April 24, 2021

Tulips.

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"Caitlyn Jenner has accepted Joy Behar’s apology for misgendering the California gubernatorial hopeful, telling the daytime host she’s 'not about cancel culture.'"

"'Don’t sweat it, @JoyVBehar,' Jenner, 71, tweeted early Saturday morning. 'I’m not about cancel culture. I know where your heart is. California has bigger issues than pronouns.'... '[Behar] didn’t say it pointedly. She kept making the mistake. She corrected herself, and then accidentally did it again. She was not being malicious by any means,' an insider told Page Six while pointing out that Behar is an 'advocate' who 'has been honored by [LGBTQ+ rights group] GLAAD.'"

Page Six reports.

Good move by Jenner. Someone who wants to win the support of the masses can't lean into self-based fussiness. It's fine to recommend compassion about pronouns for young people who are struggling with their identity, but when you want to present yourself as ready to take on everyone else's problems and govern, you need to make people feel that you are well grounded and fully supported from within. You need to make other people comfortable — not worried that in talking about you they could say something wrong and have their lives ruined. 

It's really a matter of etiquette, and a politician should not make people feel that they have to live up to some new, difficult standard of etiquette. Behar can't even do it when she's on TV and trying to make up for a slip she's already made.

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"If you’ve been to Mexico, you know that noise levels are often through the roof. Speaking of roofs, in many towns, 'watchdogs' are kept there..."

"... and they bark all the time — at nothing or at everything. And then there are the parties, for birthdays, quinceneras, religious and other holidays. Often these events include rented speakers as big as refrigerators set up in the street in front of their (and your) house. You might find your street blocked by a bounce house or funeral memorial for a day... or three. Strolling musicians are common and can be lovely, but sometimes you might prefer a quiet conversation at dinner or listening to waves at the beach instead of a 10-piece, horn-heavy band. In Mazatlán, open-air taxis, called pulmonias, have gigantic sound systems with speakers that blast music as they make their way through the neighborhoods...."

From "64-year-old retiree who left the U.S. for Mexico: 7 downsides of living in a beach town for $1,200 per month" (CNBC). 

I quoted the material on the noise downside. There are 6 more downsides at the link. But the author, Janet Blaser, says she's got no regrets about her decision.

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Sunrise, 6:03.

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The actual sunrise time today was 6:00.

"[W]hen an alleged rapist writes a book about a brilliant but problematic novelist, and when that book is lauded and celebrated up until..."

"... the moment two women say the author assaulted them — when all that happens, you wonder how the 900-page tome reads in hindsight." 

Writes Monica Hesse (in WaPo). She bought the book after the publisher withdrew it. You can still download the Kindle version. [ADDED: You can even buy the hardcover book at that link. Amazon has its stock to ship. But the publisher, Norton, isn't shipping any more books, and it's not doing publicity.]

That takes some of the heat out of the argument that the book has been censored. I stand by my opinion — expressed here — that the book should be sold no matter what the author, Blake Bailey, may have done. The book is not doing any sort of active harm — where we might have a real debate about censorship. It's just the argument that the author is a bad person, and these are only allegations. I would support publishing the book even if Bailey had shot a man on 5th Avenue in broad daylight. Roth is an overwhelmingly important writer, and this was the biographer he authorized, which caused many people to give interviews to Bailey. It's unfair to the Roth to deprive him of the story of himself that he chose Bailey to tell, and it's unfair to keep that story from us.

But we can get the Kindle version. And maybe we're more interested in it now. Monica Hesse got interested — interested in reading the book with "hindsight." I guess that means that all the time she's reading about Roth, she's thinking about how she's hearing the story of this "problematic" man as analyzed by another problematic man. Let's see what Hesse makes out of her assigned task of perceiving the problematic through an extra layer of problematizing:

You find yourself scrolling to a random page and reading a description of Roth’s first marriage: “Maggie’s sinuses were, of course, the least of their problems. Even at the best of times she couldn’t resist interrupting his work on the thinnest of pretexts (‘Could you go out and get half a pound of Parmesan cheese?’).” One could write a whole essay unpacking the premises propping up this sentence. Why is it unreasonable for Philip Roth to be asked to purchase an ingredient for the dinner he is presumably going to eat? Who purchased the rest of the groceries? One assumes it was Maggie. Was her day not “interrupted” when she shopped for and prepared the meal? What is the difference between a “thin pretext” and a valid request, other than whether the asker is Philip Roth or his shrewish, sinus-clogged wife? 

Ha ha ha. That is rich. That's some really good feminist writing. Bailey is damned by his "thinnest of pretexts." He assumes Maggie just wanted to interrupt Roth, that there couldn't possibly be a legitimate reason for the person cooking dinner to ask the other person in the house to go out and buy a missing ingredient. Bailey seems to think that a person in a house with a Genius at Work must know not even to ask for help with mundane household matters.

Here — if you're going to Amazon to download the Kindle of the Roth bio (or anything else) — why not buy this sign to tack onto your study door and see how it works out with your stuffed-up spouse:

"This is a surreal depiction in which racism is concentrated everywhere. Everyone manifests racism, but then also a vulnerable human side."

"The characters' stories were nicely, complexly interwoven. I liked it — even when it skewed melodramatic. I liked that you were kept on your toes about which characters to love or hate, to respect or revile."

That's something I blogged in February 2006, after watching the movie "Crash," which had just been nominated for the Best Picture Oscar. 

The movie went on to win that Oscar, a fact I'm contemplating this morning because I'm reading "The Oscars always get it wrong. Here are the real best pictures of the past 45 years" (Washington Post). Here's the entry for that year:

Nominees: Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Crash, Good Night and Good Luck, Munich 

Best Picture winner: Crash

The actual best picture: Brokeback Mountain

Your tolerance for “Crash” may vary, but let’s face it: It won because it employed a dozen well-liked B-listers, and it was filmed in the neighborhoods where all the academy voters live. A sensitive and groundbreaking film whose catchphrase (“I wish I knew how to quit you”) still haunts, “Brokeback” was robbed.

That's not new writing. It's something WaPo published in 2016 and is now republishing along with new material to cover more recent movies. This republication had to be updated for full disclosure: "We published this fine quarrel in 2016, but they just keep on handing out Oscars to the wrong movies, so we have updated it for your further education." 

The word "education" — though facetious — takes the position that opinion is stable and what they said 5 years ago about "Crash" is the same thing they'd say today.

April 23, 2021

Tulips.

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"The sort of readers inclined to buy a 900-page book about [Philip] Roth, of all people, are not readers who are afraid to encounter questions about horrible male behavior. "

"[I]f you can make it through Roth’s novels eager to know more about the man who wrote them and drew so deeply on his own life to do so, surely, you’re prepared to encounter ugliness on the page and off it.... In halting printing and shipping of the Roth book, Norton may want to show that the company is willing to take a financial hit in order to demonstrate its values. But nobody, other than maybe Norton, gets anything out of such a decision. It would be far more productive for the company to publish the book, let the public decide its merits and commit to donating any profits — and maybe even a figure that matches Bailey’s advance — to charity instead. Why didn’t Norton trust the reading public to decide on the merits of the Bailey book for itself?"

From "Why stopping the distribution of the Philip Roth biography was a bad idea" by Alyssa Rosenberg (WaPo). The publisher, Norton, withdrew the book because of allegations that the author, Blake Bailey, "groomed" his middle school students and, after they became adults, pursued them for sex and that he raped a woman. Bailey denies all that.

Roth authorized this biography, which gave Bailey access to many people and to Roth's papers. It's an important book and it shouldn't be suppressed. I think the book should be released even if we saw Bailey murder somebody. The book doesn't further any harm to anyone. If Bailey committed crimes, he should be answerable in a criminal proceeding. If the actions are torts, he could be sued, and if he's made money, it will increase his ability to pay damages.

As Rosenberg speculates, it seems that Norton is attempting to structure the facts to cut off its own responsibility, but it's hard to see how there's liability for a publisher publishing a book written by a criminal/tortfeasor.

***

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"She wrote in her autobiography that Bob Dylan tried to seduce her by playing her his latest album, 'Bringing It All Back Home,' and explaining in detail what each track meant."

"(It didn’t work. 'I just found him so … daunting,' she wrote. 'As if some god had come down from Olympus and started to come onto me.') Jagger had more luck, and for a few seemingly glamorous years they were a generational It Couple. But there were tensions from the start, and Faithfull wasn’t sure she was cut out for the wifely muse role that, even in such bohemian circles, she was expected to play...." From "She’s Marianne Faithfull, Damn It. And She’s (Thankfully) Still Here. The British musician has had several brushes with death in her 74 years. But Covid-19 and its long-haul symptoms didn’t derail her latest project: a spoken-word tribute to the Romantic poets" (NYT). 

I was interested in that — "As if some god had come down from Olympus and started to come onto me" — because isn't that the way gods from Olympus actually behave in the story? No, no, they proceed directly to rape. I'm thinking of Leda and the swan — that sort of thing.


There would need to be some new telling of a Greek myth with a god like the one Faithfull described, not lording his godliness but explaining lyrics on his new album — earnestly imagining that she would turn her favor upon him because he visualized the "diamond sky" and "haunted, frightened trees."

***

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"There was almost a celebrity-like aura around him. It wasn’t a normal class. He would go on these long tangents about life and spirituality."

Said Amelia Brown, quoted in "Past Students Say Professor of Rock ’n’ Roll Sexually Harassed Them/Six former University of Michigan students have filed legal papers accusing a former lecturer of sexually harassing them and the school of not doing enough to protect them" (NYT). The class Brown took with the professor, Bruce Conforth, was “Beatniks, Hippies and Punks.”
[One former student] says, according to the court papers, that Mr. Conforth pressured her into a series of sexual encounters, some of them in his campus office, and later, after she had graduated, raped her in his Ann Arbor apartment. A second former student, Ms. Brown, said she was pressured into a sexual encounter with Mr. Conforth after he told her he had feelings for her and pursued her for several weeks. A third woman said he aggressively kissed her. The other plaintiffs say Mr. Conforth propositioned them to have sexual relationships, at times sending them sexually-charged messages or emails and persisting even after they said no. One woman said he gave her a raccoon penis, suggesting it was a talisman.... 

"[E]xcessive hygiene practices, inappropriate antibiotic use and lifestyle changes such as distancing may weaken [our microbiome] going forward in ways that promote sickness and imperil our immune systems."

"By sterilizing our bodies and spaces... we may be doing more harm than good.... [T]he microbes we encounter in daily life — on other people and in our spaces — are the data that the immune system relies on to program and regulate its operations. Deprived of these exposures, especially at the start of life, the immune system is prone to malfunction. The result can be allergies, asthma, autoimmune disorders, obesity, Type 2 diabetes and other chronic medical conditions.... Hygiene zealotry not only deprives people of interactions with helpful bacteria, but it may also be driving some essential microbes into extinction.... In the months to come, the health of our microbiomes may partly depend on the willingness of those who are vaccinated and at low risk to take off their masks and intermingle with one another, as we all used to do. 'A lot of things people do when they’re together that we didn’t use to think about — shaking hands or embracing, kissing or hugging — these sorts of sociocultural practices could play a part in the exchange of microbes,' says Tamara Giles-Vernick... a medical anthropologist...."

From "Can We Learn to Live With Germs Again?/The health of our bodies and microbiomes may depend on society’s return to lifestyles that expose us to bacteria, despite the risks" (NYT). 

There are lots of different risks, and avoiding some causes you to take others. I'd say let the people who want to go without masks — and get back to hugging and kissing — do it. Study how it works out. This idea of just being extra careful about everything until we're sure isn't even coherent, as this article shows, because taking extra care to avoid contact with germs is a failure to take care to maintain exposure to good microbes. Those of us who are vaccinated should be free to encounter the world again. 

Notice that warning: "Deprived of these exposures, especially at the start of life, the immune system is prone to malfunction." That means the lockdown is particularly risky for babies and young children (who are also the ones with the least risk from the disease). 

FROM THE EMAIL: Mike sends this apt bit from George Carlin: 

The dawn/sunrise distinction — 6:01 and 6:05.

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The official sunrise time was 6:02. I love when the disc of the sun appears, but so often, like today, it's much more colorful when the sun shows itself indirectly. The line "it's always darkest just before dawn" came to mind. Clearly, it's not always darkest just before sunrise, but dawn and sunrise are not the same thing:

Dawn is the time that marks the beginning of twilight before sunrise. It is recognized by the appearance of indirect sunlight being scattered in Earth's atmosphere, when the centre of the Sun's disc has reached 18° below the observer's horizon. This morning twilight period will last until sunrise (when the Sun's upper limb breaks the horizon), when direct sunlight outshines the diffused light.

This morning, dawn began at 5:32. If you want to go out and see the sunrise, like I do, check the cloud cover percentage before you go out. If it's not 100% or 0%, you've got a shot at seeing great color in the clouds before sunrise. So notice not just the sunrise time but when twilight begins — dawn.

Activated women hitting new peaks of ineffectuality.

FROM THE EMAIL: Paddy O writes: 

Your post on ineffective "activated women" reminded me of this great passage from Jurgen Moltmann (one of the most important/influential Christian theologians of the last century), who is considered the grandfather of Liberation Theology (his book Theology of Hope in the 60s inspired much of the movement's early leaders).

Here's what he had to say on ineffective activism in his book on the Holy Spirit:

"As I talk closer to the family, they said that, 'Well, the real reason they stopped was because his tags had expired.' Well, I come to Minnesota to tell you your tags have expired."

"Your tags of racism has expired. Your tags of police brutality has expired. Your tags of white supremacy has expired. Your tags of looking at us different than everybody else, has expired. Your tags have expired. It’s time to renew and get some new tags. A tags of righteousness, tags of fairness, tags of treating everybody the same way. Tags of 'No justice. No peace.'... Those tags done expired... That ain’t going to happen no more.... I hope y’all are alive in Texas, we on the way. Because your tags have expired. We are going to stop by North Carolina where a young man was shot yesterday. We’re going to look in Columbus, Ohio, your tags have expired. We’re going wherever you show up, because your tags have expired.... God made a promise... He said, 'The first shall be last. And the last shall be first'.... God will take care of Daunte, now. Stand up and be what we were born to be. We’re not anyone’s slave. We’re the children of God! We’re the children of God! We’re the children of God."

Said the Reverend Al Sharpton, quoted in the Daunte Wright Funeral Service Transcript (misspellings corrected.)

FROM THE EMAIL: Paul writes:

Long-time reader, rare commenter here. Al Sharpton called for "A tags of righteousness, tags of fairness, tags of treating everybody the same way." Robin DiAngelo, in White Fragility, one of the books that has become part of the canon of the anti-racist religion, wrote "It is not possible to teach someone to treat everyone the same. We can be told, and often often are told, to treat everyone the same, but we cannot successfully be taught to do so because human beings are not objective." I think DiAngelo is deeply, profoundly wrong, and it is my sincere hope that the Al Sharpton view will become (return?) to the predominant view, and I think doing so will require pointing out quotes like hers whenever a black person of the left makes a statement like the one Sharpton made.

"I genuinely do love you and your community. You’re so human and beautiful. You make New York City special."

"I have no idea how we ever lose to the Republicans given that you all are frankly in, like, leadership roles all over the Democratic Party. We have, like, this incredible secret weapon. It’s not even secret. It’s like, we should win everything because we have you all." 

Said Andrew Yang, referring to the gay community and gunning for the endorsement of that Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City. And they hated it! 

I'm reading "Andrew Yang, Looking for Endorsement, Offends Gay Democratic Club/Participants described Mr. Yang’s remarks as offensive, saying that even as members of the club wanted to discuss policy issues, he mentioned gay bars" (NYT). 

Now, why did they hate it? I'm guessing they prefer some other candidate, and they ran to the New York Times to send out their negativity against Yang. He's the frontrunner, and he needs to be taken down. He expressed nothing but love and inclusiveness, but apparently, they don't want their special status talked about, they just want a policy-based discussion of the kind he would do with any group, including the least diversityish people. Who knew? 

But, I wonder, if he'd come on like that — talking policy in the same way he would with, say, straight white people — would they have run to the New York Times and claimed to have been offended that he showed no interest in their particular status and fed them generic material he could have served anybody?

I don't know. But I will disapprove of the line "You’re so human." All humans are human. To say "You’re so human" is to imply that the humanness was in question or that other humans are less human. It's a bit like "Black lives matter" in that it states a fact, but the only reason to state it is that there's a background notion — alive in the hearts of other people — that black lives don't matter. You might tell gay people "You're so human" because you mean to say: There are other people out there who think you're subhuman or barely human. 

Here's how members of the group expressed their offense: 

"Kubrick the nudnik is here again."

I'm reading "Kubrick’s Human Comedy/Though Stanley Kubrick was often characterized as icy, his life and filmography reveal that his heart was as large as his mind" (NYRB): 

When [his high school friend] asked Stanley why he didn’t do his own assignments, he got this placid reply: “I’m not interested.” 

What did interest him was the Graflex single-lens high-speed camera his father had given him for his thirteenth birthday, with which he learned to capture crisp images of subjects in motion. Soon he was spending hours in the darkroom in the apartment of another friend, whose mother was heard to complain, “Kubrick the nudnik is here again.” 

The nudnik first sold a photo, of a downcast news vendor surrounded by tabloid headlines announcing the death of FDR, at age seventeen to Look magazine. Over the next five years Look used his images in 135 articles 

You can see many of the Look photographs — including the downcast news vendor — here (at The New Criterion)("A 1949 shoot at Columbia University includes a photo of three physicists standing atop a massive particle accelerator, as well as that of a laboratory scientist handling a glowing rod reflected in his dark, circular glasses; neither image is extricable from thoughts of Dr. Strangelove").

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I've abolished the comments section — I couldn't handle the constant vigilance it required of me — but you can do the equivalent of commenting by emailing me here. I will presume you want your words published in an update to this post, and unless you tell me how you want to be named, I'll use your first name only.

People were attracted to "your strident certainty," Russell Brand tells Jordan Peterson, who's been through severe trials and is amazed to still be alive.

 

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"I think taking off all your clothes — and I’ve never taken off all my clothes — is not only immoral but boring."

"There has to be something left to the imagination. If you take everything off, you please a few morons and chase all the nice people away.” 

Said Tempest Storm, in 1969, quoted in "Tempest Storm, Who Disrobed to Enduring Acclaim, Dies at 93/One of the most celebrated strippers of her time, she began her career in burlesque’s golden twilight and continued performing into her 80s" (NYT).

By the time she was in her late teens she had made her way to Los Angeles, where she found work as a cocktail waitress. A customer told her she ought to be in show business and asked whether she could perform a striptease. “I said, ‘What is that?’... I was from a small town, I didn’t know. He said it was just dancing, but you take your clothes off. I said: ‘Oh, no, not me. My mother would disown me.’” 

Here's an interview she did with Roger Ebert in 1968. Excerpt: 

"They tried full-scale burlesque in New York a year ago: comedians, three chorus lines, the works... But it flopped and now they're back to strippers. What I object to is the dishonesty and cheapening that goes on. The thing that killed the family audience for burlesque, in my opinion, was when some strippers began 'flashing' - that's burlesque lingo for showing everything. Not only is that unpleasant, but it's unnecessary.

"The secret to a good striptease is to leave as much as possible to the imagination. No matter what men may think, they don't actually want to see a performer just come out and take off her clothes. There's got to be communication, there's got to be contact. In my act, although I eventually do get down to the legal minimum, I actually put on more clothes than I take off. There's some psychology in this. A performer who can communicate a feeling of modesty is sexier than one who just strips."

You've got to communicate, and what do you need to communicate? Modesty!

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April 22, 2021

Lilac.

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FROM THE EMAIL: Timothy writes: 

Good morning Ann, I feel like saying, “Long-time listener, first-time caller” as is so often heard on a call-in radio show! I’m sure I probably commented once or twice over the past 15 years that I’ve read your blog, but I guess I’m moved this morning to e-mail you. 

Interestingly (to me, anyway!) is the thought that I likely would not have commented under the previous system, underneath the entry that caught my attention: your beautiful lilac photos. The lilac is my favorite flower & one of my all-time favorite fragrances of any sort. And I associate lilacs with my mother (who turns 74 in a couple weeks) – who had a lilac tree in the backyard of the house we grew up in. (It makes me wonder if that tree is still alive, 26 years after I last saw it?!) 

Have a great weekend!

It's nice when a person in your thoughts is associated with a particular flower. I associate my father with gardenias (because my mother did, and I don't even remember why). I don't think there's anyone else in my life that I've associated with a particular flower, and I doubt if anyone associates me with any particular flower. I do like flowers, but it's not as though I'm crazy about one particular flower!

"Now, a robot has been trained to speak aloud its inner decision-making process, giving us a view of how it prioritises competing demands...."

"The researchers asked Pepper to set a dinner table according to etiquette rules they had encoded into the robot... When instructed to place a napkin on a fork with inner speech enabled, Pepper asked itself what the etiquette required and concluded that this request went against the rules it had been given. It then asked the researchers if putting the napkin on the fork was the correct action. When told it was, Pepper said, 'OK, I prefer to follow your desire,' and explained how it was going to place the napkin on the fork. When asked to do the same task without voicing the inner speech, Pepper knew this contradicted the etiquette rules so didn’t perform the task or explain why.... With the potential for robots to become more common in the future, this type of programming could help the public understand their abilities and limitations, says Sarah Sebo at the University of Chicago. 'It maintains people’s trust and enables seamless collaborations and interactions between humans and robots,' she says."

New Scientist reports. 

First, I wondered if people would become too trusting, and maybe the robots will take over. Then, I thought, the robots could help us sort out our rules and preferences. And maybe we'll become better at thinking through our own decisionmaking, as robots demonstrate how to make rational decisions and show us, transparently, what they are taking into account.

FROM THE EMAIL: Tim writes: 

"People with psychosomatic illnesses are unfortunate in the fact that their condition offends western ideas not just about illness but who we are...."

"Our minds are airy, ethereal, separate; our bodies are a sort of machine for which the doctor is a mechanic. But... [s]praying water from your eyes in response to bad news is an example of a psychological state causing a physical one. So is the phenomenon of staving off a bout of illness until after you’ve completed an exam or an important piece of work....[S]ufferers from Parkinson’s disease, a physically manifested illness with an identifiable biological cause, respond dramatically to placebos. This means the psychological experience of a physical illness (in this case whether or not you believe you’re being treated) affects the way that illness manifests itself.... Another challenge to our understanding of functional disorders is our individualism. Though universal in human beings, psychosomatic illnesses are rooted in cultures and societies. Resignation syndrome, a disorder that causes children to fall asleep for years, occurs almost exclusively in asylum-seeking families in Sweden. The illness seems to be spread by reports of its existence. In France, you can buy remedies for a common minor syndrome called 'heavy legs' in most pharmacies. No other country seems to experience 'heavy legs.'.... [A] functional disorder called grisi siknis (crazy sickness), which is common among girls of the Nicaraguan Miskito people and causes hallucinations, tremors and superhuman strength, is successfully treated with rituals and the community 'rallying around.' Secular, atomised western society has no equivalent treatment."

From "Let’s end the stigma of psychosomatic illness/Our culture insists disease must have a biological cause but doctors know it isn’t that simple" by James Marriott (London Times). 

Secular, atomised western society has no equivalent treatment? What about congregations praying for the sick? 

Would it be "western" of me to say let's end the use of "western" to mean obsession with... whatever Marriott is using it to mean. It seems to me that we who live in the western longitudes of planet Earth have plenty of scientific and unscientific notions of the brain, roiling around in our brains. And when I look at a map, I see that Nicaragua is just as western as Tennessee and Ohio.

***

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"Around 15 million garments per week flow through Kantamanto, one of the largest secondhand clothing markets in the world...."

"Retailers take out substantial loans to purchase the bundles, hoping to find worthwhile garments in sellable condition. Yet almost half of what is bought is thrown away.... Why is there so much secondhand clothing? Increasingly, it’s built into the way we dress: fast fashion, the trendy, mass-produced clothing that can be made quickly and at low cost.... [T]he average person purchased 60 percent more clothing in 2014 compared to 2000, while each garment was kept for only half as long.... [C]lothing production accounts for 10 percent of the world’s carbon emissions. In response to increasing criticisms, fast fashion brands like Uniqlo, Zara, and Urban Outfitters have launched lines with a sustainable veneer: collections made with recycled materials... referred to... as 'greenwashing.'... [One activist] proposes a solution that would expand upon the traditional Three Rs kids are taught in schools—Reuse, Reduce, and Recycle—by adding Reckoning, Recovery, and Reparations.... In order to make fashion truly sustainable, the world will require Westerners to radically shift our relationship to clothing itself."

From "Greenwashing Fashion/These days, sustainability is on trend. But the trend cycle of fast fashion isn’t sustainable" (The Nation). 

Do you have the "relationship to clothing" described in the article? I don't think I do. I know better than to donate things that aren't saleable. Just throw them out in your own trash. Don't make them take a journey halfway around the world to be thrown out later. And if it doesn't belong in the trash, why not keep wearing it until it does? 

If the answer is It went out of style, then you can stop buying things that have that sort of style of planned future unstylishness. Choose classic, timeless styles and utilitarian clothing. 

If the answer is It doesn't fit anymore, then donate what's resellable. Better yet: maintain a consistent body size. You know that would be good for you. And it would also be good for the environment in 2 ways: 1. You'd be offloading less clothing into the secondhand market, and 2. You would not be overconsuming food and using the additional fossil fuel it takes to move your extra poundage in your motorized vehicle.

***

There is no comments section anymore, but you can email me here. Unless you say otherwise, I will presume you'd enjoy an update to this post with a quote from your email.

Is there an "adultification bias" that "uniquely plagues Black girls"?

I'm reading "The Columbus mayor called Ma’Khia Bryant a ‘young woman.’ Here’s why people are angry. Some said it exemplified ‘adultification bias’ against the Black 16-year-old girl who was fatally shot by police" (The Lily/WaPo): 

Earlier that night, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther (D) took to Twitter to share news of the killing, calling Ma’Khia a “young woman.” 

Replies quickly poured in, noting that Ma’Khia was a child — not an adult. At the news conference a few hours later, Ginther acknowledged Ma’Khia was a child: “The city of Columbus lost a 15-year-old girl today,” he said. “This young 15-year-old girl will never be coming home.” 

But some still took to social media to criticize his initial characterization of Ma’Khia, calling it “adultification bias” — a form of discrimination that uniquely plagues Black girls, leading them to be perceived by adults as less innocent and more adult-like than their White peers, according to a widely covered 2017 Georgetown study. 

It may be that black kids are often regarded as older than white kids of the same age. When there's an emergency, like the one in the case of Ma’Khia Bryant, those who need to help can only judge by what they see. We've seen the video, and Bryant looks like a powerful attacker about to slaughter someone who looks utterly defenseless. 

But the question of how to talk about the dead person afterwards is different. City officials ought to be circumspect and use careful language. But what is the best way to refer to a 16-year-old female? I would have thought "young woman" is the most respectful locution and that "girl" for someone that age is questionable. 

But I understand the desire to encourage the police to see minors in a different light from adults.

Garner — in the news.

1. "It’s hard not to mythologize Bryan A. Garner. He is the Herakles of English usage.... A selection of sixty-eight items from the Garner Collection is on view at the Grolier Club.... The catalogue for the exhibit has two subthemes. One is a running count of how many parts of speech are defined in each grammar book: anywhere from two (nouns and verbs) to thirty-three (don’t ask). (The traditional number is eight.) The other thread is rivalry and backbiting among authors. In that era, a Grammar was second only to a Bible as a necessary object in a God-fearing household. While the Bible provided moral instruction, the Grammar, as a guide to correct linguistic behavior, might shore up confidence and help one get ahead in the world." — From "Grammar-Nerd Heaven/A new exhibit showcases the surprisingly contentious history of English grammar books" by Mary Norris (The New Yorker). 

2. "Earlier this month, the biographer Blake Bailey was approaching what seemed like the apex of his literary career. Reviews of his highly anticipated Philip Roth biography appeared before the book came out... Now, allegations against Mr. Bailey, 57, have emerged.... His publisher, W.W. Norton... said on Wednesday that it had stopped shipments and promotion of his book.... [In 2015], Valentina Rice, a publishing executive, met Mr. Bailey at the home of Dwight Garner, a book critic for The Times, and his wife in Frenchtown, N.J. A frequent guest at their home, Ms. Rice, 47, planned to stay overnight, as did Mr. Bailey, she said. After she went to bed, Mr. Bailey entered her room and raped her, she said. She said 'no' and 'stop' repeatedly, she said in an interview.... Mr. Garner was horrified to hear Ms. Rice’s account, he said. He added that he and Mr. Bailey do not have a relationship." —  From "Sexual Assault Allegations Against Biographer Halt Shipping of His Roth Book/W.W. Norton, citing the accusations that the author, Blake Bailey, faces, said it would stop shipping and promoting his new best-selling book" (NYT).

***

There is no comments section anymore, but you can email me here. Unless you say otherwise, I will presume you'd enjoy an update to this post with a quote from your email.

"Her art comes to life by oxidization. Just like apples, bananas oxidize, or turn brown, as the enzymes in their cells are released and interact with the oxygen in the air."

"Cells that are damaged — because they’ve been poked with a fork or dropped on the floor — brown faster. By varying when she applied the marks, Chojnicka discovered that she could create a palette of shades, resulting in surprisingly intricate pictures." 

From "Bored in the pandemic, she made art by bruising bananas. Now she has an international following" (WaPo), which is all about this Instagram feed. It's not high art. It's stuff like this:

 

Yes, that gets you an article in The Washington Post these days. Got to keep up with the fads. Speaking of fads, bananas, and "high art," remember the 60s fad of getting high from banana skins and wondering if "Mellow Yellow" was about that? 

Ah, yes, here — Atlas Obscura has an article about it: "Smoking Banana Peels Is the Greatest Drug Hoax of All Time/They called it mellow yellow" ("Donovan would later state definitively that the song was actually written about a yellow vibrator...").

ADDED: I was curious about my use of the word "skins" — "banana skins" — instead of the more normal "banana peels." What came over me? I googled and was very amused to see that "Banana peel" has its own Wikipedia page. It's not just a subsection under "Banana." 

Anyway, there I learn that "banana skins" is the British term. The subsections with the "Banana peels" article are: "Uses," "Culinary Uses," "In a comical context," "Peeling methods," and "Psychoactive effects of banana peels." Under the "comical" heading, we get the serious science of why banana peels provide such a slippery surface:

The coefficient of friction of banana peel on a linoleum surface was measured at just 0.07, about half that of lubricated metal on metal. Researchers attribute this to the crushing of the natural polysaccharide follicular gel, releasing a homogenous sol.

*** 

There is no comments section anymore, but you can email me here. Unless you say otherwise, I will presume you'd enjoy an update to this post with a quote from your email.

1-minute sunrise.

This morning, at 6:05:

April 21, 2021

6:18, 6:22, 6:27.

This morning on Lake Mendota:


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"The investigation I am announcing today will assess whether the Minneapolis Police Department engages in a pattern or practice of using excessive force including during protests."

Said Attorney General Merrick Garland, quoted in "Attorney General Merrick Garland announces an investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department" (NYT).

So-called pattern-or-practice investigations are often the precursors to consent decrees, court-approved deals between the Justice Department and local governments that create and enforce a road map for training and operational changes.... The Obama administration had repeatedly used the tool to address police misconduct. The restoration of consent decrees was one of the Biden administration’s first significant moves to hold police forces accountable in cases where they are found to have violated federal laws. 

FROM THE EMAIL: Mattman26 writes:

Good for the Biden Administration for committing to ferreting out the racism in the Democratic Party!

"Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken was in the Oval Office, pleading with President Biden... to end Trump-era restrictions on immigration..."

"... and to allow tens of thousands of desperate refugees fleeing war, poverty and natural disasters into the United States... The attitude of the president during the meeting, according to one person to whom the conversation was later described, was, essentially: Why are you bothering me with this? What had been an easy promise on the campaign trail — to reverse what Democrats called President Donald J. Trump’s “racist” limits on accepting refugees — has become a test of what is truly important to the new occupant of the White House... Now, a decision to raise the refugee limit to 62,500 — as Mr. Biden had promised only weeks earlier to members of Congress — would invite from Republicans new attacks of hypocrisy and open borders even as the president was calling for bipartisanship. It was terrible timing, he told officials.... Biden’s staff came up with a compromise.... The backlash was immediate.... Within hours, the president backtracked...."

Writes Maggie Haberman in the NYT. 

Isn't that awfully mean? One person interprets the President's attitude, and it gets published in the NYT:  

Why are you bothering me with this?

As if the man — touted for his empathy — has no empathy. What really happened? Obviously, Biden understands the human experience of the refugees. He doesn't need Blinken acting out the suffering to him at great length. I'm imagining Biden wanting to solve the problems pragmatically, taking all the considerations into account, not just caving in to gushing empathy for the desperate people at the border. 

Now, the NYT is portraying Biden as weak and wavering this way and that as he's criticized for anything he does, over a problem for which there is no satisfying solution.

IN THE EMAIL: Lloyd writes:

"I wonder how Goldberg would react if the genders were flipped — if the discussion were about 'Andrea Yang,' a 46-year-old woman who's a successful businessperson vs. 'Alexander Ocasio-Cortez,' a 31-year-old man who..."

"... surprised everyone by getting elected to Congress when he was a 20-year-old bartender with an economics degree. I'm going to guess that if a male AOC and a female Yang were running in the same election and taken equally seriously, Goldberg would say that shows that women are systematically disadvantaged."  

Writes my son John (at Facebook), critiquing the NYT op-ed by Michelle Goldberg titled "There Could Never Be a Female Andrew Yang/No woman with his résumé would have a chance of becoming New York’s mayor." 

Goldberg herself brings up the comparison to AOC: "Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is one of the great political talents of her generation, but I doubt she’d be taken seriously if she ran for New York mayor, despite being far more politically experienced than Yang." 

FROM THE EMAIL: James writes:

Has Goldberg never heard of Carly Fiorina?
MikeR writes:
"Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is one of the great political talents of her generation, but I doubt she’d be taken seriously if she ran for New York mayor, despite being far more politically experienced than Yang." 
Non sequitur. Being very talented politically is a good reason to get elected to Congress, where politics is most of what you do. It is no reason at all to be elected mayor of New York City, where you have to run things competently. AOC has shown no talent for that and in fact has never even tried to do that in any phase of her life.

AND: bb says:

Bartending gets no respect. I've spent some time watching bartenders up close and I think bartending should be a prerequisite to being NYC mayor.

This seems to be the final blog post of the charming, inventive blogger Chip Ahoy: "I am in hospital. Intensive care..."

"... for right now. Little problem with heart, lungs, kidneys. They all failed together. Heart surgery tomorrow. I told the ambulance crew, the emergency crew, the intensive care crew that I am terrified...." 

It's not for me to make announcements of facts I cannot check. The blog doesn't even say "Chip Ahoy" on the front page, and there's no public announcement that relates to this pseudonym. 

Chip Ahoy was a highly valued commenter on my blog in the years 2007 to 2013 — especially for his animations of photographs that I had posted. Like this:

Click on the tag "Chip Ahoy" and keep scrolling to get to many more.

I don't have comments anymore (though you can comment by emailing me here). The last time I used the "Chip Ahoy" tag was the time I ended comments in 2013 — "The comments vacation." Comments came back eventually, but I never heard from Chip again, unfortunately. We've missed his light touch and warm charm.

"Music streaming platforms have sexism wired-in."

Jawad Iqbal writes in the London Times: 

Their algorithms, which recommend things you might like based on your listening habits, are basically sexist, generating playlist after playlist dominated by male musicians.

Isn't it like sexual preference — you really do respond to the sex of the singer? With no machine helping me at all, I can see in the music choices I am making that I prefer a male voice. 

Those damning findings...

Damning!!

... come from research conducted at Utrecht University in the Netherlands and Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona. Academics analysed the listening patterns of 330,000 users over nine years: only a quarter of the artists they listened to were women, because on average the first algorithm-recommended track was always by a man; listeners had to wait until the seventh or eighth song before hearing from a woman.

It's a problem only if you assume that the outcome should be equal. But isn't the algorithm attuned to what people have responded to?

Some of this bias is a reflection of historical failures in the music industry, which has always been dominated by male acts, save for occasional superstars such as Taylor Swift or Beyoncé.

Maybe we respond to what we respond to because it's familiar, and what is familiar is a consequence of sexist decision-making within the music industry. Why do we like what we like? Is it deep or is it shallow?

There's something called the "mere exposure" effect (Wikipedia):

April 20, 2021

It's the new comments snippets post.

Thanks to all who have emailed in comments. This post is here to point you to posts in the last few days that have comments. The quotes are snippets chosen for amusement value and to give me something to put a link on:

1. "I'm weirdly interested in the fact that you're planting wheat and barley."

2. "It's funny that the article didn't mention Neal Stephenson's 1992 novel, Snowcrash...."

3. "I'm getting a lot of email saying that's not a bobcat, but a regular house cat, but I can't believe this man would put up the video if it were because he grabs the beast and hurls it hard into the ground."

4. "More than once I was called into chambers in the principal's office and point blank asked if I was a 'racist.' Me!"

5. "These boxes are not Habitats for Humans but a kind of litter."

6. "I presume your assertion near the end of your post was meant to be facetious; it would be profoundly racist to presume...."

7. "Looks like the Times needed another article on the shooting, so they published one before they had figured out a clear story."

8. "Perhaps 'eye raising' now means something so attention-grabbing that it causes someone to look up from their phone."

9. "A well-fitting corset is far superior in support to a bra...."

10. "The powers that be just did not bother to let the rest of us know this until after the 'they killed a cop' narrative was firmly rooted in the public mind."

11. "Somehow she has moved from 'afraid to die' to 'afraid to live.'"

12. "It really doesn't make business sense to keep a program open when students don't want to enroll."

Symplocarpus foetidus.

The view from the Skunk Cabbage Bridge:

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There really is a Skunk Cabbage Bridge in the UW Arboretum. It traverses the Skunk Cabbage Wetland. 

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I took those pictures yesterday.

The Latin name for skunk cabbage is Symplocarpus foetidus

Chauvin guilty on all counts.

I'm sure that is an immense relief to many, many people

From the NYT:

Outside the building in Minneapolis where the verdict was read, there was a shout — “Guilty!” — and then an eruption of cheers. When all the counts came back guilty, the cheer changed: “All three counts!”...

At George Floyd Square, the memorial to where Floyd was killed, a woman nearly collapses in tears. When she straightens, she manages to croak out, “We matter. We matter.” 


***

There is no comments section anymore, but you can email me here. Unless you say otherwise, I will presume you'd enjoy an update to this post with a quote from your email.

6:07 a.m.

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"The removal of the classics is a sign that we, as a culture, have embraced from the youngest age utilitarian schooling at the expense of soul-forming education."

"To end this spiritual catastrophe, we must restore true education, mobilizing all of the intellectual and moral resources we can to create human beings of courage, vision and civic virtue. Students must be challenged: Can they face texts from the greatest thinkers that force them to radically call into question their presuppositions? Can they come to terms with the antecedent conditions and circumstances they live in but didn’t create? Can they confront the fact that human existence is not easily divided into good and evil, but filled with complexity, nuance and ambiguity? This classical approach is united to the Black experience. It recognizes that the end and aim of education is really the anthem of Black people, which is to lift every voice. That means to find your voice, not an echo or an imitation of others. But you can’t find your voice without being grounded in tradition, grounded in legacies, grounded in heritages."

Write Cornel West and Jeremy Tate in "Howard University’s removal of classics is a spiritual catastrophe" (WaPo). 

FROM THE COMMENTS: Joe writes:

I know a lot of institutions are closing programs now, but it isn't a value judgement as much as it is an acknowledgement of no students enrolled. Looking at the federal government numbers for 2019, 2018, and 2017, no bachelor's degrees were awarded in classics at Howard University. In 2016 and 2015, only 1 degree each year was awarded. There are so few graduates in classics at most schools, I can't find any earnings data on the college scorecard site. It really doesn't make business sense to keep a program open when students don't want to enroll.

"We don’t know if it is going to ever be over... I will be masked up for many, many years... There are too many unknowns."

"I would give anything just to hold someone’s hand. People need other people. You need human contact to survive in this world.... [My daughter] said, ‘Mom, I already had COVID, so I don’t think I need the shot.’ I said, ‘Yes you do. You could get COVID twice. I know people who have gotten it twice... She’s just — I mean, you can’t really do so much. I said, ‘You’re not gonna see me until you’re fully vaccinated. Because you’re not gonna come up here and kill me.'... I get winded very quickly because of my heart issue, and it’s very difficult for me to breathe with a mask.... But I will not take it off.... The only time I will ever take the mask off is when I hear there are zero deaths, and it stays that way for a couple months, and there’s no new infections.... But I highly doubt that is going to happen anytime soon."

 Said Robin Argenti, a 57-year-old woman, quoted in "The Forever Maskers" (NY Magazine). 

FROM THE COMMENTS: Rosebud writes: 

"Yes, a book claiming objectivity on abortion (if that is indeed what Barrett produces) would just be a continuation of the dishonesty of Supreme Court nominees..."

"... acting as though they haven’t really thought much about the most heavily discussed and controversial cases in the history of constitutional law. Once confirmed, most of them fall silent until they actually rule on the relevant cases. Maybe Barrett’s book deal is in fact a big advance on a tome she will write after she has helped overturn Roe — in which case, she could publish a book of recipes or something about her stamp collection and grateful anti-abortion activists would snap it up. And at that point no one would much care whether her 'personal feelings' had anything to do with the chore Trump placed her on the Court to perform as part of his transactional relationship with the Christian Right."

Writes Ed Kilgore — with over-the-top hostility — in the "Justice Barrett Gets $2 Million Deal to Tell Readers What They Don’t Want to Hear" (NY Magazine). 

"What They Don't Want to Hear" is the discussion of the role of a judge in following the law without interposing personal feelings. Kilgore assumes the people who would buy a book written by Amy Coney Barrett are simply those who believe abortion is murder and want it stopped, however it can be stopped. 

Kilgore's basis for accusation is thin. He speaks of "the chore Trump placed her on the Court to perform," but Barrett has life tenure and free of any "chores" that must be performed. And I don't think Trump is much of an abortion opponent. He many have won the votes of the "Christian Right," but now that the elections are over, he's not in a "transactional relationship" with these people. Trump had the power to appoint when he had it, and he used it to make an appointment of a person that he knew would be on her own once sworn in. Kilgore scribbles about a deal was made and remains alive, and I guess that's what he gets paid for. And isn't that's what New York Magazine subscribers pay to hear?

***

There is no comments section anymore, but you can email me here. Unless you say otherwise, I will presume you'd enjoy an update to this post with a quote from your email.

"All that transpired played a role in his condition," said the medical examiner, in the case of Officer Brian D. Sicknick, who died after the January 6th breaching of the Capitol.

"His office said that it attributes death to natural causes when it can be ascribed to disease alone and that 'if death is hastened by an injury, the manner of death is not considered natural.'" Yet the medical examiner, Francisco J. Diaz, determined that Sicknick died of "natural causes."

I'm reading "Officer Attacked in Capitol Riot Died of Strokes, Medical Examiner Rules The determination is likely to complicate efforts to prosecute anyone in the death of the officer, Brian Sicknick" (NYT).

"The determination is likely to complicate the Justice Department’s efforts to prosecute anyone in the death of Officer Sicknick, 42; two men have been charged with assaulting him by spraying an unknown chemical on him outside the Capitol. But an autopsy found no evidence that Officer Sicknick had an allergic reaction to chemicals or any internal or external injuries.... Two men were charged last month with assaulting Officer Sicknick, but prosecutors have avoided linking the attack to his death...."

That's written confusingly. If "prosecutors have avoided linking the attack to his death," then what are the "efforts to prosecute anyone in the death of Officer Sicknick"? The assault is an assault regardless of whether it caused a death that happened to occur soon afterward. But there's also that discrepancy between what the medical examiner said — "All that transpired played a role in his condition" — and the assertion that the finding of death by "natural causes" excludes the idea that death "was hastened by an injury."

Not discussed in the New York Times article is the way the media ran with the notion that the Capitol protesters had killed a cop. That's the legend they created, and I bet that legend will live.

FROM THE EMAIL: I'm getting a lot of email, much of it expanding what I've already said in that last paragraph. I get the sense many readers need that to be said more elongatedly, more emphatically. But let me give you this emailed comment, from James. It's short and pithy, and it kicks things up with an observation that I didn't make — speculation that there was deliberate delay to give life to the legend:

Maybe the reason prosecutors have not tried to link anyone to Officer Sicknick’s death or charge anyone with homicide is that they have known for months that he died of natural causes and there was no homicide. The powers that be just did not bother to let the rest of us know this until after the “they killed a cop” narrative was firmly rooted in the public mind.

ALSO: Glenn Greenwald is especially outraged for the way other journalists treated him: 

"[L]ast year, Hsu Hsiu-e, 84 and Chang Wan-ji, 83—a married couple who own a laundromat in Taiwan—became global social media stars thanks to their Instagram account..."

"... @wantshowasyoung. The pair pose in compelling outfits styled from clothes their laundromat customers have left behind. The account is now up to over 654,000 followers and the pair was recently named the ambassadors for Taipei Fashion Week." 

From "Grandpa Style: Why 20-Somethings Are Dressing Like Senior Citizens/Thanks to Instagram accounts like @Gramparents and books like ‘Chinatown Pretty,’ milllenials and Gen-Z are coming to appreciate their gray-haired elders’ fashion sense" (WSJ). 

 I'm amused by the way the WSJ tried so hard to get the double letters in "millennial" right and came up with "milllenials." 

Anyway... @wantshowasyoung isn't about youngish people dressing like really old people. It's old people wanting to "show as young" — look young. I'm blogging this little side issue, because I like the Instagram account. Such a perfect idea. Example:

As for millennials and Gen Zers dressing like "grandfathers," my favorite example of this is the YouTube icon Review Brah, who explains here — in his mesmerizing style — why he dresses like that: 

"I wish elected officials would stop talking about this case, especially in a manner that is disrespectful to the rule of law and to the judicial branch and our function."

"I think if they want to give their opinions, they should do so in a respectful and in a manner that is consistent with their oath to the Constitution to respect a coequal branch of government. Their failure to do so I think is abhorrent, but I don't think it has prejudiced us with additional material that would prejudice this jury." 

Said Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill, the judge in the Derek Chauvin case, quoted in "Jury ends first day of deliberating with no verdicts in Derek Chauvin murder trial/With the dismissals of the alternates, the jury of 12 is now half white and half people of color" (Star Tribune). 

It's a hopeless wish. People are going to talk. And disrespect is part of human expression. An important part. The rule of law is one of the all-time great ideals, but the way the law plays out in real life deserves — and benefits from — the expression of disrespect. It's fine for the judge to wish for respect, but it's up to him to do what earns respect. 

His main point here is to deny that there has been a mistrial because of what's been said out there in public, particularly what Rep. Maxine Waters said — that protesters need to get "more confrontational" if there is no guilty verdict. It's horrible to think that all the hard work of conducting a trial could be squandered by one wild-talking politician. Of course Cahill denied the motion.

But does the threat of riots unfairly prejudice the jury — and does Waters's one inflammatory statement make all the difference? What does "more confrontational mean"? It could just mean bigger, louder, more passionate demonstrations. But perhaps we're supposed to know that she meant destruction and violence — just like the way the supporters of the last impeachment were sure that when Trump urged people in the street to "fight like hell," everyone was supposed to know he advocated criminal disorder.

***

There is no comments section anymore, but you can email me here. Unless you say otherwise, I will presume you'd enjoy an update to this post with a quote from your email.

April 19, 2021

Trout lilies.

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These are all photos by Meade, taken yesterday on the shore of Lake Mendota.

"Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield."

"And it might be the dominant emotion of 2021.... In the early, uncertain days of the pandemic, it’s likely that your brain’s threat detection system — called the amygdala — was on high alert for fight-or-flight. As you learned that masks helped protect us — but package-scrubbing didn’t — you probably developed routines that eased your sense of dread. But the pandemic has dragged on, and the acute state of anguish has given way to a chronic condition of languish. In psychology, we think about mental health on a spectrum from depression to flourishing.... [W]hen you’re languishing, you might not notice the dulling of delight or the dwindling of drive. You don’t catch yourself slipping slowly into solitude; you’re indifferent to your indifference.... When you add languishing to your lexicon, you start to notice it all around you...."

From "There’s a Name for the Blah You’re Feeling: It’s Called Languishing/The neglected middle child of mental health can dull your motivation and focus — and it may be the dominant emotion of 2021" by Adam Grant (NYT). 

According to the article, the antidote to languishing may be flow. But there's not much in the article about how to achieve flow, so I'm not going to make this post about flow. This post is just about noticing languishing. It's one thing to understand the concept of flow, another to get into that state. I think it requires doing things that you have some skill at and where you have good feedback that you're are operating with skill, and neither bored nor overly challenged. If you're sitting home enduring lockdown, do you have something to do that could work that way?

(To comment, you can email me here.)

Amy is garnering and I'm raising my eyebrow.

It's like Politico is nudging me twice, saying Althouse, get on it, you must blog about Amy Coney Barrett getting paid to write a book. They use that word I have a tag about — garner — and a silly incorrect image:

Justice Amy Coney Barrett, Trump’s last pick for the Supreme Court, has also sold a book — garnering a $2 million advance for a tome about how judges are not supposed to bring their personal feelings into how they rule, according to three publishing industry sources. The figure was “an eye-raising amount” for a Supreme Court justice and likely the most since book deals won by Clarence Thomas and Sandra Day O’Connor, one of the people added. 

"The people" are "three people familiar with the deal." I think people in publishing should know better than to say "an eye-raising amount." The expression is "eyebrow-raising." 

From Merriam-Webster's "Learner's Dictionary":

To raise eyebrows means to cause other people to react with surprise or mild disapproval. To raise an/your eyebrow means to move your eyebrows up in a way that shows surprise or mild disapproval.

What the hell would "eye-raising" even be?!

FROM THE EMAIL: Jim writes:
Perhaps "eye raising" now means something so attention-grabbing that it causes someone to look up from their phone.

Love = lonely sadness.

"During the era of the Man'yōshū, the native Japanese words today known as yamato kotoba (大和言葉, lit. 'Japanese words') were starting to be written using kanji, and the word for 'love,' koi (today written 恋) was written as 孤悲, or 'lonely sadness.'" 

From the Wikipedia article about the movie "Garden of Words," which I happened to watch last night. Recommended, especially if you like looking at animated rain and sun shining through rain onto the sides of people's faces. And handmade shoes. And tanka poetry. 

Quite aside from what is in the movie, I'm interested in the development of Japanese writing and the understanding of love. Actually, that is in the movie, because the director, Makoto Shinkai, who wrote the screenplay, has said that he intended to examine the traditional meaning of love as "lonely sadness" (or "longing for someone in solitude").

Here's the trailer:

 

(To comment, email me here.)

"Soon after Swan Lake’s first, warmly received revival in 2019, allegations emerged about Scarlett’s conduct over the previous decade..."

"... including inappropriate sexual behaviour and bullying at the Royal Ballet and Royal Ballet School. Leading classical companies and vocational schools are coming under greater pressure on questions around safeguarding and accountability, either those coming forward or those accused. An independent investigation by the employment consultant Lucinda Harvey Associates found 'there were no matters to pursue in relation to alleged contact with students of the Royal Ballet School,' but neither discounted nor described the allegations. Scarlett made no public response and the ROH ended its relationship with him."

From "Liam Scarlett obituary/Dynamic choreographer whose meteoric rise at the Royal Ballet was halted in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations" (The Guardian).

Scarlett — "the new choreographic wonder boy of British ballet" — was 35, and the cause of death is "undisclosed." If the inference of suicide is wrong, please disclose something. This looks like an infuriating case of the cancel culture destroying one of the most gifted human beings we had in this world. 

There was an investigation. It found "no matters to pursue." But he was cut off from his work nonetheless — the work at which he was a genius! What monsters did this! What loss! What vicious cruelty!

"Scarlett made no public response...."

***

There is no comments section anymore, but you can email me here. Unless you say otherwise, I will presume you'd enjoy an update to this post with a quote from your email.