“Where are the Turks?”

Bilal Göregen (YouTube, Instagram) is the Turkish street musician in my favorite video of 2020.

He sounds like a very positive, gracious, and sweet human being on this KnowYourMeme interview1 which features this delightful nugget:

Q: How has the response been from your previous fans and followers that were around before the meme? Also, have you received any interesting or wholesome messages from fans since your meme went viral that you can share with us?

A: When I read the comments section after my video went viral, I see that my Turkish followers still do not understand the meme, and they ask questions like, “Is the channel stolen? Why are there so many foreigners here? Where are the Turks?

Assorted Bilal things: Here’s a ten-hour version of his viral hit. And here’s him making a lot of Indian people very happy.

And lest I forget, this is the original Finnish folk song he’s covering:

  1. Which TIL has an editorials section… ↩︎

Highly Informed Outrage

A lovely Techbro aside from The Circus. Because when USB cards go missing, one needs formal training in Algorithms, Data Structures, the Theories of Computation and Complexity, Formal Logic (of course), and more, to express appropriate outrage at an election that’s fraudulent only in your head and only because your guy didn’t win. Emphasis mine.

Greg Stenstrom, another poll watcher, said that in Delaware County, 47 USB cards were missing.

As a computer scientist, an American and a patriot, it doesn’t matter who those votes were for. It was shocking to me that that could even happen,” he said.

“There is no cure for this, no remedy for this. I don’t believe as a citizen and an observer to this, anyone can certify this with a good conscience.”

– Harriet Alexander, “‘Your election is a sham’: Giuliani tells Pennsylvania ‘I know crooks really well’ as he appears in Gettysburg”, The Independent

The Continuing Saga of an A+ Elite Strike-Force Team Saving Our Imperiled Democracy

Will add updates as I read them with amusement and disbelief. Armando Ianucci must be weeping right now. All emphases are mine.

In a court filing signed by Rudy Giuliani and Marc Scaringi1 — the two remaining attorneys on the case after everyone else quit — the campaign asked for the judge to hand over Pennsylvania’s electors.

[…] “You’re asking this court to invalidate more than 6.8 million votes, thereby disenfranchising every single voter in the commonwealth,” Brann said at the hearing. “Can you tell me how this result can possibly be justified?”

– Jacob Shamsian, “Rudy Giuliani straight up asked a federal judge to ignore Pennsylvania voters and declare Trump won the state.”, Business Insider India

And:

Before Tuesday, Rudy Giuliani last registered an appearance in the U.S. federal judiciary in 1992, and in the view of many legal observers, it showed. The former mayor of New York flubbed basic concepts of law and, in at least one instance, displayed a poor command of the English language.

Giuliani confessed that he did not know the word “opacity,” applying the Bizarro World definition that it “probably means you can see.”

“It means you can’t,” U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann corrected2.

[…] When pressed by the judge on what standard of scrutiny should be applied to Pennsylvania government’s action, Giuliani replied: “The normal one.”

– Adam Klasfield, “When Applying ‘Normal’ Scrutiny, Rudy Giuliani’s Court Appearance Was a Total Flop”, Law & Crime

And because IANAL, some helpful context:

At one point, he even appeared ignorant of the concept of strict scrutiny, a basic and fundamental concept for a practicing lawyer to know when arguing a case on Fourteenth Amendment grounds. Imagine if you were lying in an operating room, about to go under general anesthesia, and heard your surgeon ask, “Hey, what are all these knives for?” Now you are in general orbit around whatever planet on which the former New York mayor happens to be residing.

– Matt Ford, “The Unpardonable Sins of Lindsey Graham”, The New Republic

Onward:

At one point he referred to president-elect Joe Biden as a “crook” and chastised the press for reporting that he has no evidence of fraud. Mr Giuliani has offered no evidence in court of fraud.

[…] He compared election observers being corralled away from the votes counts to a moment in the movie in which the eponymous character asks a witness in court how many fingers he is holding up, claiming that they could not see a thing.

