December 14, 2019

At the Soft Café...


... make yourself comfortable.

And comfortably, softly shop — if you need to shop — through the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

Andrew Yang, who says he's "a pro-choice leader," has an intelligent answer to what he can offer to people who oppose abortion.

What's going on here between 0:34 and 0:35? What exactly does it mean — that young blonde woman (just before the image of Scarlett O'Hara and "Mammy")?

"The university said in a statement that Mr. Simons had 'repeated his explicit wish that his son should obtain his bachelor’s degree at the age of 9'..."

"... which the university considered not feasible given the exams he still needed to pass. Mr. Simons rejected an offer in which Laurent would have graduated next year without a specific deadline, arguing that such a delay was unacceptable. The university had used his son 'like a Christmas tree,' he said, a glittering ornament that made the institution shine. 'He wasn’t making it,' the university spokesman, Ivo Jongsma, said about Laurent’s previous graduation plans. 'But of course it wasn’t a problem for us,' he added. 'He’s a genius; he would still have been one of the fastest ever' to graduate from a university.'... As Laurent’s potential graduation date came closer, his parents made him available for interviews and posted pictures on an Instagram account that gained tens of thousands of followers in a few weeks. 'Busy Week With Interviews!! Building Up The Pressure! Soon Gigantic News!!,' a post read."

From "9-Year-Old Prodigy Pulled From College Over Degree Delay" (NYT).

Don't overplay the genius hand.

"The audience was great because they were very quiet, although I think 90% of them were quiet because they couldn't figure out what they were seeing."

"Basically, 2,700 people are sitting in one place pretending what they are watching is normal, when it is anything but. It's hard to explain, and if you are only listening to the concert audio you're not going to get it—it's entirely a live manifestation.... [T]his is Dylan in the Bardo. The shows have gotten much more tenuous and ethereal and for the first time I realized that this is a very old person on stage.... [H]e is very much a part of our collective consciousness (much of which he legitimately created), so it is hard to know where this artist ends and reality begins. Only by radically destroying what he has created does Dylan exist in the moment: It's now or never, more than ever.... For me, going to see Dylan has always been like consulting the oracle. The set lists always seemed designed to tell you something about where you are in your life at the moment....  Ending the show with 'It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry' was brilliant, because it's not remotely a show-ender, like 'Watchtower' or 'Like a Rolling Stone.' I got the sense that Bob was aware he might be winding down.... 'I came to tell everybody, but I could not get across.'... When I left the theater at 10pm there was a vast caravan of trucks pulling the giant floats and deflated balloons for the Macy's Thanksgiving day parade.... Don't say I didn't warn you, when your train gets lost."

Writes Raymond Foye in "Bob Dylan In The Bardo" (in The Brooklyn Rail).

I assume the essay title is a play on the George Saunders title "Lincoln in the Bardo":
The novel takes place during and after the death of Abraham Lincoln's son William "Willie" Wallace Lincoln and deals with the president's grief at his loss. The bulk of the novel, which takes place over the course of a single evening, is set in the bardo...
In some schools of Buddhism, bardo... is an intermediate, transitional, or liminal state between death and rebirth.... [W]hen one's consciousness is not connected with a physical body, one experiences a variety of phenomena... from, just after death, the clearest experiences of reality of which one is spiritually capable, and then proceeding to terrifying hallucinations that arise from the impulses of one's previous unskillful actions.... [T]he bardo offers a state of great opportunity for liberation, since transcendental insight may arise with the direct experience of reality... [but] it can become a place of danger as the karmically created hallucinations can impel one into a less than desirable rebirth.

"I think he just, like, punched a wall or something."

"I have a problem with this whole damn place. If you can figure out an exit strategy for me I’d appreciate that. This is crazy. The whole thing is crazy. It will take some time to get over."

Ken Buck, a Republican congressman from Colorado (and member of the Judiciary Committee), quoted in "Icy silence, frayed connections: Impeachment takes a toll" (AP).

Saturday morning, with no music but with swans.

1. Having written about music first thing this morning, at 4:16, I was in the mood to listen to something or other on my sunrise run, but alas, I hadn't bothered to plug in my AirPod case for days and when I put my AirPods in, they made that sad, bloopy sound that means, we're not going to work for you today.

2. That reminds me. Yesterday, I was talking to Meade and my iPhone (Siri) thought I was talking to her and told me that she was having trouble understanding. I said, "I'm not talking to you, go to sleep," and she sassed me: "I never sleep." So instead of being friendly, speaking to my robot, I dispensed with social etiquette and said, "Shut up," and that time I got what I wanted: silence.

3. It seems to me that we should maintain our interpersonal standards when speaking to impersonal machines (for our own sake, really), but I learned that my friendliness is interpreted by the machine as a desire to engage, to have some lighthearted fun, but I didn't want to be interrupted. I learned that I need to be a bit of an asshole to get the robot to back off. I know the robot has no feelings for me to worry about, but I don't want to be the one who snaps "Shut up." It's doing that to me, and I have feelings.

4. Without music, I was more open to the sounds of the forest and the lake. I was rewarded by swans:

5. What a nutty clamor! I made that video at 7:19, 3 minutes before actual sunrise time.

6. It was another "soft" sunrise — the sun behind clouds and the far shore gently imprecise. At 7:28:


7. With no music to prompt thoughts, my mind cycled though: 1. emptiness (with raw observation of surroundings), 2. remembering what I'd written on the blog this morning and how the different elements related to each other and what meant the most to me, and 3. thinking of the songs that tend come up on my playlist at various points in my run and having a vague version of the song reconstituted in my head.

8. A mellow outlook on a muffled, cottony sky:


9. Mellow? Or bleak? Or possibly even idyllic. It is whatever it is in the gently imprecise landscape of your mind.

We're not seeing Hillary Clinton's new face. We're seeing a photograph of her face.

I'm exasperated with articles like "What is the secret of Hillary Clinton's strangely plumped-up-cheeks? Fillers could be behind more youthful look" (Daily Mail).

First, this startling new picture just looks ridiculously smooth from the bottom of the eyeballs to the top of the smile lines. Isn't it just bad photoshopping?

Second, the comparison photograph of her with full aging on display (from a few days earlier) looks much better. What matters isn't whether you look older or younger but whether you look worse or better. She obviously looks better with all the elements of her face in the same condition, working together, seeming normal than with a weird smoothing through the center only.

Third, boring as I find the Daily Mail's interviews with plastic surgeons who speculate about what "work" might have been done, I do love the commenter antics over there. The top-rated comment is: "Reminds me of a hamster I had as a teenager. Such a cheerful grin it had, especially when its face was stuffed with peanuts."

"He saw feathers come out of her jacket..."

Said the detective, quoted in ‘He saw feathers come out of her jacket’: Detective recounts ‘confession’ of 13-year-old suspect in knifing death of Barnard College student Tessa Majors, 2nd suspect in custody, 3rd still sought" (The Daily News).
Authorities said the 5-foot-5, baby-faced suspect confessed to his role in the killing...  The boy told the detective that his friend dropped a knife, and that the boy picked it up and handed it back to him. "He watched his friend grab the victim, put her in a chokehold and remove items from her pocket,” [the detective] said. “He made a slashing, stabbing motion toward the victim. He saw feathers come out of her jacket and then all three of them fled the park together.”... [The detective] said one of the 13-year-old’s friends told him that Majors bit him on the finger.

When the pro-travel pitch feels like an argument against travel.

Look at the photograph the NYT travel magazine highlights from a set of "The 10 Most Idyllic Destinations" that it has featured over the course of an entire year.

Yes, I'd find that pretty if I drove my car out into the Wisconsin countryside and got back home the same day, but imagine going all the way to Albania and finding your way out to a farm just to look at that! Is that some kind of joke?!

Looking at some of the other 10, I'm thinking: Imagine going all the way to Morocco and getting a view that's like a toned downed version of Zabriskie Point in Death Valley. Why would you do that?!

