J. Trump shouldn't be impeached and removed. It merely identifies a major downside to the process—a downside we'd never seen mentioned in anti-Trump circles until this very day.

We'd seen this downside mentioned on Fox. It seemed that Nancy Pelosi might be citing this downside, if only obliquely, at various times during the past year.

But until this morning, we'd never seen this downside directly cited by anyone within our own tribe. In our view, this told us something—something perhaps a bit unattractive—about the way we in our self-impressed tribe tend to regard the Others, the lesser folk found Over There.

We often thought about this matter as we watched Ken Burns' PBS series, Country Music, over the past two weeks. Haltingly and cautiously, Burns was profiling the native culture of "red America"—the native culture of the deplorables, of the bad people found Over There.

In many ways, we thought Burns' caution undermined the potential value of the series. But there it was—the native music of the Trump voter, the people whose victory would be taken away, perhaps with reason, if he's removed from office before he serves his four years.

Until this very morning, we'd never seen the anti-Trump world acknowledge this obvious problem found within the impeachment process. But of course, it's only a problem if you're able to respect the lesser beings who are found Over There.

As a general matter, our liberal tribe doesn't aggressively do that. Nor are we typically able to see the ways our condescension toward Those People rhymes with the racism we performatively say we despise.

We're speaking here of the meta-politics of the current red/blue divide. We expect to explore this question next week, using parts of the Ken Burns series as points of departure.

As Burns describes in one of his series' many profiles, Dolly Parton emerged from the world of Those People starting, Burns said, at the age of 5. Is she a lesser too? Because once you let our tribe get started, pretty much everyone is!

Should Donald J. Trump be removed from office? On cable TV, our team is now pantingly eager to make that occur.

Are we able to see the downside to this constitutional process? When it comes to such tasks, our self-impressed team isn't always enormously sharp.

Also, this late arrival: We were struck by a letter the New York Times decided to publish this morning. The letter went exactly like this:
To the Editor:

Could it be the case that President Trump really does not understand that he did anything wrong in his conversation with the president of Ukraine? This may be just the way he’s always done business, by threatening, bullying and demanding something of value in exchange for doing what he is already obligated to do. Is it possible that Mr. Trump just lives in a different moral universe than the rest of us?

L— W—
Westport, Conn.
"Is it possible that Mr. Trump just lives in a different moral universe than the rest of us?"

So this letter asked, seeming to blame this possible problem on bad habits the fellow may have formed over the years.

As a general matter, we think that letter writer is asking a very good question. We think it's not unlike these other very good questions:

"Is it possible that Mr. Trump is a sociopath?" "Is it possible that Mr. Trump is in some way 'mentally ill?' "

That letter writer is asking a very good question. But even as Bandy Lee and dozens of others urged the press to consider the state of Trump's mental health, the giants of our upper-end press corps have refused to do that.

As a general matter, that letter writer is asking a very good question. It should have been explored in the upper-end press corps starting a long time ago.

Today, the New York Times treats it as a novel question. Our view?

When we fixate on the dumbness of Others, we might want to recall the possible dumbness routinely displayed Over Here. In fairness, anthropologists have told us that this is the best our floundering species can do.

WHAT'S IN A WORD: In the Post, the Yu Ying school is "diverse!"


At the Times, it needs "desegregation:"
Within one particular human tribe, everyone said that they loathed pubic school "segregation"—but no one could say what it was!

So we were told, in recent weeks, by several top future scholars. Concerning the insight we derived from this episode, we'd rank it as our greatest anthropological learning to date.

The top expert scholars to whom we refer were members of Future Anthropologists Huddled in Caves, the despondent group which reports to us from the years which lie beyond the global conflagration they refer to as Mister Trump's War.

These experts were discussing one of the ways we in our current liberal tribe construct our tribal "fictions"—the mandated declarations of faith which establish tribal membership. They spoke, as always, in the past tense as they described our current liberal morĂ©s.

Everybody hates segregation, but no one can say what it is? In particular, these experts referred to current waves of mainstream upper-end journalism decrying "public school segregation."

They noted the promiscuous way this fraught term is employed, calling it part of the prehistoric process through which tribal bonding has always been formed. "Within this rapidly failing tribe, every sentence had to have a noun and a verb and the word segregation," one scholar mordantly told us.

Once we liberals have declared our loathing of public school "segregation," nothing else we say has to make any sense! So these gloomy anthropologists said, describing the way our tribe fell to ruin—and yes, they offered examples.

Within the past week, they spoke to us about last Saturday's front-page report in the Washington Post. Perry Stein's report about PTO groups started off like this:
STEIN (9/21/19): Mike Dixon left his first visit to his son’s new school deflated. The Dixons had scored a seat at a Chinese-language charter school in the District that families clamor to attend.

His children would be attending a diverse public school—a rarity in a city where most schools are segregated and the student population is overwhelmingly black.

But when Dixon attended a school open house in 2012, he was one of the few black parents in the room. And when he returned for an evening parent meeting, he was again one of the only black parents. He believed he didn’t belong, so he stopped attending.
Stein had made some peculiar claims at the start of her report, these experts skillfully told us:

She said "most Washington schools are segregated," a claim she never explained or tried to define.

She said the District's "student population is overwhelmingly black," a claim she never attempted to quantify, and a claim which has a slightly strange sound.

Beyond that, she referred to a particular Washington public charter school—the Washington Yu Ying Public Charter—as a "diverse public school." With great sagacity, the scholars told us that we should fact-check all three of those claims.

Below, you see some of the things we learned when took this expert advice.

First, is the District's student population "overwhelmingly black?" To our ear, this statement has a rather strange feel, and Stein never offered real numbers.

We'll offer two sets of data today. First, here are the numbers for the District's traditional public schools in the 2017-2018 school year:
Student enrollment, D.C. Public Schools, 2017-2018
(Traditional public schools only)

White kids: 15%
Black kids: 60%
Hispanic kids: 20%
Asian-American kids: 4%
Was that group of schools "overwhelmingly black?" To our ear, that peculiar statement has a slightly peculiar feel.

That said, almost half of Washington's public schools kids attend public charter schools. For demographics of those schools, you can just click here.

Combining numbers from those two groups of schools, here's our best approximation for the total student enrollment in all D.C. public schools:
Student enrollment, D.C. public schools, 2017-2018
(Charter schools included)

White kids: 11%
Black kids: 67%
Hispanic kids: 18%
Asian-American kids: 3%
Is that population "overwhelmingly black?" It's pretty much as you like or perhaps don't especially like it.

Our reasons for checking those numbers will become clear below. Meanwhile, are most of Washington's public schools actually "segregated?"

We don't have the slightest idea how to evaluate that claim. Stein never explained what she meant by that rather fraught claim. As such, her claim illustrates what we were told about modern liberal tribal narrative in this fraught arena:

Once a liberal signaled her loathing of public school "segregation," nothing else she said had to make any sense.

According to these anthropologists, statements like Stein's served the purpose of affirming a tribal "fiction." Such statements served no other purpose, we were convincingly told. In particular, the attempt to convey information played no part in this hard-wired game.

This brought us to the third part of our assignment. We'd been told that we should see if the Washington Yu Ying Charter School was actually "diverse."

For ourselves, we'd say the answer is yes and no. In terms of "race" and ethnicity, the school's enrollment looked like this:
Student enrollment, Yu Ying Public Charter School, 2016-2017
White kids: 30%
Black kids: 36%
Hispanic kids: 5%
Asian-American kids: 10%
Multiracial kids: 19%
On its face, we ourselves would be inclined to call that enrollment diverse! In the abstract, that student enrollment looks A-OK to us!

That said, this school is much more white and Asian, and much less black and Hispanic, than the D.C. public schools as a whole. And not only that! Its students come from much higher-income families than D.C. kids as a whole.

Good God! According to the D.C. Public Schools, 77% percent of its students are "economically disadvantaged."

But holy cow! At the Yu Ying Public Charter, only 10.5% of the kids are "economically disadvantaged!" As such Yu Ying is a school with a heavily middle-class student body, drawn from within a heavily low-income student population.

An irony therefore appears. In Stein's report in the Post, Yu Ying is described as "a diverse public school" within a larger system where "most schools are segregated."

But within the frequently muddled writing which has emerged at the New York Times, Yu Ying would be the type of school which needs to be "desegregated!" Its overall profile is very much like the academically selective middle schools in Manhattan which have attracted that newspaper's ire because they're more white and Asian than the city's schools on the whole, and because they're much higher income.

In the Post, Yu Ying is praised for being "diverse." At the Times, it would need to be "desegregated!" So it goes as our "liberal" tribe continues to move toward Mister Trump's War, or so leading experts have told us. And yes:

This is one of the conceptual jumbles which dogs "elite" thinking today.

Let's return to Stein's most striking claim—the claim that "most [D.C.] schools are segregated." Is that striking claim really true? And what does it actually mean?

As a matter of anthropology, none of that matters, top experts have said. Throughout its relatively brief history, the species in question ran on tribal fictions. In the case of this highly performative tribe, once you said you loathed "segregation," nothing else had to make sense!

"Man [sic] was the tribal animal." So future experts now claim!

New York Times culture, flat and round!


How to read better or boil an egg, but also sex/race/gender:
We'll admit it—we've been serially gobsmacked by New York Times culture of late.

This morning, "How to Read Better" is back in the daily "Here to Help" feature on the reimagined page A3, which serves as a constant source of amazement.

To her credit, Tina Jordan never tires of teaching Times subscribers how to improve their reading! In this morning's feature, subscribers were given such pointers and bullet-points as these:
"To read deeply, make sure you set aside at least 15 minutes to read your book."

"Notice if you start to skim or skip sections."

"Keep a dictionary nearby."

"Use a highlighter (or sticky notes)."
At one point, Jordan seems to suggest that readers should use their fingers to sharpen their focus as they fight their way through their books. "It can help to use your finger on the page to underline text as you go." Or so Jordan alleges.

Presumably, the Times knows its readers and subscribers much better than we do. That said, we're constantly amazed by the way the paper talks down to these people on its reimagined A3.

Page A3 is almost always an education—and a source of puzzlement. Higher up on the page this morning, we were offered the day's top quote:
Quote of the Day

"I could miss a home run, but if I hear the crowd, I could always look up. It's not over by the time I look up."

VICTORIA POJRAZOV, a regular at Toronto Blue Jays games who appreciates the pace of baseball games because they allow her and other knitters to enjoy two hobbies at once.
A lot was happening in the world yesterday. At the constantly puzzling Times, that was some editor's idea of the day's most arresting statement.

Breaking! In the daily feature called "The Conversation," the article How to Boil the Perfect Egg has finally disappeared. As we noted yesterday, this report had spent two days on the list of most-read, most-discussed articles.

That said, one article concerning food did appear on today's "most read" list—Weeknight Dinner Around the World, in which "food editors asked families around the globe to show us what they have for dinner on a typical weeknight."

There's nothing "wrong" with a widely-discussed article of that type. That said, we were struck to see one of yesterday's opinion columns on today's most-read list:
The Conversation


5) Why It Matters That 'Emily Doe' in the Brock Turner Case is Asian-American
This Op-Ed article by the novelist Lisa Ko argued that the history of white demonization of Asian women should inform how readers understand the narrative of Chanel Miller, the victim known as "Emily Doe" in the infamous Brock Turner rape case, who released a memoir this week.
We'll bite! Does it matter that Chanel Miller has turned out to be, in Ko's formulation, "white and Chinese-American?"

Opinions will likely differ! For ourselves, we'd say that Ko didn't "argue" the point the Times describes so much as she simply asserted it. Your assessment may be different.

At any rate, it seems to us that Ko published a column which captures the essence of a great deal of onrushing New York Times culture. That's especially true when her column is conjoined to Concepcion de Leon's earlier report about Chanel Miller's new book, a news report we briefly mentioned earlier this week.

No one should ever be a victim of a sexual assault. That said, the Times' "infamous Brock Turner rape case" didn't involve a conviction on rape, or even any such charge. The possible problems with New York Times culture continue on from that relatively minor error.

No one should ever be the victim of an assault. When we review Ko's column and de Leon's news report, we won't be debating that obvious point. Instead, we'll be discussing some of the ways the Times, and the wider liberal world, are currently dealing with important matters involving sex, gender and race.

Ko's column struck us as quite poor, in highly recognizable ways. We thought it tells us a great deal about evolving New York Times culture.

We'll discuss Ko's column in the next day or so. Did we mention the fact that no one should ever be the victim of a sexual assault?

WHAT'S IN A WORD: Are most D.C. public schools "segregated?"


Also, what is "diverse?":
Does anyone have any idea what Professor Reardon has found?

Sean Reardon is a prolific Stanford professor. We've frequently cited his work.

That said, does anyone know what his new study claims—what he may even have found?

This Tuesday, in a news report,
the Washington Post described the findings of Reardon's new study as shown below. But does anyone have the slightest idea what this actually means?
MECKLER (9/24/19): High concentrations of poverty, not racial segregation, entirely account for the racial achievement gap in U.S. schools, a new study finds.

The research, released Monday, looked at the achievement gap between white students, who tend to have higher scores, and black and Hispanic students, who tend to have lower scores. Researchers with Stanford University wanted to know whether those gaps are driven by widespread segregation in schools or something else.

They found that the gaps were “completely accounted for” by poverty, with students in high-poverty schools performing worse than those from schools with children from wealthier families.
Upper-end editors, please! Everyone has always known that "students in high-poverty schools perform worse than those from schools with children from wealthier families." We hardly needed an exhaustive new study to clue us in on that.

That said, what does it mean when we're told that "high concentrations of poverty...entirely account for the racial achievement gap in U.S. schools?" After reading the Post report, does anyone have even the slightest idea what that statement means?

Does it mean that those (very large) gaps would disappear if all our schools were evenly balanced with respect to family income? Is that what the statement means?

More specifically:

If the New York City Public Schools created perfect "integration" of all its schools with respect to family income—if all its schools had the same assortment of family incomes—would that system's large achievement gaps disappear?

Is that what Professor Reardon is saying his study has found? That sounds like what the Post was saying when it said that "high concentrations of poverty" in American schools "entirely account for our achievement gaps."

That sounds like what the Post was saying! But does anyone believe that anything like that would actually happen in New York City's schools? Is it really possible that that's what Reardon has claimed or has found?

We'll assume that isn't what Reardon is saying. But what is the professor saying? And is there even the slightest sign that anyone is our upper-end press corps actually cares?

We've been asking questions like these for a very long time now. In our view, it's long been obvious that no one in the upper-end press corps—and yes, that includes the corporate stars of MSNBC—actually gives a flying felafel about the lives and the interests of the nation's low-income black kids.

According to top anthropologists, news reports like the one we're discussing serve one basic purpose. The analysis of these top future experts goes exactly like this:

In such reports, upper-end newspapers like the Post announce their deeply principled opposition to something called "segregation." Everything else is left in a muddle, but that self-flattering posture is put on vivid display.

At the same time, readers get to admire themselves for their own opposition to "segregation." They then put their newspaper down, failing to notice that everything that has been said is unclear.

According to major anthropologists, news reports of this type are thus a tool of tribal solidarity and "performative virtue." "[Such reports] served to establish a tribal consensus," one top expert has recently said, glumly speaking to us from the future and therefore in the past tense.

"This is precisely the type of group 'fiction' Professor Harari was talking about," this despondent future scholar gloomily said. "Within this particular floundering species, tribal groups would produce such novelized texts as a way to let individuals signal membership within the group."

So future experts have told us. And we'll admit that we've noticed the way members of our own liberal tribe love to signal their hatred for "segregation," even while making absolutely no overall sense.

It happened in Tuesday's report about Professor Reardon's study—but also in an earlier report, which opened with some fuzzy claims about the Washington, D.C. public schools.

The report appeared last Saturday morning on the Post's front page. In the main, it focused on one organization's attempts to improve the functioning of parent-teacher groups (PTOs) in Washington's public schools.

Just from reading the report, there's no way to tell if this organization's efforts are producing results. But we were struck by several of Perry Stein's claims as she began her report.

Stein has been at the Post since 2015. She became an education reporter in January of last year.

She too was speaking about "segregation." Her report began like this:
STEIN (9/21/19): Mike Dixon left his first visit to his son’s new school deflated. The Dixons had scored a seat at a Chinese-language charter school in the District that families clamor to attend.

His children would be attending a diverse public school—a rarity in a city where most schools are segregated and the student population is overwhelmingly black.

But when Dixon attended a school open house in 2012, he was one of the few black parents in the room. And when he returned for an evening parent meeting, he was again one of the only black parents. He believed he didn’t belong, so he stopped attending.
Mike Dixon now works for the organization which wants to make PTOs function better. But as we read this front-page report, we were immediately struck by the statements we've highlighted.

We were struck by Stein's immediate claim that "most schools are segregated" in the D.C. public school system. We'll admit that we were also struck by the peculiar claim that the district's public schools are "overwhelmingly black."

As a person reads this news report, it's clear that Stein opposes "segregation," just as Meckler does. It's also clear that she is inclined to advocate for the merits of "diverse public schools"—the kind of school Dixon's children attend.

We're opposed to "segregation" too. We too believe that "diversity" is a merit in a public school, all other things being reasonably equal.

That said, we were puzzled by Stein's early statements. Can it really be true that most public schools in D.C. are "segregated?" Indeed, what does Stein even mean when she makes this claim?

In wondering about that statement, try to remember what those anthropologists have said. They've told us that the term "segregation" is tossed around as a matter of virtue signaling and tribalized novelization.

