October 24, 2021

"After a morning of red boxes and paperwork, meetings and phone calls with courtiers, she walks her dogs, usually after lunch, and still rides regularly..."

"... though she no longer heads out in very cold or wet weather. Her collection of more than 100 budgerigars, which she keeps in an aviary near her private apartments at Windsor, are an enjoyable diversion and horse racing — either watching it on television, attending a meeting or studying the form — is still a big part of her life. We may never know what, if anything, is wrong with the Queen beyond fatigue. The palace draws the line at giving a 'running commentary' on her health. Why stay so busy? Because, says a royal source who knows her well, 'she doesn’t want to be reminded of her age in any way.'" 

100 budgerigars!

"'We’ve created a self-sustaining society, and our freedom is dangerous for the system,' said Aleksandr A. Komogortsev, 46, a disciple who was a police officer in Moscow for 11 years..."

"... before moving to one of the biggest villages three years ago. 'We have shown how it is possible to live outside the system,' he said, gushing over a breakfast of salad and potato dumplings about how fulfilling it was to work with his hands. Tanya Denisova, 68, a follower since 1999, said the church was focused on God’s judgment, not politics. She moved to the village in 2001, after divorcing her husband, who did not want to join the church. 'We came here to get away from politics,' she said.... Each village where followers live, like Ms. Denisova’s Petropavlovka, functions as a 'united family'.... For many of the believers, their leader’s arrest, combined with the coronavirus pandemic, is a sign that Judgment Day approaches. Others said they felt his arrest was the fulfillment of a prophecy, comparing their teacher’s plight with that of Jesus more than 2,000 years ago. Stanislav M. Kazakov, the head of a small private school in the village of Cheremshanka, said.... 'They thought we would fall apart without him.... But in the past year, we have returned to the kind of community that holds each other together.'"

From "Long Arm of Russian Law Reaches Obscure Siberian Church/The arrest of the leader of a small religious group reveals that Russian repression reaches even to the depths of the Siberian forest" (NYT). 

And let me stress that the photographs, by Mary Gelman, are truly captivating. There is an unworldly beauty. One has the caption, "Amalia Protasov hugging a unicorn balloon in her room in Abode of Dawn."

Obama — stumping for McAuliffe — asserts that Republicans are not trying to win with ideas.

ADDED: Are Democrats trying to win with ideas? Obama is saying Republicans should put their ideas up against the Democrat's ideas, and let the people compare the ideas and pick what they like. I'm irritated by the assertion that McAuliffe's opponent isn't talking about ideas and McAuliffe supposedly is. But I do like the idea of calmly and clearly showing people the ideas and letting us choose. This is something I talked about in my first year of blogging, in a post called "Mysterious personal reaction to Dick Cheney.

Aaron Rodgers vs. cancel culture.

"Back when I first got into the league and I grew up watching it, I feel like trash talk was a little more normalized. You didn’t have to apologize if you said something to offend a few people.... If you don’t like it, that’s fine. That’s your prerogative.... There is this culture that exists that gets off, I think, on shrinking people, keeping them small, keeping them in a box, quieting them through cancelation or demeaning comments. I stand behind what I do. I like to speak the truth. I’m not a part of this woke cancel culture that gets off on trying to silence people all the time." (Link.)

"We have not even to risk the adventure alone for the heroes of all time have gone before us. The labyrinth is thoroughly known... we have only to follow the thread of the hero path."

"And where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a God. And where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves. Where we had thought to travel outwards, we shall come to the center of our own existence. And where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world.”

Wrote Joseph Campbell, in a popular "hero's path" quote that is printed on the wall of the Soho gallery showing "The Journey Home’ a Hunter Biden Solo Exhibition," visible in photographs at "Hunter Biden’s wife seen at SoHo gallery as controversial art show opens" (NY Post).
The gallery wall contained a quote from author Joseph Campbell’s book “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” about the hero’s adventure in mythology. Campbell, a literature professor at Sarah Lawrence College in Westchester, coined the phrase “Follow your bliss.”

Here's the Wikipedia entry on Campbell's famous book so you can refresh your memory of this thing you must have learned at one point in your life (I know I did, 50 years ago).  Campbell looked at the  stories of OsirisPrometheus, the BuddhaMosesMohammed, and Jesus and decided that they were enough alike that they could be boiled down into what he called "the monomyth" (or "hero's journey"):

Yeah, this needs fact-checking.


Reuters Fact-Check is on the job:
A hand gesture U.S. president Joe Biden made during a CNN town hall in Baltimore on Oct. 21 was in reference to corporations not paying taxes. Some social media users are isolating a screenshot of the moment from this context to claim it resembles a white supremacist symbol.
Could somebody fact check whether Reuters has a sense of humor? It's pretty obvious that this humor is intended to mock all the other accusations that the "OK" sign is a white power expression. 

Reuters should not insinuate that the gesture is taken out of context to be deceptive. The context, laboriously stated in the fact check, is perfectly evident from the words printed on screen!

"I guess we can add Atwood to the list (that includes other notables like JK Rowling) of misogynists' useful idiots."

Says the first commenter on a Metafilter discussion about this article in the Independent, "Why Margaret Atwood’s defense of the word ‘woman’ is misguided – and why it’s so important to get it right/An author whose work challenges biological essentialism has staked out a place on the wrong side of the argument. People like me have long paid a dire price for this wrongheaded thinking."

Margaret Atwood — Margaret Atwoodretweeted an article that defended the use of the word "woman," as opposed to things like "person who menstruates," and she's on the "wrong side" and she's "wrongheaded." There's a right and a wrong, and you'd better not even muse about whether the line is perfectly clear or you are will be blamed for the "dire price" paid by the people who are allowed to say "people like me."

Are women being erased? After 200 years of work, feminists are supposed to hold their tongue and not even ask, because there's another group whose interests have been advanced to the foreground. You can't even begin to think about whether that advances the patriarchy. You will be crushed. 

"Wellness culture, which often perpetuates ideas of toxic positivity and permanent optimism, is sometimes a driving force behind spiritual bypassing. It teaches people that they cannot be well or healthy unless they are able to rise above any negativity.

"Spiritual bypassing" — discussed at Metafilter, here.

From the first link:

Spiritual bypassing can sometimes be difficult to spot because it is often very subtle. However, looking at examples can help make this phenomenon more apparent:

  • Following the death of a loved one, people tell surviving relatives that the deceased is “in a better place” and that it was “all part of God’s plan.”
  • A woman is angry and upset about something that someone else has done. When she tries to share her feelings, her friends tell her to stop being so negative.
  • A relative regularly crosses boundaries and behaves in ways that are hurtful to other family members. Rather than confront this behavior, those who have been harmed feel that they need to repress their anger and remain overly tolerant.

Me, at the secondary vantage point, at 7:06 a.m.

Photo by Meade: 


I am the person at the end of the dock. The other person is a random wayfarer.

"[T]he same gun Alec Baldwin accidentally fired... was being used by crews members off set as well, for what we're told amounted to target practice."

"We're told this off-the-clock shooting — which was allegedly happening away from the movie lot — was being done with real bullets ... which is how some who worked on the film believe a live round found its way in one of the chambers that day.... There's also this ... one source who was on set and familiar with the goings-on of the crew tells us that when cops showed up, they found live ammo and blanks were being stored in the same area...."

There's a lot of blame to go around. Journalists should be careful about adding words like "accidentally" before the facts are established. I think we do know that Baldwin fired the gun. Did he not fire it intentionally? That's a question separate from whether he believed the gun was unloaded. Was he in a situation within his role as an actor where he was directed to fire the gun? I've seen the assertion that the gun went off as he was practicing removing it from a holster, but was he doing that with his finger on the trigger? I guess the story in the movie could be that the character mishandles his gun and it goes off. If so, it would be wrong to write "accidentally fired." 

"To ask questions about gender, that is, how society is organized according to gender, and with what consequences for understanding bodies, lived experience, intimate association, and pleasure..."

"... is to engage in a form of open inquiry and investigation, opposing the dogmatic social positions that seek to stop and reverse emancipatory change. And yet, 'gender studies' is opposed as 'dogma' by those who understand themselves on the side of 'critique.'... Stoked by fears of infrastructural collapse, anti-migrant anger and, in Europe, the fear of losing the sanctity of the heteronormative family, national identity and white supremacy, many insist that the destructive forces of gender, postcolonial studies, and critical race theory are to blame. When gender is thus figured as a foreign invasion, these groups clearly reveal that they are in the business of nation-building. The nation for which they are fighting is built upon white supremacy, the heteronormative family, and a resistance to all critical questioning of norms that have clearly restricted the freedoms and imperiled the lives of so many people.... Indeed, gender comes to stand for, or is linked with, all kinds of imagined 'infiltrations' of the national body – migrants, imports, the disruption of local economics through the effects of globalization. Thus 'gender' becomes a phantom, sometimes specified as the 'devil' itself, a pure force of destruction threatening God’s creation... Let’s all get truly critical now, for this is no time for any of the targets of this movement to be turning against one another. The time for anti-fascist solidarity is now."

She's using the metaphor of ideas as disease, a very common metaphor, and I wonder what is it that makes other people's ideas a disease and not your own? In any case, there's a problem with relying on metaphor! You can see that there's deep-seated unease — unease, not disease — about unfamiliar others and their strange ideas, but it's everywhere, and if you rally your own side by saying look at those awful people over there with their disgusting ideas, you're stoking the fears. 

What does it mean to call on us to "get truly critical" when — in the same sentence — Butler tells us to coalesce into a single powerful movement with members who do not challenge each other's ideas? She started by calling it "a form of open inquiry and investigation, opposing the dogmatic social positions" but ended by saying don't you dare be open and inquiring — we need to close ranks.

Do it for Terry.

"McAuliffe Needs Passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill—Now/If House progressives drop their opposition, Biden will sign it quickly. That may save the Virginia governorship for the Democrats" (Washington Monthly).
To help salvage McAuliffe’s chances against the private equity executive Youngkin—whom [sic] polls show is running an uncomfortably close race—Virginia Senator Mark Warner has floated the idea of re-upping the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill (the “BIF”) passed by the Senate this summer but yet to clear the House. Right now, it’s being held hostage by progressives who insist that its passage be linked to the much bigger Build Back Better Act—a move the White House has blessed. Decoupling the BIF would be a Hail Mary move, but McAuliffe’s situation is dire enough that it might be worth trying again. If liberals drop their objections, the BIF has enough bipartisan support to pass the House easily.

October 23, 2021

Sunrise — 7:23, 7:25.



"A trans woman who transitioned late, in her fifties for example, who benefited from being treated as a man and paid as a man throughout her career, could really skew the figures."

"It makes the data inherently unreliable. It is unsafe as a matter of principle. The idea behind the sex pay gap is to identify systemic sex-based discrimination and rectify it. That’s the idea. It’s to right the historical wrong of women being underpaid."

Said the barrister Akua Reindorf, quoted in "Biggest firms won’t record sex of bosses under diversity plans/Identifying as a woman is enough in proposals from regulator ‘captured by Stonewall'" (London Times).

Stonewall is an LGBTQ group that wants "woman" defined to include anyone who identifies as a woman and to require companies to make statements about the number of women in their leadership positions. Reindorf is pointing out a conflict between transgender goals and traditional feminist goals. 

"If your home has more than one level, consider inverting the traditional layout."

"Admittedly, you might never get used to the idea of declaring 'I’m going downstairs to bed,' but in most other respects it makes a lot of sense, unlocking the light and views for the living spaces, and using the naturally darker areas lower down the building for sleeping."

From "Mismatch plates and hang art low: 18 ways to create a more beautiful home" (The Guardian).

No one will do this, but it's a funny idea. Another way to get natural dark for sleeping is just do your sleeping at night. But that's too easy! I guess I can imagine a building where the upstairs could work as the main living area. I've lived on the ground floor of a 4-story brownstone where the owners occupied the middle 2 floors and there was a nice stairway up to the second floor. We had an entrance that went underneath that stairway. If the owners had taken the bottom 2 floors instead of the middle 2 floors, it would have made sense to put the bedrooms on the lower floor. But they did not make that choice! That's the thing. The bedrooms under the main floor would be weird. So how would that be better for sleeping?

"In early Oct., a 'F--- Joe Biden!' cry broke out among the crowd at Alabama’s Talladega Superspeedway."

"Kelli Stavast, an NBC Sports reporter, was interviewing NASCAR driver Brandon Brown live on air at the time, and she quipped, 'You can hear the chants from the crowd, "Let’s go Brandon!"' Trump supporters instantly saw signs of a coverup, claiming on social media that journalists were deliberately censoring anti-Biden sentiment. The brief video exchange quickly turned viral. The result has been a proliferation of chants in recent weeks, both of 'Let’s go Brandon!' — now used as a stand-in by the Trump faithful — and the more vulgar original, sometimes shorthanded as 'FJB.' Trump’s Save America PAC has even begun selling a $45 T-shirt featuring Biden’s black-and-white visage above the phrase 'Let’s go Brandon.' And the PAC sent a message to supporters that read, '#FJB or LET’S GO BRANDON? Either way, President Trump wants YOU to have our ICONIC new shirt.'... The vitriol has even entered the House chamber. Rep. Bill Posey (R-Fla.) wrapped up a floor speech this week with the sign-off, 'Let’s go Brandon.'..."

From "Biden’s critics hurl increasingly vulgar taunts" (WaPo).

I've avoided talking about the "Let's go Brandon" trend. It irks me, because I favor civility. But I'm blogging this, because I police what I call "civility bullshit," which is the expression of concern by those who hope to suppress what they fear is the effective rowdy speech of their opponents and who will revert to defending and enjoying such speech when it's coming from their side.