February 20, 2021

At the Saturday Night Café...

 ... you can talk all night.

"Weathering is associated with accelerated aging of the body and is thought to be one of the reasons that Black Americans develop certain chronic medical conditions..."

"... at much younger ages than their White counterparts. Studies have also found that the average Black American, compared with their White peers, has a much higher 'allostatic load,' which is a measurement for lifelong cumulative stress on the body. Using data from a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey collected from 1999 to 2002, Geronimus found that when measuring the allostatic load of Americans, the score 'for Black Americans was roughly comparable to that for Whites who were 10 years older.'...  Removing or lowering age cutoffs for Black Americans could go a long way toward increasing access to one of the most impacted communities and accounting for structural racism’s toll on Black lives."

 From "Opinion: Black Americans should face lower age cutoffs to qualify for a vaccine" (WaPo). 

The authors, Oni Blackstock and Uché Blackstock, are physicians. They define "weathering" as the "physiologic effect of these persistent social and environmental stressors" and relate it to the term "John Henryism."

The comments at WaPo are calling the column "racist" and "insane."

"Ollie says one of the 'rules' of the experiment is that he and Zoe, both bisexual, will only hook up with same-sex partners."

"But whoops, Zoe replies, she already broke that rule by sleeping with a man. Later, Ollie is dating and sleeping with a woman. We don’t see them discussing their rules, why they exist, why they might change, how they talk about the ones they’ve broken. Ollie’s narration adds no clarity.... While Ollie and Zoe are just kind of irritating—we’re treated to long sequences of them frolicking naked in fields; Ollie waxes poetic about how he loves Zoe for being such an 'adult,' because she soaks her oats overnight—what’s hardest to watch is how they’re hurting each other because they don’t communicate with specificity or empathy, or even agree why they’re doing this in the first place.... Zoe, Tom, and the other non-Ollie characters are played by actors, and the film is a re-creation of Ollie’s experience with the real Zoe.... Ollie and Real Zoe did try an open relationship and were documenting it, and Real Zoe really did end their relationship to be with another man, but what we see on screen here is not a documentary of an experiment in real time so much as Ollie’s on-screen memoir, starring himself...."

From "What HBO’s New Documentary Gets Wrong About Open Relationships/I’ve been in a nonmonogamous relationship for six years, and I’m tired of movies like There’s No 'I' in Threesome" (Slate).

I'm almost tempted to watch this just to see how terrible it is. It  might be funny.... oh, no.... I just looked at the trailer, here. I was thinking of embedding it. But watching it, I had to force myself, and by 0:34, I had to turn it off. The visuals are very unappealing.

"Every day, I watch my colleagues manage student conflict through the lens of race, projecting rigid assumptions and stereotypes on students, thereby reducing them to the color of their skin."

"I am asked to do the same, as well as to support a curriculum for students that teaches them to project those same stereotypes and assumptions onto themselves and others. I believe such a curriculum is dehumanizing, prevents authentic connection, and undermines the moral agency of young people who are just beginning to find their way in the world. Although I have spoken to many staff and faculty at the college who are deeply troubled by all of this, they are too terrified to speak out about it. This illustrates the deeply hostile and fearful culture that pervades Smith College. The last straw came in January 2020, when I attended a mandatory Residence Life staff retreat focused on racial issues. The hired facilitators asked each member of the department to respond to various personal questions about race and racial identity. When it was my turn to respond, I said 'I don’t feel comfortable talking about that.' I was the only person in the room to abstain. Later, the facilitators told everyone present that a white person’s discomfort at discussing their race is a symptom of 'white fragility.' They said that the white person may seem like they are in distress, but that it is actually a 'power play.' In other words, because I am white, my genuine discomfort was framed as an act of aggression. I was shamed and humiliated in front of all of my colleagues." 

Writes Jodi Shaw, resigning from her staff position at Smith College, quoted at "Whistleblower at Smith College Resigns Over Racism Jodi Shaw made less in a year than the cost of tuition. She was offered a settlement, but turned it down. Here's why" (bariweiss.substack).

"A senior No 10 source said that male primogeniture was 'a nonsense.' Scrapping it was 'being looked at,' along with 'three or four other things.'"

Ha ha. It's nonsense, but they're only up to the point of looking at it and still considering several other options. 

The quote is from "Ladies first in Tory plan to abolish male primogeniture/Daughters may take hereditary peerages under new bill" (The London Times). 

After seven miscarriages and two rounds of IVF Charlotte Carew Pole was “absolutely thrilled” when she gave birth to her daughter, Jemima.... “‘Congratulations, what a shame it wasn’t a boy’, or ‘How quickly can you have another?’” were some of the comments she received.

“There was a general expectation that I must keep pumping them out until a boy arrived. And all because I married a man who will inherit a title.... He doesn’t care about it, and neither did his parents. But the more I thought about it, the angrier it made me. I was outraged that this was still happening. Why should you look at a scan and be disappointed it’s a girl?”....

Male primogeniture – inheritance by the eldest son - is a feudal relic, designed to ensure that estates remain undivided on the deaths of their owners, and kept out of the hands of women too weak to fight off predators.... Britain and Lesotho are the only two democracies with reserved seats in parliament for hereditaries.... The reservation of seats in parliament for men almost certainly contravenes Article 14 of the European Convention of Human Rights, prohibiting discrimination on grounds of sex....

