April 3, 2021

At the Saturday Night Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

"The liminal state of this song is punctuated by lulls of drones humming and possible ecstatic highs, but even as fractured and wild as it might all be..."

"... the power of getting through this speck of time is in your hands. While maybe you can’t directly relate to Chapman’s urgent promises about breaking the cycle of poverty and disappointment, you can loosely use O’Rourke’s scientific process for getting through any situation rife with angst, murk and the blah of it all. Listen hard enough, and the nearly sitcom-length middle can even feel short when the same big, bending sounds are crammed into little pockets of time that flitter away before you know it."

From "Tracy Chapman’s ‘Fast Car’ is a beautiful ballad. This 33-minute cover version takes it to a whole new place" by Hau Chu (WaPo). 

Are you waiting for the basketball game to start and enduring Miley Cyrus?

The intensely grand parade of mummies.


"The lavish, multimillion-dollar spectacle saw 22 mummies - 18 kings and four queens - transported from the peach-coloured, neo-classical Egyptian Museum to their new resting place 5km (three miles) away. With tight security arrangements befitting their royal blood and status as national treasures, the mummies were relocated to the new National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation in what is called The Pharaohs' Golden Parade. They were transported with great fanfare in chronological order of their reigns - from the 17th Dynasty ruler, Seqenenre Taa II, to Ramses IX, who reigned in the 12th Century BC." 

BBC reports.

Sunrise — 6:38, 6:41.



"When I was about 10 years old, my mother became interested in the idea of the divine feminine, specifically centering spirituality on women..."

"...rather than the patriarchal notion of a male god.... Judging from the attendees of the goddess fairs in hotel ballrooms I was also taken to, this was a fairly White, progressive and privileged group of women. It served as a kind of spiritual extension of the women’s liberation movement of the 1970s, parallel to feminism. Men soon started to realize that they, too, had a gender to consider, and the men’s movement took off in the ’70s and ’80s. It manifested in three expressions, says Cliff Leek, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Northern Colorado and vice president of the American Men’s Studies Association: 'You get pro-feminist [men’s] groups that do work around reproductive health and sexual violence; and, on the other end of the spectrum, men’s rights groups that say, "We are gendered and the system is out to get us." The middle way is the mythopoetic: tying masculinity back to the sacred and mythological.' The prevailing figure in the mythopoetic movement is the poet Robert Bly. In 1990, Bly, who was in his 60s (he’s now 94), published 'Iron John: A Book About Men,' which includes lines like, 'Where a man’s wound is, that is where his genius will be.' Bly’s idea, told through Jung-influenced archetypes and fairy tales, was that men had been robbed of true masculinity via emotionally withholding fathers who raised soft sons. With some reflection — and maybe some banging on drums with other dudes in the forest — they could reclaim their inner Zeuses and thrive."

Cherry-picked right from the center of "QAnon’s Unexpected Roots in New Age Spirituality/Masculinity, faith and the strange convergence of counterculture and hate" by Marisa Meltzer (WaPo).

"Starting with the Moog and adding other synthesizers and a collection of modules, some of them designed by Mr. Cecil, they created a massive semicircular piece of equipment..."

"... that took up a small room and weighed a ton. It could be programmed to create a vast array of original sounds and to modify and process the sounds of conventional musical instruments.... Mr. Cecil lived in an apartment above the studio so that he would be available to fix anything that might go wrong, day or night. 'I get a ring on the bell,' Mr. Cecil told Red Bull Music Academy in 2014. 'I look out; there’s my friend Ronnie and a guy who turns out to be Stevie Wonder in a green pistachio jumpsuit and what looks like my album under his arm. Ronnie says, "Hey, Malcolm, got somebody here who wants to see TONTO."' What started as a demonstration of TONTO for Mr. Wonder turned out to be a weekend-long recording experiment. Seventeen songs were recorded, and a collaboration was born. Over the next three years, TONTO became a significant sonic element of Mr. Wonder’s music on the albums 'Music of My Mind' and 'Talking Book,' both released in 1972, and their follow-ups, 'Innervisions' (1973) and 'Fulfillingness’ First Finale' (1974)."

From "Malcolm Cecil, Synthesizer Pioneer, Is Dead at 84/His massive machine, known as TONTO, helped transform the music in Stevie Wonder’s mind into classic albums like 'Innervisions'" (NYT).

"If they are right, if that is what it takes to get grocery stores, that says a lot about those corporations think of certain communities. It’s a sad commentary on those corporations."

Said Del. Dereck E. Davis (D-Prince George’s), quoted in "In a bid to bring grocers to food deserts, Prince George’s turns to alcohol sales" (WaPo). 

The issue is whether to let grocery stores sell beer and wine. They'd be more likely to open if they can sell beer and wine, and there are places in the state (Maryland) where there aren't enough grocery stores, and that's detrimental to the health of the poorer people who live there. But there's also the idea that beer and wine are bad for people (and that food stores selling booze is bad for the business of liquor stores). 

The Davis remark is interesting, because it suggests that it might be possible to pressure businesses into opening stores as a way of expressing respect for black people or — to put that negatively — to avert accusations of racism. There's also the idea — is it racist? — that black people need to be protected from making their own choices about which beverages to buy in the store.

I was just saying that it's been decades since anyone has been outraged by "'modern art' in the form of paintings that have messy-looking drips and scrawls and blotches."

Here, in this post linking to a old-time-y review of painting done by an Abstract Expressionist who emerged in the 1950s. I wrote, "There are things in art that can still shock people, but it would need to involve hurting a living creature or destroying something of value, not merely the chaotic application of paint to a canvas."

And look what we have today. A painter did one of the big messy-looking scrawls-and-blotches things that everyone has completely absorbed as ordinary art, something that wasn't even the slightest bit newsworthy but that is in a public place and capable of being presented to the news media as valued at $500,000. 

And then along come some people who painted on top of it, so it's the "destroying something of value" that I was talking about. It's not the artist smashing a $1 million ancient vase, but some people other than the artist coming along and painting on top of the artist's mundane exercise in Abstract Expressionism. The artist could not get us heated up about his painting — mere painting. But when you talk about destruction... well, you know that you can count on us to get excited. So maybe one of the last remaining methods of engaging our outrage has been successfully deployed.

But, you may want to tell me, the artist didn't do it. Some stupid people came along and decided on their own to paint on a painting. But did you read the news story? "Young couple mistakenly vandalizes $440,000 painting in South Korea/The work was done in 2016 by American graffiti artist JonOne" (ABC News). Key passage: 

The decision to display performance equipment in front of JonOne's work goes back to 2016. JonOne completed the artwork in question during a graffiti museum show, "The Great Graffiti,'' in Seoul Arts Center at the time. When the piece was complete, it was displayed along with the props used by the artist, in the same way the display is on now. 
"The paint and brushes used by the artist comprise a complete set with the graffiti canvas work," said [Kang Wook, the CEO of Contents Creator of Culture, co-organizer of the exhibition]. He explained that the props were part of the exhibition to help highlight the history of the artist's work.

The displayed "performance equipment" was jars of paint and paint brushes scattered on the floor at the base of the painting, giving the impression of a work in progress and susceptible to the interpretation that the viewer is invited to use the equipment and participate in performance art by adding to the painting. 

Now, is that what the artist intended? There was no sign telling people to paint on the painting. That would be like something in a children's museum, and I doubt if anyone would write a news article about it. It would be cutesy and communal. Everyone's an artist, and all art is a joint project. Not outrageous. No destruction. Only construction. So creative.