Reporters signal their distaste for "segregation;" readers get to enjoy the moral splendor of realizing that they agree. Everything else is left in a state of confusion. Information isn't being sought. The actual goal is a standardized form of tribal moral fiction.

We decided to fact-check Stein's claims to the extent that we could. Are Washington's public schools "overwhelmingly black?" And what does the Washington Yu Ying Public Charter, the "diverse public school" Dixon's kids attend, actually seem to be like, demographically speaking?

We were surprised by what we learned as we conducted our search. In the modern liberal and mainstream press, performative virtue is quite widespread—and often that's where matters end.

Tomorrow: The Post calls the Yu Ying School "diverse." The Times would seek "desegregation!"

With heartfelt apologies for the delay!


Foiled today by "The Man:"
Comcast melted down in our neighborhood at roughly 10:30 this morning.

We'll start posting around 6 PM. We apologize for the delay.

WHAT'S IN A WORD: Does anyone know what Reardon is claiming?


Also, does anyone care?:
Yesterday morning, the Washington Post ran two education reports across the top of page 3.

On the left of the page, the longer report dealt with a relatively pointless topic—average nationwide SAT scores.

To his credit, Nick Anderson explained why you can't sensibly compare such scores from one year to the next given the increasing number of lower-income kids who are taking the test each year.

Given this fact, we aren't sure why the Post keeps reporting those annual scores! That said, no paper is perfect.

That longer report dealt with a rather trivial topic. Right beside it, the shorter report dealt with a topic of giant importance—the very large racial and ethnic "achievement gaps" on display, across the nation, in our public schools.

What can we do to reduce or eliminate these punishing gaps? And by the way, just how large are these gaps? These are very important questions—and they're typically bungled, or ignored, by the upper-end press.

The Post's second report, by Laura Meckler, dealt with a new study by Stanford's Sean Reardon. Below, you see the two headlines which sat atop the report, and its puzzling opening paragraph:
MECKLER (9/24/19): Study: Poverty is driving racial gap in test scores
Segregation concentrates minorities in less-effective schools, researchers find

High concentrations of poverty, not racial segregation, entirely account for the racial achievement gap in U.S. schools, a new study finds.
Say what? Concentrations of poverty "entirely account" for those very large gaps? Could that possibly be true? And of course, much more significantly, what could that possibly mean?

Remember—we're speaking about achievement gaps which seem to be quite large.

Major newspapers and liberal news orgs almost never discuss this awkward topic, or the interests of the good, decent kids who lie on the short end of those gaps. But here you see one such gap, with data drawn from our one reliable domestic testing program:
Average scores, Grade 8 math
U.S. public schools, Naep 2017

White kids: 292.16
Black kids: 259.60
Hispanic kids: 268.49
Asian-American kids: 309.52
Based on a standard but very rough rule of thumb, the average black student was three years behind the average white student by the end of eighth grade, according to this math test. Asian kids were even farther ahead. Stating the obvious, those seem to be punishing gaps.

Those data seem to define punishing racial achievement gaps. But according to Meckler's opening paragraph, high concentrations of poverty "entirely account for" such gaps.

Yesterday morning, when we read this report, we wondered if that claim could really be true. But we also wondered about something more basic:

We wondered what that claim was actually supposed to mean.

What was actually being claimed at the start of this report? We continued to read, hoping to get more clear about what this new study had found.

Below, you see Meckler's first three paragraphs. In our view, these first three paragraphs make no discernible sense:
MECKLER: High concentrations of poverty, not racial segregation, entirely account for the racial achievement gap in U.S. schools, a new study finds.

The research, released Monday, looked at the achievement gap between white students, who tend to have higher scores, and black and Hispanic students, who tend to have lower scores. Researchers with Stanford University wanted to know whether those gaps are driven by widespread segregation in schools or something else.

They found that the gaps were “completely accounted for” by poverty, with students in high-poverty schools performing worse than those from schools with children from wealthier families.
So far, does this make sense? So far, does it make sense to claim that something new has been discovered by the Reardon study?

Citizens, please! Everyone has always known that "students in high-poverty schools perform worse [on average] than those from schools with children from wealthier families."

Everyone has always known that! So far, we have no idea what Reardon's new study claims to have found—nor did the matter become much clearer as Meckler's report continued:
MECKLER (continuing directly): “Racial segregation appears to be harmful because it concentrates minority students in high-poverty schools, which are, on average, less effective than lower-poverty schools,” concluded the paper by academics, led by Sean F. Reardon, professor of poverty and inequality in education and senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.

The study examined scores from hundreds of millions of tests over the past decade by students in thousands of school districts. Researchers found a “very strong link” between racial school segregation and academic achievement gaps. Every school district with “even moderately high” segregation had a large achievement gap, they found.
Every school district with even moderately high segregation had a large achievement gap?

It isn't clear what Reardon means by "segregation" in this context. Presumably, he means that black and Hispanic kids often attend schools whose student bodies are largely, or even entirely, black and Hispanic.

Such schools will typically have more kids from low-income families than the average American school. And it's true that "high-poverty schools" produce much lower achievement levels, on average, than "lower-poverty schools."

That said, these are facts which everyone has known since the dawn of time. Meanwhile, can anyone name any school district which doesn't "have a large achievement gap?" Is Reardon saying that a school district without "racial segregation"—whatever that murky term is supposed to means in this context—wouldn't display any racial achievement gap at all?

Based on what Meckler has written so far, it's very, very hard to know what Reardon's new study is claiming. Is he claiming that a school district without any "racial segregation" (however defined) wouldn't have any racial achievement gap? Could that be what Reardon means?

While we're trying to puzzle this out, let's take things a bit further. Does Reardon mean that low-income black kids in such a school district would score as high, on average, as that district's high-income white kids? Is that the claim this new study is making?

Is that the claim Reardon's study is making? That notion strikes us as a pipe dream. But then again, that may not be what Reardon is claiming. At this point, we simply can't tell from Meckler's murky reporting.

Truth to tell, we don't have the slightest idea what Reardon is actually claiming. Neither did anyone else who read Meckler's report in the Post.

Before Meckler's report is done, she paraphrases Reardon as he tries to flesh out his basic point. Below, you see the way Reardon is characterized—but we still don't know what this means:
MECKLER: In an interview, Reardon explained that a district such as Atlanta has high racial segregation, with white students in generally wealthier schools than black students, and it also has high racial achievement gaps. But in Detroit, where all the students tend to be poor, the achievement gaps are smaller, he said.
Are the racial achievement gaps smaller in Detroit? We would assume that they are—but then, Atlanta and Detroit are vastly different school districts.

As in D.C., the Atlanta system retains a core of upper-income white students. Detroit, whose student enrollment is only 2% white, apparently doesn't. (In Detroit, "all the students tend to be poor," according to Meckler's report.)

We'll assume that Professor Reardon knows what he's talking about. But based on those basic demographics, we don't know why we would be surprised to learn that a city like Atlanta (or D.C.), which retains a core of high-income white kids, would have larger racial achievement gaps than a city like Detroit, where even the white kids are poor.

Alas! After reading Meckler's report, we don't have the slightest idea what Reardon could be claiming. Truth to tell, we still don't know after reading Kevin Drum's attempt to translate through the use of types of statistics no one understands.

What exactly is being claimed by Reardon's new report? In particular, is Reardon claiming that racial gaps would disappear if our public schools were all "integrated" in some way which remains undefined?

We find that very hard to believe. But is that even what Reardon is claiming? After reading Meckler's report, we have no idea.

We offer two basic thoughts:

Typical education reporting: Meckler's report is typical upper-end education reporting.

Through no fault of her own, Meckler isn't an education specialist. In this case, she seems over-matched by this assignment.

This is very typical of education reporting in the Post and especially in the New York Times. In our view, our big newspapers show their disdain for low-income kids when they staff themselves this way.

Typical novelization: Based on Meckler's report, a Post reader might walk away thinking the following:

If we just get rid of public school "segregation" (of a sort which goes undefined), those racial achievement gaps would disappear. That strikes us as highly unlikely, but that seems to be what Meckler says Reardon is claiming.

The white liberal world has been playing this "simple solution" game for more than fifty years now. At various times, the simple solution fairy tale has taken different forms:

If white teachers will only go into urban schools and smile at the kids, those kids will soon be writing novels.

If Teach for America can get enough Princeton grads into low-income schools, the results will be fantastic.

If we pursue the type of "education reform" in which we "raise expectations" and trash teachers unions—and now, if we eliminate "segregation" in some undefined way—those achievement gaps will disappear!

All these feel-good novelized stories served to reassure white liberals. These stories tell us that those gaps are more illusory than real—that they could be eliminated in one fell swoop if some simple solution were pursued.

Those stories say that our brutal racial history actually hasn't created a large and difficult problem. It seems to us that this feel-good story is wrong, but upper-class journalists have always seemed to find this notion reassuring.

These simple stories make us feel that success is just one simple solution away. We always think of Chekhov's tragic, struggling lovers when we liberals behave this way.

"And it seemed to them that in only a few more minutes a solution would be found and a new, beautiful life would begin..."

So Chekhov wrote about his lovers. When we liberals behave this way, it seems to us that we're showing how little we care about the low-income kids who can be found on the short end of those large and punishing gaps.

Tomorrow: On to the state of "segregation" in the D.C. schools

The fuller passage: The last paragraph of The Lady with the Lapdog, as translated by David Magarshack:

"And it seemed to them that in only a few more minutes a solution would be found and a new, beautiful life would begin; but both of them knew very well that the end was still a long, long way away and that the most complicated and difficult part was only just beginning."

It doesn't exactly matter, but...


Comical horizons and frameworks of a floundering culture:
No, it doesn't exactly matter. But this was part of this morning's daily feature, "The Conversation," in the hard-copy New York Times, as seen on page A3:
The Conversation


4) How to Boil the Perfect Egg.
In his first column for the Times, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt tackles a subject of much Googling: What's the best way to boil an egg? Informed by years of home testing and tinkering, Mr. Lopez-Alt devised a double-blind experiment carried out at his restaurant, Wursthall, in San Mateo, Calif., enlisting 96 volunteers to peel and taste more than 700 eggs...

5) She Quit Her Job. He Got Night Goggles. They Searched 57 Days for Their Dog.
This tale of a Washington state couple's determined search for their 7-year-old Border collie, Katie, after she disappeared from their dog-friendly hotel in Kalispell, Mont., remained popular on Monday, and was among the day's most emailed articles. After 57 days, Katie was found and brought home.
On Sunday, the report about the lost Border collie was the "most read article" in all of, as we noted yesterday morning.

As it turns out, the tale "remained popular" with Times readers through a second day. Also, eager subscribers emailed tips about the best way to boil eggs.

Is the inclusion of these articles a commentary on New York Times readership or on the Times itself? We can't answer your question, but we will say this:

As the nation continues to slide toward the sea, someone at the Times decided to include these articles on a list of the day's most read and discussed. Just for the record, the #2 item on today's list was this:
2) Tekashi 69: Can He Disappear After Testifying Against the Bloods?
The rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine—whose real name is Daniel Hernandez—testified against his former crew, the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods, in Manhattan federal court last week. In doing so, he "may have decimated any remaining good will he had left in the rap industry as he became both a punch line and a pariah," Ali Watkins writes.
Thank God for Watkins and the Times; we get these insights nowhere else! At any rate, you've now seen the New York Times' account of three of the five "most read, shared and discussed posts" from across the whole of yesterday's empire.

Were these articles really heavily read and discussed? We can't answer that question. But we're often struck by the way this journalistic empire is portrayed in this daily feature, especially as our floundering nation continues to slide toward the sea.

Also this, from today's print editions:

In this news report from Stanly County, North Carolina, the Times reports a heavily fraught real-world debate concerning "the philosophy of cheerleading." Inevitably, Sheriff Crisco is quoted about some of the events in question.

In fairness, the Times seems to be inexorably drawn to the top philosophical questions. In the Sunday Review of September 8, the liberal world's brainiest newspaper offered this mega-groaner:
Taylor Swift, Philosopher of Forgiveness
The pop superstar offers genuine insight about “moving on.”

By Scott Hershovitz
Dr. Hershovitz is a philosopher.
For the past two weeks, we've tried to force ourselves to comment on this absurd but highly instructive high-profile opinion piece.

In truth, Dr. Hershovitz isn't a philosopher, and neither is Taylor Swift. In fairness, we know of no evidence that either person has ever said anything different, though we're perhaps a bit suspicious of the professor.

Just to be clear, Taylor Swift did nothing wrong in the compilation of that high-profile groaner. By way of contrast, the brainiac Times gave us a dispiriting look at its intellectual horizons and frameworks as our nation—as our floundering nation—continues to slide toward the sea.

What's the best way to boil an egg? In our view, the new, reimagined, expanded Times is increasingly strong with such topics.

WHAT'S IN A WORD: Segregation and its incomprehensions!


"Almost a Rosetta stone," top future experts have said:
Early this morning, we asked ourselves an unusual question.

We'd just read this news report
in this morning's Washington Post. The question we asked ourselves was this:

Have we ever understood a news report less well?

This morning's news report deals with an important topic—the apparently large "achievement gaps" found in American schools. But what exactly did this news report claim, report or reveal?

What the heck did that news report claim? We'll admit we have no real idea.

The report was written by Laura Meckler, a highly experienced national reporter who, through no fault of her own, doesn't have a background in education.

Starting in 1995,
Meckler worked for the Associated Press, then for the Wall Street Journal. Despite her lack of background in the field, the Post hired her last June and assigned her to cover education.

There's no expertise like the lack of same when it comes to education reporting! Our biggest newspapers very much tend to work this way with respect to the most important topics concerning the nation's schools and the kids who attend them.

At any rate, we were puzzled this morning as we read, and then reread, Meckler's report. It deals with a very important topic. In today's hard-copy Post, the headlines atop it say this:
Study: Poverty is driving racial gap in test scores
Segregation concentrates minorities in less-effective schools, researchers find
The study in question was conducted by Stanford's Sean Reardon, whose work we've frequently cited. That said, we were puzzled by the findings of Reardon's latest study of "segregation" after reading Meckler's account.

Tomorrow, we'll review Meckler's account of what Reardon has said. After that, we'll move on to a puzzling claim on the front page of Saturday's Washington Post—a puzzling claim about the degree of "segregation" in Washington, D.C.'s public schools.

For today, we want to tell you what we've been told by several major top anthropologists—by top future experts who were, as always, quite glum.

These scholars are members of Future Anthropologists Huddled in Caves, the despondent academic group which reports to us from the years which lie beyond the global conflagration they shorthand as Mister Trump's War.

(They communicate with us through the highly unusual nocturnal submissions the haters reject as mere "dreams." They decline to explain the future technology which permits them to do this.)

These scholars have been directing large parts of our work for the past several years. According to these future experts, these two reports in the Washington Post carry great anthropological significance:

"They reflect the problems this species always had with conceptual matters," the scholars glumly said, describing humanity in the past tense, as they persistently do.

"This species was able to create reliable technologies," these despairing sachems have frequently noted. "But when it came to conceptual work, clarity would typically, perhaps almost comically, be the first item thrown overboard."

Wittgenstein tried to address this shortcoming, these anthropologists routinely tell us, but he was thrown under the faculty lounge by later human logicians.

"As such, conceptual confusion only grew," these wizened scholars have said.

Thanks to our floundering nation's brutal racial history, "segregation" is a highly fraught term. Liberal groups have tended to put the term to various tribal uses, or so we've been told by these despairing future scholars.

What has Reardon's study found about our nation's achievement gaps? What was being claimed about public school "segregation" in Saturday's front-page report?

"The lack of clarity was everywhere," these glum hidden figures allege.

What has Professor Reardon found about the role of "segregation" is creating our achievement gaps? Also, just how "segregated" are Washington, D.C.'s public schools? And what about Washington's Yu Ying Public Charter, which the Post's Perry Stein described as being "diverse?"

These are important questions—until we liberals start talking about them, or so a wide range of experts have said. We'll explore their claims all week.

"What's in a word?" William Wordsworth first said. If the word in question is "segregation," many things can be found there!

Total confusion, as always, comes first. We'll start down that road tomorrow.

Tomorrow: What Meckler says Reardon has said

Impeachment is right around the corner again!


Until you speak to Drum's friend:
Yesterday, Kevin Drum spoke to a friend. We can learn a lot—although, needless to say, we won't—from their conversation.

Drum's friend is less enlightened than we are. This is Drum's account of their conversation:
DRUM (9/22/19): I had an, um, spirited discussion about political matters with a friend this morning, and among other things he disagreed with my considered assessment that Ukrainegate, if true, represented “Nixonian levels of corruption.” In fact, he saw nothing wrong with it at all. It was just ordinary politics and he figured that presidents ask foreign leaders for favors like this all the time. Oh, and why did Joe Biden want to get rid of that prosecutor, anyway?
News flash! "Ukrainegate" is going to look that way to a lot of people:

They'll wonder why an all-around "Fredo" like Hunter Biden was ever offered "a lucrative seat on the board of a company called Burisma, which is a major energy company in Ukraine."

They'll wonder why he was ever offered that seat, and they won't be crazy to do so. (We're quoting The New Yorker's Adam Entous, speaking on NPR last night.)

They'll assume that some slippery motives were involved somewhere in the mix. It's hard to assume that such an assumption is wrong.

They'll wonder why Hunter Biden accepted the lucrative post. They'll wonder why his father didn't tell him to quit. They'll wonder why it doesn't make sense to ask the Ukrainian government to develop information about this matter. They'll assume that our team isn't worth listening to, and on many occasions that's right.

Over Here, we hear various representations about this matter. We're inclined to believe the things we hear from those on our team, but The Others are inclined to believe what they hear on Fox, and they often hear things on Fox which aren't completely bogus.

As Drum continued, he continued to characterize the way this whole thing looks to his friend:
DRUM (continuing directly): What’s more, he said, this wasn’t nearly as bad as all the stuff Hillary did. Nor was it as bad as Obama promising “more flexibility” to the Russians on a hot mic. It was just more Democratic witch huntery, like Mueller all over again, who proved that Trump was innocent of obstruction of justice because you can only obstruct criminal investigations, not counterintelligence inquiries.

I wasn’t even really mad about all this. Just depressed. This is what a big chunk of ordinary conservativedom thinks, and nothing is going to change it.
Of course, Mueller didn't "prove that Trump was innocent of obstruction of justice." It's silly to claim that he did.

On the other hand, Mueller also didn't claim that he had found ten instances of obstruction, as we liberals are now told on a regular basis by Nicolle Wallace, our newest and bestest friend.

All in all, the American nation has split into two warring political tribes, in large part because of the activity of our aggressively tribal news orgs. Members of the two tribes hear recitations of different facts. They also hear different types of erroneous statements, generally without understanding that what they're hearing is wrong.

Drum's friend isn't crazily wrong when he sees the latest excitement as "just more Democratic witch huntery, like Mueller all over again." We made clowns of ourselves with our true belief in the things we kept saying King Mueller would prove, and we're largely making clowns of ourselves by believing that this will be the magic route to impeachment now that King Mueller has failed.

It's very, very hard to believe that there will be a good ending to this. Over Here, we have to 1) win next year's election, and 2) look for ways to convince more people to listen to things we say.

As a team, we have no desire or inclination to engage in that second activity. In part for that reason, there may be an increasing chance that we won't accomplish that initial goal.

(When we see Trump say "Pocahontas," we go straight to "racist" and "slur," full stop. It doesn't enter our brainwashed heads to wonder why our candidate made that peculiar claim during all those years. They do wonder about that Over There. Concerning that possible damaging matter, We are more brainwashed than They are.)

Drum is right in one respect, a bit premature in another. In his post, he was describing "what a big chunk of ordinary conservativedom thinks." And given the haplessness of our own tribe, there's no sign that we'll ever find a way to address that state of affairs.

By the way:

Why was Hunter Biden offered that lucrative seat? Why didn't his father tell him to quit? Why won't our other candidate speak to the question of whether Michael Brown was actually "murdered?" We aren't asked to consider such questions. The Others are encouraged to do so.

These are a few of the many questions we won't see raised on The One True Liberal Channel. We liberals are being propagandized too—and like tribal groups since the dawn of time, we're strongly disinclined to understand this fact.

Impeachment is right around the corner again! So we're persistently told, and so we truly believe.

Final point: Every time this matter is discussed, voters are hearing an amorphous suggestion that Candidate Biden was engaged in something underhanded, corrupt.

Over here, we enjoy laughing at Giuliani's craziness. Our favorite pundits all take this approach.

Unfortunately, he put this back in play this past week, and it may end up serving Trump well. Who is getting zoomed by who? We can't say we're sure.

And also this: For Chait's assessment, click here.

PREVIEW/THE WORDS: A look at this morning's New York Times!


Cassandra fears four more years:
Every morning, the New York Times gives us a hard-copy feature, The Conversation, on its reimagined page A3. The feature lists the topics which most interest the newspaper's super-smart readers.

Will Donald J. Trump get re-elected next year? We don't know, but this is the way The Conversation starts in this morning's Times:
The Conversation

1) She Quit Her Job. He Got Night Goggles. They Searched 57 Days for Their Dog.
The extraordinary tale of the King family was Sunday's most read article...
As best we can tell, this moving chronicle never appeared in the hard-copy Times. On line, Times readers sniffed it out and made it the day's "most read article."

Not that there's anything wrong with it! On the other hand, this is the second article listed today as most read, shared and discussed:
2) Jonathan Van Ness of 'Queer Eye' Comes Out
This article, which details the struggles Jonathan Van Ness has faced on his rise to stardom on Netflix's "Queer Eye," was popular this weekend and shared widely on social media...
This profile deals with serious social issues, though it must be said that such issues may even afflict people who aren't the "stars" of pointless Netflix programs.

The fourth item on the "most read" list is this hard-hitting report: "Antonio Brown Says He Is Done With the N.F.L." As a way to nurture ourselves, let's just leave that right there!

One lost dog and two lost souls and the endless attention to "stardom!" As our society slides toward the sea, an observer of the Times' daily Conversation feature can occasionally feel that we the people are perhaps, in the old phrase, "too lightweight to be self-governing."

On the other hand, a fair-minded person might also consider the woeful leadership Times subscribers routinely get from the Times.

Today's newspaper is clogged with reports and opinion columns which may lead a Cassandra to suspect that Trump might end up getting re-elected next year:

We were struck by this somewhat puzzling front-page report about the alleged unfairness of high school football competition as currently handled in Iowa. Also, by this heavily bowdlerized account of the so-called "Stanford rape case."

Don't even ask! But our unimpressive liberal tribe has made an art form of such novelized narratives, starting with the shooting death of Trayvon Martin—and when we tell our treasured stories, we persistently invent or disappear basic facts, making the story more simple-minded from our tribe'e preferred point of view.

"Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings?" That may well be true! But every time we play this way, we're ringing up votes for Donald J. Trump, or so Cassandra suspects.

It was high school football on the Times' front page. The featured report in the International section involves the trend for teachers to get tattoos—in Tegucigalpa!

So it went with the news. Meanwhile, on the op-ed page, Leonhardt and Blow were displaying a form of tribal incomprehension which never ceases to amaze. This afternoon, we'll draw on a recent reported conversation to illustrate how this game really works.

Could Trump get re-elected next year? We'd have to say yes, he could! Persistently, we see the haplessness of our own tribe paving the way to that dread defeat—and nowhere is the tribal cluelessness more persistent than at the New York Times.

Tomorrow, we'll start an award-winning series, The Words, in which we review unhelpful changes in modern tribal language. In this case, we're going to start with a front-page report from the Washington Post!

Cassandra says we're paving the way to defeat when we behave in the ways we do. Her track record is very good though she could, of course, always be wrong.

Joe Biden's racism brought to the fore!


There's no cure for stupid and righteous:
This past Monday morning, the New York Times' perpetually-furious Charles M. Blow wrote a column about Candidate Biden.

For ourselves, we regard Biden as a terrible candidate in a field of terrible candidates. In our view, the field is so bad that they've begun to suggest a startling possibility—the possibility that Donald J. Trump could actually win again.

We think Biden's a terrible candidate—but is he guilty of racism? That's what one Trump-enabler took away from the latest expression of Blow's perpetual fury.

Yesterday morning, her letter appeared in the Times. Charles M. Blow had helped the writer crystallize these thoughts:
To the Editor:

Charles M. Blow’s incisive critique of Joe Biden helped me to crystallize what exactly bothers me so much about Mr. Biden. His racism and hypocrisy, and his unwillingness to learn, listen or grow, are unnervingly disturbing to me, since he is the current front-runner.

I hope that Mr. Blow’s critique will illuminate these issues for both black and white voters. C’mon, Dems! We have so many other truly exciting and qualified candidates. Warren, Bernie, Booker, Harris. Even Beto and Castro. We decide, as voters, who is not only electable but also right for the job!

P— A—
Santa Cruz, Calif.
Expressing her gratitude to Blow, the writer urged black and white Democrats to reject Biden's racism. Other Democratic voters? They were left on their own!

All kinds of people are found within our sprawling U.S. electorate. Based on a simple Google search, this letter writer has been a clinical social worker since 1990.

During the bulk of that time, she has also been the owner of a concern which sells fine clothing and jewelry. For twenty-four of those years, she was director of an eponymous consulting firm which continues to promote itself in the kind of consultant language which no normal human being could paraphrase, react to or fathom.

Whatever! The writer has spotted Biden's racism, the one sin our tribe knows. She hopes others will see his racism too, perhaps including Hispanics.

To his credit, the perpetually furious Blow didn't accuse Biden of racism—or at least, not in so many words. He did say that Biden had given "racial offense" in at least two different ways in the course of a rambling, discursive answer to a rambling, discursive question from ABC's highly presentable Linsey Davis at last Thursday night's debate.

As we noted yesterday, Blow didn't seem to know what Biden was talking about in his rambling answer. For that reason, he declared that Biden's racially offensive answer had also been "nonsensical," which it pretty much wasn't.

Blow did know enough to complain about the fact that Biden referred to a "record player" in the course of his rambling statement. Within our pitiful upper-end press corps, everyone has agreed to offer that jibe, just as everyone once spent years making "invented the Internet" jokes at Candidate Gore's expense.

