May 23, 2022

Sunrise — 5:26, 5:29, 5:30

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The end of the world as we knew it.

"The stuff about the connection between baseball and American life, the 'Field of Dreams' thing, gives me a pain. I hated that movie."

"It's mostly fake. You look back into the meaning of old-time baseball, and really in the early days it was full of roughnecks and drunks. They beat up the umpires and played near saloons. In 'Fields of Dreams' [sic] there's a line at the end that says the game of baseball was good when America was good, and they're talking about the time of the biggest race riots in the country and Prohibition. What is that? That dreaminess, I really hated that." 

Said Roger Angell, quoted in this August 2000 Salon article, which I'm seeing today because it's partially quoted "Roger Angell, Who Wrote About Baseball With Passion, Dies at 101/In elegantly winding articles for The New Yorker loaded with inventive imagery, he wrote more like a fan than a sports journalist" (NYT). That obituary, by Dwight Garner, was published 3 days ago, but it's linked in a new "Conversation" between Gail Collins and Bret Stephens. Stephens calls Garner a "magnificent writer" writing about another magnificent writer.

Among the Angell quotes that Garner cherry-picked for the obituary: 

"The aggressive war unleashed by Putin against Ukraine, and in fact against the entire Western world, is not only a crime against the Ukrainian people, but also, perhaps, the most serious crime..."

"... against the people of Russia, with a bold letter Z crossing out all hopes and prospects for a prosperous free society in our country. Those who conceived this war want only one thing — to remain in power forever, live in pompous tasteless palaces, sail on yachts comparable in tonnage and cost to the entire Russian Navy, enjoying unlimited power and complete impunity. To achieve that they are willing to sacrifice as many lives as it takes. Thousands of Russians and Ukrainians have already died just for this. I regret to admit that over all these twenty years the level of lies and unprofessionalism in the work of the Foreign Ministry has been increasing all the time. However, in most recent years, this has become simply catastrophic. Instead of unbiased information, impartial analysis and sober forecasting, there are propaganda clichés in the spirit of Soviet newspapers of the 1930s. A system has been built that deceives itself.... It is all about warmongering, lies and hatred.... I studied to be a diplomat and have been a diplomat for twenty years... But I simply cannot any longer share in this bloody, witless and absolutely needless ignominy."

Writes Boris Bondarev, Russia’s Counsellor to the United Nations in Geneva, quoted in "Exclusive: Senior Russian Diplomat at U.N. Defects" (U.N. Watch).

"I am really curious about this pronoun business in business communication. Who decided that the new law of the land is that everybody gets to pick their pronouns..."

"... however misaligned they may be to their publicly visibly persona, and everybody else needs to learn this and memorize? Who has time for this?"

That's a comment in response to the second question in the business advice column in the NYT. It's the most-liked comment that deals with that letter, which is about a workplace where it's an option to list your pronoun preference alongside your email signature.

One person in the place added pronouns other than the traditional he/she, but no one picked up the cue and started using those pronouns when talking about this person. The letter-writer, a supervisor, wanted to know how to "fix this situation." Nobody was acting disrespectful. They were just all failing to proactively use "they/them" (or whatever the preference was).

I'll skip the columnist's answer. You can probably guess what a NYT columnist's answer would be. What I think is notable is that a NYT reader made such a flat-footedly sensible, out-of-it comment and that so many readers up-voted it.

"Understand the difference between 'ask' and 'guess' cultures."

I suggested, in the first of 9 TikTok links I posted last night. The link went to this short video by Mary Robinette Kowal. She's a Hugo, Nebula, Locus award-winning author of SF and fantasy, and her videos are presented as writing tips.

Several of my readers singled out that video as their favorite of the 9 I'd selected, and it may have been my favorite too. I put it first on the list, which doesn't mean I like it best, but does mean I think it may draw you in.

One commenter, tim maguire, said:

Guess culture is obnoxious. Just say what you want and don’t make the other person try to figure it out. “The cereal box is too high” could mean you want help getting the cereal, but more logically it means “we need to reorganize the kitchen.” 

"'What are you doing, George?' I asked him plainly and calmly. I got the same answer every time... You work for a madman, George would say in a loud, sinister voice...."

"Night after night, I would come home from a busy day at work ... While I was minding dishes, dogs, laundry, managing adolescent dramas and traumas, George would be just steps away from me, tucked away in his home office, plotting against my boss and me."

Writes Kellyanne Conway, in her new book "Here's the Deal," quoted in "Kellyanne Conway memoir: Husband's attacks 'sneaky, almost sinister'" (Axios). 

Is it weird that those 2 are still married?

"But while I identify as a female, through the show I’ve learned that we probably need to stop focusing on the two sexes and expand it to equality of all human beings."

"Absolutely I’m a feminist. I support women. I want us to all succeed. But we need to expand that concept to humans in general because there are a lot of communities that are not being given an equal chance. So yes, feminism, but let’s broaden that conversation past just women.... Gender is so fluid, and everyone needs to get on board with that evolution. I don’t have all the answers. I am trying to learn.... When I got my braces off, got on Accutane, slapped some hair dye on and I started playing soccer and growing muscle... all of a sudden people started treating me differently because I was a hot chick. I felt like, Wow, that’s all it took? I still feel like the little ugly awkward girl in middle school. For a while I had to fake confidence and convince myself I was confident when I wasn’t. Knowing I’ve gone through that in my life, I can teach other women to fake it till you make it...."

From "Alex Cooper Is Coming for Joe Rogan’s Spot" (NYT).

This long piece that went up 3 days ago only has 1 comment. Isn't that strange? The article is all about how contagiously popular she is. 

The one commenter is concerned with the same thing I quoted:

"So yes, feminism, but let’s broaden that conversation past just women." When Alex Cooper talks about being a woman and a feminist, she feels a need to qualify it and basically say that feminism shouldn't just be about women. It seems incongruous that Ms. Cooper speaks this way about feminism when women's rights are currently being threatened in a very frightening way by the supreme court and state legislatures.....

Right. This is the problem I've been discussing under my tag "women (the word!)" and in posts like "If you won't say 'women,' you are embracing the self-subordination of weak political speech."

"You didn’t want to get involved in the Ukraine conflict militarily for obvious reasons. Are you willing to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan if it comes to that?"

A reporter asked President Biden (in Japan this morning), the NYT reports

“Yes,” Mr. Biden answered flatly. 

“You are?” the reporter followed up.

“That’s the commitment we made,” he said. 

"The idea of elite capture has been around for decades and typically describes how the most advantaged people in a group take control of benefits that are meant for everybody..."

"Táíwò’s innovation is applying this idea to identity politics, the concept devised in 1977 by the Black radical feminists of the Combahee River Collective. He argues that their project has been hijacked. 'We believe that the most profound and potentially most radical politics come directly out of our own identity,' they wrote, because organizing around what was good for people at the bottom of social hierarchies would be good for all oppressed people. But rather than using personal identity as an entry point to building radical coalitions, as these innovators intended, elites are using it as a tool to advance their own narrow interests. He gives recent examples: when Washington, D.C., mayor Muriel Bowser had the words BLACK LIVES MATTER painted on a street days after her police force was brutalizing protesters in 2020, and the 'Humans of CIA' video series, in which the agency tried to attract new recruits by appealing, for instance, to their queer identities. Both were efforts to pacify dissent or to rebrand violent institutions using the symbols of identity politics.... Táíwò proposes a 'constructive politics' — a shift in focus to specific results. To him, this means redistributing resources and power downward to the people most negatively affected by the status quo. That may seem frustratingly general, and Táíwò is up front about not offering a how-to guide for equality....."

From "What’s Wrong With Identity Politics?/Philosopher Olúfemi O. Táíwò’s new book reclaims the concept from elite power brokers" by Zak Cheney-Rice (NY Magazine).

The headline got my attention, but the article itself left me with nothing useful, but Táíwò is "up front about not offering" anything useful... other than that he seems to be advising progressives to think about doing what is actually useful.

Kellyanne Conway "depicts Trump as a feminist who repeatedly supported and promoted her, allowing her to make history as the first woman..."

"... to manage a winning presidential campaign. 'Donald Trump had elevated and empowered me to the top of his campaign, helping me crack glass ceilings that had never even been dinged before,' she writes, adding that 'angry feminists' should “have at least once in their lives a "girl boss" as generous, respectful, engaging, and empowering as Donald Trump was to me and my other female colleagues.'"

From "In new book, Kellyanne Conway takes aim at many targets — except Trump Part personal chronicle and part political journey, the book is filled with the sorts of barbed one-liners and bon mots that she dispensed on cable news" by Ashley Parker (WaPo). 

Also:

In the waning days of his presidency, Conway also writes that, during a discussion with Trump on pardons and clemency, he turned to her and asked, “Do you want one?” 

“Do you know something I don’t?” Kellyanne asked Trump, she writes. “Why would I need a pardon?” 

“Because they go after everyone, honey. It doesn’t matter,” Trump replied, according the book.

They go after everyone....

The top-rated comment over there is:

"Why would anyone care what this lying harpy has to say? An admitted dispenser of 'alternative facts' her screechy voice made her an assault on both eyes and ears."

That gets some feminist pushback: 

"I detest her but your comment reeks of ugly misogyny. The term harpy and pointing out her voice for special loathing. It's possible to find someone detestable without venting sexism." 

And:

"Logged on to say the same thing. Harpy and screechy voice are sexist as hell. Men do this often. I’m no fan of hers, but it’s because of her placating TFG and being a phenomenal hypocrite. Stay away from physical attributes next time."

I had to google "TFG." The first hit is a Gail Collins column in the NYT, published February 17, 2021 — "Trump’s Dreaded Nickname"

Sitting in disgraced, double-impeached political purgatory, Trump has been trying to retrain the world to refer to him as “the 45th president” during his unwelcome retirement. (If you are lucky enough to get a mass email from him, the return address will be “45 office.”) How cool would it be if he had to sit in front of the TV listening to people talk about “the former guy?” 

D.J.T. = T.F.G.

Perhaps the "dreaded nickname" caught on in some quarters, but I don't remember hearing it before. Collins's dream of what would be cool was not to be. We still hear Trump, Trump, Trump, and it's only going to get louder as we move into the 2024 election season which the disgraced, double-impeached Trump already dominates.

May 22, 2022

A woodland walk.

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Talk about anything you want in the comments.

I've hand-picked 9 things from TikTok for you. Let me know what you like best.

1. Understand the difference between "ask" and "guess" cultures.

2. In a 1-bedroom apartment, the "bedroom" doesn't need to be the bedroom.

3. Just a guy falling. [UPDATE: Link removed because the video is no longer available.]

4. Photographing birds.

5. Your iPhone photo app has a built-in plant identification function.

6. A Southern etiquette lesson. 

7. Here's a way to make a cheeseburger — an insane way, but a way nonetheless.

8. Dolly Parton talks to Oprah Winfrey about losing weight and goes on for 4 full minutes.

9. A cover of "Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall."

Sunrise — 5:30.

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Write about anything you want in the comments.

"It was sometime during the 2012 season when Alcides Escobar of the Kansas City Royals grabbed a bottle from his locker and sprayed some of its contents..."

"... onto Salvador Pérez. Caught off guard, Pérez warned his fellow Venezuelan and close friend not to mess with him, punctuating his emotion with some colorful language in Spanish. Hours later, though, Pérez was far from bothered. He collected four hits that day and smelled great in the process. The mysterious substance in the bottle, from his point of view, had become a performance-enhancer: women’s perfume. 'From then on, I bought all the Victoria’s Secret there was,' Pérez recalled recently in Spanish.... 'If I don’t have perfume on, I feel strange,' said Seattle Mariners third baseman Eugenio Suárez, a Venezuelan.... Even though most players are often several dozen feet away from each other on the field, Suárez said he likes hearing that he smells good. Pérez said he can sometimes pick up the aroma of Luis Severino, a Dominican pitcher for the Yankees who uses a women’s body splash, despite Severino being 60 feet 6 inches away when facing him. 'I’m a catcher so I sweat a lot,' Pérez said, pointing to all his gear. 'So a little perfume helps. The umpires say, "Oh Salvy, you smell good." I say, "Thank you. Give me some strikes."'"

From "Look Good, Feel Good, Play Good. Smell Good? Baseball is full of traditions and superstitions. For numerous players, a heavy dose of cologne or women’s perfume is the unlikeliest of performance enhancers" by James Wagner (NYT).

I don't know what the "colorful language in Spanish" was. Something not fit to print. But what was the Victoria's Secret perfume? I'm guessing Bombshell. But maybe it's Amber Romance perfume. I see something from 2019 about the LSU baseball team and their use of Amber Romance to repel gnats. (And, yes, I know there's an MLB team called The Gnats.)

ADDED: "Amber Romance" — I'm not picturing hurled baseballs but hurled vodka bottles that shatter and cut off your fingertips.

"The next time you’re with a dining companion, consider what might be different if you were a party of one."

"While breaking bread together has its benefits, only dining with others means you’re missing out on one of the greatest joys of travel — eating alone at a restaurant. This is especially true while traveling, when it is easy to get immersed in a semi-predictable dialogue at the dinner table. There’s the rehashing of the day’s events, discussing details of tomorrow’s itinerary and lamenting how sore your feet are from walking on cobblestones. This isn’t a diss to your companion(s); it’s just the realities of traveling with someone else. Eating by yourself provides an opportunity to hone in on details as they happen — all in real time. You will be more likely to notice the intricate font on the menu or the server’s delicate placement of the bread basket on the table...."

Writes Chris Dong in "Dining solo is one of the great joys of traveling/No offense to your travel companions, but they’re holding you back from a culinary journey" (WaPo).

Most articles about dining alone are about dealing with the predicament of being alone and wanting or needing to eat in a restaurant. But this article has you contemplating an actual preference for being alone while you are with someone else.

It reminds me of that old LSD experiment where the doctor asks the subject — who seems to be having a sublime experience — "Is it all one," and she says "It would be all one if you weren't here." 

But isn't this always the problem with the company of others?