March 13, 2021

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk about anything you like.


"Poured into a tall glass it was the colour of cow’s milk and I couldn’t smell anything unusual. But as soon as I took the first sip..."

"I could taste the difference. It was slightly sweet and perhaps a little more watery than cow’s milk. Its sweetness reminded me almost of a milkshake.... As someone who wouldn’t drink a glass of milk on its own out of choice, I find it pleasantly tasty. If you can get over the hurdle of it coming from a horse then it seems a perfectly natural thing to be drinking."

From "Horse milk is ready for its heyday" (London Times).

"[I]t would appear that 'racist' means 'anything that a black person doesn’t like for some reason,' and we are to bow down and accept this..."

"... as post-Enlightenment, morally binding truth because black people have a hideous history. That is not a real discussion. It renders black people something less than human, in feigning that we are beyond serious critique. We are lying to one another and nervously hoping nobody will blow the whistle on what we are told to pretend is about 'social justice.' But lowering standards is not 'social justice,' nor is pretending that the standards have no value and calling for their elimination.... Nor is it 'social justice' to dragoon black students into a diversity diorama and then watch them complain about being foisted with the responsibility of representing their race, while also assailing the school for not addressing their 'diversity' in the right way, when what really should have happened is that they settled in at schools prepared to teach them effectively. Do I think [Sandra] Sellers should have been fired? Well, all I can say is that in our current climate I don’t see how she could teach effectively, although I’m not sure if that’s fair, because I cannot know whether she is 'a racist,' because what she said did not demonstrate that at all, even if not said with optimal grace.... I am seeking to find some sense in things. I’m afraid the Sellers story as we are being given it does not, in the true way, make sense."

Writes John McWhorter in "So there was a law professor at Georgetown who was a racist. And now she's gone, but wait -- what do we mean by "racist" these days? And why am I a heretic to even ask the question and want real answers?" (Substack). 

Much more at the link, including background on the case of Professor Sellers. 

If you really care about systemic racism, it's perverse just to go after those who blurt out something crude that can be denounced as explicit racism. If that's your tactic, you're teaching everyone to guard their expression. You are cutting off the flow of evidence of racism, making it harder to detect.

"In the weeks leading up to the 2020 presidential election, The New York Post, the nation’s oldest newspaper, broke a major story based on documents and emails obtained from the laptop of Hunter Biden..."

"... son of the front-running presidential candidate Joe Biden. Those documents shed substantial light not only on the efforts of Hunter and other family members of President Biden to trade on his name and their influence on him for lucrative business deals around the world, but also raised serious questions about the extent to which President Biden himself was aware of and involved in those efforts. But Americans were barred from discussing that reporting on Twitter, and were actively impeded from reading about it by Facebook. That is because Twitter imposed a full ban on its users’ ability to link to the story: not just on their public Twitter pages but even in private Twitter chats. Twitter even locked the account of The New York Post, preventing the newspaper from using that platform for almost two weeks unless they agreed to voluntarily delete any references to their reporting about the Hunter Biden materials (the paper, rightfully, refused). Facebook’s censorship of this reporting was more subtle.... The censorship justification was that the documents on which the reporting was based constituted either 'hacked materials' and/or 'Russian disinformation.' Neither of those claims is true.... While we will never know whether this censorship altered the outcome of the election, it is clear that this was one of the most direct acts of information repression about an American presidential election in decades."

From the opening statement of Glenn Greenwald before the House Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law yesterday.

"I want to keep wearing a mask after this is over. I can just go and do my thing, and I don’t have to interact with people. It’s liberating."

Said the 16-year-old son of the author of this WaPo column, "Here are the people who love wearing masks."

The author, Petula Dvorak, collects some other pro-mask statements:

“I love wearing a mask. I want to do this forever. It has helped my social anxiety so much.”...

“Wearing a mask is really letting me be ugly in peace. I love it here.”...

“I like not catching colds, not wearing makeup and not being noticed... So even vaccinated and with herd immunity, I’m still going to be hiding behind it.”...

“Wearing a mask means people can’t see my facial tics, and I love that... I’ve always chewed on my tongue ever since I was a kid... I also have a lot of facial acne that masks hide. Acne so bad that random people I meet on the day-to-day feel the need to comment on it and give me advice, as if I haven’t been to tons of dermatologists. I feel much less self-conscious out in public when I’m wearing a mask”...

“[My tardive dyskinesia] manifests as constant contortions of my mouth and tongue twirling... I was mortified to go out in public.”

From the comments over there:

"City Hall should immediately impose a resettlement tax on all returning New Yorkers. The levy will be determined..."

"... at the very moment they touch down at J.F.K., determined by both their income level and how flagrant their desertion was. (If someone spent the entirety of their exile on the crystal waters between Monaco and Sardinia, he can expect to pay up.) That money will be used to fund a public good ascertained, through a special election, by those of us who never left.... We saw the videos from the Joshua Tree ranch, OK? You can’t just march back in here as if you own the place. Once sufficient contrition is expressed, exiles may return to their normal New York existences, so long as they promise to never vacate the city in its time of need ever again.... All the values I was taught about New York, from elementary school onward, came true last year: the solidarity, the saltiness, the stubborn resilience whenever outside voices declare the city dead and buried.... The deserters escaped all the horror that comes with living in America’s largest population center in the middle of a generational crisis, but they’ll also miss out on the brilliant, unchaining joys of what comes afterward, this great unburdening of New York City. I almost feel bad for them. Almost."

Writes Luke Wilkie in "They Escaped the Pandemic/Now They Must Pay" (NYT). 

This is one of those "modest proposal" essays. The comedy is clear if you read the whole thing. But what's real is the hostility toward the rich — the rich who could and did buy their way out of the struggles of city life. It was more obvious than usual, but people always use what money they have to ease their own suffering. Rich people get out of town all the time. They leave just because summer is hot.

"Starting next month, residents can attend classes to learn the intricacies of the local recycling system, what can and can’t be recycled, and how to reduce their overall waste."

"Those who complete the two 90-minute sessions and a community outreach project will be certified Master Recyclers, equipped not only to tell the difference between No. 1 and No. 5 plastic containers but to help friends, neighbors and coworkers improve their own habits." 

From The Wisconsin State Journal. 

That made me laugh.

Iconic pose.


I remember staring at that album cover at Two Guys, trying to figure out if I should spend my scarce money on an unheard folksinger rather than retreating to the rock section. Just because I love The Byrds doesn't mean I want to listen to that kind of thing sung by this person in the very strange photograph.  I'd read about Bob Dylan — pronounced, in my head, "DIE-lan" — in Life Magazine, but still. And yet... that photograph. Gaze into it long enough, and you feel you need to tumble into that world... what's going on in there? I need this thing if only for that photograph. I bought the exotic album and that made all the difference.

From my unwritten essay, "Bringing It All Back Home to Two Guys."

"Why was [Andrew Cuomo] celebrated for so long?"

The headline for an article at New York Magazine is "Abuse and Power Andrew Cuomo’s governorship has been defined by cruelty that disguised chronic mismanagement. Why was that celebrated for so long?"

Was the "governorship" celebrated or was the governor celebrated? I rewrote the headline for my post title because it seemed perversely impersonal and inaccurate to say that people have been celebrating the abstraction. People were celebrating the man. There was some embarrassing fawning.