In that way, this guild of fools sent us into Iraq. What are they trying for now?

All scribes have seemed to know that they should mention that record player! That includes the hapless Roger Cohen, fulminating and showboating in this morning's Times:
COHEN (9/21/19): His reference to a “record player” in the last Democratic debate in the context of a question about reparations for slavery tied Biden to a bygone era, but that was far from the worst of it. Talking about black families—that is what the question was about—he actually said: “We bring social workers into homes and parents to help them deal with how to raise their children. It’s not that they don’t want to help. They don’t, they don’t know quite what to do. Play the radio, make sure the television—excuse me, make sure you have the record player on at night, the, the — — make sure the kids hear words.”

They don’t know what to do! Make sure the kids hear words! This is insulting toward African-Americans...
"Make sure the kids hear words!" We'll guess that Cohen has never heard of the co-called "30 Million Word Gap." For that reason, we'll guess he didn't recognize Biden's reference or understand his (jumbled) point.

As a member of the world's dumbest guild, Cohen did know that he should play the "record player" card. Also, that he should fulminate in a way designed to showcase his own racial greatness. This will always be part of the deal, wherever this hapless band roves.

Must we move on to Astead Herndon's news report in this morning's Times? The youngster is four years out of college (Marquette, class of 2015). In our view, his work just "goes from to worse." Here's the way he started today:
HERNDON (9/21/19): A groan erupted at a debate watch party at Texas Southern University last week as former vice president Joseph R. Biden Jr. got a question about slavery and racism and gave an answer about Venezuela and record players.
For the record, Biden was asked about "education and race" (among several other things) in the course of Davis' rambling question. In the main, that's what his rambling question addressed.

But whatever! Like the rest of this hapless guild, Herndon knew he should start things off with that "record player!" As anthropologists continually tell us, these peculiar life-forms are only happy When They All Get to Say The Same Things, but especially When They All Get to Make The Same Pointless Jesting Remarks.

Once, they clowned about the Net; today it's that record player. None of them is discussing the factors which may hold black kids back in school, and none of them ever will. Instead, they thrash about, seeking ways to announce the latest "racial offense."

Joe Biden is a terrible candidate; the others are terrible too. With respect to the liberal/progressive world as a whole, you just can't be this dumb and uncaring for this long without re-electing a Trump—or so experts say.

Top anthropologists keep telling us that there's no cure for any of this given our species' wiring. "Given modern social arrangements, this is simply the best this species can do," they despondently tell us, though only late at night.

There is no cure for this, they say. We're beginning to think they're right.

THE UPPER-CLASS COGNITION FILES: A tale of two faltering states of cognition!


Joe Biden meets 1619:
What was Joe Biden talking about when he gave that rambling, discursive answer?

You may know the answer we mean. We refer to the answer he gave, last Thursday night, to a rambling, discursive question from ABC's Linsey Davis.

The candidate's rambling answer has raised questions about the state of his cognition—questions we regard as fair. The journalist's rambling question has occasioned no such concerns.

Inside the press corps, that's the way the score has been kept for decades. At any rate, we reprint Biden's answer below, as we did in Monday's report.

What the heck was Biden talking about? Few members of our elite pundit class have seemed to know or to care:
BIDEN (9/12/19): Look, there's institutional segregation in this country. And from the time I got involved, I started dealing with that. Red-lining, banks, making sure that we are in a position where—

Look, you talk about education. I propose that what we take is those very poor schools, the Title I schools. Triple the amount of money we spend, from 15 to 45 billion a year. Give every single teacher a raise, the equal raise to getting out—the $60,000 level.

Number two, make sure that we bring in to help the teachers deal with the problems that come from home.
The problems that come from home, we need—we have one school psychologist for every 1500 kids in America today. It's crazy.

The teachers are—I'm married to a teacher. My deceased wife is a teacher. They have every problem coming to them. We have—make sure that every single child does, in fact, have 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds go to school. School! Not daycare. School. We bring social workers in to homes and parents to help them deal with how to raise their children.

It's not that they don't want to help. They don't—they don't know quite what to do. Play the radio, make sure the television—excuse me, make sure you have the record player on at night, the, the— Make sure that kids hear words. A kid coming from a very poor school—a very poor background will hear four million words fewer spoken by the time they get there. There's so much we—

DAVIS: Thank you, Mr. Vice President.

BIDEN: No, I'm going to go like the rest of them do, twice over, OK? Because here's the deal. The deal is that we've got this a little backwards...
As some of our college graduates noticed, Biden's sentences didn't parse especially well. But what the heck was the candidate even talking about?

A few suggestions were clear. He wants to spend more money in low-income schools, possibly increasing the number of school psychologists. He wants to have all 3-year-old children attending actual schools.

It's at this point that the problems began for the elite press corps class:

Biden said something about making sure that parents have the record player on at night so children, apparently low-income children, will be able to hear more words.

Even worse, he said that we should "bring social workers in to homes" to "help [parents, apparently low-income parents] deal with how to raise their children."

As we noted at the start of the week, these hard-to-parse statements did make an obvious type of sense.

Plainly, Biden's reference to the words low-income children don't hear was a reference to the so-called "30 Million Word Gap."

The number of words involved in this alleged gap has moved about over the years, possibly down to just four million, as Biden clearly knew. But you can see the general topic discussed at Education Next in this essay from this past June.

Biden's reference to those social workers was also easy to place. He was referring to programs like the Baby Steps program founded by the Washington Post's William Raspberry in 2003, two years before his retirement and nine years before his death.

The program was based in Okolona, Mississippi, Raspberry's home town. Years later, the Post's Courtland Milloy wrote that the program "teaches mostly low-income parents of preschoolers how to prepare their children for success in school—and life."

For the record, our society identifies Milloy as black. Upon Raspberry's death in 2012, the DeSoto (Mississippi) Times-Tribune described the Baby Steps concept thusly:
SALTER (7/18/12): In 2005, after learning of the early childhood education/intervention effort he was personally funding in Okolona, I asked him to meet me there and to tell me about his vision for changing the game for disadvantaged children in a town with a poor track record in public education.


Raspberry’s solution was the program he funded and founded called Baby Steps in Okolona. The Baby Steps Program has been a partnership between columnist William Raspberry, the Okolona Area Chamber of Commerce, the University of Mississippi and the Barksdale Reading Institute. Other key community partners include a number of Okolona and Tupelo churches and local volunteers.

“The (Baby Steps’) basic idea is that all parents, no matter how unsuccessful they might have been in school, want their children to succeed academically—even if many of them don’t know how to make that happen,” Raspberry wrote in his nationally syndicated Nov. 17, 2003, column in The Washington Post.

“We propose to teach them. The text for the effort is Dorothy Rich’s “MegaSkills”—a set of 11 attitudes and competencies that she believes lead to success in school and in life . . . the idea is to train the parents themselves, as they children’s most effective teachers, to pass these MegaSkills along to their children.”
What was Raspberry talking about? To cite one example, many parents from low-literacy backgrounds may not realize the advantages a child can receive from being read to—even from being spoken to!—on a daily basis.

Middle-class kids get the advantage of being read to from their earliest years. Lower-income kids often don't get that advantage.

Programs like Baby Steps try to help low-income parents develop the understandings which may help their kids succeed in school. That's what Biden was talking about when he spoke about social workers helping parents—even when he spoke about the (unheard) millions of words.

Biden's sentences didn't parse well. Beyond that, he seemed to fumble the basic idea behind the "30 Million Word Gap," which generally refers to words which are spoken between a parent or caregiver and a child, not to words emerging from a TV set.

That said, it was obvious what Biden was talking about in his jumbled answer. Unless you work for the New York Times, where the constantly angry Charles M. Blow angrily offered this:
BLOW (9/16/19): [H]e gave a rambling, nonsensical answer that included a reference to a record player. But, the response ended in yet another racial offense in which he seemed to suggest that black people lack the natural capacity to be good parents:

We bring social workers into homes and parents to help them deal with how to raise their children. It’s not that they don’t want to help. They don’t—they don’t know quite what to do. Play the radio, make sure the television—excuse me, make sure you have the record player on at night, the—the—make sure that kids hear words. A kid coming from a very poor school—a very poor background will hear four million words fewer spoken by the time they get there.

His language reveals a particular mind-set, one of a liberal of a particular vintage. On the issue of race, it is paternalistic and it pities, it sees deficiency in much the same way that the conservative does, but it responds as savior rather than with savagery. Better the former than the latter, surely, but the sensibility underlying the two positions is shockingly similar. It underscores that liberalism does not perfectly align with racial egalitarianism, regardless of rhetoric to the contrary.
It's hard to get dumber than that. At the Times, though, such maximal dumbness is largely de rigeur, as the French would have it.