[…] As what appeared to be hair dye dripped down both sides of his face

[…] Ellis described the assembled lawyers as “an elite strike-force team” working on behalf of the president.

– Oliver O’Connell, “Giuliani quotes ‘My Cousin Vinny’ as he sets out conspiracy theories at bizarre press conference”, The Independent

And finally:

President Donald Trump’s campaign says it’s dropping its Michigan election lawsuit because it succeeded in halting certification of election results in Detroit and surrounding Wayne County, despite the outcome already having been certified in favor of President-elect Joe Biden.

– Eric Larson and David Voreacos, “Trump Campaign Drops Michigan Election Suit, Claims Victory”, Bloomberg

An “Absolutely Brilliant” Elite Mercurial Powerhouse Leader of the Best Legal Team3 one could assemble given the seriousness of the charges against our democratic systems, folks. So unbelievably competent, Snopes had to publish an entry about his performance in court 💯


Update 20 Nov 2020.

But his attorneys have repeatedly made elementary errors in those high-profile cases: misspelling “poll watcher” as “pole watcher,” forgetting the name of the presiding judge during a hearing, inadvertently filing a Michigan lawsuit before an obscure court in Washington and having to refile complaints after erasing entire arguments they’re using to challenge results.

“The sloppiness just serves to underscore the lack of seriousness with which these claims are being brought,” said Rick Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine.

[…] “I know crimes. I can smell them,” Giuliani said as streaks of sweat and what appeared to be hair dye ran down the sides of his face. “You don’t have to smell this one. I can prove it to you 18 different ways.”

[…] “Part of the reason he doesn’t have good lawyers is he doesn’t have good claims to bring.”

– Colleen Long, Jill Colvin, and Alanna Durkin Richer, Trump’s lawsuits plagued by spelling errors: ‘I’ve never seen an election lawyer handle a case as poorly as Giuliani has’, The Independent

Huh.


Update 21 Nov 2020

The painful monologue screeched to a halt whenever Rudy hit the guardrails of judicial questioning. Asked the most important question in nearly any election lawsuit, what standard of review should apply, he was caught completely off guard. For non-lawyers, it’s hard to explain just how appalling this is. Standard of review is the sort of thing that every first-year law student learns. But rather than agreeing with the judge that the case demanded “strict scrutiny,” or arguing that it called for rational basis review, he simply advocated for “the normal one.” If legal Twitter had a voice in that moment, the scream would have been heard around the world.

[…] But what Rudy did next crossed a line: he lied. He didn’t spin, argue, or put his best take on the evidence, he flat-out lied to a judge in open court.

[…] Actually, Rudy’s first lie came before he ever set foot in the Pennsylvania courthouse. On Tuesday morning, Rudy petitioned to represent the Trump campaign, which is a routine step for lawyers appearing out of state. If you aren’t licensed to practice in a court, you have to request permission to argue. Sadly, Rudy couldn’t complete this two-page form without committing perjury. Rudy claimed to be licensed in the District of Columbia, where in fact he’s currently suspended for not paying his dues.

– Albert Fox Cahn, “It’s Time to Take Away Rudy’s Law License”, The Daily Beast

Update 25 Nov 2020

The only place maybe worse is Michigan, and particularly the city of Detroit. The city of Detroit probably had more voters than it had citizens. I’m exaggerating a bit, but all you have to do is look at statistical data and you can see that the fraud was rampant and out of control.

– Ian Schwartz, “Giuliani: We’re Pursuing a Supreme Court Challenge Due To ‘Misconduct Of The Election’”, RealClearPolitics

Update 26 Nov 2020

It keeps getting more divorced from reality.

I think we may actually have won Virginia, but that’s another battle,” Mr Giuliani said.

The comments were made during a meeting of Republican state lawmakers in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on Wednesday.

Mr Biden defeated Mr Trump in Virginia by 451,138 votes.