The NY Magazine article is by Rebecca Traister. She writes: "Cuomo was a bully, but he was our bully." He was also a liar: 

“He makes things up like I’ve never seen anyone do before,” said [Bill Lipton, a founder of the Working Families Party]. “He makes people who disagree with him feel like they’re crazy.” It’s a pattern that — like his narcissism, theatrical bombast, love of cameras, hatred of “experts,” and the fact that, as one national reporter who covered him said, “I don’t think he believes in much, except that he wants to be powerful”—makes Cuomo not the anti-Trump that many imagined him, but rather the 45th president’s Democratic twin. Or, as one person put it to me, they are “the same person” but for “two major exceptions: Fred Trump was Donald Trump’s father, and Mario Cuomo was Andrew Cuomo’s father.”

What if the hatred for Trump is really envy? The haters just want one like that for themselves. 

ADDED: These personality traits — narcissism, theatrical bombast, love of cameras, no deeper belief than the love of power — will be found in virtually all politicians. Shy, humble philosophers who shrink at imposing their will on others don't step forward and announce their candidacy. Those of you who fall for  bullies need to take responsibility for your cheesy love affairs. 

March 12, 2021

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk about anything you want.

"As the Biden administration struggles to care for soaring numbers migrant families, teens and children streaming across the Mexico border, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement sent an urgent email to senior staff Thursday night asking for volunteers..."

"... to quickly deploy to U.S. border stations and tent sites where holding cells are crammed beyond capacity....  The number of these teens and children held in detention cells along the border surpassed 3,500 this week, a record, and the minors have been arriving at a rate that far exceeds the government’s ability to place them in shelters run by the Department of Health and Human Services or release them to vetted sponsors, often relatives living in the United States. With shelters run by HHS short on bed space, thousands of minors are stuck in rudimentary Border Patrol stations awaiting transfer.... More than 130 minors have been waiting 10 days in the custody of CBP, whose steel-and-concrete detention cells are designed as short-term holding cells for adults...."

From "ICE asks officers to deploy to border ‘as soon as this weekend’ to cope with surge" (WaPo). 

 That headline must have been different before, because the highest-rated comments are: "WaPo, please re-write this headline. ICE is asking internally for assistance. ICE is not calling for Trumpian militant volunteers to rush to the border to rough up immigrants." AND: "ICE should be careful when calling for 'volunteers.' They'll get a bunch of armed white guys with fat guts, no training and an itch to shoot someone who can't shoot back." 

I'm not even going to take the trouble to look for the center between these manifestly silly extremes.

These are the top 2 headlines at Real Clear Politics right now:

"The crowd is his element, as the air is that of birds and water of fishes. His passion and his profession are to become one flesh with the crowd."

"For the perfect flâneur, for the passionate spectator, it is an immense joy to set up house in the heart of the multitude, amid the ebb and flow of movement, in the midst of the fugitive and the infinite. To be away from home and yet to feel oneself everywhere at home; to see the world, to be at the centre of the world, and yet to remain hidden from the world—impartial natures which the tongue can but clumsily define. The spectator is a prince who everywhere rejoices in his incognito. The lover of life makes the whole world his family, just like the lover of the fair sex who builds up his family from all the beautiful women that he has ever found, or that are or are not—to be found; or the lover of pictures who lives in a magical society of dreams painted on canvas. Thus the lover of universal life enters into the crowd as though it were an immense reservoir of electrical energy. Or we might liken him to a mirror as vast as the crowd itself; or to a kaleidoscope gifted with consciousness, responding to each one of its movements and reproducing the multiplicity of life and the flickering grace of all the elements of life." 

Wrote Charles Baudelaire, in 1863, quoted in the Wikipedia entry "Flâneur."

"Eddie Izzard doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about. In December, it was reported that the standup comic/actor/campaigner/endurance runner had adopted the pronouns 'she' and 'her'..."

"... and wanted to be 'based in girl mode' from now on.... Actually, Izzard says, she had not intended to be so definitive about it. She had always talked about being in boy mode most of the time and girl mode part of the time, and she was still hoping to keep her options open. For her first half century, boy mode had dominated, and now it was time for girl mode to take centre stage, but on occasions she would still like the freedom to be a he. She soon discovered that wasn’t an option, though.... At the moment, Izzard is self-identifying as a trans woman. Does she think she will ever physically transition? 'I might do. I feel that boy mode has had a good innings in this one life that we get. It would be great to get up in the morning and think I look like a woman so I’m going to throw on a tracksuit and have breakfast. It is getting better and better. I do feel I can express myself in a more feminine way, which may be the age thing.' Would she like boobs? 'Yeah! I’ve had boob envy since my teens. Just when teenage girls of my age were going "I want boobs," I was thinking yeah me too. But I couldn’t say it. They talk about penis envy, and I believe some women suffer penis envy. I cannot for the life of me get my head around this. But yes, I’ve always had breasts envy.'... I ask if she is taking hormone pills. She smiles and, for once, declines to answer. 'I’m very happy to transition and I feel I have been transitioning,' she says. 'But I do feel I’ve told everybody everything in my life, so I’m going to keep a certain amount of privacy.'"

From "Eddie Izzard: 'I'm just trying to create a space for myself'/The actor and comic on making her female pronouns permanent, shouting down abuse, enduring a marathon a day – and running for Labour" (The Guardian).

"The New York prosecutor leading the most significant criminal probe against Donald Trump and his business announced Friday he is not running for reelection..."

CNN reports this morning.

Vance's departure adds intrigue to an ongoing probe into Trump and the Trump Organization, which has spanned two years....

Adds intrigue... or subtracts intrigue! 

Investigators are now in the process of combing through millions of pages of tax returns, work papers and communications related to the returns, as well as financial statements and engagement agreements from January 2011 to August 2019.

So long, suckers!

Meanwhile, The New Yorker just came out with "Can Cyrus Vance, Jr., Nail Trump?/Insiders say that the Manhattan District Attorney’s investigation has dramatically intensified since the former President left office. 'It’s like night and day,' says one. According to another, 'They mean business.'" 

"Do you believe in the human heart?... Do you think there is such a thing? Something that makes each of us special and individual?"

"And if we just suppose that there is. Then don’t you think, in order to truly learn Josie, you’d have to learn not just her mannerisms but what’s deeply inside her? Wouldn’t you have to learn her heart?... And that could be difficult, no? Something beyond even your wonderful capabilities. Because an impersonation wouldn’t do, however skillful. You’d have to learn her heart, and learn it fully, or you’ll never become Josie in any sense that matters."/"The heart you speak of... It might indeed be the hardest part of Josie to learn. It might be like a house with many rooms. Even so, a devoted AF, given time, could walk through each of those rooms, studying them carefully in turn, until they became like her own home."/"But then suppose you stepped into one of those rooms... and discovered another room within it. And inside that room, another room still. Rooms within rooms within rooms. Isn’t that how it might be, trying to learn Josie’s heart? No matter how long you wandered through those rooms, wouldn’t there always be others you’d not yet entered?"/"Of course, a human heart is bound to be complex. But it must be limited.... there’ll be an end to what there is to learn...."

From Kazuo Ishiguro, "Klara and the Sun."

I just finished reading this. Maybe you have too. Let's talk about it. I quoted what was for me the most memorable passage. The first speaker is the father of a girl (Josie), and the second speaker, the "I," is her AF — "artificial friend" (a robot). 

SPOILER ALERT: The question under discussion in that passage is whether the AF will be able to learn Josie to the point where she could replace Josie and be loved as actually Josie by Josie's mother if Josie dies.

"The artist Mike Winkelmann, also known as Beeple, has just sold an NFT at a record-breaking $69.3 million, the third-highest price achieved by a living artist."

"The sale, at Christie’s, for the purely digital work was the strongest indication yet that NFTs, or 'nonfungible tokens,' have taken the art market by storm, making the leap from specialist websites to premier auction houses. Beeple, a newcomer to the fine-art world who first heard about NFTs five months ago, is the most high-profile artist to profit off the huge boom in sales of these much hyped but poorly understood commodities. If you’ve heard about them and want to know what the fuss is about, here’s a primer... An NFT is an asset verified using blockchain technology, in which a network of computers records transactions and gives buyers proof of authenticity and ownership... ...NFTs make digital artworks unique, and therefore sellable."

From "What Are NFTs, Anyway? One Just Sold for $69 Million/'Nonfungible tokens' and blockchain technology are taking the mainstream art world by storm, fetching huge prices. We explain, or try to" (NYT).

This post is the stark opposite of the previous post.

"There were a few people who knew about those pictures, but I didn’t show them publicly at all. I didn’t bother promoting myself."

"Even now, I don’t promote myself. I do photography because I love it. Money isn’t going to make a better picture for me and it is not going to make me happier. I wasn’t working for the work to be shown or seen, I was working for the pleasure of doing the work itself. I guess the reason I didn’t show my work is I was always busy going onto the next thing." 

From "Interview: Aaron Rose’s Coney Island" (Popular Photography, 2014).

What did you like about shooting at Coney Island? 

The gutsiness. To be amongst people in the flesh... where else can you find such a great array of shapes and forms? 

What were some of your favorite scenes to shoot at the beach? 

I liked the big fat men. When they laid down their bellies stuck out and bulged out. I just find it very comical, very cartoonish.... It’s the real people... kind of stark reality, in a very sunny atmosphere.... I used a Leica 35 mm camera with a wide-angle lens and a slight telephoto lens....

March 11, 2021

At the Thursday Night Cafe...

 ... you can talk about whatever you want.

Boy George's newest tweet about the Meghan-and-Oprah interview.

I'll just quote his previous tweets on the subject, oldest to newest: 

1. "I found the big @oprah interview to be hugely dull. Is there more? I pray not!" 

2. "The one person not mentioned in any of this Harry & Meghan saga is the little boy Archie. If they had left the royals without creating a shit storm (it could have been done easily) he would still be an important future member of our royal family. I hope he still can and will be. I feel neither family deserves applause."

3. "You'd think they would have in house therapists at Buckingham Palace and if they don't, now is the time."

4. Responding to someone who said Harry needed to protect his family from the pararazzi: "You are talking to someone who knows more about the press than you could imagine? Harry, has slagged this country for years, long before Meghan. Fighting the press, then embracing the press because it tells you what you want to hear? It's a mugs game!"

"I have been painting tabletops, flowers, still lifes and figures, boomeranging to earlier themes. And tennis balls. I have painted tennis balls for at least five years."

"I don’t think I ever paint the color accurately. It’s a funky color. There is a whole debate over the color of tennis balls. Are they yellow or are they green? I think that every tennis ball shifts between that range in the course of their life. They start off neon, like a toxic sludge, but once a ball starts to lose its fuzz and pick up the residue of whatever surface you’re playing on, they get dull. I would say they start off neon green and go more toward yellow over time." 

Said Eddie Martinez, quoted in "7 Questions/75 Artists/1 Very Bad Year" (NYT). 

Lots of pictures at the link but none of Martinez's tennis balls! I went looking and found this video of him painting:

"The Army in particular has an obsession with physical fitness. We hold firm that everyone going into combat arms should be held to a high standard..."

".... but why does someone working on cyberlogistics have to even take the same test? We should be trying to support people on a fitness journey.” 

Said Emma Moore, a research associate for the Military, Veterans, and Society Program at the Center for a New American Security, quoted in "Where Fitness Is the Job, Army Struggles to Be a Fair Boss With Female Troops/As the Army revises its physical test and otherwise rethinks fitness, it faces difficult questions: Do current requirements penalize women? Do they overshadow expertise and intellectual preparation?" (NYT). 

"Biden Has Few Good Options for the Unaccompanied Children at the Border."

Headline at The New Yorker. 

Inside the Biden Administration, a common refrain is that “all the options are bad.”...

“Some of the tools the new Administration is going to have to use to build our capacity back up are going to look a lot like things associated with Trump,” the transition official told me....

"The Capitol buildings and grounds are quintessential places for free speech and protest, accessible by people from all walks of life who gather there to express their views, demonstrate, picket, and hold vigils."

"But if those places are permanently fenced off, the public and our constitutional right to assemble and protest will be in jeopardy. That is why the ACLU and the ACLU of the District of Columbia are urging leaders of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate not to permanently fence off the Capitol, which would turn its architecture into a national symbol of fear and hostility towards the public’s presence.... The Capitol complex, where all our elected lawmakers come together to legislate in the open view of the public, has been recognized around the world as a celebrated symbol of democracy. If Congress were to permanently retreat into a militarized zone ringed by fencing topped with razor wire, it would send the kind of message that heads of autocratic regimes send by cloistering themselves away from their populaces in armored fortresses.... The public will suffer diminished access to public grounds with unique importance in the exercise of their constitutional rights to assemble and to petition the government. That exclusion will be especially acute if people want to participate in spontaneous protest in response to rapidly unfolding events—such as the protests for racial justice that arose last summer...."

From the ACLU website.

"As part of the park’s redesign, roughly an acre of concrete slab will be covered with a thermoplastic mural printed with rainbow stripes and planted with eight-foot-tall sculptural flowers as a tribute to [Black trans activist Marsha P.] Johnson..."

"... who often wore flowers in her hair. Locals are livid that the redesign doesn’t include a major expansion of green space or real flower beds. They also say that local residents never had a chance to offer meaningful feedback.... The new design was announced last August, but state officials waited until a few days before the park was set to close for construction in January to present it to Brooklyn Community Board 1....  'It’s almost stereotypical at this point. People just think, Oh, it’s queer people so we’re going to make a gay flag as a park,' said Mihalis Petrou, a horticulturist who has worked on North Brooklyn parks and who identifies as gay. 'It’s just redundant and uninventive and it’s going to have an impact on the local wildlife. We could have a nuanced tribute that honors marginalized people by celebrating nature. It’s a missed opportunity.' 'Olmsted must be rolling in his grave,' said Katie Naplatarski, a North Brooklyn parks advocate and longtime Greenpoint resident. 'To coat a park in plastic? Are you kidding me? That is so fundamentally wrong.'"

From "North Brooklyn Locals Do Not Like the Plastic Mural Proposed For Their Park" (New York Magazine).

Plastic, flowers, rainbows — when is inclusivity insulting? Is there ever a point when those who are designated for governmental uplifting rebel and say this is trite, childish, and just plain bad design?

"The give-them-cash solution to poverty is nothing new. It was conventional wisdom in Democratic Washington toward the end of the Johnson Administration."

