March 20, 2021



ADDED: Turley took down the tweet Kruse mocked. He's reposted like this, so that it no longer depicts Rousseau as speaking of "eating the rich" in 1793.

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

"Tall, with short-cropped hair and distinctive glasses, Peretti was both mercurial (she allegedly threw a fur coat into a fire when arguing with Halston) and minimal."

"'Take away, take away,' is how she described her process to Vogue in 1986.... Peretti led an ascetic, unhurried, and happy existence in Catalonia (perhaps somewhat akin to that of Georgia O’Keeffe in Taos, New Mexico), that she found conducive to creation. 'Of course, I’m slow,' she told Vogue. 'I have to crystallize a form, find the essence. It’s a continual training to be essential in your work, and then you have to be essential in your life, too.'"

From "Jewelry Designer Elsa Peretti Has Died" (Vogue). 

I've loved Elsa Peretti since the 1970s, and she is the only jewelry designer I've ever cared about.

Here's all the Elsa Peretti jewelry at the Tiffany website.

"Leaders of the British group LGB Alliance warn that lesbians are 'going to become extinct’ as individuals increasingly identify as trans..."

"... a fear echoed both by trans-exclusionary groups and by lesbian feminists who in other ways advocate for trans rights. Feminist writer Aimee Anderson frets about 'the extinction of an entire people,' and Cherríe Moraga worries that butch lesbians, self-actualizing as transmasculine, might 'become a dying breed.' Tomboys, too, have become a point of contention, seen by some as a 'rarer and rarer species' that is 'going extinct' as more tomboyish children identify as trans and/or nonbinary.... As a lesbian researcher of tomboyism trained in queer theory, I find claims like these at once absurd and frightening. Extinction anxieties have long fueled nationalist, fascist and white-supremacist movements and often beget eugenicist agendas. Indeed, tomboyism as we know it arose in concert with eugenics.... Child-rearing manuals began advocating for exercise and comfortable clothing, instead of the restrictive and harmful corsets then common, as means of making White girls fit to produce healthy White offspring.... Lesbians are not a species, and we feed existing racist, ableist and homophobic agendas when we invoke extinction...." 

From "The latest form of transphobia: Saying lesbians are going extinct" by Lynne Stahl (WaPO).

"Accompanying one original piece on the known facts, the NYT ran nine — nine! — separate stories about the incident as part of the narrative that this was an anti-Asian hate crime..."

"... fueled by white supremacy and/or misogyny. Not to be outdone, the WaPo ran sixteen separate stories on the incident as an anti-Asian white supremacist hate crime. Sixteen! One story for the facts; sixteen stories on how critical race theory would interpret the event regardless of the facts. For good measure, one of their columnists denounced reporting of law enforcement’s version of events in the newspaper, because it distracted attention from the 'real' motives. Today, the NYT ran yet another full-on critical theory piece disguised as news on how these murders are proof of structural racism and sexism — because some activists say they are. Mass killers, if they are motivated by bigotry or hate, tend to let the world know.... When the cops reported the killer’s actual confession, left-Twitter went nuts. One gender studies professor recited the litany: 'The refusal to name anti-Asianess [sic], racism, white supremacy, misogyny, or class in this is whiteness doing what it always does around justifying its death-dealing … To ignore the deeply racist and misogynistic history of hypersexualization of Asian women in this ‘explication’ from law enforcement of what emboldened this killer is also a willful erasure.'" 

From "When The Narrative Replaces The News/How the media grotesquely distorted the Atlanta massacres" by Andrew Sullivan (Substack). 

Sullivan brings up a second issue: 

Asians are targeted by elite leftists, who actively discriminate against them in higher education, and attempt to dismantle the merit-based schools where Asian-American students succeed — precisely and only because too many Asians are attending..... The more Asian-Americans succeed, the deeper the envy and hostility that can be directed toward them....

He doesn't mention the big lawsuit that's knocking on the door of the Supreme Court, Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College. This is an effort to overrule the case that permits race to be taken into account in admissions decisions, and it is premised on the problem of discrimination against applicants with Asian ancestry. 

I've been wondering about mainstream media's intense focus on anti-Asian sentiment. Do WaPo and the NYT not notice that this newfound empathy for Asian Americans threatens to undermine affirmative action at this moment in the development of constitutional law? 

Now, I'd like to see the news told straight, without bias one way or the other, but if narratives are chosen, why are they chosen? Are they chosen carefully, with attention to collateral effects? Maybe WaPo and the NYT just plunged headlong into its narrative because it seems to work as anti-Trump or to continue the momentum of Critical Race Theory, but if you really took Critical Race Theory seriously, you'd worry that these powerful institutions were fortifying white supremacy. In that light, I'm pointing out that there's a real risk of losing affirmative action. Also visible in that light is the question whether affirmative action itself is (and always was) a mechanism of white supremacy.

Does deviousness outweigh recklessness? I really don't know.

"By 1979, he was managing the lots, a job that came with the keys to an inconspicuous entry and an empty concession stand in left field..."

"Mr. Garvey estimated that the space, whose ceiling sloped down with the 300-level seats above it, was about 60 feet long and 30 feet wide. He created a hallway of cardboard boxes to disguise the apartment from the door. 'I open the door and it looks like a storeroom,' said Mr. Bradley, the former Eagle. 'But if you walk down between the boxes, it opened up into one of the neatest apartments I think I’d ever seen.' There was AstroTurf carpet, a bed, some seating, a coffee table and lamps. Devices included a toaster oven, coffee maker, space heaters and a stereo.... Mr. Garvey called it 'cozy,' with 'everything a guy would want.' Bathrooms were across the hall, employee showers downstairs.... In his book, Mr. Garvey describes 'an off-the-wall South Philly version of "The Phantom of the Opera,"' including encounters with the Eagles coach Dick Vermeil, the Sixers legend Julius Erving and the Phillies pitcher Tug McGraw.... 'It was euphoric.... It was like a form of meditation for me. It just — it helped me a lot.' He hid in plain sight: Everyone knew him, he said, and his job gave him a reason to be around at any hour, every day of the week. 'It was right in front of their eyes, they just couldn’t believe it... I wouldn’t believe it myself. The disbelief is the key to how I got away with it.'"

From "Man Says He Lived in Philadelphia’s Veterans Stadium for Years/Several people corroborated parts of the account of Tom Garvey, a Vietnam veteran and former stadium employee who described his 'secret apartment' in a recent book" (NYT).

Here's Garvey's memoir, "The Secret Apartment: Vet Stadium, a surreal memoir."

ADDED: Here's The Philadelphia Inquirer article on the subject. It has some additional details:

"I feel strongly that the longstanding tradition of having one’s father or other prominent male figure walk a woman down the aisle is a tradition worth tossing."

"This tradition always felt frankly gross to me, deeply rooted in patriarchy, and the notion that a woman must belong to a man."

Said Lauren Nolan, a recent bride, quoted in "Walking Down the Aisle Alone/Meghan Markle did it. Many other brides choose to do the same, often because of the sexist origins of the tradition."

In the case of Meghan Markle, she was estranged from her father. Is there a trend of women who love their living, ambulatory father choosing to walk down the aisle alone?

Instead, Ms. Nolan said, when she met her fiancé at the altar, she was making a joint decision to combine their lives, rather than participating in a handoff between men.

If it's a matter of the man and woman in exactly the same position, fully independent human beings joining their lives together, why is he standing at the altar while she takes a long, slow walk for the assembled crowd? Isn't that also a relic of the sexist tradition?  

If you keep the bride's walk and the groom's positioning at the altar, why are you excluding your beloved dad from the old-time-y spectacle? What does it mean for the groom to stand at the altar and watch his bride slowly approach? Is that really devoid of sexism? But you want to deprive Dad of a profound moment that he may have dreamed of all your life? Why? 