Is it the mental experience of beating yourself inside the head with I am in Albania! or I am in Morocco! Morocco, I tell you!!? Do you go alone or do you drag along a companion whose inside-of-the-head you hallucinate as We came all the way to Albania/Morocco for this? We could have visited the wineries of Wisconsin or gone back to Zabriskie Point?

"Idyllic" means "Forming a suitable theme for an idyll; full of natural simple charm or picturesqueness. Also used trivially" (OED). Also used trivially — ha ha. I love that.

What, exactly, is an "idyll"? It's a poem (or poetic prose) describing "some picturesque scene or incident, chiefly in rustic life" or "An episode or a series of events or circumstances of pastoral or rural simplicity, and suitable for an idyll."
1873 J. A. Symonds Stud. Greek Poets x. 306 The name of the Idyll sufficiently explains its nature. It is a little picture. Rustic or town life, legends of the gods, and passages of personal experience....
The literal etymology is, indeed, "little picture."

Is any place really idyllic in itself, such that you can go there and experience the idyllic, or is the processing through the human mind what is necessary? The original meaning of "idyll" is a piece of writing. It's not the place itself but the poet's description.

So is it not more idyllic to read the poet's idylls? If you go to the place that might have inspired the poet to write an idyll, you'll have to perform the mental magic yourself. Maybe you should. Maybe that will expand your mental powers. But if you don't find the idyllic when you take a day trip to the countryside near your home, is it at all likely that you'll have the mental wherewithal to perform that brain labor after 15 hours of air travel and finding your way to a farm near Tirana?

It's hard for me to listen to new music. I have to force myself to put time into listening to anything new.

It's interesting to be old — I'm almost 69 years old — and to experience my mind as new things happen now and with all my memories of what I did and what I felt in the past. One of the biggest differences I see in myself is openness to new music.

In the 1960s, I had endless openness to new music and was always tuning into the radio to find things. Hearing them once — I remember the first time I heard "I Got You, Babe" (it was on a station that only came in late at night from Fort Wayne, Indiana) — I could instantly bond and know this was good, this matters to me. I would read about music that hadn't been released in America yet and long to get a chance to hear it. I had a photograph of Cat Stevens from a magazine pinned to my bedroom wall at a time when it was not yet possible for me to hear his music.

These days, I still listen to Cat Stevens. In fact, I have one song ("Morning Has Broken") that I play every day. That's how grounded I am in the old things. What I love most is what is repeated.

So I had a hard time trying to be interested in the list my son John made of his "Top 100" songs from the past decade. It's a very carefully and individualistically curated list and the best of an entire decade, and it's my son and I ought to care that a decade is about to end (in 17 days!). But it's so hard for me to begin to listen to something new and to continue. The only way I can open up to it is to listen multiple times. Maybe on the 5th or 6th time, I could bond and feel that this is good and this matters to me. I need the repetition, but how to get to the stage where it is repetition?

One thing is TikTok! When I want physical and mental rest and recreation, I love to sit back and scroll through whatever the TikTok app decides to serve up as "For You." Often, the very short videos have a musical soundtrack, and some audio clips are used repeatedly. So a snippet of music can make it into my head and become liked by my ancient brain.

Here's a good example. I'll just give you 2 videos using the same song clip (which has been used in many other videos, collected here, with embedded video at the top giving you the entire song). The audio clip has been used over 1.5 million times, and I'm giving you 2 from the same person, which says something more about me and repetition:

December 13, 2019

At the Ice Water Café...




... keep up the conversation.

And remember the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

Photos taken at 7:33, 7:33, and 7:37 this morning. The actual sunrise time was 7:21. The sun itself was invisible. It was a super-soft sunrise.


WaPo lists "the 15 people with the best shot at the VP nomination."

1. Kamala D. Harris
2. Stacey Abrams
3. Julián Castro
4. (TIE) Cory Booker
4. (TIE) Pete Buttigieg
6. Amy Klobuchar
7. Deval Patrick
8. Elizabeth Warren
9. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (Mich.)
10. (TIE) Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (Nev.)
10. (TIE) Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (N.M.)
12. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (Wis.)
13. (TIE) Gov. Gina Raimondo (R.I.)
13. (TIE) Pennsylvania AG Josh Shapiro
15. Sen. Chris Coons (Del.)


"The Supreme Court agreed on Friday to decide whether President Trump can block the release of his financial records..."

"... setting the stage for a blockbuster ruling on the power of presidents to resist demands for information from prosecutors and Congress. The court’s ruling, expected by June, could give the public a look at information the president has gone to extraordinary lengths to protect. Or the justices could rule that Mr. Trump’s financial affairs are not legitimate subjects of inquiry so long as he remains in office. Either way, the court is now poised to produce a once-in-a-generation statement on presidential accountability."

Writes Adam Liptak in the NYT.

Observing "the gradual emergence, among professionally beautiful women, of a single, cyborgian face."

"It’s a young face, of course, with poreless skin and plump, high cheekbones. It has catlike eyes and long, cartoonish lashes; it has a small, neat nose and full, lush lips. It looks at you coyly but blankly... distinctly white but ambiguously ethnic.... 'It’s Instagram Face, duh. It’s like an unrealistic sculpture. Volume on volume. A face that looks like it’s made out of clay.'... There was something strange, I said, about the racial aspect of Instagram Face—it was as if the algorithmic tendency to flatten everything into a composite of greatest hits had resulted in a beauty ideal that favored white women capable of manufacturing a look of rootless exoticism. 'Absolutely... We’re talking an overly tan skin tone, a South Asian influence with the brows and eye shape, an African-American influence with the lips, a Caucasian influence with the nose, a cheek structure that is predominantly Native American and Middle Eastern.... People are absolutely getting prettier... The world is so visual right now, and it’s only getting more visual, and people want to upgrade the way they relate to it.'"

From "THE AGE OF INSTAGRAM FACE/How social media, FaceTune, and plastic surgery created a single, cyborgian look" by Jia Tolentino (in The New Yorker). Nice animated illustration at the link.

That made me think of "Number 12 Looks Just Like You" — summarized, with clips, perfectly in less than 2 minutes, here:

"I don't want to be transformed! I want to stay ugly!"

The Judiciary Committee is voting on the impeachment.

Are you watching?

UPDATE: There was no need to watch. You knew what would happen. Grim, elongated voting — along party lines, entirely. Of course.

We watched on MSNBC, where the voiceover intoned: "And there you have it: History has been made." Somber commentators informed us that Trump has now been "held accountable" and that he has a mark on his record that will follow him everywhere.

"He announced his pronouns..."

"Nancy Pelosi just got duped in an interview to admitting that she has been working on impeaching me for 'two and a half years.'"

"In other words, she lied. This was the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats plan all along, long before the Ukraine phone call. Impeachment Hoax!"

Tweets Trump this morning. He doesn't link to an article or video with that quote or even say who the interviewer was or what was the question that "duped" her. I tried looking it up and was unsuccessful. Anybody know?

ADDED: Thanks to commenters who aimed me approximately here:
Politico’s Anna Palmer asked Pelosi to react to the criticism that Democrats are racing through their impeachment inquiry of the president.

“It’s been going on for 22 months, two-and-a-half years actually,” Pelosi said initially.

Then immediately made clear she was referring to the Mueller investigation.

“I think we are not moving with speed. Was it two and a half years ago they initiated the Mueller investigation? It’s not about speed. It’s about urgency. One of the charges against the president of the United States is that he was violating his oath of office by asking for government to interfere in our election undermining the integrity of our elections,” she said.

"We know that one Democratic candidate walked into a room of wealthy donors this year to promise that 'nothing would fundamentally change' if he’s president."

Said Elizabeth Warren yesterday, quoted in "The left's nightmare scenario is looking more believable" (WaPo). She was referring to Biden. She continued, referring to another candidate, but WaPo doesn't say who: "We know that another calls the people who raise a quarter-million dollars for him his 'National Investors Circle,' and he offers them regular phone calls and special access. When a candidate brags about how beholden he feels to a group of wealthy investors, our democracy is in serious trouble."

I looked it up: She was referring to Buttigieg.

"American Leftists Believed Corbyn’s Inevitable Victory Would Be Their Model."

A column by Jonathan Chait (at NY Magazine):
Both [Corbyn and Bernie Sanders] built youth-oriented movements led by cadres of radical activists who openly set out to destroy and remake their parties. Both lost in somewhat close fashion, Sanders in 2016 and Corbyn the next year. And fervent supporters of both men treated their narrow defeats as quasi-victories, proof of victory just around the corner....
There are many examples of this enthusiastic linkage of Corbyn and Sanders. Chait goes on:
Proceeding from the erroneous Marxist view that capitalism is growing more oppressive, and a working-class backlash is therefore inevitable, they glommed onto bits of data and ignored and large and growing array of evidence to the contrary....

Corbyn’s victory became a matter of faith, and its adherents continued to tout wisps of evidence for it even in the face of dismal polling....

Whether a more moderate Labour leader would have defeated Johnson – who is highly unpopular, yet still far less unpopular than Corbyn – is unknowable....
Funny when a "highly unpopular" person wins big.

Shall we avert our eyes?

None of the "top stories" at Vox is about impeachment...

... and 2 are about trees.

Tucked away at the bottom of the front page is one new story about impeachment, "Gaetz’s effort to make the impeachment hearing about Hunter Biden’s problems backfired spectacularly." There seems to be something about getting Gaetz today (I guess because he went after Hunter Biden). At WaPo, the second "most read" article is "Where is Matt Gaetz’s humanity?"

From the WaPo piece (a column by Dana Milbank):

"Under pressure over his possible impeachment, President Richard M. Nixon supposedly talked to the paintings in the White House. President Bill Clinton..."

"... absently toyed with his old campaign buttons. President Trump punches out Twitter messages in the lonely midnight hour. Long after his staff has gone home, long after the lights have gone out elsewhere around the capital, the besieged 45th president hunkers down in the upstairs residential portion of the Executive Mansion venting his frustration and cheering on his defenders through social media blasts."

Big news. The President tweets. A lot. When he's getting impeached and when he's not getting impeached.

But this is the NYT, assuring its readers that "For Trump, Impeachment May Be a Political Plus, but Also a Personal Humiliation." The anti-Trumpers know they're losing — he won't be removed and he's even benefiting politically — but damn it, at least they're humiliating him. The desire to humiliate — such a lowly emotion. And yet, the NYT is using it to pump up its despondent readers.

Subheadline: "As the House moves toward what even he says is an inevitable vote to impeach him for high crimes and misdemeanors, President Trump toggles between self-pity and combativeness." Toggles! How do they get this detail on the inside of his head?

The fact is he's not doing anything special to impeachment — nothing like talking to paintings or fingering old buttons. It sounds like Trump continues to Trump, same as ever. In which case, he's not losing it. He's carrying on — bold and tough, fighting and seeming to enjoy and get energy from the fight.

By the way, is it true that Nixon talked to the paintings? The NYT avoids responsibility for fact checking with the word "supposedly." It's a story. They say he got to talking to paintings.

I did my own brief research on the topic and stopped when I came to a Frank Rich column in the NYT, titled "Has He Started Talking to the Walls?" The date is December 3, 2006. 2006 — it is not about Trump. The question that the NYT would like to aim at Trump was aimed, back then, at George W. Bush:
It turns out we’ve been reading the wrong Bob Woodward book to understand what’s going on with President Bush. The text we should be consulting instead is “The Final Days,” the Woodward-Bernstein account of Richard Nixon talking to the portraits on the White House walls while Watergate demolished his presidency. As Mr. Bush has ricocheted from Vietnam to Latvia to Jordan in recent weeks, we’ve witnessed the troubling behavior of a president who isn’t merely in a state of denial but is completely untethered from reality. It’s not that he can’t handle the truth about Iraq. He doesn’t know what the truth is....
So let's not forget: George Bush got the same treatment from the NYT.

Talking to paintings is a favorite way to say the President has gone mad. But Trump has tweeted all along. Nothing has changed. He hasn't gone anywhere. The tweeting is right there, a direct line from the President's brain to us, and we can see whether it's changed or not. Talking to paintings is something that a President does in isolation, withdrawing, and becoming abstracted — "untethered from reality." Tweeting is the opposite. It's totally connected and out in the open. It's something the President does with us — leaping over the press.

We don't have to wait for Bob Woodward to find out what happened behind the scenes. It's all already on the public stage. If the tweets are any crazier than before, we could see that — unless we've all gone crazy together and have grown accustomed to the weirdness — and we wouldn't need the NYT to tell us about it.

I just bought the Kindle version of "The Final Days" so I could see exactly what it said about Nixon talking to paintings. I think this is the only passage:
“The President . . . ” [Nixon's son-in-law Ed] Cox began. His voice rose momentarily. “The President was up walking the halls last night, talking to pictures of former Presidents—giving speeches and talking to the pictures on the wall.”
ADDED: Proofreading this post, I saw the answer to my question "How do they get this detail on the inside of his head?" It's: They're reading the same tweets that we are. They don't have special access to sources. They're simply interpreting the same tweets we get.

As I said, Trump has leaped over the press. It must be so annoying for them. Maybe they're talking to paintings. Maybe to a painting of George W. Bush: Oh, George! How I miss you now! How good you were to let us trash you for 8 years and never to stoop to attacking us, like your miserable successor!

"We broke the deadlock, we smashed the roadblock and a new dawn rises on a new day... getting Brexit done is the irrefutable, inarguable decision of the British people..."

"We will get Brexit done on time, by 31 January, no ifs, no buts, no maybes... put an end to those miserable threats of a second referendum," said Boris Johnson, quoted in The Sun, which has this front page displayed at Drudge:

Not sure what the dog symbolism there is, but don't let a dog put his tongue in your mouth. Does it have something to do with the non-Tories who crossed over and voted for Johnson to show they want Brexit? I understand the word "bollocks," and I'm guessing the "x" represents the x-mark on a ballot. If you listen to Johnson's speech (at the link) you'll hear him thank those nonconservatives who "lent" him their vote, and he talks about and gestures marking an "x" on the ballot. Is it The Sun characterizing these votes as saying "Bollocks!" to the resistance to Brexit? Still, why a dog?

I do some research. "Dog's bollocks" has an entry at Wikipedia. It's something irrelevant but interesting. It's this punctuation mark, which you can see in the Declaration of Independence:

Well... maybe the Declaration of Independence is a little bit relevant to Brexit, but there's no way the Sun's headline is about the old-timey punctuation mark.

Now, I see that there was a slogan "Bollocks to Brexit" in this last election. Obviously, that's the anti-Brexit side, the side that lost badly in yesterday's election. So the headline might want to express "Bollocks!" to the side that said "Bollocks to Brexit." Still, why a dog?

Maybe it's based on the idiom "a dog's breakfast." Fortunately, I have already done my research on "a dog's breakfast" — back in 2013. "A dog's breakfast" is just "a confused mess." But yesterday's election was very decisive, more a cleaning up of a confused mess than a confused mess. I abandon this line of thinking.

Googling, "dog brexit," I find "U.K. Holds A Pivotal General Election, And Voters Bring Their Dogs To The Polls" (NPR) and "Polling stations/Forget politics, focus on the puppies!" (Vox).

So, there you have it! Dogs are a symbol of voting in the UK, and that's been combined with the slogan "Bollocks to Brexit." The "dogs" (the people) voted for Brexit: — The "dog's" expression of "Bollocks!" went against those who were hoping to get the "dogs" to say "Bollocks to Brexit." The "x" drives home the idea that we're talking about voting.

IN THE COMMENTS: Nicholas said:
Ann, as an Englishman, let me help you out. The expression "the dog's bollocks" is pretty obscure and I cannot explain how it came into being, but sometime around the 90s, in laddish circles (i.e. typical readers of the Sun, which is like a simplified version of the NY Daily News) the expression began to be used as a term of approval and admiration. For example, a car that was "the dog's bollocks" was a car to be coveted and regarded as better than its competitors.
So... it's like "the bee's knees."
Attested since 1922, of unclear origin. There are several suggested origins, but it most likely arose in imitation of the numerous animal-related nonsense phrases popular in the 1920s such as the cat's pyjamas, cat's whiskers, cat's meow, gnat's elbow, monkey's eyebrows etc....
... the dog's bollocks.

It seems as though you can take any animal and add some body part (or — in the case of "the cat's pajamas" — an attribute that the animal doesn't even have).

December 12, 2019

“Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Conservative Party appeared to be on course for a solid majority in the British Parliament...”

“... according to an exit poll. A victory in the general election on Thursday would cement Mr. Johnson’s claim to 10 Downing Street, paving the way for Britain’s exit from the European Union in less than two months. For the prime minister, whose brief tenure has been marked by legal reversals, scorched-earth politics and unrelenting chaos, it was an extraordinary vindication. Defying predictions that he would be tossed out of his job, Mr. Johnson now seems likely to lead Britain through its most momentous transition since World War II.”

The NYT reports.

About 10 minutes before sunrise, the gray sky took on lovely stripes of pink.

1. But I didn't stop to get a photograph. I kept running to my vantage point, but the pink was fading, and it was gone when I got there, still 2 minutes before sunrise.

2. Here's how it looked at 7:19:


3. I need to learn to understand the sunrises that peak early and how quickly the color fades. If it's one with pre-sunrise pink, I need to stop and get the photograph... or just do what I did today, which is to watch it come and go in real time — a transient show just for me.

4. The ice was forming along the shore and beginning to build its way out. I got this photo at 7:23:


5. It looked like crowded lily pads of ice. At 7:24:


6. I was listening to this Joe Rogan podcast, which was kind of entertaining while I was walking, but once I started running and they got to going on and on about how the moon does not rotate, I couldn't take it anymore and switched to music — the usual playlist.

7. It was 27° — warmer than yesterday, but it felt colder. It wasn't windy, though. It was humid. Somehow humidity makes you hotter on a hot day, but it also makes you colder on a cold day. Water is crafty!

8. I got home and saw my front right tire had gone flat. So that was that flubbidy-dub sound we heard yesterday when we went out to buy bread. Nothing about the driving seemed wrong went I went out for my run. Ah, well!

9. The moon does rotate, and the tire will rotate, and everything will turn in its own good time.

"Thousands of 'penis-fish' have washed ashore Drakes Beach, California. Formally known as fat innkeeper worm..."

"... an expert believes a recent storm forced the worms out of their underwater homes and carried them to the beach - leaving them exposed to predators. This 10-inch marine creature looks like a 'pink sausage' and creates U-shaped burrows in mud or sand that it leaves behind for other creatures to move in - hence its name 'innkeeper.'"

Hence the name "innkeeper"... but The Daily Mail is calling them "penis fish." Can't blame them though. You've got to go over and check out the photos.

"The trial records should be the documents that they use for impeachment in the House: no more, no less. I'm not interested in any witnesses. This thing is a sham. I want to get it over with."

Said Lindsey Graham, quoted in "Graham says he won't call any impeachment witnesses in Senate committee: 'It's a crock'" (Fox News).

"... I feel really sad when I think about how I am not a wanted person. I don’t think people know the depth of it."

"... I am a pretty rational person. I am constantly observing and learning about the world around me. I come across as sharp, mature, and I think unfazed by most things. I am not outwardly emotional, and actually friends would describe me as a chatty, sardonic, smartass.... But there is an underlying romantic in me that drives me crazy. I watch everyone else get to connect, and I just get to sit there watching, offering my analysis, telling people who should text who, indulging in gossip about secret trysts. That’s my role. I just want to be in the thick of it — messy, young, and stupid. I want to turn my brain off and go for it, but I just can’t. What makes me doubly sad is that the feeling of physical unwantedness mixes in with a more general feeling of unwantedness. Maybe people would like to connect to me more if I could just shut up? If I didn’t pick apart every little thing going on to later analyze it? If I was less of a mouthy smartass?"

From "‘I’ve Never Had Sex, and I Feel Like I Never Will’" — a letter to the New York Magazine advice columnist.

From the answer:
The second you quiet down and honor yourself by treating yourself like the ultimate DECIDER in the picture, you will find a pile of drooling men collecting around your ankles.... The only weapon you need is a sense of your own agency and a willingness to be proclaimed a fucking weirdo by a douchebag who disguised himself as a nice dude just to get into your pants. When a grabby douche calls you a weirdo, that’s a badge of honor, a shiny accolade to be treasured henceforth. You are a true hero who just caused an insecure dweeby dipshit to second-guess himself for a millisecond. His ferocity is a direct reflection of how infrequently the world asks him to examine the contents of his own startlingly empty brain.

So show up and be your sardonic self, but dare to feel your way forward without too many words... Quiet presence is the hottest thing in the universe....
So.... the answer to "Maybe people would like to connect to me more if I could just shut up?" is yes?!

"Only"! — "Dem leaders see only handful of defections on impeachment."

The news isn't "only a handful" — it's that there are defections.

The story is at Politico.
Democratic leaders are privately expecting no more than a half-dozen defections on next week’s vote to impeach President Donald Trump, even as many of their most endangered lawmakers remain publicly mum on their decision....
The same story at WaPo is "House Democrats brace for some defections among moderates on impeachment of Trump."
Lawmakers and senior aides are privately predicting they will lose more than the two Democrats who opposed the impeachment inquiry rules package in late September, according to multiple officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk frankly. Two senior Democratic aides said the total could be as many as a half-dozen, while a third said the number could be higher.
So... Politico says "no more than a half-dozen" and WaPo has 2 sources who say that and one who says "could be higher."
Several moderates have privately pined for other options, including a censure vote they know they’re unlikely to get. Others have even considered what one moderate called “splitting the baby”: backing one article of impeachment but not the other to try to show independence from the party.
Ugh! Splitting the baby. The Solomon story isn't about splitting something so the halves can be kept. It's about threatening to do something that triggers the disputants to reveal something about themselves, creating new evidence that allows the judge to decide. The woman who objects to splitting the baby is identified as the mother and she gets the whole, living baby.

I wrote a law review article that old Bible story, questioning whether that woman really was the mother and why this story was elevated over all the other stories about what a great judge Solomon was. Excerpt (for your edification, not because it has anything to do with the "moderate"'s trite and inaccurate use of the idiom):

"Three heart patients died after a mob of lawyers rampaged through a Lahore hospital in a dispute with doctors."

"Up to 200 lawyers wearing traditional black suits stormed the Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC), smashing windows, doors and equipment and setting a police van ablaze. Television reports showed some of the lawyers armed with handguns while riot police fired tear gas to try to quell the mob. Lawyers could be seen standing on the bonnet of a burning police vehicle and scuffling with officers. Doctors and nurses fled the hospital to escape the violence, leaving intensive care patients unattended.... Lahore government official Kamran Ali told Reuters the lawyers were enraged by an earlier incident where doctors allegedly beat a lawyer at the hospital over his refusal to get in a queue of patients. The lawyers were particularly angry that the doctors filmed and shared the beating on social media, he said."

The Telegraph reports.

"Apparently, the reason the quid pro quo and the bribery stuff was taken out of the articles of impeachment is that they could be used against Biden."