But if you put the paint and brushes out there as a sculptural still life, and leave it to members of the public to maybe decide on their own to do the children's museum thing and paint over the painting, then you can sell it to the press as destruction. A painting was painted over!! And now you've got your outrage. You've got your publicity. The name JonOne is well-known for 15 minutes.

"When I was a kid, we were 'free to be you and me' regardless of sex."

From the top-rated comment at "How Do I Define My Gender if No One Is Watching Me?" (a NYT column we discussed yesterday, here). The full comment, which is from Kate in Oregon:
It would appear to me that the current cultural obsession with gender and how one identifies with it is a distraction from true self-knowledge and understanding of each person's unique personality. The current ideas around "gender identity" pigeon-hole people into behaving certain ways to signal their "gender" but what does it even mean? When I was a kid, we were "free to be you and me" regardless of sex. Now it seems like things are going back in the other direction. Girls like pink and boys like blue and if a boy likes pink, he must have something different about his gender identity? It is regressive.

From the Wikipedia page for "Free to Be You and Me": 

The original idea to create the album began with Marlo Thomas, who wanted to teach her then-young niece Dionne about life, in particular that it is acceptable to refute or reject the gender stereotypes expressed in children's books of the period. In an Emmy Legends interview Thomas explains:

I told my sister Terre "it would take Dionne 30 years to get over it (stories featuring traditional gender roles) the same as it took all of us. We need to find her some different books to read" and she said "You go and find 'em." Well there weren't any. And not only weren't there any, I was in the bookstore one day looking around and found this one (picture book - I'm Glad I'm a Boy! I'm Glad I'm a Girl! by Whitney Darrow Jr.) that showed a pilot on one page and a stewardess on a facing page (with a caption) that said "Boys are pilots, girls are stewardesses." Well I nearly had a heart attack right there in the bookstore....

Here's another high-rated comment from the NYT column, from another woman in Oregon, Lunita: 

The author "jokes" that gender is a social construct... it is! Feminists have been working to dismantle gender (the hierarchy of men over women and the sex roles associated with that) for decades, which makes it all the more disappointing that most liberals assert its existence as internal and innate. You should express yourself however you please, but performing "gender" to an audience is not affirming; the fact that the author needs external validation for this proves how alienating it is. Gender is a caste system that needs to be abolished, not an identity to be celebrated.

Here's the reference to joking in the original column: 

My friends and I had long joked, “Gender is a social construct!” every time one of us needed shoring up after a messy encounter with the expectations of the gender-conforming heterosexual world. But without that world, we now added a rueful punchline: “Too bad there’s no more ‘social’!”

April 2, 2021

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want. 


"Though still early in his presidency, these three false claims have been repeated by President Biden despite previous fact-checking."

Writes WaPo fact checker Glenn Kessler, in "President Biden, recidivist": "[T]here are three claims President Biden has made that appear impervious to fact-checking, given that he’s already said them at least three times. Some readers have noticed, sending us puzzled emails about why the president keeps making these statements."


I'm not sure it's a loon, so tell me what it is if not a loon. In this 33 second clip, you hear the bird reacting to the very instant of sunrise and see the sun pop into view.


Video made at 6:39 this morning on Lake Mendota.

"Alone in my apartment... I was surprised by how much my gender instead seemed to almost evaporate."

"Where did my own gender reside, then, if not in sending signals of difference?... With the gender binary all but gone, what did it mean to be nonbinary? How do I define my gender when I — accustomed to how visible my gender usually makes me — am no longer being watched?.... A similarly liberating shift happened for Tygra Slarii, a 29-year-old Black performer at a Minneapolis bar, The Saloon. Before the pandemic, Mx. Slarii came out as a woman and had gender-affirming breast augmentation.... When Minnesota issued shelter-in-place orders, the extended pause gave Mx. Slarii time to question, and explore the complexity of, gender — and come out again, this time as nonbinary. 'My body isn’t a tool for marketing my transition anymore,' Mx. Slarii told me. 'I don’t think cis people understand how much their input weighs down on trans people, especially when it comes to transitioning.' When, during the pandemic, Mx. Slarii pursued a second gender-affirming surgery, a Brazilian butt lift, it was an entirely different emotional experience. This time, the surgery was no longer a means of selling a narrative to be believed and seen; now Mx. Slarii’s body was simply their own.... Who are we, when no one is looking? Who are we, without what once both held us back and held us up?"

What I saw was "How Do I Define My Gender if No One Is Watching Me?/Without a public eye, who are we?" by Alex Marzano-Lesnevich (NYT).

"A day before I sent Malcolm the email saying I wanted to break up, I came across a term online: solo polyamory."

"It described a person who is romantically involved with many people but is not seeking a committed relationship with anyone. What makes this different from casual dating is that they’re not looking for a partner, and the relationship isn’t expected to escalate to long-term commitments, like marriage or children. More important, the relationship isn’t seen as wasted time or lacking significance because it doesn’t lead to those things. I wasn’t comfortable identifying as polyamorous then. My desire for something nontraditional was a source of shame and questioning. But for once, in the vast literature on love, I felt seen. I liked how solo polyamory cherished and prioritized autonomy and the preservation of self, and I found its rejection of traditional models of romantic love freeing. When Malcolm and I first told friends and family about our open relationship, we were met with verbal lashings and gross generalizations, including that this was 'not something Black people did.'"

From "My Choice Isn’t Marriage or Loneliness/I thought I had a classic fear of commitment, but it’s more complicated than that" by Haili Blassingame (NYT). There's an excellent illustration by Brian Rea at the link.

We watched this movie on Netflix yesterday. Recommended.

"In many... cases, students have felt deeply violated even when their partner followed affirmative-consent rules—asking for and receiving a 'yes'—because aspects of the situation made them feel that what occurred was not what they wanted...."

"Sometimes the explicit request for permission might have induced them to do something they were conflicted about. Some schools have trained students, as part of orientation, to seek and settle for nothing less than 'enthusiastic' agreement to sex. Even under an affirmative-consent regime’s valorization of clarity, 'yes' doesn’t always mean 'yes.' The jury is still out on whether our experiment with affirmative consent will reduce rape, prove useful for distinguishing sex from sexual assault, or lead to less experience of sexual violation. But what may well emerge is a recognition that the clearest practices of 'yes' and 'no' do little to untangle a deep difficulty that makes consent seem promising yet wide of the mark: the altogether human experience of not knowing in the first place what is wanted or unwanted, desired or undesired. In a letter to Princess Marie Bonaparte, a French psychoanalyst who sought treatment for what she described as 'frigidity,' Sigmund Freud wrote, in the nineteen-twenties, 'The great question that has never been answered, and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is "What does a woman want?"'"

That's from "The Politics of Bad Sex/A new book argues that current standards of affirmative consent place too much emphasis on knowing what we want" by Jeannie Suk Gersen (in The New Yorker). 

I was surprised to see the return of Sigmund Freud, but Suk Gersen perceives Freud's question — she calls it "Freud's aporia" — in the new book she's reviewing, Katherine Angel’s “Tomorrow Sex Will Be Good Again: Women and Desire in the Age of Consent.” 

Suk Gersen writes:

April 1, 2021

"I’m floored. I’m thrilled to hear President Biden would call out the Claiborne Expressway as a racist highway."

Said Amy Stelly, an architectural designer, who is "part of a growing movement across the country to take down highways bored through neighborhoods predominantly home to people of color."

From "A woman called for a highway’s removal in a Black neighborhood. The White House singled it out in its infrastructure plan" (WaPo).

At the Midday Café...


... you can write about anything. 

That's a panorama view that shows the sun and the moon. Click and click again to get a big enough picture.