If the honest answer is that you don't have a sufficiently worthy dad, fine. Do your solo walk. But don't make other women feel they need to sideline their dear dad to prove their feminist mettle. Your solo-walk wedding isn't solidly founded on feminism. It's selective feminism — cafeteria feminism. Show us a sacrifice you're making for feminism, and maybe you'll have some moral standing. Even still, people putting on the theatrical show that is their wedding should figure out their own values. They don't have to put feminism first. 

But if they're going to preen about putting feminism first, they'd better actually do it. Let the bride and groom walk separately down the side aisles and meet in the middle. Let the groom wear an outfit as gaudy and eye-riveting as the bride's. Let petals be scattered in his path. Give him a veil too. Let them lift each other's veils simultaneously. And so on.

March 19, 2021

At the Friday Night Cafe...

... you can talk about whatever you want.

"I remember in my childhood, when we argued in the courtyard, we used to say: it takes one to know one. That’s not … just a children’s saying or joke."

"We always see our own traits in other people and think they are like how we really are. And as a result we assess [a person’s] activities and give assessments."

Said Vladimir Putin, quoted in "'Takes one to know one': Putin-Biden spat escalates after 'killer' accusation/Officials in Moscow go on offensive after Biden says Russian president will pay price for election meddling" (The Guardian).

Putin added, ominously: "I would tell him: Be healthy. I wish him good health. I say this without irony, without joking."

"CDC relaxes distance requirements in schools from 6 to 3 feet/The change applies only to students, not teachers or other adult staff..

NBC reports.
The change comes amid a massive push to get kids back in the classroom, from lawmakers to parents. Multiple studies have shown increases in depression and anxiety among children during the pandemic. And a survey from NBC News and Challenge Success, a nonprofit affiliated with the Stanford Graduate School of Education, found lower stress levels among students who have been able to spend time in the classroom, compared with peers who are virtual learning exclusively.

"Many of the political cartoonists whose commentary was taken down by Facebook were left-leaning... [Facebook] said it made room for satirical content..."

"... but only up to a point. Posts about hate groups and extremist content, it said, are allowed only if the posts clearly condemn or neutrally discuss them, because the risk for real-world harm is otherwise too great.... In 2019 and 2020, Facebook often dealt with far-right misinformation sites that used 'satire' claims to protect their presence on the platform.... For example, The Babylon Bee, a right-leaning site, frequently trafficked in misinformation under the guise of satire. 'At a point, I suspect Facebook got tired of this dance and adopted a more aggressive posture'....  'Removing someone from social media can end their career these days, so you need a process that distinguishes incitement of violence from a satire of these very groups doing the incitement'.... 'You just wake up and find you’re in danger of being shut down because white nationalists were triggered by your comic'...." 

From "For Political Cartoonists, the Irony Was That Facebook Didn’t Recognize Irony/As Facebook has become more active at moderating political speech, it has had trouble dealing with satire" (NYT). 

The headline is misleading as you should be able to tell if you read my excerpt carefully. It won't work for Facebook that has a rule against right-wing satire but allows left-wing satire.

The quote "At a point, I suspect Facebook got tired of this dance and adopted a more aggressive posture" is from Emerson T. Brooking, "a resident fellow for the Atlantic Council who studies digital platforms." He's guessing that Facebook stopped accepting satire as a cover for disinformation and incitement. That worked against The Babylon Bee, as intended. Then, it had to apply the same rule to left-wing satirists. It's not that Facebook "didn't recognize irony." The "trouble dealing with satire" wasn't that it was humor-deaf and couldn't distinguish satire from serious things. It was that satire worked too well as an excuse to justify publishing things Facebook wanted to exclude. 

What kind of left-wing material got swept up in Facebook's censorship? The NYT describes a cartoon by "left-leaning cartoonist" Matt Bors. Titled “Boys Will Be Boys,” it "depicted a recruitment where new Proud Boys were trained to be 'stabby guys' and to 'yell slurs at teenagers' while playing video games." I don't think the Times has a link to it, but I found it easily: here. And you can read more of Bors's cartoons here. I read his newest cartoon, and it begins with a false statement: "Minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 for 45 years." But the minimum wage has only been $7.25 since 2009. In 1976, the minimum wage was  $2.30. Yes, but the cartoon is set in the future. Get it?!

"White brothers and sisters: Pocket that But I’m Not Racist! card. I don’t want to hear about your Black girlfriend in college..."

"... or your Black postman to whom you give fruitcake every Christmas, or that Black comp and lit teacher who totally, like, rocked your world. It doesn’t matter if you are racist or not racist or antiracist; our society is racist." 

Writes Don Lemon, in his book "THIS IS THE FIRE/What I Say to My Friends About Racism," quoted in the NYT review of the book "Don Lemon’s New Book Hopes to Guide America Through a Conversation About Race." 

The review is by Wesley Lowery, who notes that you can tell Lemon wrote the book himself because he has an "easily recognizable voice" and "Much like his show, the book jumps around in both content and tone." Lowery, "a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who covers issues of race and justice," doesn't seem willing to say anything harsh about Lemon's book, but I don't think he has any respect for it. 

The review ends:

[The book is] both direct in tone and obvious in content — the type of unsparing historical statement from an “openly Black” news anchor likely to prompt some white viewers to clutch their pearls even as Black viewers look at one another and unemotionally remark, “Yeah, we already knew that.” 
As a factual matter, Lemon is right: We have not arrived at this moment, our “race problem” deeply unresolved, by mistake. What remains unclear is whether Lemon’s white readers, and viewers, will be willing to believe it.

Why does Lowery think he knows what how white people will think and feel if they read Don Lemon's book? Why wouldn't we look at one another and unemotionally remark, “Yeah, we already knew that”? Why does Lowery stereotype us as wearers of pearls? Why is he painting a picture of us shocked by things that are well-known? What does he think white people might not be "willing to believe"? 

This is casual smearing of a racial group. The assignment you took on was to review Don Lemon's book. Why won't you tell us what you actually think of it instead of turning to the potential readers, purporting to inhabit their minds, and insulting them?

"One of the things I had no idea about, coming from a working-class background, is that America's ruling class loves to celebrate how much power and money it has."

 "I call these 'masters of the universe' events, and they're held all over the country in fancy hotels, ski lodges and beach resorts. On this particular evening, my wife and I found ourselves at a roundtable with the CEO of a large hotel chain on our left, and a large communications conglomerate on our right. The Republicans, we're often told, are the party of the rich and famous. Yet nearly everyone assembled at this dinner simply loathed Donald Trump. He was the focus of nearly every conversation. And then the hotel CEO announced, 'Trump has no idea how much his policies are hurting business. I mean, we can't keep people for $18 an hour in our hotels. If we're not paying $20, we're understaffed. And it's all because of Donald Trump's immigration policies.' Let's pause for a second to appreciate one of the wealthiest men in the world complaining about paying hard-working staff $20 an hour. The only thing he was missing was the Monopoly Man hat and cane. His argument, while vile, was at least intellectually honest: 'Normally, if we can't find workers at a given wage, we just get a bunch of immigrants to do the job. It's easy. But there are so few people coming in across the border, so we just have to pay the people here more.' This is why the American labor movement opposed immigration expansion for much of the past century—until recently, when many labor unions decided that being woke took priority over protecting workers. My wife is not a political person, and I've never seen her as animated by a conversation about politics as she was at this 'masters of the universe' dinner. 'OK,' she told me later. 'I can understand why you can't stand these people.'... Nearly every major business and financial leader in this country is a supporter of the Democratic Party. They love illegal immigration for the simple reason that their livelihoods are subsidized by illegal immigration—while illegal aliens themselves are subsidized by the taxpayer. It's a redistribution scheme from the poor to the rich. More immigration means lower wages for their workers and easier access to servants for their decadent personal lives.... Whenever I criticize the Biden administration's immigration policies, someone tells me I'm 'racist.'... It's not racist to refuse to do the bidding of America's corporate oligarchy, and it's not compassionate to create a crisis on both sides of our southern border."

