August 17, 2019

The Dying Bumblebee's Journey Across the Landscape of a Man.

A bumblebee lands on Meade and undertakes a difficult journey...

Captions that look like headlines turn the front page of The Washington Post into a rancid mess.

What I saw on first look at The Washington Post:

On closer look:

"It was a market that had never been played to... Nobody had sung their song to them."

Said Peter Fonda in 2018, talking about "Easy Rider." He is quoted in his NYT obituary, "Peter Fonda, ‘Easy Rider’ Actor and Screenwriter, Is Dead at 79."

That movie was so important to us young Boomers, half a century ago.
In 1967, Roger Corman, then the king of the low-budget movies, directed “The Trip” from a script by an up-and-coming actor, Jack Nicholson. Alongside Bruce Dern, Dennis Hopper and Susan Strasberg, Mr. Fonda starred as a mild-mannered television commercial director who uses LSD for the first time and makes the most of it. “Easy Rider,” which he also produced, came two years later.
There was also LSD in "Easy Rider."

What did Peter Fonda say about LSD in his later years?
“For me, it solved a great deal,” he said. “However, I didn’t take it and go out running through the city looking at lights. I was very circumspect and lay down on a couch.” Luckily, he added, “I don’t have an addictive character, and nothing except pot stayed with me.”
There's also The Beatles connection:
His mother committed suicide in 1950, when he was 10 and Jane was 13. Less than a year later, Mr. Fonda shot himself in the stomach with a pistol. Interviewed by The New York Times decades later, he insisted that it was an accident, not a suicide attempt or even a warning. “You shoot yourself in the hand or foot if you want attention,” he said, “not the way I did.”

Years later, he talked about the experience with John Lennon, who was reportedly inspired to write the line “I know what it’s like to be dead” in the Beatles’ song “She Said She Said.”
Here's how Wikipedia tells it:

"Top 5 most-believed satirical claims by The Babylon Bee.../Top 5 most-believed satirical claims by The Onion..."

2 interesting lists at The Conversation, reprinted at Snopes, in "Study: Too Many People Think Satirical News Is Real/In a news cycle full of clownish characters and outrageous rhetoric, it’s no wonder satire isn’t fully registering with a lot of readers."

Both lists break down the poll numbers by Republican and Democrat, with Republicans more likely to incorrectly believe Babylon Bee satirical nonfacts and Democrats more likely to believe Onion satirical nonfacts.
Our study on misinformation and social media lasted six months. Every two weeks, we identified 10 of the most shared fake political stories on social media, which included satirical stories. Others were fake news reports meant to deliberately mislead readers.

We then asked a representative group of over 800 Americans to tell us if they believed claims based on those trending stories. By the end of the study, we had measured respondents’ beliefs about 120 widely shared falsehoods....
The most-believed satirical headline from The Babylon Bee was "Most Americans believe that major media companies should apologize for pushing the now-debunked news story of collusion between President Trump and Russia." Second: "Representative Ilhan Omar said that being Jewish is an inherently hostile act, especially among those living in Israel." Those are made-up stories, intended as political humor.

From The Onion, the most-believed story was: "Following the passage of Alabama’s new restrictive abortion bill, a 12-year-old victim of sexual abuse said during an interview that she doesn’t think she can be a mom on top of her already hectic life." Second: "National Security Advisor John Bolton said that an attack on two Saudi Arabian oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman is 'an attack on all Americans.'"

A couple weeks ago, some people were attacking Snopes for seeming to be fact-checking articles that were made-up as satire. Please remember that I defended Snopes. I said:
It doesn't sound as though Snopes is confused about The Babylon Bee and thinks it's purporting to be a real news site. But even when you completely understand the format is satire, like The Onion, you believe that the satire relates to something real. You have to wonder what is the real thing that happened that this is a satire of. So, for example, in the case of "If Israel is so innocent, then why do they insist on being Jews?," you'd have to assume, if that's supposed to be funny, Ilhan Omar must have said some anti-Semitic things. The presentation of the quote as satire implies that there is something out there that is being satirized. You extrapolate....

It's not just this inference that something underlies satire, but that headlines get decontextualized in social media....

"The Palestinian Group That Arranged Tlaib And Omar’s West Bank Trip Once Claimed Jews Put Christian Blood In Matzah."

The Forward reports.
Miftah, a not-for-profit run by longtime Palestinian peace negotiator Hanan Ashrawi, was forced to apologize in 2013 after publishing an article on its website criticizing then-President Barack Obama for hosting a Passover Seder at the White House, JTA reported at the time.

“Does Obama in fact know the relationship, for example, between ‘Passover’ and ‘Christian blood’..?! Or ‘Passover’ and ‘Jewish blood rituals?!’” read the post. “Much of the chatter and gossip about historical Jewish blood rituals in Europe are real and not fake as they claim; the Jews used the blood of Christians in the Jewish Passover.”

Accusations that Jews killed Christian children and used their blood to bake matzah was used for centuries to justify pogroms and other anti-Semitic acts....

"The Trump administration on Friday filed a brief with the Supreme Court arguing that federal civil rights laws do not protect transgender workers."

"The filing relates to the case of Aimee Stephens, a transgender woman who was fired as the funeral director of R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. in Detroit after she told owner Thomas Rost that she planned to transition from male to female and would be representing herself as a woman while at work. In March 2018, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the funeral home had violated Title VII anti-discrimination laws in the decision, with the court ruling that 'discrimination on the basis of transgender and transitioning status is necessarily discrimination on the basis of sex' and therefore protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. However, in their court filing submitted Friday, Solicitor General Noel J. Francisco and Department of Justice attorneys argued that the specific Civil Rights Act provision 'does not bar discrimination because of transgender status,' meaning the Michigan funeral home was within its right to fire Stephens. 'In 1964, the ordinary public meaning of ‘sex’ was biological sex. It did not encompass transgender status,' the brief reads."

The Hill reports.

"The New York City medical examiner said on Friday that Jeffrey Epstein’s death in a federal jail cell was a suicide...."

The NYT reports:
"We are not satisfied with the conclusions of the medical examiner,” said [Epstein's] lawyers, who had hired a private pathologist to observe the autopsy, in a statement. “We will have a more complete response in the coming days.”....

His suicide followed an apparent attempt to kill himself in late July, and came 12 days after prison staff had recommended he be removed from suicide watch and returned to the wing in which he had been housed before.
I wonder what Epstein said to his lawyers about the July incident. It was either, yes, I tried to kill myself or somebody — who? — attacked me.
The conspiracy theories surrounding Mr. Epstein’s death were fueled in part by a paucity of information from Bureau of Prison officials since his body was discovered....

