“Sentence first – verdict afterwards.”

And so the Red Queen announced the sentence, “Off with her head!” in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. I thought this was absurdity or satire, not news, when I read it.

Illustration by John Tenniel

The news is at least as absurd. On Tuesday night, our only president announced his victory in the election before the votes were counted. He tweeted “Votes cannot be cast after the Polls are closed” – not that anyone was trying to cast ballots after the polls had closed, but they were attempting to count ballots after the polls are closed – that’s sorta the way it works. It appears that he considers counting the votes to be STEALing the election. He announced that his leads were “magically” disappearing as “surprise ballot dumps were counted”; which appears to mean that he didn’t want the absentee ballots to be counted, or maybe there were just certain counties whose ballots he didn’t want counted.

I’ve never really understood election results watching as a spectator sport. It seems like watching a sporting event in which all you can see is the scoreboard. The excitement, such as it is, is to watch the numbers change, not to watch the athletes at work. Co-workers stayed up late, or woke up in the middle of the night due to anxiety, turning on the TV to see what was happening.

As this is being written, the score is either 248-214 or 253-214, depending on which scoreboard you’re looking at. (One of them just changed – during proofreading – to 264-214; the other is still at 248-214.) It appears to be the ninth inning, the 4th quarter, or the third period if you’re a hockey fan. The trouble with this sport is that after the game is over the score could still change. Points could be transferred from one to the other because the final score isn’t really final for over a month, even though we all want to wake up to a final score on Wednesday morning, or stay up to see it Tuesday night. We could go into overtime, only to have the Supreme Court suddenly declare Game Over. The way it looks right now, if each wins all of the states in which he is considered to be leading, it is a Biden victory 270-268. The trouble with that is that Biden’s leads are slim and Trump’s leads (particularly in PA, the biggest prize remaining) are larger. Not to mention that there will certainly be demands for a recount, especially if Mr. Trump loses – he is already demanding recounts and hasn’t lost yet.

I see three possible scenarios: 1) Trump wins and we have 4 more years of this madness; 2) Trump loses and has almost 12 weeks in which to metaphorically torch everything on his way out (or, for another metaphor, the Trump administration is like a rock band that has already been paid and trashes the hotel suite on the last night); or 3) the Supreme Court hands him the election in a replay of 2000. I’m not really sure which is worst.

My fantasy is that he loses and refuses to abdicate. Biden is sworn in and the Secret Service forcefully evicts the former president on January 21. Maybe the sheriff could toss his belongings to the curb. Maybe we could see a perp walk to a waiting squad car, hands cuffed behind his back. The charges? Criminal trespass, impersonating the President. (18 U.S. Code § 912)

Then the indictments begin. The RICO (Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act seems ideally suited for this. Then we have tax evasion (like Al Capone), fraud charges for the funds he diverted from his charitable organization, the Emoluments Clause, and various state charges. Who gets to extradite him first? Or can we pronounce the “sentence first – verdict later”?

As spectator sports go, I gotta admit I’m enjoying the NBC Extended Highlights of La Vuelta a España much more than this presidential race. They don’t go online until late afternoon but they’re worth waiting for.

Call and response

is not new in the musical world. It has been around in many types of music for centuries. (Without call and response, jazz and gospel would not be what they are.) Typically it involves a call from a soloist and a response from the chorus. What I’m thinking of today is a call from one artist and another answering in a later recording. The first example I remember hearing was Hank Thompson and Kitty Wells. (Both songs are in the same YouTube video below.)

The great Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell did their call and response in the same song. They were mostly love songs. Otis Redding and Carla Thomas turned that on its ear in a way that I have to include even if it doesn’t exactly fit:

Merle Haggard put out his call to arms with “Okie from Muskogee” (though his smirk in this video makes you wonder if he still believed it) and The Youngbloods answered with “Hippie from Olema #5”, with a nod to Haggard in the last run of the chorus:

Neil Young challenged southern racism with “Southern Man”. Lynyrd Skynyrd seemed to take it personally and answered with “Sweet Home Alabama”, calling out Young by name:

Lynyrd Skynyrd appears to have used the Confederate flag in its marketing as recently as 2018, though more recent iconography appears to emphasize the US flag.

A different sort of example… Paul Desmond wrote “Take Five” (a way of saying “take a break”, but in this case also a reference to being written in 5/4 time) for the Dave Brubeck Quartet . Quicksilver Messenger Service took the motif (and some acid) and changed the time signature to create “Acapulco Gold and Silver” (changed to “Gold and Silver” by the record company).

Who else released pairs of songs like these? Post links in the comments.

News

Epic Systems announced that they would require staff to return to work on site despite a county emergency order indicating that workers should work remotely if possible. Epic stated that they were “facilitating remote work by requiring staff to work in the office, but allowing them to work alone in their office”. County Executive Joe Parisi had this to say about Epic’s definition of “remote”:

The forced return has been postponed.

I’m going for a bike ride after my day of working remotely. By “remote” I mean in patient’s hospital rooms instead of in the office that I share with a bunch of people.

When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.” (Lewis Carroll – “Alice in Wonderland”)