February 28, 2024

At the Cold Winter’s Night Café…

 … you can write about whatever you want.

Goodbye to Richard Lewis.

The brilliant comedian was 76.

And he was just talking about his will!

"The Supreme Court will review Donald Trump’s unprecedented claim that he is shielded from prosecution for actions taken while in office...."

"The justices set argument for the week of April 22 to consider a unanimous ruling from a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.... Trump’s pretrial proceedings in D.C. will remain on hold until a ruling is issued, putting the Supreme Court in the politically fraught position of influencing the timing of a federal election-obstruction trial for the leading Republican presidential candidate...."

"Trump unites Republicans to a much greater degree than Biden unites Democrats."

"Trump, for example, wins the support of 90 percent of Republican voters, among whom only 5 percent say they will vote for Biden. At the same time, Biden wins just 82 percent of Democratic voters, and 12 percent say they will vote for Trump. It appears that Trump’s lead over Biden is based in large part upon his ability to unite Republicans, and then to attract a fair number of Democrats to his side. Trump, surprisingly, is now the consensus candidate and Biden the divisive one."

I'm reading "Is Trump the new consensus candidate?/On Trump’s widening lead in the polls" by James Piereson (The New Criterion).

Piereson is looking at a new Harvard-Harris poll that has Trump over Biden 48% to 42%. And Trump leads Biden 42% to 39% among independent voters.

A stunning acknowledgment?

I'm reading "Trump Says He Might Have to Sell Properties to Pay $454 Million Penalty/The ex-president, who is appealing the penalty in his civil fraud case, offered a bond of only $100 million to pause the judgment" (NYT):

"Garner" of the day.

I was going to tag this onto the first post of the day — it's the same topic — but I'm savoring the presentation, replete with "garner":
Tens of thousands of Michiganders on Tuesday cast their ballots for “uncommitted,” putting them on track to garner more than 10 percent of the vote statewide. That figure seemed likely to exceed past levels of “uncommitted” votes in Michigan Democratic primaries, though fall short of sparking a political earthquake.

Democrats were divided over how to treat the outcome, noting that Biden continued to dominate the primary in ways similar to, or even exceeding, past incumbents but also wary that significant pockets of discontent in the party could prove fatal in the general election....

Uncommitted didn't just get 10% of the vote. It garnered it. Take that, Joe Biden. The garnerers are hot on your trail. And they are significant. You've got to be wary. Those significant pockets of discontent could prove fatal! You've always got to be on the lookout for fatal pockets.

Speaking of fatal pockets, did you know that a baby sleeping on its stomach with its face against a pillow "may build up fatal pockets of Carbon Dioxide they can't escape"? And beware of the karst landscape.

"'Following my therapist’s advice, I’m taking a day off tomorrow to recharge my energies to continue giving the best in my sessions. Can we reschedule?'"

"So messaged my 26-year-old spin instructor. When I expressed mild frustration to a twentysomething colleague that our class had been cancelled, she seemed surprised. 'Have you been therapised?' she asked. No, I haven’t, but Gen Z increasingly have. They know how to gatekeep their time, creating boundaries and promoting self-care and are triggered when their feelings have been invalidated or they aren’t given time to heal from toxic relationships...."

Writes Alice Thompson, in "Gen Z need life lessons more than therapy/A sense of purpose and decent careers advice would help youngsters stressed out by global uncertainty and war" (London Times).

She's reading "Bad Therapy: Why The Kids Aren’t Growing Up," a new book by Abigail Shrier (commission earned).

Yesterday, I blogged an excerpt from that book, and I also listened to the Bari Weiss podcast interview with Shrier and am in the middle of Joe Rogan's new episode with Shrier. Here's a excerpt of that:

Shrier is on the move this week, not exactly trashing therapy, but trying awfully hard to cut it down to size. What is the right size though? How much of a role is appropriate? It's not just a matter of the quality of the therapists, for Shrier. She favors working out your own problems, the old-fashioned way, and only resorting to therapy for substantial mental illness.

"The easiest way to explain why antisemitism is still with us is to blame religion."

"Scholars agree that what we call antisemitism today has its historical origins in a strain of anti-Jewish thought that grew out of early Christianity.... By failing to become Christians, Jews implicitly challenged the narrative of inevitable Christian triumph.... The problem with blaming religion is that antisemitism today is no longer driven primarily by Christianity..... Nor does antisemitism among Muslims primarily reflect the classical Islamic claims made against the Jews, such as the accusation that the Jews (and Christians) distorted Scripture.... The tropes of modern Europe’s antisemitism—of Jews’ power and avarice—mostly came to the Middle East late, through Nazi influence. Even the prevalence of antisemitism among Islamist groups like Hamas isn’t primarily driven by religion. Rather, it is part of their politically motivated effort to turn a struggle between two national groups for the same piece of land into a holy war. It emerges that far from being an unchanging set of ideas derived from ancient faiths, antisemitism is actually a shape-shifting, protean, creative force. Antisemitism has managed to reinvent itself multiple times throughout history, each time keeping some of the old tropes around, while simultaneously creating new ones adapted to present circumstances...."

Writes lawprof Noah Feldman, in "The New Antisemitism" (Time).

Much more at the link.

"The Bradley testimony was grinding but telling.... Repeating 'I speculated' was an inartful and unconvincing evasion."

"What remains is his text, which was sent before he was under all of this coercive pressure. What is clear is that the county attorneys were clearly wrong in accusing opposing counsel of filing a baseless and unethical motion. There was obviously a good-faith basis to have raised the allegation. The question remains how the judge uses his record on the issue of disqualification. Once again, I fail to understand why these two prosecutors have not removed themselves, particularly Wade. These are hits below the waterline. I do not see how this is helping them, let alone their case or their office."

Tweets Jonathan Turley.

"[Authentic] is a brand ownership firm that buys the intellectual property of celebrities dead and alive — including Elvis, Shaquille O’Neal and David Beckham..."

"... and then collects royalties from their use. Authentic launched a production studio that was involved in 'Elvis' the movie and Beckham’s Netflix docuseries. It bought O’Neal’s brand rights and owns approximately 50 percent of his future lifetime earnings.... The other pillar of Authentic’s business is buying fashion brands such as Brooks Brothers and Quiksilver, sometimes out of bankruptcy, and creating licenses that clothesmakers and retailers can purchase if they want to make or sell that brand. At the [Sports Illustrated] party, Authentic’s 'activations,' as they call them, were on display next to the pool: Nine West shoes and apparel from Reebok, which Authentic bought for $2.5 billion from Adidas. Authentic is doing $30 billion in retail sales worldwide, the company says. Its largest shareholders are private equity firms and O’Neal...."

From "As Sports Illustrated sputters, its owners throw a party for 'the brand'" (WaPo).

Authentic owns Sports Illustrated and has fired nearly the entire staff, but it held a big "Sports Illustrated" party. The CEO, Jamie Salter, had this to say to the 80 remaining staffers:

"This is a resounding victory for our country’s pro-Palestinian, antiwar movement."

Said Abbas Alawieh, a spokesperson for Listen to Michigan, a group that advocated voting for "uncommitted" in Michigan primary.

Quoted in "Michigan Primary: Biden Confronts Protest Votes as He and Trump Win Easily/President Biden faced his most significant challenge in Michigan from those opposed to his handling of the Israel-Hamas war. Republican infighting in the state did not involve Donald J. Trump, who coasted to victory" (NYT).

But what percentage of the Democratic vote did "uncommitted" need to seriously wound President Biden? The NYT article downplays the percentage. I'm still looking for it! I am seeing discussion of the number of votes:

February 27, 2024

Sunrise — 6:32, 6:42, 6:46.




"[A] homegrown campaign to persuade Michiganders to vote 'uncommitted' will measure the resistance [Biden] faces among Arab Americans, young voters, progressives and other Democrats over his stance on the war in Gaza."

"A high number of 'uncommitted' votes would send a warning to his campaign nationally and set off alarms in Michigan, which he won in 2020 but where polls show weakness against former President Donald J. Trump. A low number, by contrast, would give Mr. Biden and his Democratic allies renewed faith that he can weather the tensions and focus on campaign priorities like the economy and abortion rights.... The leaders of the movement insist they do not want to hurt Mr. Biden in the general election, but hope to persuade him that his position on Israel will hurt him politically in time for him to correct himself...."

From "Biden Faces 'Uncommitted' Vote in Michigan’s Primary. Here’s What to Watch. A protest vote against President Biden’s policies on Israel will show the extent of Democratic divisions, while Donald Trump is favored to win again as Nikki Haley presses on" (NYT).

"Terrence Bradley, Nathan Wade’s former law partner and divorce lawyer, is claiming something quite extraordinary in court this afternoon..."

".... that he has no direct knowledge of when Wade’s relationship with Fani T. Willis began. Since he was the primary source for the defense lawyer seeking to remove Willis from the case, the key question going forward will be whether Judge Scott McAfee believes him. But if he doesn’t, that could cut two ways. If Bradley is an unreliable witness, then his prior statements claiming knowledge that the romance began before Willis hired Wade could be seen as just as unreliable as what he is saying in court today. Remember, the burden is on the defense to prove that Willis faced a conflict of interest when she hired Wade because they were already dating. And it’s also their burden to prove that either Willis or Wade lied on the stand two weeks ago."

Sunrise — 6:19.


Write about whatever you want in the comments.

"Ever since her school adopted social-emotional learning in 2021, Ms. Julie routinely began the day by directing her Salt Lake City fifth graders..."

"... to sit in one of the plastic chairs she’d arranged in a circle. 'How is each of you feeling this morning?' she would ask.... One day, she cut to the chase: 'What is something that is making you really sad right now?'... [O]ne boy began mumbling.... 'All of a sudden, he just started bawling. And he was like, "I think that my dad hates me. And he yells at me all the time"'.... Another girl announced that her parents had divorced and burst into tears. Another said she was worried about the man her mother was dating. Within minutes, half of the kids were sobbing. It was time for the math lesson, but no one wanted to do it. It was just so sad, thinking that the boy’s dad hated him. What if their dads hated them, too?.... A second mom at the school confirmed to me that word spread throughout the school about the AA meeting–style breakdown. Except this AA meeting featured elementary school kids who then ran to tell their friends what everyone else had shared...."

Writes Abigail Shrier, in "How Bad Therapy Hijacked Our Nation’s Schools/Forget the Pledge of Allegiance. Today’s teachers are more likely to start the school day with an ‘emotions check-in.’ Abigail Shrier on the rise of ‘trauma-informed’ education" (The Free Press).

"[T]oo many Americans, too many young adults especially, are either explicitly or implicitly assuming that life is about education, money and especially work...."

"We’ve also seen the falling fortunes of men.... About one in four men in their prime, 25 to 54, are not working.... [T]he rise of expressive individualism since the late ’60s and early ’70s has kind of changed what Americans expect from love and marriage and made them less formalistic in their orientation.... I was talking to a graduate student recently. He had a very clear sense of his plan for schooling and work, and then I said, what’s your plan about marriage and dating? And there was silence.... [P]eople are not being intentional enough about seeking opportunities to meet, date and marry young adults in their world.... And I’ve spoken to a number of working-class women who kind of express concern about their partners or husband’s lack of full-time employment, and his lack of assistance on the home front — just kind of the male malaise, we might call it, is more likely to be expressed in many working class and poor communities...."

Said University of Virginia professor Brad Wilcox, author of "Get Married: Why Americans Must Defy the Elites, Forge Strong Families, and Save Civilization," quoted in "I Said, What’s Your Plan About Marriage and Dating? And There Was Silence" (NYT).

"'There was a long period of time when there was this specific look people were after — white, with inset Shaker cabinets, an island, soapstone or marble countertop...'"

"'... stainless-steel appliances. Everyone wanted it,' says Mary Mendez, director of acquisitions at Renovation Angel, a charity that refurbishes and resells high-end kitchens.... 'We would get traditional kitchens and refinish them, and people could have a kitchen that looked new and save $50,000.' But now, Mendez says, the model is wobbling. The 'in' kitchen is white, minimalist, and German — think Poggenpohl — an impossible design to fashion out of an older, traditional kitchen, Mendez says. In a few years, she expects that they’ll get some second-hand ones in, though by then, tastes will have likely moved on. 'The attention span for style and color is far shorter than it was even two years ago,' she says. (All of this is, of course, terrible for the environment.)"

From "The Immediately Outdated Renovation" (NY Magazine).

It seems to me that once you start thinking in terms of what's "dated," everything is already dated or on the verge of being dated. Any recognizable style must be already out of style in the eyes of those who know better than you. I recommend not even trying, which — let me add, of course — is great for the environment.

In search of support, Joe Biden goes on the Seth Meyers talk show.

Last night:

"I often found myself asking questions like 'Doesn’t all of this talk of "voter suppression": on the left sound similar to charges of "voter fraud" on the right?' only to realize..."

".... how unwelcome such questions were. By asking, I’d revealed that I wasn’t on the same team as my colleagues, that I didn’t accept as an article of faith the liberal premise that voter suppression was a grave threat to liberal democracy while voter fraud was entirely fake news. Or take the Hunter Biden laptop story: Was it truly 'unsubstantiated,' as the paper kept saying? At the time, it had been substantiated, however unusually, by Rudy Giuliani. Many of my colleagues were clearly worried that lending credence to the laptop story could hurt the electoral prospects of Joe Biden and the Democrats. But starting from a place of party politics and assessing how a particular story could affect an election isn’t journalism. Nor is a vague unease with difficult subjects. 'The state of Israel makes me very uncomfortable,' a colleague once told me. This was something I was used to hearing from young progressives on college campuses, but not at work...."

Writes Adam Rubenstein, in "I Was a Heretic at The New York Times/I did what I was hired to do, and I paid for it" (The Atlantic).

Rubenstein was the primary editor of the Tom Cotton op-ed that caused an uproar in 2020. This long article is mostly about that experience, which, he says, "was never about safety, or the facts, or the editing, or even the argument, but control of the paper and who had it."

"He sent the friend a copy of his will on Sunday. In it, he gave his cat to his neighbor and a fridge full of root beers to the friend."

"Twelve minutes later, Bushnell, who was a senior airman in the U.S. Air Force, doused himself with a liquid and set himself on fire. He had posted a video online saying he did not want to be 'complicit in genocide.' He shouted 'Free Palestine' as he burned. Secret Service officers extinguished the blaze. Bushnell died seven hours later at a hospital."

Aaron Bushnell was 25.

The "religious compound" was a "charismatic sect" called the Community of Jesus, located on Cape Cod.

February 26, 2024

Sunrise — 6:40, 6:42, 6:43.




"It is not clear if or how the fight contributed to Nex’s death.... [A]n early autopsy finding Wednesday showed they did not die as a result of trauma...."

"... according to police. Toxicology results and other test results are pending, authorities added.... [In police body camera video,] Nex tells the officer they poured water from their water bottle on the students and that’s when things escalated. They came at Nex and grabbed at their hair, Nex says. Nex was then able to grab one of the girls and threw her into a paper towel dispenser, they say. Nex eventually got thrown onto the ground and the other students proceeded to beat them up, Nex says in the video.... The officer then advises Nex and Sue Benedict that the courts could view throwing liquid on someone as assault and as the action that started the altercation. Police on Friday also released surveillance video that shows a group of students who make their way from the high school cafeteria to a restroom. Nex is seen on the video filling up a bottle at a water fountain outside the restroom, the video shows, then enters the restroom with two other students and eventually, all walk out of the restroom...."

This is the first time I'm blogging about Nex Benedict. If you've been following the news, you know that this version of the story is very different from what was originally reported.

"Precisely how much cash Trump has is not known. He claimed to have '400-plus' million dollars during an April deposition..."

"... in the fraud case. In an August financial disclosure filed with the Office of Government Ethics, he listed hundreds of bank and investment accounts with a total value of between $252 million and $924 million.... Trump has to keep some cash on hand to operate his properties, such as his golf courses and hotels, as maintenance or investment needs require, according to banking experts. Freeing up hundreds of millions of dollars more would almost certainly require Trump to borrow against or sell some of his real estate.... A surety company might accept Trump’s properties as collateral, but that carries its own risks. Experts in issuing bonds may not be equipped to do their own investigations into Trump’s property values, and they may not know what his assets are really worth...."

From "Clock is ticking for Trump to post bonds worth half a billion dollars/Experts say a cash crunch in coming weeks could thrust the former president’s business into greater uncertainty than it has seen in decades" (WaPo).

"they may not know what his assets are really worth" — Ironically, that is what the case itself was about. 

I wonder if Trump's claim that he has "400-plus" million dollars influenced the judge to come up with $355 million penalty (plus interest) as the penalty in the case.

"She talks about everything. Every pimple she has on her face, every rash she gets on her arm. So why hasn’t she mentioned this?"/"She completely altered her body, and she won’t cop to it."

Complaints of followers of a newly thin Instagrammer, quoted in "They Promoted Body Positivity. Then They Lost Weight. Do plus-size influencers owe their followers an explanation when their bodies change?" (NYT).

"What’s your plan for the apocalypse? I’ll tell you what mine is: death."

"I am not really built for battle.... Plus, even if I was hardier – who wants to live a few extra months in a completely destroyed world?"

Writes Arwa Mahdawi, in "The latest billionaire trend? Doomsday bunkers with a flammable moat" (The Guardian).

If you don't want to spend much money/time on apocalypse, death is a simple Plan B. 

But Mark Zuckerberg seems to be spending $270 million — chump change, for him — on a place he's got to fortify somehow. Even if he can get to it, how does he prevent other people from barging in... or his servants from rising up and slaughtering him for dinner?

"We reject the platforms’ attempt to extract a freewheeling censorship right from the Constitution’s free speech guarantee."

The Supreme Court blocked the Texas law in 2022 while the case moved forward by a 5-to-4 vote.... Justice Alito wrote... that he was skeptical of the argument that the social media companies have editorial discretion protected by the First Amendment the way newspapers and other traditional publishers do.

“It is not at all obvious,” he wrote, “how our existing precedents, which predate the age of the internet, should apply to large social media companies.”

ADDED at 9 a.m.: Listen to the oral argument here

"If Donald Trump is at the top of the Republican ticket, the risk of one-party rule by a Democratic Party captured by the progressive left is severe."

Wrote Emily Seidel, the chief executive of the Koch political network (Americans for Prosperity Action).

Trump's response:

ADDED: Trump flaunted his status as a man of the people by deploying the grocer's apostrophe.

February 25, 2024

Sunrise — 6:40.


"The habitat was constructed as future Mars dwellings will be constructed: by 3-D printer."

"For 'ink,' Martian colonies will use Martian regolith. Because NASA does not possess sufficient quantities of Martian rock, CHAPEA used a proprietary, airtight cement-based material called Lavacrete.... At one end of the rectangular habitat, four identical 6-by-11-foot cells serve as bedrooms. In the middle lies the 'lounge,' a small room with a television and four reclining chairs. The other end is occupied by several desks with computer monitors, a medical station and a crop garden. The vegetables are not intended for subsistence but for mental health: Growing plants... may 'provide psychological benefits for astronauts living in isolated, confined environments away from Earth.' Rooms have different ceiling heights, in order, according to its builder, to 'avoid spatial monotony and crew member fatigue.' A hatch opens to a Martian backyard: a tented sandbox of reddish sand and two treadmills, to be used for 'spacewalks' by virtual-reality-goggled crew members. The walls of the backyard are painted with a mural of Martian cliffs. There are no windows...."

Sunrise — 6:27, 6:31.


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"'Joe may have tamped down his public bedroom declarations winning the presidency, but he has joked to aides that ‘good sex’ is the key to a lasting and happy marriage...'"

"'... much to his wife’s chagrin.'... [I]n 2004 when Biden was considering getting into the race to challenge John Kerry[, d]uring a meeting when aides were begging him to jump in, Jill walked into the room wearing a halter top with the word 'No' scrawled on her stomach. Biden followed that sexy veto.... Some — including Jill — might find the 81-year-old Golden President’s frisky comments about the first lady cringey. But at least he is celebrating sensuality. Conservatives seem determined to stamp it out."

Writes Maureen Dowd, in "Sex and the Capital City" (NYT). She's quoting and drawing on a book by New York Times White House correspondent Katie Rogers, "American Woman: The Transformation of the Modern First Lady, From Hillary Clinton to Jill Biden."

There's doing and there's talking. Do, but you needn't talk about it, and you certainly don't need to get high-profile columnists to celebrate you for "celebrating sensuality"... whatever that is. Does it include that hair-smelling stuff?

"The way I experience love seems to be very different from the so-called neurotypical experience."

"My experience of love seems less emotional. If I had to explain what love feels like to me, I would say symbiotic. So, a relationship that’s beneficial to both people involved. Not transactional, not possessive, not ego-driven. Mutual homeostasis. It’s not that I’m unable to access emotions or empathy. It’s that my experience of those emotions is different...."

Says Patric Gagne, author of the memoir "Sociopath," in the interview "What It’s Like to Be a Sociopath" (NYT)(free access link).

Gavin Newsom is enjoying Nikki Haley and wishes her luck.

Newsom's speech is layered with sincerity and sarcasm that feels really funny and slimy to me (and I like when Jake Tapper jumps in to say that polls suggest Nikki would "clean Biden's clock"):

Language note:

Trump sneakers inspire "Saturday Night Live" to excellence.

February 24, 2024

Listening to ice melt.

Today, in the late afternoon, the ice on Lake Mendota was melting and flowing noisily.

(Write about anything you want in the comments.)

"Kristi Noem and Vivek Ramaswamy Are CPAC’s Choices for Trump’s Running Mate."

 The NYT reports.

Of course, Trump won the straw poll for President. It was 95% to 5%.

I watched most of Trump's speech to CPAC. You can watch here (start at 1:59:00):

UPDATE, 6:48 pm CST: Trump is about to make his victory speech in South Carolina.

"During an evening ostensibly aimed at promoting Kennedy at the expense of both his major-party opponents, [Adam] Carolla..."

".... acknowledged the fact that Biden had been the main target. 'I guess we should throw in a couple of Trump jokes while we’re here,' he said. The media and justice system, Carolla said, are 'turning Trump into a martyr … but not a traditional martyr' — not 'skinny guys in bathrobes' like Gandhi and Jesus. 'You don’t think about fat guys eating KFC on a private jet and banging Eurotrash.'"

From "RFK Jr.’s comedy night: Barbs for Biden, but the joke may be on Trump/The L.A. fundraiser featuring Adam Carolla, Jeremy Piven and others seemed to appeal to Kennedy-curious voters who might otherwise support the Republican" (WaPo).

"If Wendy was of sound mind when she was filming, she would have never allowed for them to tape her like that. She never allowed to be seen without her hair."

From "'SHE DIDN'T KNOW'/Wendy Williams ‘did not realize she was filming a documentary’ in dementia struggle as Lifetime show preps for release/'Wendy would not have allowed herself to be seen sans wig'" (The Sun).

"Scientific papers are like someone’s dating profile on an app."

"They’re picking what pictures to show you and what stories to tell you. You don’t get to see the whole library of photos on their phone. Researchers are only presenting a sliver of what they’ve actually done. And just like a dating app on your phone, everything is inaccurate."

From "We’re Not Curing Cancer Here, Guys/Are leading scientists just making stuff up? Vinay Prasad breaks down the cancer research scandal" (The Free Press).

"Evangelical tradition has built a public identity around being pro-family and pro-children, and many adherents are inclined to see I.V.F. positively..."

"... because it creates more children.... But the Alabama decision 'is a very morally honest opinion,' said Andrew T. Walker, associate professor of Christian ethics and public theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. The ruling, he said, shows the direct line of reasoning between belief that life begins at conception, and opposition to abortion and I.V.F. 'It’s going to force conservative Christians to reckon with potentially their own complicity in the in vitro fertilization industry,' he said. The Roman Catholic Church is perhaps the largest institution in the world that opposes I.V.F. Nearly all modern fertility interventions are morally forbidden. The I.V.F. process typically includes many elements that the Catholic Church opposes. There’s masturbation — an 'offense against chastity,' according to the catechism, or teaching — often required to collect sperm. There’s the fertilization of an egg and sperm outside a woman’s body — outside the sacramental 'conjugal act' of sex between a husband and wife. And there is the creation of multiple embryos that are often destroyed or not implanted — an 'abortive practice.'..."

From "What Christian Traditions Say About I.V.F. Treatments/While Catholic teaching expressly forbids in vitro fertilization, Protestants tend to be more open" (NYT).

"Far-right Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich announced plans late Thursday for approval of 3,000 new settlement homes..."

"... after Israeli police said Palestinian gunmen opened fire near the existing Maale Adumim settlement, killing one Israeli and wounding five. The expansion plans, he said, were part of 'deepening our eternal grip on the entire Land of Israel.' 'This is outrageous' after all the U.S. backing the Israeli government has received in the past several months, a former Biden official said. 'For Smotrich to go and do this is just basically an F-you.'"

"I got indicted a second time and a third time and a fourth time, and a lot of people said that that’s why the Black people like me..."

"... because they have been hurt so badly and discriminated against, and they actually viewed me as I’m being discriminated against. I’m being indicted for you, the American people. I’m being indicted for you, the Black population. I am being indicted for a lot of different groups by sick people, these are sick sick people.... Some of the greatest evils in our nation's history have come from corrupt systems that try to target and subjugate others to deny them their freedom and to deny them their rights. I think that's why the Black people are so much on my side now because they see what's happening to me happens to them.... My mug shot — we’ve all seen the mug shot, and you know who embraced it more than anybody else? The Black population. You see Black people walking around with my mug shot, you know, they do shirts and they sell them for $19 apiece. It’s pretty amazing — millions by the way."

Said Donald Trump, yesterday in South Carolina, as he received the "Champion of Black America" award from the Black Conservative Federation. He was quoted in "Trump says 'the Black people' like him because he's been 'discriminated against' in the legal system/In a speech to a group of Black conservatives, he also said Black Americans "embraced" his mug shot more than anyone else" (NBC News).

The tone of voice may affect how you interpret that:

He also called Joe Biden a racist: "Joe Biden really has proven to be a very nasty and vicious racist. He's been a racist. Whether you like it or don't like it. I happen not to like it. Joe Biden really has proven to be a very nasty and vicious racist. He's been a racist. Whether you like it or don't like it. I happen not to like it.... Biden spent years palling around with notorious segregationist you know that." I don't know what that refers to — some Senator who got elected and therefore received the conventional collegiality of the Senate? If that's all it is, the missing name is Strom Thurmond. Other than that "palling around" reference, I'm just seeing the repeated blunt assertion that Joe Biden has been a racist. Adding "nasty and vicious" or "very nasty and vicious" explains nothing.

And here's some edgy racial humor. I think it's a reversal of the old (and stupid) observation that black people are hard to see in the dark: White people are hard to see in the light.... ADDED: At the same event, Trump does a pretty funny imitation of Biden:

February 23, 2024

Sunrise — 6:27, 6:43, 6:46, 6:47.

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"[W]hat often starts as a parent’s effort to jump-start a child’s modeling career, or win favors from clothing brands, can quickly descend..."

"... into a dark underworld dominated by adult men, many of whom openly admit on other platforms to being sexually attracted to children, an investigation by The New York Times found.... Some parents are the driving force behind the sale of photos, exclusive chat sessions and even the girls’ worn leotards and cheer outfits to mostly unknown followers. The most devoted customers spend thousands of dollars nurturing the underage relationships.... 'I really don’t want my child exploited on the internet,' said Kaelyn, a mother in Melbourne, Australia... 'But she’s been doing this so long now.... Her numbers are so big. What do we do? Just stop it and walk away?'"

"I’m glad that Google overplayed their hand with their AI image generation, as it made their insane racist, anti-civilizational programming clear to all."

Tweeted Elon Musk... and I didn't understand that and was about to Google for an answer before noticing the irony, so I decided to blog about it, here on my Google-owned blogging platform.

Let's see: Business Insider has "Elon Musk is accusing Google of running 'insane racist, anti-civilizational programming' with its AI":

"The kind of folks that were Tea Party in 2010 are part of the MAGA movement in 2024. We owe all this to the Tea Party."

Said Scott Huffmon, a Winthrop University polisci professor, quoted in "How Did Haley’s South Carolina Become Trump Country? Ask the Tea Party. Veterans of the conservative, grass-roots movement see the state’s presidential primary as a fight between a 'crazy uncle' and a 'snowflake niece.' They’ve made their choice" (NYT).
Mr. Trump... made few gestures toward the libertarian economics championed by the Tea Party.... Instead, he had won attention from Tea Partiers by fanning the flames of conspiracy theories about Mr. Obama’s birth certificate and the construction of an Islamic cultural center near ground zero in Lower Manhattan.

Some national Tea Party organizers had labored to keep such preoccupations on the fringes of the movement, but they remained persistent among its rank-and-file supporters and local activists.

“It was an ethnonationalist passion about a changing America,” said Theda Skocpol, a Harvard University professor of government and sociology who has studied the Tea Party movement. “And that is something that Trump ended up picking up on.”...

Kid Rock explains his relationship to Bud Light.

Here's the whole episode. If you want to hear him talk about Trump, start at 1:15:11:

February 22, 2024

Sunrise — 6:47, 6:51, 6:52, 7:09.





"Shabbat is one of the most radical things you could do. One of the reasons we have a climate crisis right now is a product of disconnection..."

"... the result of undervaluing life, especially nonhuman life. Shabbat is a time of remembering we’re not machines; we get to be human with all other life. That kind of connection is what powers environmental and climate movements."

Says Rabbi Laura Bellows of Dayenu, "an organization mobilizing the United States’ Jewish community to confront the climate crisis," quoted in "Why reviving a 2,600-year-old spiritual practice made my life better" (WaPo).

This essay, by Michael J. Coren, begins with a focus on his own psychological wellbeing, as the essay title suggests, but it quickly devolves into a discussion of climate change, replete with suggestions of compulsory observance of the Sabbath:

"Children at a Brooklyn public elementary school are being taught revolutionary politics and communist terms from a Black Lives Matter coloring book..."