"That just tells you everything about how messed up the system is — that the primary problem they wanted to impeach the President for — they ended up taking it out because it would take out their primary candidate who's polling at the the top of the polls. That tells you everything, right? Is there anything else you need to know than they had to change their articles of impeachment so it didn't take out their own guy?"

I don't know what lies behind that "Apparently." Is Scott Adams just inferring? The whole impeachment drive is based on inference, so the House Democrats deserve to have furious processes of inference used against them, but I'm interested in knowing the facts. Is there some source with knowledge of actual discussions among the House leaders about dropping quid pro quo and bribery out of fear that these concepts would come around and get Biden?

"They think people who agree with them are smarter than people who disagree with them."

An unnamed Yale faculty member, quoted in "Yale Prof Estimates Faculty Political Diversity At 0%/Pressure to join the 'herd groupthink' in New Haven" (WSJ)(reprinted in part at TaxProf Blog).

"How did this standard-issue marshmallow of a man seduce his wife out of a promising Hollywood career to act in his Off Broadway plays?"

"He doesn’t say smart, enticing things ('You pulled the rug out from under me and now I’m in hell' is standard fare) and thanks to his rendition of 'Being Alive' from Sondheim’s Company, I finally don’t feel like an asshole for using the word bathetic."

Ha ha. I'm enjoying the writing by Hannah Gold in "Marriage Story Made Me Feel Nothing" (NY Magazine). I haven't seen the movie or had any desire to see it, but I'm just really enjoying this takedown. Hannah Gold is really good.
[I]n a film ostensibly about a messy divorce there is only one fight scene and it’s rather disappointing. Glib chitchat about Monopoly and credenzas lights the way for a noisy spitballing of grievances.
I know. You can criticize this kind of writing. It needs to be checked for logic. How could spitballs ever be noisy? I'm thinking of the largest possible spitball making the loudest possible splat. Near the beginning I read "These snapshots offer the audience a glimpse of love forged in the persnickety details of intimacy," I wanted to word edit. How can "persnickety details of intimacy" work as a forge?  But I kept reading and enjoyed myself so much, I wanted to tell you about it.

And here's Adam Driver singing "Being Alive":

"[I]f you start from the axiom that Trump is Hitler, every fact becomes evidence that Trump is Hitler."

Writes Glenn Reynolds, observing the NYT reaction to Trump's Executive Order about anti-Semitism. THE JOURNALISTIC LEFT IS COMPOSED OF IGNORANT, HYSTERICAL CHILDREN: The ridiculous storm over Trump’s latest move against anti-Semitism.
... Vox has a decent piece — yes, that’s right, the NYT coverage is so bad it’s being debunked by Vox –which contains this jewel-like line given the Hitler comparisons: “The draft executive order largely restates the Obama administration’s position.” The main thing Trump is doing is turning it from nonbinding “guidance” into an Executive Order.

... [O]nly an idiot would start with [the axiom that Trump is Hitler], but idiots abound. “The refusal to apply Occam’s razor was astonishing. What was more likely: That someone without legal training was misunderstanding an executive order they hadn’t seen, or that a bipartisan coalition of Jewish policymakers persuaded Jared Kushner to convince Trump to issue the preliminary groundwork for a 21st century version of the Nuremberg Laws in America? You can guess which tack got the most retweets and likes. With real anti-Semitism on the march and on a day when gunmen targeted a Jersey City Kosher Supermarket, murdering four people (three of whom were Jewish), a chorus instead rose up against Jewish allies engaging in a largely symbolic legal exercise.”
From the Vox piece:
When the New York Times reported Tuesday afternoon that Trump was about to issue an executive order designed to crack down on anti-Semitic hate speech on college campuses, it sparked an immediate and understandable panic among liberals online.
So the serious issue is freedom of speech:

"Was I really in a Philadelphia multiplex, or had I wound up at President Trump’s lie-larded Hershey rally taking place at exactly the same time?"

Writes Will Bunch (Philadelphia Inquirer), expressing intense aversion to the new Clint Eastwood movie, "Richard Jewell."
At some point during those two hours in the dark — maybe the attack on the FBI as a rogue outfit using trickery to frame innocent people, or the depiction of journalists as amoral enemies of the people, or the swelling agitprop of applause lines about common folks under attack “from our two most powerful forces — the United States government and the media” — that I’d began to wonder if I’d made a wrong turn....

Rarely have I seen a film that was so “of the moment” — but in the worst possible way.
He's so afraid people will see this movie and be influenced. Whatever you do, don't look there! Does that even work?
In the time of a reality-TV president, Eastwood seamlessly blends facts with outright fiction to create a narrative that transcends truth. To get viewers riled up about “fake news," it fabricates a story. Yet, in the end, in making this movie intended to crush any remaining public faith in the news media, Eastwood has unintentionally reminded us of why democracy requires a functioning free press....
How does Bunch know what was in Eastwood's head? I haven't seen the movie, but if it makes us anguish over fake news, why wouldn't that mean that Eastwood longs for sound, professional journalism? Hey... is Bunch doing fake news? So much of the anti-Trump news these days is assertion about what Trump intended. And here's Bunch, making assertions about what Eastwood intended.
[T]he film was green-lighted in 2014 when the notion of a President Trump would have been a crazy script no studio would touch....
So... the film became more timely... and if only that had been predicted, it would never have been made. A left-leaning movie that synchs up with current events is praised as visionary. You've got to go see it, because it's more relevant now, an import warning, a valuable opportunity to heighten awareness. But to synch up by chance with current events is just horrible when the viewpoint seems right wing. (Who would have thought, 25 years ago, that suspicion about the FBI and the news media would become a right-wing point of view?)

Now, there is a huge problem about this movie that has nothing to do with left and right wing politics. A real-life reporter — Kathy Scruggs — is portrayed as sleeping with a source in order to get a story. I'm reading that this is not something she actually did. This isn't just a character who seems to be based on Kathy Scruggs, but a character actually called "Kathy Scruggs" in the movie. How could that happen?! The movie is supposedly a warning against fake news, but it engages in fake news. Everyone wants to spice up the story. Throwing sex into it is the oldest, lamest tactic.

December 11, 2019

Actual sunrise was 7:20, and the temperature was 10°.







"The activities we found here don’t vindicate anybody who touched this..."

Said Michael E. Horowitz, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee today, reported in the NYT.
Mr. Horowitz was responding to [Senator Lindsey] Graham’s mention of an Op-Ed by the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey published in The Washington Post after Mr. Horowitz’s report became public.

While Mr. Comey acknowledged that the inspector general found “mistakes” in the administrative process associated with the wiretap applications targeting the former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page — the focus of the report — Mr. Comey wrote that Mr. Horowitz’s “most important” finding was his debunking of the insinuations by Mr. Trump and his allies that F.B.I. officials, driven by political bias, conspired to sabotage Mr. Trump.
Here's the op-ed in question: "James Comey: The truth is finally out. The FBI fulfilled its mission." (WaPo).

Person of the year.

Article here.

Choice very predictable, and yet... there must have been a temptation to help out the impeachment crowd and give it to Nancy Pelosi or "the whistleblower" or SchiNadPel.


(I noticed that because WaPo has an article about it "‘These are sad and strange times’: Thanos creator rips widely mocked campaign video portraying Trump as ‘Avengers’ supervillain.")

"She's neither as good nor as bad as some people say about her."

"She attended college at Brown, and spent a summer in Los Angeles trying to become an actress and a model, and going to clubs with Leonardo DiCaprio."

