February 2, 2023

At the Cold Night Café...

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... you can talk about whatever you want.

(That's a photo from 5 days ago. It's been too cold to go out. Let's just say we've been getting a lot of the inside of the house painted. I ventured out to buy some provisions today. And tomorrow is the last day of the cold spell. It will be fine by Saturday, and the sunrises will not go unattended.)

"On Wednesday, Britain’s Supreme Court ruled that tourists’ using the [Tate Museum's] viewing platform was 'a clear case of nuisance' even if ogling homeowners was not their purpose."

"Rolling Stone said Jan. 6 leaders used ‘burner’ phones" to communicate with top Trump officials. "Where’s the evidence?"

 Asks Eric Wemple (at WaPo).

“According to the three sources, some of the most crucial planning conversations between top rally organizers and Trump’s inner circle took place on those burner phones,” wrote investigative reporter Hunter Walker. The contacted associates included White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Trump campaign consultant Katrina Pierson, and Eric and Lara Trump, the article alleged.... 

"Given the app’s use by about a third of the U.S. population and its association with the everyday expression of political and personal views..."

"... outlawing TikTok would constitute a disproportionately greater move toward decoupling [from China] and might invite retaliation — as compared with outlawing commercial hardware containing surveillance-capable chips.... The optimal way forward would be for Congress to enact a law governing the collection and misuse of online personal and commercial data that would apply not only to current apps such as TikTok but also to future digital apps (whether or not foreign-owned) posing security or privacy concerns. Without such congressional action, the next best outcome would be for ByteDance, recognizing that the status quo is untenable, to sell the app to an American company. ByteDance has resisted that.... If neither is possible, only then should we resort to an outright TikTok ban — recognizing that choosing an expedient, simple solution for one national security problem might generate a more complex and enduring one."
 
From "The Problem With Taking TikTok Away From Americans" by Glenn S. Gerstell (of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, former general counsel of the National Security Agency and Central Security Service).

This comment over there has a lot of "up" votes:

It's a propaganda postcard, but what is it propaganda for?


"The American Medical Association put out a 54-page guide on language as a way to address social problems — oops, it suggests instead using the 'equity-focused' term 'social injustice.'"

"The A.M.A. objects to referring to 'vulnerable' groups and 'underrepresented minority' and instead advises alternatives such as 'oppressed' and 'historically minoritized.'... I’m all for being inclusive in our language, and I try to avoid language that is stigmatizing. But I worry that this linguistic campaign has gone too far, for three reasons. First, much of this effort seems to me performative rather than substantive. Instead of a spur to action, it seems a substitute for it.... Second, problems are easier to solve when we use clear, incisive language. The A.M.A. style guide’s recommendations for discussing health are instead a wordy model of obfuscation, cant and sloppy analysis. Third, while this new terminology is meant to be inclusive, it bewilders and alienates millions of Americans. It creates an in-group of educated elites fluent in terms like BIPOC and A.A.P.I. and a larger out-group of baffled and offended voters, expanding the gulf between well-educated liberals and the 62 percent majority of Americans who lack a bachelor’s degree — which is why Republicans like Ron DeSantis have seized upon all things woke."

Writes Nicholas Kristof in "Inclusive or Alienating? The Language Wars Go On" (NYT).

Here's the AMA document. It is fascinating. I read a lot of it, and I suspect that absolutely no one will read the whole thing. Talk about things that are not inclusive: it excludes everyone. But that's the reason for long bureaucratic documents — to create an impression that something complicated has been worked through but to make it impossible to check the work. I mean, it's possible, but no one will do it. 

There are a lot of tables and diagrams, and these jump out as more readable than the rest. I spent some time absorbing this diagram:

 
Shouldn't the "deep" part be at the bottom? Are they using a pyramid the way the government used the old "food pyramid" — just to represent the size of the particular groups of things? And what's with the yellow arrow pointing upward? What is this gravity-defying process?

February 1, 2023

At the Wednesday Night Café...

 ... you can talk about whatever you want.

"I think we’re probably going to be embarrassed by the pandemic, every kind of reaction to it and the way it’s sort of defined our time."

"To me, it’s already sort of becoming an embarrassing topic, and you can feel people not wanting to talk about it.... I feel embarrassed about being a little irrational about certain topics and the politicization of every single thing that happened in that whole time period, where how people handled their own health was a political topic. And that just doesn’t make rational sense. Also, how every single thing in our lives — even what music we listen to and what art we see — you have to align yourself with a certain political agenda. I think that will eventually feel embarrassing, or it’ll hopefully turn into something else, because I feel like there’s no end to that thought process. It makes people go a little crazy and become conspiracy theorists or just totally isolated from all of their friends."

Writes the essayist/novelist Natasha Stagg, one of many contributors to "Future Cringe/One day we’ll look back on this moment and wonder: What were we thinking?" (NYT).

I love the big question, what are we doing now that we are going to be embarrassed/ashamed of in the future? I noticed this question when I was a child and heard things said about people in the past, as if those people were benighted and ridiculous. We are those people to people somewhere out there in the future. How can I avoid being looked at by them the way people today are looking at the people of the past?

"The College Board purged the names of many Black writers and scholars associated with critical race theory, the queer experience and Black feminism. "

"It ushered out some politically fraught topics, like Black Lives Matter, from the formal curriculum. And it added something new: 'Black conservatism' is now offered as an idea for a research project. When it announced the A.P. course in August, the College Board clearly believed it was providing a class whose time had come, and it was celebrated by eminent scholars like Henry Louis Gates Jr. of Harvard as an affirmation of the importance of African American studies. But the course, which is meant to be for all students of diverse backgrounds, quickly ran into a political buzz saw after an early draft leaked to conservative publications like The Florida Standard and National Review...."

A boy thinks he might be in trouble, arrives at a plausible defense and delivers it in the most delightful regional accent on the face of the earth.

It's TikTok, so I'm putting it after the jump.

"At its worst her Leslie is a one-note cliché and a clunky Frankenstein’s monster of Jane Fonda in The Morning After, Faye Dunaway in Barfly, and Tilda Swinton in Julia, with just a dash of Nicolas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas."

"Only in a Hollywood community of short attention spans and even shorter memories could anyone look at that performance and not find it awkwardly derivative. It doesn’t help that the film that’s been built around Riseborough is sentimental and phoney when it should be gritty and unapologetic. It’s... a dopey soft-soaped world where Leslie’s alcoholism is a helpful tool for personal growth and provides her with life lessons, a new job and a tearjerking chance to reconcile with her son. Her alcoholism appears so unlikely, in fact, that it seems to exist only to provide Riseborough with a chance, scene after scene, to 'do acting'..."

Riseborough, a white actress, was touted by white actresses, and got a surprise nomination, and Deadwyler, a black actress, was, surprisingly, not nominated. Even though Oscar nominations are campaigned for, this particular campaign is deemed suspect because it worked so well and because it happened to undercut Hollywood's efforts to seem racially inclusive. 

"I genuinely wake up most mornings convinced I look great. I feel thin, fit, good looking and ready to take on the day."

"And untrue though this may be, I see no flaws, imagined or otherwise, to ruin the mood. If that counts as 'reverse body dysmorphia,' then that might be what I’ve got. I look pretty much the same as I did 20 years ago, sometimes even better as I spent most of my 30s either pregnant, covered in baby sick and/or sleep deprived to the point of madness.... Among my friends who are not lucky enough to suffer from reverse body dysmorphia I see two main tendencies: one is to surrender unconditionally, abandoning their former sense of style, gaining weight, wearing 'comfortable' clothes and relegating frivolities such as nail varnish and heels to a dim and distant past. The other is to panic and go for radical solutions that fool nobody, such as facelifts, often resulting in them looking like rather unsettling versions of Madonna.... Should this reverse dysmorphia become a disorder all of its own?... [W]hy on earth shouldn’t you be the best version of yourself and own that glorious self-image until they drag you out kicking and screaming?... As the poet T.S. Eliot summed up: 'Humankind cannot bear too much reality.'"

Writes Helena Frith Powell (at her own website).

I found that because — go to the link to see — it contains the phrase "body eumorphia," an unusual phrase that I'd arrived at independently after stumbling into the New York Post headline, "Sam Smith on finally having the 'opposite' of body dysmorphia: ' look fabulous.'"

Joe Rogan and Lex Fridman react to the claim that the #1 cause of obesity is genetics.


Joe, talking about a man who lost a lot of weight: "He had to go through surgery to get his skin removed so he wasn't like... a flying squirrel."

January 31, 2023

At the Departed Piano Café...

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... what left your life today?

"Sitting around in my own mess, pissed off at the world, disdainful of the people in it, and thinking my contempt for things somehow amounted to something..."

"... had some kind of nobility, hating this thing here, and that thing there, and that other thing over there, and making sure that everybody around me knew it, not just knew, but felt it too, contemptuous of beauty, contemptuous of joy, contemptuous of happiness in others, well, this whole attitude just felt, I don’t know, in the end, sort of dumb."

Writes Nick Cave, responding to a fan who asked "When did you become a Hallmark card hippie? Joy, love, peace. Puke! Where’s the rage, anger, hatred? Reading these lately is like listening to an old preacher drone on and on at Sunday mass" — at The Red Hand Files. 

After his younger son Arthur, aged 15, fell off a cliff and died, Cave thought about "the precarious and vulnerable position of the world" and felt he ought to try to help the world, "instead of merely vilifying it, and sitting in judgement of it."

In 2022, his older son Jethro died, aged 31.

Project Veritas is doing some high-tech trolling of Pfizer.