July 3, 2021

Until tomorrow...


"Eleven 'heavily armed' members of a fringe group called Rise of the Moors were arrested on a Massachusetts highway Saturday..."

"...following a bizarre nine-hour standoff with law enforcement that included hostage negotiators.... The nature of the group is unclear as police continue to investigate. 'We’re not anti-government. We’re not anti-police. We’re not sovereign citizens. We’re not black identity extremists,' the man in the video said. 'We haven’t violated any laws.' The men claim 'to be from a group that does not recognize our laws,' the Wakefield Police Department said in a statement. 'No threats were made, but these men should be considered armed and dangerous.'"

The NY Post reports.

"There’s this concept of the dignity of risk. Most of us have a very wide range of bad choices we can make that society is O.K. with, but, in a conservatorship..."

"... you’re subject to the decision-making rubric of best interest. And it’s possible we’d all be better off if someone was making decisions for us like that, but those are not the values of the society we live in."

Said  Zoë Brennan-Krohn, an ACLU lawyer, quoted in "Britney Spears’s Conservatorship Nightmare/How the pop star’s father and a team of lawyers seized control of her life—and have held on to it for thirteen years" by By Ronan Farrow and Jia Tolentino (The New Yorker).

As conservatorship law is written, the court is required to determine that a conservatorship is—and remains—necessary. “In practice,” Zoë Brennan-Krohn, a disability-rights attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, said, “this is absolutely not the case. What should be happening is that a judge at a reëvaluation hearing would ask, ‘What else have you tried? Why isn’t anything else working?’ And, if the conservator hasn’t shown that they’ve tried less restrictive options, the conservatorship should be suspended. But I’ve never heard of a judge asking that in any situation.”

"Ukrainian authorities have found themselves buried in controversy after official pictures showed female soldiers practising for a parade in heels."

"Ukraine is preparing to stage a military parade next month to mark 30 years of independence following the Soviet Union’s breakup, and the defence ministry on Friday released photographs of fatigue-clad women soldiers marching in mid-heel black pumps.... 'It is hard to imagine a more idiotic, harmful idea'...."

The Guardian reports.

A unique sunrise.

Here's how it looked at 5:26, 3 minutes after the actual sunrise time: 


There seemed to be an impenetrable bank of clouds at the base of the sky. So I was surprised — after my run back to the parking lot and as I was driving home — to look over and see this at 5:44. I stopped at what I call my Secondary Vantage Point, and got this picture:


On reflection, I suppose that what seemed like a fairly uniform cloud cover was much thicker right at the bottom and thinned out just a little higher. This might be the first time I've seen this happen in the hundreds of sunrises I've witnessed in the last 2 years.

UPDATE: The next day's sunrise explained the mystery of the sunrise you see above. Here's what I saw on July 4th, beginning at 5:30, which was 7 minutes after sunrise. If I had waited a little longer on July 3rd, I would have seen a ghostly pale orange circle breaking over the obstructions on the far show. I quit too early, assuming I'd see nothing, because there wasn't the usual glow as the sun approached that line. I should have stayed a few more minutes. The sun was photographable with the bare iPhone camera at 5:44 on July 3rd because there was sun a heavy haze. That's why it's so orange instead of glaring white.

Cop cues up a Taylor Swift song so the video a man is making of him will run afoul of YouTube's copyright enforcement and get censored.

But here's the video on YouTube, where it's been since July 1st: 

I found that via "An officer played a Taylor Swift song to keep his recording off YouTube. Instead it went viral" (WaPo).

"The political Witch Hunt by the Radical Left Democrats, with New York now taking over the assignment, continues."

"It is dividing our Country like never before! Do people see the Radical Left prosecutors, and what they are trying to do to 75M+++ Voters and Patriots, for what it is?"

Said Donald Trump, in a statement quoted in "Trump seeks to use indictments as a political rallying cry as he tries to survive latest legal threat" (WaPo).

From the article:

People who have spoken to Trump in recent days said he plans to attack the prosecutors at his rallies, raising the fact that both New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. (D) have expressed opinions critical of him, with James saying she would charge him if elected. He has told allies he wants to run for president again and has planned rallies, endorsement speeches and events for the rest of the summer....

“They’ve investigated me for years and this is all they have,” Trump said, according to one confidant who spoke with him over the weekend as details of the indictment began to be reported. “It’s a total joke.”