"For a while now, I’ve been talking about art objects as 'machines for thinking': Our job as viewers is..."

"... to switch them on, and it’s almost impossible to do that when all you’re getting is a glimpse through the gaps in a crowd." 

Writes Blake Gopnik in "Experiencing Museums as They Should Be: Gloriously Empty/A critic discovers the joy of visiting Covid-restricted art collections, which lets him commune with van Gogh and the gang" (NYT).

This essay belongs in the transgressive literary genre, The Blessings of Covid. 

Have you spent much time gazing at museum art, anticipating lofty thoughts and emotional transport? It's hard to experience the contemplative level of awareness needed when there are always other people shifting around you, taking too little time, shattering your meditation with pointless little comments. Like reading the title of the painting out loud. Ever notice how many museum-goers do that? Or flatly stating the same factoid about the artist — the cut-off ear, the penchant for young girls...? They'll take a gander and pronounce the artist good at details. They'll opine on the looks of the person in the portrait as if it were a TikTok makeup video. The word "gorgeous" will recur so much that your meditation shifts to predicting the next time someone will say "gorgeous." And God forbid that painting you wanted as your own personal thinking machine is the next target of the wandering docent....

Amsterdam Notebook

"No mention of the perps race in the headline. That is weirdly the most obvious clue to their race nowadays. #JouralismDiesInWokeness."

Says one of the commenters on the Washington Post article "New York authorities file hate-crime charges in attack on Asian American woman." 

There isn't even an attacker in the headline. The only human beings in the headline are the "authorities" and the "Asian American woman." The evildoer disappears. There's no attacker, only an "attack." But if there are hate crime charges, then the human mind is all important. "Attack" stresses the outward action. "Hate" requires a hater. There is a shadow of a person in the word "hate," the gesture at a mind. 

But this person is depersonalized — depersonalized because he is black. If a white man had stomped on an old Asian-American lady, he'd get full recognition in the headline. Is that racist?

In defense of WaPo, the second sentence of the article is: "Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said Elliot — a homeless Black man on parole after serving 17 years in prison for killing his mother — told 65-year-old Vilma Kari 'you don’t belong here' before launching the unprovoked attack in Midtown on Monday."

"But it may have been Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who coaches his daughter’s basketball team and who tried out unsuccessfully for the basketball team at Yale..."

"... when he was an undergraduate there, whose questions and comments were most hostile to the NCAA. Kavanaugh told [NCAA lawyer Seth] Waxman that he was starting from the premise that U.S. antitrust laws 'should not be a cover for exploitation of the student-athletes.' Kavanaugh then summarized the case as one in which the schools were conspiring with their competitors 'to pay no salaries to the workers who are making the schools billions of dollars on the theory that consumers want the schools to pay their workers nothing.' Such a scenario, Kavanaugh concluded, 'seems entirely circular and even somewhat disturbing.'"

From "Justices employ full-court press in dispute over college athlete compensation" (SCOTUSblog).

This is the kind of writing about painting that you used to see everywhere half a century ago.

I'm have twitchy twinges of nostalgia reading this from Sebastian Smee in The Washington Post:

Twombly’s restive, twitchy marks are cryptic, conjuring both the fog of battle and an atmosphere of human and creative fade-out. The “math” part of “aftermath” is old German for “mowing.” And there’s a sense in which Twombly’s work relates to the Old Masters as a field of stubble relates to a golden wheat field in high summer. 

Even the headline is a throwback to the distant past: "Yes, your kid could (probably) do this. But it might still be great art." That was the cartoon of the time: Ordinary people looking at "modern art" and saying "My kid could do that." It's kind of sad that the headline writer drew from that long-faded meme. 

Who has cared in the last quarter century about the shock of "modern art" in the form of paintings that have messy-looking drips and scrawls and blotches? There are things in art that can still shock people, but it would need to involve hurting a living creature or destroying something of value, not merely the chaotic application of paint to a canvas.

But I am touched by Smee's writerly efforts in an archaic style.

Isn't this how to do Critical Race Theory? You always ask — about anything — Isn't it racist? That's the method.

"The FBI had an elegant term for G. Gordon Liddy, and that term was 'super-klutz.' As with so many self-professed paragons of strategy and masculinity..."

"... the man who advertised himself routinely as 'virile, vigorous and potent' was most famous for underperforming. He was brilliant at scheming but lousy at pulling off schemes.... A week after the [Watergate] break-in, Nixon said privately of Liddy: 'He just isn’t well screwed-on, is he?' Liddy may have died Tuesday at 90, but he lives on in any number of characters afflicting our politics with their theatrical machismo or numbskulled shenanigans. There’s a little Liddy in the Republican senators who dressed in safari gear to visit the border last week in armed riverboats. There’s a little Liddy in New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and his hatchet men, who aren’t subtle about conducting loyalty tests or smearing opponents. TrumpWorld teemed with little Liddys trying to outdo one another with displays of bravado, running off cliffs like Wile E. Coyotes, rigging political bombs that detonated in their faces. Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen, Rudolph Giuliani. Absent-minded masterminds, all of them, tripping on their own cloaks, daggering their own shanks..."

From "Little Liddys everywhere: The legacy of a political ‘super-klutz’" by Dan Zak (WaPo).

Facebook bans "content posted in the voice of Donald Trump."

BBC News reports. 

Lara Trump, a new Fox News contributor, posted a video of herself interviewing Mr Trump on a range of issues. She later posted a screenshot of an email she received from Facebook warning her of the ban. "In line with the block we placed on Donald Trump's Facebook and Instagram accounts, further content posted in the voice of Donald Trump will be removed and result in additional limitations on the account," an email from "Katelyn" read.

It's possible that Facebook only means to block Trump from directly using another person to bypass the ban, but the phrasing — "content posted in the voice of Donald Trump" — seems to rope in everyone who writes about Trump in a way that passes along his words and ideas. What is "the voice of Donald Trump"? 

If I put up a video of Trump talking, am I posting "in the voice of Donald Trump"? Notice the threat of "additional limitations" on one's account. It's not just Lara Trump who is threatened. It's anyone who's pro-Trump and even anyone who wants to write about what Trump is saying. 

Is it Facebook's agenda to stop Trump family and associates from passing along his video or is it to create an enclave in which Trump does not exist — to render Trump a nonperson?

March 31, 2021

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk all night. 

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!

"If you didn’t know Ms. Anglund’s stories, you probably knew her drawings of children: Their faces were blank orbs with just two wide-set dots for eyes."

"They became ubiquitous, appearing on Hallmark cards, dolls and ceramics, as Anglund merchandise secured a prominent niche in the collectibles market... Ms. Anglund’s illustrations were particularly distinctive. While the adults in her drawings all displayed fully formed and expressive facial features, the children had none at all, save for those dots for eyes. Ms. Anglund, who used her own children as models, said she had never made a conscious decision to omit her young characters’ mouths and noses. But over time, she said, she realized that unformed, untouched faces better evoked the innocence of childhood. 'I think perhaps I am trying to get down to the essence of a child,' she said, 'not drawing just a particular, realistic child, but instead I think I’m trying to capture the "feeling" of all children, of childhood itself, perhaps.'"

 From "Joan Walsh Anglund, 95, Dies; Her Children’s Books Touched Millions/Her first in a prolific career, 'A Friend Is Someone Who Likes You,' was a phenomenon. And her illustrations capturing childhood became a cottage industry" (NYT). 

Anglund wrote the line "A bird doesn’t sing because he has an answer, he sings because he has a song" — which Maya Angelou, author of “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” took to quoting.

"The plan, set to be introduced by Biden in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, says it will enable drivers across the country to find electric charging stations for their vehicles on the road."