Listening to Biden that night, we heard an obvious reference to the 30 Million Word Gap and to such programs as Baby Steps. Apparently, the perpetually furious Blow didn't know what Biden was talking about, although he certainly should have.

Presumably due to his ignorance, Blow thought he'd heard something "nonsensical." Just Like Everyone Else in The Guild, he tossed off a scripted jibe about Biden's use of the term "record player." Then he got very/real mad.

Inevitably, the perpetually furious Timesman thought he'd heard a racial offense. In that pitiful passage by the perpetually furious Timesman, a candidate who may be displaying some cognitive lapses ran head-first into what we might call "1619 Cognition."

Blow, who is perpetually furious, didn't seem to know what Biden was talking about. There should be no giant surprise in that—the New York Times is at its dumbest in the manifest indifference it displays towards the interests and needs of low-income kids, like the children Raspberry tried to serve in founding Baby Steps.

Okolona's public schools are almost totally black. Raspberry, a native son, was trying to help his hometown's young black parents learn how to help their kids attain academic success.

That's what Biden was talking about when he spoke about social workers. But as if by rule of law, the perpetually furious New York Times columnist decided to take racial offense.

(Just for the record, Blow's son went to Yale.)

In this minuet, your see the problem which lurks within The 1619 Project, the self-ballyhooed major undertaking which was announced last month by our dumbest, most upper-class newspaper.

One week ago, Andrew Sullivan announced his reservations about the project, which he regards as a form of journalistic "activism." (He also offered words of praise for some of its early work.)

We think Sullivan's analysis is well worth considering.
We'd planned to offer our own thoughts about the structure of the project, and about one aspect of its inaugural essay.

Instead, let's leave things here, with this tale of two faltering states of cognition.

Biden stumbled and fumbled about, in ways we regard as a point of concern. With his brilliantly one-track mind, Blow took racial offense.

This afternoon, we'll show you a letter in today's Times in which a highly suggestible Santa Cruz reader thanks Blow for helping her spot Biden's troubling "racism." Anthropologists came to us with a troubling message:

You simply can't be this dumb and this scripted without ending up with a Trump! Such reactions are "cognitively suspect," these top major experts said.

Could Candidate Warren beat Donald J. Trump?


Kilgore, Chait puzzle it out:
Could Elizabeth Warren beat Donald J. Trump next November?

Sadly, we have no idea. But in this post for New York magazine, Ed Kilgore makes an excellent, semi-ironic point as he tries to puzzle it out.

Given the fact that Warren such a thoroughly regular everyday person from Oklahoma, she should be able to show voters that she understands their fear of a major change in the American health care system. Or so Kilgore says:

"A populist like her should show some empathy for those who fear big government and politicians as much as they fear insurance and drug companies."

We think Kilgore makes an excellent point, even if it sounds semi-ironic, though possibly only to us. We had a somewhat different reaction to a somewhat similar rumination by Jonathan Chait.

Chait does a good job discussing possible vulnerabilities in Warren's issue palette. But we think he misfires, instructively so, concerning the elephant in the room—the presumably inevitable return of Trump's "Pocahontas" jibes.

If Warren is the nominee, will Trump return to Pocahontas? If he does, will the approach take a toll?

We have no way of knowing. That said, we think Chait misconstrues the situation in two ways which have become standard within our liberal tribe. Here are the relevant passages:
CHAIT (9/18/19): Despite an exhaustive Boston Globe report that her self-identification as Native American had never benefited her career, early media coverage fixated on the issue, and she drew scorn from left and right alike. To Democratic voters, she looked like another victim of Donald Trump’s bullying.


Trump has also stopped, for the moment, injecting his “Pocahontas” slur into the political news cycle, but that will return if she clinches the nomination.
Would Warren be hurt next year if Trump starts it up again? We don't know, but we think we do know these things:

No benefit to her career: Did Warren ever gain career advantage from her self-identification as Native American? We have no idea, and the Boston Globe's assessment, right or wrong, completely misses the point.

They key point is this—it's very hard to avoid the impression that Warren was seeking career advantage by making this very strange claim. It's the alleged motive that's central here, not the question of an actual benefit.

With our characteristic cluelessness, we liberals have been hiding behind that Globe assessment for a long time. It totally misses the point.

All the president's slurs: Question—when did the term "Pocahontas" become a racial "slur?"

We liberals keep dismissing Trump's taunt as "racist," as a "slur." But what makes "Pocahontas" a "slur?" What makes the mocking term "racist?"

Clearly, Trump's nickname is a term or derision in this context—but the derision is aimed at Warren for allegedly making a fraudulent claim.

She isn't being insulted or ridiculed for actually being Native American. She's being ridiculed for allegedly making a (decades-long) false claim to that effect.

News flash: If Trump returns to that attack, it won't sound like a "racist" "slur" to all kinds of in-between voters. They'll understand what's being alleged. Our complaint will sound like what it is—a dodge, which misses the point.

Why did Warren make that weirdly implausible claim for all those years? We have no way of knowing, but on its face, it's hard to imagine how she ever thought that she was actually AMERICAN INDIAN, as she once listed herself on an official form.

Whatever the truth may be, the impression that she was seeking advantage is very hard to avoid. Question:

Do we liberals plan to win next year, or do we just mainly enjoy calling Trump a racist? If we actually hope to win, we ought to consider the way this derisive attack might actually come across out there in the real world.

We have no idea if this type of attack would be successful next year. We do know how we liberals sound to many unaligned voters:

It sounds like all our sentences have a noun and a verb and a word ending in "—ism." It's the way we currently like to play. We'll guess that this approach could be a loser in this odd circumstance.

A final point: Liberals should start to plan for this attack today. Just consider the history.

Back in Campaign 1988, the Willie Horton attack was always going to come. When it came, we were caught by surprise.

So too, amazingly enough, with Candidate Kerry and the Swift boat attacks in Campaign 2004. The attack was always going to come. When it came, it did great damage.

Pocahontas will likely be back. Are we going to plan ahead, in realistic ways, or will we just gambol and play?

THE LIMITED COGNITION FILES: Dating despair at the Sunday Review!


The New York Times' sexual politics:
It's the rare morning when we don't do it—when we don't wonder about the degree of cognition put on display within the upper-end press corps.

We had several such moments this morning, just scanning the New York Times Some questions:

Should "E for Effort" in a banner headline really be taken as a compliment? Should 40 percent of a population be described as "most?"

In fairness, the Times does tell us today that Donald J. Trump's Scottish resort is 25 miles away from that much-maligned Scottish airport. On September 6, Rachel and Brian each rattled off a different figure—they each said the distance was 50 miles, a figure they took, live and direct, from a report which Politico had apparently bungled.

This morning, we checked the 2018 study from which an opinion column in today's Times had taken that figure of 40 percent. Alas!

That study came from NPR and Harvard, but the cogitations within that study were enough to break human hearts. We'll cite just one example:
HARVARD/NPR (October 2018): Most rural Americans say that minority groups do not face discrimination in their local community, with the exception of three key groups: gays and lesbians, transgender people, and recent immigrants to the United States. Three in ten rural adults (30%) say that generally speaking, they think transgender people are discriminated against in their local community, while 29% of rural adults say they generally think recent immigrants to the U.S. are discriminated against. More than one-quarter (27%) of rural adults say that generally speaking, they think gays and lesbians are discriminated against in their local community.
In that passage, journalistic and academic elites say that 27% is "most!" At such moments, we tend to think of Kevin Drum's reporting about the massive exposure to lead which was almost universal during the years when most current elites were children.

On line, that op-ed column in today's Times makes much more sense than it did in our print edition, where it seems to have suffered from ham-handed, slapdash editing. That said, hapless editing is standard at the Times, as we all learned this weekend in the case of the grotesquely bungled editing of the new Kavanaugh semi-accusation, in which an important disclaimer was removed during the editing process.

Make no mistake! We live in a world where 25 miles is actually 50 and 30% is most! We live in a world where some editor at the Times doesn't understand that "E for Effort" will sound like an insult to many people, not like an accolade.

More specifically, we enter that world when we peruse the puzzling work product of many people within our mainstream press. Our first such journey this morning occurred as we scanned the new contents at Slate. This entry appeared on that list:
"Go Home and Just Rest and Do Something Else”: Senior Citizens on Biden's Age
Skillfully, we clicked. The report to which we were transported was headlined exactly like this:
“It’s Time for the Baby Boomers to Get Off the Stage”
People over 60 respond to concerns about Joe Biden’s age.

We were surprised to see that older voters were telling Biden to quit. As everyone knows, older voters have been Biden's strongest age cohort in primary polling to date.

Personally, we think Biden is a terrible candidate within a field of terrible candidates. But if it's terrible you want, terrible is routinely present in the cogitations of those in our upper-end press.

