Monday 21 September, 2020

Quote of the Day

”Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us, and now we are discovering that we work for Fox.”

  • David Frum, a former speechwriter for George W. Bush

Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news

The Rolling Stones, “Satisfaction”, Glastonbury 2013


An amazing moment: the first time the Stones played Glastonbury. I’ve always been a fan, but the lovely thing is that one of my grandsons has also been one since he was a very small boy. And on this Saturday evening, I was watching the gig at home, while somewhere in the crowd were three of my kids, and that particular grandson.

Mick Jagger had some interesting things to say about it at the time:

Going on was this amazing sight. I’ve done a lot of big crowds, but normally when you do these big crowds you can’t often see them. In this case, though, the crowd goes up the hill and was illuminated by flares. You could actually see 100,000 people, which was amazing. The crowd was amazingly supportive, vibrant, enthusiastic, exuberant – even though you’re a long way away from them, you can still feel the wave of feeling coming from them.

Glastonbury has had a long, involving history, as almost a protest, and then evolving into this anything-goes, very different, multi-generational event, with every kind of music represented and lots of other things besides. I used to joke that it’s the alternate Ascot, which is maybe a bit of a misnomer, but it’s an amazing English cultural event that embodies some kind of Englishness – some odd Englishness. Glastonbury is a great tradition, and the way it’s evolved, it sort of represents this rather eccentric English culture, in a really good way. Everyone reveres it because of that, and because of its longevity – it’s been passed down through generations. People have got this special affection for it.

Mists and mellow fruitfulness

An audio fragment from a morning cycle ride.


Packing the US Supreme Court

The late Justice Ginsberg by Art Lien.

The death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg has triggered a political and legal storm in the US. As expected, Trump has announced that he intends to nominate a right-wing candidate for her place to be confirmed as soon as possible. And true to form, Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader — who refused a confirmatory process for one of Barack Obama’s nominee in the last year of Obama’s term, on the grounds that democracy required that they wait until after the presidential election — has now decided that Trump’s nominee should be confirmed before the election. Neither of these stunts should surprise anyone, but that hasn’t stopped a lot of good folks from being outraged.

Meanwhile — as I mentioned yesterday — the enraged Democrats have reminded us that the number of judges on the Supreme Court is not specified by the Constitution and can therefore be increased (or reduced) by an Act of Congress. Accordingly, if the Republicans insist on pressing ahead with the sure-fire confirmation of Trump’s nominee and then Biden is elected, there’s nothing to stop a Democratic administration from packing the court by increasing the number of justices, thereby securing a non-Republican majority on it.

Needless to say, this has in turn, caused outrage in some circles.

Enter the historians, who point out that in the 1930s Franklin Roosevelt threatened to pack the court with his nominees if the existing Court continued to oppose his New Deal legislation. In the end, he didn’t have to carry out the threat, because the justices backed down.

Now comes Henry Farrell, a terrific Irish-American political scientist, with this post:

The obvious point here is that Roosevelt’s threat was the reason why the Court backed down. If Roosevelt had not made it clear that he was willing to upset the game, by packing the Court, the Court would have had no reason to back down on judgments and precedents that systematically limited the scope of democratic politics. One norm that had been pretty systematically trashed – judicial respect for what citizens and their democratically elected representatives actually wanted – was only preserved through Roosevelt’s credible threat to upset another norm.

There’s lots more… His piece is worth reading in full.

Sex in the office? Or a crude publicity stunt?

This story from the FT‘s Sifted site belongs in the you-couldn’t-make-it-up department.

The chairman of the dating app Thursday mistakenly sent a confidential email to a public-mailing list apologising for one of the company’s cofounders being caught having “sexual activity” in the office, according to the company.

The letter, posted below, expresses “great disappointment” and says that the company’s leaders “do not condone any sexual activity on office premises between employees.” Chairman Tim Hammond added that, in line with government guidelines on coronavirus, the office has been “thoroughly cleaned”.

Sifted was alerted to the note by this Tweet, and obtained a copy of the letter. The company has not responded to multiple requests for comment but issued a statement on its Instagram account saying: “We’d like to take this opportunity to apologise to anyone that received an unintentionally circulated email today. Thank you for alerting us to the mistake. Many have asked — was it rigged? No, but we’ll run with it.”

It’s unclear which of the three cofounders — Sam McCarthy, Matthew McNeill and George Rawlings — were being referred to in the letter.

There are, however, reasons to suspect that this could could just be a publicity stunt, given that Rawlings has form, as we racing enthusiasts say. Last year, for example, he performed a stunt last year on the streets of central London to draw attention to the app (which was then called Honeypot).

So what was he up to then?

The dating app entrepreneur posed at busy spots with a huge cardboard sign saying: “I @GeorgeRawlings cheated on my girlfriend and this is my punishment. Do NOT download Honeypot.” He later admitted it was a stunt.

Press coverage wasn’t exactly positive, but Rawlings estimates that the number of downloads that resulted from the stunt equated to approximately £9,500 in online marketing spend. All that at a cost of £2.65 — the price of some cardboard and a pen.

Advice: If you were thinking of using Thursday’s services, don’t.

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