On Thursday, he complained about the visuals of the arrest, which included Weisselberg in handcuffs, and described it as a “chicken s----” prosecution, according to a close adviser....

"Now children at one secondary school have been told they must always smile, never look out of the window while in class and learn a series of whistle commands from teachers...."

"Students have to maintain eye contact with the teacher whenever they are talking and cannot pick up a pen or ruler until a teacher gives them the OK. If a teacher says hello they should make sure their reply is 'upbeat.' Turning around 'even if you hear a noise' is forbidden, they must enter the classroom in single file, 'never forget to say Sir or Miss' and always sit up straight in class.... The rules appear to be inspired by the 'slant' technique, pioneered in schools in the US a decade ago, which has become popular in the UK in recent years. The acronym spells out the expectation that children sit up, listen, ask and answer questions, nod and track the teacher with their eyes...."

From "Smiles compulsory at super-strict John Ferneley College" (London Times). The college is in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire. The students are 11 to 16 years old.

The idea is said to be to train students in the kind of behavior "expected in middle-class families" so that they can do well "in job and university interviews." There's no punishment for not smiling, and the whistling is about "getting children to line up or ending break and lunch times."

I'd never heard of the "slant" technique, but I like it! Here's a video I found: 


I can see how this could be condemned as systemic racism, because it adopts "middle class" behavior as the norm.

July 2, 2021

Sunrise — 5:07 and 5:24.



"I felt smug afterwards, but I am, also, sincerely a juice person. Also milk. I will go to a restaurant and order a glass of milk."

"People look at me like I’m a lunatic. On planes, I’ll order a Virgin Mary — not because I’m a teetotaler, just because I’m in it for the tomato juice — followed by an orange juice, followed by a glass of milk.... Late in the afternoon, I ate 'sous vide egg bites' from Starbucks, which are these sad low-carb food-like egg disks that say 'I’m not eating bread, but in every other way I have given up.'... On this morning, I was scheduled to appear on Good Morning America to discuss my foreign-policy book, so it was up at 4 a.m. local time to make a Nespresso and Zoom with George Stephanopoulos, who looked perkier than I did, as is his wont. So did the phalanx of six-packed hotties next to whom I lumbered through leg day at the gym shortly thereafter. Time for another ham sandwich and green juice." 

It's the unmistakable voice of — can't you tell? — Ronan Farrow, in "Ronan Farrow Wants to Order a Side of Lox 'They’ll be like, "That’s not a thing. What does that mean?"'" (New York Magazine).

Before now, no one in the history of the world had ever said "phalanx of six-packed hotties next to whom I lumbered." I didn't even know you were allowed to call random strangers "hotties" anymore. But "phalanx of six-packed hotties next to whom I lumbered" — that's mad. And there it is with "sous vide egg bites," "sincerely a juice person," and George Stephanopoulos! 

It's all so alien. I never get anywhere near George Stephanopoulos!

"No one around Lewis seems surprised at her ability to make whistling a career, but sometimes even she can’t quite believe it."

"'It’s been working for some crazy reason,' she said, still taking it all in. 'I’m going to try to ride it. See how it goes.'" 

From "Whistling as an Art Almost Died Off. Can Molly Lewis Keep It Alive?/The 31-year-old has whistled at tournaments, in the studio for Dr. Dre and at her Los Angeles lounge show, Café Molly. Now she’s releasing her debut EP" (NYT)

"With a line of snow-capped mountains as its backdrop, the Bagram airfield was built in the 1950s by the Soviet Union."

"It became a vital military hub during the Soviets’ 10-year occupation of Afghanistan. After the Soviets withdrew in 1989, the Taliban and what was known as the Northern Alliance fought for the base, sometimes with their trenches at either end. By 2001, the United States had inherited rubble at the Bagram site. In January 2002, when the first American service member killed by enemy fire, Sgt. First Class Nathan R. Chapman, was sent home, there were no American flags to drape on his coffin, so a flag patch from someone’s uniform had to suffice. By 2011, at the height of the American war, the air base had ballooned into a small city, with two runways, tens of thousands of occupants, shops and a U.S. military prison that became notorious for its use as a C.I.A. black site...."

From "U.S. Leaves Its Last Afghan Base, Effectively Ending Operations/With little fanfare, Bagram Air Base — once the military’s nerve center — was handed over to the Afghans, after nearly 20 years of waging war from the hub" (NYT).

