August 3, 2021

"Macaques at Japan reserve get first alpha female in 70-year history."

 The Guardian reports: 

Yakei’s path to the top began in April when she beat up her own mother to become the alpha female of the troop at the Takasakiyama natural zoological garden in Oita city. While that would have been the pinnacle for most female monkeys, Yakei decided to throw her 10kg weight around among the males. In late June, she challenged and roughed up Sanchu, the 31-year-old alpha male who had been leader of “troop B” at the reserve for five years....

"I've tried really hard not to tell people what to think... because, really, I trust people to consider the issue and form their own opinions... but some people take emotions as the starting point for how they feel about the situation..."

Transgender Olympian Laurel Hubbard gives an interview: 

August 2, 2021

Spring Green landscapes.

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(Spring Green is the name of a place in Wisconsin.)

"Kathy Griffin has revealed she attempted suicide last year as she was struggling with addiction to prescription drugs, and also announced that she has stage one lung cancer..."

"... despite never smoking cigarettes, and will have to have part of her left lung removed. Griffin, who was placed in psychiatric hold after her suicide attempt, says she developed her addiction to cope with the backlash she endured after posing with a bloody effigy of then-President Donald Trump in 2017." 

The Daily Mail reports.

I'm sorry to hear all that and wish her well.

"Hubbard, who made history as the first transgender athlete to compete at the Olympics, was eliminated after failing to record a single lift in three attempts in Monday’s over-87-kilogram super-heavyweights."

The NY Post reports.

Yesterday's post about Hubbard included this passage from a NYT article:

"I don’t know if there is a good solution where everybody is happy," said Janae Marie Kroc, a world champion bodybuilder who stopped competing after she transitioned because she did not want to invite criticism of transgender athletes. 'My biggest fear is Laurel does really well, has her best performance and others falter, and then it’s used against trans athletes."

The outcome Kroc feared did not happen. So Hubbard seems to have helped the transgender movement in 3 ways: 1. She got accepted into the Olympics as a woman, 2. She weathered the exposure and criticism, and 3. She did badly, which cuts against the argument that transgender women have too much of an advantage.

"In the opening months of the pandemic, the lab leak hypothesis was actively discredited by the media and scientific establishment, with anyone associated with it smeared as 'racist.'"

"The question we have to ask now is how, and why, did this happen? To a great extent, I believe the answer lies with the world’s most powerful news outlet, the New York Times. At the start of the pandemic, the Times set the news and policy agenda on the lab leak hypothesis, discrediting it and anyone who explored it. The Times did so while taking money from Chinese state-owned propaganda outlets, such as China Daily, and while pursuing long-term investments in China that may have made the paper susceptible to the CCP’s strong-arm propaganda tactics in the first months of the pandemic."

From "Did the New York Times stifle lab leak debate?/Were commercial relationships with China a factor?" by Ashley Rindsberg (UnHerd).

"In 1983, a literary historian named Paul Fussell wrote a book called Class: A Guide Through the American Status System. Most of the book is a caustic and extravagantly snobby tour..."

"... through the class markers prevalent at the time. After ridiculing every other class, Fussell describes what he called 'X people.' These were people just like Fussell: highly educated, curious, ironic, wittily countercultural. X people tend to underdress for social occasions, Fussell wrote. They know the best wine stores and delis. They have risen above the muck of mainstream culture to a higher, hipper sensibility. The chapter about X people was insufferably self-regarding, but Fussell was onto something. Every once in a while, in times of transformation, a revolutionary class comes along and disrupts old structures, introduces new values, opens up economic and cultural chasms. In the 19th century, it was the bourgeoisie, the capitalist merchant class. In the latter part of the 20th century, as the information economy revved up and the industrial middle class hollowed out, it was X people. Seventeen years later, I wrote a book about that same class, Bobos in Paradise. The bobos didn’t necessarily come from money, and they were proud of that; they’d secured their places in selective universities and in the job market through drive and intelligence exhibited from an early age, they believed. X types defined themselves as rebels against the staid elite. They were—as the classic Apple commercial had it—'the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers.'"

From David Brooks new article in The Atlantic, "How the Bobos Broke America/The creative class was supposed to foster progressive values and economic growth. Instead we got resentment, alienation, and endless political dysfunction."

Fussell's book is great. I've read it twice. I've read Brooks's "Bobos" too. "Bobo" — I had to look it up — refers to bourgeois bohemians.

It really shouldn't be a surprise that the pursuit of progressive values led to resentment and alienation! The dysfunction was built in, wasn't it? "Bourgeois bohemians" are designed for destruction. You have to let go of one or the other — bourgeois or bohemian. If you cling to both, you'll make yourself unhappy. Pick one!

"Fruit baskets that have survived intact from the fourth century BC are being studied by archaeologists who unearthed them from a sunken city off the coast of Egypt."

"The wicker containers were found filled with grapeseeds and doum nuts, the fruit of an African palm tree sacred to ancient Egyptians, in the submerged ruins of Thonis-Heracleion.They had remained untouched since the city disappeared beneath the waves in the second century BC, when it was struck by a series of disasters including a powerful earthquake. The discovery has been hailed as 'incredible' by Franck Goddio, a French marine archaeologist who found the ancient site two decades ago.... 'Nothing was disturbed. It was very striking to see baskets of fruits.'"

The London Times reports.

"The moment I got my first vaccine shot, I started thinking of the coronavirus the way I think of scurvy—something from a long-ago time that can no longer hurt me, something that mainly pirates get."

