Nicholas Kristof reminds us that you can beat a narcissistic authoritarian by laughing at him:
That’s one gauge of the power of humor: Dictators fear mockery. The Committee to Protect Journalists says it has intervened this year alone to defend seven cartoonists around the world who were arrested, threatened with prosecution or threatened with death.
Leaders like Trump who pose as religious are particularly easy to skewer, as Iranians have shown in their use of humor to highlight the hypocrisy of their own mullahs. Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi is still nicknamed “Crocodile” because of a cartoon many years ago by Nik Kowsar, who now lives in exile in America because hard-liners arrested him and threatened to murder him.
Citizens who aren’t political are often wary of pro-democracy leaders who are perceived as radical, as irreligious or as overeducated elitists. But those ordinary citizens appreciate a joke, so humor becomes a way to win them over.
“The grins of the people are the nightmares of the dictators,” wrote Liu Xiaobo, the Chinese dissident who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 while in prison. He is best-known for his eloquent essays calling for democracy, but he argued that humor is also essential in undermining authoritarian rulers.
Liu generously added — and this may be relevant to a polarized country like the United States — that satirizing an authoritarian is good for the nation because it makes the eventual downfall and transition softer and less violent.
I sincerely hope that Joe Biden mocks the president mercilessly on Tuesday.
It's day 88 of my exile from the office, but I recently found out I may get to go in for a day soon. Will this happen before the 24th (day 100)? Who's got the over/under on that?
Meanwhile, outside my bubble:
And just in case you're not scared of everything on earth, here's a list of things in the cosmos that can help you feel even more scared.
The most powerful man in the world threw a hissy fit yesterday when Twitter finally—finally!—slapped a misinformation warning on one of his lies:
President Donald Trump on Wednesday threatened social media companies with new regulation or even shuttering a day after Twitter added fact checks to two of his tweets.
The president can’t unilaterally regulate or close the companies, which would require action by Congress or the Federal Communications Commission. But that didn't stop Trump from angrily issuing a strong warning.
Claiming tech giants “silence conservative voices,” Trump tweeted, “We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen.”
Trump and his campaign angrily lashed out Tuesday after Twitter added a warning phrase to two Trump tweets that called mail-in ballots “fraudulent” and predicted that “mail boxes will be robbed,” among other things. Under the tweets, there is now a link reading “Get the facts about mail-in ballots” that guides users to a Twitter “moments” page with fact checks and news stories about Trump’s unsubstantiated claims.
Trump replied on Twitter, accusing the platform of “interfering in the 2020 Presidential Election” and insisting that “as president, I will not allow this to happen.” His 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale, said Twitter’s “clear political bias” had led the campaign to pull “all our advertising from Twitter months ago.” Twitter has banned all political advertising since last November.
Since the only response that people of any intelligence should give this malarkey is laughter, I present to you the president's own words as lip-synced by comedian Sarah Cooper:
It's a little comforting to realize that we've only dealt with Covid-19 social distancing rules about 5% as long as we dealt with World War II (1,345 days from 7 December 1941 to 13 August 1945). It's still a grind.
In the news today:
Finally, perhaps jealous of Mayor Lori Lightfoot's memes, Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle put this out on Facebook recently:
And now, Adult Storytime brings you Brenda's Beaver Needs a Barber:
Apollo Chorus assistant director Cody Michael Bradley has put out a series of "Quarantunes" to keep us musical through the social distancing phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. Today's installment was the old Joe Dassin song "Les Champs-Élysées."
New lyrics immediately sprang to mind. Voilà:
Je m'baladais sur l'avenue, le coeur ouvert à l'inconnu
J'avais envie de dire bonjour à n'importe qui
Mais tous les gens, et tous les autres les interdits d'aller dehors
Donc on peut pas dire quelques mots pour deux semaines plus
Aux Champs-Élysées, aux Champs-Élysées !
Je souhaite toutes on a sant' parce que je n'suis pas introvert
J'ai peur j'allerais perdre la tête aux Champs-Élysées
My 25-year-old co-worker: "Yeah, I'm not much of a 'true believer.'"
Me: Well, I'm a believer. I couldn't leave her if I tried.
Me: Sorry, just a bit of Monkee business on a Friday afternoon. I just grabbed the Mike and twisted what you said with a lot of Tork.
Me: You look like you're going to slip me a Mickey and send me down to Davy Jones.
Him: WTF are you talking about?
Me: You have no idea who the Monkees are, do you.
Him: Primates with tails?
Me: (headdesk) (headdesk) (headdesk)
I finally got 7 minutes to watch this. I'm still crying. But in a good way, unlike the people in the room:
Every year at this time, it's important to talk about language skills. There is a tribe in the remotest part of the Amazon forest who, every December 25th, dance around a large pile of dirt, singing to it and telling it stories. This is because of a tragic mistranslation by a missionary centuries ago, who told them, "On this day the ton of sod was bored."
Remember, remember the 5th of November
Gunpowder and treason and plot.
Now Johnson and Tories will rend and will sunder
What Fawkes in his madness could not.