In this case, the Slate report was a virtual parody of anything resembling serious journalistic practice. The analysts screamed and tore at their hair when they encountered this discourse on method:
CAUTERUCCI (9/18/19): With Biden, Trump, and Bernie Sanders all pushing back the outer limits of candidate age, and Elizabeth Warren not far behind them, I set out to ask people who have personally experienced the aging process what they thought about Biden, aging, and the presidency. I found some through Twitter and some hanging around tourist hotspots in D.C. All in all, I talked to more than a dozen Americans over 60, some of whom preferred to omit their last names while speaking frankly about politics.
We didn't make that up! Indefatigably, Slate's scribe had spoken to more than a dozen people as she tried to learn what older people think about Biden's acuity. That struck us as a rather small (and rather imprecise) N.

Cauterucci had spoken to a comically small number of people. Some were concerned about Biden's age, others were not—but so what? Some editor selected the most negative quotes and placed them in Slate's two headlines. No one cared about the sheer absurdity of Cauterucci's basic method, a method we've persistently found in the New York Times during past elections.

So it goes when our journalistic elites attempt to create information.

Within this puzzling cognitive realm, an important new project has been announced. We refer to The 1619 Project, in which the same newspaper which massively bungled last Sunday's Kavanaugh report is going to reinvent the whole of American history.

We'll discuss the advisability of that undertaking tomorrow. For today, we'll only say this:

People who think that 40 percent is most; people who are inclined to tweet that “having a penis thrust in your face at a drunken dorm party may seem like harmless fun;"

People who let their best-known columnist write about Obambi's finicky eating habits all through Campaign 2008; people who go out and hire the fatuous Wall Street Journal writer who wrote an endless analysis piece questioning whether Candidate Obama was too skinny to be president:

People whose rather shaky cognition tends to lead them in such directions should perhaps be less self-assured as they undertake to intervene in so sweeping a way concerning so crucial a topic. On balance, the Times is not an impressive group. People who think Maureen Dowd is a genius might even do the world the favor of leaving such projects alone.

We'll assess that history project tomorrow. For today, we only want to call your attention to another mission on which this very strange upper-class newspaper seems to have embarked.

To us, this other project seems to be present each Sunday morning now. We find it in the Sunday Review, generally with a pair of essays which open like this trio of essays, all of which appeared on Sunday July 21:
The Ridiculous Fantasy of a ‘No Drama’ Relationship
Online, that’s what men say they want from women. Do they know nothing about life?

By Laura Hilgers
Ms. Hilgers writes about addiction, love and other topics.

I was recently on the dating app Bumble when I came across the profile of an attractive middle-aged man, a few years younger than I am. He was born on the East Coast and had a big dog, which I liked. But then I read that he was “100 percent drama-free” and demanded that any dates be the same way. I thought, “Here’s somebody who probably won’t listen if I’m having a bad day” and swiped left to indicate my lack of interest...

FaceApp and the Savage Shock of Aging
In the mirror is someone we never thought we’d become.

By Nicci Gerrard
Ms. Gerrard is the author of the forthcoming book “The Last Ocean: A Journey Through Memory and Forgetting.”

Several years ago I was in a department store, frazzled and running late, looking for things I couldn’t find. As I was hastening along an aisle, a woman came toward me. She was quite a bit older than I was, and in a state of substantial disarray. As I drew closer I saw her shirt was wrongly buttoned. I put up a hand to prevent her bumping into me, and she put up a hand as well. I stopped. She stopped. We stared at each other with a kind of pity. And with a sudden rush of mortification, I understood that I was looking at myself in a mirror. Was I that tired and shambolic? Was I that old?...
"Opinion columns" of this type have become a staple at the Sunday Review. With apologies, they make us think of the throwback sexual politics the New York Times has persistently put on display during the era of Dowd.

Is there anything "wrong" with first-person, "human interest" submissions of this type, submissions which, in the Sunday Review, exclusively come from women? We'll agree that there's nothing evil about such submissions, but as American society slides toward the sea, we can't help wondering about a guild which continues with musings like this in its highest profile weekly ideas and analysis section:
In Praise of Online Dating
Yes, it can be demoralizing. It can also enlarge your world.

By Katharine Smyth
Ms. Smyth is a writer.

When I was in my early 30s, my husband of four years, partner of nine, left abruptly in the middle of the night. In the surreal weeks and months that followed, I grew increasingly apprehensive about the idea of online dating. I hadn’t been single in nearly a decade; I didn’t even have Facebook, let alone a stockpile of profile pictures or an irrepressible texting game...
That return to the problems of online dating appeared on August 11. One Sunday later, on August 18, these ruminations appeared:
Finding Myself in My Mother’s Calendars
We tend to think they are about keeping track of time. They are about much more.

By Carol J. Adams
Ms. Adams is an activist and author.

Among my mother’s legacies are four decades of yearly calendars. At the beginning of this year—a decade after her death—I resolved to read all 40. Could these appointment calendars, which she kept from 1965 through 2003, offer a window through which to glimpse my mother in the midst of living her life? Curious, I hoped that something as ordinary as her datebook might surprise me...

I’m 57. Am I Grown Up?
I’m childless, still trekking the path to self-realization, and always the first one on the dance floor.

By Erin Aubry Kaplan
Contributing Opinion Writer

Am I grown up? I have been asking myself this question for 40 years, since I was 17. At that very young age the question was mostly rhetorical—of course I was grown up: I had graduated from high school and was headed to a big university; I had a driver’s license and could navigate Los Angeles freeways; I wore makeup and high heels with regularity and reasonable sophistication; I had finally ditched the wash-and-set hairstyle preferred by my mother and let my hair curl at will. I was doing me by degrees, and every degree was thrilling, all I imagined grown up would be...
"I’m 57. Am I Grown Up?" Again and again, then again and again, this is the way this throwback newspaper has pictured the capability and agency of the people they think of as women.

To us, these musings seem to come straight from the old "women's pages" of newspapers from the past mid-century, or perhaps from the pages of the Redbook of some era. There's nothing "evil" about these musings, but no similar musings are published by men, and the musings seem to create a somewhat peculiar picture of the capabilities of women.

By August 25, we'd actually proceeded to "Dating While Dying/I found myself terminally ill and unexpectedly single at 40." Last Sunday, we were asked to muse about this:
How My Boyfriend Made Me Fall in Love With Gaming
It became a form of bonding for us, not a source of strain.

By Eve Peyser
Ms. Peyser writes about culture and politics.

When my boyfriend moved into my shoe-box one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn, he brought along three uninvited friends: his Xbox 360, his PlayStation 4 and the Nintendo Wii. Within a week, he insisted on buying a second television in order to game at his leisure, and avoid badgering from me. In fairness, I was the stereotypical video game-phobic girlfriend.

Growing up in an all-female household, I never owned a gaming console and never yearned for one. Whenever I did play a console game, always at the house of a male friend, I would quickly grow frustrated because I didn’t know how to use the controller...
Is the modern subscriber permitted to ask if these regular Sunday submissions might not constitute a new form of Standardized New York Times All-Around Dumbness? Just so you'll know, the Times appended this pathetic "human interest" request to the end of last Sunday's column:
Did a loved one help you appreciate video games? Do you think being a gamer is worthwhile or problematic? Let us know in the comments.
How far is it from that silly request to yesterday's "Here to Help" feature, in which a very young woman told us that, in recent months, she has queued up a routine with a few simple, inexpensive ways to nurture herself in as little as 15 minutes a day, so that she can feel steady even during life’s droughts and downpours?

Alas! Among the ways this young woman said she now nurtures herself, she didn't fail to list this:
Effortless toothbrushing

I sometimes yearn to skip this step in my nightly routine so I can just get to bed already. Since getting an electric toothbrush, though, I’ve found that persuading myself to brush is easier.
She has also started going to therapy, because although she finds these self-nurturing tools helpful, they can’t replace professional medical help.

Needless to say, that young woman deserves all the help she can get; we'd suggest a one-way ticket away from the Times. That said, who will save us from the throwback culture so persistent at that peculiar newspaper?

Dating from the ascension of Dowd and the full-blown investment in "Creeping Dowdism," the Times has persistently projected a very strange picture of the capabilities of women. Without attempting to denigrate the young women who wrote it, yesterday's Here to Help feature—and those now routine, two-per-week Sunday "human interest" submissions—seem to have taken us back to the time when people socially defined as women need the constant assistance of stronger people just to get through the day, then to jump into bed at night with teeth successfully brushed.

Can this still be the way anyone pictures the world of women? Apparently, yes it can, at the persistently fatuous Times.

Like other upper-class institutions, the New York Times is almost impossibly daft on a regular basis. It's stunning to think that a flyweight gang like this has decided that they should be the ones who "finally" craft The One Absolute Truth about American history.

WE'll start tomorrow with Biden's cognition, move on to that of the Times. But we often think of Kevin Drum when we peruse the upper-end press, and major expert anthropologists just won't stop telling us this:

You simply can't be this stupid this long without ending up with a Trump.

Tomorrow: What was Biden talking about? The Times meets American history