A funny and interesting Twitter experiment

Kenneth Osgood is a historian who, he says, “writes sleep-inducing books and articles weighed down by pages of footnotes”. He rarely tweets and has just 139 followers who are mostly historians like him. He is kind of like me. Although I have tweeted more than him, every one of my tweets is simply a link to my blog posts. I have never tweeted anything funny or a hot take on an issue, which seems to be the dominant form of the medium. It is hardly surprising that I have even fewer followers than Osgood, just 130.

Osgood was angered by Musk’s decision to reinstate Donald Trump, a man who had incited violence against his own vice president and instigated a riot on the Capitol. He decided to quit Twitter but found that doing so is a pain. Social media sites do not make it easy to leave. So he decided to test whether it might be easier to get booted off the platform since Twitter owner Elon Musk seems to be trigger-happy with the ‘ban’ button.
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Is his name even George Santos?

That politicians exaggerate their biographies in order to appeal to voters is well known. Donald Trump raised lying to a pathological level but it appears that he has a challenger to his crown and that is the recently elected member of the US House of Representatives George Santos. He is merely 34 years old but in that short span has managed to pack in so many lies that would normally take a full three score and ten years. Since his election, there have been one exposed lie after another. (See here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.)
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A true MAGA head never gives up

Kari Lake is the former TV personality who ran for governor of Arizona on a full MAGA platform, embracing all of Donald Trump’s insanities including that his loss in the 2020 election was due to fraud and that he is the rightful president. Well, she lost her election too but in true MAGA style refused to concede and declared that her loss was also due to fraud and that she should be declared governor.

When the election was certified by Arizona election officials who declared that Democrat Katie Hobbs had won, Lake sued because that is what MAGA heads do. The judge was not impressed.

An Arizona judge on Saturday rejected Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake’s lawsuit attempting to overturn her defeat, concluding that there wasn’t clear or convincing evidence of misconduct, and affirming the victory of Democratic Gov.-elect Katie Hobbs.

Thompson previously dismissed eight other counts alleged in Lake’s lawsuit prior to trial, ruling that they did not constitute proper grounds for an election contest under Arizona law, even if true. But he permitted Lake an attempt to prove at trial the two remaining counts involving printers and the ballot chain of custody in Maricopa County.
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Norma Desmond reincarnates as Donald Trump

During the holiday season, even the most dense politician knows enough to send out a message to everyone containing the usual bromides about wishing for peace in the world and hoping that everyone enjoys time with their family and friends. The message from Joe and Jill Biden followed this template, saying simply, “Jill and I wish you a very Merry Christmas. We hope you and your loved ones are surrounded by love, happiness, and cheer this holiday season.”

But not Donald Trump. For him this is yet another time to whine and rant about how terrible things have become since he was kicked out of office and how mean everyone is to him. Here he is on one of his many Christmas messages .

“We had the most SECURE Border in our history, versus the ‘horror show’ that is happening now, with record setting numbers of people, many of them hardened Criminals (including Killers, Human Traffickers and Drug Dealers), POURING INTO OUR COUNTRY at a rate the likes of which we have never seen before. The USA is dying from within!!!”

“Just two years ago we were Energy Independent, had almost Zero Inflation, there was no war with Russia and Ukraine (would NEVER have happened!), ISIS was defeated, our Military was rebuilt and respected (before the disaster of Afghanistan), our Border was Strong, the Economy was GREAT, the China Virus was in retreat (Operation Warp Speed was considered a modern day ‘miracle’), and we weren’t the laughing stock of the World,”

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The myth of the rich genius

I have written many times before about the strange tendency of people to ascribe qualities of cleverness and depth, even genius, to very wealthy people. This makes the media pay undue attention to the utterances of such people, even on topics that they know nothing about. The examples are too numerous to list. The deference given to them. by the media and the constant presence of acolytes who feed their egos in this way, seem to result in them actually buying into the myth themselves.

Calder McHugh writes about this tendency but be warned that his essay contains spoilers for Glass Onion. The following passage is free from them.

In reality, rich people are no smarter than everyone else; their plans and even downfalls are simple. Peter Thiel is funding artists in New York City and politicians in Arizona because he thinks they’ll influence culture and politics toward his vision of a new right. Neither is going well for him. FTX founder and large political donor Sam Bankman-Fried at some point bought the boy-genius myth that he was selling to everyone else, lost a lot of money and landed himself in court. Musk made an offer for Twitter because he was addicted to the platform and thought it would be good to have an even bigger megaphone and now, his companies and his own brand seem to be in freefall. Donald Trump ran for president so that he could watch himself on cable television more, stumbled backwards into the job, tweeted through it and is now hawking NFTs while he tries to dodge prosecutions. Ye, better known as Kanye West, embraced shocking behavior until it lost him lucrative business deals and, reportedly, billionaire status.

At some point, all of these men accrued enough capital that they found themselves surrounded by people who fanned their egos in the hopes of a kickback. But as they settled into these carefully constructed worlds that were built to reinforce their supposed genius, any creative spark or understanding of business or American culture that helped them in their journey to the top is bound to dim.

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What is the appeal of long showers?

I was reading a story about a parent who was concerned that his 13 year old son was taking showers that lasted for an hour or so and that the cost involved in heating so much water was becoming considerable. Allowing for a bit of exaggeration, it still seems likely that the showers were pretty long. And I too know of people who take quite long showers.

I find the appeal of long showers baffling. For me, a shower is a way of becoming clean and that is achieved by getting completely wet, applying soap, and then rinsing off the soap. The whole process takes less than five minutes. I try to make my showers as quick as possible, not so much to not waste water (though that is a concern in the drought-ridden California) but mainly because standing in the shower is boring. I took very quick showers even when I was back in Ohio where there was plentiful water.

Even though I do not take baths in the tub (being immersed in the same water used to clean oneself is something that we did not do in Sri Lanka, preferring flowing water), I can understand that soaking in warm water can be soothing and restful and a stress reliever, though I am bemused when I see depictions in TV and films of people in the tub smoking, reading, eating, drinking, using their phones, working on their computers etc, and so on. Isn’t it easier to do all those things outside the tub, which has the added benefit of not risking them becoming wet?

But back to the original topic, I can understand showers taking longer if a person’s daily activities result in them getting covered in dirt and grime but for many people like me that reason does not hold. Clearly some people get pleasure from taking long showers for reasons that elude me.

Too early to write epitaphs for the GOP

Despite Republicans winning a majority in the House of Representatives, there has been plenty of unhappiness in the GOP camp because the majority they obtained was much smaller than they expected and they even lost a seat in the Senate. This has resulted in calls for a change in party leadership, with challenges to Kevin McCarthy’s attempt to become speaker and to Ronna McDaniels efforts to be re-elected as the head of the Republican National Committee. Add to that the release of the report of the January 6th committee and their four criminal referrals of Donald Trump. The party leadership is clearly concerned that another erratic Trump run for president would lead to more losses, and their inability to do anything about it for fear of alienating the base that is devoted to him have all led to an image of a party in disarray.
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