"Every lead pipe in the country would be replaced. All Americans would have access to high-speed Internet broadband by the end of the decade. As many as 2 million homes and housing units would be built, retrofitted or renovated. Biden released the spending plan with a slew of tax hikes on businesses that is likely to be the most contentious part of his proposal. The White House says the proposal would pay for itself over 15 years because many of the tax increases would remain even as the spending proposals only last for eight years.... On the tax side, Biden’s plan includes raising the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent; increasing the global minimum tax paid from about 13 percent to 21 percent; ending federal tax breaks for fossil fuel companies; and ramping up tax enforcement against corporations, among other measures."

WaPo reports.

"The man accused of beating an Asian American woman during a broad-daylight hate-crime attack in New York City on Monday was on lifetime parole for murdering his mother..."

"... years earlier in front of his 5-year-old sister, police and sources told Fox News. Brandon Elliot, 38, was arrested shortly after 1 a.m. Wednesday in Manhattan. He has been charged with attempted assault as a hate crime, assault as a hate crime, assault and attempted assault, police said Wednesday. Around 11:40 a.m. Monday, Elliot is said to have attacked a 65-year-old woman on West 43rd Street between Eighth and Ninth avenues in Manhattan while she was on her way to church..  A startling video shows a man, identified by police as Elliot, punching kicking the woman as she walks along the sidewalk, which [causes] her to fall to the ground. He then continues viciously kicking her in the head and body, according to the video and police. As he continued his assault, the suspect told her: 'F--- you, you don’t belong here'..."

Fox News reports.

The article doesn't mention Elliot's race, even though he was charged with a hate crime. I presume the photograph is supposed to do the delicate work of conveying the information.

Biden dog update.

"The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled Gov. Tony Evers acted unlawfully when he issued multiple pandemic emergency orders — including face mask requirements..."

"The order means the governor will be barred from extending the state's current COVID-19 emergency order and mask mandate, which was set to expire on April 5, unless the Republican-controlled Legislature votes to extend it. Otherwise, it will continue to be up to local governments, such as cities and counties, to impose their own virus restrictions. Dane County's mask mandate remains in place. The court's 4-3 ruling on Wednesday, with conservative swing Justice Brian Hagedorn joining the conservative majority, follows a pattern of skepticism the state's highest court has exhibited toward the governor's mitigation efforts since the pandemic began. Hagedorn delivered the majority opinion where he wrote that Wisconsin law gives Evers extraordinary powers for only a short duration, 60 days, following the declaration of a public health emergency. 'The plain language of the statute explains that the governor may, for 60 days, act with expanded powers to address a particular emergency,' Hagedorn wrote. 'Beyond 60 days, however, the legislature reserves for itself the power to determine the policies that govern the state's response to an ongoing problem. Similarly, when the legislature revokes a state of emergency, a governor may not simply reissue another one on the same basis.'" 

The Wisconsin State Journal reports.

Okay, then. The governor exceeded his powers under the statute.

"Dane County's mask mandate remains in place" — that's the answer for me. 

Response from the Democrats. The court is just doing right-wing politics:

"There’s some precedent for a company trying a 'fake news' joke. In 2018, the food chain IHOP briefly tried to convince consumer it was exchanging the 'P' in its name to 'B,' trading pancakes for burgers."

"[Volkswagen spokesman Mark] Gillies, after presenting the false information the day before, came clean on Tuesday... '[W]e didn’t mean to mislead anyone. The whole thing is just a marketing action to get people talking' about its new car model." 

From "An unwelcome prank: Volkswagen purposely hoodwinks reporters" (AP).

VW must have thought that it's so clearly not true that the longstanding brand name Volkswagen of America would be changed to "Voltswagen of America" that it would work as an Onion-style headline, funnier because it looks like real news. 

But the Associated Press, USA Today, CNBC, and the Washington Post all took it seriously and reported it as news. And some of them are now acting outraged. E.g.: "This was not a joke. It was deception. In case you haven’t noticed, we have a misinformation problem in this country. Now you’re part of it. Why should anyone trust you again?"

"It's March 2021, and I'm looking back on this comments thread about drawings from Van Gogh Museum. It's so weird to see the one commenter breaking in..."

"... with the emergency news that Peter Jennings has died and I must get right on it," I write in the comments to a post I put in 2005

We were talking about a post that had my ink drawings of Van Gogh and of a museum guard yelling at a baby who'd sat down on the ledge that is there to keep people from standing to close to the paintings, and of the baby muttering "Bummer, bummer, bummer." 

I thought that was pretty amusing, but the commenter was all: "Ann, if you're still up, Peter Jennings' death was just announced 15 mins ago. I have a link in my blog, but so far, only lgf have the story. Since you're doing Glenn's blog this week, it seems you're going to be doing extra-duty on the obit watch -- they'll start to pour any second."

The notion that I'm here to hop to it when there's breaking news... it was absurd then and it's absurd now. Everyone knew Peter Jennings was dying. It was one of those death-watch situations. And yet it seemed important to some people to burst in and be first! when the dying man is actually dead. Why?!

"Two days ago, I decided to stop doing the dishes. I make all the dinners and I am tired of having to do all the cleaning too. SINCE THEN..."

"... this pile has appeared and at some point they are going to run out of spoons and cups and plates. Who will blink first? Not me."

Tweeted Miss Potkin, with lots of photos (keep scrolling). 

Via Metafilter, where somebody says "So it’s like Wages for Housework, except you get Twitter faves instead of wages, and instead of a deep feminist critique of capitalism, you get a resentful critique of your shitty family?"

"At this point we’re missing our tourists again. But I think there was a moment of really big joy in getting our city back."

Said the owner of an Amsterdam restaurant, quoted in "In Empty Amsterdam, Reconsidering Tourism/Before Covid-19, the city was packed with visitors. Now efforts to rein in the expected post-pandemic crowds are ramping up, but not without controversy" (NYT). 

In 2019, a record-breaking 21.7 million people visited Amsterdam, a city with a population of about 870,000.... On a typical Saturday night before the pandemic, the district, known as De Wallen, would have been heaving with young men going from bar to bar — perhaps stepping into sex shops or coffee shops or eyeing scantily clad prostitutes posing in their windows.

"Unlike so many Hollywood roles, the sexuality at the core of hers wasn’t cute or passive or submissive."

"It was challenging, confrontational, defiant; she stared into the camera with those remarkable eyes, almost daring us to return her gaze. The parts became increasingly transgressive: in The Night Porter, Rampling has a sadomasochistic relationship with her Nazi torturer; in ’Tis Pity She’s A Whore she has an incestuous affair with her brother; and in Max Mon Amour, she cheats on her diplomat husband with a chimpanzee. 'Ah, the ape – I love it,' she says affectionately.... Rampling says she simply wasn’t interested in Hollywood. 'Let’s use a nice old English expression: it just wasn’t my cup of tea. I wanted to go into the auteur and European world of the semi-darkness.'"

 From "Charlotte Rampling: ‘I am prickly. People who are prickly can’t be hurt any more’ She’s best known for her dark, difficult roles, and doesn’t suffer fools gladly. The actor talks about swinging in the 60s, family tragedy – and why she’s still got It" (The Guardian). 

Rampling is 75, and she's still doing movies. She's been in so many things over the years, beginning with the uncredited role of Girl at Disco in "A Hard Day's Night." I haven't seen many of them at all. Avoided "The Night Porter," which was a big deal in its time (1974). I did see "Stardust Memories" (1980):

I looked up "Max Mon Amour," and I've got to say the poster is very nice:

From the reviews at Rotten Tomatoes (where it has a 22% rating): "Impossible to take seriously or as satire, this film is an embarrassment to humanity and our cousins in the jungle"/"A wry mix of King Kong and My Man Godfrey, it's a potent premise that somehow never catches fire."/"On the whole, it works as a witty, black comedy of manners that judiciously avoids the vulgarity inherent in the subject."

