May 4, 2019

At the Green Rock Cafe...


... you can talk all night.

The new Harvard-Harris poll has Biden up by 30 points over his nearest competitor.

Yikes! Look at these numbers: "Biden 44, Sanders 14, Warren 5, Harris 9, Buttigieg 2, O'Rourke 3, Booker 3, Klobuchar 2, Yang 0, Inslee 0, Gabbard 0, Castro 0."

It's a poll of all registered voters. [I MEAN: It's a poll of registered voters, so it includes Republicans and Democrats and people who are likely and unlikely to vote.]

ADDED: Time to release the Hillary?

"The idea of an 'emotional gold digger'... has gained more traction recently as women, feeling increasingly burdened by unpaid emotional labor, have wised up to the toll of toxic masculinity..."

"... which keeps men isolated and incapable of leaning on each other. Across the spectrum, women seem to be complaining about the same thing: While they read countless self-help books, listen to podcasts, seek out career advisors, turn to female friends for advice and support, or spend a small fortune on therapists to deal with old wounds and current problems, the men in their lives simply rely on them.... 'Men drain the emotional life out of women,' says the 41-year-old [artist Lindsay Johnson], who lives in Nashville, Tennessee.... 'Men don’t usually put the effort into maintaining friendships once they’re married,' Johnson says. 'The guys at work are the only people other than me that my husband even talks to, so when some of these men retire, they expect their wives to be their source of entertainment and even get jealous that they have a life.' Johnson jokes that women her mom’s age seem to be waiting for their husbands to die so they can finally start their life. 'I’ll get a call saying so-and-so kicked the bucket and sure enough, his widow is on a cruise around the world a week later with her girlfriends.'... 'Men are taught that feelings are a female thing,' muses Johnson, whose husband often complains about her wanting to 'talk deep.' Though Johnson brags about how wonderful her husband is—grateful he doesn’t exhaust her with his neediness like a lot of her married friends—she does wish men were encouraged to examine and explore their emotions in a safe setting, like therapy, before they boil over. 'I’m tired of having to replace another broken bedside table because he didn’t realize he needed to talk about his feelings,' she admits."

From "Men Have No Friends and Women Bear the Burden/Toxic masculinity—and the persistent idea that feelings are a 'female thing'—has left a generation of straight men stranded on emotionally-stunted island, unable to forge intimate relationships with other men. It's women who are paying the price," by Melanie Hamlett in Harper's Bazaar.

I love that name, Melanie Hamlett. Should be a character in a fictional story. And I love her subtle dig at Johnson — "Though Johnson brags about how wonderful her husband is..." — and then it's so delightfully cruel to follow that up with the news that Wonderful Husband has broken some number of bedside tables and Johnson's reaction is to continue to be the one who buys new furniture. But now Johnson is supposed to be the one who's so aware of feelings? That's refuted by her bragging and her furniture replacement habits. He's continually breaking the bedside table and you're wearily buying new tables and you want us to believe your man is wonderful? I'm sorry, you're just not coming across as the Emotions Specialist you're complaining about needing to be.

"Also, this plays like an OLDEN white man's puzzle, real bad. The guy who believes he's a CENTRIST but is really a conservative."

"The guy who believes that as a conservative he favors BALANCED BUDGETS when in fact self-styled conservatives just want massive tax cuts and don't care whether they're paid for or not. The guy who works for some 'business' with a PROCEDURE MANUAL. He's probably got his photo on the OUR TEAM page, smiling his smarmy gruesome boss-pleasing smile. Probably gonna SNEER at the millennials in his office and then drown his sadness in ITALIAN WINE as soon as the work day ends, because ITALIAN WINEs are classy. Nothing SEUSSIAN about this guy's life...."

Ha ha. I love when Rex Parker hates on a NYT crossword. (The all-caps words are in the puzzle.) I especially loved reading that while listening to Terry Jacks selling the words of the olden white man's favorite poet, Rod McKuen...

... who also turned up in today's puzzle.

Goodbye my friend, it's hard to die/When all the birds are singing in the sky/Now that the Spring is in the air...

I'm reading about "Seasons in the Sun" at Wikipedia. It's a Jacques Brel song, originally in French. Rod McKuen provided the English lyrics. It's one of the top-selling recordings of all time, and it also tends to get mentioned as one of the worst songs ever. I'm sure I loathed it as schlocky at the time (1973), but listening to it just now — while staring out the window at a sunlit redbud tree and a big rabbit sitting by the leaf-mulch pile — it felt beautiful. I see that the B-Side was "Put the Bone In," and that sounds dirty, but...

... it's not.

"So we are very probably looking at a global recession, with no end in sight. I suppose we could get lucky somehow. But on economics, as on everything else, a terrible thing has just happened."

Wrote Paul Krugman, as soon as he saw that Trump won the 2016 election, quoted in "Experts predicted economic Armageddon under Trump — where are they now?" by Charles Gasparino in the NY Post.


Note to erstwhile liberals: Any attempt to assert your rights against demands from the government will be regarded as a crime in itself.

"When you strike at a king, you must kill him," said Ralph Waldo Emerson, famously.

I think Emerson was talking to Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., and Holmes was attacking Plato, hence the riposte. The physical attack was metaphorical. Holmes and Emerson were jousting in the world of words, and Emerson got off a bon mot for the ages.

I'm talking about that this morning because James Woods got kicked off Twitter:
James Woods, one of the few conservative stars in Hollywood, has been locked out of his Twitter account for over a week now for “abusive behavior,” once again demonstrating the double standard the tech giant holds when it comes to enforcing rules.

Twitter suspended Woods for a tweet that read, “‘If you try to kill the King, you best not miss’ #HangThemAll,” according to his girlfriend Sara Miller....

The tweet was apparently in reference to the Mueller report, which found no conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia. The quote is from Ralph Waldo Emerson and has been used in various forms in movies and TV shows like The Wire....
"You best not miss" is the form of words used on "The Wire" (video here), and on "The Wire" the physical attack is not metaphorical, but with a real gun with bullets. But Woods was using the physical attack metaphorically. The idea — which deserves to be expressed — is — I think — that there was a coup attempt on Trump and it didn't work, therefore those who attempted it are in desperate trouble.

This isn't a true threat, just rough political discourse. It's not much like Emerson, because Emerson was speaking in a context where it was clear that only ideas were at stake. Holmes couldn't physically threaten the long-dead Plato. I think it's also clear that Woods was talking about political power and legal troubles, though the legal troubles are bad enough that they could lead to a physical impact on a human being — that is, a prison term. But there is a problem with Twitter's clipped language and vast dissemination. Among the thousands or millions of readers of a post like "If you try to kill the King, you best not miss’ #HangThemAll" are confused, paranoid, angry people who might hear a message to go out and kill somebody.

I'm checking the #HangThemAll at Twitter, and I see this:

Yes, and that's the problem. Twitter needs to apply its standard from a neutral viewpoint.

I am becoming more and more resistant to clicking through to anti-Trump stories.

I just want to note 2 things I'm seeing just now on Memeorandum (where I go most mornings, looking for bloggable things):
Bob Brigham / Raw Story: Ex-mob prosecutor says Trump's talk with Putin was a ‘get your stories straight call’ like she used to hear on wiretaps — The former chief of the organized crime and racketeering unit at the U.S. Attorney's office in the Southern District of New York explained on MSNBC Friday …

Max Boot / Washington Post: This nation is at the mercy of a criminal administration — Imagine that you live in a town that has been taken over by gangsters. The mayor is a crook and so are the district attorney and police chief. You can't fight city hall. But at least you know you can turn for help to the state or federal government.
I have developed an aversion to this sort of thing. I'm a voter, living in an important swing state, and I've voted for Democrats and Republicans. I offer myself as one data point. And let me say that when Donald Trump was running for President, my main problem with him was that he was too weird. Now, he's President, and I can see what he is as President. It's a lot less weird than I was afraid of and his opponents seem bent on out-weirding him.