"('It was the summer before Romeo and Juliet came out,' she said. 'It was right after Gilbert Grape.') When Hollywood didn’t pan out, she graduated and moved to New York to pursue a career in fashion media, landing writing jobs... 'I was like, drowning in makeup and cigarettes and booze and cool people'.... In 2005, she took a break from the work force to get an M.F.A. in creative writing. She ended up selling a novel to Grove Atlantic, but 'it sort of turned into a disaster,' she said. She returned the advance and the book was never published.... After her wedding in 2011, she landed on the idea for Stone Fox Bride... [Instagram] became a place where Ms. Guy would share photos of her daughters and her husband. 'In hindsight, I wouldn’t have done any of that,' she said. By 2016, her marriage was coming to an end, and selling wedding dresses, in person and online, stopped being so fun. Ms. Guy closed her studio 'the day Trump got elected,' she said, and started selling her inventory out of her Williamsburg apartment, while her estranged husband lived in an Airstream around the corner.... Now, Ms. Guy said she is working on a memoir... Her brand, she said, has evolved to represent 'women in transition.'... [She teaches a] 'crash course writing workshop' for 'foxes in flux.'"

From "What Happens When a Weddings Influencer Gets Divorced?/Stone Fox Bride made Molly Rosen Guy the face of bohemian weddings. Then her marriage ended" (NYT).

Apparently, it's Trump's fault.

IN THE COMMENTS: Sally327 said:
I can't read the article so I don't know if it addresses this or not but I wonder if this business was profitable. I mean, enough to live on. Possibly not having a husband around to pay the bills made a difference?
I responded:

"We ate their lunch!"

Exulted Nancy Pelosi, quoted in "‘We ate their lunch’: How Pelosi got to ‘yes’ on Trump’s trade deal/After tough fights, the speaker cut a deal that unions, the president and Democrats all like."

ADDED: I did some research into the idiom "ate their lunch," because I was just talking about last weekend's SNL skit showing Trump getting bullied by the popular kids in a school lunchroom. I said it makes me sympathetic to Trump to see the smug "cool" kids doing whatever they could to humiliate him, so it was interesting to me to hear Nancy Pelosi triumphing in a way that I thought evoked schoolyard bullies who steal lunch from their victims. But is that the source of the phrase "ate their lunch"?

Researching, I see that "ate their lunch" is a popular idiom in business. Investopedia says:
Eating someone's lunch refers to the act of an aggressive competition that results in one company taking portions of another company's market share.... This can be achieved through the release of a better or newer product, aggressive pricing or marketing strategies or other competitive advantages...
That doesn't explain the origin of the metaphor. What are we talking about? Next, I notice the very similar phrase: ate him for lunch. Are these 2 phrases of the same lineage? If so, which is the corruption?

I saw this at Urban Dictionary and thought it was very funny:
Many don't believe me, but in March of 1967 a buddy and I were sitting in a local bar. Something was said about lunch, I responded by saying, "I'll eat your lunch". All laughed and went on. The group that was there started using that line. Next thing I know everyone is using it. Believe it or not.
Looking for another way into this problem, I try googling "did the phrase eat your lunch originate in a bully who steals other student's lunch."

"Pelosi promised a narrow, expedited impeachment, and that’s what the House will deliver: a targeted effort centered on a single act of malfeasance."

"It’s been a fast-paced process meant to satisfy liberal activists without alienating moderate members worried about support from swing voters. Once it’s completed, Pelosi can say that Democrats ran a sober investigation and found definitive evidence of wrongdoing. She can even say that this wasn’t an obstacle to getting things done — it was hardly an accident that after announcing the articles of impeachment, Pelosi also announced that the House would vote to approve the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, President Trump’s renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Pelosi wants to get to the bottom of the president’s wrongdoing and she wants to protect her moderate members. But a quick, narrow impeachment isn’t the way to go.... Individual Democrats might have run on health care in 2018 and other 'kitchen table' issues, but it was anti-Trump energy that put these districts within reach, and it will be anti-Trump energy that drives the outcome next year. If the president is unpopular — if he’s mired in controversy — Democrats will likely win. If it’s the reverse, if Trump can overcome scandal and recover ground with some voters, he’ll win re-election. And those vulnerable House Democrats? They’ll lose, along with the party’s nominee. The quick impeachment... hands the process to the Republican Senate and its majority leader, Mitch McConnell... The better alternative — the stronger alternative — is to wait.... If Democrats aren’t compelled by the reality of broad, pervasive corruption, then they should be compelled by the politics of a longer, more deliberate impeachment process."

Writes Jamelle Bouie — in "Two Articles of Impeachment for Trump Are Nowhere Near Enough/The House should take its own sweet time and investigate many more aspects of the president’s perfidious behavior" — openly discussing the impeachment in terms of electoral politics.

If the President's alleged action — pushing Ukraine to investigate Biden solely for his own political advantage — is "perfidious," then the House Democrats' political calculations around impeachment are perfidious.

I guess Bouie assumes only Trump haters will read his column, because it just doesn't make sense for anyone considering believing the Democrats' assertions about their channeling somber values from the Framers and earnestly striving to save the Republic.

Bouie goes on to say "There’s no reason for Democrats to end things now. They have enough material to keep the pressure through the new year." But the whole point of using impeachment rather than allowing normal electoral politics to play out over the course of next year is that it's intolerable to allow this dangerous, harmful President to remain in power. He's abusing his power, and the abuse must stop. If that's not true, and the Democrats are using the impeachment power to inflict political damage on the President, then the Democrats are themselves abusing power. Bouie seems to be advising the Democrats to lean into abusing power and get the most out of it.

Here's Bouie's last paragraph:
Democrats, in other words, can use the power of impeachment to set the terms of the next election — to shape the national political landscape in their favor. In a political culture governed by negative partisanship and hyperpolarization, restraint won’t save the Democratic majority. But a relentless anti-Trump posture — including comprehensive investigations and additional articles of impeachment — might just do the trick.
Does he not hear what he is saying?! He's telling Democrats to drop the pretense of principle and patriotism and go all out for political advantage.

ADDED: 2 afterthoughts:

1. Writing "advising the Democrats to lean into abusing power and get the most out of it" made me think of the famous Patrick Henry line: "If this be treason, make the most of it." Impeachment enthusiasts can say: If this be abuse of power, make the most of it. Speaking of channeling the giants of the Framer generation. But Henry was not one of the Constitution's Framers. He was their opponent. He thought they were up to perfidy.

2. "Perfidy" means "Deceitfulness, untrustworthiness; breach of faith or of a promise; betrayal of trust; treachery" (OED). Notice the syllable "fi" — Latin for "faith." What is the faith here that is being broken? Everything about electoral politics is antithetical to faith. Where is the faith? I think in many Americans there is faith. We saw it in the Tea Party movement, and Trump absorbed and echoed that faith. In his time, before the emergence of the Tea Party, Obama expressed that faith...

The last 2 winners of the Presidency understood and repurposed the people's faith. If they'd done anything more profoundly sincere, they would have been too naive to be President, but if they'd done anything less, they would not have won.

December 10, 2019

At the Moonlight Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want (including the Trump rally, which I am watching).

And please consider using the Althouse Portal to Amazon.

The photo shows the view across Lake Mendota at 4:43. The sunset time was 4:23.

“I think what gets a poem going is an initiating line.”

“Sometimes a first line will occur, and it goes nowhere; but other times—and this, I think, is a sense you develop—I can tell that the line wants to continue. If it does, I can feel a sense of momentum—the poem finds a reason for continuing.... The first few lines keep giving birth to more and more lines. Like most poets, I don’t know where I’m going. The pen is an instrument of discovery rather than just a recording implement. If you write a letter of resignation or something with an agenda, you’re simply using a pen to record what you have thought out. In a poem, the pen is more like a flashlight, a Geiger counter, or one of those metal detectors that people walk around beaches with. You’re trying to discover something that you don’t know exists, maybe something of value.”

Said Billy Collins, interviewed by George Plimpton in The Paris Review in 2001.

Yeah, I know... impeachment unveiling this morning...

... can I avert my eyes? It's really awful. I'll try to look at video of the announcement later, but right now, I can't put up with these people.

ADDED: Here's the video. I'll force myself to watch:

UPDATE: I tried. I got 2 minutes and 45 seconds into the presentation, and I had to turn it off.

