Author John Scalzi asks the question Reagan asked 40 years ago, and concludes he's worse off than he was in 2016:
In 1980, which is now — Jesus — 40 years ago, Ronald Reagan asked a question of the American people: “Are you better off today than you were four years ago?” Reagan asked this question because he was running for president against Jimmy Carter, and it was in his interest to make the election a referendum on the incumbent. And while it would be inaccurate to say the question won Reagan the White House, it is accurate to say the question was a particularly useful framing device for Reagan: It took the election campaign and set it on personal terms for every voter, in a way they could easily quantify and apply to their own lives.
Now it’s 2020, and Donald Trump is president and running for re-election, and aside from any over-arching political issues with, or my own personal opinion of, the man, I think it will be interesting and useful to apply Reagan’s question to my own personal life: am I, in fact, better off today than I was four years ago?
My income has been stable for the last four years, thanks mainly to contracts signed more than four years ago. Like the economy at large (until the coronavirus struck, at least), my generally robust economic condition was a continuation of Obama-era practices and strategies, rather than new conditions.
Four years ago, I could leave my house without wearing a mask (I mean, I guess I could leave the house without one, if I was an asshole who didn’t care about the health and safety of others as well as myself, but I’m not, so I wear a mask).
Four years ago I could go to a restaurant or see a movie or go to a party or get on a plane without worrying about possibly contracting a disease that could put me on a respirator, kill me or give me serious, chronic, long-term health issues.
Four years ago I didn’t worry whether my access to the services and function of the federal government, in an emergency or at all other times, would be contingent upon whether the president had decided someone in my state state was his friend or his foe, or had flattered him enough that he felt inclined to do the job that he was in fact required to do, by law and by the Constitution.
If one of the most successful writers in America is worse off today, how are you doing?
I put on a long-sleeved shirt to walk Parker this morning, and I'm about to change into a polo. It's a lovely early-autumn day here in Chicago. Elsewhere...
Finally, the city received over 600 submissions from 13 countries on how to have outdoor dining in a Chicago winter.
Smoke from the wildfires out west reached Chicago yesterday:
It’s not unusual for smoke from various regions to reach northern Illinois, especially from larger fires, according to Mark Ratzer, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Chicago-area office.
Smoke from fires hundreds of miles away can billow high into the atmosphere and get carried to other regions by jet streams and winds aloft, causing cloudier skies and slightly cooler temperatures. Mid- and upper-level winds were carrying smoke this week from the West and Northwest into the Chicago area, creating the same effect.
“It’s not that it’s affecting our air quality (at the) surface,” Ratzer said. “You’re not able to smell it or anything like that, but it has created kind of a smoke layer aloft which is keeping the sun rather dim.”
It shows up pretty clearly from space, as do hurricanes Sally (over Louisiana) and Paulette (near Bermuda):
The president, meanwhile, suggests that the states go on to federal land and rake up some of the undergrowth to prevent fires. Because of course, it couldn't be climate change.
Just a few of the things that crossed my desktop this morning:
And last night, Cubs pitcher Alec Mills threw the club's 16th no-hitter against the Milwaukee Brewers. In the history of Major League Baseball, there have only been 315 no-hitters. The last time the Cubs won a no-hitter was 51 years ago.
The sun came out today for the first time since last Sunday, it seems, so I plan to spend most of my day outside. But I have these to read as I sip my morning tea:
And finally, tomorrow at the office I'll listen to the Nerdette Podcast's breakdown of Pulp Fiction.
Here we go:
Finally, for only $875,000, you can own this contemporary, 2-story house...on top of an 8-story building.
I've had an unusually busy (and productive!) day, so naturally, the evening reading has piled up:
Finally, National Geographic has a slideshow of the world's best ghost towns.
Yesterday, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany blamed the Obama Administration for promising a Covid-19 vaccine and not delivering. Since Covid-19, named in part for its discovery in 2019, didn't exist when either Obama or Biden last held office, the proper response to such an assertion is to laugh in her face.
In the past, a White House spokesperson making up crap as she went along that could not possibly be true would have ended her career, for the simple reason she'd have no credibility and would therefore be worthless as a spokesperson.
In 8 weeks, we need to throw these people out of office, if for no other reason than how exhausting it is to listen to the babble of 4-year-old children on matters of deadly import.
Margaret Sullivan, media columnist for the Washington Post and former New York Times public editor, warns news agencies against adding to what will most likely be a chaotic election night:
This time, with the stakes of the election so high, news organizations need to get it right. They need to do two things, primarily, and do them extraordinarily well.
First, in every way possible, they must prepare the public for uncertainty, and start doing this now. Granted, the audience doesn’t really show up in force until election night itself, but news reports, pundit panels and special programming can help plow the ground for public understanding of the unpredictability — or even chaos — to come.
Second, on election night and in the days (weeks? months?) to follow, news organizations will need to do the near-impossible: reject their ingrained instincts to find a clear narrative — including the answer to the question “who won?” — and stay with the uncertainty, if that’s indeed what’s happening.
I believe Biden will win decisively, but we may not know that he's done so until Thanksgiving. Or, rather, we may not have all the evidence in place to make that determination until then. Because, let's face it, 2020 will still have 57 days to run after the election.
With 58 days until the election, the noise keeps increasing. Here's some of it:
Finally, The Smithsonian describes how Greg Priore managed to steal priceless documents from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, because he was in charge of security for those items.