Writes J.D. Vance (at Newsweek).

It's absurd that it's become so easy to manipulate people with the accusation of racism. Vance makes the point that Trump was fearless and stood his ground and that other politicians should look to him as a role model.

Apparently, we need to be assured that Joe Biden is real.

Have you been following the Madison, Wisconsin story about a city council meeting where somebody muttered "c*nt"?

The Wisconsin State Journal reports:

An independent analysis has failed to identify the person who called a local activist a vulgarity toward the end of a marathon online meeting in September that exposed deep divisions on the Madison City Council. At the same time, the report released Thursday by Phoenix-based USA Forensic identifies four men who might have said the word. And while the four include the man long accused in the incident, Ald. Paul Skidmore, it also suggests the culprit was, unlike Skidmore, wearing a headset and had a microphone that was activated at the time the word was uttered. 

So it sounds like it wasn't Skidmore. Yet the headline is "Accused Madison City Council member 1 of 4 suspects ID'd in report on misogynist slur." Why stress that it could still be him when it's more likely to be one of the other 3? We heard the word because the utterer had a voice-activated headset. 

You may think: I need to know more about the "deep divisions on the Madison City Council" and what all this has to do with Skidmore.

"Dozens of young White House staffers have been suspended, asked to resign or placed in a remote work program due to past marijuana use..."

"... frustrating staffers who were pleased by initial indications from the Biden administration that recreational use of cannabis would not be immediately disqualifying for would-be personnel, according to three people familiar with the situation. The policy has even affected staffers whose marijuana use was exclusive to one of the 14 states—and the District of Columbia—where cannabis is legal. Sources familiar with the matter also said a number of young staffers were either put on probation or canned because they revealed past marijuana use in an official document they filled out as part of the lengthy background check for a position in the Biden White House.... A candidate’s personal drug history, barring past convictions for possession, is largely based on the honor system, as well as supplemental interviews with family and friends by the FBI—although lying on the 136-page SF-86 form is a felony, and effectively bars a candidate from ever working for a federal agency.... Some of these dismissals, probations and remote work appointments could have potentially been a result of inconsistencies that came up during the background check process, where a staffer could have, for example, misstated the last time they used marijuana." 

The Daily Beast reports.

It sounds as though you need to know the best answer to whether to lie on the form or not. Loathsome hypocrisy, whatever the answer is.

March 18, 2021

At the Thursday Night Café...

 ... you can talk about whatever you want.

Got my second shot.

 So far so good.

"Their passion for nature cuts to the heart of what Scandinavians call friluftsliv (pronounced free-loofts-liv)."

"The expression literally translates as 'open-air living' and was popularised in the 1850s by the Norwegian playwright and poet, Henrik Ibsen, who used the term to describe the value of spending time in remote locations for spiritual and physical wellbeing.... Today, the phrase is used more broadly by Swedes, Norwegians and Danes to explain anything from lunchtime runs in the forest, to commuting by bike (or on cross-country skis when the snow falls) to joining friends at a lakeside sauna (often followed by a chilly dip in the water) or simply relaxing in a mountain hut. The concept is also linked closely to allmansrätten, the right to roam. Scandinavian countries all have similar laws which allow people to walk or camp practically anywhere, as long as they show respect for the surrounding nature, wildlife and locals....  Swedish data confirm that the amount of time young people are active outdoors has dipped slightly over the past three decades, with around 25% now spending time in the countryside or forest at least once a week, compared to 29% in the early 1980s."

From "Friluftsliv: The Nordic concept of getting outdoors" (BBC). That's a 2017 article. I got there after googling "friluftsliv," which I encountered in a new article, "One Tank Getaway: Late winter in Door County offers great food, welcome respite" (On Milwaukee).

"I Am an Absolute God in Bed. Women Seem Alarmed When I Reveal This."

 Headline on an advice column at Slateparaphrasing the letter-writer.

In case you're wondering...

... yes, I got rid of the Google AdSense ads on purpose. 

I'd only put them back recently because I'd thought, for my own protection, I should open up the flow of information from Google about whether it is getting complaints that this blog — on Google's Blogger — is offensive. 

Yesterday, I got email from Google that 3 things had been reported, and I just found it too annoying to look into. Two things were supposedly "sexual" and the other was something I didn't want to waste time trying to understand — a page didn't "behave" properly? 

I can't be bothered, and I don't like seeing the ads. Too messy!

Anyway... I'm sure no one will miss the ads, and thanks to everyone who uses the Amazon portal or who contributes through PayPal. (Look at the sidebar to see how to do that.)

"For years I’ve told my clients to avoid talking about politics on the first date, but in D.C., and in a year like this one, that’s somewhat impossible. Plus, for Claire..."

"... who worked on the campaigns of Kamala Harris and Hillary Clinton and is passionate about progressive issues, where someone lands on the political spectrum is very important. So, she flat-out asked him, 'Who did you vote for in the Democratic primary?' Ben stammered a bit. He revealed he admired Andrew Yang’s ideas but didn’t end up voting in the 2020 primary.... By this time, the conversation had started to drag and Pistachio needed to go outside to do her business. Ben asked for Claire’s number and texted her while they were still on the date to make sure she received it. A few minutes later, they said good night and signed off.... Claire had a burning question that couldn’t wait: 'I had to know what he thought of Andrew Yang running for New York City mayor.' She texted Ben that one question after the date. Not surprisingly, as part of the Yang Gang during the presidential race, Ben declared his admiration for Yang and confidence that he could be the right person to run the city. Then he followed up with, 'Totally fair question but only if you share your thoughts as well.' Feeling that there are many other candidates (in particular women of color) who would make better mayors, Claire was put off again by Ben’s politics and couldn’t bring herself to reply."

Writes dating coach Damona Hoffman, in "Date Lab: Talking politics on a first date is usually a no-no. But it couldn’t be avoided after a year like this one" (WaPo).

Pistachio is a dog, supposedly a Chihuahua, though it's huge. By the way, "Date Lab" sounds like a dog.

Anyway, throughout this article, before I even got to the part I'm quoting, I thought Ben was much better than Claire. In the end, he gave the date a 4.25 (out of 5) and she gave it a 3.5. They had no further contact.

Ben's statement "Totally fair question but only if you share your thoughts as well" is a bit devious. He's already answered the question, so there's no option to withdraw the question. She can only answer or be deemed unfair. And she doesn't answer! The truth is it's not about fairness. She genuinely only wants someone who shares her politics. That could have been known before the date was arranged, so she wasted his time. 

And maybe if he'd just been asked would you like to go out with a woman who will only be interested in you if you share her politics, he might have said no — even without first hearing what her politics were.

Today's walrus.

ADDED: Is this image a fake? Snopes dealt with it in 2019, and that particular image is fake, but there really was a walrus sleeping on a Russian submarine in 2006 and these pictures of it are not fake:

"Trump’s a liberal New Yorker. Why would we listen to him either?"

Said one guy quoted in "Oklahoma Diner Customers Tell CNN They Won’t Get Vaccinated Even If Trump Told Them to: Why Listen to a ‘Liberal New Yorker’ Like Him?" (CNN). 

I'm making a new tag for this: "Trumpism without Trump." 

Hypothesis: Trump the Man was only ever a man stepping into The Idea of Trump, and that man can step out again, or he can try to stay in but not measure up, and somebody else can take on the Trump role and become real embodiment of The Idea of Trump while Trump the Man melts back into his ordinary human life, and the Trumpsters can continue as true believers whether there is a person in the role of Trump or not.