"I just said, 'I can’t call this film The Radical Mister Rogers anymore.'"

"Because the design of the film was really to try and speak to people I don’t necessarily agree with.... [Mr. Rogers is] a rare subject that doesn’t have cultural baggage. Because he connects with us before we have identities, as little kids, he’s a rare figure that kind of transcends so much of the cultural division that we have... I felt like that title [The Radical Mister Rogers] in the context of the era that we’re in, would turn off people who needed to see it."

So said Morgan Neville, the director of the 2018 documentary that was released as "Won’t You Be My Neighbor?" He was talking to the Producers Guild of America in late 2018 and referring to a decision he made just after Donald Trump was elected.

The documentary is available on HBO on Demand (or Amazon). I happened to watch it last night. Highly recommended. It is not political at all. It is very focused on how to talk to children (very slowly and quietly and with great awareness of how strong their feelings are). The only politics I can think of is the mention that Rogers was "a lifelong Republican" and a lovely segment in which he testifies to the Senate Subcommittee on Communications about public TV financing. Here's a clip of that fantastic testimony (from 1969).

Watch the whole thing because it ends with a great punchline from the Senator, John Pastore, who'd been opposed to public TV funding and starts out being kind of mean to Mr. Rogers. I bet nearly everyone watching the documentary assumes Pastore was a Republican. I know I did. The film doesn't tell you, but — I'm seeing it now — he was a Democrat.

"Why would I want to have all these hours of tattoo work put into my body for me to be buried with them?"

Said Chris Wentzel, whose tattooed skin was peeled off his body after he died and is now preserved and displayed in a frame. Photograph of the eternal artwork at "Preserving a loved one's tattoos after death" (BBC). There's a company — Save My Ink Forever — that specializes in this craft. It was started by a father and son who were already in the funeral business.
"People put urns on their mantle and to me, my tattoos are more meaningful than an urn on the mantle," says [the son]. "It's an actual piece of a person that symbolises something."...

"When my husband passed away, half of me passed away with him," [Wentzel's widow] says. "I didn't know what to do. I just knew he wanted this preservation done. I had to set aside my own emotion to get this part done."

Ms Wenzel chose the pieces to be preserved - two full sleeve tattoos including the top of Chris' hands, his throat and chest piece, his full back piece, two thigh pieces and calf piece. It was the largest tattoo preservation the Sherwoods had done....
I haven't mentioned this in a long time, but for many years, I maintained the opinion that the best blog post I ever wrote was "Tattoos remind you of death," written in 2005. It was about a Belgian artist, Wim Delvoye, who had a place in China called Art Farm, where pigs were raised and tattooed. When the pigs eventually died — we're told they got to live until they died of natural causes — their skins were removed and turned into wall art.

The quote from Delvoye was: "The Art Farm is a real enterprise and by selling, eventually, the skins, the whole thing gets financed and I can go on... Tattoos remind you of death. It's leaving something permanent on something non-permanent.... Even when tattooing flowers, there is a morbid side to the activity."

From my post:
I agree: tattoos do remind you of death. When I see someone with a tattoo, I usually think: you're going to have that as part of your body until the day you die. And then you're going to have that on your body in your grave. You and that tattoo are in a death grip....

[T]here's the question whether we're outraged about the use of pigs or about going to rural China to do the project. And if we're outraged about both, which is worse? Maybe it's kind of a positive thing, though, both for the pigs and the villagers.

Surely, the villagers must be getting some laughs -- perhaps at the expense of Westerners generally. Maybe we Westerners should be irked that some egoistic artist is making us look ridiculous.

For the pigs, it's a nice life. They get to take sedatives, so they probably enjoy the tattooing experience. Then, they are "raised carefully" until they die a natural death. Think of the pig alternatives. These pigs are living like kings!

And what of the rich folk with tattooed pig skins hanging on their walls? I think the final artwork might look quite nice, and they're not exploiting poor Chinese any more than you are when you buy cheap leather shoes made in China. In fact, it's less exploitative, and the Chinese are learning tattooing skills. Maybe they will emigrate here and tattoo your ass for you as a memento mori.
What was good for the pigs is good for the humans. Why call it a "sleeve tattoo" if you don't envision slipping it off like a shirt?

May 3, 2019

"The mushrooms saved my life.... I could see very clearly..."

"... I had people who loved me, which enabled me to see to make a choice — choose to be depressed or realize that there's so much more possibility here," said Kevin Matthews, quoted in "Denver voters might decriminalize 'magic mushrooms'/Veterans are the public face of Tuesday's push to lower the penalties for possession of psilocybin" (UPI).

At the Late Morning Café...


... wander wherever you like.

I chose that photograph after eddie willers said — in last night's "From a walk near Boulder, Colorado" — "Make Meade run down into the picture[s] so we get scale."

"Show Mom how well you know her."

A pop-up ad at the NYT:

Click to enlarge and clarify. The black button says "Give the Times."

It's a good ad, even if you consider the array of responses:

1. I should give my mother a subscription to the NYT because she's smart enough to read it, will like its take on things, and doesn't already have a subscription. This is the group the ad was written to reach.

2. My mother already has a subscription to the NYT. Fine to reach this group too. It reinforces their commitment to NYT subscriptions.

3. I know my mother would hate the NYT, but I read it — that's why I'm seeing this ad — and I think it would be good for her. This group is amused and also reinforced in their commitment to the NYT (and their sense of superiority to their own mother). They might even give Mom a subscription — to needle her or (it could happen) improve her.

4. I actually don't know if my mother would appreciate a subscription to the NYT. I wouldn't be showing her how well I know her. I'd be taking a risk, and if it turns out she likes it, she might imagine that I knew she would, but if it turns out she doesn't, I'd be revealing that how well I know her is not well at all. It's fine for the NYT to reach these people too, but the effect here is more complex. Perhaps there will be anxiety — why do I know so little about Mom? — but anxiety may lead you to delve more deeply into the riches of New York Times articles.

5. My mother is in no position to accept gifts from me. This is the real out group for all Mother's Day ads. Your mother is dead or estranged from you. This particular ad is actually better than all those ads for flowers and jewelry. If your mother is dead, you may think, My mother did love her NYT or Mom would have hated getting the NYT instead of flowers and, either way, you can think fondly of her. You really did know Mom well. Good for you. But maybe you're estranged from your mother — through your fault or hers — and in that case, it's still better than seeing ads for giving flowers on Mother's Day. The idea of her (and you) reading the NYT has some vague promise of learning something somehow or getting a new  idea that might lead you back together before death — hers or yours — closes that door for good.

"In California, where doctors performed more than 82,000 diabetic amputations from 2011 to 2017, people who were black or Latino were more than twice as likely as non-Hispanic whites..."

"... to undergo amputations related to diabetes.... A 2014 study by UCLA researchers found that people with diabetes in poorer neighborhoods in Los Angeles County were twice as likely to have a foot or leg amputated than those in wealthier areas. The difference was more than tenfold in some parts of the county. Amputations are considered a 'mega-disparity' and dwarf nearly every other health disparity by race and ethnicity.... To begin with, people who are black or Latino are more at risk of diabetes than other groups... Then, among those with the disease, blacks and Latinos often get diagnosed after the disease has taken hold and have more complications, such as amputations..... The circumstances that give rise to amputations are complex and often intertwined: Patients may avoid doctors because their family and friends do, or clinics are too far away. Some may delay medical visits because they don’t trust doctors or have limited insurance. Even when they seek treatment, some find it difficult to take medication as directed, adhere to dietary restrictions or stay off an infected foot.... [Hospitals] have started limb preservation centers [but e]ven with a team of specialists... saving a limb often depends on patients coming in early rather than waiting until their foot has become dangerously infected. But because their sensation is dulled, they often don’t appreciate the danger. 'How do you get someone to come in if they don’t have pain?... They need the gift of pain.'"