– Graig Graziosi, “Giuliani thinks Trump ‘may have won Virginia’ despite Biden winning state by nearly half a million votes”, The Independent

As for Pennsylvania, where the plaintiff literally phoned it in at Gettysburg:

Despite having told a federal judge that theirs was “not a fraud case”, the 76-year-old former mayor of New York introduced a series of Pennsylvania residents to complain about fraud, to cheers and whoops, and the occasional audible sharp intake of breath from the staunchly pro-Trump crowd.

[…] On Monday Pennsylvania certified the vote, meaning that the process is concluded. Mr Biden won the state by 80,555 votes.

[…] He claimed that 682,770 mail-in ballots entered in Allegheny County and Philadelphia were “not observed by any single Republican.”

They could have been from the same person,” he said. “There could have been multiples, there was no name on them”.

There’s more, of course.

“The mail-in ballots that were received were not inspected at all by any Republicans. They were hidden from Republicans,” he said.

He said he “couldn’t be entirely sure,” though.

And arithmetic, compounded with the passage of time can lead to undemocratic effects:

He expressed surprise, once again, that when he went to sleep Mr Trump was in the lead but that lead evaporated.

What are the odds that they all switched, overnight? They switched, by the next day.

The lead evaporated because more Democrats than Republicans voted by mail, and as their votes were slowly counted, the pendulum swung in Mr Biden’s favour.

– Harriet Alexander, “‘Your election is a sham’: Giuliani tells Pennsylvania ‘I know crooks really well’ as he appears in Gettysburg”, The Independent
  1. "The day before a major argument in Pennsylvania, three lawyers for Trump withdrew and were replaced in part by Marc Scaringi, an attorney and talk show host who wrote a blog post after the election referring to ‘President-elect Joe Biden.’ Scaringi himself had told listeners on his radio show days after the election that ‘there are really no bombshells’ about to drop ‘that will derail a Biden presidency,’ and noting that several of the lawsuits ‘don’t seem to have much evidence to substantiate their claims.’ - The Independent ↩︎

  2. “Big words, your honor,” Giuliani said. ↩︎

  3. Screenshot is from the Facebook page of a True Believer. This person and the commenter are not trying to be funny. They cannot be, even if they tried. “Believe me.” ↩︎

The Nest (2020) · IMDb · A-

Watched with LD. Reminded me of “Hereditary” (it’s a slow burn) but with The Evil being this chimera of financial insolvency, really bad trust issues, childhood trauma, and severe affluenza. Jude Law was perfect, but Carrie Coon was so fucking good as the beleagured yet passively complicit partner and mostly grieving person. The scene shot from the stable facing the manor was genius. Sean Durkin (writer and director) stuck the landing perfectly. Lovely stuff.

An 18,000-year Old Pupper

This is Dogor 🐾, an 18,000-year old puppy preserved in Siberian permafrost. His name means “friend.” He was discovered as a lump of frozen mud near Yakutsk and lies at a private museum.

Dogor left the wilderness as a lump of soil and ice, but scientists could make out the head and paws of what they believed at first to be a young wolf.

Fyodorov told The Washington Post that he carefully cleaned off dirt and debris to reveal near-intact fur — “extremely rare for animals of that time period.”

“It’s an amazing feeling, to see, touch and feel the history of earth,” he said.

– Hannah Knowles and Kayla Epstein, “Ice preserved a tiny puppy in near-perfect condition for 18,000 years. Scientists are fascinated.”, The Washington Post

Other researchers, affiliated with the Centre for Paleogenetics in Stockholm (Twitter), think he could be “part of the evolutionary bridge that turned a fierce wild animal into man’s best friend.”

Testing on a rib bone has revealed the animal’s age: about two months, said Stanton, a postdoctoral scholar who has been working for more than a year on a broader attempt to answer lingering questions about canine history.

The analysis also put Dogor’s short life at a particularly interesting period of time, right around when many wolf lineages were going extinct and dogs are thought to have emerged. Exactly how and when they evolved from wolves is unclear; one recent study estimates between 20,000 to 40,000 years ago.

Idiots Out Walking Around - II

Informed Choice Iowa is a group that “unites Iowans seeking to preserve their medical freedoms.” They are “pro-science” folk that count ‘“ex-vaxxers”, “selective vaxxers”, “non-vaxxers”, and “vaxxers”’ among their members. I’m guessing that this list doesn’t include a single practicing physician.