"For years, Republicans used welfare to drive a wedge between the white working middle class and the poor."

"Ronald Reagan portrayed Black, inner-city mothers as freeloaders and con artists, repeatedly referring to 'a woman in Chicago' as the 'welfare queen.'... And the tension between the working class and the poor was easily exploited: Why should 'they' get help for not working when 'we' get no help, and we work? By the time Clinton campaigned for president, 'ending welfare as we knew it' had become a talisman of so-called New Democrats, even though there was little or no evidence that welfare benefits discouraged the unemployed from taking jobs.... Yet when COVID hit, public assistance was no longer necessary just for 'them.' It was needed by 'us.'... The CARES Act, which [Trump] signed into law at the end of March, gave most Americans checks of $1,200 (to which he attached his name). When this proved enormously popular, he demanded the next round of stimulus checks be $2,000... But the real game changer... is the breadth of Biden's plan.... Rather than pit the working middle class against the poor, this bill unites them in its sheer expansiveness... Over 70 percent of Americans support the bill... The economic lesson is that Reaganomics is officially dead. It's clearer than ever.... Give cash to the bottom two-thirds and their purchasing power will drive growth for everyone."

Writes Robert Reich in "How Bidenomics Can Unite America" (Newsweek).

"[N]ot all massage businesses provide sexual services... To suggest as much, as the suspect in the Atlanta area attacks did, is a 'racist assumption.... It ties specifically to the fetishization of Asian woman'...."

According to Esther Kao, "an organizer with Red Canary Song, a New York-based collective of Asian and Asian American advocates for massage parlor workers and sex workers," quoted in "Fetishized, sexualized and marginalized, Asian women are uniquely vulnerable to violence" (CNN). 

From the article: 

"On the day the Capitol was stormed by pro-Trump rioters in January... his phone began to buzz with text messages and phone calls from friends and colleagues, predicting that Clearview AI would be critical..."

"... for identifying participants...  One of Ton-That’s salespeople called because a police officer wanted free access. 'I said we could because it was an emergency situation,' [said the chief executive of Clearview, Ton-That]. And in fact, the next day, the company saw a surge in searches from law enforcement. The F.B.I. wouldn’t discuss whether Clearview AI was being used for its investigation of the riot.... There had been a time when public opinion seemed set firmly against facial recognition. But suddenly — with people showing their faces while rampaging through the Capitol — Clearview and similar products seemed quite appealing. Ton-That and I talked on the phone just a couple of days after the riot.... While he was clearly taken aback by the events unfolding in his adopted country, he also seemed keenly aware it could demonstrate the utility of his company’s product, and perhaps sway those on the fence if it played a role in finding and punishing the people involved. 'You see a lot of detractors change their mind for a somewhat different use case,' he said. 'We’re slowly winning people over.'"

From a long NYT article, "Your Face Is Not Your Own/When a secretive start-up scraped the internet to build a facial-recognition tool, it tested a legal and ethical limit — and blew the future of privacy in America wide open."

"Asian-Americans are AMERICANS/They have nothing to do with a repressive Communist Party or with a virus that originated 7000 miles away on the other side of the world/Anyone without enough common sense to understand that is an idiot."

Tweeted Marco Rubio yesterday. I'm reading that quoted in a WaPo article: "Democrats link Atlanta massacre to anti-Asian rhetoric during pandemic." 

From the article: 

Authorities investigating the spasm of violence in Georgia say early signs pointed to a disturbed suspect who claimed he was a sex addict and who saw the spas as “a source of temptation that needed to be eliminated.” Authorities said it was too early to know whether the killings were also racially motivated. 

But many advocates and Democratic lawmakers said it was hard to separate Tuesday’s killings from the recent increase in anti-Asian animus, including rhetoric from President Donald Trump.... While many Democrats were quick to condemn the shooting and link it to Trump’s rhetoric, Republicans remained mostly quiet....

Trump repeatedly blamed China for unleashing the virus on the world — and tanking the United States’ economy. During the tirades, Trump repeatedly used racially insensitive names like “China virus,” “Wuhan virus” and “kung flu.”...

An Asian American schoolteacher and her husband found a slur spray-painted on the side of their Nissan Altima after leaving a movie theater. An Asian American man on his way to a boba tea shop was told, “Thanks for covid.” Across the nation, authorities have investigated roughly 3,800 incidents of anti-Asian abuse, advocates say....

Rubio's tweet is important. Imagine a new rule against criticizing China! But how many of us Americans are the "idiots" Rubio is talking about? These "idiots" are on both sides, politically. Trump, criticizing China, didn't highlight the distinction between China, the country, and people with Chinese ancestry. And Trump's antagonists enthusiastically blurred the distinction. 

I put "idiots" in quotes for 2 reasons:

March 17, 2021

At the Muskrat Café...


... share the love. With comments.

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!

"Some days it’s a journey through hell in my home too. I have things I do to pass the time. Some days I’ll be down and..."

"... moan to myself, Oh, I can’t go on tour. That’s a real positive thing to do, clearly. So I decided that I wasn’t going to do that anymore and get up and do stuff. I decided I wanted to make an EP. Not an album, just an EP with a few songs. I have a huge EP collection of my own. I love it because you can really get into a small amount of tracks, and that’s what the kids love now. They love EPs! And not only that, they love cassettes."

Said Ringo Starr, interviewed at Vulture.

I've thrown out everything cassette-related. Cassettes are back?! I'm getting my information from an 80-year-old man who hasn't left the house more than 8 times in the past year. 

But now I see they've just issued a new cassette version of Nirvana's "Bleach." And last July, NME investigated: "Who the hell is buying cassettes in 2020?/NME investigates/It seems UK music lovers are currently revelling in rectangular nostalgia — there's already been a 103% increase in cassette sales in 2020." 

Last week, NPR reported "Lou Ottens, Inventor Of The Cassette Tape, Has Died"

"Many schools have been held back by CDC standards saying that they only permit in-person classrooms if students sit no closer than six feet apart."

"This requirement makes full-time schooling impossible, because schools simply don’t have enough room to teach every student while spacing them so far apart. But that requirement, chosen hastily last year, turns out to be useless. The most important scientific advance is the recent conclusion that the guideline that students must maintain six feet of distance in schools has no value. David Zweig reported for New York last week that 'the CDC’s six-foot guidance and tethering school openings to community transmission does not reflect the science'.... [A] trio of doctors in the Washington Post, likewise concludes, 'Keeping students three feet apart instead of requiring them to stay six feet apart won’t make students or teachers and staff less safe.'... But that crippling and hastily erected barrier has remained in place even after it has been proven useless.... [O]pponents of reopening have managed to maintain the appearance of controversy... by emphasizing uncertainty about the precise level of danger, explicitly or implicitly setting a baseline of zero risk as the correct standard for resuming school...."

From "Just Reopen the Schools Now" by Jonathan Chait (NY Magazine).

Chait quotes a WaPo columnist, Valerie Strauss, who insists that "There is no such thing as learning loss." Strauss opines, dreamily [CORRECTION: The author of these quotes is Strauss’s guest columnist, Rachael Gabriel.]

Learning is never lost, though it may not always be “found” on pre-written tests of pre-specified knowledge or preexisting measures of pre-coronavirus notions of achievement....

We have all learned, every day, unconditionally… They learned to take gym class on YouTube, that people you have never met can be your greatest teachers, that the ability to go outside and play during the day makes every day brighter, and that their safety depends on the decisions of others.

Yeah, you are always learning something. You can learn how to play video games. You can learn how to take naps... and drugs. Oh! The places you go when you don't leave the house!

