March 6, 2021

At the Waning Crescent Café...

IMG_2769 ... you can talk all night.

"Biden stimulus showers money on Americans, sharply cutting poverty in defining move of presidency."

 WaPo headline.

NYT headline: "To Juice the Economy, Biden Bets on the Poor/Mr. Biden’s bottom-up $1.9 trillion aid package is a sharp reversal from the tax cut bill that was President Donald J. Trump’s first big legislative victory."




"Lawyers for former President DONALD TRUMP sent out cease-and-desist letters Friday to the three largest fundraising entities for the Republican Party... for using his name and likeness..."

"... on fundraising emails and merchandise... ...Trump was furious that his name has been bandied about by organizations that help Republicans who voted to impeach him... Trump, who made his fortune in licensing, has always been sensitive to how his name has been used to fundraise and support members, even while in office. ... [P]rivately GOP campaign types say it’s impossible not to use Trump’s name... [and] he should be more generous...."

Politico reports.

Kyrsten Sinema cutely dramatized her "no" to the $15 minimum wage and some people are really mad about it.

I'm reading "Sinema Slammed For Exaggerated Thumbs-Down On $15 Minimum Wage" (HuffPo). Here's how it looked:

We watched that about 20 times. It's hard to know why she did it like that. At first, we thought maybe she was emulating John McCain, whose dramatic down vote on the GOP health care repeal was done with a distinct hand gesture. 

But look at that — here. It's not much like what Sinema did, which was a whole body movement, bouncing down and back up as she did a sassy thumb's down. McCain held his hand out to get attention — because he was voting after the point in the roll call where his name had appeared — and when he got the attention, he briskly pointed his whole hand downward. 

McCain took the position that the left loved, and Sinema was on the side the left hates. I can't remember the worst things the right said about McCain and his dramatic moment, but the left is spewing hostility at Sinema. I'll just highlight this from Lawyers, Guns & Money

I get that Joe Manchin is just a narcissistic conservative asshole having the time of his life. But what the living fuck is this shit?... Of course, she’s claiming that criticism of this grotesque display is sexist...

ADDED: I think the right attitude for voting down the minimum wage is more somber. It should express something more like: I'm sorry, I want hard-working people to make more money too, but this is the wrong way to try to make that happen. The gesture Sinema gave feels more like: Ha! So there! That's not appropriate to the occasion. It makes her seem as though she doesn't even understand what she's doing.

"We all need to think to keep things straight, but we mostly think by talking."

"We need to talk about the past, so we can distinguish the trivial, overblown concerns that otherwise plague our thoughts from the experiences that are truly important. We need to talk about the nature of the present and our plans for the future, so we know where we are, where we are going, and why we are going there. We must submit the strategies and tactics we formulate to the judgments of others, to ensure their efficiency and resilience. We need to listen to ourselves as we talk, as well, so that we may organize our otherwise inchoate bodily reactions, motivations, and emotions into something articulate and organized, and dispense with those concerns that are exaggerated and irrational.... An individual does not have to be that well put together if he or she can remain at least minimally acceptable in behavior to others.... We outsource the problem of sanity.... If you begin to deviate from the straight and narrow path—if you begin to act improperly—people will react to your errors before they become too great, and cajole, laugh, tap, and criticize you back into place. They will raise an eyebrow, or smile (or not), or pay attention (or not). If other people can tolerate having you around, in other words, they will constantly remind you not to misbehave, and just as constantly call on you to be at your best. All that is left for you to do is watch, listen, and respond appropriately to the cues.... [You need] to appreciate your immersion in the world of other people—friends, family members, and foes alike—despite the anxiety and frustration that social interactions so often produce."

From Jordan Peterson's new book, "Beyond Order/12 More Rules for Life" (p. 3). 

Do you "outsource the problem of sanity"? When other people "raise an eyebrow, or smile (or not), or pay attention (or not)," when they "cajole, laugh, tap, and criticize you back into place," it isn't always only to cue you that you've erred. It is also to control you and to fool you into thinking that there are limits that just don't exist. 

And why did he say "the problem of sanity"? He could have said — We outsource the process of understanding whether we are sane or We outsource the problem of detecting our own insanity. Isn't that what he meant? It would be funny to think that sanity is a problem

ADDED: I looked up the "sanity" quotes at Goodreads, and I did this because I expected to find what I found — the kind of sanity-skeptical attitude that's been popular in America for as long as I can remember.

2 of the top 6 are from Edgar Allan Poe:

“I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.” 


“Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence– whether much that is glorious– whether all that is profound– does not spring from disease of thought– from moods of mind exalted at the expense of the general intellect.” 

There's also Mark Twain: “Sanity and happiness are an impossible combination.”

Tim Burton: “One person's craziness is another person's reality.” "

J.K. Rowling: “Don't worry. You're just as sane as I am.” 

And George Santayana: “Sanity is a madness put to good uses.”

ALSO: Reading more deeply into the quotes, I find exactly the line I expected to see (attributed to Akira Kurosawa): "In a mad world, only the mad are sane."

"Alienated Young Man Creates Some Sad Music."

That's the headline from January 1968 in The New York Times for a review of "Songs of Leonard Cohen," Leonard Cohen's first album. The headline is hilariously dismissive. 

The reviewer was Donal Henahan (1921-2012), whose obituary (in the NYT) says he was a WWII fighter pilot, and he began his NYT reviewing in September 14, 1967 with this:

“The American subculture of buttons and beards, poster art and pot, sandals and oddly shaped spectacles met the rather more ancient culture of India last evening at Philharmonic Hall. The occasion was the first of six concerts there this season by Ravi Shankar, the sitar virtuoso, whose instrument traces back about 700 years and whose chosen art form, the raga, is said to be 2,000 years old.”

Oddly shaped spectacles.... Here's the whole Ravi Shankar piece as it appeared on page 53 of the NYT that day. There's not much more to the article, but, my God, what you see on that page!

Why aren't people talking about the new Jordan Peterson book? It came out 4 days ago, and I'm only just noticing it now.

Here's the book: "Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life." 

I only noticed it just now because I was having an in-person conversation that caused me to need to check the exact reason why Toni Morrison called Bill Clinton "the first black President" and I landed on "It Was No Compliment to Call Bill Clinton 'The First Black President.'

That was in The Atlantic. I hadn't stopped by The Atlantic in a long time, but while I was there, I noticed "What Happened to Jordan Peterson?/Adored guru and reviled provocateur, he dropped out of sight. Now the irresistible ordeal of modern cultural celebrity has brought him back." 

Reading that, I was surprised to see that Peterson was "back" in the sense that he'd published a new book. The publication date was March 2d. You'd think I'd have tripped across that information by now. 

I've put the book in my Kindle, and I'll get back to you about it.

For now, let's read a little of this Atlantic piece, which is — you can't tell from the headline — a book review. It's by Helen Lewis:

March 5, 2021

“As the Insurrection Narrative Crumbles, Democrats Cling to it More Desperately Than Ever.”

 A new piece from Glenn Greenwald.

ADDED: I wrote this post on my iPad and let it sit for nearly 12 hours before noticing I'd written "Greenwood" for "Greenwald." I'm really sorry! I was done blogging for the day but wanted to get this last thing up, and I have a harder time seeing on the iPad, and then there's the autocorrection. In any event, "wald" means "woods," so it almost seems like a translation, like calling me "Oldhouse." Again, I'm sorry! I thought it was a good article, and I appreciate what Glenn has been doing lately, which is insisting on honesty from the press. Excerpt:
The key point to emphasize here is that threats and dangers are not binary: [it's not that] they either exist or they are fully illusory. They reside on a spectrum. To insist that they be discussed rationally, soberly and truthfully is not to deny the existence of the threat itself. One can demand a rational and fact-based understanding of the magnitude of the threat revealed by the January 6 riot without denying that there is any danger at all.

Note the word "riot." It was a riot — not a coup or an insurrection.

Perhaps the most significant blow to the maximalist insurrection/coup narrative took place inside the Senate on Thursday. Ever since January 6, those who were not referring to the riot as a “coup attempt” — as though the hundreds of protesters intended to overthrow the most powerful and militarized government in history — were required to refer to it instead as an “armed insurrection.” This formulation was crucial not only for maximizing fear levels about the Democrats’ adversaries but also, as I’ve documented previously, because declaring an “armed insurrection” empowers the state with virtually unlimited powers to act against the citizenry. Over and over, leading Democrats and their media allies repeated this phrase like some hypnotic mantra...

This is something people do around here.


There's a name for it, I think, but I've forgotten what it is — if I ever knew.

A NYC woman wonders where that cold wind in her apartment is coming from... the bathroom... the mirror...

 A TikTok mystery — Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

WARNING: Somewhere in the dialogue — I think it's in Part 2 — they talk about the movie "Parasite" and reveal something that is a significant spoiler.

"Before discovering the world of ethical non-monogamy, known to some as 'the Lifestyle,' I was in a long-term, loving, monogamous relationship that my body begged me to end..."

"... before it progressed to an engagement. At the time, I didn’t fully understand what was missing from that relationship, but I did know that my partner loved me despite my weird wildness, while I yearned to be with someone who loved me because of it. To further confuse matters, I didn’t even know exactly what my 'weird wildness' entailed, partly because I had spent so much time in relationships that were not conducive to personal and sexual growth."

From "A Unicorn’s Tale: Three-Way Sex With Couples Has Made Me a Better Person/Intimacy between two people is like ping-pong, but with three people, it’s like volleying a ball with no net, and no blueprint. That openness has changed my life" by Caroline Rose Giuliani (Vanity Fair). 

I wonder if she's getting published despite her being Rudolph Giuliani's daughter or because she is Rudolph Giuliani's daughter. 

AND: Lateral thought that hit me just after I published this post: The people who love Trump love him because of his weird wildness, not despite it. 

ALSO: She might not use the term "weird wildness" if she remembered this:

The attack on Neanderthals has real victims...

They walk among us... and don't say dragging their knuckles.

"Early on, some likened the public health crisis to a blizzard, imagining that people would stay home, cozy up with their romantic partners and make babies."

"These playful visions have given way to a more sobering reality: The pandemic’s serious disruption of people’s lives is likely to cause 'missing births' — potentially a lot of them. Add these missing births to the country’s decade-long downward trend in annual births and we can expect consequential changes to our economy and society in the years to come.... Millions of parents are dealing with the stress of combining their work responsibilities with the need to supervise and teach their children who no longer attend school five days a week. This raises the 'cost' of rearing children and can be expected to lead to fewer siblings being conceived this year. Moreover, restrictions on social activities also mean some relationships that would have started in 2020 (and might have led to babies someday) never took root. We have no precedent to estimate changes in birthrates from these disruptions, but they will undoubtedly also contribute to a large reduction in overall births.... Some women and couples will have fewer children than they hoped, and some kids will grow up without the younger sibling they would have had otherwise. This could contribute to what some have referred to as America’s loneliness epidemic.... But the real societal challenge of a Covid baby bust will be a smaller work force.... In the absence of effective policies to meaningfully increase births, the most reliable and immediate way to shore up the U.S. population is through immigration, which brings its own political and social challenges...."

From "We Expect 300,000 Fewer Births Than Usual This Year/Signs are pointing to a sizable pandemic baby bust in the United States, with implications that will be with us for years to come" by economics professors Melissa S. Kearney and Phillip B. Levine (NYT).

It was 50 years ago today: the first public performance of "Stairway to Heaven."

From "Stairway to Heaven: the story of a song and its legacy/Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven continues to prop up best-ever lists. But what made it great? Jimmy Page and some of the song’s admirers explain its magic" (The Guardian): 

John Paul Jones has said the song’s first performance, at Ulster Hall in Belfast in March 1971, won no plaudits from the crowd – “They were all bored to tears waiting to hear something they knew” – though bootlegs of the show have it ending to perfectly respectful and sustained applause....

[Later], Stairway usually featured in the middle of Zeppelin’s live set (at that Belfast show, it was played sixth, between Dazed and Confused and another new song, Going to California), then, Page says, “it got to the point where, because of the affection for it from the audience, it was gonna be better to put it at the end, so there was anticipation for it. And what were you gonna follow it with? So you’d finish the set with it then come back on and do the encores.”

Zeppelin legend holds that to maximise the song’s impact, the band’s manager, Peter Grant, told Plant not to speak after Stairway, to maximise the moment of profundity. Page has an idea for what would happen if he were playing the song in this era: “Now you should just open with it.” He laughs at his own audacity. “That’d be something, wouldn’t it?”

What is FAIR?

Because I follow the Twitter feed of the erstwhile NYT columnist Bari Weiss, I noticed that there's a new group that calls itself FAIR — The Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism. Here's their video:


That's on such a high level of abstraction that it hard to understand what's really going on there. The assumption is that you'll recognize at least some of the names/faces and trust their authority. They seem to be banding together as a correction to the excesses of social-justice activists. But what exactly? Are we to trust them as experts, with details to come later?

I found their website, here, and the front page has that video embedded next to the words "What is FAIR?" So I'm stuck in a loop. "What is FAIR?" is the question I had after watching the video. So I watched it again. As far as I can tell, based on the words spoken, it is a forthright demand for the old-fashioned color-blindness approach to racial justice: There is "one race, the human race."

Given the famous names who've joined together — Steven Pinker, John McWhorter, Glenn Loury, Bari Weiss, etc. — I would expect news coverage of this organization, which seems to have been announced yesterday. But when I did a Google News search, only one thing came up, a NY Post item titled "Booksellers were unprepared for Dr. Seuss ban as sales skyrocket." 

That's not an article about FAIR, just a reference to it at the end of an article about the Seuss crisis:

A Web site has sprung up called BannedSeuss run by the Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism that says: “Erasing books is insanity. Stand up for our common humanity.”

Here's the BannedSeuss website.  Ah! It has the full text and pictures of "And To Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street" (a book, that, I think, is cancelled because of the line "A Chinese man who eats with sticks" and the picture of a man whose eyes are represented by short angled lines when everyone else in the book has eyes represented by dots). 

Back to the NY Post:

March 4, 2021

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk about anything you want.


The photos were taken today at 6:25, 6:40, and 6:42.


Our dear Zeus is 98.


Happy Birthday!

I wrote "our," but he's not our dog. We just borrow him a lot of times.

"The doctors-facts-science mantras have become familiar over the past year. The experts tell us, expertly, what we need to know, and we do it."

"At least until all this science starts to fog up our mental windshields and we, the people, start to wear out. Our irritability mounts; our attention wanes; the guide-rope in our mouth starts to chafe. It is then that the bawdy obstreperousness and its odd twin, the glory hallelujah, of democracy come into view — a single unit; maddening, infuriating, nevertheless fused. And Greg Abbott or someone else steps up to lead the beast forward, by instinct if not by Hoyle... The love of democratic citizens for experts shouldn’t be overestimated. The nature of democracy is preference for or deference to popular wisdom, however unwise that wisdom may prove in action. It’s been a long time since this pandemic started. People are tired. People want to see, and relate to, each other. That’s human nature. The human nature-affirmers like Greg Abbott, with a little luck and sense of timing, are likely to come out way ahead of their castigators and vilifiers, Robert Francis (Beto) O’Rourke conspicuously included."

Writes William Murchison in "Glory Hallelujah for Texas!/Gov. Greg Abbott takes a calculated gamble on we, the people against the experts" (The Spectator).

The Spectator is British, but Murchison is American. He even went to the University of Texas. I had to look that up because the use of "glory hallelujah" hit my ear as a foreigner's mistake. To me, the phrase — which you see in the title and the text ("its odd twin, the glory hallelujah, of democracy") — is entirely evocative of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," and Texas was in the Confederacy. 

Puzzling, I ran across this 2018 NPR article, "How 'The Battle Hymn of the Republic' became an anthem for every cause"

There's an episode of The Johnny Cash Show from 1969 where the man himself makes a little speech with a pretty big error. "Here's a song that was reportedly sung by both sides in the Civil War," Cash says, guitar in hand, to kick off a performance of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic.... which proves to me that a song can belong to all of us."


Cash was wrong, but in the years after the Civil War, the song came to be sung in church, at football games, and at labor union events. And on all sorts of political occasions:

"I went to England and in the course of us meeting the Beatles, I became friends with George. He was a very nice cat, very open..."

"... a very decent human being. Invited me over to his house for dinner, that kind of thing. Hung out with us. Later on, he tells me that he’s gone to India and met this teacher, this guru. George is smitten by him. I listened to what he was saying and I wanted to say to George, 'That’s great, but take it with a grain of salt,' because usually when somebody comes on that strong that they’ve got the answer, it’s bulls—. I wanted to say, 'Have some skepticism.' But I was too chicken to do it, because I had too much respect for George. So I wrote him that song. 'I thought I met a man who knew a man who knew what was going on.' And I ended it by saying, listen, I don’t think he does know what’s going on. I don’t even know if George ever heard the song."

Said David Crosby, in an interview with the L.A. Times

Here's the song, "Laughing":


That's from Crosby's 1971 solo album that the critics "just didn’t understand," as Crosby puts it. "They were looking for another record that was full of big, flashy lead guitar and blues licks and screaming lyrics. It was not where everything else was going, so they thought it was irrelevant." 

Lester Bangs called it "a perfect aural aid to digestion when you’re having guests over for dinner." In 1971, that was a worse kick in the head than being told your music makes me want to vomit.

ADDED: Not only do I have a tag for Lester Bangs, the Lester Bangs tag appears on a post written on the first day of this blog, January 14, 2004. There is no other tag for a specific human being until the next day, when Herbert Muschamp and Dennis Miller appear. Interestingly, George Harrison shows up on January 17, 2004.

If you hadn't eaten inside a restaurant for over a year and you finally decided to dare to do so, where would you go and what would you eat?

We went to Culver's and ate deep-fried walleye (and fried onion rings):


That was on our way home after hiking the Flintrock Trail in Blue Mound State Park.

"Well, I sang a song. And that's a part of shamanism. It's about — creating positive vibrations in a sacred chamber."

"I also stopped people from stealing and vandalizing that sacred space, the Senate. Okay? I actually stopped somebody from stealing muffins out of the — out of the break room. And I also said a prayer in that sacred chamber. Because it was my intention to bring divinity, and to bring God back into the Senate." 

Said Jacob Chansley, quoted in "'QAnon Shaman' claims he wasn't attacking the country in first interview since Capitol riot arrest/Jacob Chansley, the man seen wearing face paint and a fur helmet with horns during the January 6 insurrection, tells 60 Minutes+ he was trying 'to bring God back to the Senate'" (CBS News). 

60 Minutes+ correspondent Laurie Segall pushed him: "But Jake, legally, you were not allowed to be in what you're calling the sacred chamber." 

He responded: "And that is — and that is the one very serious regret that I have, was believing that when we were waved in by police officers, that it was acceptable." He also said he regretted not receiving a pardon from Trump and that "while he regrets entering the building 'with every fiber of my being,' he doesn't regret his loyalty to the former president."

"Alarming revelations of threats to the Capitol and members of Congress prompted House Democratic leaders to wrap up their legislative work for the week on Wednesday night...."

"The immediate threat is intelligence related to a possible plot by a militia group to attack the Capitol on Thursday. Followers of the QAnon conspiracy theory believe former President Trump will be reinaugurated on March 4, a traditional date for presidential inaugurations until 1933...."  

MSN News reports.

How much evidence of a possible attack was there? Is vacating the building the right response to whatever this was? I presume it was something more than just people spinning theories that focused on a date that happens to have historical significance, but only the House is abandoning its workplace, not the Senate.

"If a state decides to prematurely lift rules against the guidance of CDC, should it be eligible to receive federal help if it later needs it as a result?"

Asks NYT columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin (on Twitter). 

 A good answer: "Does your state allow steak to be served medium rare? No Medicare for you!"  

A terrible answer: "What Biden should do is make clear now: Do what Texas and Mississippi are doing, lose ALL your federal funding. With the threat of loss of highway funding, that's how the legal drinking age went from 19 to 21 in 1985...."

"Before covid-19 shut my office, I didn’t pay much attention to one of my most important workplace benefits."

"But nearly a year later, it’s a perk I can’t stop daydreaming about. Eight precious hours, five days a week, when I could forget the unfolded laundry, unemptied dishwasher and kid-related clutter from one end of the apartment to the other. In short, the luxury of being able to focus on my work.... If remote work is here to stay, will the proposed flexibility actually result in greater equity, employee satisfaction and retention — let alone provide the mental health benefits women need to do our jobs well? Smart policies — whether in the public or private sector — are those that consider intended and unintended consequences.... If [more women than men choose to continue to do remote work, more women] will miss out on the connections, networking and mentorship that lead to advancement. Meanwhile, they will experience increased loneliness and the stress that comes from feeling that the division between their work and their home life has eroded. So what should well-intentioned companies and managers do? If you think flexible work will boost equity, especially for parents, it is critical to consider what other policies and practices must be in place to advance this goal."

From "Hybrid and remote schedules threaten the progress we’ve made on gender equity at the office" by Sian Beilock, the president of Barnard College (in WaPo).

March 3, 2021

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can write about anything you want.

Now who's saying the Nazi imagery was unintentional?

I'm reading "CPAC’s ‘Nazi Rune’ Stage Designed By A Liberal Company Which Has Worked For Biden, MSNBC"(National Pulse): 

The company – Design Foundry – told Forward it “had no idea that the design resembled any symbol, nor was there any intention to create something that did.”... The statement comes days after mainstream media outlets and left-wing Twitter activists slammed the conference for intentionally designing a stage to depict a Nazi rune, as outlets ran stories like “Nod or blunder? No CPAC 2021 apology for a stage shaped like a white supremacist symbol” and “CPAC veers into neo-Nazi fantasy: Was it deliberate? That hardly matters.”

That last one, saying the deliberateness "hardly matters," was in Salon, here.  Does it still hardly matter when you could accuse this design firm of branding CPAC as Nazis?

"Dear Ted, What has happened to us? I don't know. I feel myself in a spiral, going down down down..."

"... into a black hole from which there is no escape, no brightness. And loud in my ears from every side I hear, 'failure, failure, failure...' I love you so much ... I am too old and enmeshed in everything you do and are, that I cannot conceive of life without you ... My going will leave quite a rumor but you can say I was overworked and overwrought. Your reputation with your friends and fans will not be harmed ... Sometimes think of the fun we had all thru the years ..." 

That is the suicide note of Helen Palmer, the first wife of Theodore Geisel AKA Dr. Seuss. Here's her Wikipedia page. She was born in Brooklyn, he was born in Massachusetts, she went to Wellesley, he went to Dartmouth, and they both went to Oxford, where they met. 

She later stated, "Ted's notebooks were always filled with these fabulous animals. So I set to work diverting him; here was a man who could draw such pictures; he should be earning a living doing that."...

Press coverage of Dr. Seuss, worn at a slant.

I was reading this Vox piece, "Meltdown over Dr. Seuss/Biden didn’t mention Dr. Seuss in his Read Across America Day statement. All hell broke loose from there," and of course, I could see from the title the piece was massively slanted... 

Oh! Maybe I shouldn't use the word "slant" in the vicinity of the Dr. Seuss dispute. It's the worst word he ever used. Oh, no, it's not cute:

That's from "If I Ran the Zoo," a 1950 book that Dr. Seuss enterprises has just withdrawn from publication.  

Vox writes its article at a slant on a website where everything must be a rant. I'm not staying there long. I won't and I can't. But I noticed this one thing that seemed slightly wacky — a press conference question aimed at poor Jen Psaki:

"Is there a bigger joke in broadcast news than Chris Cuomo? Now, he says, he cannot cover his brother, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, because it’s a conflict of interest...."

"Apparently no such conflict arose when Chris constantly hosted his brother during the height of the pandemic, tastelessly turning his nightly news show into 'The Cuomo Brothers Variety Hour.' The governor took time out of his busy schedule — consisting of daily ego baths dressed up as press conferences and writing a book about leadership while allegedly sexually harassing at least one young employee and eugenically shunting old people with COVID into nursing homes and certain death — to answer hard-hitting questions and accusations such as these, posed by little brother Chris: 'No matter how hard you’re working, there’s always time to call Mom. She wants to hear from you.' “'ou know that what people are saying about how you look really can’t be accurate, so it must be hard for you to make sense of what is real and what is true now. I feel for you.' 'Now I’ve seen you referred to a little bit recently as the LuvGuv and I’m wondering if that’s bleeding into your demeanor at all and making you a little soft on the president?' 'Do you think you are an attractive person now because you’re single and ready to mingle?'"

From "How is Chris Cuomo still on the air at CNN?" by Maureen Callahan (NY Post).

The ludicrous babying of Biden.

I'm reading "Opinion: The White House’s use of Zoom for meetings raises China-related security concerns" by Josh Rogin in The Washington Post:
The Biden White House is using the teleconference platform Zoom for most of its unclassified government-related virtual interactions, even as the Justice Department is prosecuting one of the company’s China-based executives for working with Beijing’s intelligence services to interfere in Zoom calls. Some lawmakers, former officials and experts are warning that the Biden administration may be ignoring the risks....

May be?!!!

"[A] robot protagonist... meets mostly sultry, suggestive women who moan, gyrate, and throw themselves at his feet."

"It is strangely reminiscent of a middle-aged male fantasy, but with clunkier chat-up lines. 'I wish my binary self had a body like that,' he says to one woman. He tells her she has lips like 'warm honey' and says: 'I’ll make love to you all over your body.'... Another scene features the robot with a man who drops his trousers and tells him, antagonistically: 'You’ve got a finger in my butt.' They stand facing each other on an almost bare set... Questions on life, companionship and mortality are voiced but they seem like emotionless musings with no sense of drama, depth or story, and the robot moves on from one surreal scene to the next, as if in a bad dream.... It is all fairly puzzling and quite a relief when the hour is over."

From a review of a play about a robot that was written by a robot —  "On the scene, like a sex-obsessed machine: when a robot writes a play/In a drama written by artificial intelligence, the computer’s imagination touches on themes of love and loneliness – but is mostly obsessed with sex" (The Guardian).

I need to know what was fed into that artificial intelligence. That had to have been human-written text. If the results are "strangely reminiscent of a middle-aged male fantasy," I suspect that's because the writings of fantasy-prone middle-aged men were fed into the nonjudgmental robot. Perhaps the play should be viewed not so much as evidence of the shortcomings of robots but as a window into the weaknesses of human minds. But you have to tell us which human writers were uploaded into the computer!

"Hunters in Wisconsin killed more than 200 wolves last week, far exceeding the state’s limit as they scrambled to take advantage of Trump-era wildlife rules..."

"... that they worry may be tightened by the Biden administration. At least 216 wolves were killed in less than 60 hours, exceeding the state quota of 119 and prompting Wisconsin to end what was meant to be a one-week hunt four days early.... Environmentalists... said the large number of wolves killed in such a short time underscored the need for President Biden to put the gray wolf back on the list of animals protected under the Endangered Species Act. 'These animals were killed using packs of dogs, snares and leg-hold traps,' Kitty Block, chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States, said on Tuesday. 'It was a race to kill these animals in the most cruel ways.'... The resurgence of wolves in certain parts of the country has been called a success story for conservationists. But as their numbers grew, ranchers have had to contend with wolves’ appetite for cattle and sheep. Conservationists counter that wolves keep deer, elk and other species in check and therefore help prevent more vegetation loss.... Hunter Nation said the large number of wolves hunted in such a short period of time showed that the population had 'significantly increased.' The group said that in 2014, it took two months for hunters to kill about 100 wolves. 'This season it took just three days!'... Richard M. Esenberg, a lawyer for Hunter Nation, said it was misleading for animal rights activists to claim that hunters had killed double the number of wolves allowed by the state. The state had set a quota of 200 wolves, with 119 for hunters who applied for permits with the department and 81 set aside to the Ojibwe Tribes under their treaty rights.... But the tribes consider wolves to be sacred and made a deliberate decision not to hunt them, said Dylan Jennings, a spokesman for the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, which represents the tribes. The tribes saw their allocation as a way to conserve a large number of the wolves — not to give hunters more animals to kill, he said."

From "Wisconsin Hunters Kill Over 200 Wolves in Less Than 3 Days/The gray wolf lost Endangered Species Act protections last year, prompting a recent hunt that killed at least 216 wolves — far exceeding a quota set by state wildlife officials" (NYT).

So many conflicting interests there. But obviously there are a lot of wolves, and presumably the endangered species category needs to be restricted to animals that are quite scarce, not animals that we love. Here you have an animal that is loved — even regarded as sacred. The hunters probably love the animal in a hunterly way. Some people hate or fear wolves, and some farmers and ranchers have anti-wolf economic interests. I have no idea what the solution is, but I think I'd recommend rationality over sentimentality. It may be rational to defer — to some extent — to the tribes' belief in the sacredness of the wolves and that corresponding reverence for wolves that lives in the hearts of some of the people.

March 2, 2021

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can write about whatever you like.

And please think of supporting this blog by doing your shopping through the Althouse portal to Amazon, which is always right there in the sidebar. Thanks!

"FBI Director Christopher Wray resoundingly said Antifa and other leftists were not part of the violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6. "

"'We have not, to date, seen any evidence of anarchist violence extremists or people subscribing to Antifa in connection to the 6th,' Wray told the Senate on Tuesday. 'We're coming after it' if there's violence from both the left and the right, he added, but in the Capitol, there wasn't evidence of leftists adding fuel to the insurrection... Wray said the bureau is seeing 'quite a number of what would we call militia violent extremists' as the FBI builds its cases agains the rioters. He specifically mentioned the groups the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers. He added that they have seen in their investigations instances of 'racially motivated violent extremists' who advocate for White supremacy. 'One of the things that is happening as part of this is that as we build out the cases on the individuals when we arrest them for the violence, we're getting a richer and richer understanding of the different people's motivations,' he said. 'But certainly as I said, militia violent extremism and some instances of racially motivated violent extremism, especially advocating for the superior [sic] of the white race.'... 'The problem of domestic terrorism has been metastasizing across the country for a long time now and it is not going is a way any time soon,' Wray said...."

From CNN's ongoing coverage of testimony this morning from FBI Director Christopher Wray before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"A study published in PLOS One suggests that the type of fiction a person reads affects their social cognition in different ways."

"Specifically, literary fiction was associated with increased attributional complexity and accuracy in predicting social attitudes, while popular fiction was linked to increased egocentric bias.... 'We distinguished between literary (e.g. Don Delillo, Jonathan Franzen, Alice Munroe) and popular fiction (e.g. Dan Brown, Tom Clancy, Jackie Collins), and showed that it is by reading literary fiction that you enhance your mindreading abilities — you are better at inferring and representing what other people think, feel, their intentions, etc.'... [E]ngaging with literary fiction is thought to be active; it asks readers to search for meaning and produce their own perspectives and involves complex characters. Popular fiction, on the other hand, is passive; it provides meaning for the readers and is more concerned with plot than characters.... 'The literary type pushes us to assess others as unique individuals, to withhold judgment, to think deeply. It is important, but it can paralyze us in our attempt to navigate the social world. The popular type reinforces our socially-learned and culturally-shared schemas; a mode of thinking that roughly corresponds to what Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman calls System 1: fast, automatic, well-practiced... I submit that for a well functioning society a continuous tension between these two types of thinking styles – and thus both types of cultural products that, among other factors, promote them. Too much literary, and we disintegrate as a society. Too much popular, and we ossify. Neither scenario is auspicable.'"

 From "Reading literary versus popular fiction promotes different socio-cognitive processes, study suggests" (PsyPost).

I'm totally distracted by the question whether "auspicable" is a word. I can see that "auspicabile" is an Italian word, and the quote is from the author of the study, Emanuele Castano of the University of Trento and the National Research Council in Italy. There must be a word for a word that is newly slipping from one language into another. I accept it. I understand it. He could have said "auspicious," but it's charming that he didn't. These are the kind of thoughts I have, and they demonstrate that I'm the sort of person who, when reading fiction, pretty much only reads literary fiction. 

Before you gear up to call me a snob — I say, with my enhanced mindreading ability — I assure you that I just don't like popular fiction. I bought a novel the other day because I wanted to quote a particular passage — here — and I decided to try to read it. Here's how it began:

After Slitscan, Laney heard about another job from Rydell, the night security man at the Chateau. Rydell was a big quiet Tennessean with a sad shy grin, cheap sunglasses, and a walkie-talkie screwed permanently into one ear. 
“Paragon-Asia Dataflow,” Rydell said, around four in the morning, the two of them seated in a pair of huge old armchairs. Concrete beams overhead had been hand-painted to vaguely resemble blond oak. The chairs, like the rest of the furniture in the Chateau’s lobby, were oversized to the extent that whoever sat in them seemed built to a smaller scale.

Ugh! I hate writing like that. I instinctively loathe it. I could analyze why, but I didn't analyze it before shutting the book down and shuddering in horror. 

What exactly is my problem? It's not that it's too easy. It's what it's demanding that I do: 1. Remember the names of 2 guys I have no reason to care about and to remember numerous external details about them, 2. Remember some dull technological sounding name that has no meaning or promise of meaning, 3. Picture a shitload of interior decoration, 4. Expect insights on the level of large chairs make people look smaller than they otherwise would, 5. Steel myself for an onslaught of adjectives, especially in boring pairs like "big quiet," "sad shy," and "huge old." I get weary!

I am rereading a work of literary fiction that is, in fact, much easier to begin to read: 

Kumiko never came back that night. I stayed up until midnight, reading, listening to music, and waiting for her, but finally I gave up and went to bed. I fell asleep with the light on. It was six in the morning when I woke. The full light of day shone outside the window. Beyond the thin curtain, birds were chirping. There was no sign of my wife beside me in bed. The white pillow lay there, high and fluffy. As far as I could see, no head had rested on it during the night. Her freshly washed, neatly folded summer pajamas lay atop the night table. I had washed them. I had folded them. I turned off the lamp beside my pillow and took a deep breath, as if to regulate the flow of time.

Only one name to remember, and I'm eased into reasons to care about her and the unnamed narrator, her husband. My sensitivity is cared for. This author isn't yelling at me to get to work. 

"China Tries To Discredit Female Uighur Witnesses By Releasing Private Sexual Health Data/The officials said the information..."

"... was evidence of bad character, in an effort to invalidate the women’s accounts of abuse in Xinjiang," HuffPo reports

“One reason that the Communist Party is so concerned about these testimonies from women is because it undermines their initial premise for what they’re doing there, which is anti-terrorism,” said James Millward, a professor of Chinese history at Georgetown University and expert in Xinjiang policy. “The fact that there are so many women in the camps ... who don’t have the faintest appearance of being violent people, this just shows how this has nothing to do with terrorism.”

"The Eyes of Texas is non-negotiable. If it is not kept and fully embraced, I will not be donating any additional money to athletics or the university or attending any events."

Wrote one alumnus quoted in "'UT needs rich donors': Emails show wealthy alumni supporting 'Eyes of Texas' threatened to pull donations/Emails obtained by The Texas Tribune show alumni and donors threatened to stop supporting the university financially and demanded that the university president take a stronger stance supporting 'The Eyes of Texas'" (The Texas Tribune).

"The Eyes of Texas" is a song traditionally played at the end of football games, with players remaining on the field to sing the song along with the fans. Recently, all the players except the quarterback left the field. 

Students have been petitioning to get rid of the song — something I wrote about last October. I didn't take a position on the racial problem with the song and whether it's enough to overcome the pull of tradition, but I did undertake my own independent analysis of the lyrics:

The state has eyes and is always watching you: "The Eyes of Texas are upon you/All the livelong day/The Eyes of Texas are upon you/You cannot get away/Do not think you can escape them/At night or early in the morn/The Eyes of Texas are upon you/'Til Gabriel blows his horn." 
There really is something wrong with this song. It's oppressive even if you don't know the background story. It speaks of surveillance and endless oppressive work. Maybe a lot of college kids think the song is just funny and surreal. Eyes that you cannot escape.

"Though I may be late, I am willing to admit that I was ignorant to the truth of Dr. Seuss’ writings until recently. I have unknowingly read many of his books to my own children."

"But now that I am better informed, I am committed to advocating for change. Because when we know better, we should do better."  

Writes Maureen Downey (in the Atlanta Journal Constitution). 

So drearily earnest...

She means well. Is she anxious about what else she may be unknowingly doing... such as depriving children of the fun of reading Dr. Seuss or generating morbid fears about strange manifestations of racism or being too subservient about taking instruction from dull people who are oversure of their puritanical notions of racial correctness?

Downey links to what she calls a "fantastic list" of other books to give to children, but it's not just a list. It's an opinionated blog post, "Dr. Seuss was racist. Why are we still reading his books?"

... I pulled out the extensive collection of Dr. Seuss books that I have in my home and re-read them with a critical lens only to find that the themes of anti-Blackness, white supremacy, and Orientalism are garishly prevalent. I have used Dr. Seuss books in my classroom for the last ten years. I feel disgusted knowing that I not only celebrated these texts, but the life of Theodore Geisel. Dr. Seuss books will no longer have a place in my home. The messages that children absorb through literature will impact their racial beliefs. Without proper support in navigating the harmful messages from books like Dr. Seuss’s, children are likely to transfer what they read to their play and social life....
Go to that link to see the suggestions of books to read in place of particular Dr. Seuss books. The book covers are depicted, so you can get a sense of the kind of drawing that anti-Seussers think could work as a substitute for his highly idiosyncratic work. But these substitutes just have blandly realistic, sentimental illustrations that depict people of color. If you want to replace Dr. Seuss, the first thing you'll need some exciting, inventive drawing! And you've got to have a little edge to the story. It can't be just love is important and nice people are nice.

March 1, 2021

At the Monday Night Cafe...

... you can talk about whatever you want.

"It’s been quite baffling and painful for me to have people assume I’m a racist and believe that I said the ridiculous things I’m accused of saying..."

"... that 'racism is over,' that 'white supremacy doesn’t exist,' or 'white privilege doesn’t exist,' or that I defended the use of blackface or said horrible things about black teenagers in general. I’m surprised by how quick some colleagues who barely know me were prepared to accept those accusations and even add more on a Times alumni Facebook page. Someone to whom I don’t think I’ve spoken since 1994 said 'calling him only a racist is being nice.' An editor I happily worked side by side with in 1989 and have had brief but cordial chats with maybe once every ten years when we bump into each other on the street said I seemed 'dismissive of people of color and their views' back then. Someone I thought I’d been very nice to when she left the paper attacked me for using the expression 'third world' in a story that was, as always, approved by several Times editors.... My girlfriend thinks I have a high-functioning Asperger aspect to my personality — I’m empathic about suffering but I also very much misread audiences.... [W]hat’s happened to me has been called a 'witch hunt.' It isn’t. It’s a series of misunderstandings and blunders. I may be the only living Times reporter who has actually covered a witch hunt — in Zimbabwe in 1997. They inevitably end worse for the accused. I’m at least getting my say."

From "NYTimes Peru N-Word, Part One: Introduction" by Donald McNeil (Medium). Interesting how he chooses to play the disability card with that "high-functioning Asperger aspect to my personality." I wonder how much of what the wokesters call "whiteness" (and maleness) could be repackaged as "high-functioning Aspergers" and received with some empathy as part of the rainbow of diversity. 

Here's the piece McNeil considers a story about a real witch hunt — "Zimbabwean Tribal Elders Air a Chief Complaint"

The actor who plays Prince Charles in "The Crown" and the actress who plays Princess Diana both won Golden Globes last night.

Here they are — Josh O'Connor and Emma Corrin — in their biggest scene together in the finale of Season 4:


I've watched Season 4 twice (and the rest of "The Crown" once), and I love this scene. Charles is both horrible and yet — somehow — sympathetic. 

"You think we couldn't do that too? Theatrically hug the wretched and dispossessed and cover ourselves in glory all over the front pages?"

Is Sandra Lee sending "peace and loving healing" to Andrew Cuomo?

I'm reading "Andrew Cuomo ex Sandra Lee wishes ‘peace, healing’ after 2nd accuser steps forward" (NY Post):

“Sending everyone peace and loving healing regards from Malibu! The best sunsets ever thank God for the Ocean!” Lee posted on Instagram Saturday night, alongside a photo of a beach. 
The post was made hours after The New York Times revealed [accusations from] Cuomo’s 25-year-old former aide, Charlotte Bennet, is accusing the 63-year-old governor of asking her inappropriate personal questions at work... days after another former aide, Lindsey Boylan, publicly accused the governor of attempting to kiss her on the mouth at his New York City office in 2018....

I'd say Sandra Lee is keeping her distance. This is a woman I had never paid any attention to until I was looking up Cuomo's Wikipedia page yesterday. I can't remember exactly why, but I suddenly needed to know where he went to law school. The answer is Albany Law School. Isn't that interesting? 

I got to reading the "Personal Life" section. There was that marriage to the 7th child of Robert F. Kennedy. And then there was an 8-year relationship with Food Network host Sandra Lee. I was curious enough to click through to Lee's Wikipedia page, and that led me to some of the biggest laughs I've had all year. Lee has an approach to cooking that she calls "semi-homemade." In practice, this involves using lots of processed foods and combining them in ways so ludicrous that it kind of has to be a spoof.

"Instagram ads tend to focus more on warm images of cooing babies cuddled by radiant, fully covered mothers and less on the agony..."

"... of aggressive feedings and the mess of midnight cleanups. The disconnect can leave first-time parents underprepared during a transitional period often described as the fourth trimester...." 

From "On TV, a Rare Realistic Look at Breastfeeding/A commercial from the parent products company Frida, to be broadcast during the Golden Globes, is part of a wider effort to show the struggles of the 'fourth trimester'" (NYT). 

Here's the 30-second ad that aired during the Golden Globes.

Frida worked with the network on a 30-second edit that blurs or covers nipples that are visible in the original 75-second ad — a “fairly robust editing process at NBCU’s insistence,” said Chelsea Hirschhorn, the company’s chief executive, in a statement. She added that the point of the ad remained intact — “that the physical and emotional breastfeeding journey puts an unrivaled pressure on women to ‘perform,’ and no longer should women be expected to prioritize making milk over their own physical discomfort.” On YouTube, the original ad, which was posted on Feb. 24, already has more than 1.4 million views. 

Here's that 75-second ad, where you will see nipples. You'll also see women in the shower trying to massage their clogged lactating breasts with the handle end of an electric toothbrush and the front end of dildo vibrator.

By the way, do you know what the NYT meant by "aggressive feedings"? I'm presuming the aggression is on the part of the baby. 

And do you like that term "fourth trimester"? I can see that it's been around for a while, but this is the first time I've noticed it. The message — as I hear it — is that the mother's body and the baby's body are still a single unit. Your body is not yet all yours again. The baby is still sharing it.

"We all knew that the Biden administration was going to be bad. But none of us even imagined just how bad they would be and how far left they would go."

"He never talked about this. We would have those wonderful debates. He would never talk about this. We didn’t know what the hell he was talking about actually. His campaign was all lies. Talked about energy, I thought I said, 'This guy actually, he’s okay with energy' He wasn’t okay with energy. He wants to put you all out of business.... Joe Biden has had the most disastrous first month of any president in modern history....  The Biden administration is actually bragging about the classroom education they are providing to migrant children on the border. While at the same time, millions of American children are having their futures destroyed by Joe Biden’s anti-science school closures.... He is cruelly keeping our children locked in their homes, no reason for it whatsoever. They want to get out... Joe Biden is only implementing [a vaccine] plan that we put in place.... Yet Biden said just a few days ago that when he got here, meaning The White House, there was no vaccine. He said, there’s no vaccine. Oh, good. Say it again, Joe. Now I don’t think he said that, frankly, in a malicious way. I really don’t. I actually believe he said that because he didn’t really know what the hell was happening."

From Donald Trump's CPAC speech.  

That's a clear demonstration of an approach to attacking Biden: He's not malicious. He just doesn't know what the hell he's talking about or what the hell is happening. That gives room for people who think Joe's a likeable good guy to feel okay about the criticism. Joe's not malicious. He's just very confused. When you get to the confusion part of the attack, be sure to include the words "what the hell."

Oh! That reminds me. It's March 1st. You know what that means. I lost my big bet. I told you back on January 27th about the bet I have here at Meadhouse: "Biden will oust himself from the presidency by March 1st." When did I make the bet? I'm not sure but I alluded to this bet on December 15th, when Biden gave an overlong speech: "There was no reason to make him go this long... not unless the idea was to make us get comfortable with the idea of phasing him out and swapping in Kamala at the earliest possible moment — say, around March 1st."

Did Donald Trump just say that he will run for President in 2024?

"[A] Republican president will make a triumphant return to the White House. And I wonder who that will be? I wonder who that will be? Who, who, who will that be? I wonder."

Said Donald Trump, near the end of his CPAC speech yesterday (transcript). 

There's coy cuteness in the repeated "wonder" and the repeated "who": "And I wonder who that will be? I wonder who that will be? Who, who, who will that be? I wonder." It's like the old doowop song:I wonder wonder who who who who...

It's clearly a humorous locution. Check it out:


The "who" has got to refer to himself, don't you think? There's also the idea of making "a triumphant return to the White House." He's the only one who's been there before and can return, though it could be denied by saying it only means that Republicans have been there before and the Party can return one of its own to the place. 

Rewatching the clip, I think he's saying "who... who," pausing, and saying "who, who, who," because he wants the crowd to chant "You! You! You!" There might be some of that in the crowd noise, but I don't think it's distinct enough to meet his expectations. 

He proceeds to the last couple sentences of his remarks:

Standing before you today, I am supremely confident that for our movement, for our party, and for our country, our brightest days are just ahead. And that together we will make America prouder, freer, stronger and greater than it ever has been before.

Should we interpret to mean that he will run again? I think he's obviously teasing the idea. He gets something he wants simply by teasing a run, and why shouldn't he play that part while it's new and interesting? 

He may be looking to pass his politics on to someone new. When I listened to the speech live, I was struck that he singled out Jim Jordan — out of all the CPAC speakers. He said: 

I heard Jim Jordan did a great job.... oh, there he is... Hi Jim. I heard you were great. In fact, I hated to follow you. I want to follow other people. I could name them too. I like to follow other people. I heard you were great. 

He highlighted Jordan and diminished everyone else. But this morning, I'm looking at the transcript, and I see that's just an intro to something I've heard before. Jordan was "a great wrestler," a "college champion," who "likes to win." And that's a set up for how much Trump likes to win and how much Trump has won:

In last year’s congressional primaries, 120, listen to this, it’s crazy. 120 of 122 candidates I endorsed won, 120. That’s almost as good as Jim’s wrestling record. And the two that lost were beaten by people claiming to be more Trump than their opponent. So I like those two people very much also. In the Senate, I was undefeated in endorsements with a record of 21 and 0....

So I don't think he was passing the torch to Jim Jordan. Maybe some day he will, but I think he wants the excitement and influence of seeming to run and of having a torch to pass if he decides not to run. Singling out Jim Jordan — to the extent that it was anything more than a rhetorical device to ease into the topic of winning — is a way to put all the would-be Republican candidates on notice that he has a power to name his successor and he's going to make a big show of exercising that power. 

And his endorsements are huge — I was undefeated in endorsements.

February 28, 2021

At the Sunday Night Café...


... you can talk about whatever you like... including Trump's CPAC speech, which I'll probably write about in the morning. It's my quiet time now. Probably. So: Good evening.

The speech hasn't started yet... late for some reason... but you can watch live here

"The second refrigerator can be a homey holdover or the latest model. And, for many, it can be aspirational. It may fulfill a yen for storage space."

"For others, its contents may function as edible insurance policies during lean years. And there are countless other reasons for a second fridge: frequent entertaining; storing kimchi or other specialties that take time to age; a tendency toward hoarding; or simply the cost of getting rid of a refrigerator.... The Vincents have passed on their love of multiple refrigerators to their daughter, Robyn Penniegraft, 46, who lives next door. Between the two households, they have five refrigerators for five people — not to mention other appliances such as an outdoor wine chiller and a stand-alone freezer from 1972, two years before Ms. Penniegraft was born. Appliances tend to arrive in 10-year intervals to the Vincent household — the 1982 fridge, the 1992 one. Ms. Penniegraft keeps a stand freezer and her second refrigerator in the family’s garage, side by side like fraternal twins. Last fall, the freezer contained a Noah’s ark of meat for the fried chicken and signature giant lasagnas she often cooks for friends; the other once housed the products that Ms. Penniegraft, a hair stylist, and her husband, Dante, mixed up for a now-defunct hair-care line." 

From "When One Fridge Is Not Enough/For many Americans, a second fridge — and sometimes a third — is another member of the family" (NYT). 

From the comments: 

"I imagine it will not be what we call a low energy speech."

Said Don Jr. — about the speech Trump will give at CPAC today — quoted in "Trump to speak at CPAC in first major address since leaving office, as GOP searches for path forward/Trump highly popular at annual conservative gathering" (Fox News). 

The Trump speech is scheduled for 3:40 pm today (Eastern Time). Will you watch? Have you been starving for input from Trump or have you enjoyed the break? If the latter, how do you feel about the return of Trump? I'll do a survey:

How are you feeling about Trump's big CPAC speech? Pick the closest answer. free polls

"I dare you to name something more archetypally boomer than these two cherished idols—the Boss and the Chief—dubbing themselves rebellious in a Spotify-exclusive podcast..."

"... sponsored by Comcast and Dollar Shave Club. ('How do I handle grooming below the belt?' the ad spot asks; mercifully, neither host is made to read it.)... As a cultural figure, the Boss sits in a cross-racial sweet spot, as an anointed idol for the coded white working class who pairs his aging denim with bright-blue politics. He is also comfortable playing the good white liberal without self-punishing overtures. His home town of Freehold, New Jersey, was 'your typical small, provincial, redneck, racist little American nineteen-fifties town,' he says plainly, without squeamishness.... Discussing the protests of last summer, Obama comes just short of infantilizing the activities of those who were on the ground. 'I think there’s a little bit of an element of young people saying, "You’ve told us this is who we’re supposed to be."' A guitar strums gently in the background. 'And that’s why as long as protests and activism doesn’t veer into violence, my general attitude is—I want and expect young people to push those boundaries.'...  But I can understand the people who might still take comfort in hearing Obama right up against their eardrums, doing his host schtick, asking, 'Did you see the movie "Get Out"?,' referring to a memorable line that invokes his name."

From "Obama and Springsteen Are Here to Lull America" by Lauren Michele Jackson (The New Yorker).

The line in "Get Out" is: "By the way, I would have voted for Obama for a third term if I could." Read more about it in "Bradley Whitford didn't realize Get Out's Obama line was supposed to be a joke at first" (AV Club).

The worst bathing suit, the hungry dog, interesting/uninteresting sounds, pandemic doodles.

I've selected 4 things for you from TikTok. If you like all 4, you must be like me:

"An Oklahoma man who was released early from prison broke into a woman’s home this month, cut out her heart, cooked it and tried to feed it to his relatives..."

"... and then killed two of them, the authorities said this week. The man, Lawrence Paul Anderson, who has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the killings, had been sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2017 for a probation violation in a drug case, but public records show that he was granted clemency last year by the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board as part of a mass commutation program."

The NYT reports.

"The last thing I would ever have wanted was to make her feel any of the things that are being reported."

Said Governor Andrew Cuomo, quoted in "Cuomo Is Accused of Sexual Harassment by a 2nd Former Aide/The woman, 25, said that when they were alone in his office, Gov. Andrew Cuomo asked if she 'had ever been with an older man'" (NYT).
[Charlotte] Bennett said she had disclosed the interaction with Mr. Cuomo to his chief of staff, Jill DesRosiers, less than a week later and was transferred to another job, as a health policy adviser, with an office on the opposite side of the Capitol, soon after that. Ms. Bennett said she had also given a lengthy statement to a special counsel to the governor, Judith Mogul, toward the end of June. Ms. Bennett said she ultimately decided not to insist on an investigation because she was happy in her new job and “wanted to move on.” No action was taken against the governor.... 
The governor did not deny that he asked Ms. Bennett personal questions; he said in the statement that he would have no further comment until the review concluded.... 
After seeing Ms. Boylan detail her accusations against Mr. Cuomo, Ms. Bennett shared Ms. Boylan’s account on Twitter, suggesting that people read it if they wanted a true picture of “what it’s like to work for the Cuomo” administration. The Times contacted Ms. Bennett, and she agreed to relate her own account of harassment. She said she felt an obligation to other victims of sexual harassment and wanted to counter the way Mr. Cuomo “wields his power.”

Good work by the NYT.