Five Things: July 7, 2020
It’s thundering and storming outside, so let’s see if I can get these five things out before my power cuts out on me.
Donald Trump a father-damaged sociopath: Or so suggests niece Mary Trump in her new book about her uncle, and it’s difficult to argue the point. Advance copies of the book have made their way to various news organizations, which sounds slightly nefarious but is in fact just standard practice (review copies of books go out weeks and sometimes months in advance), and in this case has the laudable side effect of making any additional last-minute attempts to forestall the publication of the book irrelevant, since now all the juicy parts are already out there in the world. My own very quick take on the juicy parts that are out there is that this book is very likely not to tell us anything we didn’t already know about Donald Trump, it just adds additional context. And honestly at this point if you don’t know Donald Trump is a terrible person, it’s because you’ve decided you don’t want to know.
(Oooooh, the entire house’s electrical system just flickered.)
Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro tests positive for coronavirus: Which, well, good, since he’s pretty much the only major world leader further into denial about the virus than our own president. It is unkind and uncharitable to hope he dies from the disease, but I have to admit I wouldn’t feel entirely put out if the virus kicked his ass a little, or maybe a lot. Him coming out of this with minimal effect on his well-being would probably be even worse for Brazil than him not getting it at all, since he really does seem like the “see, it wasn’t so bad, fuck you for thinking otherwise” sort. Considering Brazil has the official second highest number of infections and death (after our own dear US of A), this wouldn’t have any upside for that country’s citizens.
Lin-Manuel Miranda with a healthy response to Hamilton criticisms: Now that the show’s out on Disney+, people are rolling up on it on how it portrays and deals with the issue of slavery, and other aspects of the Hamilton and Revolutionary-era story. Miranda’s response is basically “Sure, I had a lot to cover and two and a half hours to cover it all, choices were made, criticize away,” which is a) a very sensible way of dealing with criticism, b) easy to say when the art in question has garnered one Tonys and Pulitzers and literally millions of dollars. The latter point is not a criticism, by the way, since on a somewhat lower scale I feel the same way about criticism about my work — it might sting more if I hadn’t already been significantly materially rewarded for having made it. But as I was, sure, criticize away! Also, bluntly, criticism means the work is still alive in culture. That’s not chopped liver for an artist.
You’re made of starstuff, part the many: A new study suggests that most of the carbon in the universe (that’s the element the solid bits of you are mostly made of, by weight) come from white dwarfs, i.e., the cooling husks of old, dead stars. This is a less dramatic manner of stellar manufacturing than heavier elements, which get pumped out of supernovae and/or more exotic stellar entities, but, look, not everything has to happen dramatically. Also, “less dramatic” is a relative term here, considering what has to happen to a star for it to get to the white dwarf stage anyway. If you don’t know, hang around the earth for another four or five billion years; you’ll see.
New Far Side panels: Well, that only took a couple of decades. There are three new ones today from Gary Larson, two of which gave me a chuckle, and one of which I went “huh?” for. So basically, the same ratio as during the cartoon’s heyday. Can’t complain about that.
(Also, looks like I got through writing this whole entry without the power going ou