On Monday, the federal judge in Mr. Epstein’s case, Richard M. Berman, noted the unanswered questions about the July incident. “It has never been definitively explained what the B.O.P. concluded,” Judge Berman wrote in a letter to the warden of the Metropolitan Correctional Center on Monday.

Given the lack of explanation, the high-profile nature of Mr. Epstein’s crimes and the disgraced financier’s ties to a number of prominent people, wild theories about his death spread across social media from people of disparate ideologies....

Dr. Sampson, the medical examiner, said on Sunday night that her office had conducted an autopsy of Mr. Epstein but declined to release a determination about the cause of death. A city official said at the time that she wanted more information from law enforcement before releasing her determination....
Do you think Epstein killed himself? free polls

August 16, 2019

At the Grocery Café...


... choose whatever you like.

(And remember the Althouse Portal to Amazon, where you can buy Medjool dates.)

Trump said "That guy's got a serious weight problem" to a guy who laughs and says "Everything is good. I love the guy. He is the best thing that ever happened to this country.”

The man, Frank Dawson, was ripping signs away from some Trump antagonists who were "were trying to cause a ruckus, and they jumped up and started yelling. I don’t care what they were yelling. It wasn’t going to happen beside me. I’m trying to listen to my president. I think he thought I was part of it, but I wasn’t. I was the good part of it" (quoted at The Daily Beast).

Wow, that guy is going to get a trip to the White House, don't you think?

I've got to give you the full Trump quote, because it's very funny (or offensive, if you roll that way): "That guy’s got a serious weight problem. Go home, start exercising. Get him out of here, please. Got a bigger problem than I do. Got a bigger problem than all of us. Now he goes home and his mom says, 'What the hell have you just done?'"

"Some parents have latched onto a trend of raising children free of gender — sometimes known as 'theybies.' But Braiden had no interest in doing that."

"When an ultrasound revealed that the baby was a boy, Braiden was overjoyed. As someone who identified with both genders, Braiden was used to making choices on any given day.... But the expectant mom could not wait to raise a son with the stereotypical boyhood that Braiden never had. There would be trucks instead of dolls, and mud instead of makeup. Braiden chose a strong-sounding name: Owen. In the boys’ section at Buy Buy Baby, Braiden picked out a Nike onesie and a tiny dress suit. Braiden flipped through racks of outfits with footballs, dinosaurs and planets, and walked to the register holding a pair of tiny black suspenders — on sale.... Braiden wants Owen to understand that gender isn’t just male and female, and that his mom isn’t a woman. But Braiden doesn’t want Owen to feel as though he has to be a 'gender warrior' just because his parent is non-binary. Braiden’s assigned gender was the wrong fit, but that doesn’t mean Owen’s won’t be the right fit, Braiden said.... Sometimes this pregnant, feminine body felt so wrong — so disconnected from who Braiden was — that they wanted to rip their skin off. Sometimes, in private moments, Braiden would tightly clutch their stomach and breasts, take a deep breath, and think: This is not for me. This is for Owen.... Braiden wasn’t looking forward to breast-feeding. They hated drawing attention to their chest, and hoped to someday have a double mastectomy. But nursing was a sacrifice Braiden wanted to make, not only for Owen’s health but for the chance to bond with him."

From "A mother, but not a woman/Braiden Schirtzinger is non-binary, pregnant and about to take on the most gendered role of all" (WaPo).

"It's just a type of berry from Japan, unfortunately. Very cool though!"

Went to a small fruit farm were they grew strawberries crossed with raspberries. from r/pics

Rubus illecebrosus — "a red-fruited species of Rubus that originally came from Japan (where is it called バライチゴ, roseberry), but is also very popular in some European countries like Lithuania. Common names include balloon berry and strawberry raspberry."

So much for grandma.

1. "Israel has decided to approve a petition by U.S. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib to enter Israel on 'humanitarian grounds' so she may visit her Palestinian grandmother, the Interior Ministry announced Friday, this after it barred her from entering the country due to her support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement." Haaretz, this morning.

2. Shortly thereafter, CNN: "Rep. Rashida Tlaib said Friday she would not visit Israel after the country granted permission for her to enter the country on humanitarian grounds to visit her family in the West Bank a day after blocking her and fellow Rep. Ilhan Omar from visiting the country. 'I have decided that visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in--fighting against racism, oppression & injustice,' Tlaib said in a tweet."

3. In writing, you should be careful about putting things in absolute terms. Think before using words like "everything," as in "stands against everything I believe in." That would mean that you don't believe in visiting your grandmother!

Pressure cooker.

"Authorities are looking to question a tall, thin white man seen pushing a shopping cart near the Fulton Street subway station, where two rice cookers were found Friday morning. A third rice cooker was found next to a trash can in Chelsea.... All three devices were stainless steel, silver commerical [sic] grade rice cookers with black handles; all three were empty."

That John Mackey...
Wants to be able to make steel cut oats
Ha ha. I thought about that too. (For context, see this post from 7:08 AM about Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, who "typically packs a rice cooker with him (to make his morning steel-cut oats)."

MikeR said:
Performance art. Old tradition at subway stations.
Yes, I remember this story from 2002:
Clinton Boisvert, a newly enrolled student at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, was arrested this week and charged with reckless endangerment after dreaming up one of the more provocative art projects of the post-September 11 era: placing 38 black boxes, bearing the word "fear" in white lettering, around the Union Square station, a crucial hub where six lines intersect. The bomb squad was called in and the station was shut for five hours last Thursday, causing a ripple effect of chaos on the network, as panicked commuters and transit workers feared a terrorist attack.

But in a city still especially alert to people behaving suspiciously in potential target zones, witnesses soon came forward to report seeing two "artsy types" distributing the boxes, a police source was quoted as saying. Police canvassed art schools, and Mr Boisvert turned himself in.... The NYPD said nobody had immediately reported the boxes when Mr Boisvert was seen distributing them, and that the art student had planned to bring friends to witness the installation the following day. If convicted, Mr Boisvert could receive up to a year in jail - and a useful boost to his profile as an up-and-coming conceptual artist.
I can't find anything on the later career of Clinton Boisvert.

Did you watch Trump's New Hampshire rally?

