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I read The Sunday New York Times, so you don’t have to: Nov. 4

The coffee is standard-issue Colombian. First music of the day: The elegant psychedelia of Shearwater. Today’s Times is the post-Sandy, pre-election issue.

1, “I’m going to take a pass on predicting who will win the presidential election on Tuesday, because I can make a safer, more confident prediction about what will happen in its aftermath,” Frank Bruni writes in The Sunday review section. “The embittered troops of the party that loses will claim that their candidate didn’t get a fair shake and will hunker down to fight and foil the victor. It’s what we do, God help us. It’s who we’ve become.”

2, The electoral college system disenfranchises most Americans, according to Adam Liptak. With the electoral college votes of so many states lining up Red or Blue before the campaigns even started, “the candidates have campaigned in only 10 states since the political conventions,” he says. “There are towns in Ohio that have received more attention than the entire West Coast.”

3, For those who take a dim view of the Republican nominee for vice president: “Representative Paul D. Ryan may have largely disappeared from the national spotlight down the campaign homestretch, ceding attention to Mitt Romney,” the Times writes. Or, perhaps, the Times is threatening us: “But if the Republican ticket prevails, Mr. Ryan plans to come back roaring, establishing an activist vice presidency that he said would be like Dick Cheney’s under President George  W. Bush.”

4, As the East Coast pulls itself together post-Sandy, which will cost billions of dollars, it’s being acknowledged that billions more will be needed to storm-proof the country: Climate-change deniers may not have noticed, but we’ve been seeing a “Storm of the Century” every few years. Katrina wiped out New Orleans. Last year Irene and now Sandy on the East Coast. “It takes two catastrophic events of this kind within a generation to build political support to make investments of this sort,” Robert D. Yaro, president of an urban research group, tells the Times. “I’m hoping that Irene was the wake-up call and Sandy is the hammer coming down.”

5, The Sunday Styles section takes note of all of the high-profile Americans who have threatened moving to Canada, despite its socialized health care, if Romney wins. Susan Sarandon, Cher, George Lopez. “In Canada we’re happy to provide a safe haven for next-door neighbors in the middle of a marital dispute,” Canadian artist and writer Douglas Coupland tells the Times. “And if anyone trips while crossing the border, we’re happy to set their broken bones for free.”

6, A new cooking show, The Mind of a Chef, features one of the hot-shot new masters of Manhattan culinary arts, David Chang of the Momofuku restaurants. It starts next weekend on PBS because, as co-producer Anthony Bourdain says, The Food Network or Cooking Channel “can’t get a piece of the publishing or make bobblehead dolls. It’s unlikely there will be David Chang cooking equipment to be sold.” Rather than watching Guy Fiere stuff a baby-sized burger into his mouth, smart chefs like Rene Rezdepe of Copenhagen’s Nomo (“often rated as the best restaurant in the world,” the Times writes) will dish culinary secrets. In one episode, “Chang accompanies Rezdepe as he forages in tall grass by the seaside, then watches him assemble a salad from green strawberries, scallops, pea juice and ‘plants’ – the green shoots Mr. Rezdepe nosed out. ‘This took five hours to gather, five minutes to arrange, and it will take 30 seconds to consume,’ Mr. Rezdepe says.”

7, Daniel Day-Lewis plays the title character in the new film Lincoln, and apparently insisted on staying in character even when the cameras weren’t running. Jared Harris, best known for his role as Layne Pryce in Mad Men, plays Ulysses S. Grant, and also stayed in character, so as to not throw off Day-Lewis. “It was important for him to retain the attitude, if you like, and the dialect he had created. So we would sit there and joke, for example, about the Vicksburg campaign.” Harris also noted that “At the end of the day sometimes we’d ride back in the car, and he’d stay in character but talk about Mad Men, which of course he couldn’t know about, because television hadn’t been invented then.”

8, With Bill O’Reilly’s much-unadmired Killing Kennedy and Killing Lincoln residing at No. 1 and No. 3 on the Times non-fiction hardcover best seller list, it’s perhaps no surprise to read of the death – his age of 100  notwithstanding – of renowned Lincoln biographer Richard N. Current. Poor guy probably died of a broken heart out of frustration for his profession.  Even my mother bought Killing Lincoln (although, Mr. Reilly, she hasn’t read it yet). So it’s a relief to see Chyrstia Freeland’s Plutocrats showing up at No. 15. The book’s about the 1 Percent. As the Times reports Freeland told NPR, “In America we have equated personal business success with public virtue. And what I think has entered the political discourse now, and I think the president is one of the people pushing this, is he’s saying wait a minute, what is good for the guys at the very top is not necessarily good for the people in the middle…. I think it’s actually an existential threat. People don’t want to be just rich and successful, they want to be good. And I think it’s really threatening to feel like, wow you mean I’m not as full of goodness and virtue as I thought I was?”

The morning walk after Sandy

I picked up a dead tree branch in the front yard this morning. It wasn’t a big one. Then the dog and I went for the morning walk. We saw a couple of more dead branches on the ground, all pretty small. The mailman stopped by – he’s a morning person – and said he hadn’t seen much of interest while making his rounds.

Before I left the house, I watched the TV news, wondering how the rest of Rochester, N.Y,  had survived Sandy. It did quite well, actually. County Executive Maggie Brooks was interviewed. Perhaps I am in far too negative of a mood these campaign-drenched days. But Brooks, now a Republican candidate for Congress, seemed to be congratulating herself, with a hint that the Apocalypse had been averted due to the county’s preparedness.

During my 20-minute bus ride to downtown, I watched out the windows for overturned cars, ruined roofs, flooded side streets. There was none of that. We lost a few trees, and some power lines went down, but what we had here was a big rain storm. Even the Maggie! lawn signs were still in place. Any hand-wringing in Monroe County is a little too self-indulgent when contrasted to the thousand-fold tragedies that landed on the East Coast on Monday night.

RG&E estimated that 18,323 people in Monroe County, 739 in Ontario County and 2,714 in Wayne County were without power this morning. But we always have flooded streets and people without power whenever dark clouds pass through Western New York. If Monroe County officials want to take credit for their preparedness for Sandy, they also need to accept responsibility for failing to tend to a decaying infrastructure that seems increasingly vulnerable to even modest storms.

Monday afternoon, the county was doing what it is supposed to do when danger is near. When a snow storm approaches, it makes sure plow drivers are ready to clear the streets. When flood conditions loom, people in low-lying areas are evacuated. Government keeps law enforcement and firefighters at the ready. Sometimes, socialism does work.

Those people on the East Coast were prepared for Sandy. But sometimes, nature is too overwhelming. Let’s not get cocky. Let’s listen to the smart people. Meteorologists correctly predicted how dangerous this unprecedented storm would be, and correctly predicted where and when it would hit land. Remember that when the anti-science lunatics among us resume their rants against climate change. Remember that when they rail against teaching young people facts, like evolution, rather than teaching articles of faith, like Adam and Eve. If God exists, then he generally seems to reward those who are prepared to deal with the disasters that he sends our way. Even our conservative government officials – Brooks, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie – seemed to be acknowledging this Tuesday morning.

On the cable news shows this morning, the political pundits were engaged in discussing the sick measurement of who will benefit more from this storm, Obama or Romney. Mitt Romney, a man who wants to be president in the worst way, and I mean that literally, was talking about how Americans come together in times like this. Perhaps we can expand on that idea. Close the inequality gap in this country between rich and poor. Allow everyone equal access to education and good health. How about creating a place where Americans come together at all times?

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