Facebook's warnings that you may have been exposed to extremism — pleasantly helpful, obtusely creepy, or forebodingly dangerous?

Matt Damon reaches the Brimley/Cocoon Line.

"If you look at every issue in this country — every issue I believe traces back to this fact: On the one hand, the elites in the ruling class in this country are robbing us blind, and on the other, if you dare complain about it, you are a bad person."

A brilliant political pitch from J.D. Vance, quoted in "J.D. Vance, ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ Author, Is Running for Senate in Ohio/The author and venture capitalist will vie for the Republican nomination in one of the most wide-open 2022 Senate races" (NYT).

I mean it strikes me as brilliant, but on reflection, it doesn't make much sense. You're made to feel like a bad person if you complain about the elite? Where and how is that happening?

July 1, 2021

Milkweed with spider.


"The case arises out of an initiative by Kamala Harris, when she was California’s Attorney General, to force nonprofits to disclose to the state the identities of their major donors...."

"It was generally assumed that Harris wanted to know the identities of donors to conservative organizations so that they could be harassed by various California agencies, or so that their identities could be leaked in order for them to be 'canceled' by left-wing activists.... The Supreme Court has long recognized that forced disclosure of association with a group can chill First Amendment rights.... In my view, this should not have been a difficult case. But the notoriously liberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court’s decision, and the vote in the Supreme Court was 6-3, with Justices Sotomayor, Kagan and Breyer dissenting. Justice Sotomayor made this very silly argument: 'The same scrutiny the Court applied when NAACP members in the Jim Crow South did not want to disclose their membership for fear of reprisals and violence now applies equally in the case of donors only too happy to publicize their names across the websites and walls of the organizations they support.'"


CORRECTION: The quote in the post title originally had Harris's position as California's Secretary of State, but it was California's Attorney General. Power Line has now corrected it, and, with a prompt from a reader, I've followed that correction.

"Environmental experts have long touted the need for wildlife corridors to better help populations stay connected and maintain their genetic diversity."

"Underpasses beneath major highways—for Florida panthers along Interstate 75, for instance—have been in place for years, and the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, on the Georgia-Florida border, and Osceola National Forest, in north Florida, were connected by the purchase of a roughly ten-mile corridor in the mid-two-thousands. But Florida is the first state to draw up a map for the entire state and get behind it with real money. 'Florida is way ahead of the rest of the country,'’ Tom Hoctor, the director of the Center for Landscape Conservation Planning at the University of Florida, told me.

Writes Dexter Filkins in "Florida’s Remarkable New Wildlife Corridor from the Panhandle to the Keys/The state has created a national model for how to safeguard threatened species for generations" (The New Yorker). The new legislation was passed by a Republican legislature and signed by a Republican governor (a fact that seems to mystify the New Yorker writer at least a little bit). 

Here's the map:

"It’s a little, um, unsettling that the only part of the third child that’s visible from the front is some feet and a hand pointing out into the distance."

"The proportions of life-size children statues always fall a little too deep into the uncanny valley for me. Most importantly, of all Princess Di’s iconic outfits... this is the look they choose? Regardless, it is an impressive piece of art, and I will award bonus points for the inclusion of a belted waist, a rare and bold choice among statues.... Both Prince William and Prince Harry unveiled the statue together, taking a subsequent moment to appreciate all its life-size-ness."

From New York Magazine's article about the new Princess Diana statue, "Please Admire This Statue’s Big Belt."

I'm surprised to see the theme of large white benefactor looming over smaller darker folk, which was the sculptoral sin ascribed to the Teddy Roosevelt statue that has to come down from in front of the Museum of Natural History.  


5:25 a.m. — a gentle sunrise.


"Supreme Court Upholds Arizona Voting Restrictions."

Adam Liptak reports (in the NYT).
The new case, Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, No. 19-1257, concerned two kinds of voting restrictions in Arizona. One required election officials to discard ballots cast at the wrong precinct. The other made it a crime for campaign workers, community activists and most other people to collect ballots for delivery to polling places, a practice critics call “ballot harvesting.” 
The law made exceptions for family members, caregivers and election officials. The larger battle in the case was not whether the particular challenged restrictions should survive. The Biden administration, for instance, told the justices in an unusual letter that the Arizona measures did not violate Section 2. 
But the letter disavowed the Trump administration’s interpretation of Section 2, which would have limited its availability to test the lawfulness of all sorts of voting restrictions. Section 2 bars any voting procedure that “results in a denial or abridgment of the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race.” That happens, the provision goes on, when, “based on the totality of circumstances,” racial minorities “have less opportunity than other members of the electorate to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of their choice.”

Here's the opinion. Of course, it's 6 to 3.

"Donald J. Trump’s long-serving chief financial officer, Allen H. Weisselberg, surrendered on Thursday to the Manhattan district attorney’s office..."

"... as he and the Trump Organization prepared to face charges in connection with a tax investigation, people with knowledge of the matter said. The exact charges were not yet known."

The NYT reports.

Are Trump-haters salivating over this? It's just some failure to report perks as income, isn't it? It doesn't reach Trump himself, and they were straining to find something to pin on him. Seems like he'll be able to flaunt this as proof of his squeaky cleanliness.

Matt Taibbi is annoyed by the repetitiveness and thinness of Robin DiAngelo's new book "Nice Racism."

I'm reading "Our Endless Dinner With Robin DiAngelo/Suburban America's self-proclaimed racial oracle returns with a monumentally oblivious sequel to 'White Fragility.'" 

Fortunately, Matt Taibbi  keeps his book review super-short and even so, he's risking committing the same writerly sin as DiAngelo — saying the same thing over and over. And it would be especially bad to say over and over that some other writer keeps saying the same thing over and over. 

DiAngelo's main point is something I myself believe: Lots of people who think of themselves as good people — because they think of themselves as good people — are — obliviously — racist.

DiAngelo has cashed in with this insight, and who can blame her for slapping together another book? Taibbi dismisses it as "the booklike product released this week by the 'Vanilla Ice of Antiracism,' Robin DiAngelo."  

DiAngelo presents herself — her past self — as an exemplar of the self-loving liberal who views racism as a sin that afflicts those other people — those awful people over there. She writes:

My progressive credentials were impeccable: I was a minority myself—a woman in a committed relationship with another woman…I knew how to talk about patriarchy and heterosexism. I was a cool white progressive, not an ignorant racist. Of course, what I was actually demonstrating was how completely oblivious I was.

It's an important insight, but how do you make it into a book and then another book? There isn't really any new material, just a need to bonk complacent liberals on the head again, and this new book is offered for that purpose.

Matt Taibbi cries out in pain:

Reading DiAngelo is like being strapped to an ice floe in a vast ocean while someone applies metronome hammer-strikes to the the same spot on your temporal bone over and over. You hear ideas repeated ten, twenty, a hundred times, losing track of which story is which....

"Among Cosby’s most high-profile supporters on Wednesday was actress Phylicia Rashad, his former co-star and incoming dean of Howard University’s College of Fine Arts."

"Rashad applauded the overturned conviction, tweeting that 'a miscarriage of justice is corrected' alongside an image of Cosby. After a flurry of criticism over her tweet, Rashad later added, 'I fully support survivors of sexual assault coming forward. My post was in no way intended to be insensitive to their truth.' Nylah Burton, a writer and former student of Howard University, called Rashad’s initial comments 'obscene.' Burton said she was raped while attending the university. Last year, she set up a GoFundMe to help support current and former Howard University students who have experienced sexual violence on the HBCU campus. The 26-year-old said she’s still processing the news about Cosby, which was 'triggering,' but it was Rashad’s comment that she found immediately chilling. 'To see random people celebrating Bill Cosby is always hurtful, of course, but to see people with so much institutional and cultural power … so firmly against you, it makes you feel hopeless,' Burton said."

From "Sexual assault survivors are devastated by Bill Cosby’s release: ‘It makes you feel hopeless’/Cosby was released from prison Wednesday after his sexual-assault conviction was overturned" (The Lily (at WaPo).

Why is Phylicia Rashad a dean at Howard? I see at her Wikipedia page that her highest degree is a Bachelor of Fine Arts. Here's Howard's official announcement, dated May 12, 2021. Excerpt:

“I can think of no individual better suited to take on this role than Ms. Phylicia Rashad,” said Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick, M.D., MBA. “As we reintroduce our campus community and the world at large to Howard’s College of Fine Arts, the dean will play an instrumental role in ensuring an auspicious beginning for this reestablished institution. Given Ms. Rashad’s reputation as well as her capabilities and impressive list of accomplishments, she will undoubtedly empower the college to transcend even our incredibly high expectations.”

What did they think they were getting? Image? Now, they need to distance themselves from her and they say — sensitively! — that she lacked "sensitivity." 

This would have been a good time for Howard to say that the rights of the criminally accused are just as important as enforcing the criminal law, but Howard's statement asserts "Survivors of sexual assault will always be our priority."

June 30, 2021

Sunrise — 5:28, 5:28, 5:30.




"If you are unhappy, or if you frequently say you are 'exhausted,' if maybe you cry at work a little more often than you personally think is reasonable..."

"... if you wake up in the morning and consider dying instead of going to work, you CLEARLY owe it to yourselves to do something else. Will making a change maybe make you poor or scared? SURE. Could the change be bad? ABSOLUTELY. But the alternative — staying put, degrading like an old yogurt — is to become a worse person. You can’t solve your own burnout, you can only change the system or your situation. And while it seems like becoming a worse person is a pretty common choice, do you really want to be common?"

That's Choire Sicha (at Substack), where I went because it was linked at "Ex-New York Times Styles editor says he suffered from burnout, wished for death" (NY Post). Sicha had been the NYT Styles editor for 4 years. 

I don't know if Substack offered him better money or what really happened. He says he likened himself to  old yogurt. He thought of dying. And who are we to say he didn't?

"The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has overturned Bill Cosby’s 2019 sexual assault conviction..."

".... ruling that a 'non-prosecution agreement' with a previous prosecutor should have prevented him from being charged in the case..... The case had a complicated history that began in 2005 when [Temple University employee Andrea] Constand first reported the alleged assault to then-Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce L. Castor Jr., who ultimately declined to file charges in this case. But Castor’s successors reopened the case and charged Cosby in 2015, just days before the 12-year statute of limitations expired and amid a barrage of new accusations from women across the country. At the time, Castor objected to the new prosecution, saying he’d struck a deal with Cosby and his lawyers not to prosecute him for Constand’s assault if Cosby agreed to sit for a deposition in a civil case she had filed against him..... He was charged in late 2015, when a prosecutor armed with newly unsealed evidence — Cosby’s damaging deposition from her lawsuit — arrested him days before the 12-year statute of limitations expired."

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

"The real 'aha' moment for myself was thinking about all of our kids who are usually late or were already slipping through the cracks. When I realized that we were going 100 percent virtual..."

"... my initial thought was: 'How many kids are we going to lose? How many parents are we going to lose?'"

Said Charleston Brown, principal of Willie L. Brown Jr. Middle School, San Francisco (where 79% of the students are low income), quoted in "‘How Many Kids Are We Going to Lose?’ Four Principals Speak About the Past Year" (NYT).

The NYT has produced a 40-minute documentary about the January 6th incident: "Day of Rage: An In-Depth Look at How a Mob Stormed the Capitol."


And here's the accompanying article, "Inside the Capitol Riot: An Exclusive Video Investigation/The Times analyzed thousands of videos from the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol Building to understand how it happened — and why. Here are some of the key findings."
The work of understanding Jan. 6 has been hard enough without this barrage of disinformation and, hoping to get to the bottom of the riot, The Times’s Visual Investigations team spent several months reviewing thousands of videos, many filmed by the rioters themselves and since deleted from social media. We filed motions to unseal police body-camera footage, scoured law enforcement radio communications, and synchronized and mapped the visual evidence.... We found evidence of members of extremist groups inciting others to riot and assault police officers. And we learned how Donald J. Trump’s own words resonated with the mob in real time as they staged the attack.

"Surrogates for Mr. Adams have suggested without evidence that an apparent ranked-choice alliance between Ms. Garcia and another rival, Andrew Yang, could amount to an attempt to suppress the votes of Black and Latino New Yorkers."

"Mr. Adams himself claimed that the alliance was aimed at preventing a Black or Latino candidate from winning the race.... To advocates of ranked-choice voting, the round-by-round shuffling of outcomes is part of the process of electing a candidate with broad appeal. But if Ms. Garcia or Ms. Wiley were to prevail, the process — which was approved by voters in a 2019 ballot measure — would likely attract fresh scrutiny, with some of Mr. Adams’s backers and others already urging a new referendum on it.... According to the now-withdrawn tabulation released Tuesday, Ms. Wiley, a former counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio, nearly made it to the final round. She finished closely behind Ms. Garcia, the former sanitation commissioner, before being eliminated in the penultimate round of the preliminary exercise. After the count of in-person ballots last week, Ms. Garcia had trailed Ms. Wiley by about 2.8 percentage points...." 

From "New York Mayor’s Race in Chaos After Elections Board Counts 135,000 Test Ballots/The extraordinary sequence of events threw the closely watched Democratic primary contest into a new period of uncertainty and seeded further confusion about the outcome" (NYT). 

Wiley and Adams are the 2 black candidates.* If they are shut out after multi-round computer shuffling and Garcia gets the nomination, I don't see how people are going to believe what happened was legit. And the Democrats will have themselves to blame, since they've been leaning into characterizing everything that happens within the structure of voting as racist. 

The top-rated comment in the NYT is:

Please oh please do not make it sound like ranked choice is somehow rigged! The old way meant people who the majority did *not* want could win elections because of multiple candidates dividing the vote. Ranked choice makes it so that a majority is in favor of the winner, even if that person wasn’t their first choice. Voters voted for this process. Eric Adams and fans, do not follow Trump into the moral void and start undermining results just because you don’t like them.

Too late for that sort of wishful thinking. This is a bed Democrats made for themselves. 

"I'm on my feet all day long with the kittens and so many litter boxes you have to bend over."

"My husband says to me, 'You don't even have to do the five mile walk this morning. You were on your feet all day long with the foster kittens.' So yes, I guess I'm holding kittens and leaning over for litter boxes, scooping poop all day."

Said Howard Stern's wife Beth, quoted in a very puffy puff piece at Hamptons.com, where I clicked through to from "Fans outraged by Howard Stern’s summer off after $500M Sirius XM deal."

Imagine having that much wealth and spending your time so deeply involved in cat shit?

It made me think of this video I saw the other day of Curtis Sliwa, the GOP candidate for mayor of New York:


No one but the cat people can fathom the mysteries of the cat people.

"There was a long time — who knows when it ended? — when, if you were a woman and you parted your hair on the side, someone would say you look like Veronica Lake."

"Side part *meant* Veronica Lake" — I write over at Facebook, where my son John — a propos of his "101 Years of Movies" blog — posts a lovely photograph of Veronica Lake (from "Sullivan's Travels," his second favorite movies of 1941).

John responds: 

A scene in Billy Wilder’s breakthrough movie, “The Major and the Minor” (1942), starring Ginger Rogers, pokes fun at Lake’s famous hairdo: “There’s an epidemic in [this] school…. They all think they’re Veronica Lake.” 

Amazing! Look:


To quote myself again (with an added link, to Glamour):

That was way back in 1942. That was still going on in the 1960s and beyond.

These days, there's a big fad for parting the hair straight down the middle. We had that in the 1960s too. But hysteria over a side part is really very funny. Lake didn't pull the hair back, though. That was a big thing about it. She let it fall over her eyes.

It was the hair in your eye/eyes that drove people crazy. I got the impression they thought it was one thing for one actress — Veronica Lake — to perform that insanity in movies, but no one else can try that — certainly not in real life, where you've got to watch where you're going — and if you do, we're going to discipline you by calling you out for copying Lake. Like this was a hairstyle for one person and one person alone. 

I think it was just over-the-top policing of young women. And I'm saying that as someone who, in junior high, was sent to the vice principal's office for having excessively long bangs. I mean, what are eyebrows for if not to tell you here is the line that must not be crossed?

5:11 a.m.



"North Korea closed its borders with China and Russia at the start of the pandemic, halted international air travel and imposed strict limits on domestic travel."

"It has told the World Health Organization it has not found a single case of Covid-19 after testing more than 30,000 people. That claim has been greeted with scepticism by the international community, with experts warning that the country’s threadbare health services are ill-equipped to deal with an outbreak.... Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul, said Kim’s comments 'indicate that health conditions are already deteriorating inside the country. Kim will likely find scapegoats for the incident, purging disloyal officials and blaming their ideological lapses. This may provide Pyongyang justification for demanding that citizens hunker down more, but it could also be political preparation for accepting vaccines from abroad."

From "North Korea Covid-19 outbreak fears after Kim Jong-un warns of ‘huge crisis’ in ‘antivirus fight’/Leader speaks of a grave incident and sacks officials for neglecting duties in fighting ‘global health crisis’" (The Guardian).

"With pageantry, people think it is only about beauty. But it’s how you present yourself, what you advocate for, what you’ve done and the goals you have...."

"I worked with Pride Tree, talking to kids and supporting them and helping them build a wardrobe because sometimes they don’t have access to clothes than express their gender identity.... I told the judges that as a transgender woman of color and a survivor of physical and sexual abuse, I am everything that is underrepresented in this country. Our voices matter. Those whose voices aren’t always heard deserve the chance to be heard.... It means a lot to represent Nevada.... We are an example for other states and we can create a place that is less hateful for all."

Said Kataluna Enriquez, quoted in "First transgender Miss Nevada USA calls win ‘huge honor’" (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

June 29, 2021

My morning place, seen at 6:19 p.m. and 6:25 p.m.



"And now, jorts—those frumpy jean shorts worn by beer-clutching dads behind the barbecue—have wormed their way into style."

 A Wall Street Journal article calls out to me.

Nostalgia is also what pushed Aaron Levine back to jorts. “They harken back to a simpler time,” said the 44-year-old menswear designer who until recently worked at Abercrombie & Fitch. Jorts are “a bit of a ’70s situation, worn with a Faith No More T-shirt or a big polo,” he said....

“You almost chuckle the minute you hear the word ‘jorts,’” said Albert Imperato, 58, a classical-music publicist in Manhattan... The lightheartedness of jorts might actually be the secret to their surging popularity among younger men....

Will Rebholz, 29, a wine and beer salesperson in Grand Rapids, Mich., wore jorts “ironically” to rowdy tailgates in college. He still breaks them out at parties just “to bring some humor” to the room....

Do you believe you've got what it takes to wear clothes ironically/humorously? Or is that like saying "I meant to do that" after you fall off your bike?


And I must object to "They harken back to a simpler time." I've said it before, so let me quote myself, from a January 2016 article with the amusing/foreboding title, "Why there are so many things with titles like 'Why I still believe Donald Trump will never be president'":

"Hearkens back" (or "harkens back") is wrong (though common): “An old sense of the verb hark (which mainly means to listen) was used in hunting with hounds, where the phrase hark back denoted the act of returning along the course taken to recover a lost scent." We're not talking about listening back. Sound, unlike smell, doesn't remain on the trail and can't be traced. So please say hark back or just use normal English like it reminds me of.

"The adrenaline rush is so bad that it makes them forget the pain. Even seriously affected riders, such as Spaniard Marc Soler, both elbows fractured, Briton Chris Froome, with hip and chest injuries, or Swiss Marc Hirshi, his right shoulder completely disjointed, manage to finish."

Said the on-site surgeon, quoted in "French police fear woman who caused the Tour de France's worst-ever crash with placard written in German is UNTRACEABLE and has flown home" (Daily Mail). 

I hadn't blogged about this incident yet, though of course, I've watched the video. Many times, in fact. 

I'm not too interested in this dumb lady, and I don't particularly care whether she's caught or not. Can't they use computerized facial recognition? The article makes it sound like they're looking for someone based on her clothes and glasses. 

I'm blogging today because I'm fascinated by the loony heroism of getting up and finishing the race with "hip and chest injuries" or a dislocated shoulder. Did somebody pop that shoulder back in for Hirshi, or did he just ride with a shoulder out of joint? 

I'm not going to look to see if anyone is saying that that the cyclist who ran into the sign could have avoided the catastrophe. He seems a bit as if he's not paying enough attention. And these cyclists are choosing to ride very close together. They're taking the risk of losing control if one cyclist falls. And what's with leaving the fans in a position to jump out into the road with their wacky little signs? Either control the boundary between fan and competitor or expect the competitors to look out and maintain control. Leave untraceable German lady alone! 

UPDATE: They've now arrested a woman.

"Addressing the root causes of migration is one of several jobs President Biden has handed Ms. Harris, who had no deep expertise with Latin America issues..."

"... or the decades-long quandary of federal immigration reform. He has also asked her to lead the administration’s voting-rights efforts, which are in a filibuster limbo. According to The Times, he has her working on combating vaccine hesitancy and fighting for policing reform, too, among other uphill battles. It’s gotten to the point that every time I see Ms. Harris, I immediately think of 'The Wiz' and hear Michael Jackson singing: You can’t win, you can’t break even/And you can’t get out of the game/People keep sayin’ things are gonna change/But they look just like they’re stayin’ the same...."

That's a NYT column, "Dear Kamala Harris: It’s a Trap!" by a polisci professor named Christina Greer Ms. Greer is a political scientist at Fordham University.

Of course, it's a trap, a set up, and I don't know why Greer doesn't go the whole way and accuse Biden of white supremacy. But what interested me the most was the random appearance of Michael Jackson. Is he uncancelled now?

"In a stunning setback to regulators’ efforts to break up Facebook, a federal judge on Monday threw out antitrust lawsuits brought against the company..."

"... by the Federal Trade Commission and more than 40 states. The judge eviscerated one of the federal government’s core arguments, that Facebook holds a monopoly over social networking, saying prosecutors had failed to provide enough facts to back up that claim. And he said the states had waited too long to bring their case, which centers on deals made in 2012 and 2014. The judge said the F.T.C. could try again within 30 days with more detail, but he suggested that the agency faced steep challenges."

 Writes Cecilia Kang at the NYT.

The top-rated comment over there, by a lot, is: "The swiftest way to eliminate Facebook’s power is to disable/delete your Facebook account. And believe me, it’s not very hard to do."

Ironically, that's a free-market answer.

Heat exhaustion/heat stroke.

 I'm trying to read this WaPo article, "As Portland, Ore., copes with unprecedented heat, illnesses spike and roads buckle":

PORTLAND, Ore. ­— Kim and Kathy Stoughton thought they could wait out the record-breaking heat in their east Portland apartment, even though they don't have air conditioning. 

But by Sunday, they couldn’t take it anymore. 

“I felt fatigued, extremely uncomfortable, mad,” said Kim, who is in his 60s. He was also dizzy and confused, signs of heatstroke...

 Heatstroke?! Come on, haven't we all seen charts like this?

Dizziness is on the heat exhaustion side, not the heat stroke side. And we're told:

So the couple headed to Sunrise Center, a community-center-turned-cooling-station open 24 hours through Tuesday.

That's the appropriate action to take for heat exhaustion. If it were heat stroke, they should have called 911.  This is such basic and important health information. Why can't The Washington Post get that right?! It's so embarrassing. 

That article has been up for more than 6 hours. Fix it!

"Tarantino has turned his most recent film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, into a novel: messing with the timeline, cranking up the backstories, mulching up reality..."

"... and alt.reality pastiche, ladling in new episodes. The result comes packaged in something like those New English Library paperbacks that used to be on carousel displays in supermarkets and drugstores. In the endpapers he cheekily includes ads for old commercial paperbacks real and imagined, such as Erich Segal’s Oliver’s Story, sequel to Love Story ('Soon to be a major motion picture').... [T]he book is entirely outrageous and addictively readable on its own terms – even the wildly prolix digressive sections and endless savant riffs about movies and TV.... He’s maybe not in the Elmore Leonard league but, like Leonard, he’s refreshingly unconcerned with the literary mainstream. I read this in one sitting – just like watching a film."

From "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood review – Tarantino’s debut novel shines/The director’s pulpy novelisation of his most recent film is entirely outrageous and addictively readable" (The Guardian). 

Here's the book, "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: A Novel." I put it in my Kindle. 

I did not — as I usually do — add the audio version of the book. I listened to the sample and was sorry to hear that the narrator is a woman with creaky voice — an unusually heavy, perhaps intentionally exaggerated creaky voice. 

Who is it? Oh, it's Jennifer Jason Leigh. Sorry, I am not amused. I am annoyed. No way I'm plugging that into my ear.

"Drinking not only allows wary, self-interested individuals to drop their guard and collaborate, he writes, it also facilitates the creativity and playfulness our species needs to innovate and survive."

"A negroni will essentially wipe out the prefrontal cortex, the site of pragmatic, grown-up thinking. Zap the same region with a transcranial magnet and you’ll get the same results: happier, less inhibited, more childlike adults. Given that transcranial magnets are 'expensive, not very portable and typically not welcome at parties,' alcohol remains a handy, low-tech tool to get good will and fresh ideas flowing. For our ancestors, inebriation was especially essential, 'a robust and elegant response to the challenges of getting a selfish, suspicious, narrowly goal-oriented primate to loosen up and connect with strangers.... It is no accident that, in the brutal competition of cultural groups from which civilizations emerged, it is the drinkers, smokers and trippers who emerged triumphant'.... