MONDAY, MAY 8, 2023
Happier days were (briefly) here again: For one brief shining moment this Sunday, happier days were briefly here again.
It was a crisp, clear, cool and sunny morning out on the deck once known as a porch. Recalling happier days, we briefly positioned ourselves out there and perused a favorite bit of text—a piece of text we hadn't enjoyed for at least several years.
For reasons we'll explain below, it's one of our favorite texts:
Relativity is a simple concept. It asserts that the fundamental laws of physics are the same whatever your state of motion.
For the special case of observers moving at a constant velocity, this concept is pretty easy to accept. Imagine a man in an armchair at home and a woman in an airplane gliding very smoothly above. Each can pour a cup of coffee, bounce a ball, shine a flashlight, or heat a muffin in a microwave and have the same laws of physics apply.
In fact, there is no way to determine which of them is “in motion” and which is “at rest.” The man in the armchair could consider himself at rest and the plane in motion. And the woman in the plane could consider herself at rest and the earth as gliding past. There is no experiment that can prove who is right.
Indeed, there is no absolute right. All that can be said is that each is moving relative to the other. And of course, both are moving very rapidly relative to other planets, stars, and galaxies.
We love the camouflaged fuzziness of that text. It's one of our favorite bits of writing.
That's the start of Chapter 6 of Walter Isaacson's highly regarded biography, Einstein: His Life and Universe. We love that passage because it makes so little apparent sense, even though it contains nothing but perfectly well-formed sentences.
"The fundamental laws of physics are the same whatever your state of motion?"
As presented, we're willing to call that strange! If they're really the fundamental laws, why wouldn't they be the same, whether we were sitting in a chair out on the deck or walking back into our crowded chambers? What would make them change?
With that small bit of puzzlement, Isaacson's effort begins. It seems like a basic point has been established in that opening paragraph, but has any such thing really happened?
In paragraph 2, we're suddenly talking about a pair of people, with no intermediate explanation provided. This switch in perspective continues from there—but why?
We have no idea.
(Also, why is that concept from paragraph 1 "pretty easy to accept" in that particular circumstance? On its face, it seems to us that it's completely easy to accept in any conceivable circumstance!)
Paragraph 4 begins with this: "There is no absolute right."
We think we know what Isaacson means by saying that in this particular context. We even think we probably know how to state the point more clearly.
We think we know what Isaacson means! But just that quickly, we're now looking at a string of words which don't really sound like an English language sentence—and the murky presentations, beautifully composed though jumping about, continue on from there.
Isaacson is a very smart, highly accomplished, very clear writer—until he starts trying to explain Einstein's most famous theories. At that point, a series of muddles quickly emerge, with the general state of muddlement disguised by the perfect sentence construction and the air of self-assurance.
As the chapter proceeds, Isaacson tries to explain special relativity; we'd say the effort goes poorly. So too last Friday afternoon, when Nicolle Wallace and a gang of her friends pretended to explain what Donald J. Trump had somewhat recently said.
We'll return to Wallace and her friends as the week proceeds. For now, we're going to show you where the numbers may be going as the floundering of our blue tribe tribunes, with their repetitive "songs sung blue," continues to power ahead.
The new poll comes from ABC News and the Washington Post. Longer story short:
In a head-to-head election matchup, President Biden trailed Donald J. Trump by six points in this poll—44% to 38%. Also, the president trailed DeSantis by five points—42-37.
This is only one survey, of course. This survey could be an outlier, and even if it isn't, the election is very far off.
Still, those numbers may offer a bit of a warning. Also, consider this scary passage from the Washington Post's report:
BALZ ET AL (5/8/23): Doubts about how well Biden would perform have risen since he ran in 2020. Today, 63 percent say he does not have the mental sharpness to serve effectively as president, up from 43 percent in 2020 and 54 percent a year ago. A similar 62 percent say Biden is not in good enough physical health to be effective.
Trump, the leading candidate for the GOP nomination, is no youngster. He would be 78 in January 2025 at the time of the next inauguration. But in contrast to Biden, most Americans (54 percent) say he is sufficiently sharp mentally to serve as president and 64 percent say he is physically fit enough to serve.
Let's state that point a bit more clearly. In this new survey, only 32 percent of respondents said that Biden has "the mental sharpness" to serve effectively as president.
By way of contrast, 54 percent of respondents said Trump does have the mental sharpness. That's what the survey said!
As numbers like these emerge, our tribe's cable pundits continue to sputter and pander and scream and yell, and they often embellish. Some are corporate multimillionaires. By rule of law, everyone else agrees to completely agree with whatever those tribunes have said.
In our view, Isaacson, like many others, can't really explain what Einstein did. Our cable stars, by and large, can't figure out much at all, except for Storyline's drifts.
They often remind us of children lost in a forest, naked and afraid. Trump Trump Trump Trump Jail, they say. They say it again and again and again, and they say amazingly little else.
Why would anyone vote for Trump? If you actually want to find out, you pretty much have to ask them, perhaps without calling them names.
That said, could it possibly be because of us? Because of the things we don't care about? Could it be that some people favor Trump because of what our own tribe seems to be like?
Happier days were here again. When we reviewed last Friday's Deadline: White House show, we'll admit that we sobered up fast!