From "Diabetic Amputations A ‘Shameful Metric’ Of Inadequate Care" (Kaiser Medical News).

The mysteries of Japanese city mascots, explained by John Oliver...

... if you can take John Oliver at all (he says "fuck" frequently), don't miss this long quirky segment:

"Inside Bernie Sanders’s 1988 10-day ‘honeymoon’ in the Soviet Union."

Was there any collusion? Let's read this WaPo (hit?) piece:
The just-married socialist mayor from Vermont was on what he called “a very strange honeymoon,” an official 10-day visit to the communist country, and he was enthralled with the hospitality and the lessons that could be brought home....
As he stood on Soviet soil, Sanders, then 46 years old, criticized the cost of housing and health care in the United States, while lauding the lower prices — but not the quality — of that available in the Soviet Union. Then, at a banquet attended by about 100 people, Sanders blasted the way the United States had intervened in other countries....

Sanders... said Americans dismissed socialist and communist regimes because they didn’t understand the poverty faced by many in Third World countries. “The American people, many of us, are intellectually lazy,” Sanders said in a 1985 interview with a Burlington television station....

Throughout the trip, local officials took aside members of Sanders’s entourage, telling them that the Soviet system was near collapse.... On one of the last days of the trip, officials in Yaroslavl took the Vermonters to a workers’ retreat at an oil refinery for a classic Russian celebration: a trip to the sauna and a bath in cold water. Wrapping themselves in towels and then putting on toga-style sheets, Sanders and his colleagues gathered around a table lined with vodka bottles. A video of the event shows Sanders, bare-chested, listening in delight to Russian folk songs. In response, Sanders and other Americans sang the Woody Guthrie ballad “This Land Is Your Land.”...

Look! Everybody (except Warren) beats Trump — especially O'Rourke.

According to a new CNN poll (click to enlarge and clarify):

Can that be right?

IN THE COMMENTS: Dave Begley said:
Meaningless and wrong. It is a state by state election. Not a national election.

Didn't we learn from the last election?
This is the terrible problem with poll-gazing. It's missing what you most need to know. Which of these Democratic candidates will be most able to get the people who could go either way in the states that can go either way. I'm one of those people, you know — in Wisconsin and capable of voting for either party's candidate.

"Why didn’t Chewbacca get a medal?"

On the occasion of the death of Peter Mayhew (the original actor to play Chewbacca), Kyle Swenson asks what is an old question . It's not a question I've ever considered (unless I forgot my musings about a movie I saw more than 40 years ago). But the answer has got to be speciesism (that is, metaphorically, racism) — right? Otherwise, why remember and perseverate about this plot point? It's got to interweave with our present-day obsessions or why write a WaPo column about it?
As a crowd looks on, Princess Leia bestows gold medals on both Skywalker and Solo. But Chewbacca — who displayed just as much courage as his two human cohorts — goes unrewarded. The scene has since had fans asking whether Chewbacca was unjustly cheated out of the victory spoils. Or, as the “Star Wars Explained” YouTube channel asked in 2016: “Is the Rebel Alliance just as racist as the Empire?”
Mayhew himself had 2 answers:
“One, they didn’t have enough money to buy me a medal. Or two, Carrie [Fisher] couldn’t reach my neck, and it was probably too expensive to build a little step so that I could step down or she could step up and give me the medal.”
Back in 1977, George Lucas said something that I think is a cover-your-ass, after-the-fact explanation:
“Chewbacca wasn’t given a medal because medals don’t really mean much to Wookiees. They don’t really put too much credence in them. They have different kinds of ceremonies,” Lucas said. “The Wookiee Chewbacca was in fact given a great prize and honor during a ceremony with his own people. The whole contingent from the Rebel Alliance went to Chewbacca’s people and participated in a very large celebration. It was an honor for the entire Wookiee race.”
Swenson digs up something that I actually did remember ‚ Chewbacca got a Lifetime Achievement Award at the MTV Movie Awards (in 1997):

American history question of the day.

In which American presidential election were the major party candidates the least well-educated?

I have an idea of what the answer might be but don't know for sure. Trump famously said "I love the poorly educated"...

... but what does the label mean and who gets it? For the purposes of my question, I would consider the level of education reached, the quality of the educational institutions, and the difficulty and sophistication of the program pursued.

IN THE COMMENTS: Lloyd W. Robertson said:
I think you have to speak of different eras. Before 1900, it would have seemed ridiculous to expect an Ivy League education or something similar; there were lawyers, but as traditionalguy points out, that didn't necessarily involve what we would call formal education. John Quinicy Adams was almost unbelievably well educated in the "classics," with a lot of help from "amateurs" who were themselves well educated (including in law). Polk graduated with Honors from UNC Chapel Hill. Without more checking, I would just say that was very unusual at the time.

In the 20th century you have more "Ivy League" presidents, often with a gentleman's C average. Hoover was a brilliant engineer, an early Stanford grad, and surely one of the four or five highest IQ presidents (despite being remembered for his failure in the Depression). He made a reputation for finding ore where others had failed, working in many countries, making his way through obscure documents in many languages, hiring and organizing work crews, transportation, food distribution, etc. Johnson vs. Goldwater in 1964 may indeed set the standard for "little higher/formal education" for both major party candidates.
Johnson/Goldwater was indeed the idea I had when I wrote the post.

Anyway, to make the question work, let's begin at 1900. That was William McKinley and William Jennings Bryan. (1896 was also William McKinley and William Jennings Bryan, so we could just as well say let's begin in 1896, but it would make no difference.) WJB graduated from college and law school (Union Law College, known today as Northwestern University School of Law), so 1900 is not the right answer to my question. As for McKinley, he went to Allegheny College for one year and then went back home "after becoming ill and depressed."

I thought of the question this morning because I happened to be reading about Barry Goldwater, and I was surprised to see how little education he had:
After he did poorly as a freshman in high school, Goldwater's parents sent him to Staunton Military Academy in Virginia... He graduated from the academy in 1928 and enrolled the University of Arizona. Goldwater dropped out of college after one year...
As for LBJ, he went to college, but (constrained by poverty) an undistinguished place, Southwest Texas State Teachers College.

May 2, 2019

From a walk near Boulder, Colorado.

5 photographs from last Saturday, when we walked the trail that begins at the National Center for Atmospheric Research:

Boulder walk



Rocks near Boulder

Rock near Boulder

"Instagram will test hiding the number of likes and views that photos and videos receive — a central aspect of its platform — to rein in competitive tendencies and make the experience a little 'less pressurized.'"

"Instagram’s head, Adam Mosseri, said the change is designed to minimize the stress of posting online, where users can fixate on how many likes their videos draw. 'We want people to worry a little bit less about how many likes they’re getting on Instagram and spend a bit more time connecting with the people that they care about,' he said Tuesday during Facebook’s annual developer conference, F8.... Hiding the counts could potentially introduce new problems for users, such as diminishing the feeling of camaraderie from liking a popular post tied to a social cause or a massive in-joke.... Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey said last week that if he could build his social network anew, he would rethink its emphasis on likes and retweets as markers of success. In a prototype of the Twitter app, dubbed twttr, the company is experimenting with removing like and retweet counts by default."

WaPo reports.