Or go play in the yard. And stop being so prejudiced against different types of learning! They're all worthy of respect in the rainbow of education.

And if you ever think you're missing out on learning, don't go looking any further than your own backyard. Because if it isn't there, you never really lost it to begin with!

The walrus who fell asleep on an iceberg and floated to a place in Ireland where it was the most exciting thing that ever happened.

"'It will one day be worth $1 billion'... Many people really, really wanted the Beeple sale to succeed. In fact, the high price [$69.3 million] smacked of market manipulation."

"NFTs rely on blockchain, a database technology based on decentralized, collective control of blocks of data that have been chained together in a way that makes the data immutable. Metapurse — the company founded and financed by Metakovan, the buyer of 'Everydays' — says it 'identifies early-stage projects across blockchain infrastructure, finance, art, unique collectibles, and virtual estate.' According to the Art Newspaper, Metapurse 'is also a production studio for NFTs and a major funder of the digital art form, reportedly owning the largest known collection of NFTs in the world.'... Making the whole spectacle look even more egregiously engineered, the underbidder was Justin Sun, the founder of TRON, another blockchain company.... The irony is that the driving force behind conceptual art... was a desire to resist commodification.... Conceptualists... thought that if you dematerialized art — if you took away the object and our urge to fetishize it — it would be an act of resistance against the art market and the whole capitalist system. How naive that turned out to be. Of course you can commodify artworks that exist only as ideas! It’s really easy.... You need only relationships, differentials, future projections and other ideas, all of which can be bought and sold.... As for the actual work that was purchased? Yawn. Beeple’s technique — collaging lots of colorful images in grid format — is a soporific cliche. Images like this, sometimes coalescing into other images, are ubiquitous. Metakovan’s claim — that 'it represents 13 years of everyday work' — is weak tea.... [But] I like it when the connection between functionality (or even aesthetic merit) and monetary worth is stretched. It can make us question conventional ideas of what has value and what doesn’t. That can be salutary...."

Writes Sebastian Smee in "Beeple’s digital ‘artwork’ sold for more than any painting by Titian or Raphael. But as art, it’s a great big zero" (WaPo).

This blog represents 17 years of everyday work. Where's my $90.6 million? 

Anyway... what do I care if rich people shift their money around according to the rules of some wacky game and get nothing tangible? It's the same thing that occurs in gambling. Is anyone defrauded at any point? Are they paying their sales taxes and income tax properly? Other than that, how can it matter? Is there a philosophical question to contemplate? 

I forget whether Metakovan is a person or a company. Let's see: "the buyer, the Singapore-based founder and financer of the cryptofund Metapurse who goes by the name Metakovan." 

So it's a person, some cryptic figure in Singapore. The prefix "meta-" denotes "change, transformation, permutation, or substitution" (OED). So "Metapurse," I get. But what is Metakovan? Kovan is a geographical location in Singapore. Is there really a person here?

Considering the complexity of the concepts, I wonder: Is the real artist Metakovan or Beeple? Or is there really anything at all — other than the market, a concept to be admired and cavorted in or scorned by each of us, as we see fit. 

And, again: Where's my $90.6 million?

"The Equality Act... explicitly overrides the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which prohibits the federal government from 'substantially burdening' individuals’ exercise of religion..."

"... unless it is for a 'compelling government interest.' While enacted in 1993 with overwhelming bipartisan support, the RFRA in recent years has been most loudly championed by social conservatives. LGBTQ and civil liberties advocates say the RFRA has been used to allow discrimination. The Equality Act matches Americans’ fast-moving rejection of discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. More than 6 in 10 Americans say business owners should not be allowed to refuse services to LGBTQ people on the basis of religion."

WaPo reports in "Equality Act is creating a historic face-off between religious exemptions and LGBTQ rights." 

WaPo wants to assure you that RFRA something only social conservatives cherish, but that is history rewritten. RFRA was a reaction to the 1990 case Employment Division v. Smith, which was written by Antonin Scalia, who articulated the strong, clear position that the Constitution does not require religion-based exemptions to laws that are written to be neutral and generally applicable. The dissenting opinions in that case were by the liberal Justices Brennan, Marshall, and Blackmun.

As I wrote on this blog a few years ago:

The RFRA bill was sponsored in the House by Congressman Chuck Schumer and in the Senate by Teddy Kennedy. (Each had a GOP co-sponsor). The Democrats controlled Congress, but the Republicans all voted for it too (with the sole exception of Jesse Helms).

From the NYT article in 1993 when President Bill Clinton signed RFRA into law:
President Clinton hailed the new law at the signing ceremony, saying that it held government "to a very high level of proof before it interferes with someone's free exercise of religion."...

President Clinton voiced wonder today at this alliance of forces that are often at odds across religious or ideological lines. "The power of God is such that even in the legislative process miracles can happen," he said.

It's absurd that it's so easy to forget what progressives valued in RFRA and why the liberal Justices dissented in Smith. It was about the rights of minorities. But there are minorities and there are minorities. You can't favor them all. RFRA chose religious minorities. The Equality Act favors gender identity and sexual orientation minorities. 

Scalia's Smith allowed Congress to shift back and forth like that. It merely said that legislatures can get away with laws that don't discriminate against religion, that it doesn't have to favor religion. RFRA is just a statute — even if Clinton pronounced it the work of God Himself — and it only takes a statute to change it. The requirement of religious exemptions could have been found in the Constitution's Free Exercise Clause, but the conservative Court did not see it.

"How Do Big Media Outlets So Often 'Independently Confirm' Each Other's Falsehoods?"

Glenn Greenwald asks (at Substack).

When a news outlet such as NBC News claims to have “independently corroborated” a report from another corporate outlet, they often do not mean that they searched for and acquired corroborating evidence for it. What they mean is much more tawdry: they called, or were called by, the same anonymous sources that fed CNN the false story in the first place, and were fed the same false story....

March 16, 2021

At the Ice Mesa Café...


... you can talk about anything you want.

"Silicon Valley entrepreneur Peter Thiel has reportedly contributed $10 million to a super PAC that seeks to entice 'Hillbilly Elegy' author J.D. Vance to run for Ohio’s open Senate seat."

"Fans of a thoughtful, conservative-populist coalition should hope he runs and wins. Vance, whom I’ve known and liked since we met in 2015, would not be a normal Senate candidate. Only 36 years old, he has never run for office and has not worked his way up the political chain.... His heartbreaking autobiography tells the story of his Appalachian-descended family. The Middletown, Ohio, community in which they lived spiraled downward under the pressures of globalization and community decline. His story became the go-to source for many to explain the burgeoning Trump phenomenon in 2016. Vance’s story, therefore, is the story of the prototypical Trump backer: White, working-class and desperate for a restoration of the decent, moderately prosperous communities they once knew.... His 2019 talk at the National Conservatism conference, entitled 'Getting Beyond Libertarianism,' was a masterful critique of the economic and moral depths to which unbridled free-market fundamentalism leads.... Ohio is the perfect place to nurture the thoughtful conservative populism Vance backs.... Two big-name competitors, former state treasurer Josh Mandel and former Ohio GOP chair Jane Timken... pledge fealty to Trump and will be quick to attack Vance for his 2016-era doubts about the former president, although Trump’s performance in office led Vance to back him for reelection."

Writes Henry Olsen (at WaPo).

"I found the fox."

Says one reader of my "Find the fox" post. He sends this: 


That throwback to simpler times comes from Robert Szkolnicki (in Winnipeg, MB).

"The U.S. Capitol Police, working with federal, state and local intelligence partners, has concluded that 'there does not exist a known, credible threat against Congress or the Capitol Complex that warrants the temporary security fencing.'"

