We've spent 54 weeks in the looking-glass world of Covid-19. And while we may have so much more brain space than we had during the time a certain malignant personality invaded it every day, life has not entirely stopped. Things continue to improve, though:
Finally, today is the 40th anniversary of the day President Reagan got shot. I'm struggling a bit with the "40 years" bit.
Now in our 46th hour above freezing, with the sun singing, the birds coming up, and the crocuses not doing anything noteworthy, it feels like spring. We even halted our march up the league table in most consecutive days of more than 27.5 cm of snow on the ground, tying the record set in 2001 at 25 days. (Only 25 cm remained at 6am, and I would guess a third of that will melt by noon.)
So, what else is going on in the world?
And now, back to work.
The House of Representatives have started debate on a resolution to ask Vice President Mike Pence to start the process of removing the STBXPOTUS under the 25th Amendment. As you might imagine, this was not the only news story today:
- The Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest-ranking officers in the US military, released a letter to the entire military reminding everyone that the military serves the Constitution, not the man who happens to hold the office of President.
- Bandy X. Lee, interviewed in the next issue of Scientific American, discusses the "shared psychosis" of the STBXPOTUS and his loyalists.
- Republican calls for "unity," as I mentioned Sunday and as Matt Ford reminds us more forcefully today, are total bullshit.
- Katherine Stewart, who has reported on the religious right for the past decade, hypothesizes about the roots of US Senator Josh Hawley's (R-MO) rage.
- Jennifer Rubin urges her party to move past "the post-truth society."
- What can the rise and fall of the Whig Party tell us about the future of the Republican Party?
- The Chicago City Council will vote later this week to prohibit any person convicted of treason, sedition, or subversive actions, from holding a sign permit. Why? Could it be the enormous sign showing the STBXPOTUS's name all down Wacker Drive?
- Oh, and by the way, over 375,000 Americans have died of Covid-19 so far, including 26,120 in the past week.
Finally, the always-funny Alexandra Petri imagines what people who have never read Orwell believe his books actually say.
All works published before 1 January 1926 have now entered the public domain:
1925 was the year of heralded novels by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Virginia Woolf, seminal works by Sinclair Lewis, Franz Kafka, Gertrude Stein, Agatha Christie, Theodore Dreiser, Edith Wharton, Aldous Huxley ... and a banner year for musicians, too. Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, the Gershwins, Duke Ellington and Fats Waller, among hundreds of others, made important recordings. And 1925 marked the release of canonical movies from silent film comedians Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd.
As of today, every single one of those works has entered the public domain. "That means that copyright has expired," explains Jennifer Jenkins, a law professor at Duke University who directs its Center for the Study of the Public Domain. "And all of the works are free for anyone to use, reuse, build upon for anyone — without paying a fee."
On January 1 every year, a new batch of published works is liberated from the constraints of copyright. (For a long time, copyright expired after 75 years, but in 1998, Congress extended the date of copyright expiration for works published between 1923 and 1977 to 95 years.) It's difficult to overstate the importance of having work in the public domain. For example, can you imagine the holidays without It's A Wonderful Life? That movie happened to be unprotected by copyright, so it was able to be shown — a lot — for free, contributing to its establishment as an American Christmas classic.
In an article about this year's Public Domain Day, Jenkins discusses everything from the changes in length of copyright to a fascinating story about the copyright of Hitler's Mein Kampf, which also enters the public domain this year. (A dizzyingly exhaustive list of works from 1925 now in the public domain can be found here.)
I will once again raise my objections to the Mickey Mouse Preservation Act of 1998. The Constitution allows for "limited" protections; 75 years is quite enough, thank you.
The Electoral College has voted, and with no surprises, as of 16:37 Chicago time Joe Biden has received the requisite 270 votes to be elected President of the United States. And yet, we had a few surprises today:
Finally, John le Carré died at 89 yesterday. Time to revisit Josephine Livingstone's review of "the glorious return of George Smiley," le Carré's 2017 novel A Legacy of Spies.
UK-based Metal Ball Studios created this gorgeous 3D rendering of fictional (and real) starships in order of size from the 30 cm Hocotate Ship to...well, a lot bigger than you can imagine:
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.
Atlas Obscura published a map of 1,500 places mentioned in 12 books about American cross-country travel:
The above map is the result of a painstaking and admittedly quixotic effort to catalog the country as it has been described in the American road-tripping literature. It includes every place-name reference in 12 books about cross-country travel, from Mark Twain’s Roughing It (1872) to Cheryl Strayed’s Wild (2012), and maps the authors’ routes on top of one another. You can track an individual writer’s descriptions of the landscape as they traveled across it, or you can zoom in to see how different authors have written about the same place at different times.
To be included, a book needed to have a narrative arc matching the chronological and geographical arc of the trip it chronicles. It needed to be non-fictional, or, as in the case of On the Road, at least told in the first-person. To anticipate a few objections: Lolita’s road-trip passages are scattered and defiant of cartographical order; The Grapes of Wrath’s are brief compared to the sections about poverty and persecution in California; the length of the trip in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is short in the geographical sense even if it is prodigiously vast in every other; and yes, The Dharma Bums is On the Road’s equal in every respect, and if you want to map the place-name references in all of Kerouac’s books, I salute you.
Now I've got to read all these books...or follow these trails...
Block Club Chicago has a kind article about my friend:
In opening Heirloom Books, Chelsea Carr Rectanus created a community, a place where people could come and hold weighty discussions or hear from prospective politicians.
But that community was abruptly upended last week. Rectanus, 32, died “peacefully but unexpectedly” Aug. 7 of a long-standing illness she battled, Earl Rectanus, Chelsea’s father, said on Heirloom’s Facebook page.
Now Rectanus’ friends and family are working to ensure what she created in Edgewater continues on, and serves as a testament to her impact on the neighborhood.
“It’s more than a book shop,” said Emily Carter Alexander, Rectanus’ friend. “It’s a place anyone can go. I was [at Heirloom] Monday, and it was hard not to see Chelsea bopping around and being her quirky, happy self.”
Chelsea's sister has set up a virtual memorial service next Sunday at 1pm Central.
Today is Harry Potter's and Neville Longbottom's 40th birthday. And they never learned how to spell.
Also, apparently, Harry's wife Ginny is, at 39, the sports editor for the Daily Prophet. TIL.