Meanwhile, "Facebook bans extremist leaders including Louis Farrakhan, Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos for being ‘dangerous’/The bans are a sign that the social network is more aggressively enforcing its hate speech policies under pressure from civil rights groups" (WaPo). That article has this interesting correction: "Louis Farrakhan is an extremist leader who has espoused anti-Semitic views. An earlier version of this story and headline incorrectly included him in a list of far-right leaders."

That correction had me spending some time reading Farrakhan's Wikipedia page — because I realized I couldn't really place him squarely on the right or the left. I learned some interesting things about him: 1. He's very old (85), 2. He's "speculated that his father.... may have been Jewish," 3. He was good enough as a child at playing the violin to win an award on the Ted Mack Original Amateur Hour (in 1946), 4. He's wife's name, originally, was Betsy Ross, 5. In the 50s, he was a professional  calypso singer  known as "The Charmer" and, later, "Calypso Gene," 6. After he joined the Nation of Islam, Elijah Muhammad required all members to "choose between music and the Nation of Islam," which he did, but only after doing one more music gig, at "a Jewish resort in the Catskills," 7. He originally supported Obama, but rejected him and called him "the first Jewish president" because of the  intervention in Libya ("We voted for our brother Barack, a beautiful human being with a sweet heart... Now he's an assassin"), 8. He embraces Dianetics and has said "All white people should flock to L. Ron Hubbard. You can still be a Christian; you just won't be a devil Christian. You can still be a Jew, but you won't be a satanic Jew," 9.  He said Hitler "wasn't great for me as a Black man but he was a great German and he rose Germany up from the ashes of her defeat by the united force of all of Europe and America after the First World War.... Now I'm not proud of Hitler's evil toward Jewish people, but that's a matter of record. He rose Germany up from nothing."

"Democrats and the media are turning the AG into a villain for doing his duty and making the hard decisions that special counsel Robert Mueller abdicated."

"Mr. Barr's Wednesday testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee was preceded late Tuesday by the leak of a letter Mr. Mueller had sent the AG on March 27. Mr. Mueller griped in the letter that Mr. Barr's four-page explanation to Congress of the principal conclusions of the Mueller report on March 24 'did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance' of the Mueller team's 'work and conclusions.' Only in Washington could this exercise in posterior covering be puffed into a mini-outrage. Democrats leapt on the letter as proof that Mr. Barr was somehow covering for Donald Trump when he has covered up nothing.... Mr. Barr has since released the full Mueller report with minor redactions, as he promised, and with the 'context' intact. Keep in mind Mr. Barr was under no legal obligation to release anything at all. Mr. Mueller reports only to Mr. Barr, not to the country or Congress.... Contrast that to the abdication of Loretta Lynch, who failed as Barack Obama's last Attorney General to make a prosecutorial judgment about Hillary Clinton's misuse of classified information. Ms. Lynch cowered before the bullying of then FBI director James Comey, who absolved Mrs. Clinton of wrongdoing while publicly scolding her.... [The Democrats are] shouting and pounding the table against Bill Barr for acting like a real Attorney General."

From "A Real Attorney General/Bill Barr gets smeared for refusing to duck and cover like Loretta Lynch" by the Editorial Board at The Wall Street Journal.

My favorite picture from Time's cover story on Pete Buttigieg is not the cover....

... though that's very nice. It's this family snapshot of Buttigieg (c. 2000) playing on a Nintendo machine with his father:

I cannot express how much I love this picture. The dog's tail, lit up in the foreground, is such a nice, homey touch, obviously accidental, since the dog isn't posing and the photographer's poor sense of framing is attested to by the sheep "standing" on young Buttigieg's head. I like how young he looks back then, the man Time calls the "gay Episcopalian veteran." And I love seeing his father — his "late father Joseph Buttigieg" — playing so earnestly, with no thought — I suspect — that this scene would ever be gazed upon by the readers of a Time Magazine cover story. And what was in the tin — the kind of tin that almost surely originally housed a fruitcake? Hard boiled eggs? Snowball cookies? What's in the chest atop the dresser? Jewels? Silverware? An embalmed pet?  And what's in the trunk upon which the gay Episcopalian future veteran sits? Is that a guitar in the corner? A dobro? Mysteries of the Buttigieg childhood home. Beautiful!

The mission to save Arthur.

 I told you we drove back from Utah in 1 day because we were on a mission to save Arthur.

Here's Arthur (photographed last fall):

Avocado tree moved indoors before the frost

I explained the name Arthur back in 2015:
I was poking around Mad Magazine because — in the light of dawn — that last post from yesterday, "Meade IM's from the deck," makes it look like Meade is the large avocado plant in the pot, and that made me think of the old Mad Magazine meme from the 1960s, Arthur. Arthur is not well-documented on the web. I see a short reference in the "Running gags and recurring images" section of the Wikipedia article "Recurring features in Mad (magazine)":
Some of the magazine's visual elements are whimsical, frequently appearing in the artwork without context or explanation. Among these are a potted avocado plant named Arthur (reportedly based on art director John Putnam's personal marijuana plant); a domed trashcan wearing an overcoat; a pointing six-fingered hand; the Mad Zeppelin (which more closely resembles an early experimental non-rigid airship); and an emaciated long-beaked creature who went unidentified for decades before being dubbed "Flip the Bird."
Anyway, the mission was successful. Arthur had been left outside on the deck, and the temperature was going to drop into the 20s on Saturday night. We left Moab, Utah at 3 a.m. on Friday and got back into Madison at 4 a.m. on Saturday. Arthur came in, and he's back out now, but the mandevilla, gardenia, and Australian Kimberly Queen ferns we brought home yesterday to keep Arthur company and clutter up the deck had to be brought in for the night. But Arthur was not alone, the reed grass and star jasmine stayed out too. Anyway, all the plants are doing fine and ready — with a little heat — to turn the deck into a jungle. Is that the right word?, I ask Meade. "Tropical paradise, I would call it," he says.

"We used to love cooking with gas, too. But if our society is going to solve the climate crisis..."

"... one of the things we must do is stop burning gas in our buildings. Nobody is going to shed a tear about having to switch to a more efficient furnace or water heater. But people feel emotional about gas stoves, and the gas industry knows it. Seeing this fight coming, the industry is already issuing propaganda with gauzy pictures of blue flames.... Why do all-electric homes make sense now? Because... of devices called heat pumps.... Building a new all-electric home powered by heat pumps is already cheaper than building with gas because you avoid the costs of gas lines and ventilation.... Stoves actually use very little energy, but until people are convinced there are superior alternatives to gas stoves, we will not be able to get rid of gas lines to buildings.... The perceived advantage of gas stoves is pinpoint control of heat, but induction cooktops are more precise, and faster.... [And] a growing body of scientific evidence has shown that gas stoves throw off pollutants like nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide...."

"Your Gas Stove Is Bad for You and the Planet/To help solve the climate crisis, we need to electrify everything" (NYT).

I expected the commentariat to resist, and, yes, here's the top-rated comment over there:

"You were arrested because you happened to be in Jack’s house when Roman Polanski raped 13-year-old Samantha Geimer. How did you feel about that?"

"Well, see, it’s a story that could’ve happened ten years before in England or France or Italy or Spain or Portugal, and no one would’ve heard anything about it. And that’s how these guys enjoy their time. It was a whole playboy movement in France when I was a young girl, 15, 16 years old, doing my first collections. You would go to Régine or Castel in Paris, and the older guys would all hit on you. Any club you cared to mention in Europe. It was de rigueur for most of those guys like Roman who had grown up with the European sensibility.... I think they’re still doing it.... And frankly, I think there’s a whole element of guys who will get up to what they want to get up to. I didn’t think Brett Kavanaugh was all that believable. And yet this whole thing continues to be whitewashed and whitewashed and whitewashed. On the other hand, there is a thing called a male imperative, and it is maybe stronger than any #MeToo movement, because it happens at birth. I have a great 3-year-old nephew who made his way over to my umbrella rack the other day and pulled an Irish walking stick out and said, 'I am the leader of the universe.' Girls don’t do that."

From "In Conversation: Anjelica Huston On growing up in Hollywood, the cost of beating Oprah at the Oscars, and why Jack Nicholson doesn’t act anymore" (The Vulture).

"'Both sides' rip u 2 shreds if u don't tow their line" — should be "toe their line," but I know what you mean, Cher.

One hour later...

I've been avoiding talking about William Barr, but I'm going to link to National Review because the headline sums up what I've been thinking.

"The Incredibly Dumb Bill Barr Scandal."

I haven't read the article. Must I?

Okay, I skimmed it. I have nothing to add except that last night — and not by my own choice — I overheard a lot of what was on CNN and MSNBC. Awful stuff. Some people find it... I don't know... entertaining. I heard one commentator — I wish I could find this now — ranting about how Trump has caused everyone's brains to rot. I thought I could find that clip by searching the last 24 hours of news for "Barr" and "brain," but I only came up with this clip of Hillary Clinton on Rachel Maddow's show:

That Hillary interview was part of the horror show inflicted on me last night. I'm not in the mood to examing the details of why it's a horror show or even why I am avoiding it. The media and the politicians want to set the narrative, but I am the pilot of my own narrative, and I am avoiding it.

ADDED: From that Clinton clip: She says this story is "far from over," and she says it laughing. What about the part of "far from over" that has to do with her role in getting the Russia hoax started? Maybe being out in the spotlight laughing is the best way to hide.

AND: Searching for brain rot, I came up with 2 old stories in Salon, both by Sophia A. McClennen. First, from February 2017, "Beware the Trump brain rot: The cognitive effects of this administration's actions could be disastrous/Democracy isn't all that's at risk under Trump's agenda. There's a 5-point attack happening on our nation's minds."
Stop for a moment, if you will, and attempt to take stock of the various phrases that you and your friends have been throwing out to describe our collective mental state in the Trump era.... ... I asked more than 1,200 people via Facebook and email and received the following list: "wearing me out," "burning me out," "frying my brains," "beyond belief," "turning my mind into mush," "brain overload," "mental meltdown," “crippling depression,” “constant low level dread,” "making me numb," “stressing me out,” “abject horror,” “disoriented and scared” and "scaring me to death." Others offered descriptions such as "nonstop," "overwhelming," "relentless," "mind-blowing," “devastating,” “exasperating” and "surreal." One friend wrote, “I often wake up in the middle of the night thinking about Trump and unable to get back to sleep from anxiety.“ Another simply posted this Nicolas Cage gif.

And from March 2017, "The resistance is all in your head: 6 ways to fight Trump brain rot/Political opposition to Trumpism requires us to be at our cognitive best. Here are 6 ways to prepare your mind." Let me highlight #5:
Experts on keeping your mind strong and sharp... agree that we all need to be good at resting. Stress, depression and insomnia are some of the biggest threats to cognitive health. There is already significant proof that Trump is increasing our nation’s anxiety and depression.... One of Banksy’s famous images is of a girl looking at a bluebird...

MORE: I think what I remembered as "rots your brain" was really "eats your soul," and people were saying that on TV as a result of the James Comey op-ed that had run in the NYT that morning:
[P]roximity to an amoral leader reveals something depressing. I think that’s at least part of what we’ve seen with Bill Barr and Rod Rosenstein. Accomplished people lacking inner strength can’t resist the compromises necessary to survive Mr. Trump and that adds up to something they will never recover from. It takes character like Mr. Mattis’s to avoid the damage, because Mr. Trump eats your soul in small bites.

It starts with your sitting silent while he lies, both in public and private, making you complicit by your silence. In meetings with him, his assertions about what “everyone thinks” and what is “obviously true” wash over you, unchallenged, as they did at our private dinner on Jan. 27, 2017, because he’s the president and he rarely stops talking. As a result, Mr. Trump pulls all of those present into a silent circle of assent.

Speaking rapid-fire with no spot for others to jump into the conversation, Mr. Trump makes everyone a co-conspirator to his preferred set of facts, or delusions. I have felt it — this president building with his words a web of alternative reality and busily wrapping it around all of us in the room.

"The king of Thailand has married the deputy head of his personal security detail, and given her the title of queen..."

"King Maha Vajiralongkorn, 66....  has been married and divorced three times before and has seven children. A royal statement said: King Vajiralongkorn 'has decided to promote General Suthida Vajiralongkorn Na Ayudhya, his royal consort, to become Queen Suthida and she will hold royal title and status as part of the royal family.'... In 2014 Vajiralongkorn appointed Suthida Tidjai, a former flight attendant for Thai Airways, as the deputy commander of his bodyguard unit. He made her a full general in the army in December 2016."

BBC reports.

"When he was just 30 years old, Daniel received a diagnosis... a rare form of Alzheimer's disease..."

"... a condition most common in over-65s, but which can affect much younger people too. 'Certain things happen every day, me forgetting what I've done, and also what I have to do,' Daniel says. 'It gets a bit overwhelming. Generally it's quite hard to be in social environments.' It was only when Daniel was diagnosed that he realised his father, who died at the age of 36, must have had the same condition. The news came just after the first birthdays of his own children, twins Lola and Jasper... There's a 50:50 chance, doctors say, that the faulty gene Daniel inherited will have been passed on to them too.... 'For someone of Dan's age, their lifespan is about four years from diagnosis. It's pretty scary to hear that, you just feel hopeless,' says his partner Jordan.... Daniel has joined a choir of people with dementia... The 18-strong choir is made up of people living in and around Nottingham, where McClure grew up, all of whom are living with dementia in one form or another."

From "The power of music: Vicky McClure's dementia choir" (BBC).

"'Run, Hide, Fight'... But Riley Howell could neither run nor hide. The gunman was in his classroom."

"So, the authorities said, he charged at the gunman, who had already fired several rounds, and pinned him down until police officers arrived. 'But for [Riley's] work, the assailant may not have been disarmed,' Chief Kerr Putney of the Charlotte-Mecklenberg Police Department said of Mr. Howell, who was among six victims of a mass shooting at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte campus Tuesday evening. 'Unfortunately, he gave his life in the process. But his sacrifice saved lives.'... 'He is my hero,' said Mr. Howell’s girlfriend of nearly six years, Lauren Westmoreland, who said she was overcome with grief. 'But he’s just my angel now, as well.'... Mr. Howell had considered a career in the military or firefighting before enrolling at the university, where he was an environmental studies student. In a statement, his parents said he was a fearless athlete with a sturdy frame who relished a challenge, 'whether it be jumping from the highest cliff into the water below or power lifting competitions at the gym.' 'Once committed to something,' they said, 'he never gave up, never gave in, and gave everything he had.'"

From "U.N.C. Charlotte Student Couldn’t Run, So He Tackled the Gunman" (NYT).

ADDED: I don't think the NYT should make assertions about what was going on inside Howell's head. Yes, there's the conventional message "run, hide, fight," which prioritizes your options, and what Howell did was the first thing on the list that was possible for him, but you can't assume that he would have maintained the conventional priority if he had had other options. The headline — "... Couldn't Run, So He Tackled..." — and the excerpt I quoted — "could neither run nor hide. So... he charged..." — both purport to convey his decisionmaking and to ascribe a preference for saving himself that we have no way to know he had. The man is a hero, and there's no reason to diminish his story with a made-up presumption that he was following the advice to run or hide if you can.

"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."

May 1, 2019

At the Sunset Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

A walk in the park in Moab.


And a street-corner sculpture of a dandelion...


(Photos from a week ago.)

"At SI Swimsuit, we strive to continue to spread the message that whether you are wearing a one-piece, a two-piece, or a burkini, you are the pilot of your own beauty."

Wrote Sports Illustrated, quoted in "Sports Illustrated now has a model in a burkini. Can the swimsuit issue truly get woke?" by Monica Hesse (at WaPo), who calls that statement "gibberish":
Let’s revisit that Sports Illustrated public-relations gibberish. Let’s just bask in the utter nonsense of “pilot of your own beauty,” a phrase that sounds like it was cooked up on a Pinterest board run by Ivanka Trump with help from an Amelia Earhart conspiracy theorist. Pilot it to where? For why?
Heh. Reminds me of "I can land this plane" (Ron Rosenstein's famous quote).

I really don't care about the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. I don't care if it goes under or figures out a way to steer itself to a safer course in these woke or benighted times.

But I am fascinated by the notion that I am the pilot of my beauty. I can't help reading it as a variation on the great old poem "Invictus" that ends "I am the master of my fate/I am the captain of my soul."

"Beauty" is a weak substitute for "fate" or "soul," but "pilot" works as well as "master" and "captain," and it's easier to picture a woman as a pilot than as a master (mistress?) or captain. And — since the context is swimsuits — a pilot can be someone who controls a ship (as well as an airplane).

In "Invictus," the poet imagines his soul as a vehicle, a separate thing from himself, but which he which he steers. That's odd, but it's also odd to think of your "beauty" as something you ride inside and steer.

When I try to Google the idea of feeling that you somehow exist inside a contraption that is your beauty, I'm flooded with articles inquiring into whether a person is beautiful on the inside. That's an old-fashioned concern. It makes me think of the old Jefferson Airplane song, "You're Only Pretty as You Feel."

"Singing to the tune of Beauty and the Beast’s famous opening number 'Belle,' Rainbow blazes through the various talking heads in the Trump administration, with his main ire focused at 'Barr.'"

Billboard explains this video, which is so silly that I believe it's equally fun for Trump haters and lovers:

My favorite thing is Rainbow's repeatedly calling Barr "Roseanne."

"The ballot question, dubbed the 'Right to Survive,' would declare that everyone has the right to rest, eat and shelter in public places without being harassed."

"Supporters say it would shield people experiencing homelessness from unfair citations and arrests. But business, environmental and social service organizations fear it would proliferate dangerous encampments in parks and on sidewalks without helping to house people.... Cities nationwide have laws on the books intended to keep destitute people moving and out of sight.... About a quarter of cities surveyed prohibit sleeping in certain public places, and almost half prohibit sitting or lying down in public. Even if a person is just sitting outside or sleeping in a clean tent, they can be told to either move on or be issued a fine, said Tristia Bauman, a senior attorney at the law center.... The Denver City Council in 2012 passed an urban camping ordinance that prohibits people from pitching tarps and tents or even covering themselves with a blanket in public places. Other city ordinances ban aggressive panhandling, public urination, and sitting or lying down in a public right of way, among other activities."

From "This City Might Give Homeless People the Right to Camp Anywhere" (Pew). "This City" is Denver.

Did Kamala Harris if she's elected President "and you don't surrender your guns," she "sign an executive order and the police will show up at your door."

No. Here's what she said:
Upon being elected, I will give the United States Congress 100 days to get their act together and have the Courage to pass reasonable gun safety laws. And if they fail to do it, then I will take executive action. And specifically what I will do is put in place a requirement that for anyone who sells more than five guns a year, they are required to do background checks when they sell those guns. I will require that for any gun dealer that breaks the law, the ATF take their license. And by the way, ATF, alcohol, tobacco and firearms, well, the ATF has been doing a lot of the “A” and the “T,” but not much of the “F.” And we need to fix that. And then — on the third piece, because none of us have been sleeping over the last two years, part of what has happened under the current administration is they took fugitives off the list of prohibited people. I’d put them back on the list, meaning that fugitives from justice should not be able to purchase a handgun or any kind of weapon. So that’s what I’d do.
Why did the Trump administration take fugitives from justice off the list of persons prohibited from buying guns?  I found this at WaPo (from November 2017):

"Did Chase Bank Delete a Tweet Taunting People Who Ask ‘Why Is My Balance So Low’?"


It looked like this:

"Swarthmore College’s two fraternities announced Tuesday that they are disbanding after weathering intense criticism over leaked documents that contained allegations of a 'rape attic'..."

"... as well as homophobic, racist and misogynistic language. In statements posted to Facebook Tuesday night, members of Phi Psi, which is not nationally affiliated, and Delta Upsilon wrote that they had unanimously decided to dissolve their fraternities and give up their houses. In April, a redacted version of a 116-page document that reportedly contained Phi Psi’s old meeting minutes and details of pledge tasks was published by two campus publications, revealing troubling details about the culture within the selective Pennsylvania college’s fraternities. The documents feature graphic descriptions of members’ sexual encounters, including a reference to an alleged 'rape tunnel.' It also describes their conversations about women, minority groups and sexual assault that often contained offensive language, such as homophobic and racial slurs.... 'We cannot in good conscience be members of an organization with such a painful history,' the members of Phi Psi said in Tuesday’s statement. 'Since the start of our membership, we made it our mission to improve the culture and perception of Phi Psi. Unfortunately, the wounds are too deep to repair.'"

From "Swarthmore fraternities disband after outrage over leaked documents joking about 'rape attic.'"

The ceremony — as Naruhito accedes to the Chrysanthemum Throne.

Today, in Japan:

"I swear that I will reflect deeply on the course followed by his majesty, the emperor emeritus, and bear in mind the path trodden by past emperors, and will devote myself to self-improvement."

I'd like to know more about the devotion to "self-improvement." What is the Japanese word and what is the significance of the concept in Japanese culture? The "self-improvement" of the new leader is not an idea that has any prominence when an American takes a political office. Imagine a candidate for President offering to devote himself to self-improvement. Self-improvement? That sounds like an indulgence, a lack of interest in meeting responsibilities. I won't lamely speculate on the possible lack of actual work for the Japanese emperor. I'm going to assume there's a very interesting and government-related concept here that is puzzlingly represented by the English term "self-improvement."

From the Wikipedia article on the Chrysanthemum Throne:
Japan is the oldest continuing hereditary monarchy in the world. In much the same sense as the British Crown, the Chrysanthemum Throne is an abstract metonymic concept that represents the monarch and the legal authority for the existence of the government....
And an image of the literal throne:

Here's the Wikipedia article on "Self-help or self-improvement." From the "History" subsection:

"The Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport addressed a complicated, highly charged question involving fair play, gender identity, biology and human rights... Since competition is divided into male and female categories, what is the most equitable way to decide who should be eligible to compete in women’s events?"

"Restrictions on permitted levels of naturally occurring testosterone are discriminatory, the court ruled Wednesday in a 2-to-1 decision. But, the panel added, such discrimination is a 'necessary, reasonable and proportionate means' of achieving track and field’s goal of preserving the integrity of women’s competition.... The [International Association of Athletics Federations] had argued that athletes classified with 'differences of sexual development' — particularly those who possess testes and natural testosterone levels in the male range — gain an unfair advantage in women’s events from 400 meters to the mile in terms of additional muscle mass, strength and oxygen-carrying capacity.... [Caster Semenya's] lawyers said in a statement that they might appeal Wednesday’s decision, arguing that 'her unique genetic gift should be celebrated, not regulated.' The I.A.A.F. accepts athletes with differences of sexual development as legally female. For competitive purposes, though, it effectively considers them biologically male. And now the federation has been given the go-ahead to put in place a rule requiring these athletes to medically limit their testosterone levels in certain women’s events that synthesize speed, power and endurance. This is necessary to provide a level playing field in races that can be won by a margin as small as a hundredth of a second, the I.A.A.F. contends. To do nothing, it has said, risks 'losing the next generation of female athletes.'"

From "Court Bars Women With High Testosterone From Some Track Races" (NYT).

"Camille Paglia should be removed from UArts faculty and replaced by a queer person of color... If, due to tenure, it is absolutely illegal to remove her, then..."

"... the University must at least offer alternate sections of the classes she teaches, instead taught by professors who respect transgender students and survivors of sexual assault.” Regardless, the students behind the petition want her banned from holding speaking events or selling books on campus. In their telling, her ideas 'are not merely "controversial," they are dangerous.'"

From a student petition at he University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where Camille Paglia has taught for decades, quoted in "Camille Paglia Can’t Say That/Art students are trying to get the social critic fired from a job she has held for three decades" by Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic. Friedersdorf is very supportive of Paglia and critical of the students. Excerpt:
Th[e] argument—a speaker is responsible for harms that are theoretical, indirect, and so diffuse as to encompass actions of strangers who put themselves on the same side of a controversy — is untenable. Suppressing speech because it might indirectly cause danger depending on how people other than the speaker may react is an authoritarian move. And this approach to speech, applied consistently, would of course impede the actions of the anti-Paglia protesters as well.

How alarmed are Democrats about Biden?

Here's what I'm reading this morning:

1. Alex Pareene in The New Republic ("Democrats Have Created an “Electability” Monster/And this time, it's even eating establishment candidates")(boldface added to highlight the simmering freakout):
Senator Kamala Harris was supposed to be a frontrunner....  So, what has, thus far (there is a lot of election left to go), prevented Harris’s campaign from breaking out?... Polling broadly shows Democratic voters thinking Joe Biden has the best chance at winning the general election....

“Electability” is a crock of shit. It is defined, like political “moderation,” only in terms of opposition to things people want....

If “electability” previously meant “the candidate most associated with the hawkish and business-friendly wing of the party,” it now seems to have become purely and nakedly demographic. Former Clinton voters are flocking to the various white men in the race, avoiding candidates they actually might like, because they see their own affinity for those candidates as a political liability....

[W]hen even someone like Harris—a member in good standing of the party establishment, a dedicated player of the “electability” game her entire career, a person whose campaign strategy from the outset seemed to be to rerun the Clinton campaign but without the Clinton baggage—struggles to gain traction with Democratic voters, it feels like the monster has turned on its creators....
That was rather incoherent. It made me think that the core problem was the premature confidence in Harris. She fit the electability idea extremely well, as Pareene essentially says. But she never caught on, and Biden stepped into the space she didn't become large enough to fill.

2. Here's Mike Allen at Axios, in "Joe Biden is running like he won the Democratic primaries." This piece is pretty neutral. It doesn't sound alarmed, but it may (subtly) sound the alarm: "In the opening days of his 2020 campaign, former Vice President Joe Biden has gone all-in on the general election, positioning himself as the eventual Democratic nominee rather than scrapping with the 19 other wannabes. "

3. "Media that dismissed Biden now see him as clear front-runner" — Howard Kurtz at Fox News: "I still think Biden has to show that he can operate at today's hyperspeed Twitter pace and defend his long record. But he is clearly showing more strength than most of the pundits predicted."

The word "tweetstorm" has been overblown — until now, as "Trump Fires Off 60, Mostly Anti-Biden, Retweets in an Hour."

Bloomberg reports:
President Donald Trump retweeted more than five dozen messages in an hour Wednesday morning, most seeking to cast doubt on the support of firefighters for Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden.

Biden, who announced his candidacy last week, has focused on appealing to the Rust Belt workers who helped Trump win in Pennsylvania and the upper Midwest. The International Association of Firefighters endorsed him on Monday....
Trump put up the tweet "I’ve done more for Firefighters than this dues sucking union will ever do, and I get paid ZERO!"
Along with that message, Trump retweeted Fox News personality Dan Bongino, along with people who said they were firefighters or their family members about a divide that exists between union leaders and members.
The Bongino tweet had lots of responses like "I’m a firefighter and I don’t endorse Joe Biden My vote goes to President Donald Trump!!!!" and Trump retweeted — as counted by Bloomberg — 60 of them.

April 30, 2019

At the Tuesday Night Cafe...

... you can talk all night.

"We created Higher Ground to harness the power of storytelling. That’s why we couldn’t be more excited about these projects."

"Touching on issues of race and class, democracy and civil rights, and much more, we believe each of these productions won’t just entertain, but will educate, connect and inspire us all.”

Said President Obama.

"We love this slate because it spans so many different interests and experiences, yet it’s all woven together with stories that are relevant to our daily lives. We think there’s something here for everyone — moms and dads, curious kids and anyone simply looking for an engaging, uplifting watch at the end of a busy day. We can’t wait to see these projects come to life — and the conversations they’ll generate."

Said Michelle Obama.

According to "Barack and Michelle Obama Set Expansive Film and TV Slate at Netflix" in Hollywood Reporter.

I don't know. I feel like I'm hearing 2 robots talk. Come on. Is that really them? So eerie!

I'm reading about the 7 projects. One is about "remarkable people whose deaths were not reported by" The New York Times. Another, called "Listen to Your Vegetables & Eat Your Parents" is about "the story of our food." Another "will aim to portray the importance of unheralded work done by everyday heroes guiding our government and safeguarding our nation."

I don't have Netflix, but you never know what might push me over the edge and make me subscribe —  unheralded work of everyday heroes, people whose deaths were not reported, our food...

Candy hearts.


You know that I recently returned from a cross-country road trip.


Who knows what a long strange trip can do to your mind? I don't know all the things, but about an hour ago, 3 days after returning home, I noticed one thing.

I'd completely forgotten about the older-than-one-day comments that sit around in my "awaiting moderation" file! I'm not sure what jogged my memory, but I suddenly remembered. I think it was the ridiculous spam that was getting published in today's posts. Yes, that made me think about the moderation function.

There were hundreds of comments just sitting there, some fretting that they were doing something wrong and getting rejected. I'm really sorry. When you forget, you forget. Moderation is something that happens when I remember. I generally do it often throughout the day, but when traveling, I don't sit with my computer too much, and I don't go into the sort of idle mode where I poke around for more things to do.

I apologize! I genuinely value your comments. I was reading new comments as I traveled, but I really did lose track of the day-old-and-older comments that came in.

The photograph of the tree that symbolizes my twisted-up travel-mind is from the Realization Point trail near Boulder.

"Stacey Abrams handed Chuck Schumer his most embarrassing recruiting fail of the cycle, leaving Georgia Democrats stuck with an assortment of second-tier candidates."

"Her decision is the latest in a string of high-profile Democrats who have rejected Schumer’s pitch out of fear of facing formidable Republican Senators next fall."

Said National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Jesse Hunt, quoted in "Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams will not run for Senate in 2020" (WaPo).

If you've mocked Trump for saying "oranges" for "origins," give equal disrespect to Biden for saying "hostiles" for "hospitals."

And many more slurring and flubbings in his speech in Pittsburgh yesterday:

He also says something like "bow-o-detty" for (I think) "Allegheny." "Fum us" for "for instance." "Hudge" for "hedge." "Extredable" for "incredible." Sometimes whole words drop out and you can't tell what he meant to say. "The same standariving" for "the same standard of living." He says "How can a person dimitty be maintained?" for "How can a person's dignity be maintained?" And "Why they do that?" for "Why did they do that?" "Con-fur" for "conquer." Even when he gets the syllables right, they sound run together recklessly, meaninglessly.

I found that video via Drudge...

... which pairs Biden's slurring through a speech with his surging in polls. The "surging" link goes to The Hill, "Biden surges in primary polls":
A CNN poll released Tuesday found Biden jumping 11 points to 39 percent support, a 24-point lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is at 15 percent support. ...

And a Morning Consult survey released Tuesday found Biden with 36 percent support, followed by Sanders at 22 percent. That’s a 6-point bounce for Biden from the same survey released earlier this month, while Sanders has fallen by 2 points...

A Suffolk University survey released Tuesday found the former Delaware senator in the lead in New Hampshire with 20 percent support, followed by Sanders and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 12 percent. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is in fourth place at 8 percent. If Biden were to win New Hampshire it would be a massive blow to Sanders and Warren, who come from nearby states and are seen as having a home-field advantage in the Northeast....
Interestingly, Biden's greatest strength, according to these polls, is with nonwhite voters.

"Today should have been my funeral. I was preparing to give my sermon Shabbat morning, Saturday..."

"... which was also the last day of Passover, the festival of our freedom, when I heard a loud bang in the lobby of my synagogue. I thought a table had fallen down or maybe even that, God forbid, my dear friend Lori Gilbert Kaye had tripped and fallen.... I saw Lori bleeding on the ground. And I saw the terrorist who murdered her. This terrorist was a teenager. He was standing there with a big rifle in his hands. And he was now aiming it at me. For one reason: I am a Jew. He started shooting. My right index finger got blown off. Another bullet hit my left index finger, which started gushing blood.... Then an amazing miracle occurred: The terrorist’s gun jammed.... I am a religious man. I believe everything happens for a reason. I do not know why God spared my life.... I don’t know why a part of my body was taken away from me. I don’t know why I had to see my good friend [Lori], a woman who embodied the Jewish value of hesed (kindness), hunted in her house of worship.... I do not know God’s plan. All I can do is try to find meaning in what has happened. And to use this borrowed time to make my life matter more.... I pray that my missing finger serves as a constant reminder to me. A reminder that every single human being is created in the image of God; a reminder that I am part of a people that has survived the worst destruction and will always endure; a reminder that my ancestors gave their lives so that I can live in freedom in America; and a reminder, most of all, to never, ever, not ever be afraid to be Jewish. From here on in I am going to be more brazen... And I’m going to use my voice until I am hoarse to urge my fellow Jews to do Jewish. To light candles before Shabbat. To put up mezuzas on their doorposts. To do acts of kindness. And to show up in synagogue — especially this coming Shabbat.  I am a proud emissary of Chabad-Lubavitch.... we are obviously Jewish, identifiable by our black hats and beards...."

From "A Terrorist Tried to Kill Me Because I Am a Jew. I Will Never Back Down. I do not know why God spared my life in my Poway synagogue. All I can do is make this borrowed time matter" by Yisroel Goldstein (NYT).

A dramatic, beautiful essay. Incredibly (though not surprisingly) the top-rated comment at the NYT is:
The terrorist's gun jamming was a miracle? No, a REAL miracle would have been Congress passing common-sense laws so that the terrorist couldn't have gotten such weapons in the first place.

Have you ever read a book, reached the end, then turned back to page one and started reading it again?

Instead of going on to your next book, you instinctively know you've got to read the same book again. If this has ever happened to you, did you really continue and read the same book all the way to the end, so that the same book was really the next book you read?

Please don't include short things, such as "The Cat in the Hat." I know children are happy to reread the same book, and I think they show the way to the instinct to reread, but I'm not interested in hearing about an adult choosing to reread something short. It just doesn't mean enough, because it's so easy. It's like hitting replay after a pop song you like. I've played "Crimson and Clover" over and over.

I mean a substantial book. I've often turned back to page one and started to read it over again, and maybe I've gotten half way through something (something long), but I've ended up moving on to something else. Until this last book. I've really got to reread the whole thing, and it's 500 pages long. And the reason I have to read it is that I can't understand it without reading it (and the author, in fact, says you have to reread it — he has to reread it — to understand it).

This is a book that presents many mysteries along the way, and you might take them in and carry them along feeling it will come together in the end. That's the conventional approach to mysteries: They're solved in the end. But that's not how this works. There are so many mysteries, and you can see something of how they ought to pull together, but by the end, you can't remember all the details exactly enough to do all that you want to do. Even reading it a second time, I write down words that I think will be useful in a search of the whole text.

For example, yesterday I wrote down "shadow," and today, searching, I see 48 appearances of the word "shadow," and reading these passages with "shadow," I get so many ideas about the meaning of the book that I would be happy to go on to a third reading. Now, I have such an overflow of ideas about the meaning of the book that I feel that I'd need to write 500 pages of my own to really understand.

"... and if you start to feel guilty about being seen as lazy, think of niksen not as a sign of laziness but as an important life skill."

"Choose the initial discomfort of niksen over the familiarity of busyness.... At first, you might get sore, but 'after a while, you’ll find yourself in this moment where you’re like, "Oh, this feels fantastic."' Your surroundings can have a major impact on how much nothingness you can embrace, so consider the physical space in your home and workplace. Keep your devices out of reach so that they’ll be more difficult to access, and turn your home into a niksen-friendly area. Add a soft couch, a comfy armchair, a few cushions or just a blanket. Orient furniture around a window or fireplace rather than a TV.... Ms. Dodgen-Magee encourages people to host boredom parties, during which a host invites over a few friends to … be bored together."

From "The Case for Doing Nothing/Stop being so busy, and just do nothing. Trust us" by Olga Mecking in the NYT.

This is a topic I've written about many times — it's all under the tag "idleness." I also have a tag, "nothing," but that's a more wide-ranging subject, so the tag collects miscellany... miscellany of a very interesting sort... interesting to me anyway. Speaking of interesting, I also have a tag for "boredom," and I'm putting it on this post because of Ms. Dodgen-Magee's idea of "boredom parties." I don't find idleness boring. Busyness — now, that can be boring, but people fight boredom with busyness. It's a terrible fight, because you're distracting yourself from awareness of boredom and the boredom piles up until it bursts through your consciousness and the feeling is — well, what is it for you when that happens? — hopelessness, weariness, futility... a sense that everything's wrong and you hate it all?

I kind of had to blog this article and not just because it's on one of my big subjects and it's in the New York Times. That's a lot but it's not enough. I'm pushed over because of that niksen business. First, it's funny because I'm just assuming it's pronounced Nixon and the thought of solving your problems with more Nixon amuses me. Second, I've been following the trend of seizing upon some foreign language word to add mystery and style to things that might otherwise come across as mundane and dull. In recent years, I've blogged about hygge and döstädning. Niksen — according to the article — is the Dutch word for doing nothing.

When you ain't got niksen, you got niksen to lose.

"Their steps ringing out on the polished wooden floor, imperial chamberlains then carried in two of Japan’s three sacred treasures — a sword representing valor and a jewel representing benevolence..."

"... as well as the Privy Seal and the Great Seal of Japan, the seals of the emperor and state, respectively. Enclosed in cases and only ever seen by the emperor and high priests, the sacred treasures were held up to the emperor before being carefully placed on stands made of Japanese cypress. A third treasure, a mirror — representing wisdom — is kept at Ise Grand Shrine, the holiest Shinto site in Japan.... Akihito is a much-loved figure in Japan. With his wife at his side, he humanized the role of the emperor, once viewed here as a living god, by reaching out to vulnerable members of society and victims of natural disasters, and by actually looking ordinary people in the eye when talking to them." From "Japan’s popular emperor abdicates in short ceremony at Imperial Palace" (WaPo).