"I had to isolate, using Being Famous as an immense excuse for never facing anything. Because I was Famous, therefore I can’t go to the movies."

"I can’t go to the theater. But then sitting in this [Hong Kong hotel] room, taking baths, which I noticed Yoko did, every time I got nervous — I must have had about 40 baths — I’m looking out over the Hong Kong Bay, and there’s something ringing a bell. It’s like, what is it? And then I just got very, very relaxed. And it was like a recognition: this is me! This relaxed person is me!.... I rediscovered [in Hong Kong], the feeling I used to have as a youngster, walking in the mountains of Scotland with an auntie. You know, you’re walking and the ground starts going beneath you, and the heather, and the clouds moving above you, and you think, Ah, this is the feeling they’re always talking about, the one that makes you paint or put it into poetry because you can’t describe it any other way. I recognized that that feeling had been with me all my life. The feeling was with me before the Beatles. So this period was to re-establish me, as me, for myself.... So here I am, right? It’s beautiful, you know. It’s just like walking those hills."

From a December 2020 article in the NYT, "For John Lennon, Isolation Had a Silver Lining/Forty years after the musician’s death, a writer revisits conversations with the former Beatle about the long period of seclusion and self-reflection that inspired his breakthrough as a solo artist, and as a human being.

I was reading that after listening to John's song "Isolation," which I embedded in a post yesterday, in a discussion of the use of the noun "isolate" to describe a type of person. Obviously, the NYT publishes things about John Lennon every December, memorializing his murder, but this article connected to the coronavirus lockdown, in that Lennon imposed a lockdown on himself (from 1976 to 1980). 

There's a suggestion that we might take something from his experience and turn the negative of the lockdown positive. He was, though, recovering from the distortions of life as a very famous person, so it's hard to adapt that to your own life, especially if you have aspirations to accomplish things out in the world of your fellow humans or if you were already in touch with the real you.

But one thing that might be useful is Lennon's assertion that recorded music — which you can so easily experience alone and at home (or walking along the purple heather) — is preferable to going out to concerts: "All the performers I ever saw, from Little Richard to Jerry Lee Lewis, I was always disappointed. I preferred the record."

February 19, 2021

At the Snowman's Café...

IMG_2401 .

... enjoy the conversation.

Rush Limbaugh, the "isolate."

From "Rush Limbaugh’s Complicated Legacy/He was a gifted entertainer and advocate, but in his later years certain flaws became more evident" by Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal: 

To create a community of tens of millions of people in fractured, incoherent America was an astounding feat. To pretty much sustain it over 30 years was equally astounding. 

It is perhaps ironic but probably inevitable that that community was created by a man whom one of his closest friends this week called “an isolate.” Knowing him slightly over a few decades, I believe the most important thing to him was his profession, his show—three hours a day, five days a week, unscripted, with sound elements and callers....

He wasn't just isolated, he was an isolate. Isolation wasn't just a characteristic of his, in this formulation, it was what he himself was. 

I've never noticed "isolate" — the noun — used to mean a type of person. Of course, people are often referred to as "isolated," but "isolate"? It seems like "introvert" or "incel." It's all the way deep into your being. 

Yet somehow you have close friends, close enough that one of them can be referred to as "one of his closest friends." Do you have enough close friends that there's someone who'd refer to himself as "one of" your "closest friends"?! Maybe your "closest friends" are fairly distant. A person with no truly close friends still has his "closest friends." These people might not even know him well at all, just well enough to observe that he is isolated, and coldly enough to call him "an isolate." 

The noun "isolate" is a term in social psychology: "A person who, either from choice or through separation or rejection, is isolated from normal social interaction; also occasionally an animal separated from its kind" (OED).


People say we've got it made/Don't they know we're so afraid?

"A single shot of the [Pfizer] vaccine is 85% effective in preventing symptomatic disease 15 to 28 days after being administered..."

"... according to a peer-reviewed study conducted by the Israeli government-owned Sheba Medical Center and published in the Lancet medical journal. Pfizer and BioNTech recommend that a second dose is administered 21 days after the first. The finding is a vindication of the approach taken by the U.K. government to delay a second dose by up to 12 weeks so it could use limited supplies to deliver a single dose to more people, and could encourage others to follow suit.... "

The Wall Street Journal reports.

"Supplied with Cruz’s address by a knowledgeable friend, I drove the fifteen minutes from my Houston apartment to the uber-rich River Oaks neighborhood where Cruz lives."

"From the street, Cruz’s white, Colonial Revival-style mansion looked dark and uninhabited.... [T]hen I heard barking and noticed a small, white dog looking out the bottom right pane of glass in the senator’s front door.... As I approached to knock, a man stepped out of the Suburban parked in Cruz’s driveway. 'Is this Senator Cruz’s house?' I asked. He said it was, that Cruz wasn’t home, and identified himself as a security guard. When asked who was taking care of the dog, the guard volunteered that he was.... I took a photo.... Some on Twitter have questioned whether the dog is in fact a poodle, suggesting alternative breeds such as a Bichon Frise. I couldn’t get close enough to tell, and I’m no canine expert, but 'Ted Cruz’s poodle' just sounds funny. As soon as I posted the photo on Twitter, noting that Cruz 'appears to have left behind the family poodle,' all hell broke loose...."

From "Ted Cruz Abandons Millions of Freezing Texans and His Poodle, Snowflake" (NY Magazine).

It's creepy going to someone's house like that, and the dog is clearly better off at home with a trusted person taking care of him, but Ted Cruz's trip to Cancún at this time when his state is in crisis has been deemed the top story of the day, and everybody always wants to hear about dogs. 

Dogs are at the top of the list of things deemed newsworthy that are not in fact newsworthy. Get dogs in your story and you'll have masses of readers. It's especially good if a dog saves a child, but the very best is when a Republican does something that can be presented as hurting a dog, like when Mitt Romney strapped his dog to the roof of his car and when mean old Trump offended all of dogdom by failing to own a dog. 

Now, we have Ted Cruz not bothering his dog with needless plane trips and confinement in hotel rooms. The heartless wretch!

ADDD: "'Ted Cruz’s poodle' just sounds funny." That is a microaggression! It is an old stereotype that a gay man would have a poodle. "'Ted Cruz’s poodle' just sounds funny" is a homophobic microaggression. 

Here's a 2014 article in the Village Voice, "Fifi or Fido? New York’s Gay Men Defy Worn-Out Canine Stereotypes": "The old stereotype held that like attracts like: the prissy hairdresser with a pampered, manicured poodle or Chihuahua; the growly muscle bear controlling a giant, ultra-butch Great Dane or mastiff...."

And years ago, Dan Savage, who is gay, told a story on "This American Life" about his anxiety about being seen with a poodle:

It will be hard for the WaPo "fact checker" to give 4 Pinocchios to Joe Biden. He has to back off one Pinocchio because... well, why exactly?

Here's Biden repeatedly asserting that "he's traveled 17,000 miles with Xi Jingping": 


Biden is making a lot of misstatements of fact. The WaPo fact checker, Glenn Kessler, writes:

During his recent town hall on CNN, President Biden made a number of mistaken claims and assertions. He suggested racehorse owners receive tax breaks worth $9 billion, almost enough to pay for free attendance at community college — a claim that left tax experts scratching their heads. He said that the $7.25 minimum wage set in 2009 would be worth $20 if indexed for inflation, a statement that only makes sense if you are measuring from 1968. He wrongly stated that “vast majority” of undocumented immigrants were not Hispanic.

No Pinocchios assigned for any of that. It's all so obviously wrong that maybe it's not worth bothering to investigate. But Kessler's approach in these columns is, I think, to isolate one thing and figure out where it stands on the continuum from utter truth to bald-faced lie. Here, he's chosen the 17,000 with Xi Jingping assertion. 

The first time Kessler heard it, he says, it "seemed like a typical Biden malaprop." See? Biden gets graded on a curve. Unlike Trump, whose misstatements were judged against a stereotype that he's a huge liar, Biden gets the benefit of a presumption that he's always getting words wrong — as though it's some sort of disability, like his stuttering, and we ought to be charitable.

But Biden has repeated the assertion, as you see in the video clip, so the standard charitable allowance for the idiosyncrasies of the Biden brain was hard to use, and the fact checker has to fact-check at least some of the new President's statements. The feast on Trump is over, and the fact-checking enterprise must go on or at least seem to go on.

Here's Kessler:

February 18, 2021

Is it finally warm enough to go outside?


I wonder. But inside there is conversation. You start...

BACK FROM A HIKE: The temperature got up to 24° and that felt really warm. By the end, I had my hat and mittens off and my jacket unzipped.

"Yesterday I posted a tweet in response to a post that dealt with the issue of racism. While not intending the post to be interpreted as racist, the post was itself insensitive and so I shut my account down and removed the comment."

So says Wisconsin superintendent candidate Deborah Kerr, quoted in "State superintendent candidate Deborah Kerr apologizes for racially insensitive tweet" (Wisconsin State Journal). 

This woman apologized and deleted herself from Twitter just because she was criticized for an inept contribution to a discussion about race. I think the state school superintendent needs a lot more gumption than that. 

Her tweet was dumb. Someone on Twitter had put up the question "When was the first time someone called you the n-word. I was 18." And Kerr, who is white, wrote: "I was 16 in high school and white — my lips were bigger than most and that was the reference given to me."

The person who had asked the question said: "When I read [Kerr's] statement, I was livid. There are communities where we are the only person of color in that community, so Twitter and social media have become spaces of healing. [Kerr’s statement)] is insensitive. She was not able to read the room, or understand the technology and how people understand these spaces as sacred, even though it is a public medium." 

And somebody else tweeted: "As someone who has been bullied relentlessly and called a monkey and a (N-word) for having big lips — this is just not the level of Karen I wanted to see the day after your primary win." 

A Madison School Board member tweeted: "This makes me profoundly sad and angry tho. Perfect example of white educators profound failures to understand the isolation, alienation, and disenfranchisement our Black & Brown students experience in our education system — public & private. Microaggressions from staff and peers."

Fine. Kerr was right to take down the tweet and apologize. But to delete herself from Twitter? How is that consistent with leadership? The big issue in the campaign for superintendent has been the school choice program, and Kerr advanced in the primary because she supports it. Her opponent does not. It takes courage in the face of accusations of racism to support school choice.

"Due to shortfalls in the vaccine supply we received from the state this week, your COVID-19 vaccine appointment has been rescheduled to a different date."

Unsurprising email received this morning. This is the second time my scheduled appointment has been changed. Originally, I had a February 14th appointment. I had to reschedule and got March 1st, and now, today, I see I am bumped to March 29th.

I don't like this, but I do think I'm in a better position to weather the delay than a lot of other people. I only have priority because of age, and I'm not that old. I'm 70. I don't have any conditions that are causing me to worry, and I'm retired and easily able to avoid contact with other people. I want us all to get vaccinated, and my getting the vaccination is important to me, but it's also important to me that other people get vaccinated. 

I'd like to see the world get going again, and that has more to do with people other than me getting their protection.

ADDED: Here's Anthony Fauci: "It may take until June, July and August to finally get everybody vaccinated. So when you hear about how long it’s going to take to get the overwhelming proportion of the population vaccinated, I don’t think anybody disagrees that that’s going to be well to the end of the summer and we get into the early fall."

They're managing our expectations with something approaching double talk. It may take until June... but everyone agrees that it won't be until the end of the summer and let me just float the phrase early fall.

"People don’t experience an addictive behavioral response to naturally occurring foods that are good for our health, like strawberries."

"It’s this subset of highly processed foods that are engineered in a way that’s so similar to how we create other addictive substances. These are the foods that can trigger a loss of control and compulsive, problematic behaviors that parallel what we see with alcohol and cigarettes." 

Said Ashley Gearhardt, associate professor in the psychology department at the University of Michigan, director of the Food and Addiction Science and Treatment lab at the University of Michigan, quoted in "Are Addictive Foods Making Us Fat?/Food researchers debate whether highly processed foods like potato chips and ice cream are addictive, triggering our brains to overeat" (NYT). 

The other side of the debate is Johannes Hebebrand, head of the department of child and adolescent psychiatry, psychosomatics and psychotherapy at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany: "You can take any addictive drug, and it’s always the same story that almost everyone will have an altered state of mind after ingesting it. That indicates that the substance is having an effect on your central nervous system. But we are all ingesting highly processed foods, and none of us is experiencing this altered state of mind because there’s no direct hit of a substance in the brain.... It’s the diversity of foods that is so appealing and causing the problem, not a single substance in these foods."

What do you think? Is it that some foods are just so appealing that you want to eat a lot or that some foods have a certain something that hooks you? Maybe these 2 experts could get along if they looked more philosophically at what wanting is. 

Also, I get the feeling that there's a somewhat political urge to blame big corporations for manufacturing tasty food. And a snobbish aesthetic preference for the idea of the "natural." Are the strawberries in the supermarket "naturally occurring foods"? That seems like a rather silly assertion. Strawberries make a visual argument for themselves... or do they?

February 17, 2021

At the Wednesday Night Cafe...

 .... you can talk about whatever you want.

Rush Limbaugh has died.

Here's how it looks on The New York Times front page, replete with a misspelling of "provocateur":

If you click through, the misspelling is gone. The obit is headlined: "Rush Limbaugh, Talk Radio’s Conservative Provocateur, Dies at 70/A longtime favorite of the right, he was a furious critic of Barack Obama and a full-throated cheerleader for Donald J. Trump." Excerpt: 

His wife, Kathryn, announced the death at the beginning of Mr. Limbaugh’s radio show. “I know that I am most certainly not the Limbaugh that you tuned in to listen to today,” she said. “I, like you, very much wish Rush was behind this golden microphone right now.... It is with profound sadness I must share with you directly that our beloved Rush, my wonderful husband, passed away this morning due to complications from lung cancer.”... 

"I had been in the Oval Office a hundred times as vice president or more... But I had never been up in the residence."

"And one of the things — I don't know about you all, but I was raised in a way that you didn't look for anybody to wait on you. And it's — we're — I find myself extremely self-conscious. There are wonderful people that work at the White House. But someone is standing there and making sure I — hands me my suit coat, or..."

From the transcript of Biden's CNN Town Hall last night.

Anderson Cooper expressed surprise that Biden had never been in the residence part of the White House? Obama never had him over?

Biden continues. I'll add a page break because this is very rambly:

"First of all, kids don't get the vaccine —get COVID very often... so you're the safest group of people in the whole world, number one."

"Number two, you're not likely to be able to be exposed to something and spread it to mommy or daddy. And it's not likely mommy and daddy are able to spread it to you either. So I wouldn't worry about it, baby. I promise you. But I know it's kind of worrisome. Wait, are you in first grade? Second grade? Oh, you're getting old. Second grade. Well, has your school — have you been in school, honey? No? See, that's — that's kind of a scary thing, too. You don't get to go to school. You don't get to see your friends. And so what a lot of kids and, I mean, and big people, too, older people, they just — their whole lives have sort of changed like when it used to be. It used to be you just go outside and play with your friends and get in the school bus and go to school, and everything was normal. And now, when things change, people get really worried and scared. But don't be scared, honey. Don't be scared. You're going to be fine. And we're going to make sure mommy is fine, too."

Joe Biden talks to an 8-year-old at the CNN Presidential Town Hall With Joe Biden

I thought that was interesting, Biden interacting with a child, verbally, from a distance, calling her "baby" and "honey."

I was also interested in this bit about schoolkids:

"A left-wing activist facing criminal charges for his involvement in the Capitol riots received $35,000 from both CNN and NBC for footage he recorded of a Trump supporter being fatally shot..."

"... inside the Capitol building, according to records he filed in federal court on Tuesday. Lawyers for John Sullivan, a 26-year-old Utah native, disclosed the payments as part of the activist’s argument that he was acting as a journalist in the Capitol rather than a rioter. 'Defendant is legitimately self-employed as a documentarian and it is oppressive to require that he not be allowed to continue his primary area of employment for an extended period of time,' Steven R. Kiersh, the Sullivan lawyer, wrote in a court filing... Prosecutors cited video that Sullivan recorded inside the Capitol in which he called for burning down the building, while egging on others who had broken into the building.... Sullivan has proved to be one of the more controversial of the dozens of riot-related arrests. Conservatives have cited his presence at the riots as evidence that left-wing activists played a large role in instigating the Capitol breach."

From "CNN And NBC Both Paid $35,000 To Left-Wing Activist For Footage Of Fatal Capitol Shooting" (Daily Caller).

Politico covers the same story with "Judge refuses to ban Capitol riot suspect from Twitter and Facebook/But the court ordered John Sullivan of Utah, a videographer, to stop work with his Insurgence USA website and social media platforms"

How does liberal media justify its failure to question the Lincoln Project and to discover the rot within?

I'm reading "When You Don’t Have Trump to Hide Behind/There’s now space for other scandals. Witness the Lincoln Project" by Frank Bruni (NYT). 

Ha! It's Trump's fault! Trump was so bad that the media couldn't pay any attention to anything else that might have been bad. That is some ripe bullshit from Frank Bruni. Let's read: 
[T]he Lincoln Project is unraveling... because Trump is out of office, and that not only deprives the organization of its fiercest mission and tight focus. His departure also opens the political actors there — and political actors everywhere — to more scrutiny and more reproach than they received when he was still around. 
Trump urgently demanded and rightly sopped up so much of the public’s contempt and the media’s attention that there was limited space left over for other scandals.

How were we the people supposed to pay attention to things that you the press didn't put into articles? The press "urgently demanded" that we the people remain in a state of continuous contempt for Trump and deprived us of anything that might have worked in Trump's favor. We had space in our head! But you the press wanted to inflate contempt for Trump so that it filled up our entire headspace. 

In that way he was like a concealer slathered over pox and warts beyond his own. 

So Trump covered up the ugliness of the Lincoln Project?! No, the Lincoln Project was making Trump look ugly. If we're doing makeup metaphor, it's more like the Lincoln Project was effective in depriving Trump of some concealer he wanted to use on himself, and the press was so into exclaiming over how bad Trump looked that it didn't want to talk about how bad the Lincoln Project looked. And now Frank Bruni doesn't want to talk about how bad the press looks. 

He was also in instances a get-out-of-jail-free card. If you raged against him, your past was wiped clean.

What a ludicrous reversion to the passive voice! The press gave the Lincoln Project the get-out-of-jail-free card. The press wiped the Lincoln Project clean.

Your own preening and avarice were laundered by your denunciations of his [sic]....

More passive voice. More metaphor. We've got makeup, Monopoly, filth-wiping, and laundry.  Take responsibility! When it comes to the Lincoln Project, the press massively failed. And the attempt to hide behind Trump is pathetic. The press was political and unprofessional. 

You want us to trust you because now that Trump is sidelined you can pay attention to other things? That's just admitting you follow a political agenda. The agenda has changed, but you haven't shown any interest in changing toward devotion to principles of journalism. You haven't shown any new propensity to go wherever the facts take you.

February 16, 2021

At the Tuesday Night Cafe...

 ... you can talk about whatever you want.

"Underlying this insurrection were the actions of folks who were challenging the voices of people of color."

"If you look at whose votes were being challenged, these came from largely urban areas. The votes of people of color were being challenged."

The lawsuit contends that Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani violated the Ku Klux Klan Act, an 1871 statute that includes protections against violent conspiracies that interfered with Congress’s constitutional duties; the suit also names the Proud Boys, the far-right nationalist group, and the Oath Keepers militia group. The legal action accuses Mr. Trump, Mr. Giuliani and the two groups of conspiring to incite a violent riot at the Capitol, with the goal of preventing Congress from certifying the election.

One thing and one thing only...

ADDED: I wonder where Rob thinks he is in the "regime of whiteness":

ALSO: 10 minutes after I published this post, 5 commenters had already independently addressed Reiner as "Meathead."

AND: Is there any hope that Reiner is doing humor? He is more or less considered a comedian, but I don't think he would tell this joke. The self-seriousness of an erstwhile comedian is a gristly matter. 

"He will obsessively listen to one song while working."

"He wrote one of his first plays to Leadbelly’s 'Ol’ Riley.' He listened to Bob Dylan’s 'Like a Rolling Stone' and 'Subterranean Homesick Blues' while writing 'Rosencrantz and Guildenstern,' and John Lennon’s 'Mother' while writing the play 'Jumpers.'... [Tom Stoppard thinks] that art arises from difficulty and talent. 'Skill without imagination,' one of his characters says, 'is craftsmanship and gives us many useful objects such as wickerwork picnic baskets. Imagination without skill gives us modern art.'... His idea of a good death, he’s said, would be to have a bookshelf fall on him, killing him instantly, while reading."

We've all had the experience of listening to one song obsessively over and over, but under what circumstance? Probably not while trying to get some serious mental work done! We're talking about songs — with words — over and over. Imagine writing a play while Bob sings "Subterranean Homesick Blues" over and over. So annoying! Maybe it helps to set up a big obstacle, to cram out 90% of what would otherwise crowd into your head. 

When have you played one song over and over and why? When I was a teenager, I'd play one song over and over because it was a new song — a missive from the outside world — that I felt I needed to completely internalize. For example, "All You Need Is Love." As an adult, it was an old song that expressed an emotion I was experiencing and benefited from having the company and support. You could say that was an externalizing of what I was feeling. For example, "Fool to Cry."

But I really never want to hear someone else's words when I am trying to write. 

As for the "idea of a good death," would you like a song to be playing? Unless you're in one of those death-bed positions where you can manage the audio, it's likely to be an inappropriate song, perhaps something ironic about how full of life you are, like "I Will Survive."

"This didn’t seem like an armed insurrection to me. I mean 'armed,' when you hear 'armed,' don’t you think of firearms?"

"Here’s the questions I would have liked to ask. How many firearms were confiscated? How many shots were fired? I’m only aware of one and I’ll defend that law enforcement officer for taking that shot. It was a tragedy, OK? But I think there was only one." 

Said Senator Ron Johnson on the radio yesterday, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

Why are there no great new hairstyles anymore?

I'm reading, "The 11 Biggest Haircut Trends of 2021/The mullet is making a comeback" (Allure). 

My heart is in the 1960s, where there were all sorts of exciting new hairstyles — bouffant bubbles, Sassoon geometry, Twiggy, Afros, all that hippie stuff. Later decades had less to offer. For years, I've been exasperated by the persistence of a style that was known in the 1950s as "bedroom hair." It's long and rather bendy and uncombed. When will it end? Why can't something inventively new blow it away?

That was my thought process that led me to the Allure article. Excerpt: "We've been seeing mullets everywhere lately. The modern-day version of the cut that defined the '80s is a little more chill, though...." 

Click through to see the photographs. You'll see women who are beautiful despite their haircuts. What a mistake to think you could look like them by getting their haircut. I'd like to see photos of a haircut that makes an ordinary looking woman striking. 

What exactly is Joe Rogan's problem with Mayor De Blasio's "Open Culture" program?

Is Rogan mocking the style of dance or is he fretting about the transmission of covid-19 outdoors? Or is it something else — De Blasio paying attention to the arts when he could be tending to health and economics (even though the arts are a core component of NYC's economy)? Is it that when people are suffering and deprived of the normal components of ordinary life, ballet is never the answer?

ADDED: Whatever Rogan might have in mind, I want to step back and consider a larger topic: Is art superfluous, a frill that you get to after the basics are satisfied? I think human beings produce and want to experience art even when they are deprived and suffering. There's a difference, however, between the art of the suffering people and art staged by the government to entertain the public. 

The source and the nature of the art is different. Is it an expression of suffering or is it an amusement intended to distract people and keep them from demanding too much from the government? 

The ballet in that video does not express any real feeling about our current predicament. It's more: We have dancers who can't perform in the usual theater setting that you probably can't afford anyway, so lucky you, they're willing to bestow their talents on you out here in the streets.

ALSO: I'm thinking about those Jules Feiffer dancers....

February 15, 2021

At the Monday Night Cafe...

 ... you can talk about whatever you want.

Glenn Greenwald was just reading on smart-liberal media Twitter that wokeness is just a request for niceness.

He doesn't link to that wokeness = niceness stuff, so I can't comment on the accuracy of that characterization, but this other thing — this diagram for parents of schoolkids — is really horrific:

"Biden and the Fed Leave 1970s Inflation Fears Behind/Administration and Fed officials argue that workers not getting enough stimulus help is a larger concern than potential spikes in consumer prices."

Headline at the NYT. Excerpt: 
No one better embodies the sudden break from decades of worry over inflation — in Washington and elite circles of economics — than Janet L. Yellen, the former Federal Reserve chair and current Treasury secretary....   “I have spent many years studying inflation and worrying about inflation,” Ms. Yellen told CNN earlier this month. “But we face a huge economic challenge here and tremendous suffering in the country. We have got to address that. That’s the biggest risk.” 
[Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H.] Powell used a speech last week to push back on the idea that the economy was at risk of overheating. He said that prices could show a brief pop in the coming months...  “That’s really not going to mean very much,” Mr. Powell said, noting that inflation has trended lower for decades. “Inflation dynamics will evolve, but it’s hard to make the case why they would evolve very suddenly, in this current situation.”

"The parents of adventurous young meritocrats paid $5,490 (plus airfare) for two weeks studying 'Public Health and Development in the Andes.'"

"On that trip, the reporter, Donald G. McNeil Jr., got into a series of heated arguments with students, none of them Black, on the charged question of race. Their complaints would ultimately end his career as a high-profile public health reporter for The Times, and again put The Times at the center of the national argument over journalism and racism and labor.... The student at the center of this story is Sophie Shepherd, who isn’t among the teenagers who have spoken anonymously to other news organizations. She and two other students said she was the person who spoke the most to Mr. McNeil and spent the most time with him on their 'student journey.' She was 17 at the time, and had just finished her senior year at Phillips Academy Andover, a boarding school sometimes rated America’s best."

"She said, I don't introspect hardly ever, hardly at all — meaning she spends almost no time looking inward."

"She doesn't really think about herself, her thoughts, her feelings about the world almost ever.... Diane says insightful things. She's considerate-- always considerate.... How did she have that insight? She doesn't look inside.... 'Well, since you started asking me about this, I've been thinking about it.... So walking into the grocery store the other night, I was walking in, and I was just like, what would I be thinking about if I were introspecting right now? And I had no idea. I was like, what could you possibly think about besides, there's some red shopping baskets. I'm going to take a red shopping basket. Oh, this is a spinach mix. Is it just spinach, or is there kale? That's literally all that's going on in my head. I can't imagine what else you could be thinking about.'... Here's what I think about at the grocery store. I think, there's a red shopping basket. Should I get a basket or a cart? I don't like the rickety ones. I can't imagine shopping for a big family. I wonder if I'll ever have a big family. That ship has probably sailed. It must be expensive. Why did my mom always ask the person bagging groceries to help her to her car? Whatever happened to Volvos? I bit that hole in the headrest of her Volvo when I was five. Or was I four? She was so sad. Why was I like that? Is that guy looking at me? Is he mad? What's he mad about? I wonder how much that cashier makes? Are people nice to her? It must take a long time to memorize all the codes to the produce so you don't need that sheet anymore. I'd be bad at it. Do people ask her if it's hard? Would she like that question or find it rude? A lot of my thoughts are just imagining other people's thoughts and feelings, all tangled up with my own. It's probably like 95% of what I think about. Diane says she doesn't do that — at all."

 From "731: What Lies Beneath" (This American Life)(transcript)(audio).

The word we're given for what the one woman does is "introspection," but no word is used for what the other (Diane) does. Did they deliberately avoid saying "mindfulness"? Isn't that mindfulness? At the end of the segment, the first woman (Lily) tries making her mind behave like Diane's but never opines about whether it's good or bad and never connects it to anything like "mindfulness" or Zen. I'm guessing — as I introspect — that they must have noticed this larger context but decided not to complicate the presentation that was just about 2 women noticing their minds were different and finding a connection — not with the larger world — but with each other. 

"Today's temperature is forecast to be WARMER than yesterday."

But right now...

And I need to get to an appointment soon!

"Bipartisan Support Grows For 9/11-Style Commission To Probe Capitol Riot."

Headline at Forbes.

Trial first, investigation afterwards. Kind of risky, isn't it? Just to assert that now what we need is an investigation is to make the fanfare of the last week seem, retrospectively, sketchy. We were urged to believe that we saw everything, and we know what we saw and what it all meant. Are we just supposed to forget all that and imagine we're back at square one? How can this commission dare to find things that don't synch with the prosecution's case? Was Brian Sicknick beaten to death with a fire extinguisher?

From the Forbes article: 

“Of course” we need a 9/11-style commission, Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.) told ABC News’ This Week on Sunday, arguing it should be "impartial,” and “filled with people who would stand up to the courage of their conviction."

Who is impartial? And who are "people who would stand up to the courage of their conviction" who are also impartial? What does "their conviction" even mean if not that they are partial? 

"There's still more evidence that the American people need and deserve to hear,” Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos Sunday.

Note the implication that the evidence heard at the trial was all good evidence. Nothing amiss there. Just that there's "more evidence." I doubt if Coons is open to a commission that draws the evidence presented at trial into question. 

The House Managers' trial memo said "The insurrectionists killed a Capitol Police officer by striking him in the head with a fire extinguisher" — an overeager assertion that isn't holding up. How much more damage to the Insurrection Myth can American tolerate? Is the point of this commission — the one elected officials are getting bipartisan about — to shore up the legitimacy of the already-concluded proceedings? 

Defending himself as one of the few GOP lawmakers to vote to convict Trump in an interview with ABC News Sunday, Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana called for “a complete investigation” including “what was known” and “who knew it” so “this never happens again in future.”

Notice how Cassidy doesn't open up the question of what "it" was, just what was known about "it" and by whom. And by the way, what did you know, Mr. Cassidy, when you chose to vote guilty when there hadn't been the investigation that you say is needed now? What I wanted to know, what I thought was the crucial question in the impeachment, was whether there was a plan to breach the Capitol and whether Trump knew about it when he gave his speech. That's the “what was known” and “who knew it” that matters to me. Why didn't it matter to you, Mr. Cassidy? 

Also I'd like to know whether whether there was a plan to breach the Capitol and whether those in charge of Capitol security knew about it and, if they knew, why did they not provide adequate security? And then if there was a plan and if Trump knew about it, did he have reason to rely on Capitol security to prevent any fulfillment of whatever plan there was and to focus his intention on the free-speech-protected rally of his supporters? Were they overwhelmingly peaceful?

Though Republicans and Democrats... disagree about what the committee should focus on. On Sunday, Graham said he wanted to know if there was a “pre-planned element to the attack” while Coons wanted the commission to focus on Trump’s role in the riot and “lay bare the record just how responsible and how objectfully violating of his constitutional oath” the former president was. 

You can't trust Republicans and Democrats to do this Commission properly, because they have such a strong stake in justifying what they have already done. The 9/11 Commission was given an appearance of impartiality by balancing 5 Republicans and 5 Democrats. That approach won't suffice this time. 

February 14, 2021

At the Sunday Night Café...

 ... you can talk about whatever you want.

"The blowback against the seven Republican senators who supported former President Donald J. Trump’s conviction in his impeachment trial has begun."

"In Louisiana, the state Republican Party’s executive committee voted unanimously on Saturday to censure Senator Bill Cassidy, who was just re-elected in November and was among those who voted to find Mr. Trump guilty. The state’s Republican attorney general, Jeff Landry, said Mr. Cassidy had 'fallen into the trap laid by Democrats to have Republicans attack Republicans.' Two of the Republicans who voted for conviction, Senators Richard M. Burr of North Carolina and Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania, are not seeking re-election next year.... Of the seven Republicans who voted to convict Mr. Trump, only one of them, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, will be on the ballot in 2022. But she is a uniquely formidable candidate in her state, having once won re-election as a write-in candidate after losing a primary."

"In his executive order, Biden said a wall spanning 'the entire southern border is not a serious policy solution.' But neither is a complete undoing..."

"... in July, Biden said he would not take down the wall, an endeavor that would cost billions as he fights for funding for pandemic relief. Installing a hodgepodge of 'smart security' technology paid for with reallocated wall cash, together with limited barrier removal in sensitive areas, appears to be the most likely outcome. But that half measure will be expensive, and will require maintenance costs for the steel that stays in the ground. Even doing nothing at all will hurt the purse thanks to contract cancellations. One Army Corps estimate from December suggests that if no more work is done and no panels are taken down, taxpayers will still eat another $700 million on 'demobilization' fees.... As of December 2020, only 40 new miles of steel barriers had been placed at the southern border during Trump’s time in office... [There are also] another 412 miles of so-called 'replacement fencing' that he managed to secure.... But short-term thinking has been a dominant trend in federal policy at the border for decades now — including the Obama administration’s decision to finish the work of the 2006 Secure Fence Act, despite campaign promises to review its environmental impacts. Due to the ingenuity and desperation of those crossing, border barriers were clearly a sloppy and incomplete fix for the nation’s bevy of immigration-policy problems years before Trump took office. Because of the steel he put in the ground, they will remain a mess through the Biden years, and almost certainly beyond."

From "What Happens to Trump’s Wall Now?" (New York Magazine).

"The Indianapolis Museum of Art... has edited and apologized for an employment listing that said it was seeking a director who would work not only to attract a more diverse audience but to maintain its 'traditional, core, white art audience.'"

"The museum’s director and chief executive, Charles L. Venable, said in an interview on Saturday that the decision to use 'white' had been intentional and explained that it had been intended to indicate that the museum would not abandon its existing audience as part of its efforts toward greater diversity, equity and inclusion.... Malina Simone Jeffers and Alan Bacon, the guest curators for the museum’s upcoming 'DRIP: Indy’s #BlackLivesMatter Street Mural' exhibition... said... they could not remain as guest curators. 'Our exhibition cannot be produced in this context and this environment,' said Simone Jeffers and Bacon, the co-founders of GANGGANG, a local art incubator working to elevate artists of color... Kelli Morgan, who was recruited in 2018 to diversify the museum’s galleries, resigned in July, calling the museum’s culture 'toxic' and “'discriminatory'.... [Morgan said] she was disappointed that, despite the fact that the museum had begun training its leaders in diversity, equity and inclusion, it had still included the language in the job description."

I'm having a text conversation with someone about this, and he gave me permission to quote: 
I also think attempting to show diversity by having an art exhibition that is specifically Black Lives Matter stuff shows kind of a lack of imagination 

Why not find some great art by black painters, it’s like the only way to be diverse is to just slap a modern political movement on the walls 

But maybe I look at it in that way because I feel like they exposed their insincerity, and are just showing Black Lives Matter bc they feel obligated

"Senators, America we need to exercise our common sense about what happened.... Let's not get caught up in a lot of outlandish lawyers theories here. Exercise your common sense about what just took place in our country."

Said Lead Impeachment Manager Jamie Raskin, quoted in a February 11th Wall Street Journal piece — "In Closing, Raskin Quotes Thomas Paine: 'Tyranny, Like Hell, Is Not Easily Conquered'" — by Lindsay Wise. Thomas Paine's 1776 pamphlet was called "Common Sense."

Quoted in response to Raskin, Senator Josh Hawley: "I was really disappointed they didn’t engage much with the legal standards. This is a legal process after all. Very little engagement."

When do we get to bypass studying the factual details and legal standards and all the links in a chain of reasoning? When is it okay to just look at the whole thing and rely on instinct and just know that something is right or wrong? 

The answer can't be: When it helps my side win. 

People who liked Raskin's appeal to "common sense" — as opposed to "lawyers theories" — need to realize it's also the way Trump argued that he won the 2020 election. You just look at what you can see and feel what you feel. 

And that's how Trump has been talking to his people all along. In your heart, you know he's right... or, in your guts you know he's nuts. 

Bias has become the preferred form of reasoning. Better not get bogged down in lawyers theories. The other side is off and running. 

Here's an article in by Sophia Rosenfeld in The Nation from 2017, "The Only Thing More Dangerous Than Trump’s Appeal to Common Sense Is His Dismissal of It":

Trump began his quixotic campaign for president as the embodiment of a familiar kind of right-wing, common-sense populism. Instead of deference to well-trained scientists, academics, journalists, and even governmental authorities, he touted the true wisdom of “the people.” In place of fancy studies built on research, data, and modeling, he promised plain-spoken, off-the-cuff reports on the state of our world and obvious, practical solutions to our problems. 

That is, Trump suggested politics was actually quite simple if only one would rely on the kind of basic reasoning which emerges from just going about normal, everyday business using one’s senses and instincts and which—surprise, surprise—tends to run counter to “establishment” conclusions....