"In 1968, a petition signed by 1,300 economists (including James Tobin and John Kenneth Galbraith) urged a 'national system of income guarantees.' LBJ didn't like the idea, but when Richard Nixon became president Democratic holdovers in the Department of Health, Education and Welfare served him up a no-work-requirid cash-dispensing scheme that became Nixon’s 1969 Family Assistance Plan. It almost became law, failing after a fringe West Coast politician named Ronald Reagan called it a 'megadole.'"

That's Point #2 in Mickey Kaus's "Five (5) quick points on the new Biden Dole" (Substack).

Kaus goes on to contemplate whether there's any Republican around these days who's capable of playing the Ronald Reagan role.

"'Being "cancel-adjacent" is exhausting'.... It’s especially enervating, she said, when you’re adjacent to people being canceled..."

"... for their coverage of other people who have been canceled. 'There is a word for this, but I’m not sure what it is. "Irony" is insufficient. If we cancel everyone... who will be left?'"

I think that stands on its own ripped out of context. Good luck reading the complicated context (and that's assuming you can get into the NYT): "What Really Happened at ‘Reply All’?/A podcast was applauded for its reporting on embedded racism in the workplace. It didn’t make it to the third episode."

I couldn't untangle the story. I was almost interested enough, but ultimately the complexity outweighed the hope of enlightenment. Was that also the problem with the podcast? I don't know. Did the podcast about racism have a racism problem? 

You tell me. I'm just posting because I wanted to record the sentence, "Being 'cancel-adjacent' is exhausting." I think "cancel-adjacent" is a term worth remembering. And I've been fascinated lately by the tendency of younger people to use the word "exhausting" in their complaints. 

For example, here's a WaPo article from last June, "Black people are tired of trying to explain racism":

Perhaps I was trying to explain institutional racism, or racism and Western Civilization, or racism and literature.... I have no recollection of this conversation. It sounds like my younger self — the self not yet exhausted explaining racism to white people.... Explaining racism is exhausting. It’s exhausting to explain to people who don’t believe you, or who look at you with blank expressions. Or, worse, who ask, “How do you know that happened because of race?”... Racism is exhausting.

Trigger warning.

ADDED: So what's the message there? We see Joe Biden sitting in the Oval Office, just sitting there, nothing's happening. We hear crickets. It's boring. Too boring. But remember when it was never boring? Don't you miss all the crazy? Even Joe misses it.

March 10, 2021

At the Big Crack Café...


... you can talk all night. 

This morning the snow was gone and the ice on Lake Mendota had a massive crack. It was overcast, and the sunrise looked like this:


"Former President Trump is releasing statements that read like tweets on letterhead."

But this way, you, the NYT reporter who passes it on, are the one who gets retweeted, so that's a nice incentive for you to become the channel through which Trump gets back on Twitter. We'll see how well that works. 

Compare the same reporter's tweet with a statement from Joe Biden that's been up for almost 5 hours longer:

Meanwhile, as you think about the importance of Twitter, take this into account: "Parler Blocked on Apple's App Store After Capitol Riot Review."

"Sometime in November of 1985, a black bear living in the Chattahoochee National Forest in north Georgia stumbled upon a duffel bag containing about 75 pounds of 95 percent pure cocaine."

"The bear, which only weighed about 175 pounds itself, ate some of the cocaine and died within about 20 minutes.... The chief medical examiner at the Georgia State Crime Lab later estimated the bear had absorbed about 3 or 4 grams of cocaine into its bloodstream at the time of its death. After about a week, a local hunter, never identified, found the bear and told his friends about it, but didn’t report it to the authorities.... On the morning of Sept. 11, 1985, Fred M. Myers of Knoxville, Tennessee, found a dead man in his driveway, sprawled out on his back over an unopened parachute, seemingly fine except for a trickle of dried blood from each nostril. Myers later remembered hearing a crash around midnight the night before. The dead man was wearing a bulletproof vest and night vision goggles and carried two different pistols, ammunition, a stiletto, freeze-dried food, six Krugerrands, $4,500 cash, IDs in multiple names, a membership card to the Miami Jockey Club, and several inspirational epigrams, one of which read, 'There is only one tactical principle not subject to change: It is to inflict the maximum amount of wounds, death and destruction on the enemy in the minimum amount of time.' He also had a duffel bag with about 75 pounds of cocaine, all of which was recovered...."

From "They’re Making a Movie About the Cocaine Bear! Wait, What?/Here is the true story of the cocaine bear" (Slate).

"Des Moines Register reporter Andrea Sahouri was acquitted Wednesday in a trial stemming from her arrest while covering the George Floyd protests in May 2020."

"Sahouri was charged with failure to disperse and interference with official acts, both simple misdemeanors. Police claimed she remained in the area of the May 31 Des Moines protest despite orders to leave, and tried to pull away when a Des Moines police officer pepper-sprayed her and tried to arrest her.... The three day trial did not broadly discuss the First Amendment issues but Sahouri, a colleague who was with her and Register Executive Editor Carol Hunter all testified that Sahouri's presence in the protest area was the very core of what journalists do.... Before the trial, prosecutors had offered to drop the interference charge if Sahouri pleaded guilty to failure to disperse. She said it was important instead to take the case to trial and win a full acquittal."

The Des Moines Register reports.

"The Biden administration weighed putting the president’s name on stimulus checks to make sure he got credit for helping the millions of Americans who will receive aid — but rejected the idea in recent days."

"The White House is planning for President Biden to hit the road to promote the $1.9 trillion plan, but officials have not settled on where he should go. And there is currently no major advertising campaign focused on the proposal. As Democrats celebrate what they see as one of the most significant domestic policy achievements in modern history, the White House has yet to fully develop a strategy for the next crucial step: selling it to the American public."

From "Biden wants to sell the stimulus. The White House is still figuring out how" (WaPo).

What's going on? The phrase that comes to my mind is: The President Who Wasn't There.

"Between the years 1979, when it opened in theaters, and 1984, I saw 'Manhattan' 11 times, after which I stopped keeping count."

"The early 1980s marked both the period of my adolescent hunger for an urbane, grown-up life in New York and the dawn of VHS, enabling the obsessive consumption of movies, which in my case meant the obsessive consumption of movies by Woody Allen. In them, I found a vision of the future I wanted, a series of aspirations — to have opinions, to write, to go to book parties but also to make fun of people who approached those things too seriously. The hope was to inhabit the world the way Woody Allen did, as both conspirator and judge.... For all of its visual beauty and brilliant writing, the movie is a shell game in the end. Look over there, the director is telling us — it’s pretension and quaaludes and bad sitcoms that are really the problem. Feminists themselves were in on the game. One scene is set at fund-raiser for the Equal Rights Amendment in which the politician and women’s rights leader, Bella Abzug, makes a cameo. Reduced to its elements, 'Manhattan' is a movie about a guy who beds a sweet 17-year-old girl, breaks her heart when he leaves her for someone else and only comes crawling back when he gets dumped. It is not simply that so many of us were so besotted with the film for so long; it’s that we were perfectly content to look and see virtue."

Writes Ginia Bellafante in "Why My Teenage Self Gave Woody Allen a Pass/The urbane paradise of 'Manhattan' looks a lot different through the lens of the new HBO documentary 'Allen v. Farrow'" (NYT).

Yes, Woody Allen did create the image of a sophisticated world that a very young woman — like Bellafante, who was 14 when "Manhattan" came out — might want to grow up and inhabit. Movies have always provided dream material for the young. The Woody Allen dream that charmed Bellafante was one where smart people cared about writing, said clever things to each other, and thought they were superior to the people who made up the bulk of America. You know, the deplorables. 

