It took me a while to get around to reading this, but holy cats this book was good! I am really looking forward to picking up the second and third books in the series.

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It’s been a while since I’ve run here. 29 years, I think?

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The big, awful truth about Trump that’s at stake in today’s impeachment hearings – The Washington Post:

“Every serious scholar who adheres to the view that a sitting president cannot be indicted combines that view with the belief that the impeachment process is the way to deal with a lawless president,” points out Neal Katyal. “Otherwise a president could engage in extreme wrongdoing, and the American people would have no remedy.”

But Trump and Republicans are arguing that impeachment is an illegitimate coup, and using that to justify efforts to close down Congress’ exercise of its legitimate impeachment authority.

In short, they are arguing that there is no remedy. Trump is free to use his office to rig the next election to avoid accountability at the hands of voters, and to close down efforts to constrain him from doing that — and hold him accountable for it.

This is what’s at stake right now.

What Do The Democrats Have to Prove? | Talking Points Memo:

The evidence is overwhelming. It’s not the Democrats who are on trial here, needing to prove themselves with some magisterial performance. Indeed, it’s not even really the President whose guilt is obvious and not even questioned with serious arguments. Who and what is on trial here is the Republican party, which has made it pretty clear that they are willing to countenance any level of law breaking and abuses of power so long as it is done by a Republican or at least as long as it is Donald Trump.

The Democrats’ job is to lay out the evidence in a public setting and get elected Republicans to sign on the dotted line that this is presidential behavior they accept and applaud. That won’t be difficult. They have one last chance to change their answer. Democrats real job is to clarify and publicize that that is their answer.

This isn’t pollyannish. It is simply recognizing the nature of the crisis in which the country finds itself and avoiding nonsensical, bad-faith exercises that can only end in frustration. The aim for Democrats is to set forth, calmly and clearly, what the Republican party accepts and what it is and consolidate the non-Republican, non-authoritarian nationalist vote which supports the rule of law and the constitution. Since the GOP is self-indicting, President Trump will almost certainly not be removed from office and these questions, properly set forth, will go before the people in one year.

A side benefit of having so many Apple pundits and aficionados in my timeline is that whenever I upgrade to a new version of MacOS or iOS, I am pleasantly surprised at what a non-event it is, as opposed to the defect-riddled abomination they have all been carrying on about for days.
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While there is a lot of great stuff available on Disney+, I am pretty disappointed that they do not have A Muppet Family Christmas.

I had been hoping it would be on the service, and I would no longer have to rely on my crummy old burned-to-CD .avi version from back in the BitTorrent days. It remains one of my favorite holiday specials. Even in my late forties, I still find myself getting a bit misty-eyed when the Sesame Street gang shows up, and especially at Jim Henson’s appearance at the end.

I wonder if the streaming rights to it are tied up because of the inclusion of the Fraggle Rock characters. My recollection is that Fraggle Rock was an HBO thing.

A glimpse into the (very near) future from the NYT

Watching today’s impeachment hearing on The New York Times’ website reminds of a weird and somewhat disconcerting thing I noticed during both the Robert Mueller and Michael Cohen testimony earlier this year.

On their live updates page, the Times shows the streaming video of the hearing/testimony on the left, which there is an auto-updating feed of their correspondents’ commentary on the right. However, stream of the hearing seems to run a few minutes behind whatever video the commenters are watching. As a result, they are talking about stuff that, from the perspective of someone watching the livestream, has not happened yet.

Of course, this future-vision is probably the least disconcerting aspect of these hearings, but still…

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Disney+ has made a particularly bad UI choice for their Roku channel.

I just set up the Disney+ channel on my Roku. I was expecting the usual login process for a Roku channel—log into my account in a mobile or desktop browser, get a relatively short numeric code, and then enter that into the Roku channel to get it registered to my account.

What Disney+ has decided to do instead is to force me to log in on the Roku with my username and password. Typing out an email address by navigating an on-screen keyboard via the arrow buttons on the remote is bad enough; doing the same for a 100-digit, randomly generated password is torture.

I hate these sorts of decisions. They encourage people to use short, non-complex password, and unnecessarily punish those of us who rely on password managers.

Nonetheless, I’m now off to watch The Mandalorian.

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Lumping Twitter and Facebook together as “social media platforms” is not helpful in thinking about their role in US politics.

I was listening to a recent episode of the The New Yorker’s “Politics & More” podcast this morning in which host Dorothy Wickenden talks with staff writer Evan Osnos about how Twitter and Facebook are dealing (or not, as the case may be) with paid political ads and political disinformation ahead of the 2020 elections.

I generally like Osnos’s stuff, so I don’t want to pick on the guy, but it was a good example of a tendency I have noticed in discussions of Facebook and Twitter, which is to talk about them both as “social media,” and then to consider the impact of social media writ large on our politics.

Missing from this analysis are the different uses to which politicians and their foot-soldiers (especially on the right) put Twitter and Facebook, and the different audiences that the two companies represent. When Trump, his allies, and their hordes of pundits—both official and amateur—take to Twitter, they are primarily speaking to the media. Journalists and TV news types tend to be over-represented on Twitter, and they use the service to try shape the narrative in the media.

Facebook, meanwhile, seems to be more a means of talking to the base, as well as for throwing up a ton of chaff and disinfo to muddy the public discourse around the election, the candidates, and their policies.

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Ultra-Lounge!

I just noticed that Apple Music has all of those Ultra-Lounge compilations that were popular in the mid-1990s.

I worked for Borders at the time, and we constantly had at least two or three of them in our listening stations at any given time. When a CD in a listening station reached the end of its scheduled rotations (they were all label promotions), we couldn’t sell it, as it had been opened. Instead, it either went into the big drawer of in-store play discs, or to the free cart for employees. As a result, a bunch of them ended up in my home CD collection.

I’m currently listening to this one, and it puts me right back in that era:

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