And here’s them celebrating their freedoms, by which they mean a blatant disregard for the science they claim to love and the Iowans they claim to serve. Need confirmation but I hear that eating at least two tubes of toothpaste is on the agenda for their next idiot congregation.

Here’s a local news story about this superspreader event.

Raj on Hell’s Kitchen

Tapped this YouTube suggestion on a lazy Sunday. This man pushed my capacities for sympathy and empathy to their breaking points in this 20-minute highlight reel. I don’t know what to type here other than quote the very first sentence of his Fandom wiki page:

Raj is widely regarded as one of the worst and most useless chefs in Hell’s Kitchen history.

I don’t watch the show and don’t have a full context. But the most charitable assessment I can offer after sitting through the highlight reel below is this: The man is wired very, very differently, which I suppose makes for engaging (cruel?) television 🤷‍♂️

Sleeping Octopus

You could almost just narrate the body changes and narrate the dream. So here she’s asleep. She sees a crab and her color starts to change a little bit then she turns all dark. Octopuses will do that when they leave the bottom. This is a camouflage like she’s just subdued a crab and now she’s going to sit there and eat it and she doesn’t want anyone to notice her. It’s a very unusual behavior to see the color come and go on her mantle like that. I mean, just to be able to see all the different color patterns just flashing one after another… you don’t usually see that when an animal’s sleeping which really is fascinating.

But yeah if she’s dreaming that’s the dream.

David Scheel

Resolution versus Magnification

Was looking for a portable iPhone microscope and came by this one on Amazon. Doubted the “50x-1000x magnification” claim and landed on this video by Oliver Kim (here’s his channel on YouTube) on how to make sense of that feature.

The key idea here is to think of a microscope as a device that resolves hitherto unseen things. It’s simply not just a magnifier of small things our eyes cannot resolve. This is the difference between the 2x optical zoom on your iPhone versus the 10x you can slide it up to.

So I don’t doubt that the product on Amazon can do 50x, which is fine for my needs. I just don’t believe that the upper bound (1000x) can provide anything useful.

Naughty Letter Frequencies in English

Here’s a community-maintained "List of Dirty, Naughty, Obscene, and Otherwise Bad Words" across various languages on Github. I was curious about a naïve frequency distribution of consonants across the English-language corpus (NSFW, obviously) and wrote a small script. Here are the results:

Letter Count
t 211
s 208
n 193
r 186
l 167
g 147
c 124
b 121
p 116
h 97
d 91
m 91
k 72
y 70
f 48
w 41
v 29
j 21
x 19
z 7
q 5

Not sure what I’m going to do with this information but here it is. 🤬

Mirzapur - Season 2 (2020) · IMDb · B-

A bit sloppy compared to the first season but still quite the entertainer (or maybe I just love the surfeit of bad language, of which there is plenty ♥️)

Excellent stuff from the main cast, especially Sheeba Chaddha and Rasika Dugal.

But Pankaj Tripathi could read the backs of shampoo bottles in 40-minute episodes and I’d still binge the ‘show’ and write encomiums about how good a performer he is.

Fred Rogers and his Children

Mentioned this to NB. Saving here for later.

On this event:

Yes, at seventy years old and 143 pounds, Mister Rogers still fights, and indeed, early this year, when television handed him its highest honor, he responded by telling television—gently, of course—to just shut up for once, and television listened. He had already won his third Daytime Emmy, and now he went onstage to accept Emmy’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and there, in front of all the soap-opera stars and talk-show sinceratrons, in front of all the jutting man-tanned jaws and jutting saltwater bosoms, he made his small bow and said into the microphone, “All of us have special ones who have loved us into being. Would you just take, along with me, ten seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are….Ten seconds of silence.” And then he lifted his wrist, and looked at the audience, and looked at his watch, and said softly, “I’ll watch the time,” and there was, at first, a small whoop from the crowd, a giddy, strangled hiccup of laughter, as people realized that he wasn’t kidding, that Mister Rogers was not some convenient eunuch but rather a man, an authority figure who actually expected them to do what he asked…and so they did. One second, two seconds, three seconds…and now the jaws clenched, and the bosoms heaved, and the mascara ran, and the tears fell upon the beglittered gathering like rain leaking down a crystal chandelier, and Mister Rogers finally looked up from his watch and said[^another], “May God be with you” to all his vanquished children.

