Wednesday, June 12, 2024

The alleged “weaponization” of the legal system in the United States and the conviction of President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden on felony gun charges

For former United States President Donald Trump and his supporters, the trials he has faced, and especially his recent conviction on 34 felony charges in New York City, are politically motivated: "Can a President order his Department of Justice to indict an opponent just prior to an election?" (all-caps removed). But now President Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden has been convicted on three felony charges for federal gun violations. As one joke I saw put it, President Biden is apparently not very good at "weaponizing" the legal system. It's also a nice irony that Trump and his "Second Amendment" supporters got the Hunter Biden conviction they wanted – but on gun charges. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 12 June 2024) 

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

United States Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito and the “polarization” of United States politics

In the United States, "polarization" has allegedly paralyzed the country's politics, with Democrats moving left and Republicans moving  right. Supposedly, if "both sides" were willing to compromise, the country's political business could get done again. But when asked by undercover activist Lauren Windsor what could be done about polarization, United States Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito said that "it’s difficult [...], because there are differences on fundamental things that really can’t be compromised." And Alito will not compromise on "return[ing] our country to a place of godliness." Polarization comes not from "both sides" but from a far right who want to impose their "Christian nationalism" on the rest of the country. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 11 June 2024)


Note: See Jay Kuo’s article about Alito’s remarks. 

Monday, June 10, 2024

Art, “its own special reality”, and the unreliability of Charles Kinbote in Vladimir Nabokov’s “Pale Fire” (1962)

In Vladimir Nabokov's "Pale Fire" (1962), Charles Kinbote refers in one of his annotations to the late poet John Shade's poem "Pale Fire" to "the basic fact that reality is neither the subject nor the object of true art which creates its own special reality having nothing to do with the average 'reality' perceived by the communal eye." This sounds like the character might well be serving as a mouthpiece for the author's own aesthetic views, but Kinbote's unreliability as a commentator and as a narrator at least complicates and perhaps even completely undermines any quotation of this particular passage as a clear, straightforward presentation of Nabokov's own understanding of art. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 10 June 2024)

Sunday, June 09, 2024

A bike ride on a rainy summer evening

Yesterday I went out in the evening on my bike again, but this time it was raining. I took a different route to the river, so instead of going downhill most of the way I had to go up on a bridge over train tracks. And this time I was going across the river, where the wind picks up when it's raining and makes it feel like it's raining harder. Needless to say, there weren't many people out enjoying the weather, but in the park on the other side of the river a few young men were working out despite the rain. On my way back later, it was still raining. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 9 June 2024)

Friday, June 07, 2024

A bike ride on a summer evening

I coasted down the hill I’d have to ride back up again later. The summer evening sun shone off second-story windows and the mirrored sunglasses of several people walking up the hill. I got to the street with the tram and turned right to head to the park. A Friday crowd sitting in little clusters enjoyed the sun on the grass while little children scattered around them laughing past their bedtime. The river, its water high with all the recent rain, shimmered on the other side of the lawn. Time kept passing. Saying goodbye to the sun, the park, and the river, I went inside to hear a band or three. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 7 June 2024)

Thursday, June 06, 2024

38 Republicans in the United States Senate vote against the right to use contraception

On 7 June 1965, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Griswold v. Connecticut that married couples could use contraception without restrictions. On 22 March 1972, Eisenstadt v. Baird extended that to unmarried people, and on 9 June 1977, Carey v. Population Services International extended it to minors. Yesterday, on 5 June 2024, a 51-39 vote in the United States Senate "to protect an individual’s ability to access contraceptives and to engage in contraception" failed because of the 60-vote filibuster. U. S. citizens should consider this in the 2024 election: 38 Republican Senators voted against the right to contraception. (New York Senator Chuck Schumer voted against the bill for procedural reasons.) (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 6 June 2024)


Wednesday, June 05, 2024

A deep dive into The National

After binging on Wilco, I've turned to The National, a band I've known about for years now but never listened to. I've now gotten through the beginning of 2013's "Trouble With Me", the sixth of their ten studio albums. So far, I really like the sound of the band, which flows nicely out of my burst of listening to Wilco, and the baritone of lead singer Matt Berninger, which I already know from "coney island", the band's collaboration with Taylor Swift on her album "evermore" (2020). If none of the band's songs have stood out to me yet, that's in part because I have mostly had them on in the background. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 5 June 2024)