The Guardian says "the sexuality at the core of hers wasn’t cute or passive or submissive," but are we to take these movies — which she did not write or direct — as expressive of Rampling's sexual core? She got the roles she got. This seems like a good place to bring up Sharon Stone's new memoir. Here's an article about it in TNR, "Sharon Stone and the Fantasy of Female Domination/At the peak of her fame, she exuded total control on screen. According to her new memoir, a different story played out behind the scenes." 

"Why operate your business from an expensive midtown office when all you need is a smartphone and laptop, a tasteful backdrop for your video calls, and Amazon Prime?"

"Ask the same question on a societal level... why... pour billions into a staggeringly expensive system of urban infrastructure when all you need to keep the wheels of commerce turning is Zoom, Signal, and a reliable, super-fast wireless network…. After Covid, nothing defined 2020 more than an explosion of crime across urban America, even though there were far fewer people outdoors to victimize…. [A]re nightclubs as much of a draw when dating can be now conducted online?… Covid has [sped the] demise of retail stores…. [M]useums and concert halls [and] sports stadiums and arenas to theaters and neighborhood cinemas… are all under assault, [from Covid and from] streaming video and virtual events. Another potential threat to density is the green movement… The manufacture of density’s core ingredients, steel and cement, produces some 15 percent of the world’s carbon emissions…. The fates of major metropolises are hanging precariously as they grasp at untested policies predicated on borrowed stimulus dollars, short-term business bailouts, non-eviction mandates, and other spit-and-glue measures that are most likely unsustainable…. All these challenges will be made even greater as the politics of cities grow increasingly polarized." 

From "The Death of Density?/To survive and thrive, cities will have to overcome a number of formidable trends" by Richard Schwartz (who has "served in senior positions under 3 New York mayors).

I've compressed a lot, and I completely omitted the last paragraph — which calls for hope, hope for density. But the argument against density is so strong. You've got environmentalism counting in favor of the suburbs now. You've got all the new patterns of work and social life, all the speed and connection of the internet replacing the physical proximity maintained within a city. And you've got the crime in the city. And the politics, which will skew evermore to the left as people who want the benefits of nondensity — and want out of the ever-tightening grip of left politics — exercise their option to leave.

March 30, 2021

At the Tuesday Night Café...

 ... you can talk about whatever you want.

"Grumpy old white dude assholes frantically trying to pivot to Professional White Ally, on the theory that this will make them money, aren’t making money."

"Tweedy party-at-the-Verso-loft n+1 leftists aren’t making money. 33 year olds who follow Tik Tok trends for a living and communicate in slang that’s fifteen years too young for them aren’t making money. Arrogant white nerdoliberals with Warby Parkers and Moleskine collections aren’t making money. Sports bloggers who provide sports news and commentary but with attitude aren’t making money. Softening khaki dads struggling to understand Bitcoin and intersectionality in an effort to survive their next inevitable layoff aren’t making money. Talented and unfulfilled women writers who have learned too late that women’s media is a ghetto they will struggle to escape for the rest of their careers aren’t making money. Aspiring young data scientists who labor over their spreadsheets for hours only to see others copy and past[e] their R graphs without attribution and receive 40x the pageviews aren’t making money. And you won’t either." 

From "If You Want to Make It As a Writer, For God's Sakes, Be Weird/you're in a market, so sell something other people aren't" by Freddie DeBoer (Substack).

"I only know that it has to do with women. I have a suspicion that someone is trying to recategorize my generosity to ex-girlfriends as something more untoward."

Said Matt Gaetz, quoted in "Matt Gaetz Is Said to Be Investigated Over Possible Sexual Relationship With a Girl, 17/In inquiry into the Florida congressman was opened in the final months of the Trump administration, people briefed on it said" (NYT).

UPDATE: Gaetz went on Tucker Carlson's show last night and made some elaborate counter-allegations. I found this hard to follow. He accuses the NYT of interfering with something. The word "extortion" comes up a lot, and after he leaves, Carlson — perhaps wanting to distance himself from the factual assertions — calls it "weird."


UPDATE 2: I received a press release from Gaetz in my email. It says: 

"Over the past several weeks, my family and I have been victims of an organized criminal extortion involving a former DOJ official seeking $25 million while threatening to smear my name. We have been cooperating with federal authorities in this matter and my father has even been wearing a wire at the FBI’s direction to catch these criminals. The planted leak to the New York Times tonight was intended to thwart that investigation. No part of the allegations against me are true, and the people pushing these lies are targets of the ongoing extortion investigation. I demand the DOJ immediately release the tapes, made at their direction, which implicate their former colleague in crimes against me based on false allegations."

On Carlson's show, he named the man he was accusing of an extortion scheme.

Major... minor... Biden's dog bites again.


ADDED: This is a new incident. Here's the CNN report: "Bidens' dog Major involved in another biting incident."

"Kipling Williams has studied the effects of the silent treatment for more than 36 years, meeting hundreds of victims and perpetrators in the process..."

"A grown woman whose father refused to speak with her for six months at a time as punishment throughout her life. 'Her father died during one of those dreaded periods... When she visited him at the hospital shortly before his death, he turned away from her and wouldn’t break his silence even to say goodbye.' A father who stopped talking to his teenage son and couldn’t start again, despite the harm he knew he was causing. 'The isolation made my son change from a happy, vibrant boy to a spineless jellyfish, and I knew I was the cause,' the father said to Williams. A wife whose husband severed communication with her early in their marriage. 'She endured four decades of silence that started with a minor disagreement and only ended when her husband died,' Williams said. Forty years of eating meals by herself, watching television by herself—40 years of being invisible. 'When I asked her why she stayed with him for all that time... she answered simply, "Because at least he kept a roof over my head."'" 

From "What You’re Saying When You Give Someone the Silent Treatment/Social ostracism has been a common punishment for millennia. But freezing someone out harms both the victim and the perpetrator" by Daryl Austin (The Atlantic)(paywall challenge to overcome).

WaPo Fact Checker gives Biden 4 Pinocchios for saying that the new Georgia voting law is "sick … deciding that you’re going to end voting at five o’clock when working people are just getting off work."

Glenn Kessler writes: 

On Election Day in Georgia, polling places are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and if you are in line by 7 p.m., you are allowed to cast your ballot. Nothing in the new law changes those rules.... 

So where would Biden get this perception that ordinary workers were getting the shaft because the state would “end voting at five o’clock"? We have one clue. The law used to say early “voting shall be conducted during normal business hours.” Experts said that generally means 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The new law makes it specific — “beginning at 9:00 AM and ending at 5:00 PM.”

Obviously, nearly everyone would read Biden's statement to refer to Election Day. The bit about early voting could have been used to cut Biden some slack and back off from the full 4-Pinocchio denouncement, but that would be wrong, because the new law didn't even cut back early voting. 

I'm glad to see Kessler giving 4 Pinocchios when deserved. Last month, I was critical of him for backing off to 3 and said: "Stop babying Biden! He's the damned President. If he needs to be babied, get him out of the presidency."

"Three burglars botched a jewellery heist when they were caught running from a neighbouring tweed shop covered in brick dust having set off the alarm on a safe by drilling through a cellar wall."

"The trio broke into the Cheltenham Tweed Company shop in the spa town’s promenade on January 9 and drilled their way through the dividing wall in the basement to get into the adjacent antiques and jewellery shop. Tim Burrows, for Newman said: 'They were all flummoxed by the safe. It was while they were trying to gain entry into the safe that the alarm went off.' Judge Ian Lawrie, QC, interjected: “They behaved like three buffoons with utter incompetence in carrying out this burglary.... Judge Lawrie told Rabjohns: 'You were a complete idiot to get involved in this burglary. You need to take greater care who you mix with in future.'"

That's from England, obviously. Lots of clues, and I didn't even include the part about the "spanner" in the "boot." Notice the spelling "jewellery." In America, we laugh at people who speak as if "jewelry" were spelled "jewellery."

From "‘Buffoon’ burglars sentenced for botched jewellery heist" (The London Times).

It's one thing to get caught committing a crime, quite another to have the judges all mocking you for how stupid you were to get caught. 

Running from a tweed shop covered in brick dust! 

Judge Lawrie: "I don’t think the three men visiting the clothing shop were really interested in adding tweed to their wardrobe when they went on a scouting mission in December."

"Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Monday that neither a gas tax nor a mileage tax would be part of President Joe Biden's sweeping infrastructure plan to be detailed on Wednesday."

 CNN reports. 

The absence of both taxes to fund the infrastructure proposal marks a shift from Buttigieg's comments Friday.

"I think that shows a lot of promise," Buttigieg said of the mileage tax. "If we believe in that so-called user pays principle, the idea that part of how we pay for roads is you pay based on how much you drive.... The gas tax used to be the obvious way to do it -- it's not anymore, so a so-called vehicle-miles-traveled tax or mileage tax, whatever you want to call it, could be a way to do it... [I]f there's a way to do it that doesn't increase the burden on the middle class, we can look at it, but if we do, we've got to recognize that's still not going to be the long-term answer."

That was last Friday, after which Buttigieg got "roasted" (according to The Week). The big problem with that "user pays principle" is that richer people live in the more close-in suburbs and have the benefit of a shorter commute, and the poorer people who must buy further-out real estate and put up with a longer commute would now be expected to pay more for their opposite-of-privilege.

Here's Buttigieg displaying absurd glibness embracing the principle and acting like he and that principle never met:

"These highly-qualified candidates reflect the President’s deeply-held conviction that the federal bench should reflect the full diversity of the American people – both in background and in professional experience..."

Says "President Biden Announces Intent to Nominate 11 Judicial Candidates" (White House press release). 

Quote attributed to Biden:

"This trailblazing slate of nominees draws from the very best and brightest minds of the American legal profession. Each is deeply qualified and prepared to deliver justice faithfully under our Constitution and impartially to the American people — and together they represent the broad diversity of background, experience, and perspective that makes our nation strong."

Who writes this stuff? You've got the "best and brightest" cliché (puffed up with "very"). You've got the silly mixed metaphor, "trailblazing slate." You've got the syrupy ideology  — "broad diversity... makes our nation strong."

Looking at the list, I see that 9 of the 11 are female.

Here's the NYT article: "Biden Names Diverse Nominees for the Federal Bench/The president’s first choices for district and appeals court openings reflected his campaign promise to choose judges from outside of traditional backgrounds."

"It’s more necessary than ever to find the empathetic experience of meeting another person, being in another culture, to smell it, to suffer it, to put up with the hardship and the nuisances of travel, all of that matters."

The pro-travel position, aspirationally articulated by Paul Theroux, quoted in "Would the Pandemic Stop Paul Theroux From Traveling? No. Of course not" (NYT). 

Nice photo of Theroux's workspace at the link. I'm a longtime fan of that genre of photography, and I declare this example worth a click. 

I'm also a longtime participant in the debate about whether to travel, and I'm more of a con than a pro. In that light, I'll say that Theroux sets a somewhat high bar for what you're supposed to be doing in this thing called travel — "empathetic experience," "being in, "smell it," "suffer it," "put up with the hardship." It's no pleasure trip. 

Another Theroux quote at the link: "You cannot be a grumpy traveler. You will not get anywhere. You’ll be killed, you’ll be insulted, you won’t be able to travel. So you need to get along with people. I think that I’m characterized as cantankerous perhaps because if you see things the way they are, and you just describe things the way they are, you can be accused of being unkind."

March 29, 2021

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

"I'm going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom. We have so much to look forward to... but right now, I'm scared."

"We have come such a long way...just please hold on a little while longer. I so badly want to be done. I know you all so badly want to be done. We are just almost there, just not quite yet." 

Said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky:

Not long after that, as the NYT reports:

President Biden on Monday called on governors and mayors to maintain or reinstate mask-wearing orders, saying that because of “reckless behavior,” the coronavirus was again spreading fast, threatening the progress the nation has made so far against the pandemic. “People are letting up on precautions, which is a very bad thing,” he said. “We are giving up hard-fought, hard-won gains.”...

Asked if states should pause their reopening efforts, the president replied simply, “Yes.” He said that governors, mayors, local officials and businesses should demand mask-wearing, calling it a “patriotic duty” that is crucial to the nation’s fight against the virus.

"Here's how the full moon helped free the stuck ship Ever Given in the Suez Canal."

Space.com explains.
"We were helped enormously by the strong falling tide we had this afternoon," Peter Berdowski, CEO of Boskalis, the salvage firm charged with freeing the Ever Given, told The Associated Press. "In effect, you have the forces of nature pushing hard with you, and they pushed harder than the two sea tugs could pull."

"The uproar over Michael Tomasky’s hiring at TNR underscores the extent to which any institution that isn’t explicitly right wing now faces enormous pressure to go 'woke.'"

"Tomasky is a through and through liberal but is being cast as a villain simply for not being further left." 

That's a tweet by Thomas Chatterton Williams, quoted in a Substack piece John Ganz titled "The Dumbest Tweet I Have Ever Seen/Not Really, but C'mon."

Ganz writes: 

"The Louvre museum in Paris said Friday it has put nearly half a million items from its collection online for the public to visit free of charge."

"As part of a major revamp of its online presence, the world's most-visited museum has created a new database of 482,000 items at collections."  

Yahoo reports.  

Here's the site.  

Here's the first thing I looked for:

I wanted to see that because I have a strong memory of drawing it (in person) and only remembered my drawing (blogged before, here): 

ADDED: Oh, no, wait. It's this one — an older, nakeder Voltaire. This is the "portrait absolument fidèle" that I drew:

"'There is no political or social cause in this courtroom,' Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric Nelson, says. He is trying..."

"... to focus the jury on the specifics of the evidence and steer them away from the wider issues of race and policing in America that the case symbolizes to the world outside the courtroom." 

From "Derek Chauvin Trial Live Updates: Lawyers Present Case in George Floyd Killing/The murder trial of the former police officer begins Monday in Minneapolis, 10 months after Mr. Floyd’s death set off protests across the nation" (NYT). 

The defense will try to argue that Mr. Floyd took a fatal amount of fentanyl, but now [the prosecutor, Jerry W.] Blackwell is saying that is not true, that he had built up a tolerance and was not exhibiting signs of overdose. “Mr Floyd had lived with his opioid addiction for years… he was struggling, he was not passing out.”... 

The prosecutor is trying to head off arguments from the defense that George Floyd’s size had anything to do with his death — “his size is no excuse,” he said. George Floyd was already more than six feet tall in middle school and he rapped under the name Big Floyd with popular DJs and rappers in Houston. 

Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer begins his opening arguments with the notion of “reasonable doubt.” He needs one juror to buy in to the idea that drugs killed Mr. Floyd, not Mr. Chauvin’s knee, to hang the jury and force a mistrial.

Here's a live feed of the trial:

"I was repulsed and even a little afraid (I could easily imagine that the homeowner belonged to a militia group) but also fascinated..."

"... perhaps because he plainly also wanted very much to connect, to declare himself, to put forth his vision as any storyteller would. It also seemed as though he wanted to make people laugh, or at least smile. Because, as the display evolved over time, it became clear that he wasn’t just putting up political signage; he was directing a subtly changing Kabuki entertainment for the neighborhood. Some days you’d go by and the white-guy doll would be wearing a scowling Trump mask; then he’d be himself again. Some days there’d be a huge Trump figure sitting in the driver’s seat of one of the vehicles out front; some days not. One day in the fall, an outer-space creature with glittering green eyes appeared beside the male doll, wearing a Trump 2020 hat; later, the alien returned from whence it came and was replaced by a benign Yoda type, who also supported Trump. A friend who stayed at our house while we were out of town for about a month told us that at one point she saw the male doll and the green-eyed alien embracing; she later said she wasn’t sure she really had seen this—which reminded me of my husband’s impression of the fist pulling back the flag. Something about the tableau actively engaged your imagination and made you think you saw things that weren’t there (or possibly were there, who knows—maybe the alien and the male doll did embrace). Which was, I guess, why I came to enjoy the tableau and to secretly root for its creator. Although the content expressed a political view that I didn’t share, the form was artistic, with art’s inherently apolitical ambiguity...."

From "A Trump Tableau/Politics and art in a Catskill front yard" by Mary Gaitskill (in The New Yorker).




"Stay home Patrick of Tennessee. We don’t need maga anti-vaxers spreading pestilence across our country. As a matter of fact, don’t even leave your trailer park."

"Board the doors shut and stay inside with your AR-15. I think all of these anti-vaxers should be required to have ‘do not resuscitate’ tattooed on their foreheads." 

Says the top-rated commenter on a Washington Post article, "‘Vaccine passports’ are on the way, but developing them won’t be easy/White House-led effort tries to corral more than a dozen initiatives." 

The commenter is responding to this: 

There is evidence vaccine passports could motivate skeptical Americans to get shots. Several vaccine-hesitant participants at a recent focus group of Trump voters led by pollster Frank Luntz suggested their desire to see family, go on vacation and resume other aspects of daily life outpaced fear of the shots, particularly if travel companies and others moved to require proof of vaccination....

Some attendees dissented and warned that requiring a credential would backfire. “I would change my travel plans,” said a man identified as Patrick of Tennessee.

Is the developing opinion that only troglodytes resist vaccine passports? Because I just noticed this:

Don't conflate resistance to vaccine passports with resistance to getting vaccinated. That's what I think the WaPo commenter did. Patrick of Tennessee objected to "requiring a credential," not to getting vaccinated.

ADDED: I think Wolf may be an anti-vaxxer, so her warning isn't scary.

SO: Let's look at the Guardian article she links to, "Give pause before you raise a glass to the prospect of a vaccine passport/The prime minister’s ‘papers for pints’ scheme is nothing less than a national ID card by stealth." 

Obviously, that's the UK, and in the U.S., the "passports" would probably be handled at the state level, like our other IDs. I can imagine the question of vaccine passports in the U.S. getting swirled up into the voter ID drama. Is getting an ID oppressive or something everyone should gladly, willingly do? 

"But maybe what you need is... to give families more money and parental benefits and to give them a long economic expansion whose gains are widely shared."

"Call this the Joe Biden-baby-boom hypothesis, which we may be about to test: If you spend on family benefits and run the economy hot enough, maybe fertility rates will finally begin to float back up. This is the ideal scenario for pronatalist liberals, because it would mean more kids without more social conservatism. The second scenario for a fertility recovery, though, involves exactly that: a kind of neo-traditionalist turn, answering the socially liberal swing of the last two decades, that leads to people marrying earlier and having more kids for reasons of values rather than just economics.... [A] third possibility is that a deep fertility decline is more likely to end gradually, through a kind of slow selection process rather than abrupt conversion. By selection I mean that as fewer people have children, the ones who do have kids will be an increasingly distinctive population — not specifically conservative or religious, necessarily, but couples who will have written new scripts for romance, discovered new models for child rearing and burden-sharing, in a cultural and technological landscape that’s torn the older models up. So then the children and grandchildren of these trailblazers, inheriting both the new models for family formation and the world itself, would be the ones who drive some future baby boom."

From "How Does a Baby Bust End?/Three scenarios for a more fertile American future." by Ross Douthat (NYT).

From the comments at the NYT: "It should tell Mr. Douthat something that most of the top comments are from women. Guess what. Women, given any kind of agency at all--which includes education and the ability to support oneself--don't want to have hordes of kids. And if there is anything the planet doesn't need, it's more humans than existing sociopolitical forces are already grinding out. The real problem is to empower those women in oppressive, patriarchal, monotheistic cultures to have the economic, psychological, and political power to say NO more kids than they themselves want. Not to figure out how to con Caucasians (because that's Douthat's subtext) into having more."

"Though they circumcised their daughter, her parents were relatively liberal by the standards of the time and believed that all their children should be educated regardless of gender."

"When El Saadawi was ten they tried to marry her off in accordance with local custom, but her mother supported her when she resisted. El Saadawi allegedly deterred other suitors by smearing aubergine on her teeth to make them black.... After graduating in 1955 El Saadawi returned to her home village to work as a doctor, turning her experiences into a novel, Memoirs of a Woman Doctor. She also married her second husband, Rashad Bey, a lawyer, but swiftly divorced him when he proved too 'patriarchal.' He threw the manuscript of one of her novels out of the window, tore up her Medical Association card and once tried to throttle her.... El Saadawi’s anger was not just directed at Egypt, Islam and the Arab world. She was also a harsh critic of western hypocrisy, colonialism, militarism, capitalism and US support for Israel. She considered the Islamic veil to be a 'tool of oppression' but also condemned the make-up and clothes worn by women in the West. 'Women are pushed to be just bodies — either to be veiled under religion or to be veiled by make-up,' she said. 'They are told they shouldn’t face the world with their real face.'" 

From "Nawal El Saadawi obituary/Prolific Egyptian author and fearless campaigner for women’s rights who became the ‘Simone de Beauvoir of the Arab world’" (London Times).


"The cause of justice demands proprietariness about the meaning of 'reparations,' and we object to these kinds of piecemeal and misleading labels."

"True reparations only can come from a full-scale program of acknowledgment, redress and closure for a grievous injustice."

Write A. Kirsten Mullen and William A. Darity Jr. in "Evanston, Ill., approved ‘reparations.’ Except it isn’t reparations" (WaPo). The Evanston program only offers $25,000 grants for repairs or down payments on real estate.

The authors demonstrate their "proprietariness about the meaning of 'reparations'" by spelling out 4 necessary elements: 

1. Careful delineation of eligibility — including, necessarily, a requirement of an ancestor who was enslaved in the U.S., and self-identification as black on an official document for at least 12 years before the program starts.

2. Erasure of the black/white wealth gap. The authors think $14 trillion is needed.

3. Direct payments to individuals. Not programs like Evanston's, which centers on home ownership.

4. Paid by the federal government. Only the federal government has the kind of money that is demanded, so state and local government should be excluded from using the word "reparations."

Here's a good comment over there: "By describing 'true' reparations as only something that is both politically and practically unachievable, the authors reveal that they are more interested in maintaining the 'systemic racism' grievance industry then helping the country move past its issues with race."

By the way, I don't think I'd ever seen the word "proprietariness" before. It doesn't mean "propriety." The word is not in the OED, but I can see that the "-ness" ending is making a noun out of the adjective "proprietary," which means property-owning or relating to property. It's an unusual word. A google search on it is dominated by references to "male sexual proprietariness" (a man's sense of owning his wife's sexual and reproductive functions). I couldn't find 1 use of the word in the NYT archive, but I did find 6 uses in The Washington Post archive, including a piece from last October about reparations in California:

William Darity Jr., a Duke University economics professor and reparations expert, told the website Cal Matters that no single state could launch an action large enough to be called “reparations.” 

 “I have a sense of proprietariness about the use of the term reparations, because I think people should not be given the impression that the kinds of steps that are taken at the state or local level actually constitute a comprehensive or true reparations plan,” Darity said in Cal Matters. “Whatever California does perhaps could be called atonement, or it could be called a correction for past actions.”

"Reparations" is a brand. There is a claim of ownership over the word itself, and politicians attempting to use the brand for their programs will be pushed back by those who have this sense of proprietariness

March 28, 2021

At the Sunday Night Café...

... you can talk about anything you like.

"... a 14-year-old Midwestern boy who suddenly began experiencing psychosis-like symptoms after being scratched by his cat."

I'm reading "‘Cat-scratch’ bacteria linked to schizophrenia, study says." 

“Historically, prior to psychiatric symptom onset, the boy was socially, athletically, and academically active, as evidenced by participation in national geography and history competitions, and a lead actor in a school play, winning an award in fencing and achieving excellent course grades,” a 2019 study by [Edward] Breitschwerdt reported about the boy, who was initially diagnosed with schizophrenia. He was once placed on a psychiatric hold for a week after saying he was an “evil, damned son of the devil,” according to a report at the time.... After receiving antibiotics to treat the infection, the boy made a “full” recovery.

The pathogen, Bartonella, is more commonly known as the cause of "cat-scratch" disease. That disease has symptoms like swelling and malaise. This newly reported link to schizophrenia is something else. 

Here's the new study.

"... simultaneously transforming into hyperventilating country club snots with sweaters tied around their necks in 1980s movies."

I don't know who "the Bruenigs" are, and I haven't paid too much attention to the metamorphosis of Yglesias, but I have been following the transformation of Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Sullivan, and these tweets strike a chord.

I've got to hypothesize that this has something to do with the financial incentives at Substack, where Yglesias, Greenwald, and Sullivan have relocated. Again, I have no idea about "the Bruenigs." 

It's possible that when Yglesias/Greenwald/Sullivan says something that jibes with conservative ideology, it gets massive linkage that translates to cold hard cash. Imagine trying to think with such static. 

Or do you have more of the Samuel Johnson view of it? "No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." Maybe it's hard to imagine writing without feeling that your fingers tapping on the keyboard are printing money? It's the definition of professional.

I have no idea, really, what Yglesias/Greenwald/Sullivan are doing — what they consciously believe they are doing, what they want deep down, how they really lean politically, and whether they're authentic in their writing. I can only decide what sort of thing I want to read — what to invite into my head.

I like this TV show "Midnight Gospel."


Here's Duncan Trussell talking to Joe Rogan about it: 

"In the station, shadows pool in the basins of hundreds of concrete coffers lining the domed catacomb, as if each one holds something secret."

"Light scurries to corners and crevices, rises from below, casting your features as defamiliarized, haunting forms. Everyone looms. By the time you get down here, are you as raw as the concrete? As callous as a villain? As low as your basest instincts? Cackles ricochet off concrete. Sinister plots surface from the shadows.... Washington’s most notorious Brutalist building, the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover Building, has become a living lair, a symbol of surveillance and policing.... When seen from the corner of Ninth and E streets NW, the upper structure seems to hover atop the main building. This illusion makes the long narrow windows seem as far away as a lair atop a cliff. You couldn’t imagine how to get up to them — let alone who or what looks through them. The structure on top threatens to either take off for space or to crush the structure below. Viewed from Pennsylvania Avenue, the entire building crescendos to an angle, as if plowing toward the National Mall. The FBI building is defined by geometry so rigid that the winding wires of surveillance cameras look playful by comparison. But like the most interesting villains, it’s untamed. You don’t know what it will do next."

From "Brutalist buildings aren’t unlovable. You’re looking at them wrong" by Kelsey Ables (WaPo).

ADDED: Government isn't unlovable. You're just looking at it wrong

He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark mustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.

"After class, Doe approached Meriwether and 'demanded' that Meriwether 'refer to [Doe] as a woman' and use 'feminine titles and pronouns.'"

"This was the first time that Meriwether learned that Doe identified as a woman. So Meriwether paused before responding because his sincerely held religious beliefs prevented him from communicating messages about gender identity that he believes are false. He explained that he wasn’t sure if he could comply with Doe’s demands. Doe became hostile—circling around Meriwether at first, and then approaching him in a threatening manner: 'I guess this means I can call you a cu--.' Doe promised that Meriwether would be fired if he did not give in to Doe’s demands."

From Meriwether v. Hartop (6th Circuit, March 26, 2021), via "Professor who refused school order on transgender student’s pronouns wins in court" (NY Post). 

It was a motion to dismiss, so the facts stated above are the plaintiff's allegations, presumed true and with the inferences all going toward the plaintiff. The professor will be able to go forward with claims based on freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

"Opponents of trans girls’ participation in sports frame their fight in terms of the rights and opportunities of cis girls..."

"... they claim that trans girls, with their unfair advantage, will snag the medals and the college scholarships that rightfully belong to athletes who were assigned female at birth. But, as I listened to the Judiciary Committee hearing, it struck me that the opposition set up in the arguments was between cis-girl athletes on the one hand and a vast liberal conspiracy on the other. (The term 'gender ideology,' a favorite bugaboo of the global far-right movement, made an appearance, too—gender ideology is also apparently out to destroy girls’ sports.) Trans girls were not a part of this imaginary equation, and this was perhaps the most telling part of the hearing. Nor are trans boys ever mentioned in this conversation, perhaps because forcing trans boys to compete against girls, as has happened in Texas, where a trans-boy wrestler who had begun testosterone therapy handily beat female competitors, would expose the inconsistency of the argument from defenders of sex purity in sports. The goal of this campaign is not to protect cis-girl athletes as much as it is to make trans athletes disappear. This is a movement to exclude trans girls from community and opportunity. It is a movement driven by panic over the safety of women and children that reproduces earlier panics, like those over the presence of lesbians on women’s sports teams. And, just like earlier panics, this one is based on what passes for common sense but is in fact ignorance and hate."

From "The Movement to Exclude Trans Girls from Sports/The opposition is cast as one between cis-girl athletes on the one hand and a vast liberal conspiracy on the other" by Masha Gessen (The New Yorker).

1. The rhetorical move here is to characterize one's antagonists as bundles of emotion — hate and panic. Then, the idea is that we don't need to take their stated arguments seriously, because we know what they are really about and we certainly don't want to associate with such awful people. 

2. We're expected not to care about the field of women's sports, which has been specially cultivated over the years in the interest of equality in education. We're expected to feel bad about ourselves if we think that the medals and scholarships of women's sports "rightfully belong" to those who were "assigned female at birth."

3. "It is a movement driven by panic over the safety of women and children that reproduces earlier panics, like...." Like the Me Too movement? The safety of women and children is overwhelmingly important... except when they tell you that it is not.

4. I looked up the committee hearing because I wanted to see how the term "gender ideology" was used. Gessen tells us it's "a favorite bugaboo of the global far-right movement." There's this, from Abigail Shrier (author of "Irreversible Damage"):