I've only watched the beginning. Speaking about the 2016 election, he said: "They came from the mountains... They came from the rivers." Of course, I pictured something like this:

As for the 2020 election, speaking about the various Democratic contenders, he said:
I don't mind any of them... You’ve got Pocahontas is rising. You’ve got Kamala, Kamala is falling. You’ve got Beto, Beto is like, gone. We’ll see what happens. Whoever it is, I don’t know that it matters... I think Sleepy Joe might be able to limp across the finish line, maybe. … I sort of hope it’s him.

"'I think I'm going to switch over to Hickenlooper,' I say out loud, as I'm reading 'John Hickenlooper, Former Colorado Governor, Declares Candidacy for President.'"

"Last December, as you may know, I suddenly said — also out loud — 'Why aren't the Democratic candidates better? I'm just going to be for Amy Klobuchar.' But I've been worried about Amy.... 'Mr. Hickenlooper, 67, a socially progressive, pro-business Democrat who has called himself an extreme moderate.' Extreme moderate — I like!... I'm for the radical moderate who wants to bring people together and to get things done. There needs to be someone for those of us who loathe 'the most passionate party activists.'... What other Democratic Party candidate has any wide-ranging business experience and has worked at multiple levels of the executive side of government? Hickenlooper was mayor of the 19th biggest city (Denver) and governor of the 21st biggest state. That's a lot of executive experience, and he seems to have handled it well. He's worked as an employee in a scientific field, and he's been a successful entrepreneur making the beloved American product, beer."

I wrote on March 4, 2019.

This morning, the news is: "John Hickenlooper ends 2020 presidential campaign, nods at potential Senate bid" (CNN).
Hickenlooper framed his candidacy around stemming the leftward lurch of the Democratic Party. The two-term Colorado governor was a moderate voice in the primary, making his opposition to democratic socialism-- including Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' political philosophy -- central to his campaign. But that strategy failed to gain traction...
The process hates us moderates.

"[T]he co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods only eats only three organic, vegan meals a day, barely drinks water and never snacks — or eats dessert — except for an occasional Medjool date."

"[John] Mackey estimates that he eats about 15 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. 'A plant-based diet is pretty high in water,' Mackey says, 'so, the actual truth is I don’t need to drink water most of the time.' And if he did snack outside his three meals, he says he would get a stomach ache. Mackey is so dedicated to his rigid diet and wellness routine that when he travels for work, he typically packs a rice cooker with him (to make his morning steel-cut oats) to ensure he doesn’t slip while on the road... At 5 a.m., Mackey wakes up and does his spiritual practices for about 30 minutes to an hour. That includes meditation, reading an array of spiritual literature and daily affirmations.... At 6 a.m. Mackey either has one of two breakfasts: a smoothie or steel cuts oats (the oats are usually for when he’s on the road).... After breakfast, Mackey exercises by going on a short walk followed by some yoga.... Mackey says he eats lunch early, at about 11 a.m., to beat the crowds at the Whole Foods’ buffet line, which is connected to its corporate offices.... After work, Mackey heads home at about 7 p.m. to make dinner with his wife, Deborah. 'We’ll chop up a bunch of different veggies and throw it in the steamer,' he says, 'And then we’ll have some kind of lentil or beans with it and a nut sauce.' Mackey puts down his phone for the night at 9 p.m.... Mackey reads for bit and then heads to bed at 10 p.m."

CNBC reports the virtuous if boring routine of Whole Foods CEO John Mackey.

What part of John Mackey's daily regimen bothers you the most? free polls

Some men see things as they are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were, and ask why not.

This morning, I'm pairing the famous RFK quote with the coat of arms of Greenland.

ADDED: Picture the map of the world with Greenland as the 51st state:

What a legacy for the real-estate mogul!

AND: If what they're saying about global warming is true, Greenland is the place to which the entire population of the United States could relocate. If we bought Alaska from Russia, why can't we buy Greenland from Denmark? We're already using Greenland for military purposes — there's an air force base — and our military protects Europe....

ALSO: The Mercator projection is like the wide-angle lens in real-estate photos on Zillow.

MORE: From "Trump Eyes U.S. Buying Greenland" in The Wall Street Journal:
The idea of the U.S. purchasing Greenland has captured the former real-estate developer's imagination, according to people familiar with the discussion, who said Mr. Trump has, with varying degrees of seriousness, repeatedly expressed interest in buying the ice-covered autonomous Danish territory....

Some of his advisers have supported the concept, saying it would be a good economic play, two of the people said, while others dismissed it as a fleeting fascination. It is also unclear how the U.S. would go about acquiring Greenland even if the effort were serious.
It's a great topic for conversation. There's even potential for racial politics, I think. Trump seems to love the Nordic places (in contrast to "shithole countries")?
With a population of about 56,000, Greenland is a self-ruling part of the Kingdom of Denmark, and while its government decides on most domestic matters, foreign and security policy is handled by Copenhagen....

U.S. officials view Greenland as important to American national-security interests. A treaty between Denmark and the U.S. gives the U.S. military virtually unlimited rights in Greenland at America's Thule Air Base. Located 750 miles north of the Arctic Circle, it includes a radar station that is part of a U.S. ballistic missile warning system.

The U.S. has sought to derail Chinese efforts to gain an economic foothold in Greenland. The Pentagon worked successfully in 2018 to block China from financing three airports on the island.

People outside the White House have described purchasing Greenland as an Alaska-type acquisition for Mr. Trump's legacy, advisers said...

Greenland relies on $591 million of subsidies from Denmark annually, which make up about 60% of its annual budget, according to U.S. and Danish government statistics. Greenland is culturally and politically linked to Europe. Following World War II, the U.S. under President Harry Truman developed a geopolitical interest in Greenland and in 1946 offered to buy it from Denmark for $100 million. Denmark refused to sell.
Truman tried to buy it! Trump endeavors to close the deal that was Truman's! If Greenland is draining $591 million a year from Denmark, they should pay us for taking it off their hands and taking care of it well and preventing China from acquiring dominance. But if China is so ambitious in Greenland, Denmark should wait for a good bidding war between the world's 2 superpowers. And every year gets us closer to the global warming disaster that will make Greenland the most desirable place on earth. In that light, Denmark should hold on as the landlord, charging exorbitant rents and until things become so catastrophic that Greenland is snatched away from them by military force.
At a dinner with associates last spring, Mr. Trump said someone had told him Denmark was having financial trouble over its assistance to Greenland, and suggested that he should consider buying the island, according to one of the people. "What do you guys think about that?" he asked the room, the person said.

The person described the question less as a serious inquiry than as a joke meant to indicate "I'm so powerful I could buy a country," noting that since Mr. Trump hadn't floated the idea at a campaign rally yet, he probably wasn't seriously considering it.

The person believed the president was interested in the idea because of the island's natural resources and because it would give him a legacy akin to President Dwight Eisenhower's admission of Alaska into the U.S. as a state....
PLUS: Kudos to the stable genius if he floated this idea intending to get his antagonists to declare it stupid and knowing that on further examination it would actually make enough sense to intrigue us to talk about this rather that whatever the hell we were talking about before this came up. I see WaPo is getting ahead of the curve with "Trump reportedly wants to buy Greenland. So did the Truman administration" (by Antonia Noori Farzan):

August 15, 2019

At the Spring Green Café...


... you can talk all night.

The photograph is from the grounds of the American Players Theater (in Spring Green) where we saw a fantastic production of "A Doll's House" last night.

(And remember the Althouse Portal to Amazon, where you can buy many things, including "A Doll's House and Other Plays.")

If you want to talk about Jeffrey Epstein's broken hyoid bone...

... please go to this other post. Here, I'd like to talk about this crazy painting Epstein had in his Manhattan mansion:

The Daily Mail says:
The picture depicting the former president apparently lounging on a chair in the Oval Office, wearing red heels and posing suggestively in a blue dress redolent of Monica Lewinsky was in a room off the stairway of the Upper East Side townhouse. The dress is also strikingly similar to one worn by Hillary Clinton at the 2009 Kennedy Center Honors....

"If I were a young single guy, I’d be inclined to bank a bunch of sperm, then get a vasectomy. For men, that’s pretty much the only way to achieve 'reproductive rights.'"

Writes Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit, after reading something at The Sun called "THE SPURGLARS I was desperate for a baby so I ‘spurgled’ a man and tricked him into getting me pregnant." I haven't read that yet, but I'm going to guess that "spurglar" is a portmanteau of "sperm" and "burglar."

What's the downside of the frozen-sperm-vasectomy plan? When do you reveal to your girlfriends that this is what you have done? Do you tell them what you did and why? Do you reveal your mistrust of women? Do you use the word "spurglar" in your explanation? This will affect her opinion of you. If she's thinking she wants children, maybe she's picturing a real sexual encounter, not a medical procedure. Where's the romance? Where's the profound love? What kind of father are you? And you've chosen to disconnect your sexual activity from fertility? Won't that affect your mind, your sense of power and connection to creative forces? And all because of your suspicion of women. What have you done to yourself?! Wouldn't it be ironic if the women — all the women you imagined yourself getting — didn't want you because of what you'd done and you're left with your sex-doll robot who was never going to get pregnant anyway?

"An autopsy found that financier Jeffrey Epstein sustained multiple breaks in his neck bones, according to two people familiar with the findings, deepening the mystery about the circumstances around his death."

"Among the bones broken in Epstein’s neck was the hyoid bone, which in men is near the Adam’s apple. Such breaks can occur in those who hang themselves, particularly if they are older, according to forensics experts and studies on the subject. But they are more common in victims of homicide by strangulation, the experts said.... The office of New York City’s chief medical examiner, Barbara Sampson, completed an autopsy of Epstein’s body Sunday.... The hyoid bone played a central role in a heated dispute last year over another high-profile death in New York, that of Eric Garner. A New York police officer was accused of using an improper chokehold while trying to arrest Garner and of causing his death. A police officers’ association claimed that an autopsy from Sampson’s office found there was no break of Garner’s hyoid bone, and that this proved that the officer could not have strangled Garner and caused his death. This 'demonstrates conclusively that Mr. Garner did not die of strangulation of the neck from a chokehold,' the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association said. But Sampson rejected that claim, saying she stood by her conclusion that Garner died of 'compression of neck (chokehold), compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police.' Sampson’s office said Garner’s bronchial asthma, obesity and high blood pressure were contributing factors. In a widely circulated video of the 2014 incident, the officer was seen grabbing Garner around the neck, pushing him and his face into the pavement. Garner is overheard pleading several times: 'I can’t breathe.' Two weeks later, Sampson’s office concluded the officer’s actions were the primary cause of his death."

From "Autopsy finds broken bones in Jeffrey Epstein’s neck, deepening questions around his death" (WaPo).

Good morning, larks!

I guess most of my readers are up already. Look at the results of this poll I did yesterday:

Screen Shot 2019-08-15 at 6.43.00 AM

IN THE COMMENTS: David Begley said, "Ann, where the hell have you been? Sleepyhead. Let’s get rolling!"

Last night was a late one for us larks. Midnight! Here's a view of the stage where we were:


But, yes, I know about Epstein's broken hyoid bone. It's not like you need me to make it official.

August 14, 2019

At the Mushroom Café...


... enlarge upon whatever you like.

(And remember the Althouse Portal to Amazon, where you can buy Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee with Lion’s Mane & Chaga For Concentration.)

The 1968 movie in my "imaginary movie project" — "Romeo and Juliet."

I saw Franco Zeffirelli's version of the Shakespeare play when I was 17. Olivia Hussey (Juliet) was born in 1951, like me. She was 16 when the movie was made. Leonard Whiting (Romeo) was only one year older. We're told quite clearly in the text of the play that Juliet is 13. These are young kids indeed. They fall madly in love one night, get married the very next day, everything suddenly goes to hell, and on the fourth day, they're both dead.

The sense of of teenagers in love is incredibly strong and real...

Oh! How I cried when Romeo kills himself and Juliet immediately awakens from her fake death and finds him freshly dead...

So emotional! But what was it like watching it again half a century later? Beautifully fresh and alive. The story is so fast moving and the teenagers get so overheated — with lots of love and crazy streetfighting — but that's the story and I got caught up in the wildness and the extremely painful sadness in the end — in 1968 and in 2019.

Look, here are Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting talking about the movie in 2018. They are old, and I am just as old:

So lovely and sweet!

Based on the comments in the "Extreme Larks" post....

... here... I've got to do this poll:

Are you an extreme lark (a person who naturally gets up very early)? free polls


View this post on Instagram

@mariannewilliamson work in prog...

A post shared by Chloe Fineman (@chloeiscrazy) on

"The Life of a Person Who Wakes Up Really, Really Early/'Extreme larks' get up naturally when some people have hardly gone to bed."

By Olga Khazan (in The Atlantic). My first post this morning was at 4:58 AM, so it's a good topic for me.
They are people who wake up early—naturally. Not just “early” in the sense of a perky-at-8-a.m. spouse. These are the people whose bodies rouse them at 5:30 a.m. or earlier—some even at hours others are just going to sleep....

[Louis J. Ptáček, a professor of neurology at the University of California at San Francisco School] says his study is unique because it shows that advanced sleep phase “isn’t rare, and it’s only a problem if the person finds it undesirable.”... Extreme larks... might even be healthier than people who are night owls: Late bedtimes are associated with some negative health consequences, such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Also in their favor, larks are more likely to benefit from the societal impression that people who wake up early are go-getters and people who wake up late are lazy. That’s not actually true; plenty of night owls wake at noon and work until 2 a.m., right as larks are getting up and brewing coffee. Nevertheless, the stereotype persists.

"'Anyone who says, You fool! will be in danger of the fire of hell.' So says Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:22)."

"He claims that words spoken in anger are the moral equivalent of murder. But by chapter 23, he’s pretty angry at the religious leaders. 'You blind fools!' he shouts during a chapter-long rant (Matthew 23:17). He calls them hypocrites, snakes and vipers, everything — as the saying goes — but a child of God. We all know that insulting people is incompatible with Christian teaching. But Jesus actually did it quite a bit. Here are some of Jesus’ best insults...."

From "Jesus' best insults" by Dave Barnhart (in Ministry Matters), which I'm reading this morning because we've been discussing the insult "Fredo," which I compared to "Uncle Tom," which is an insult even though the fictional character Uncle Tom was originally conceived of as a Jesus. I got to wondering Did Jesus insult people?

"So it was a shock on Monday afternoon to see myself attacked in National Review as, essentially, a traitor to the white race."

"'Max Boot Fans the Flames of Racial Hatred' was the headline of an article by John Hirschauer. This was a response to a Post column I had written last week taking aim at the 55 percent of whites who in a 2018 poll said that discrimination against whites has become as big a problem as discrimination against blacks and other minority groups.... In reply, Hirschauer labeled me one of 'the self-loathing whites' who has adopted 'the politics of self-hatred.' He accused me of 'speaking in … totalizing racial language' that 'is stoking the flames of race hatred.' So telling whites not to be racists is an incitement to race hatred? How Orwellian.... I have no idea what 'totalizing racial language' means; it’s the kind of cant that [National Review founder William F.] Buckley, a stickler for precise language, would have mocked. What I do know is that this article employed the language of 'race treason' against me. Yes, Hirschauer attacked white supremacists in passing but he also engaged in moral equivalency and implied that, by denouncing racism, I was driving whites into their arms. ('Boot sets up a Faustian choice for ‘white’ readers: Side with the white supremacists and their detestable program, or sell your political soul to Max Boot and become one of the self-loathing whites.') This is part of a rhetorical strategy also employed by Trump, who occasionally denounces white supremacists but more often promotes racism while insisting his critics are the real racists."

From "National Review’s ugly attack on me reflects the Trumpification of conservatism" by Max Boot (in WaPo).

"The implication of calling someone Fredo, like that of the alt-right insult 'cuck,' is of weakness, specifically a failure to live up to the masculine ideal."

"But Fredo is more of a complex, tragic figure than political mudslinging would allow....  In 'The Godfather,' [John] Cazale gave Fredo that sense of well-meaning haplessness.... The second 'Godfather' film brought Fredo into the foreground (not his natural place in the family portrait) and deepened him. Fredo’s involvement in a bungled attempt on Michael’s life ('I know it was you'), which leads Michael to succumb to his darkest instincts and commit fratricide, is at the movie’s tragic core, and it gives Cazale the most beautifully acted scenes of his career. The most iconic is the brothers’ conversation in the boathouse, when Fredo pitifully pleads for respect: 'Send Fredo off to do this. Send Fredo off to do that. Let Fredo take care of some Mickey Mouse night club somewhere. . . . I can handle things! I’m smart! Not like everybody says!' Cazale delivers this feckless rant with wide-eyed rage and self-pity, flopping up and down in his lounge chair like a beached guppy."

"But my favorite moment comes just before he’s whacked, as he sits with his young nephew Anthony by the lake with their fishing gear...."

"It’s probably the only time Fredo ever outshone his brothers.... Fredo’s death is as wrenching as it is only because we care so deeply about him—he’s pathetic, sure, but he has reserves of humanity that he never got to express, holding himself to an impossible yardstick of power and violence when all he wanted to do was go fishing....  More than four decades later, Fredo’s still not getting any respect, but at least he’s getting noticed."

From "Respect for Fredo, a Character Who Is So Much More Than a Political Insult" by Michael Schulman (The New Yorker).

Lots of people have been asking whether it's true — as Chris Cuomo asserted — that "Fredo" is the equivalent of the n-word. I think a big difference is that Fredo is a specific character. To call an Italian "Fredo" is more like calling a black person "Uncle Tom." With that kind of insult, we could go back to the origin of the character, as Schulman is doing with Fredo. But that's not what we usually do. The character takes on a meaning of his own within the insult. You won't be able to get away with calling someone "Uncle Tom" by detailing what's in "Uncle Tom's Cabin."

The Wikipedia article, "Uncle Tom," is broken into sections, with "Original characterization" ("a rejection of the existing stereotypes of minstrel shows... a Jesus-like figure") separate from "Epithet" ("an excessively subservient person, particularly when that person perceives their own lower-class status based on race... [or] who betrays their own group by participating in its oppression, whether or not they do so willingly").

It's interesting to go back to the original meaning of a term, but it won't and shouldn't get you off the hook when you use an epithet here and now.

"Divining the 'real' Trump, if there is one, may be an interesting project someday for a biographer, or St. Peter. But for most of us, the Trump who matters..."

"... the one who’s rage-tweeting, fulminating, running the world—is 'Donald Trump,' the brazen character he workshopped for decades in the New York City tabloids, on talk shows, in sitcom cameos. And, most influentially, on The Apprentice. Trump was reality TV before the genre had a name. He knew it was more important to seem like a thing than to be that thing. People would become invested in you—banks, TV producers, voters—and do the work of maintaining your illusion themselves. The Apprentice didn’t need a businessman. It needed the idea of a businessman. That was the entire point of Donald Trump. He brought his own props. He opened the first episode in his helicopter, his name plastered on the side. He showed off his jet and his model girlfriend and his Trump Tower triplex.... The Apprentice needed Trump to be credible so the show would be credible. It built him a “boardroom” based on Ned Beatty’s corporate lair in Network. It imposed logic on his capricious firing decisions in the editing room. It punched up the rough draft he created, with better production values. TV’s Mr. Trump—it was always 'Mr. Trump'—was decisive. He was feared, his approval craved. He was saucy and shrewd and glamorous and generous. He was a serious businessman. But he was fun! 'Where else do you get a good time like with Trump?' he asked a female lawyer whom he’d just introduced to America with 'There’s Miss Universe, right there!' He was shot gliding imperiously down gleaming escalators, the same way he would one day announce his campaign at Trump Tower."

From Slate — "The 25 Most Important Characters of the Past 25 Years...2. Donald Trump, from The Apprentice (2004)" (#1 is Carmela Soprano... #3 is Pikachu....)

"She inspired me so much, it helped me to slow down. The way she would notice the little things like the colour of the mushrooms on the ground."

"I was focused on goals, like climbing the mountain, but sometimes it's not all about the epic views, it's about enjoying those little moments too."

From "Why this 89-year-old is visiting every US national park with her grandson" (BBC). There's also the question why would a young, strong person would travel to grand and extreme landscapes with a companion who is slower and less stable and vigorous.


That's my own photograph of mushrooms, noticed on a walk in 2010 in the Apostle Islands National Seashore. It's good to see the small things within the big.



"It’s true that black voters may not think there’s anything particularly unelectable about Harris. But surely she’s played some role in her own troubles."

"Besides that one viral debate moment, which, as Ed said, briefly sent her into the stratosphere, she has been quite shaky on policy (her answers on health care are all over the place) and vision (seems to be synthesis of everyone else’s). If she had been more consistent, isn’t it plausible that she’d be in more direction [sic] competition with Biden by now?"/"Maybe, though Cory Booker has been more consistent and has some authentic appeal to African-Americans, and he’s in much worse shape than Harris."/"The best thing Harris had going for her was being inspiring and historic. This just doesn’t seem to be an election where majorities of voters, black voters included, are especially invested in being inspired or making history."

I'm reading "Why Is Kamala Harris Struggling With Black Voters So Much?" at NY Magazine. It's 3 guys — Zak Cheney-Rice, Benjamin Hart, and Ed Kilgore — just guessing at stuff.

These articles about the election must be cranked out, and I'm only blogging this one because it is so absurd. Kamala Harris was "briefly sent... into the stratosphere"?! She briefly polled in the teens, and then slipped back into the single digits. Instead of an article asking why she's not more popular, ask yourselves how you ever got caught up into assuming that she was supposed to be so popular. You assume something should be true, then you proceed to inquire why it isn't. How about speaking honestly about your own assumption?

"'The cries were deafening,' the elderly vendor says as she serves up dishes of grilled mackerel, yellow curry and steaming glutinous rice."

"She saw at least nine girls being carried out of their classrooms, kicking and screaming. She recognised some of them as regulars at her stall. 'It was a heartbreaking sight,' she says. She later saw a witch doctor enter a small prayer room with his assistants.... 'Women are softer and physically weaker,' [said Zaki Ya, a spiritual healer with 20 years of experience]. 'That makes them more susceptible to spiritual possession.... Science is important but it can't fully explain the supernatural... Non-believers won't understand these attacks unless it happens to them.'... Academic Afiq Noor argues that the stricter implementation of Islamic law in school... is linked to the surge in outbreaks... The theory is that such a constricted environment could be creating more anxiety.... To clinical psychologists like Steven Diamond, the 'painful, frightening and embarrassing symptoms' often associated with mass hysteria could be 'indicative of a frustrated need for attention. Might their remarkable symptoms be saying something about how they are really feeling inside but are unable or unwilling to allow themselves to consciously acknowledge, feel or verbalise?'"

From "The mystery of screaming schoolgirls in Malaysia" (BBC). Much more at the link, with interesting photographs of life in Kelantan, Malaysia and of a $2,000 "anti-hysteria kit" (containing formic acid, ammonia inhalants, pepper spray, and pain-causing bamboo 'pincers' intended to drive out evil spirits).

August 13, 2019

At the Tuesday Night Cafe...

... you can talk about whatever you want.

The "Who's on first?" of dog names.

"While extremely high I decided that the greatest dog name ever thought of is Askim, because when people ask me his name and I tell them about 50% of the time they’ll awkwardly bend down and ask my dog it’s [sic] name. It’s hilarious...." That is from the amusing subreddit Am I the Asshole?

Once you know people don't like your joke, is it okay to keep having your fun?

"I've been watching my boys' online behavior & noticed that social media and vloggers are actively laying groundwork in white teens to turn them into alt-right/white supremacists."

"Here's how: It's a system I believe is purposefully created to disillusion white boys away from progressive/liberal perspectives. First, the boys are inundated by memes featuring subtly racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-Semitic jokes. Being kids, they don't see the nuance & repeat/share. Then they're called out for these jokes/phrases/memes by parents, teachers, kids (mostly girls) at school & online. The boys then feel shame & embarrassment - and shame is the force that, I believe, leads people to their worst decisions. The second step is the boys consuming media with the 'people are too sensitive' and 'you can't say anything anymore!' themes. For these boys, this will ring true - they're getting in trouble for 'nothing.' This narrative allows boys to shed the shame - replacing it w/anger. And who is their anger with? Women, feminists, liberals, people of color, gay folks, etc etc. So-called snowflakes. And nobody is there to dismantle the 'snowflake' fallacy. These boys are being set up - they're placed like baseballs on a tee and hit right out of the park.... These are often boys from progressive or moderate families - but their online behavior & viewing habits are often ignored.... [I]f your kid says 'triggered' as a joke referring to people being sensitive, he's already being exposed & on his way.... [W]e need to stay engaged & challenge our kids without shaming them. I'm lucky, my kids are smart and have a smart, critical, progressive dad who isn't afraid to call bullshit when he sees it. But I've seen SO MANY white boys falling prey to this system. So beware."

Tweets Joanna Schroeder, who's lucky, because her kids are smart. She suggests that mothers of white boys observe their interaction with media and intervene, explain what propaganda is, and "watch political comedy shows with him, like Trevor Noah, John Oliver, Hasan Minhaj. Talk about what makes their jokes funny - who are the butt of the jokes? Do they 'punch up' or down?"

I agree. Don't just leave your white boys to the manipulations of right-wing media. I would add don't leave any of your kids — be they white boys or no — to the manipulations of media — right-wing or left. And it's not just about kids. Save yourself. If you're only seeing right-wing propaganda, you'd better put on your own oxygen mask before you expend your waning energy saving the children.

How will you know whether YOU are the propaganda?

ADDED: Titania McGrath satirizes the Joanna Schroeder thread!

"For decades, Placido Domingo, one of the most celebrated and powerful men in opera, has tried to pressure women into sexual relationships by dangling jobs and then sometimes punishing the women professionally..."

"... when they refused his advances, numerous accusers told The Associated Press.... Eight singers and a dancer have told the AP that they were sexually harassed by the long-married, Spanish-born superstar in encounters that took place over three decades beginning in the late 1980s, at venues that included opera companies where he held top managerial positions....  In addition to the nine accusers, a half-dozen other women told the AP that suggestive overtures by Domingo made them uncomfortable.... The AP also spoke to almost three dozen other singers, dancers, orchestra musicians, members of backstage staff, voice teachers and an administrator who said they witnessed inappropriate sexually tinged behavior by Domingo and that he pursued younger women with impunity. Domingo did not respond to detailed questions from the AP about specific incidents, but issued a statement saying: 'The allegations from these unnamed individuals dating back as many as thirty years are deeply troubling, and as presented, inaccurate.'"

AP reports.

If someone insults you, you could just walk away, or you could stand your ground like somebody in a gangster movie, like Chris Cuomo.

According to the NY Post, this clip, in which Cuomo strongly objects to the epithet "Fredo," is said to have been "filmed Sunday on Shelter Island and sent to a right-wing website and blog, before being shared on Twitter."

I've got to say — and I have only watched the clip and not read any of the commentary about it — I have no problem with what Cuomo did here. He returned words for words, he defended himself, and he acquired complete submission from the man who provoked him. Maybe some people think the guy who said "Fredo" won because he got his video and Cuomo lost his temper. But I don't think Cuomo is out of control. I think he knew what he was doing and chose to do it. It's quite similar to what Trump does, and I don't think Trump is raging and having melt downs when people who hate him are saying he is. Same thing with Cuomo.
“Don’t f–ing insult me like that,” the Queens native fumes. “You call me ‘Fredo’ it’s like I call you punk b–ch, you like that?”
Oh, Queens! See? Like Trump. It's how they talk in Queens. Don't be prejudiced against the Queensman.

The little man who made the video asserts that he believed Cuomo's name actually was Fredo. Cuomo won't let him back down: "You did not think that… stand up like a man. Own what you said." Manhood is at stake. A hypothetical fight is discussed: "I’ll f–ing throw you down these stairs like a f–ing punk… you’re gonna call me Fredo, take a f–ing swing? I’ll f–ing wreck your shit."

Cuomo doesn't hit the guy. It's macho posturing. Notice the theory, propounded by Cuomo, that the guy is trying to get Cuomo to hit him so he can bring a lawsuit against the deep-pocketed son of a gov.

WaPo's Fact Checker gives 4 Pinocchios to Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren for tweeting that Michael Brown was murdered.

"One can certainly raise questions about whether Wilson should have fired as many shots as he did or acted appropriately under the circumstances.... But Harris and Warren have ignored the findings of the Justice Department to accuse Wilson of murder, even though the Justice Department found no credible evidence to support that claim. Instead, the Justice Department found that the popular narrative was wrong, according to witnesses deemed to be credible, some of whom testified reluctantly because of fear of reprisal. The department produced a comprehensive report to determine what happened, making the senators’ dismissal of it even more galling. Harris and Warren both earn Four Pinocchios."

Glenn Kessler at The Washington Post.

We talked about this subject last night, here, where I accused Warren and Harris of "crudely, clumsily groping for black voters" and said it was "cynical, damaging, and patronizing."

August 12, 2019

At the Big-and-Little Café...


... compare and contrast.

(And by all means, remember the Althouse Portal to Amazon, for the purchase of items small and large.)

"Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris’s controversial Michael Brown tweets, explained."

"The tweets claimed a police officer 'murdered' Michael Brown. But that’s not what investigators, including those from the Obama administration, concluded" (Vox).
Warren and Harris reiterated the protesters’ narrative in two separate tweets on the five-year anniversary of the shooting, using the moment to call for action against systemic racism and police violence....

The tweets expose the fine line that Warren, Harris, and others calling attention to police brutality have to walk. Individual police shootings and killings can and do help draw attention to genuine, broader issues surrounding police violence and systemic racism. But because the original narrative around the shootings can simply turn out to be wrong as we get more evidence, there’s a risk that attaching calls for reform too much to individual shootings and killings can backfire....
Fine line?! That's written as if Warren and Harris were speaking out right after the death, before the investigation. But they wrote this week — both calling it "murder" — 4 years after the investigation concluded that the killing was justified. They're not walking a fine line. They're crudely, clumsily groping for black voters. It's cynical, damaging, and patronizing.

I looked on Twitter to see if Harris had addressed her credibility problem. She tweets a lot but has nothing new since the WaPo fact-check went up at 3 a.m. She should respond. Quickly. In the meantime, in the category of racial politics, she's got this:

I would have written "stepped onto that elevator," but I'm not going to criticize "Dude's gotta go," because Trump himself uses casual, slangy lingo. They say it's not "presidential," though.

"He said that criminalizing sex with teenage girls was a cultural aberration and that at times in history it was perfectly acceptable."

"He pointed out that homosexuality had long been considered a crime and was still punishable by death in some parts of the world.... He said people in Silicon Valley had a reputation for being geeky workaholics, but... [t]hey were hedonistic and regular users of recreational drugs. He said he’d witnessed prominent tech figures taking drugs and arranging for sex.... When I later reflected on our interview, I was struck by how little information Mr. Epstein had actually provided. While I can’t say anything he said was an explicit lie, much of what he said was vague or speculative and couldn’t be proved or disproved.... [E]arly this year Mr. Epstein called to ask if I’d be interested in writing his biography. He sounded almost plaintive. I sensed that what he really wanted was companionship. As his biographer, I’d have no choice but to spend hours listening to his saga. Already leery of any further ties to him, I was relieved I could say that I was already busy with another book. That was the last I heard from him. After his arrest and suicide, I’m left to wonder: What might he have told me?"

From "The Day Jeffrey Epstein Told Me He Had Dirt on Powerful People" by James B. Stewart (NYT).

Nice painting!

A hawk — I photographed this without moving from my desk chair.


"... how beautifully endearing she is so stunned that someone is being kind to her..."

"Never mind the long tradition of lounging on the fabled spot — a scene perhaps best evoked by Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in the 1953 film 'Roman Holiday' — sitting on the Spanish Steps is now subject to a fine of 400 euros..."

"... or about $450, under new municipal rules that ban a variety of activities in the city’s historic center. The regulations are intended to 'guarantee decorum, security and legality' by prohibiting actions that are 'not compatible with the historic and artistic decorum' of Rome’s center, according to the city’s website.... Dozens of startled people, most of them presumably tourists, were reprimanded on a broiling Wednesday afternoon by a small force of municipal police officers — this reporter counted at least eight — who admonished step-sitters by blowing twice on their whistles and gesturing stiffly to stand up.... A tired-looking father with a stroller in his hands and a toddler on his shoulders, was coming down the steps when he was stopped by a cry of 'Hey Mister.' The stroller, an officer said, cannot touch the steps. The father grudgingly complied.... 'You see one stroller — we see millions of them. This is a historic monument that has to be preserved,' [the police officer] said, declining to give his name because he was not authorized to speak to reporters. He asked to be identified as 'a municipal police officer who loves Rome.'... The Rome newspaper Il Messaggero said Wednesday that photographs of empty stairs 'were not an image of strength, but of desolation.' The newspaper accused the mayor of trying to apply 'Swiss rigor' to what was a quintessentially Roman spot for relaxation."

From "Rome’s New Rules: No Sitting on the Spanish Steps (and No Wading in the Trevi Fountain)" (NYT).

Famous tourist attractions are too crowded these days. You travel to see something, and it's full of people, and way too many of them are taking pictures of themselves. It affects who travels, and I suspect the city would prefer the travelers who spend a lot money, the people who stay at that hotel at the top of the steps and not the people who'd like to lounge on the steps eating street food.

ADDED: Audrey Hepburn totally littered that ice cream cone!

I've never seen "Roman Holiday," but, boy, does it look bad. Is Gregory Peck a bad actor? I see that the role was originally offered to Cary Grant:
Grant declined, believing he was too old to play Hepburn's love interest (though he played opposite her ten years later in Charade.) Other sources say Grant declined because he knew all of the attention would be centered around the princess. Peck's contract gave him solo star billing, with newcomer Hepburn listed much less prominently in the credits. Halfway through the filming, Peck suggested to [the director William] Wyler that he elevate her to equal billing—an almost unheard-of gesture in Hollywood.
I'm just noticing that Hepburn's character, a princess, is named Ann. Ann, with no "e." Strange! I wonder if I'd noticed that years ago, I might have eventually gotten around to watching this movie. I have seen the other Hepburn-as-Italian-tourist movie, Katharine Hepburn as an aging spinster in "Summertime." Generally, I'm not big on the cliché movie idea of woman traveling and finding herself by getting into a sexual relationship. Oh, I don't know. It could work on me. I love "A Room With a View." The Italian city in this one is Florence:

I'm embedding this tweet mainly because I'm fascinated by this picture of Elizabeth Warren.

The substance of the piece is banal beyond belief, but I pity the political writers who have to keep talking about the 2020 presidential race:

Anyway, the picture. Let's take a closer look:

"OLD DRINKS" — created from "cold drinks" with the placement of an "IF YOU LOSE YOUR MONEY" sign. That's rich, and I'm going to credit the AP photographer, John Locher, with deliberately framing his photograph to catch text that is relevant, meaningful, and humorous: Yeah, she's so happy to be striding in waving a big "Hi, I'm here with the old socialist idea of taking your money."

Now, she also looks fantastic. Any more energy and she'd look insane. The clothes are completely casual but perfectly crisp and cheerful. Elizabeth Warren is 70 years old, but look how trim and sprightly she is! If she were any thinner, I'd be worried about anorexia.

And look how happy she is, even in that incredibly depressing Nevada environment, walled in with teal-trimmed white cinderblock. She seems to be bursting through the door... even though the door opens in the other way, so somebody is holding it open for her. It took me a long time to notice that her pose isn't part of a bursting through the door motion.

IN THE COMMENTS: GingerBeer senses the mystic chords of memory:

ADDED: Classic bursting-through-the-door action:

"The theory that we are living in a computer simulation may sound bizarre, but it has found adherents."

"The technology entrepreneur Elon Musk has said that the odds that we are not simulated are 'one in billions.' Professor Smoot estimates that the ratio of simulated to real people might be as high as 10¹² to 1.... [I]f our universe has been created by an advanced civilization for research purposes, then it is reasonable to assume that it is crucial to the researchers that we don’t find out that we’re in a simulation. If we were to prove that we live inside a simulation, this could cause our creators to terminate the simulation — to destroy our world. Of course, the proposed experiments may not detect anything that suggests we live in a computer simulation. In that case, the results will prove nothing. This is my point: The results of the proposed experiments will be interesting only when they are dangerous."

From "Are We Living in a Computer Simulation? Let’s Not Find Out/Experimental findings will be either boring or extremely dangerous" by philosophy professor Preston Greene (NYT).

Greene overstates his argument. I see the danger. In fact, I see more danger than he does. Whether the higher civilization would destroy us if we caught on to their game or not, knowing that we are only somebody else's simulation would change the meaning of life for us. It would disrupt how we care about ourselves and other people. I think we could still find value in our existence, but it would be different and difficult. What if I'm nothing? Well, I'm still all the me I ever was, so I'll carry on, perhaps more carefree. But what about the next generation and the next?

But where Greene goes wrong, I think, is in undervaluing the knowledge that we don't live in a computer simulation. Once the idea of a simulation is out there and growing, with very smart people saying it's almost certain that we do live in a simulation, it's having an effect on us. It's dispiriting! If the idea catches on and people come to believe it, really believe it, the way masses of humanity believe in God, then what happens to human life? Finding out that the theory is wrong would have a big effect!

Now, I can see that Greene is careful when he says "the proposed experiments may not detect anything that suggests we live in a computer simulation." To fail to detect the simulation is not to prove there is no simulation. But it's some assurance, and that could be quite meaningful to those who've fallen into the Muskosphere and have come to really believe that all of our world is some aliens' computer game. It can stop Muskism from spreading and fostering strange new behavior and nihilism.

And if we're worried, as Greene is, about the effect of the experiment on the "higher civilization," it's not just that if they knew we knew about them, they might destroy us. They're also seeing that we're beginning to figure out what's going on, and if we do an experiment that makes us think the theory is false, the aliens are more likely to keep the experiment going.