"Therefore, alterations to the temporary fencing around the Capitol will soon be made, and the National Guard presence will also begin to draw down. However, the USCP will continue to monitor the threat posture, and plans will be adjusted if and as needed."  

From a press release from Nancy Pelosi.

Find the fox.



Sitting at my window this morning, I've seen a big beautiful fox run through the backyard twice, but it's impossible to get the iPhone ready and working quickly enough to get a picture of these full views. So you see what I got. There is a fox in both pictures, I assure you.

"In the early nineteen-eighties... a brief craze called Martian poetry hit our literary planet."

"It was launched by Craig Raine’s poem 'A Martian Sends a Postcard Home' (1979). The poem systematically deploys the technique of estrangement or defamiliarization—what the Russian formalist critics called ostranenie—as our bemused Martian wrestles into his comprehension a series of puzzling human habits and gadgets: 'Model T is a room with the lock inside— / a key is turned to free the world / for movement.' Or, later in the poem: 'In homes, a haunted apparatus sleeps, / that snores when you pick it up.' For a few years, alongside the usual helpings of Hughes, Heaney, and Larkin, British schoolchildren learned to launder these witty counterfeits: 'Caxtons are mechanical birds with many wings / And some are treasured for their markings— / they cause the eyes to melt / or the body to shriek without pain. / I have never seen one fly, but / Sometimes they perch on the hand.' Teachers liked Raine’s poem, and perhaps the whole Berlitz-like apparatus of Martianism, because it made estrangement as straightforward as translation. What is the haunted apparatus? A telephone, miss. Well done. What are Caxtons? Books, sir. Splendid." 

 From "Kazuo Ishiguro Uses Artificial Intelligence to Reveal the Limits of Our Own/In his latest novel, the gaze of an inhuman narrator gives us a new perspective on human life, a vision that is at once deeply ordinary and profoundly strange" by James Wood (in The New Yorker).

Here's the full text of "A Martian Sends a Postcard Home."

"North Korea: Kim Jong-un's sister warns US not to 'cause a stink.'"

BBC reports.

Kim Yo-jong was quoted in the official Rodong Sinmun newspaper as saying: "A word of advice to the new administration of the United States that is struggling to spread the smell of gunpowder on our land from across the ocean. "If it wants to sleep in peace for [the] coming four years, it had better refrain from causing a stink at its first step."...


Pyongyang has yet to acknowledge that President Biden is now in office.... 

Relations between the US and North Korea plummeted in 2017, when the North tested long-range missiles capable of hitting American cities. Tensions eased as President Donald Trump sought to develop a personal rapport with Mr Kim....

Biden has yet to announce his policy on North Korea, but during his campaign, he called Kim a "thug."

And they say there's no election fraud....

"High-schooler and her mother hacked school records to steal homecoming queen election, police say" (WaPo).

This is a Washington Post headline: "Biden and allies launch stimulus campaign focused on competitive battleground states."

Did they think they were praising him or are we seeing actual critique or genuine neutrality?  

Let's read: 

The early itinerary reflects a clear political calculation, with the first and second families visiting four states — Georgia, Nevada, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania — that could prove crucial to maintaining Democrats’ tenuous hold on the Senate in the 2022 midterms.... 

Though public polls show that the relief package is popular with the majority of the country, administration officials — many of whom also worked in the Obama administration — say they learned lessons from Democrats’ failure to rally the public around former president Barack Obama’s stimulus package in 2009 and the Affordable Care Act in 2010. They are hoping to use the travel campaign to harness existing momentum and inform Americans how they can benefit from the relief package....

Seems as though they think they are praising him for his political acumen.

"Suddenly, Robinson’s daughter went from being an outlier to finding herself in a six-student pod where most of the children were mixed-race, like her."

"The teacher Young had hired to run the pod, Teenisha Toussant, a former teaching assistant at P.S. 41, happened to be Black, too. Robinson said that her daughter seemed to notice the difference. 'I think, for her, it was, like, "Oh, it’s not so strange to have biracial parents."' Another student in the pod told Toussant, 'This is my first time not being the only brown person in my class and having a brown teacher. It makes me happy.' As for the parents, Robinson said, the pod had created a 'temporary reprieve' from school politics. 'It’s just taken the stress level down.'... Life may be easier in a pod, Robinson said, but that’s because it’s not the real world. 'It’s a fake world that we created,' she said, 'because the real world is dysfunctional. We can’t have our children growing up thinking that life is always like that. Like, "You’re only going to be surrounded by people who love you, and you’re not going to have any conflicts, because, even if you did, your parents are friends and they’re going to fix it for you."'"

From "Why Learning Pods Might Outlast the Pandemic" (The New Yorker).

Robinson is Katrina Robinson, who is identified as a lawyer who lives in the West Village (in NYC). Her daughter is a kindergartner, who, we're told "has one Black parent and one white parent." I didn't read the article carefully enough to know if the mother — the parent who's quoted a lot in the article — is the black parent or the white parent. Here's another of her quotes:
"The issue of race isn’t discussed at the school, period.... The kids are not being equipped with the tools to talk about race... Here’s my daughter, who’s Black—and who recognizes that she looks different from everyone else, and that she has one Black parent and one white parent—but there’s no discussion of any of it. It can leave a kid feeling rather isolated. It’s sort of like being the only alien in the classroom. And thinking there might be other aliens around but not knowing for sure.”

Do you think that's the black parent or the white parent talking? I don't know! Isn't it important? Why is The New Yorker being race blind about just this one thing? I'll just guess it's because this is the white parent speaking. 

The husband is referred to at one point and just called "Robinson's husband." That low level of recognition makes me think he's the white parent. I genuinely don't know, and I feel it's a little rude to wonder about the internal dynamics of mixed-race couples and the effect on their children, though I've noticed that there are academic papers on this subject — as well as folk theories.

Anyway, notice that Robinson is saying that racially segregated education is good for nonwhite children (at least in the context where the parents are choosing it voluntarily). By the way, the public school Robinson was complaining about is PS 41, a famously great school.

"Queer theorists have complained that Obergefell valorizes the family values associated with monogamous marriage and thereby demeans people who resist those values."

"But others see it as the first step toward more radical change. 'Obergefell is a veritable encomium for marriage as both a central human right and a fundamental constitutional right,' Joseph J. Fischel, an associate professor of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at Yale, has written. 'We, as an LGBT movement, should be ethically committed to endorsing poly relations and other experiments in intimacy.' He argues for 'relational autonomy' without regard for 'gender, numerosity, or affective attachment.' The campaigns of both polygamists and polyamorists to have their unions recognized point to the larger questions that swarm around marriage battles: what are the government’s interests in marriage and family, and why does a bureaucratic system sustain such a relentless focus on who has sexual relationships with whom? Surveys in the past decade have consistently found that four to five per cent of American adults—more than ten million people—already practice some form of consensual nonmonogamy, and the true number, given people’s reticence about stigmatized behaviors, is almost certainly higher.... In the West, champions of polyamory have included Mary Wollstonecraft, George Sand, Havelock Ellis, and Bertrand Russell. Still, a particular ethos, rooted in Christian, European values, has created a presumption that monogamy is superior to all other structures. Immanuel Kant saw marriage as emblematic of Enlightenment ideals, claiming that it was egalitarian, because spouses assigned ownership of their sexual organs to each other."

From "How Polyamorists and Polygamists Are Challenging Family Norms/From opposite sides of the culture, parallel campaigns for legal recognition may soon make multiple-partner marriages as unremarkable as same-sex marriages" (The New Yorker).

"I’m not a ‘keep ‘em barefoot and pregnant’ man but I am all for keeping them pregnant until I have a little girl."

Said Joe Biden, in 1969, when he was 27, quoted in the new article "Rage against the 'gaffe machine'" (at Politico). 

I'm noticing that this morning, because my son John linked to it at Facebook. John called attention to that quote and said "LOL." 

I commented over there: 

That kind of casual sexism was completely the norm at the time — late 60s. You'd be pushed aside as a humorless dolt if you too didn't find it sweet and funny. This is how feminists got the reputation for having no sense of humor. You'd also be expected to swallow the teasing — if you objected to that particular joke — *Don't worry, no man's going to want to marry you.* Watch the first few episodes of "Laugh-In" if you don't believe me. (It's free on Amazon Prime. You'll be amazed at what was not only said, but regarded as fresh and cool.)

I should add that Biden did get his little girl 2 years later, the little girl who died when she was one year old. Perhaps that's why this old "gaffe" of his isn't in wider circulation. I put "gaffe" in quotes, because, as I said, I think that was within the humor norm of the time.

"I know rock isn't the most important genre right now..."

March 15, 2021

In 19 months of chasing the sunrise, today's was the #1 best.

I gave you some unretouched photos earlier today — here — but let me give you a few more. These are modestly tweaked in Apple's Photos — basically just moving the "Light" slider a bit to the left. The lake has been melting and cracking up, and wind/waves are driving shards of ice to pile up on the shore. 

This is 7:02, the earliest shot, which makes me wish I'd gotten out 10 minutes earlier. 


What a broiler! 

This was the scene at 7:04, with the shoreline ice looking cobalt blue.


7:05, framed without the shoreline ice: 


Here's the panorama:


This photo is quite a bit later — 7:27 — and in a different location. Beautiful color that I'd count as above average, but drastically faded from 20 minutes earlier. In this spot, the ice was piled much higher. The wall between me and the lake must have been 10 feet high:


"Since the end of World War II, 27 of the 38 Congresses have featured a change in the party composition of the Senate during a session."

"The probability that such a shift may occur during this particular Congress may well be even higher than that. At the moment, no fewer than six Democratic senators over the age of 70 represent states where a Republican governor would be free to replace them with a Republican, should a vacancy occur. Five other Democratic senators represent states for which a vacancy would go unfilled for months, until a special election to fill the seat was held — which would hand the G.O.P. control of the Senate at least until that election and likely for the rest of the current Congress if a Republican wins that contest. (In the case of Wisconsin, such a vacancy might not be filled until 2023.) All things considered, the odds that Democrats will lose control of the Senate in the next 22 months are probably close to a coin flip."

From "Justice Breyer Should Retire Right Now/If he doesn’t, Democrats run the very real risk that they would be unable to replace him" by lawprof Paul Campos (NYT).

Here's a NYT column headline I took the wrong way: "Democrats Repent for Bill Clinton."

I thought finally — probably because of the desire to oust Andrew Cuomo — there is a demand that Democrats denounce Bill Clinton for his mistreatment of women in the workplace.

But no. The column (by Charles Blow) isn't about that at all. It's not even mentioned. Blow's focus is on "Black and brown Americans and the poor":

Two major pieces of Clinton-signed legislation stand out: The crime bill of 1994 and the welfare reform bill of 1996.

I view the crime bill as disastrous. It flooded the streets with police officers and contributed to the rise of mass incarceration, which disproportionately impacts Black men and their families. It helped to drain Black communities of fathers, uncles, husbands, partners and sons.... Part of the goal of the bill was to blunt Republican criticisms that Democrats were soft on crime....

Then there was the welfare reform bill, which Clinton promised would “end welfare as we know it.”...

Nothing against Blow for highlighting these issues. I just wanted to record my reaction to the headline to underscore, once again, that the gender politics of the Democrats has been incoherent for a quarter of a century, and I have been forced to disapprove of them the entire time. 

And by the way, Bill Clinton is the first presidential candidate I voted for who actually won. I was 41 years old, so I waited a long time.

"At the very end of a Grammys ceremony that did its best to pretend like the Recording Academy has always supported and centered Black artists, women and especially Black women..."

"... Billie Eilish was put in an impossible position... Awarded record of the year for 'Everything I Wanted'... Eilish could only gush over Megan Thee Stallion. 'This is really embarrassing for me,' Eilish, a white teenager who — like many in her generation and beyond — worships Black culture, said. 'You are a queen, I want to cry thinking about how much I love you.' She went on. It was uncomfortably reminiscent of Adele praising Beyoncé when '25' beat 'Lemonade' for album of the year in 2017... . Some online bristled at the performative white guilt on display, while others applauded Eilish’s apparently sincere fandom."

From "The Best and Worst of the 2021 Grammy Awards/Megan Thee Stallion owned the stage, struggling indie venues got a much needed spotlight and the event proved a pandemic awards show doesn’t have to look like a video conference" (NYT).


ADDED: I have saved a lot of time in life by never being interested in the Grammys. When I was young, in the 1960s, the Grammys didn't recognize the great music that I liked. They seemed irrelevant and archaic back then. I have spent some of my precious time caring about movie awards, but I guess that's not happening anymore, because the Oscar nominations just came out, and I don't care enough even to consider pushing myself to write something about it.

"President Biden will hold his first formal news conference before April Fools’ Day, the White House says."

"Even if he held one today, it would be the latest any new commander in chief has faced a formal question-and-answer session with the press corps in a century.... For 20 years, presidential aides have been telling me that the news conference is high risk, low reward... [But] it’s something a president can do in service of transparency and accountability even though it may not be obviously good for his political fortunes.... Presidential news conferences are hardly the apex of White House coverage. Reporters might get a sought-after moment on TV, or finally get an answer to a question they have been asking for weeks. But by definition, they don’t get scoops there..... Will reporters ask smart, probing questions on important issues and get answers that matter to Americans beyond the Beltway? Will Biden shed light on his next priorities, or which issues he thinks can wait until later in his presidency? We won’t know until this news conference happens."

That's from a WaPo piece titled "Biden is due for a news conference. But they can be risky." 

I'd say WaPo is defining expectations as low as possible. "Will reporters ask smart, probing questions"? My expectations on that are very low. I think they will baby him as much as possible.

"It is not licit to impart a blessing on relationships or partnerships, even stable, that involve sexual activity outside of marriage, as is the case of the unions between persons of the same sex."

Said the Vatican, quoted in "Vatican says it will not bless same-sex unions, calling them a 'sin'" (CNN).

The statement says that gays and lesbians, as individuals, may receive a blessing if they live according to Church teaching. But blessing same-sex unions, the Vatican said, would send a sign that the Catholic Church approves and encourages "a choice and a way of life that cannot be recognized as objectively ordered to the revealed plans of God."...

The Vatican provided the assurance that "the negative judgment on the blessing of unions of persons of the same sex does not imply a judgment on persons."

If I'm reading that correctly, there is no "objectively ordered" way to have sex other than within a marriage between opposite sex partners. 

Cancel adjacent, Part 2.

The previous post discusses the ordeal of Sharon Osbourne who found herself in the "cancel adjacent" position. 

I observed that the new rule seems to be "that you have to proactively denounce people, or you yourself will become the target," and I linked back to a March 11th post where I learned the term "cancel adjacent." 

Now, I want to show you "Georgetown law professor resigns for 'failing to correct' colleague on Zoom about 'Black' students comment" (Fox News). 

[Georgetown law professor David] Batson appears to nod his head but mostly remains silent as Sellers is talking.... Batson did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox News....

Silence didn't work the first time, but he's still going with silence. He was cancel adjacent, and the cancellation did reach out and engulf him. We are in dangerous times. What will terrified "cancel adjacents" do to save themselves?

Here's the video if you want to check out how little Batson did. That's what not to do, so learn your lesson:

"What would you say to people who may feel that while you're standing by your friend, it appears you gave validation or safe haven to something that he has uttered that is racist, even if you don't agree?"

Said Sheryl Underwood, quoted in "'The Talk' goes on hiatus after Sharon Osbourne defends Piers Morgan/On Wednesday's episode of 'The Talk,' Sheryl Underwood and Sharon Osbourne got into a heated exchange" (NBC). 

I hope you have a sense of how convoluted that is. The accusation of racism against Piers Morgan is already flimsy, but Sharon Osbourne is getting intimidated for saying something supportive about her friend — as if the new rule is that you have to proactively denounce people, or you yourself will become the target. Not only is the first person (Morgan) denied a fair hearing, but the second person (Osbourne) — the one who tries to slow things and ask to look carefully at the accusation — is deemed an accomplice. 

We saw that term "cancel adjacent" the other day. Osbourne is caught on camera experiencing the terror of being cancel adjacent.

Osbourne said: "I feel like I'm about to be put in the electric chair because I have a friend who many people think is racist, so that makes me a racist."

From the NBC article:

The sky over Lake Mendota at 7:02 this morning — straight out of the iPhone, no color or light adjustments.



All I did was level the horizon slightly. 

I was going to take this morning off from my usual sunrise run, but I could see the color developing very intensely and darted out at the last minute. Sunrise wasn't until 7:10, and by 7:10 the color was quite faded, into a sunrise that I'd have judged to be in the middling range of the sunrises I've seen since beginning my sunrise run series in September 2019. 

I got to my vantage point and got these pictures at 7:02, so you see it's crucial to get out at least 8 minutes before the sunrise time to catch the most vivid sunrises. I jumped up, grabbed my keys, and got my shoes on, and headed out. I had no time at all to spare, or I would not have caught this — the most beautiful of all the sunrises I have seen. 

It was more beautiful in real life. Sometimes the photos bump up the beauty of cloud colors that are too subtle to wow you in person. But this was way over the top. Not just for sunrise connoisseurs! 

I'll put up a little video for another look: 

March 14, 2021

At the Sunday Night Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

"My God, he’s like a polar bear out there on an ice floe."

Said Meade, after I read this Politico headline out loud: "Trump was supposed to be a political Godzilla in exile. Instead, he’s adrift."

Sunrise 3 ways.







"Every so often, a TikTok comes along that physically debilitates me. Sometimes it’s... an overwhelming, full-body gut punch..."

" that’s triggered by a deep sense of emotional recognition. It could be embarrassment, fear, or stress. Or it could be positive: excitement, pride, joy..."

Writes Emilia Petracha in "What Will You Wear on the First Day of the Rest of Your Life?" (New York Magazine). Here's the TikTok she's talking about:

"The group, whose total membership is unknown but believed to be in the thousands, has never articulated a specific ideology or dogma...."

From "Police Shrugged Off the Proud Boys, Until They Attacked the Capitol/Two Proud Boys accused of leading a mob to Congress followed a bloody path to get there. Law enforcement did little to stop them" (NYT).

[F]ederal law enforcement officials said, no evidence emerged that the Proud Boys had plotted murders, kidnappings, gun crimes or — apart from Jan. 6 — insurrection. Yet the Proud Boys’ belligerence fit the definition of terrorism, other officials said: unlawful violence and intimidation for political aims. Members raised money to travel across state lines to dozens of rallies with the intent of street fighting....

“If the Proud Boys was not a white male chauvinist club but a Black male chauvinist club, I think that, sadly, we would have seen a different policing posture,” said [Elizabeth] Neumann, the former Homeland Security official....

Critics argued that... arrests were rare because police generally favored the Proud Boys over their left-leaning opponents....

Just because you can doesn't mean you should.

"This is Guy Talk: an elevated version of the bro-ing down heard on countless podcasts aimed at men."

"At times it feels like Renegades is a primer on nontoxic masculinity. Obama and Springsteen are emotionally intelligent and self-aware; they poke fun at themselves, in a way that comes naturally to wildly successful people.... [T]hey lay claim, again and again, to a progressive patriotism... [W]e get a lot of solemn talk in which hard truths are articulated amid a blizzard of mixed metaphors. In a conversation about the rise of white nationalism under Trump, Springsteen proclaims that racist pathologies are 'not meandering veins in our extremities, but … continue to be running through the heart of the country—that’s a call to arms and lets us know, obviously, how much work we have left to do.'... The remedial nature of these history lessons, and the portentous way they are presented by Renegades’ producers—soundtracked by plaintive guitar noodling that suggests pearls of wisdom are being dispensed—is bizarre and undermining: It makes Obama and Springsteen sound more out-to-lunch than they can possibly be. Clichés pile up. Lest listeners get too bummed.... an old warhorse is dragged out. 'The arc of the moral universe bends towards justice,' Obama assures us...."

Writes Jody Rosen in "Obama and Springsteen’s Podcast Isn’t What It Pretends to Be/The show promises difficult conversations about race, but it avoids the actual difficulties" (Slate). 

Rosen likens the Obama/Springsteen podcast to this excellent parody of podcasts:

Robot umpires are "designed to increase action on the basepaths, create more balls in play, improve the pace and length of games, and reduce player injuries."

According to Major League Baseball, quoted in "Minor League Baseball To Experiment With Robotic Umpires" (NPR). 

"The game on the field is constantly evolving, and MLB must be thoughtful and intentional about progressing toward the very best version of baseball – a version that is true to its essence and has enough consistent action and athleticism on display to entertain fans of all ages," Theo Epstein, consultant to MLB, said.... "These rules experiments will provide valuable insight into various ways to create a playing environment that encourages the most entertaining version of the game"....

Do you want robot umpires? 

The main loss is that the role of the catcher is changed. He can't be a trickster, "framing" the pitch to create the impression that the ball is more nearly or more squarely in the strike zone.  Is that something that made watching the game more fun? It made it more human. If the whole game were played by robots, it would not even be worth watching. Or do you think it would, because there could be much more action? And you'd have no injuries at all... or is that part of what we like about action, the risk of real pain and damage?

Charlie Hebdo appropriates the death of George Floyd to mock Meghan Markle and the Queen.

Via The Sun:

1. The headline translates to "Why Meghan left Buckingham...." and the speech bubble says "because I couldn't breathe anymore." 

2. Now, for the first time, I'm thinking about whether the Queen shaves her legs.

3. Is the image outrageous? But Charlie Hebdo wants to be outrageous... so it is immune to any criticism people might choose to lob. Still, the question remains: How outrageous is it and what are the elements of outrageousness?

4. The most outrageous part — if I consult my own sensitivity — is the appropriation of the pain surrounding George Floyd for a comical presentation. The second most outrageous part is connecting Markle to Floyd because she is black. 

5. Those outrageous things are not, however, purely gratuitous, so it's not just a case of laughing at George Floyd and finding it worth pointing out that Markle, too, is black. What's not gratuitous is the radical contrast between what happened to Floyd — suffering and death on the street, under the knee of a cop — and what happened to Markle — palace life insufficiently pleasant.

6. It's important that Charlie Hebdo avoided using stereotypical features in drawing Markle, but unfortunate that the drawing doesn't look much like her. I'm interested in the window pane image on Markle's cheek. I believe this is the classic cartoon way to signify shininess. I guess Markle indulges in the makeup convention of dabbing shiny highlighter on the cheekbones. It would be a real stretch to connect that to the racial slur "shine." The slur has to do with the occupation of shining shoes — though Markle's face is right next to the Queen's shiny shoe — and not to some notion about how black people look. 

7. It's important to be able to make fun of public figures. Markle is actively using accusations of racism to fend off criticism. This might work, for her and for many others, if the fear of these accusations is too intense. In that light, Charlie Hebdo is doing us a service, taking the heat, and — if you think about it the right way — contributing to racial progress.