"'Yes,' the papers would say. 'But what if there’s a powerful surge this summer? This Christmas? A year from now? What if our next pandemic is worse than this one? What if it kills all the fish and cattle and poultry and affects our skin’s reaction to sunlight? What if it forces everyone to live underground and subsist on earthworms?'"

That's David Sedaris, in "Happy-Go-Lucky/'Who are you?' I want to ask the gentle gnome in front of me. 'And what have you done with Lou Sedaris?'”

That's in The New Yorker, so it's some kind of read on the location of the liberal American mind in this stage of the disease. I'm sure the story was written and nailed down before the most recent summer spike and new CDC words of guidance, but I'm going to take Sedaris's ridicule as a statement of where we — we, the New Yorker readers — are now.

There's much more to the story, and I won't spoil it, but it's an important update in the longstanding comedy that is the Sedaris family. I was delighted to see at the bottom of the last page: "His new book, 'A Carnival of Snackery: Diaries (2003-2020),' will be published in October, 2021." That is the second volume of his diaries, and I am — I believe — the world's biggest fan of the first volume. I have listened to the audiobook over 1,000 times.

"Someone had a dirty sense of humor at AP."

A reader named Jake emails, linking to "It’s in and it’s big: Senate unveils $1T infrastructure bill."

Let's not twist again, like we did last Summer Games.

From "Simone Biles to compete in balance beam final, USA Gymnastics says" (The Guardian): 

Biles said that while previous mental blocks have primarily affected her on vault and floor routines, this time it was affecting her on all events and particularly on her twisting skills.On the balance beam, Biles normally attempts fewer twists than all other events and so she may feel most comfortable in that event. Her sole twisting skill is her high-difficulty full twisting double back dismount, which she could downgrade to a less difficult dismount if the skill remains a problem for her.

Cultural reference:

3 views of the August 2d sunrise — 5:59, 6:02, 6:03.

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"I’m not someone who gets hired to play in a lot of cinema, but by being able to do a superhero movie, I can make a movie about something I really care about."

"I have a vision for the whole totality of 'Aquaman.' There are environmental issues that I get to put into it. So while you’re going, 'Oh yeah, it’s just this popcorn movie,' I’m like, 'Well, I get to open people’s eyes to things that are important to me.'"

Said Jason Momoa, quoted in "Jason Momoa Is Bummed About Hollywood’s Attitude Toward Action Movies" (NYT).

I have zero interest in superhero movies, but if the movie stars are inserting their political issues into them, I've got 2 more reasons not to be interested: 1. Political issues have been inserted, and 2. The stars are somehow empowered to put issues into the movies.

"I get to open people’s eyes to things that are important to me"... leave my eyes alone. If I want to figure out what to think about the environment, I'll seek out my own sources, and it surely won't be a superhero movie with issues inserted by the movie star.

But I acknowledge that popular films are powerful vehicles of propaganda, and they can push beliefs into pliable minds, especially the minds of the young. I would never say, "Oh yeah, it’s just this popcorn movie." It has phenomenal power, and we are all tremendously vulnerable. I say all, because we don't have to see these movies to be affected by the state of mind of our fellow citizens.

"Obama defies CDC guidance by inviting 500 people to his celebrity-studded 60th birthday party at his $12m mansion on Martha's Vineyard/Pearl Jam will perform and guests including Steven Spielberg will be served by 200 staff."

The Daily Mail reports. 

1. You can't "defy" "guidance." Guidance is guidance. You can follow it or make your own choice.

2. Thanks, Obama, for showing us how to handle guidance and to make our own choice.

3. And good for you for having so many wonderful friends. You are sublimely lovable, inspiring some of us, perhaps, to be a little more amicable, but if not and in any case, we can see why it is you and not we who have 500 ultra-glamorous friends and why it would be surly of us to begrudge you that celebration on the occasion of marking the 60 years that you have graced Planet Earth.

4. Pearl Jam. Why Pearl Jam? Is that your favorite group? Points for not thinking you had to demonstrate diversity and just picking the music you like best or the music that most powerfully draws the celebrities you want to your remote island home. 

5. I think it would be annoying to have Pearl Jam in my home. But then, I think it would be annoying to have 500 people in my home. Annoying and ludicrous. What am I saying? Obviously, the people are going to be somewhere out in the yard — on the grounds — perhaps with some sort of tent or...

6. Maybe they're building a free-standing ballroom for the occasion. I've seen grunge bands play at a place called a ballroom. There was moshing. I'm picturing Obama's 500 celebrity studs moshing. Moshing at Martha's.

7. To mask or to mosh? That is the question. Answer it for yourselves! That's the message from the most charismatic man in the world.

August 1, 2021

Sunrise at 5:51 and 6:08.

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"This son of a bitch is sitting up there acting like, 'Well, I don't know if it was before. I don't know if it was after. Oh, lordy, Jesus, I don't remember. I got to look at my notes.' You know, bitch, what time you called the president, and you know what you said. You're a grown-ass man! Stop acting like you're 10 years old and you got caught masturbating by your mama. Stop it!"

Said Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele addressing Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, quoted in "Former RNC chairman to Jim Jordan on Jan. 6: 'You know, b****, what time you called the president'" (Washington Examiner). 

Steele wasn't speaking to Jordan's face, just doing a performance of his own thoughts for the benefit of a Lincoln Project audience. The subject was Jordan's vagueness about his conversations with Trump about the January 6th incident. 

Here's how soberly the Lincoln Project presents Steele's comic routine: