January 26, 2022

At the Gold Bird Café...

... you can talk all night.

That's titled "Bird Finial," and it's in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum. It's from the Zenú culture of the "5th-10th century." I ran across it today because I was searching for finials, after the icy, snowy weather formed what looked like finials on the railing posts of the deck. Something about the birds on the deck had me looking for bird finials, and I was delighted to find this gold ornament.

"Spotify sides with Joe Rogan after Neil Young ultimatum."

The Hill reports. 

Spotify is removing Neil Young’s music after the musician gave the streaming service an ultimatum, saying it could not provide a platform to both him and Joe Rogan due to the podcast host’s “fake information” on COVID-19 vaccines. “I want you to let Spotify know immediately TODAY that I want all my music off their platform. They can have [Joe] Rogan or Young. Not both,” Young wrote in a letter earlier this week to his record label and management team....

Well, of course, Spotify should side with Joe Rogan. The person who makes an ultimatum like that should lose. It's ridiculous. If that worked, there'd be an obnoxious celebrity throwing his weight around every day. 

So much for "rocking in the free world," Neil, you big jerk.

"Oh? I'd forgotten that he'd pledged to choose a black woman. Isn't that inconsistent with his 3 reasons for not giving us a list?"

"There can't be that many potential choices if he's got the type of person narrowed down like that. Who are the under-60 black female federal judges appointed by Democratic Presidents? Won't they all be influenced in their decisions — reason #1, [below] — even though their names are not on a list? Aren't they all just as vulnerable to 'unrelenting political attacks' as the individuals on Trump's list (reason #2)? And are you not violating reason #3 by making this pledge? You are trying to gain favor in a partisan election campaign, and when it's over, you'll be locked into that limitation and not able to make the sober, nonpolitical analysis you want us to think you will make. And isn't your pledge to appoint a black woman — just a black woman, not the person with the greatest skill and integrity — more political than Trump's list of real people, whose skill and integrity we can investigate?"

I blogged on September 20, 2020, after Biden gave 3 reasons why he would not, like Trump, give voters a list from which he'd choose his Supreme Court nominees.

The 3 reasons were:

Breyer will retire!

Big news! 

I'm reading the report in the NYT:

Justice Stephen G. Breyer, the senior member of the Supreme Court’s three-member liberal wing, will retire, two people familiar with the decision said, providing President Biden a chance to make good on his pledge to name a Black woman to the court.

Oh, so there's a "pledge" and he'll need to "make good" on it. 

ADDED: We've already got affirmative action on the Supreme Court's agenda this year as we move toward the elections, and if Biden fulfills this pledge, it will intensify the political theater. He already fulfilled a black-woman pledge in selecting his Vice President, and there's a fair amount of disappointment in her. (She's got worse poll numbers than he does.) But that doesn't mean he should violate his pledge. (I'm assuming it is, indeed, a pledge.) He should elevate an extraordinarily impressive black female judge, so that the political theater is highly supportive of this kind of selection process, and the resonance with the pending cases helps the pro-affirmative-action side win favor with the people. 

ALSO: At WaPo, Neal Katyal, the former Solicitor General and a former law clerk to Breyer, has an op-ed that was all ready to go: "Breyer’s act of listening will pave the way to a healthier democracy." I thought the "act of listening" was going to be the act of listening to people who were telling him he needed to retire to give Biden a chance to nominate somebody before Republicans took back the Senate, but no, it's about judging cases:

A deep part of his listening practice was to pay attention to experts in the field. He often said federal judges are not experts on national security, or the environment, or the economy, and that a deep part of wisdom was deference to expertise. Breyer’s path was to triple check his personal impulses, and particularly so if they conflicted with the views of true experts on the question before him.

That's pretty sober and lofty, but here's how Katyal brings it in for a landing:

Consider just how different that is from the political debates today, where extremist ideology has attacked things that should be noncontroversial, from wearing masks to taking vaccines, from addressing global warming to protecting voting rights.

America stands at a crossroads. On one path is more toxic extremism, the culmination of which we witnessed on Jan. 6. Despite that armed insurrection, the path remains just as seductive as ever to many.

Armed insurrection?

The other path is quieter and more difficult to practice. It is a path forged by Breyer: respect for others, reverence for the law, and most of all, a commitment to listening to and learning from one another.

You know, if you want to be quieter and reverent and committed to listening to and learning from one another, you wouldn't have written "armed insurrection." Or "toxic extremism." This gets my "civility bullshit" tag.

And why shouldn't we be able to debate wearing masks and the best way to protect voting rights and whether we're getting accurate reports of the science about vaccines and global warming? We are not deciding cases and dictating what other people must do, the way the Court does. We're exchanging opinion in the public forum, debating and expressing ourselves! 

That's not "toxic extremism." It's toxic extremism to say that it is!

AND: From right before the 1980 election: "Reagan Pledges He Would Name a Woman to the Supreme Court" (WaPo). In June 1981, Potter Stewart announced his retirement, and Reagan got his slot to fill. I had just graduated from law school, and I remember telling my father that I was excited about the first woman on the Supreme Court. My father scoffed and said he didn't expect Reagan to make good on his pledge. He confidently asserted that the nominee would be William French Smith.

"What is it like to be you?"


Joe Rogan does a good job with Jordan Peterson — putting on the brakes now and then and questioning assertions and checking them on the spot but mostly letting Peterson expatiate in his inimitable style I'm just putting up the longest clip currently available. The episode is over 4 hours long. I'm well past the midpoint, so I'm proud of my stamina on this one.

"They were very, very proud to cast a Latino actress as Snow White, but you’re still telling the story of ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.' You’re progressive in one way … but you’re still making that … backward story about seven dwarfs living in a cave. What … are you doing, man?"

Said Peter Dinklage, on the Marc Maron podcast, quoted in "Peter Dinklage slams Disney’s plans for ‘Snow White’ remake: ‘Backward story about seven dwarfs living in a cave’" (WaPo). 

From the comments over there: "I listened to the podcast before reading this article. The editors that picked the title should ask themselves whether they deliberately feed th[e] media hyperventilation. Dinklage didn’t 'slam' anything. He calmly discussed the issue and critiqued it in a thoughtful way. Stop ginning up controversy where there need be none."

In any event, Disney responded: "To avoid reinforcing stereotypes from the original animated film, we are taking a different approach with these seven characters and have been consulting with members of the dwarfism community. We look forward to sharing more as the film heads into production after a lengthy development period."

It seems to me that the original animated film made a big point of giving each dwarf an individualized characteristic — Sleepy, Happy, Grumpy, Sneezy, etc. — so isn't that the opposite of stereotyping? Or is it stereotyping to say that in this category people have one and only one outstanding characteristic — these are a one-dimensional — or 2-dimensional, if you count dwarfism — kind of person.

I remember a times when saying "dwarf" and "dwarfism" was considered politically incorrect and one had to use a euphemism, and I'd happily — not grumpily — do that if I were not taking the lead from The Washington Post and Disney. I don't know exactly when that changed.

"Frank Zappa once said 'the world is rudderless.' I like yours SO MUCH better."

Said RideSpaceMountain, about my phrase "there's a choke point somewhere, controlled by idiots," in the comments to this post about the outsider artist Lee Godie. 

I'd wanted to embed a trailer for a documentary about the artist, and the Vimeo page gave me the HTML code, but then, on publication, it wouldn't display, and there was a reference to some privacy policy. I said: "That seems so out of keeping with the spirit of the artist, so there's a choke point somewhere, controlled by idiots." 

I was just putting up this new post — because I want to encourage the world to adopt the line, "there's a choke point somewhere, controlled by idiots" — when RideSpaceMountain re-commented: "Correction: Alan Moore made that quote, no[t] Zappa." 

"Do they really believe that the Black voters who formed the base of the Democratic Party think like Ibram X. Kendi, or the leaders of BLM? Are they crazy?"

"I mean, how can they not understand there’s enormous sort of diversity among the worldviews of people within the Black community? They vary by class, they vary by age, they vary in all kinds of ways. And the idea that they are sort of all on board with this crusade against the superficial aspects of so-called systemic racism, that that’s really what they care about, is fanciful, really." 

Said Ruy Teixeira, quoted in "Confessions of a Liberal Heretic/Ruy Teixeira was co-author of one of the most influential political books of the 21st century. Now, he says, Democrats are getting its lessons all wrong" (NYT). 

Teixeira's influential book was "The Emerging Democratic Majority," predicting, in 2002, that the process of demographic change would pile up votes on the side of the Democratic Party.

Interviewed about that idea now, he says that even back then he (and his co-author) "very specifically said — and this is widely ignored — that for this majority to attain and exercise political power, you have to retain a significant fraction of the white working class." And he admits that they didn't recognize how much the "professional-class hegemony in the Democratic Party... would tilt the Democrats so far to the left on sociocultural issues" and lead to positions on immigration and crime and systemic racism that are alienating to many white working class voters.

"For almost 25 years, Godie lived mostly outdoors and slept on park benches, even during subzero temperatures. She stashed her possessions..."

"... in rented lockers around the city. Her studio was wherever she happened to be — an alley, a bridge, atop a deli counter.... In the 1970s, she took hundreds of self-portraits in photo booths at the Greyhound bus terminal and in the train station. In these black-and-white snapshots — which she often embellished with paint or a ballpoint pen — she portrayed her many sides: a coquette; a Katharine Hepburn look-alike; a rich lady flashing a wad of cash; and above all an uncompromising artist whose work can be found today in American museums.... [A]t 60, [Godie] suddenly appeared on the steps of the majestic Art Institute of Chicago, declaring herself a French Impressionist who was 'much better than Cézanne.'... 'She lived in a fantasy world... In her mind she was a world-famous artist. And everything was about France.'... There were recurrent figures, including a woman in left profile with a topknot and bared teeth, the so-called Gibson Girl...; Prince Charming, or Prince of the City, a patrician figure with a bow tie and parted hair, often portrayed in front of Chicago’s John Hancock Center; and a waiter, a mustachioed man with sideburns, based on a real waiter whom Godie found handsome. Some of her female figures resembled the actress Joan Crawford. Other common motifs were birds, leaves, insects, grape clusters and hands playing piano. Godie sometimes wrote on her canvases too: 'Staying Alive' and 'Chicago — we own it!' appear with the frequency of personal mottos.... She reportedly earned as much as a thousand dollars a day, which she squirreled away in her shoes, underwear and hidden pockets of her coat. On brutally cold nights, she splurged for a $10 room at a flophouse."

From "Overlooked No More: Lee Godie, Eccentric Chicago Street Artist/A self-described Impressionist, she hawked her art on Michigan Avenue in the 1970s and ’80s and lived mostly outdoors. But her work is in museums" (NYT).

The tallest mountain in the world — most of which is underwater — has been ascended — bottom to top — for the first time.

SF Gate reports on the climbing of Maunakea, which is 33,500 feet tall, with 19,698 feet of that underwater.

Mountain climber and underwater explorer Victor Vescovo teamed up with Native Hawaiian scientist Cliff Kapono to scale Maunakea Volcano from its base at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean to its peak.... The historic voyage included descending to the bottom of the ocean, kayaking to shore, then biking and hiking to the peak.

Oh, this isn't what it sounded like from the headline. They didn't go up the mountain in some underwater trek. Then went straight down to the starting point but then came straight up and kayaked over to the starting point on land:

Big and small headlines at WaPo on crypto.

1. "Crypto collapse erases more than $1 trillion in wealth, forcing a reckoning for everyday investors." 

2. "Melania Trump auctions off her hat, and has become the latest victim of the cryptocurrency crash." 

I'm glad to see that on the "most read" list in the sidebar, the big story is ranking above the big hat story:

Actually, it's the Melania story I choose to read, because it's hard to understand how accepting cryptocurrency hurts her. It's only a hat she doesn't want that's going out in the world. What difference does it make to her — the "I really don't care, do u?" lady — how the cryptocurrency bids translate into dollar amounts? She restricted the bids to cryptocurrency — for whatever reason — but since there are different cryptocurrencies, aren't all the bids presented at the bidding site in dollar amounts? No, she's only accepting one cryptocurrencies — Solana — so that simplifies things. Its value has fallen 40% in the last week, but wouldn't that cause people with Solana who want the hat to pour a lot more of this declining stuff into the quest for the hat? How is Melania a victim? 

Oh, I'm sure people could put together a list of ways in which Melania is a victim. Make a list and rank it, with the Solana-for-a-hat problem on it. If it ranks high, then good for Melania. But I'm laughing at the Washington Post readers who are drooling over the news that Melania is suffering.

 WaPo snatches the hat and runs with it:

January 25, 2022

Coffee time!

@kjetilkrogstad Coffee time! ☕️ #coffeetime #dancingguy ♬ Blurred Lines - Robin Thicke

"The legendary Jeff Goldblum reviews impressions of Jeff Goldblum."

"Adele described the pool as a 'baggy old pond' and refused, point blank, to stand in the middle of it. The intention was to fill it with water on the set as she was lifted up on a crane-type mechanism, creating the illusion she was floating on water."

From "ROLLING IN THE DEEP END/Adele cancelled her Las Vegas residency after furious rant over swimming pool stunt" (The Sun). 

"What the Trump Documents Might Tell the Jan. 6 Committee/Following last week’s Supreme Court ruling, the House panel has received material that it hopes could flesh out how the attack on the Capitol came about."

This is an article in the NYT, which I'm reading because what I hope is that the material will show that Trump wasn't involved in planning or promoting breaking into the Capitol or committing any illegal acts. And isn't that what everyone should hope? 

So I'm reading this article and setting to the side everything that is about Trump's belief that he really did win the election, his search for a legal path to victory, and his desire for a big, exciting rally showing strong support for this cause. 

So, what does the NYT list? I've copied and pasted the whole text into my compose window, and I will now cut out everything I just said I was setting to the side:




Okay. Now that I've done that... feel free to check my work. Maybe you'll say that the talk of seizing voting machines indicated a willingness to pursue a path that wasn't clearly legal, but it was only considered and then not done. Wasn't it part of brainstorming about what could be done if an election actually were being stolen? 

Let's consider the question hypothetically: What if an American presidential election were stolen? What could be done? What if it looked about like the 2020 election, but it really was a fraud? 

One answer might be: In the event of such a calamity, it would be best to go forward and treat the ostensible winner as the winner in order to maintain confidence in the system and to avoid the trauma of revealing and delving into the chaos beneath the surface. The true winner of the election should see the profound national interest in moving forward with a new President in office and fully in power — free of any cloud of uncertainty. The true winner should do nothing more than to offer strong support to his erstwhile opponent and to celebrate the beauty of democracy.

"My first thought was 'wow.' My second thought was 'what a clever way for someone to acquire things over the objections of their partner -- get it all set up and let the toddler hit 'place order.'"

Writes one commenter, on "A New Jersey toddler spent nearly $1,800 using his mom’s phone. She didn’t know until packages started arriving" (WaPo). 

From the article:

Although she’d loaded the items into her online Walmart shopping cart while browsing for the family’s new home in Monmouth Junction, Kumar knew she hadn’t purchased any of them.... While playing on his mom’s phone, the 22-month-old had gone rogue, buying nearly $1,800 of furniture that was in the cart. When the Kumars realized what had happened, they tried to cancel the remaining orders but were too late....