Actual sunrise time was 7:19, and the photo happened at 7:19.


Just by chance I reached my vantage point and got the camera out at exactly sunrise.

A little later — 10 minutes later — at a secondary vantage point, there was a little more evidence of sun.


About a half hour after that, I looked out the car window, and, in no position to get out my iPhone, saw the sun very briefly move into a break in the clouds and look exactly like the moon — a distinct white disc.

I'm not sure what the temperature was, but right now it's 9° and "feels like" -7°. Honestly, the cold was no problem at all. I'm beginning to think there won't be any day all winter when it is too cold to run.

"Like more than a few Americans, I used to read President Donald Trump’s tweets with trepidation."

"No modern president had ever expressed himself publicly in this manner, and the universal reaction seemed to be a mixture of horror and consternation. Now I find that the tweets I see tend to make me laugh rather than wince. Unlike his stately predecessor’s feed, which read as if drafted by a lucky intern, Mr. Trump’s tweets could not possibly have been composed by anyone but Mr. Trump himself, or by someone with a good ear for Trumpspeak. Best of all, the fury and indignation they inspire are very nearly as entertaining as their memorable content. Like the old New Yorker cartoons of plutocrats listening in silent rage to F.D.R. on the radio, or inviting their friends to join them at 'the Trans-Lux to hiss Roosevelt,' Mr. Trump seems to have the chattering — or in this case, sputtering — classes where he wants them.... When Franklin Roosevelt exclaimed that his political enemies were 'unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred,' admirers swooned.... [Trump] has roots in the American civic tradition, which is considerably more complex, and more fractious in tone, than we care to remember....."

From the NYT op-ed "Whom Does President Trump Remind You Of?/Uncouth he may be, but he’s not unfamiliar," by Philip Terzian (author of “Architects of Power: Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and the American Century")

"Some New Yorkers have jumped turnstiles in protest of the arrests of young black men and the handcuffing of a woman selling churros."

From "Tensions Over Subway Policing, Race and ‘Arrest Quotas’" (NYT).
Enforcement on the subway has surged over the past year. Police officers issued 22,000 more tickets for fare evasion this year compared with 2018, The Times reported.

Hundreds more officers have also been deployed in the transit system in recent months, sparking debate about overpolicing and the criminalization of poverty. Black and Hispanic people had already accounted for an outsize number of arrests on the subway.

Governor Cuomo has been sharply criticized for the expanded deployment, as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is facing a looming financial crisis and struggles to provide reliable subway service.
Just make the subway free and increase all the taxes, tolls, and fees related to motor vehicles. Whatever it takes to make the subways free. Use the cops to ticket the hell out of all the cars that are always committing violations and make the fines as high as they need to be to cover all the free riding on the subway.

What's up with Marco Rubio?

6 minutes ago:

Is this about that volcano in New Zealand? The impeachment? Something I haven't noticed yet? Some bad dreams? Tell me, Marco!

ADDED: Is he just getting ready for Christmas?

OR: Is this about the Senate prepping for the impeachment trial? Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God... their god being Trump, the wasteland being Congress, and the highway being an appropriate set of procedures for conducting the trial?

"As I lay there, I could feel the medicine take over my entire body, as if an extraterrestrial had entered my bloodstream and was taking over. I could feel it doing its work on my brain, repairing the virus known as addiction."

Says a user of Ibogaine, quoted in "Silicon Valley’s psychedelic wonder drug is almost here/A new startup called MindMed could have the key to providing the upsides of psychedelic drugs for both focus and addiction treatment—while cutting out the downsides of tripping" (Fast Company).
Ibogaine is found in a woody West African shrub that sprouts orange fruits like upside-down tear drops. In Gabon and Cameroon, members of the Bwiti religion eat rootbark from the Iboga Tabernanthe bush as part of a ceremonial confirmation of their faith. Americans have sought out this rite of passage for decades in hopes of enlightenment. In blog posts and on Reddit threads, ibogaine enthusiasts detail how the rootbark renders intense visions, hallucinations, and deep vortexes of memory followed by introspection. It can take days to go through.
Ibogaine? Isn't that the drug Hunter S. Thompson said Ed Muskie was on... back in the days when fake news was trippy and funny — a way to smoke out the squares who couldn't see a joke:
While in Wisconsin covering the primary campaign for the United States presidential election of 1972, gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson submitted a satirical article to Rolling Stone accusing Democratic Party candidate Edmund Muskie of being addicted to ibogaine. Many readers, and even other journalists, did not realize that the Rolling Stone piece was facetious. The ibogaine assertion, which was completely unfounded, did a significant amount of damage to Muskie's reputation, and was cited as a factor in his loss of the nomination to George McGovern. Thompson later said he was surprised that anyone believed it.
I have that text. Excerpt:
The Muskie nightmare is beginning to look more and more like a major political watershed for the Democratic Party....  Big Ed was supposed to be their ticket to Miami, where they planned to do business as usual once again, and keep the party at least livable, if not entirely healthy. All Muskie had to do, they said, was keep his mouth shut and act like Abe Lincoln.

The bosses would do the rest. As for that hare-brained bastard McGovern, he could take those reformist ideas he’d been working on, and jam them straight up his ass. A convention packed wall to wall with Muskie delegates—the rancid cream of the party, as it were—would make short work of McGovern’s Boy Scout bullshit.

That was four months ago, before Muskie began crashing around the country in a stupid rage and destroying everything he touched. First it was booze, then Reds, and finally over the brink into Ibogaine … and it was right about that time that most of the Good Ole Boys decided to take another long look at Hubert Humphrey. He wasn’t much; they all agreed on that—but by May he was all they had left.

Kim Jong-un "hardly repressed his happiness, saying that it has become possible to provide people with new culture, and one more plan of the Party to make our people enjoy high civilization under socialism as early as possible has come true."

Wrote the Korean Central News Agency, quoted in "North Korea opens mountain spa, ski resort in tourism push" (AP). Kim a ribbon and rode, alone, up the chairlift. According to the imperfect AP, Kim called the resort a “miracle and prefect edifice.”

There's more detail at NK News:
It is a “city-like resort” that comprises indoor and outdoor baths, “modern service facilities, single- and multi-storied dwelling houses, a skiing ground, a horse-riding park, etc. perfect in terms of formative art, reciprocity, connectivity and practicality are organized nature-and environment-friendly,” another report added.

[F]irst vice-chairman of the State Affairs Commission (SAC) Choe Ryong Hae... emphasized that the project is a show of the country’s Juche or “self-reliant” spirit... “The successful completion of the resort is a clear manifestation of the might of the single-minded unity of Juche Korea breaking through any harsh challenges by dint of the strong unity of the leader and the people.... a decisive match fought without guns... a sharp class struggle with the enemies who adamantly attempt to halt our advance.”...

[Video] showed interior finishings of lobbies and hotel rooms, amenities such as vending machines in covered walkways....
Meanwhile, "North Korea calls Trump ‘erratic’ old man over tweets" (AP):
North Korea insulted U.S. President Donald Trump again on Monday, calling him a “heedless and erratic old man” after he tweeted that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wouldn’t want to abandon a special relationship between the two leaders and affect the American presidential election by resuming hostile acts.

"We didn’t think about women and men. We never thought we’d make a living."

Said Laurie Anderson, talking about living as an artist in NYC in the 70s and 80s, quoted in "Margaret Atwood and Laurie Anderson talk art, age and more" (a very skimpy AP article).

Responding to Anderson's affiliation with the set of persons called "artists" and not "women," Atwood said: "I’m from Canada... there weren’t any other artists."

I'd like a full transcript of that conversation, but there's basically nothing in the AP article but those 2 quotes. So here's Laurie Anderson on Letterman in 1984:

"In what was already a very male year, the Globes handed all the major nominations to a bunch of boys..."

I'm trying to read "The Biggest Snubs and Surprises of the 2020 Golden Globe Nominations" (in NY Magazine's Vulture).

You might think that sounds like it was written by a woman — don't call them "girls"! — but no, it's by 2 men, Nate Jones and Hunter Harris. Should I call them "boys"? Are they trying to say what they're supposed to say, trying to get on the good side of Natalie Portman?
The Globes’ regrettable tendency to overlook female directors was pointedly addressed by Natalie Portman onstage at the 2018 ceremony,* but while the [Hollywood Foreign Press Association] may have been momentarily embarrassed, it apparently did not see any need to change its behavior. In what was already a very male year, the Globes handed all the major nominations to a bunch of boys: another all-male directing lineup, the same in Screenplay, and as a further insult, zero films directed by women in the Drama or Musical/Comedy best-feature lineups. Little Women, Hustlers, Booksmart, and Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood were essentially confined only to the acting races.
Was there any reason to feel sure that Little Women, Hustlers, Booksmart, or Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood was one of the very best films of the year? I don't know. I haven't seen any of these or any of the other movies of this past year (aside from "Rocketman," streamed on TV). Like (I bet) you, I don't care about The Golden Globes. I am only standing back and watching Hollywood writhe. It has problems that cannot be solved by throwing a woman's name into the mix when award time rolls around or a beautiful woman murmuring one hyphenated word over her plunging neckline.

* Here's Natalie (and watch the little Opie giggle nervously, thinking perhaps, But of course, I am America's sweet, good little boy)):

"This is akin to reviewing the Titanic and saying that the captain was not unreasonable in starting the voyage. The question is..."

"... what occurred when icebergs began appearing. Horowitz says that investigative icebergs appeared very early on, and the Justice Department not only failed to report that to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court but also removed evidence that its investigation was on a collision course.... Like the crew of the Titanic, the FBI knew investigative icebergs floated around its Russia investigation, but not only did it not reduce speed, it actively suppressed the countervailing reports. Despite the many conflicts to its FISA application and renewals, the FBI leadership, including McCabe, plowed ahead into the darkness."

From "Horowitz report is damning for the FBI and unsettling for the rest of us" by Jonathan Turley (The Hill)(with lots of good detail to support his analogy).

December 9, 2019

At the Moonlight Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

And do remember to use The Althouse Portal to Amazon.

"Barr and Durham Publicly Disagree With Horowitz Report on Russia Inquiry."

The NYT reports.
“The inspector general’s report now makes clear that the F.B.I. launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken,” Mr. Barr said in a statement.

John H. Durham, a federal prosecutor whom Mr. Barr appointed to run a separate criminal investigation into the origins of the Russia investigation, backed Mr. Barr’s findings in his own highly unusual statement. “Last month, we advised the inspector general that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the F.B.I. case was opened,” Mr. Durham said....

The statements from the Justice Department’s top official and one of his key investigators gave Mr. Trump’s supporters ammunition to dispute one of the key findings in the long-awaited report by Mr. Horowitz that excoriated the F.B.I.’s handling of a wiretap application used in the early stages of its Russia investigation... [and] exonerated former bureau leaders of accusations by the president and his allies that Mr. Trump was the victim of a politicized conspiracy to sabotage his campaign and his presidency.
Exonerated? I remember when "exonerated" had a strong meaning — back when the Mueller report was said not to have exonerated Trump because it did not prove Trump's innocence but only failed to prove guilt. Now, to fail to prove guilt is to exonerate? Ah, yes, it was in the text of the Mueller report: "While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him."

Given the importance of the word "exonerate" in the Mueller report and its narrow meaning there, the press should refrain from using the word "exonerate" in the broad sense to mean that the inspector general merely could not find the evidence that FBI officials acted out of political bias. To be consistent with Mueller-talk, one ought to say that while the IG's report does not conclude that the FBI officials acted out of bias, it also does not exonerate them.

I just looked up "exonerate" in the OED. The relevant meaning it "To free from blame; to exculpate." But I was amused by this other (and obsolete) meaning: "To discharge the contents of (the body, an organ), esp. by evacuation. to exonerate nature, to exonerate oneself: to relieve the bowels."
1829 Health & Longevity 269 The bowels..ought to be exonerated at least once in two days.
And flush the toilet 10 times while you're at it.

In the Monday fog, a hidden sunrise.

1. I could hear rain as the sunrise time (7:18) approached, so I considered skipping a day. It was foggy too, but not foggy enough to worry about the drive. I stepped outside in my slippers to check the intensity of the rain. It was exactly the kind of rain that, years ago, I started calling my favorite kind of precipitation — little droplets that seem suspended like a mist.

2. It feels nice on the skin, gentle, though the look of things is rather creepy. At 7:21:


3. Something that makes a run happen is to not think about it much. Just do one thing after another. Get your shoes on, your jacket, put the right things in your pocket, get in the car. Don't even think ahead to the next street after the next turn until you've turned. Don't imagine getting out of the car, just continue until the point where you get out of the car. And so forth. Isn't that how we live life most of the time? Be in the moment and accord each step the dignity of regarding it as complete and worthy in itself.

4. In all my sunrise runs, there has only been one other day when there was fog that made it impossible to see the opposite shore of Lake Mendota. That was October 31, here (with lots of snow). Today, it looked like this at my vantage point. You'll just have to try to remember where the shore line is supposed to be. This is 7:25, 7 minutes after the actual sunrise time:


5. By 7:37, the shore came vaguely into shape. The little dot of light is not the sun, but car headlights:

"Sanna Marin of Finland to Become World’s Youngest Prime Minister/At 34, Ms. Marin will head a coalition made up of five parties, in a government led by women."

The NYT reports.
Of the five women in leading ministerial positions in the coalition, four are under 35. Asked about her age after it was announced that she would be prime minister, Ms. Marin reiterated what she has said numerous times: Age doesn’t matter.

“I have not actually ever thought about my age or my gender,” she said, according to the national news outlet YLE. “I think of the reasons I got into politics and those things for which we have won the trust of the electorate.”
Alexander Stubb — Finland’s prime minister from 2014 to 2015 — tweeted:

"House impeachment hearing starting. What are they doing today? Just talking about their feelings?

Overheard at Meadhouse.

ADDED: You can watch here.

I tried it for a second and a half. A guy was yelling.

Did Chuck Todd actively prevent Ted Cruz from detailing how Ukraine supposedly interfered in the 2016 election?

CHUCK TODD: What I don't understand is, why do you believe that, if an American is committing corruption, we should ask a foreign government to announce an investigation? Is that appropriate? Or do you go to American authorities?

SEN. TED CRUZ: So I believe any president, any Justice Department, has the authority to investigate corruption. In this case, there was serious evidence, on the face, of corruption. The reason Hunter Biden got that position is because his daddy was Vice President of the United States.

CHUCK TODD: So you believe Ukraine meddled?... Do you believe Ukraine meddled in the American election in 2016?

SEN. TED CRUZ: I do. And I think there's considerable evidence of that.

CHUCK TODD [with intensity]: You do? You do?
Laughter can be heard in the studio. At this point, I really want to hear the details on how Ukraine supposedly interfered in the election. I've avoided reading up on this story, but now I really want to know because I'm so irritated by Chuck Todd trying to crush it immediately. Todd immediately changes the subject to reasons why Ted Cruz should have a personal animus against Trump:
CHUCK TODD: He launched a birtherism campaign against you. He went after your faith. He threatened to, quote, "spill the beans," about your wife about something...
I wish Cruz had said: Don't change the subject. I just said there is considerable evidence that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election and you very intensely and reflexively tried to block that subject. But Cruz just sarcastically said:
SEN. TED CRUZ: ... I appreciate you dragging up all that garbage. That's very kind of you, go ahead.
And that allowed Todd to avoid the subject he wanted to avoid. Todd's next question is: