February 27, 2021

Full moon at dawn.


This morning at 6:42.

The sun looked like this:


Talk about anything you want in the comments.

The riot at your doorstep is an insurrection.




"Do you support the government’s intervening to override the parent’s consent to give a child puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and/or amputation surgery of breasts and genitalia?"

That was Rand Paul's question to Rachel Levine, Biden’s nominee for assistant health secretary. He's quoted at "The Absurd Criticism of Rand Paul’s Rachel Levine Questioning" (National Review). 

It's a precise question. If it can't be answered, why can't it be answered? If it's an outrageous question, that must be because the answer is plainly "no," so why couldn't Levine forthrightly say "no"? There are some questions where the right answer is to refuse to answer — for example questions that nose into an individual's private life — but was Rand Paul's question a question like that? Is anyone making a clear statement of why these were questions that should not have been dignified with answers?

"The asymmetry of the table not centered under the window is troubling, no?"

Said R C Belaire, looking at this photograph in yesterday's Lunchtime Café


Meade had, in fact, been troubled by the asymmetry, and, even before seeing Belaire's comment, had embarked on the project of repositioning the table. Here's Meade's photograph, to dispel all your troubles that are about window-table asymmetry at Meadhouse:


"President Biden has decided that the diplomatic cost of directly penalizing Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, is too high..."

"... according to senior administration officials, despite a detailed American intelligence finding that he directly approved the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, the dissident and Washington Post columnist who was drugged and dismembered in October 2018. The decision by Mr. Biden, who during the 2020 campaign called Saudi Arabia a 'pariah' state with 'no redeeming social value,' came after weeks of debate in which his newly formed national security team advised him that there was no way to formally bar the heir to the Saudi crown from entering the United States, or to weigh criminal charges against him, without breaching the relationship with one of America’s key Arab allies. Officials said a consensus developed inside the White House that the cost of that breach, in Saudi cooperation on counterterrorism and in confronting Iran, was simply too high.... Mr. Biden and his aides have repeatedly said that they intend to take a far tougher line with the Saudis than did President Donald J. Trump, who vetoed legislation passed by both houses of Congress to block weapons sales to Saudi Arabia.... Mr. Trump refused to make [the intelligence findings] public, knowing it would fuel the action for sanctions or criminal action against Prince Mohammed."

From "Biden Won’t Penalize Saudi Crown Prince Over Khashoggi’s Killing, Fearing Relations Breach/The decision will disappoint the human rights community and members of his own party who complained during the Trump administration that the U.S. was failing to hold Mohammed bin Salman accountable" (NYT).

AND: From "President Biden Lets a Saudi Murderer Walk/The crown prince killed my friend Jamal Khashoggi, and we do next to nothing" by Nicholas Kristof (NYT):

Perhaps I’m biased because I knew Jamal. Some may think: It’s too bad about the murder, but other leaders have killed people, too. True, but M.B.S. poisons everything he touches. He kidnapped Lebanon’s prime minister. He oversaw a feud with Qatar. He caused the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen. He imprisoned women’s rights activists. He has tarnished his country’s reputation far more effectively than Iran ever could. 
So, Mr. Biden, it’s not a human rights “gesture” to sanction M.B.S. Jamal was a practical man who didn’t believe in mushy gestures — but he did dream of a more democratic Arab world that would benefit Arabs and Americans alike. And by letting a murderer walk, you betray that vision.

"Video Killed the Radio Star."

It's TikTok, so I need to put it after the jump. Here's the famous Buggles version of the song. What I want you to see is pocketsuke:

February 26, 2021

At the Lunchtime Café...

IMG_5361 ... reflect.

"We are deeply disappointed in this decision. We are not going to give up the fight to raise the minimum wage to $15 to help millions of struggling American workers..."

"... and their families. The American people deserve it, and we are committed to making it a reality." 

Said Chuck Schumer, quoted in "Biden’s minimum wage increase runs afoul of budget rules/The Senate parliamentarian has issued a ruling that could jeopardize the rest of the president’s $1.9 trillion Covid relief package" (Politico).

Speaking of reality, do you think he's really disappointed? I imagine he's relieved. He and his party have the benefit of looking as though they tried and the benefit of not having the potentially deleterious policy actually imposed on us.

"Should older people with slightly above-normal blood sugar readings — a frequent occurrence since the pancreas produces less insulin in later life — be taking action..."

"... as the American Diabetes Association has urged? Or does labeling people prediabetic merely 'medicalize' a normal part of aging, creating needless anxiety for those already coping with multiple health problems?... Defenders of the emphasis on treating prediabetes, which is said to afflict one-third of the United States population, point out that first-line treatment involves learning healthy behaviors that more Americans should adopt anyway: weight loss, smoking cessation, exercise and healthy eating. 'I’ve had a number of patients diagnosed with prediabetes, and it’s what motivates them to change... They know what they should be doing, but they need something to kick them into gear.' Geriatricians tend to disagree. 'It’s unprofessional to mislead people, to motivate them by fear of something that’s not actually true.... We’re all tired of having things to be afraid of.'"

From "How Meaningful Is Prediabetes for Older Adults?/A new study indicates that the condition might be less of a worry than once believed" (NYT).

Willfully and lewdly printing indecent writings.


Screen grab:

"As [Christopher] Rufo sees it, critical race theory is a revolutionary program that replaces the Marxist categories of the bourgeois and the proletariat with racial groups..."

"... justifying discrimination against those deemed racial oppressors. His goal, ultimately, is to get the Supreme Court to rule that school and workplace trainings based on the doctrines of critical race theory violate the 1964 Civil Rights Act.... Rufo insists there are no free speech implications to what he’s trying to do. 'You have the freedom of speech as an individual, of course, but you don’t have the kind of entitlement to perpetuate that speech through public agencies,' he said. This sounds, ironically, a lot like the arguments people on the left make about de-platforming right-wingers. To [KimberlĂ©] Crenshaw, attempts to ban critical race theory vindicate some of the movement’s skepticism about free speech orthodoxy, showing that there were never transcendent principles at play. When people defend offensive speech, she said, they’re often really defending 'the substance of what the speech is — because if it was really about free speech, then this censorship, people would be howling to the high heavens.' If it was really about free speech, they should be."

From "The Campaign to Cancel Wokeness/How the right is trying to censor critical race theory" by Michelle Goldberg (NYT). 

Here's a good comment over there: "The problem with your argument is that Critical Race Theory is presented at schools and workplace sessions as the TRUTH, not just an (unprovable) social science theory. And it would be very uncomfortable (if not career or social suicide) to question this theory in front of one’s bosses and peers."

That makes me think of Justice Jackson's famous line, one of the most important points about freedom of speech: "If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein." 

The problem is compelled speech. To be compelled to assert belief in what you do not believe is a severe intrusion on individual free speech, and that seems to be what is happening in these workplace training sessions. Is there some way to present the insights of Critical Race Theory as ideas to be understood and weighed against other ideas and debated instead of compelling attendance at events where the ideas are dictated and participants are forced to attest to the dictated beliefs?

"The implication that white people got better, that [George Floyd] served as a martyr for this country."

"The martyrdom of Black Americans is very prevalent among particularly white liberals and we see that, I think, in how we celebrate MLK and how a lot of these folks will uphold the whitewashed and martyred idea of Dr. King without actually exploring his radical nature and radical ideology.... [It was] the typical well meaning white liberal kind of paternalistic type of racism... She called to apologize in a way and it just really rang hollow to me. It rang like somebody that, one, didn’t reflect on what she said before she heard that I was upset. She also resorted to it as an individual hurt, in saying sorry she hurt me, without an ability to see a wider level and see as what it was, racist behavior, racist mentality. And I kind of started to say that and I’m like, 'You’ve got a lot of work to do.' And she said, 'I’m trying to do that work. Maybe you could help me.' And I told her that it’s not for me, I’m not here to do the work for you. You’ve got to do it yourself."

Said Matthew Braunginn, one of the "two," in "Two Sustainable Madison Committee members resign over 'God bless George Floyd' remark" (Madison 365).

Braunginn utters a long but important phrase: "the typical well meaning white liberal kind of paternalistic type of racism." Consider how regarding Floyd as a blessed martyr is a kind of racism. Understand why Braunginn was so outraged over this that he quit his alliance with some well-meaning Madison liberals.

"His first word was 'crocodile,' three syllables."

Said Prince Harry, quoted in "We didn’t step down, we stepped back, Prince Harry tells James Corden on The Late Late Show" (The London Times). Harry was talking about his son Archie. 

Am I the only one who recognizes this perfectly silly remark as a Princess Margaret joke? I've blogged this before, from the hilarious book "Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret"

The Princess liked to one-up. I have heard from a variety of people that she would engineer the conversation around to the subject of children’s first words, asking each of her fellow guests what their own child’s first words had been. Having listened to responses like ‘Mama’ and ‘doggy’, she would say, ‘My boy’s first word was “chandelier”.

Three syllables. Chandelier... crocodile... what's the difference? The difference is what the "spare" chose to do with her/his life.