The problem Bellafante sees now is that Woody Allen was sexually attracted to young women, like the 17-year-old in the movie. Bellafante says "17-year-old girl," but 17 is and was the age of consent in New York. I guess if only the characters in the movie were more plausibly proximate in age, it would have been just fine to shape your life around high-level literary taste and look down at everyone who's not up there with you.

Somebody needs to be famous again.

I'm reading "Activist Milo Yiannopoulos is now ‘Ex-Gay,’ consecrating his life to St. Joseph/‘Secular attempts at recovery from sin are either temporary or completely ineffective. Salvation can only be achieved through devotion to Christ and the works of the Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church'" (LifeSite). 

Milo: When I used to kid that I only became gay to torment my mother, I wasn’t entirely joking. Of course, I was never wholly at home in the gay lifestyle — Who is? Who could be? — and only leaned heavily into it in public because it drove liberals crazy to see a handsome, charismatic, intelligent gay man riotously celebrating conservative principles. That’s not to say I didn’t throw myself enthusiastically into degeneracy of all kinds in my private life. I suppose I felt that’s all I deserved. I’d love to say it was all an act, and I’ve been straight this whole time, but even I don’t have that kind of commitment to performance art. Talk about method acting.…

"Major, who is 3 years old, is the younger of the two Biden dogs, and has been known to display agitated behavior on multiple occasions, including jumping, barking, and 'charging' at staff and security..."

"... according to the people CNN spoke with about the dog's demeanor at the White House."

From "Biden's German Shepherd has aggressive incident and is sent back to Delaware" (CNN). We talked about this yesterday, with the same link, but this is newly updated, published just a few minutes ago. What I've quoted was not part of the article yesterday. 

Also new:

Psaki at Tuesday's press briefing said the trip to Delaware by the family dogs was "previously planned already," and that they were being cared for there by "family friends." Psaki did not say when exactly the dogs might return to the White House, only that it will be "soon." The first lady departed Monday afternoon for a two-day trip to Washington and California to visit military bases and is expected to return to the White House on Wednesday. 

First, I don't believe Psaki. Second, notice that last sentence and what it indicates that is not said directly: The dog is Jill's. But they certainly dearly want us to believe that Biden is a man with dogs. 

Remember when Barbra Streisand criticized Trump for not having a dog: "How does the president not have a dog? He’s the first president in 120 years that doesn’t have a dog in the White House." 

 Trump's reaction was that it would be phony for him to be walking around the White House with a dog. 

The explanation came amid an extended riff about the superior abilities of German shepherds to sniff out drugs being smuggled across the border. “You do love your dogs, don’t you?” Trump said, as the crowd whistled and cheered. “I wouldn’t mind having one, honestly, but I don’t have any time. How would I look walking a dog on the White House lawn?” 
“I don’t know, I don’t feel good,” he said. “Feels a little phony to me.” A lot of people had told him to get a dog because it would look good politically, he added, but he hadn’t felt the need because “that’s not the relationship I have with my people.” 

But it is, apparently, the relationship Biden has with the people — whoever they are — who are his. The dog, however, didn't get the memo.

"'I went to human resources, and I said, "I just really - I need help,"' says Meghan, adding that her request was denied since she is not a 'paid employee of the institution.'"

"'There's no HR department for working royals because it's a family affair,' says BBC royal correspondent Jonny Dymond. But there is an HR manager for lower level royal staff and the household, as set out on the Buckingham Palace website. Just not for senior household or staff. Buckingham Palace says the HR department recently launched an investigation into Meghan over claims, which she denies, that she bullied several staff members into quitting. It has not responded to the allegation that the same department refused to help her."

From "Meghan and Harry: Questions the US had about Oprah interview" (BBC).

"I like to say that when you see stuff like that you should give me credit for doing it intentionally, so I need to disclaim credit in this case."

"If I'd thought of it myself or even noticed it after I did it, I would have rewritten it to avert microaggression. But I'm not so fussy and fearful that I'll change it now, and I'm not such a creature of The Era of That's Not Funny that I feel that I need to strike the 'LOL.'" 

That's something I wrote in the comments to the previous post after an "LOL" directed at Jack Klompus. Klompus, reacting to my post, had written: 

The "Ah! So..." triggered me into doing an impromptu Charlie Chan impersonation. Very problematic. 

I had to look back at the post, which is about a WaPo article, "The Biden administration confirms some but not all of Trump’s Wuhan lab claims." Had I written "Ah! So..."? Yes, I'd quoted something from the article, then exclaimed: "Ah! So it's not that you've determined that any of these claims are false." The "Ah!" was independent of the "So," but the "So" directly followed, and I have inadvertently caused the "ah"/"so" combination to come into being in a post about the Chinese. 

I'm sure some of you who comment here think there's nothing even wrong with saying "Ah, so!" intentionally, even with a Charlie Chan-style intonation, but I've got to find my own balance of correctness/incorrectness. In this case, I would never purposely exclaim "Ah, so!" while talking about the Chinese or even while talking about anyone else. It's just pointlessly disrespectful. And I do mean to imply that sometimes disrespect is justified and warranted. But casual disrespect — disrespect as a go-to demeanor — is lazy, dumb, destructive, and degrading. 


For a serious, critically acclaimed examination of the Charlie Chan character, read "Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous with American History" by Yunte Huang. I'd read it, but I've never watched any Charlie Chan movies, so I have no context — other than the context of hearing various Americans imitate Charlie Chan, usually by saying "Ah so" (and just meaning something like "Yes, I understand").

And the ones that you don't confirm — is that because they are not true?

I'm trying to untangle the partisanship that I have to presume infects this headline: "The Biden administration confirms some but not all of Trump’s Wuhan lab claims" (WaPo). 


In its final days, President Donald Trump’s State Department made a series of highly controversial claims about the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, China, and its possible connection to the covid-19 outbreak. Now, the Biden administration has reviewed those claims, and is confirming some of the facts within them — but not, a senior State Department official has told me, the Trump team’s theory of how the pandemic broke out. These facts suggest that more investigation is needed into the lab’s possible connection to the outbreak. 

Ah! So it's not that you've determined that any of these claims are false. They're all either true or — you say — in need of further investigation. 

The article ends with 2 paragraphs — a quote from an unnamed senior State Department official preceded by the assertion that credits the Biden administration with an effort to be politically neutral (though, I'd add, the effort to seem neutral is itself political):

The origin of the pandemic is not just about blame. If the source of the outbreak can’t be determined, its true path can’t be traced and crucial scientific information for preventing the next outbreak can’t be learned. The Biden administration is trying to take a neutral stance on the issue, even though the fact-finding process has become entangled in domestic politics, as well as U.S.-China relations.

“We certainly care a great deal about the origin of this virus, not only for reasons of accountability, but also for public health implications going forward,” the official said. “If we are going to prevent future outbreaks, epidemics or, God forbid, pandemics, we need to know how the last one started. . . . Whichever theory the facts bear out, that’s where we’ll go.”

March 9, 2021




Talk about anything.

The de-normalization of "normal."

I'm reading "Maker of Dove Soap Will Drop the Word ‘Normal’ From Beauty Products/Unilever.... said a study had found that the word 'normal' makes most people feel excluded" (NYT).

The study found that 56 percent of participants thought that the beauty industry could make people feel excluded, and that as many as seven in 10 people agreed that the word “normal” on products and in advertising had negative effects. That figure rose to eight in 10 for people between the ages of 18 and 35.... 

The changes were long overdue and “completely necessary” after last year’s worldwide Black Lives Matter demonstrations, said Ateh Jewel, a beauty journalist and an advisory board member of the British Beauty Council, an organization that represents the British beauty industry. “Saying the word ‘normal’ has been used to set you apart,” Ms. Jewel said. “I am normal. My dark skin is normal. My juicy West African curvy body is normal. Everything about me is normal.... Words are powerful and we’re so used to having this unconscious bias.... It just washes over us. We don’t even realize what we’re saying because we’ve been spoon-fed racism."

In this light, "normal" is not a bad word, to be avoided. It's a concept that demands more attention. If the position in the middle is called "normal," then it makes it sound as though the other positions on the continuum are defective. Even if the other positions are less healthy — such as oily or dry skin compared to "normal" skin — why be unpleasant about it by creating the inference that they are abnormal? 

It's pretty normal to have dry skin or oily skin and actually unusual to think you have normal skin! I can remember shopping for some skin product and having the sales person ask me if I had dry or oily skin and when I answered "normal," she rejected the answer. It just didn't compute. Surely, I lean one way or the other. Or maybe I have "combination" skin with a "T-zone." 

If I understand Ateh Jewel correctly, she would like to free up the word "normal" so it can be used across a wider array of possibilities. But what word do you use for the middle position? 

"[Cornel] West said in an interview with The New York Times last week that he did not know why his request to be considered for a tenured post had been rebuffed..."

"... but that he thought it could have something to do with his age and his support for the Palestinian cause, which he called a 'taboo' issue at Harvard." 

From "Cornel West Is Leaving Harvard After Tenure Dispute/The public intellectual and professor of African-American studies will head to Union Theological Seminary in New York" (NYT)(excellent photo of West at the link). 

And here's the article from last week: "Cornel West Is in a Fight With Harvard, Again/The popular professor, who left Harvard in 2002 after a dispute with its president, says he may leave again if the university does not grant him tenure." 

"But Biden, so far, has been impregnable. The voice is too bland and devoid of obvious quirks..."

"... and beyond the occasional 'C’mon, man,' his conversational manner too muted and self-effacing, to give the parodists much to work with. Trump supporters and Fox News pundits would undoubtedly attribute this to the media’s liberal bias. And to be sure, Trump was viewed by the (mostly liberal) satirists not just as an irresistible comic target but also as a dire threat to the nation. Biden’s pleasantly boring presidency has been a welcome return to normality — but hardly great material for parody."

I picked that quote from WaPo's "Comedians are struggling to parody Biden/Let’s hope this doesn’t last" because the word "impregnable" caught my eye. 

I realize it's not meant as a pregnancy metaphor and we're supposed to think more in terms of a fortress. It's not normal to say that sterile women are "impregnable." The original meaning of the word is (from the OED): "Of a fortress or stronghold: That cannot be taken by arms; incapable of being reduced by force; capable of holding out against all attacks." Then there's the figurative meaning: "That cannot be overcome or vanquished; invincible, unconquerable, proof against attack." 

So the assertion here is that Biden is so neutral and featureless that an impersonator has nowhere to go. He's like a giant wall with no footholds. What can you do?! He's normal, so pleasantly boring. This is why I don't watch "Saturday Night Live" anymore. They're too lazy! Trump was ridiculously easy. I guess they loved not being challenged.

How about observing Biden and finding what is distinct and capable of mockery? I think the problem is really that they don't want to expose his flaws, that they're committed to the idea that he's normal and pleasant. But they ought to see this as a fantastic opportunity. The best presidential impersonation in this history of "SNL" was Dana Carvey's George H.W. Bush, and H.W. had the same problem of superficial ordinariness.

"I’m nowhere near as crazed as I was. It’s a lot easier now. I feel like I can hear the thoughts in my own head again."

Said NYT reporter Maggie Haberman, answering the question how her days have changed now that Trump isn't President anymore. 

Quoted in "Maggie Haberman on life after Trump and the one question she regrets not asking" (Forward).

The question she regrets not asking isn't really one question but a line of inquiry:

One question that I think is sort of an open one is he has said very little about what he expected the federal government to be like when he came in. Remember, you are talking about somebody who was never in government before, and we forget how strange that is — that we had a president who had never won an election before and never served at any level before. His understanding of what government was going to be, I believe, was very different than the way the federal government actually works.

She had 4 years. Why did she never get around to it? I have to suspect that she didn't want to get inside his head and see things from his point of view and with empathy. What if his understanding of "what government was going to be" had value? He was coming in from the outside, with all his observations and powers — what could he offer? 

Why assume it was all bad and "the way the federal government actually works" right now is the way it should be? Ironically, it's the very definition of conservatism to believe that the working system already in operation is the way it is for good reason and that ideas about transforming it are dangerous.

"I originally saw this story somewhere other than WaPo that had pictures of the pastor, unlike WaPo, which just shows this skinny cross."

"The pastor is himself quite chubby. I guess WaPo chose to focus us on the serious sexism rather than the comedy."  

I wrote, over at Facebook, where my son John posted the WaPo article "Pastor says women may not be ‘epic trophy wife’ but should be thin for their husbands. He’s now on leave." 

WaPo illustrates its piece with a stock photo of a steepletop cross. 

The article I'd seen was in The Daily Mail: "Missouri pastor goes on leave after sexist sermon in which he told women to 'lose weight' and look less 'butch' as he hailed Melania Trump as 'the epic trophy wife.'"

You can listen to 22 minutes of the sermon here

The top-rated comments at The Daily Mail are about the pastor's own weight problem, so I can see why WaPo chose to exclude this part of the story. It's the Era of That's Not Funny. Don't be laughing. 

And by the way, the pastor was straining to be funny. Example:

“Praise God for makeup,” he said. “It’s like Bondo for dented vehicles. And it’s like crack filler for your drywall.”

Imagine going all the way to church and sitting there listening to that. I'd be thinking, man, I could watch any random stand-up special on Netflix. 

WaPo quotes an American studies professor, Kari J. Winter:

"Women are pressured from the time we’re born to believe that if we support patriarchal power, we’re going to be rewarded... The really toxic dynamic is it’s not so much which model of womanhood but that men in power have the right to define what a woman should look like and reduce her to her appearance.... Melania models that."

"We are seeing again and again this version of Jim Crow in a suit and tie..."

"... because it is designed explicitly for the same reason as Jim Crow did, to block communities of color from active participation in choosing the leadership that will guide their democracy... In the last two election cycles, we saw a dramatic increase in the number of voters of color who voted by mail, the number of young people who used early voting, the number of African Americans who voted on Saturday and Sunday.... We saw unprecedented levels of turnout across the board. And so every single metric of voter access that has been a good in Georgia is now under attack.... This is entirely driven by the existential crisis of a Republican Party that has decided that rather than adapt to the changing needs of the populace, it is easier to stop the people from participating."

Said Stacey Abrams, quoted in "Georgia Republicans Pass the Most Restrictive Voting Laws Since Jim Crow" (Mother Jones).

After all the enthusiasm for Joe Biden's bringing dogs back to the White House, the dogs are banished to Delaware.

Major, the newer of the 2 German Shepherds, had a "biting incident" at the White House, and that's the end of the lovely little story about how bad Donald Trump had no dogs, no warmth, no love, but then Joe Biden bounded in, restoring the love and life that we'd known when Barack Obama and his faithful pal Bo stood guard over the nation. Yes, Joe got off to a bad start, what with his strange game of pulling his dog's tail, which left him with a broken foot, but it was puffed in the press as part of the sheer exuberance of Joe Biden and his "little pup."

Who knows all the troubles poor little Major had in the White House leading up to this last offense, a full-on bite? It must be hard to give up your dog in front of the public, to whom he's been photo-op'd so obediently by the press, but perhaps the press can forefront the greater inhumanity of Donald Trump, the man who could not even associate himself with a dog in the first place.

ADDED: I'm sure no one will say such awful things as: Biden purports to be capable of leading the world, but he cannot even govern his own dog. Nor will anyone think to google questions like "When Is It Time to Put Down a Dog Who is Aggressive to People?" The dog will have disappeared into the oblivion that is Delaware before any churl thinks to venture such a remark.

March 8, 2021

At the Ice Melt Café...


... it looks cold, but it's warm!

"Pepe [Le Pew] was set to appear in a black-and-white Casablanca-like Rick’s Cafe sequence. Pepe, playing a bartender, starts hitting on a woman at the bar..."

"He begins kissing her arm, which she pulls back, then slamming Pepe into the chair next to hers. She then pours her drink on Pepe, and slaps him hard, sending him spinning in a stool, which is then stopped by LeBron James’ hand. James and Bugs Bunny are looking for Lola, and Pepe knows her whereabouts. Pepe then tells the guys that Penelope cat has filed a restraining order against him. James makes a remark in the script that Pepe can’t grab other Tunes without their consent...." 

From "Pepe Le Pew Won’t Be Appearing In Warner Bros’ ‘Space Jam’ Sequel" (Deadline Hollywood). 

The actress, Greice Santo, is unhappy to have her big scene cut: "Even though Pepe is a cartoon character, if anyone was going to slap a sexual harasser like him, Greice wished it would be her. Now... she doesn’t have that power to influence the world through younger generations who’ll be watching Space Jam 2, to let younger girls and younger boys know that Pepe’s behavior is unacceptable."

If I remember the old cartoons correctly, the other cartoon characters always let Pepe know his behavior was unacceptable... though I think that was mainly because they were cats and he was a skunk.

"This guy was known for loving the job so much that he literally skipped to work... I remember thinking, ‘He had a crush on our job...'"

"'... and he couldn’t not talk about it the way you talk about somebody you have a crush on'... I was like, ‘Maybe this is fine, but it isn’t fun.'" 

Said Liz Glazer, from "A Law Professor Switches to Stand-Up Comedy/Taking an improv class on a whim led to a career in comedy for this onetime law professor" (Wall Street Journal). 

The skipping-to-work guy was a partner in the law firm where she worked before she took up a job as a law professor, but the concept — wanting to really love your job — carried over to law professing, which she left for stand-up comedy. She'd received tenure, but then her school was making buy-out offers, and she snapped it up. She had been doing stand-up performances for a year at that point, and I guess she knew that was her real love.

Do you love your work and if so, does that mean you are in love with your work? There's a difference! Have you ever let go of a successful line of work because you weren't in love with it? Would you? Would you trust that this other thing that you feel you're in love with would really turn out all right? To put it that way makes the problem sound analogous to being married, without any serious problems, but falling in love with someone else. When that happens, do you think well, hell, I want the magic?

No, no... despite the "in love" business, work isn't like marriage. You don't swear lifetime faithfulness to your job, and your job doesn't have a consciousness capable of suffering. You can be untrue to your job. You're just being true to yourself. There's no moral question, only a question of how much to risk your own happiness. The thing you did for love might fail. It might turn out not to feel like so much fun after you've made yourself dependent on it. And you had tenure!!

Maybe this is fine, but it isn’t fun.

"Some days I loathed myself for loathing my time on the couch when others didn’t have the option. Some days I loathed myself for liking it."

"But I was so tired.... But as the months wore on I realized this wasn’t rest anymore. It was becoming my lifestyle. And it wasn’t making me feel better — I felt deeply, unsettlingly worse.... 'Can you have rigor mortis while still alive,' I typed into Google.... There are two kinds of fatigue.... One is when your mind and body are truly tired. The other is when that system tricks you into feeling tired because you are in a rut. When you’re tired, you need rest. But if you’re in a rut, you need to nudge yourself into action.... That’s why so many of us feel like we hit a pandemic wall — the fatigue we faced last spring, the natural reaction to shock and terror, has been replaced by inertia.... Pandemic ennui appears to be reorienting the economy overall, as we channel our angst into massage guns and candles and Fitbits. But the price of fitness is sneakers...."

From "Why I Stopped Running During the Pandemic (and How I Started Again)/Waiting to feel better wasn’t working. I had to act" by Lindsay Crouse (NYT).

The NYT had multiple reporters doing minute-by-minute commentary on Oprah's 2-hour interview with Meghan and Harry.

Weird that they gave that such prominence. 

Here's how all that stuff is processed into something to read this morning: "A Raw Look Behind Palace Doors as Meghan and Harry Meet With Oprah: Highlights/In a two-hour interview with Oprah Winfrey, Meghan Markle made dramatic disclosures, including that there were 'concerns and conversations about how dark' her son’s skin might be." 


Despite his life of privilege, Harry said, he felt trapped and “didn’t see a way out.” 

“Without question she saved me,” he said. 

Harry alluded to strained relations with his father, Prince Charles, and his older brother, Prince William, both of whom he also described as “trapped” in their roles.

Did Oprah ask them if they watch "The Crown"? I bet they do.

"Mitt Romney didn't do it. John McCain didn't do it. There's something about Trump. There's a dark side and there's some magic there."

"What I'm tryin' to do is just harness the magic. To me, Donald Trump is sort of a cross between Jesse Helms, Ronald Reagan and P.T. Barnum. It's just this bigger than life deal. He could make the Republican Party something that nobody else I know can make it. He can make it bigger. He can make it stronger. He can make it more diverse. And he also could destroy it."

Said Lindsey Graham, quoted in "Graham deals with Trump 'dark side' to 'harness the magic'" (Axios).

MacKenzie Scott — the unfathomably rich ex-wife of Jeff Bezos — has married again. The new husband is a high school science teacher .

WaPo reports. 

The news of the marriage came out after he signed onto her "giving page," pledging to give away most of his money in his lifetime.  

He writes: 

It is strange to be writing a letter indicating I plan to give away the majority of my wealth during my lifetime, as I have never sought to gather the kind of wealth required to feel like saying such a thing would have particular meaning. I have been a teacher for the majority of my life... And now... I am married to one of the most generous and kind people I know—and joining her in a commitment to pass on an enormous financial wealth to serve others.... I have been lucky to find my closest friends in people very unlike me in distinct ways: religion, sexual orientation, race, gender identity, socioeconomic background, you name it. Kindness and a willingness to find commonality despite differences has brought me together with them and changed me for the better....

Who would you marry if you were a woman who not only had absolutely no use for extra money but only for a partner — companion — to help or stand by while you give your massive money away? 

At WaPo, which is owned by MacKenzie Scott's ex-husband, the article has this in the comments:

MacKenzie Scott married a teacher. Just when I didn't think your star could rise any higher.... Please, both of you, show us how it's done. And, I say this with heartfelt gratitude: thank you for your service-minded contributions. (Bezos? You, not so much.) 

Somebody else steps on the sentimentality:

Uh, don't get too excited. Lakeside is the most expensive private school in the Seattle area ... its campus looks like an elite university. The students are some of the most wealthy and privileged kids in the nation. So, I mean -- yeah, great, he's a teacher, but let's not pretend that he's toiling away in the public schools with low-income black kids.

March 7, 2021



Talk about anything you like.

"I am not belittling my client... but my client was wearing horns. He had tattoos around his nipples. He wasn’t leading anywhere. He was a follower."

Said Albert Watkins, the lawyer for Jacob Chansley (AKA "The QAnon Shaman"), quoted in "U.S. judge scolds ‘QAnon Shaman’ for appearing on ‘60 Minutes Plus’ without permission" (WaPo). 

As for the controversy over appearing on TV:

During a detention hearing Friday, Judge Royce C. Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia questioned whether Jacob Chansley appeared in the interview that aired Thursday without the required clearance from the U.S. Marshals Service, the detention facility or the judge. The judge also questioned whether Chansley’s attorney, Albert Watkins, was deceitful in skirting proper authorization to appear on the show.... Watkins said he did make “independent arrangements” with “60 Minutes Plus” but denied conducting “subterfuge.” He said he assumed his client would be allowed to be captured on camera from his office.

What is the government interest in suppressing communication by persons charged with crimes? I can understand why someone's lawyer might advise him not to give public interviews, but why is there a requirement of "clearance from the U.S. Marshals Service, the detention facility or the judge" — and what is the extent of the clearance? Is it just about giving interviewers access to a detention facility? If it's nothing more than that, then the lawyer's assumption was correct. If it is more than that... why is it more than that?

"Black children suffer disproportionately from 'zero tolerance' disciplinary policies under which they are suspended and expelled...."

"Black boys are three times as likely to be suspended as White boys.... I’m not proud of my actions. But if White people want to help the push for racial equity in education, they need to own their role in perpetuating racist practices. I was not equipped for my job when I first entered my 10th-12th grade classroom at one of the poorest high schools in Memphis.... My students resented me for being so severe; I learned that they complained about me to their other teachers. Once, my overuse of discipline elicited a revolt: After I’d sent an 11th-grader to the principal’s office for talking over me repeatedly, the rest of the class put their heads face down on their desks, tossed their pencils to the floor and refused to carry on with the lesson in solidarity with their classmate.... A few months into my first year of teaching, Black Lives Matter came to dominate the news cycle.... I wished I had learned my lesson sooner.... Many other White educators have told me similar stories from their classrooms. We unintentionally perpetuated a broken system we had set out to dismantle.... The fate of far too many American children is still in the hands of inexperienced White educators who know no better than to uphold a system that lets people slip through the cracks. 'Zero tolerance' disciplinary policies must be dismantled, and schools must rebuild such policies to be explicitly anti-racist. Meanwhile, for the rest of my life, I’ll dream of the look on my students’ faces right before they were expelled. They all wore the same recognition of deep-set injustice, the dawning realization that their futures were being taken from them before they even had a chance to graduate from high school."

From "I was a well-meaning White teacher. But my harsh discipline harmed Black kids" by Liz Posner (WaPo). 

The most up-voted comment says: "She was not a teacher. A 'Teach for America'-er. Didn't train to be a teacher. Didn't plan to be a teacher. Planned always to be a writer. Decided to swoop in and save the poor underprivileged children. For two whole years. And, uh, write about it. Not using them at all...."

Posner's own webpage supports that factual assertion: "Liz is a lifelong writer, editor and advocate for social justice. She writes frequently about feminism, education, and justice issues for various publications. While working as a high school Spanish instructor with Teach for America in Memphis, Tennessee, she wrote a novel about low-income students and teachers. As a a writer and editor, she is dedicated to amplifying the voices of marginalized people everywhere.... Liz has known she was destined for a writing career since the 5th grade...."

Is there someone in your life who is annoying you with the conversational tic "Do you know what?"

This hilarious man has hit upon the solution:

"Democrats have bollixed up every sexual harassment scandal I’ve covered."

"Joe Biden truncated the Hill-Thomas hearings in the name of comity. The Clintons had henchmen smear Lewinsky. Democrats vainly hammered Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh on sexual misconduct, hoping to stop judges they opposed on ideological grounds. Now, some Democrats are feeling regret over forcing out Al Franken, and for all those statements by prominent Democrats about how we must start with the presumption that women are telling the truth — an absurd standard.... 'Probably enough Democrats feel it no longer makes sense to hold your own side to serious ethical standards if Republicans won’t, so it’s possible to tough out things like this,' Ron Brownstein, a senior editor of The Atlantic, told me. 'I wouldn’t look at this as evidence that #MeToo is losing momentum; it’s more the sense that a red-blue cold war is gaining momentum. I think there’s less and less willingness to unilaterally punish your own side. Why take your own piece off the board if they won’t?'"

Writes Maureen Dowd in "Cuomo Discovers #MeToo Means #HimToo/Democrats agonize over the fate of a falling star" (NYT).

I kept the Brownstein quote in my excerpt not because I think he's sharp and getting it right. I kept it because it is such ripe bullshit, and I thought you might enjoy a laugh.  He wouldn’t look at this as evidence that #MeToo is losing momentum? Well, I sure as hell would.

Why isn't there a vibrant anti-pornography movement within the present-day cancel culture?

I wondered. I remember the big anti-pornography movement of the 1980s — and how it was squelched — and I thought it is due for a comeback. We're censoring Dr. Seuss books for minor racial improprieties, but the monumental misogyny problems of pornography are ignored. 

So I looked to see if there were signs of a resurgence of the anti-pornography movement, and I found this (from a few days ago, at Vox): "This week in TikTok: The problem with the 'Cancel Porn' movement/On TikTok, it’s impossible to have a nuanced discussion about sex work."

Apparently, there's enough of a new movement that Vox needs to instruct us about what's wrong with it. If there's a resurgence there's also a squelching of the resurgence, off and running. 

Notice that Vox's problem with it is structured as feminism — helping sex workers? — but that's how the squelching of the 1980s movement worked too. It was packaged as feminism. What's different now: There's TikTok, and the activists are teenagers reaching teenagers.

Here's #cancelporn if you want to educate yourself about how this movement is taking off.

ADDED: Here's a Reddit discussion from January: "I'm very worried about the #cancelporn movement on TikTok." The worry expressed is that it will be used "to shame sex workers and generally safe ways of sex work."

Someone there says: "I wouldn't worry too much, the porn industry is one of the largest in the world and there's no chance in hell that a bunch of TikTok cringe artists are going to have any sort of actual impact." 

That roughly corresponds to something I was thinking. You can't pressure porn businesses if they are nothing but porn. It's not like demanding some publishing company take out a book here and there or movie company cancel some of its productions. If the questionable material is only a part of a business, there is leverage to pressure the business. 

So the "Cancel Porn" movement will need a different strategy. What I would expect to see is young people, especially women, staunchly disapproving of people who consume porn and declining to be in a relationship with a porn user. Boycott the users.

AND: From the Vox article (which is written by a woman, Rebecca Jennings):