"Last week, teachers at PS 321—the kindergarten through fifth grade school in Park Slope—supplied students with the coloring book, What We Believe, as part of a lesson for Black History Month.Lessons in the coloring book tell children to reflect on Black Lives Matter’s 13 principles. Some of the exercises, parents said, appear innocuous; a page about 'Restorative Justice,' for example, asks students: 'Why is it important to offer to forgive someone?' But another, entitled 'Transgender Affirming,' instructs students to read the book When Aidan Became a Brother about a girl who transitions to a boy, and then answer questions on a worksheet like, 'How do you feel when someone tells you what you can or can’t do based on your gender?'"

"Kids Get Schooled on Radical Politics/Students at a public elementary school in Brooklyn are learning revolutionary theory from a Black Lives Matter coloring book."

I don't see "transgender affirming" ideology in the question "How do you feel when someone tells you what you can or can’t do based on your gender?" The question strongly implies that you can do what you want regardless of gender and that it is ignorant to associate preferences and interests with gender. That undercuts those who think that that they have an inward gender that is different from their physical bodily sex. It seems to me that it is encouraging kids to see themselves and others as individuals with whatever feelings and behavior they happen to have. It seems to be attacking the motivation to take the transgender route. 

Resigning, a UK transgender judge writes, "Rosa Parks’ choice of seat was political because of the colour of her skin. More prosaically, for me..."

"... I am now political every time I choose where to pee. Less prosaically, the judiciary by continuing to let me be a judge is now at risk of being political.”

From "UK’s only trans judge quits over risk of ‘politicising the judiciary'/Victoria McCloud said she had become a target and was forced to be political every time she chose ‘where to pee'" (London Times).
McCloud kept her trans identity out of the public eye for much of her time as a judge until her status was revealed by a national newspaper in 2016....

"Joe Biden’s dog Commander bit Secret Service agents 24 times."

The London Times reports.
[N]ewly released documents... only cover a nine-month period and members of the Secret Service, rather than all presidential staff, the true number of incidents could be much higher than the documents reveal. Previous reports had put the number of biting incidents at 11....

February 21, 2024

Sunrise — 6:30, 6:44.


IMG_5325 (1)

"... Harvard interim president Alan M. Garber... said the cartoon depicted a hand labeled with a Star of David with a dollar sign in the middle holding nooses that were tied around the necks of an Arab man and a Black man."

"Screenshots of the cartoon appeared to show that the men were boxer and antiwar activist Muhammad Ali and former Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser. [The Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee and the African American Resistance Organization] have since taken down the image and apologized...."

From "Harvard condemns ‘flagrantly antisemitic’ cartoon posted by student groups" (WaPo).

"What teenagers today are offered... is a hyperactive landscape of so-called aesthetics... including everything from the infamous cottagecore to, these days, prep."

"These are more like cultural atmospheres, performed mainly online, with names and looks and hashtags, an easy visual pablum.... They have much content but little context — a lot to look at but a very thin relationship to any 'real life' anything.... On one end, even a distinctly in-the-world subculture (like, say, grunge) can be reduced to a vibe packet of anodyne references (cigarettes, grimy things); on the other, a mere mood tone can be elevated to something offered as lifestyle (there are girls who enjoy the color red and a certain Euro effortlessness, and they are called Tomato Girls, while others who prefer white are called Vanilla Girls). If two dozen things on a Pinterest page feel as if they go together, chances are someone, even just as a lark or experiment, is calling it an aesthetic.... Kids are not failing by wanting to be cottagecore or meatcore or this new preppy. It’s the culture available to them that is failing.... Kids... need more, deserve more...."

Writes Mireille Silcoff, in "Teen Subcultures Are Fading. Pity the Poor Kids. Gorgeous, abundant visuals are just pale imitations of what young people used to have: an actual scene" (NYT)(free access link).

"The latest U.S. defense of Israel on the global stage came at the International Court of Justice in The Hague..."

"... where Richard C. Visek, the acting legal adviser at the U.S. State Department, urged a 15-judge panel not to call for Israel’s immediate withdrawal from occupied Palestinian territory.... On Wednesday, Mr. Visek asked the court to uphold the 'established framework' for peace that he said U.N. bodies have agreed to — one that is contingent on a 'broader end to belligerence' against Israel — rather than heed calls by other nations for Israel’s 'unilateral and unconditional withdrawal' from occupied territories....  On Tuesday, South Africa forcefully condemned Israel’s policies against Palestinians, calling them 'a more extreme form of apartheid' the race-based system of laws that deprived Black South Africans for decades.... The United States has remained Israel’s staunchest defender internationally. But the Biden administration, under increasing pressure from parts of the Democratic Party, has also shown signs of impatience with Israel’s conduct of the war...."

The NYT reports.

"Even before birth, all human beings have the image of God, and their lives cannot be destroyed without effacing his glory."

Wrote Chief Justice Tom Parker, in a concurring opinion, quoted in "Alabama Rules Frozen Embryos Are Children, Raising Questions About Fertility Care/The ruling raises worrisome legal issues for would-be parents far beyond Alabama whose hopes for children may depend on in vitro fertilization" (NYT).
It has become standard medical protocol during in vitro fertilization to extract as many eggs as possible from a woman, then to fertilize them to create embryos before freezing them. Generally, only one embryo is transferred at a time into the uterus in order to maximize the chances of successful implantation and a full-term pregnancy.

“But what if we can’t freeze them?” [asked the head of a group that represents the interests of infertility patients]. “Will we hold people criminally liable because you can’t freeze a ‘person’? This opens up so many questions.”...

I'm seeing the idea that the economics of the infertility treatment business have been radically transformed (at least in Alabama). 

"Cats and dogs have an outsize carbon footprint, mostly because of their carnivorous diet."

"If the pet food industry, which mainly feeds dogs and cats, were a country, it would rank as the 60th-highest greenhouse gas emitter, equivalent to the Philippines. Rabbits, by contrast, leave a minimal pawprint. They eat small amounts of hay and otherwise discarded vegetables. Their waste can be used as fertilizer in gardens...."

From "Why you should consider bunnies as your next pet/'It’s like having a vegan cat'" (WaPo).

From the comments, from someone who said she had a rabbit as a pet:

February 20, 2024

Sunrise — 6:40, 6:52.



"All Washington does is divide us and talk about who’s to blame.... That’s not the country I know and love. I believe we need to come together and find common sense solutions to restore America."

Says Eric Hovde, quoted in "Eric Hovde launches Wisconsin Senate bid, handing GOP a boost" (The Hill).

Hovde seeks the Republican nomination for the Senate seat held by Democrat Tammy Baldwin.

Nate Silver poses "A simple challenge to the White House" to prove Biden's fitness as a candidate.

At Substack:
Over the course of the next several weeks, Biden should do four lengthy sitdown interviews with “non-friendly” sources....
For instance, Biden could pick... • A lengthy sitdown interview with the Washington bureaus of the New York Times or Washington Post. • An interview with 60 Minutes.... • An interview with some sort of center-right print or digital outlet... say the Wall Street Journal op-ed page.... • Wild card.... Go on Ezra Klein's podcast? Go on Rogan? Just kidding, I think. But Bernie Sanders did it....
This really isn't too much to ask.

Yeah, of course, it's not too much to ask, but I think we all know in our heart it is too much for him to do. It's hard to picture him even doing 2 of these things. Or one

And the timing is urgent because he and his inner circle have to make sure that he's really up for a second term and that this is the best option for Democrats.

Why is it suddenly "urgent"? It's a chronic problem and Democrats have been plodding slowly into it for over a year. I think at this point, the best path is to silently endure his collection of delegates. After that, Democrats have until the August convention to devise a nomination for the best candidate. Biden can gracefully withdraw at the best time. There's no reason to put him to the test and degrade or humiliate him. Treat him with respect and replace him at the optimal time. May I presume this is in the works? 

"A quiet, introspective bachelor, who wore a signet ring with the Latin word for 'caution,' he hated conflict..."

"... and had the courtly manners of his Iberian ancestry. But his virtuous life only made religious believers even more furious: How could a Godless man be morally irreproachable? Here, then, was a clash which we can still recognize today, between those who believe that moral behavior can only come from religious belief, and those who think it can emanate from reason...."

Writes Ian Buruma, in "The 17th-Century Heretic We Could Really Use Now" (NYT).

Reginald presents a dramatic reading of "Fast Car."

It's TikTok, so I will honor your sensibilities with this page break:

"I guess, as the famous saying goes, Democracy Dies in Discussion."

Says Jon Stewart, on "The Daily Show" last night, responding to critics who accused him of "bothsidesism" for aiming some of his humor at Biden:

The test is whether Stewart can stand up to these critics or whether he will take direction from them. He makes a joke of apologizing to them and offering them a fresh slab of the kind of comedy they demand — he goes after Tucker Carlson. Fine. That was well done. But I don't want Stewart cowed by his critics, and I hope as last night's show proceeded, he made fun of some Democrats too. I can't tell you whether he did or not, because they didn't put the whole show on YouTube as they did last week, and I don't currently have the Paramount streaming service. I was considering subscribing just to get this show. I still am. I want what's going to make Democrats get haughtily indignant and say "bothsidesism."

February 19, 2024

Sunrise — 6:33, 6:37, 6:39, 6:40, 6:45, 6:56.




"A lot of pro-Palestine stuff in Barcelona."

Chris texts me from Spain, with 4 photographs:

Photo by Chris in Barcelona, Spain

"[Democratic Governor Tony] Evers signed the bill despite pressure from powerful Democrats in the state to veto it."

"When the bill made its way through the legislature, Democratic lawmakers opposed it nearly uniformly, citing concerns... about possible future legal challenges to the legislative maps and general distrust of the Republican legislators who agreed to the law’s passage. 'If you believe that WI Republicans are planning to run on Gov. Evers’ maps in November, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you,' wrote Democratic state senator LaTonya Johnson on the social media site X. But it’s not clear exactly what those legal challenges would look like. 'I am extremely skeptical of this idea that there is a good basis for challenging the law, really on any grounds,' said Quinn Yeargain, a legal scholar who focuses on state constitutional law. 'I’m as much of a partisan Democrat and progressive as anybody else is, but being intellectually honest about what’s going on here is also important.'... The maps were heralded by anti-gerrymandering activists in Wisconsin as a win...."

From "Wisconsin adopts new legislative maps, giving Democrats chance to win state/Governor’s signature marks end of long fight over legislative lines and greatly reduces the Republican bias baked into current maps" (The Guardian).

How to be 14th best.

"Biden’s most important achievements may be that he rescued the presidency from Trump, resumed a more traditional style of presidential leadership and is gearing up to keep the office out of his predecessor’s hands this fall."

Wrote Justin Vaughn and Brandon Rottinghaus, who are responsible for the survey reported at "Poll Ranks Biden as 14th-Best President, With Trump Last/President Biden may owe his place in the top third to his predecessor: Mr. Biden’s signature accomplishment, according to the historians, was evicting Donald J. Trump from the Oval Office" (NYT).

"I think that this is really an extraordinary, unusual circumstance that the law-abiding and rule-following New Yorkers who are business people have nothing to worry about, because they’re very different than Donald Trump and his behavior."

Said Governor Kathy Hochul, quoted in "Hochul tells NY businesses not to fear about Trump verdict: 'Nothing to worry about'" (The Hill).

What is the "extraordinary, unusual circumstance"? 

Being Donald Trump? If so, she's revealing that she believes the prosecutors went after the man, not the crime, an abhorrent abuse of power.

So, whatever she thinks, she can't mean to be saying that. What else is there?

There's the classic unbelievable assurance that if you don't break the law, you've got nothing to worry about. If you're "law-abiding and rule-following," then you're not in the category with Donald Trump.  Trump did something "extraordinary" and "unusual." Or did the prosecution do something "extraordinary" and "unusual"?

It's not reassuring.

ADDED: This post got me reading the Wikipedia article "Give me the man and I will give you the case against him":

"Game on, Don."

"Mr. Navalny was able to send hundreds of handwritten letters, thanks to the curious digitalization of the Russian prison system..."

"... a relic of a brief burst of liberal reform in the middle of Mr. Putin’s 24-year rule. Through a website, people could write to him for 40 cents a page and receive scans of his responses.... In a letter... Mr. Navalny explained that he preferred to be reading 10 books simultaneously and 'switch between them.'... Describing prison life... he recommended nine books on the subject, including a 1,012-page, three-volume set by the Soviet dissident Anatoly Marchenko. Mr. Navalny added in that letter that he had reread 'One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich'.... the searing Alexander Solzhenitsyn novel about Stalin’s gulag.... 'Everyone usually thinks that I really need pathetic and heartbreaking words,' he wrote... 'But I really miss the daily grind — news about life, food, salaries, gossip'.... 'I really like your letters,' Mr. Navalny wrote in the last message that [his friend, the Russian photographer Evgeny Feldman, received. 'They’ve got everything I like to discuss: food, politics, elections, scandalous topics and ethnicity issues.'"

Why is Matthew Perry in the headline? We're told that Navalny had never watched "Friends" — a show with plenty of food, gossip, and scandalous topics — but he'd read the actor's obituary in The Economist, "Matthew Perry changed the way America spoke" ("[I]n the audition it was he who had nailed it, reading the words in that unexpected way, 'hitting emphases that no one else had hit'; making everyone laugh. It was less that he, Matthew Perry, could play Chandler than that he was Chandler. He changed the part—and then the part changed him").

The NYT piece tells us that that Navalny's prison library had the classics — Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky or Chekhov — and “Who could’ve told me that Chekhov is the most depressing Russian writer?”

There's also some material here about Trump, but it's a little hard to understand. Perhaps it was enigmatic in the original. There's "Mr. Navalny confided that the electoral agenda of former U.S. President Donald J. Trump looked 'really scary.'" Not the man, the "electoral agenda"? And then he went on to say "Please name one current politician you admire."

February 18, 2024

Sunrise — 6:53, 7:00, 7:01.



Western view:


"More than two dozen sources tell CNN that [Kamala] Harris has been gathering information to help her penetrate what she sometimes refers to as the 'bubble'..."

"... of Biden campaign thinking, telling people she’s aiming to use that intelligence to push for changes in strategy and tactics that she hopes will put the ticket in better shape to win. Multiple leading Democrats, anxious about a campaign they fear might be stumbling past a point of no return, say their conversations with Harris have been a surprising and welcome change, after months of feeling sloughed off by the White House and Biden campaign headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware...."

CNN reports.

ADDED: This writing struck me as very strange, as if perhaps it was dictated by someone making a pitch:

"Women and people of color are not considered the readers of presidential history. And I think that’s related to this emphasis on masculinity."

Said Alexis Coe, author of the George Washington biography, “You Never Forget Your First,” quoted in "Why are historians obsessed with George Washington’s thighs?" (WaPo).
Ron Chernow (“Washington: A Life”) fixated on his “virile form,” particularly his “wide, flaring hips with muscular thighs.” Richard Brookhiser (“Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington”) remarked on his “well developed” thighs and quoted a bodybuilder who examined a Washington portrait and said, “Nice quads.” Joseph J. Ellis (“His Excellency: George Washington”) wrote that his “very strong thighs and legs ... allowed him to grip a horse’s flanks tightly and hold his seat in the saddle with uncommon ease.”... 

Why does Coe think women aren't interested in male body parts?! It seems to me that the focus on the physical body is especially interesting to women. I think biographies should tell us a lot about how people looked and what sort of physical powers and problems they had. I'd think male authors may tend to want to tell us about the physical attributes of the female characters, so it's good for them to make an effort to depict the masculinity of the men. 

By the way, since when are "wide, flaring hips" considered highly masculine?

In the New York Times, a reference to Trump's "false belief that he had actually won the election."

But the Jack Smith case against Trump requires the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Trump did not believe that he had won, that he was lying when he said he had won. That's the opposite of a "false belief that he had actually won." Correct me if I'm wrong.

In the days before the attack on the Capitol... Mrs. Trump had also started repeating a version of her husband’s false belief that he had actually won the election, telling her associates that “something bad” had happened....

"The gold 'Never Surrender High Top Sneaker' is $399 with gold laces, a red and white sole, and part of an American flag up at the top."

"But it’s also 'SUPER LIMITED' to 1,000 numbered pairs, and the website, which is apparently not officially affiliated with the Trump campaign, claims they are already sold out. (Don’t worry, some were quickly listed on Ebay for thousands of dollars per pair.) The laceless Trump athletic shoes are $199, have '45' on them, and come in red (T - Red Wave) or white (POTUS 45).... The Trump Sneakers site also presells $99 bottles of Trump Victory47 perfume... and Trump Victory47 cologne.... [J]ust in case anyone was thinking these limited edition items will only increase in value and are thus a worthy heirloom: 'Trump Sneakers & Fragrances are intended for individual enjoyment and as a collectible and not for investment purposes.'..."

Whatever it takes... whatever scorn it brings...
Now, next time you are booed, you may remember to respond like Trump: "Wow, there's a lot of emotion."

Found object: The Metal Bird.

"Staying in bed after you wake up is appealing because we crave agency..."

"... said Eleanor McGlinchey, a sleep psychologist at Manhattan Therapy Collective.... Much like 'revenge bedtime procrastination' — the act of staying up too long to make up for the hours you spent working or caring for others during the day — lolling about in the morning is front-loading that 'me' time before responsibilities invade.... Quality time for yourself can slip into something more detrimental — such as a mindless hour or even longer on social media....  Generally speaking, though, lounging in bed can be time well-spent...."

From "How Long Is Too Long to Stay in Bed? Asking for a friend" (NYT).

I think the right question is not how long but how good — quality, not quantity. That's true about staying in bed and it's true about being on social media. Hence the "mindless" in front of "hour."

Googling, I see this article has also had the title "‘Bed Rotting’ and ‘Hurkle Durkle’: Can You Stay In Bed Too Long?" That's a more exciting headline, especially for those of us who respond to words.

And it looks as though this article, positing the sort of question you'd want answered by a sleep psychologist, was inspired by a TikTok trend...


"I'm coming to this super-late, but I just need to say that Paul Zrimsek won the internetz fir at least a week or two. Wow."

Said Beaneater, in a comment I just moderated through.

The post, from 3 days ago, was called "Unhappiness with air travel took a new turn when maggots rained down on passengers on a Delta flight from Amsterdam to Detroit...."

What had Paul Zrimsek said?

"Carrion items must be securely stowed."

February 17, 2024

At the Saturday Night Café...

... you can write about whatever you want.

"Here’s the [Hur] report’s biggest revelation: Biden held on to classified top-secret national-security documents..."

"... after he left the vice-presidency, and he did it intentionally. This was no accident. Biden had those documents for this specific reason: He believed he had been right on American policy in Afghanistan (and that President Barack Obama had been wrong), and he wanted to paint himself as the visionary hero (and Obama as the heel) in the historical narrative. That’s why Biden shared some of their contents with his ghostwriter — though Hur acknowledges that Biden may have disclosed that classified information inadvertently, citing Biden’s 'lapses in attention and vigilance.' Here’s the single most important piece of evidence in Hur’s report: In a recording made by the ghostwriter in February 2017 — a month after Biden left the vice-presidency — Biden says he had 'just found all the classified stuff downstairs.'...  He kept those sensitive documents and said nothing for five more years. Not until 2022 — after the FBI executed its search warrant on Trump at Mar-a-Lago — did Biden’s people alert the authorities...."

Writes Elie Honig, a former federal and state prosecutor, in "The Real Biden Documents Scandal (It’s Not the Old-Man Stuff)" (NY Magazine).

In an alley next to the Palace Güell in Barcelona, Spain...

Photo by Chris in Barcelona, Spain

... my son Chris photographs that mural and this poster....

Photo by Chris in Barcelona, Spain

A closer look:

10 pages?!!

I'm reading "75 Hard Has a Cultish Following. Is It Worth All the Effort?/Thousands of people each year partake in the 75-day program meant to build 'mental toughness,' according to its creator, but health experts caution the program may be too rigid and intense" (NYT).
Two 45-minute daily workouts. One gallon of water. 10 pages of a nonfiction book. A diet. No “cheat meals” or alcohol. For 75 days. And if you mess up, you have to start from the beginning.

Sound like a lot? It’s supposed to be. The program, called 75 Hard, is meant to build mental toughness. Some say that rigidity is what makes it great, and others say that makes it problematic...

How do you get 10 pages of a nonfiction book as a grueling challenge? That's just sad. That should be part of a program called 75 Easy. Two 5-minute daily workouts. One quart of water. Only one drink and one dessert per day. For 75 days.

"Aleksei A. Navalny’s political allies on Saturday confirmed his death...."

The NYT reports.
Kira Yarmysh, Mr. Navalny’s spokeswoman, said in a statement on X that Russian investigators had transferred Mr. Navalny’s body from a penal colony in the Arctic to the nearby town of Salekhard, where it is being examined....

In their statement about his death, Russian prison authorities said that its causes were “being determined.” Local investigators said that they launched a “procedural check” into Mr. Navalny’s death....

"In recent years, I’ve come to believe that the decision to treat the pacing of cognitive jobs like manufacturing jobs was a mistake."

"We seemed to have forgotten that life in the mills and factories was miserable.... And yet, as more of us shifted into the comparable comfort of office buildings, we carried over the same flawed model forged on the factory floor.... The process of producing value with the human brain — the foundational activity of many knowledge sector roles — cannot be forced into a regular, unvarying schedule...."

Writes Cal Newport, in "To Cure Burnout, Embrace Seasonality" (NYT).

"In the real world, Mr. Trump is a former president who lost an election and has been denying it ever since."

"In the dock, he is a defendant required to submit to the proceedings of law. He is a courtroom sketch, rendered in two shaky dimensions, with hooded eyes and a glum look. But outside the court, he recasts himself as the defiant fighter. Appearing on camera at his own properties, arrayed in flags, he is in control. He is vested with authority. He is, the set dressing seems to suggest, still the president. His appearances may be inaccurate or irrelevant or unhelpful to his legal defense. But they are forceful, a perception he always sought...."

If tomorrow all his things were gone he'd worked for all his life, and he had to start again, with just his children and his wife, he'd thank his lucky stars to be living here today, because the flag still stands for freedom, and they can't take that away....

February 16, 2024

Sunrise — 6:44.


"Trump Ordered to Pay $355 Million and Barred From New York Business."

"The ruling in Donald J. Trump’s civil fraud case could cost him all his available cash. The judge said that the former president’s 'complete lack of contrition' bordered on pathological."

The NYT reports.

"One thing Mr. Trump likes about a 16-week federal ban on abortions is that it’s a round number. 'Know what I like about 16?'..."

"... Mr. Trump told one of these people, who was given anonymity to describe a private conversation. 'It’s even. It’s four months.' When discussing prospective vice-presidential candidates, Mr. Trump often asks whether they are 'OK on abortion.' He is instantly dismissive when he hears that a Republican doesn’t support 'the three exceptions.'"

From "Trump Privately Expresses Support for a 16-Week Abortion Ban/In supporting a 16-week ban with exceptions, Donald Trump appears to be trying to satisfy social conservatives who want to further restrict abortion access and voters who want more modest limits" (NYT)(free access link).

The 3 exceptions are when the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest and when it is necessary to save the life of the mother. 

"In a Fox News town-hall event in January, a week before the Iowa caucuses, a socially conservative voter asked Mr. Trump to 'reassure me' that he would protect 'every person’s right to life, without compromise.' Mr. Trump declined to reassure her. 'I love where you are coming from,' he told the voter. 'But we still have to win elections. And they have used this — you know, we have some great Republicans and they are great on the issue, and you would love them on the issue. And a lot of them have just been decimated in the election.'"

"For those who generally have faith in Willis, she was understandably enraged and gave a master class in how to defend oneself in a public setting."

"For others, her protestations were over the top. Even so, the fact that there was even a hearing into Willis and whether she has a financial conflict of interest in the case was a windfall for Trump. Obviously, it would be an enormous boon for him if Willis or the entire Fulton County district attorney’s office is disqualified. But even if neither Willis nor her office is disqualified and her office is allowed to continue prosecuting this case, the damage done to the public’s perception of the case is incontrovertible...."

From "Fani Willis just gave Donald Trump exactly what he wants/The fact that there was even a hearing into Willis' alleged financial conflict of interest is great news for defendant Trump" (MSNBC).

That's MSNBC, take note.

"It will also be a chance for her to prove herself on the world stage in an election year in which her running mate, President Biden, faces questions about his age."

"While no one in the White House would say this too openly, Ms. Harris’s challenge in the campaign is to demonstrate that she is up to the job so that voters will not worry about re-electing an 81-year-old president who would be 86 at the end of a second term."

From this NYT front-page piece:

I'd like to see her handle herself answering tough questions, not merely delivering the scripted platitude in the subheadline — "global partnerships are critical to U.S. security, not a burden to be lightly discarded."

"We have no reason to believe state propaganda. If this is true, then it’s not 'Navalny died,' but 'Putin killed Navalny,' and only that."

Said Leonid Volkov, Aleksei A. Navalny’s longtime chief of staff, quoted in a NYT article that seems to need a better headline, "Aleksei Navalny, Putin Critic, Dies in Prison, Russian Authorities Say/The opposition leader, who was poisoned in 2020, had spent months in isolation" (NYT).

What good would it do Putin to lie about this? Does the NYT know that it's not a lie? What good would it do the NYT to report this as a fact if it were not verified?

"More of our children want to explore, learn about, challenge, change, or move inside and outside the bounds of masculinity and femininity."

"Many kids seem to get that with increased access to an evolving gender spectrum, more people can experience more joy. In the trans community, I’ve heard this idea described as 'genderful.'"

Said Joji Florence, founder of the proposed Miss Major Middle charter school, quoted in "Proposed NYC ‘trans’ and ‘queer’ charter school would encourage 9-year-olds to ‘explore their gender’: ‘Indoctrinating’" (NY Post).

There's also this from evolutionary biologist Colin Wright: "If you’re a parent who doesn’t know much about gender ideology and you hear that a kid can be themselves, not judged, it looks so progressive and fantastic. It sounds really good. These parents probably think the school is about just being yourself, free to be you and me, but it’s absolutely not what’s happening. They’re saying you can’t just be an effeminate boy and masculine girl. It’s saying, 'If you’re an effeminate boy, you’re actually a girl.'"

How does he know that?

Today's garnering.

I was reading "Vera Wang, 74, flaunts age-defying appearance in hooded gown at the BAFTA Gala 2024" —in the NY Post (and marveling at the photographs) — when I encountered that word:
"The fashion designer, whose impressive appearance at 74 years old continues to garner attention, arrived at London’s swanky Peninsula Hotel in a stunning white gown."

Others may get attention, but Vera Wang garners attention. The comments over there are funny. No one seems to agree that she has defied age.

By the way, did the Post get the flaunt/flout distinction right? Yes. She may be flouting age, but she's flaunting age defiance.

"You are dead to me. Please get off Twitter and just stay on Substack."

Tweeted Elon Musk at Matt Taibbi, reported at Mediaite.

February 15, 2024

Snow in the woods — 1 p.m.


"Everywhere I turn, people are rightly laboring to sound the alarm about Donald Trump’s spectacularly reckless, deeply evil expectorations...."

Frank Bruni expresses his frustration, in "We’re Running Out of Names for Trump. At Least Polite Ones" (NYT)(free access link!).

"Everywhere I turn...." reminds me of the famous Pauline Kael remark. But Pauline Kael was more self-aware. She said (get it right!):
"I live in a rather special world. I only know one person who voted for Nixon. Where they are I don’t know. They’re outside my ken. But sometimes when I’m in a theater I can feel them."
If everywhere you turn you see nothing but hatred of Trump, you're missing millions of your fellow citizens.

Kael was talking about the 1972 election, which Richard Nixon won by a stunning landslide.

"In 2003, the typical female pet owner spent much more time socializing with humans than playing with her cat or dog."

"By 2022, this flipped, and the average woman with a pet now spends more time 'actively engaged' with her pet than she spends hanging out face-to-face with fellow humans on any given day...."

"Unhappiness with air travel took a new turn when maggots rained down on passengers on a Delta flight from Amsterdam to Detroit...."

"A passenger reportedly brought rotten fish on to the plane in a carry-on bag, and placed it in an overhead bin, before the maggots broke free...."

The Guardian reports.

"A scientist defamed can publish a thousand peer-reviewed articles in the effort to clear his or her name, but when scientists and lawyers join forces, disinformation can more readily be defeated."

"What’s disheartening is that it took more than a decade and countless hours by a team of lawyers to win a jury verdict in our case when the verdict on human-caused global warming was rendered decades ago...."

Writes climate scientist Michael Mann, along with lawyer Peter J. Fontaine, in the NYT op-ed "We Don’t Have Time for Climate Misinformation." 

"A friend of Ms. Willis, Robin Bryant-Yeartie, testified that she had 'no doubt' that the romance began before Ms. Willis hired Mr. Wade for the case."

That would contradict the timeline presented by the prosecutors, who said it began after Mr. Wade was hired...."

From "Live Updates: Key Witness Contradicts Trump Prosecutors’ Timeline of Relationship/A former friend and colleague of Fani Willis says the district attorney’s romance with the lead prosecutor in the Georgia election interference case began before he was hired, possibly bolstering defense lawyers’ claims of a conflict of interest" (NYT).

There's live video at that link. Wade is testifying as I write this.

UPDATE: "Nathan Wade is sticking to his contention that his romantic relationship with Fani Willis began in 2022, after he started working for the district attorney's office in November 2021. It was 'early' 2022, he says in response to the defense attorney's probing.... A key sticking point has been who paid for trips that Nathan Wade and Fani Willis took together.... Wade says that Willis typically reimbursed him in cash for their joint travel, so there aren’t credit card receipts available to show that."