– Tom Junod, “Can You Say… Hero?12

I often wonder what people like him would think of our times.

  1. This is the article the movie is based on. ↩︎

  2. Cached Yes, at seventy years old and 143 pounds, Mister Rogers still fights, and indeed, early this year, when television handed him its highest honor, he responded by telling television—gently, of course—to just shut up for once, and television listened. ↩︎

Dream Team (1989) · IMDb · B+

Michael Keaton and Christopher Lloyd were excellent. But Peter Boyle steals the show as “Jack McDermott. Christ fixation. Megalomania.

BILLY
Hey, Doc, isn’t it true that if even one of those tiles were to come loose, millions and millions of gallons of water would come pouring down on us and squash us like tiny little bugs? Is that a leak up there? You see those tiles? They’re leaking water right there!

DR. WEITZMAN
Bill. Cut it out. Oh, my God!

JACK
I will hold back the waters.

DR. WEITZMAN
Thanks, Jack.

.

BILLY
Dr. Verboven can be such a perfectionist.

JACK
Yeah, but that’s what makes him such a great diagnostician.

HENRY (DR. VERBOVEN)
Vital signs are good. Zip code checks out.

.

JACK
Let me hold the gun.

HENRY
No.

JACK
I let you sit in the front seat.

(HENRY HANDS GUN TO JACK)

PSYCHIATRIST
Jack, Jesus Christ would never point a gun at another human being.

JACK
Stay out of my psychosis and get your ass in that van.

and finally (even though there’s a lot more understated gold)

JACK
I drove the moneylenders from the temple. I can handle a ten-spot.

🙏

Rashomon (1950) · IMDb · A+

Saw this after about 18 years. Some assorted notes: Thought I heard Boléro. Every frame is a fucking painting. Just so wonderful: sunshine through the leaves and at the interrogation, characters walking into and out of the audience, the gate’s history and state of decay, and of course Tajomaru’s sword when he’s under the tree 🤣 No idea what his constant fly-swatting signified. Faces sometimes resembled those in Ukiyo-e paintings (like this one). Save for the hapless priest, every character is demon and human. Storytelling: tension between whether it is to be regarded a fable or a real account. ‘The lies we tell ourselves don’t matter as long as they’re in the service of mending and preserving our humanity.’ Professor David Thorburn breaks down the movie.

Staying Out of It

And then I explain to him how naïve we were, that the world did know and remained silent. And that is why I swore never to be silent whenever wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must - at that moment - become the center of the universe.

– Elie Wiesel, Nobel Acceptance Speech, December 10, 1986

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.

– Desmond Tutu (quoted in Unexpected News: Reading the Bible with Third World Eyes, 1984)

I agree with Dante, that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality. There comes a time when silence becomes betrayal1.

– Martin Luther King, Jr., Sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, April 30, 1967

  1. Found out this doesn’t really appear in Inferno. ↩︎

What Did Jack Do? (2017) · IMDb · B

Stars David Lynch, his spouse Emily Stofle, a monkey, and a chicken. The oddest and most hypnotic thing I’ve seen this year (and twice.) A mere 17 minutes in length and like if film-school students used GPT-3 to generate a script an hour before the assignment was due.

Toototabon 🐓

I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020) · IMDb · C

Saw with CK. Excited because Charlie Kaufman. Mostly self-indulgent tripe. The conversations in the car were interminably tedious1 and missing PBR hats and gauloises. The weirdness in the first third-to-a-half of the movie was excellent. Top-notch performances and camerawork.

  1. No, this is neither clever nor the point. ↩︎