December 7, 2022

At the Wednesday Night Café…

... you can talk about whatever you want.

The Beatles have a new music video — "Here, There and Everywhere."

Just 4 TikToks to amuse you this dark afternoon.

1. Wolves at night, in the forest.

2. Skijoring.

3. He found an eagle.

4. Random generosity.

Time's Person of the Year was easy to predict — especially since Elon Musk was last year's Person of the Year.

Volodymyr Zelensky.

Jonathan Franzen is not going to try to disinvent Twitter.

From 2015:

I like the part where they're talking about the word "although." Franzen, who loves complicated sentences, says it's hard, on Twitter, to write a sentence with the word "although." Colbert, after blurting out a super-short sentence with the word "although," and getting minor resistance from Franzen, switches to the absurd and asserts that he's always thought the worst name for a clown would be Altho — Altho the Clown.

This unsettles me, because I've be aware for a long time that Altho is a simple, straightforward nickname for Althouse. Can I get people to use it? It's no use! (Get it?)

Do I need a post about Warnock winning?

You knew he was going to win.

"The question at the trial was: What did Weinstein do? But its subtext is an argument about female ambition: What should a woman want?"

Writes Dana Goodyear in "Harvey Weinstein, the Monster of #MeToo/If Weinstein is acquitted in L.A., it will be tempting to conclude that #MeToo is over. But, even if he is convicted, some may reach the same conclusion" (The New Yorker).

The jury has been deliberating for 3 days so far. Today is Day 4, so the prospect of acquittal is real.

Things screamed by Chris Christie's niece as she was dragged off a Spirit Airlines flight.

I'm reading "Chris Christie’s niece shouted ‘Do you know who I am?’ during violent plane meltdown" (NY Post).

The niece, Shannon Epstein, had confronted some other passengers, presumably because they looked Hispanic, and asked them if they were smuggling cocaine.

I just want to note some things she's accused of yelling:

"The provisions are generally broadly and vaguely formulated.... This is a trend in Indonesian lawmaking. In Indonesian we call it pasal karet, which means ‘rubber clauses.'"

Said Ken Setiawan, a senior lecturer in Indonesian Studies at the University of Melbourne, "Indonesia’s sex ‘morality’ laws are just one part of a broader, chilling crackdown on dissent/Analysis: the moralistic aspects of the new criminal code risk obscuring wider concerns about a stifling of protest and criticism of the state" (The Guardian).

“When something is grey, or slippery, or nebulous,” said Eve Warburton, the director of Australia National University’s Indonesia Institute, it makes it difficult to know how an individual’s behaviour will be interpreted or where the boundaries are. “And I think that is precisely the point.”

“Laws that criminalise political dissent or criminalise critiquing heads of state or government don’t have to be used in a systematic way, they can be used in a very ad-hoc, unpredictable way,” Warburton said. “The effect is the same: it intimidates opponents, it chills dissent, because it increases the risk of being thrown in prison for your political opinions.”

"The presentation of great historic works such as The Nutcracker... should send a powerful statement that Tchaikovsky – himself of Ukrainian heritage – and his works speak to all humanity..."

"... in direct and powerful opposition to the narrow and nationalistic view of culture peddled by the Kremlin."

Said a spokesperson for London’s Royal Ballet. 

Quoted in "Ukraine calls on western allies to boycott Russian culture Minister defends step in ‘civilisational battle’ but says it would not amount to ‘cancelling Tchaikovsky’" (The Guardian).

David Butcher, the chief executive of Manchester’s Hallé Orchestra — which will soon perform Stravinsky and Shostakovich — said: "I don’t think it’s appropriate as a pioneering creative organisation to cancel, pause or self-censor, in our case, great music which deserves to be performed and heard."

The spokesperson for the BBC did not take the clear pro-art position: "We continue to carefully look at programming linked to Russia, considering everything on a case by case basis." What weaselhood!

I wonder: During World War II — and World War I — did orchestras stop playing Beethoven?

December 6, 2022

Sunrise — 7:07.

IMG_4058

"Anyone who thought there could possibly be a 6.5% riskless (or even low risk) return in 2022 conjures an old saying - 'a fool and his money.'"

"I feel sorry for them, but yet I'm not sympathetic. Some people took their life savings into a casino and bet it all. Jeez.... The fact that people are millions 'investing' in so called cryptocurrencies tells us that we have a woefully inadequate financially educated populace. Using real money to buy fake money has got to be the most obvious con in history. And yet here we are."

From the top-rated comment on "Ordinary Investors Who Jumped Into Crypto Are Saying: Now What?/Many small investors who piled into cryptocurrencies on FTX, BlockFi and other platforms are recognizing the perils of investing in an unregulated industry" (NYT).

The article begins with an anecdote about "a 43-year-old father of two [who] put $600,000 — much of his life savings — into an account at BlockFi" because it was "marketed... as risk free, yielding 6.5 percent interest, more than [he] could get anywhere else." 

As they say: If it's too good to be true, it probably is.

"It answered a lot of questions for me. I was a pretty able person. I wasn’t looking for something like that."

"But I wanted to get rid of the barriers keeping me from what I wanted, to be an actress. It’s just part of my life."

Said Kirstie Alley, in 1992, when asked why she became a Scientologist, quoted in "Kirstie Alley, Emmy-Winning ‘Cheers’ Actress, Dies at 71 She also starred in the NBC sitcom 'Veronica’s Closet,' which aired from 1997 to 2000" (NYT).

She was born on January 12, 1951 — also the date of my birth. And Rush Limbaugh's.

ADDED: From Rolling Stone, "How Kirstie Alley Lost Herself in Scientology The late Cheers actress rose up the ranks to become a top Scientologist who lashed out at the controversial religion’s critics":

"The elk problem is really interesting. I do feel that there has to be population control both on the part of humans and animals."

"Now, the available methods of contraception for animals are not always good.... But humans and animals have to limit our own population growth in order for the world to be minimally just. With the elk, there are things that have been tried: shooting them in cold blood; some kind of population control;  introducing wolves to tear the elks limb from limb. People say that’s better because it’s nature. I don’t like that argument. For the elk, a bullet to the brain — if the person knew how to shoot, which a lot of hunters don’t — would be a lot better than the wolf’s tearing them apart...."

Said Martha Nussbaum, quoted in "Do Humans Owe Animals Equal Rights? Martha Nussbaum Thinks So" (NYT).

"Twelve years after Javier Álvarez erected a billboard outside his winery featuring a painting of a woman, he received a threatening letter from the Ministry of Equality."

"The painting... presents a woman who is wearing a bikini gazing out to sea, her hands resting on her hips.... An official document from the ministry warned him: 'This way of using women’s bodies as an advertisement favours the perpetuation of discriminatory attitudes. Infringing Article 8 of the general law on advertising, which declares unlawful advertisements that present women in a degrading way by using their bodies as objects unrelated to the product they are trying to promote.'... His winery... replied to the warning... 'Whoever sees something sexual or sexist in that painting has a problem. It is an image of absolute innocence. The sun, the sea and a woman in a bikini stamped with hearts. She transmits the freshness that we wanted to radiate for our white wine.'... Sales of his wine bearing the image of a woman in a bikini have rocketed."

From "Spain orders bikini poster to be taken off pilgrimage route" (London Times).

The ministry, we're told, is run by Podemos, "a radical left-wing party."

Is the painting "an image of absolute innocence"? Here it is:

December 5, 2022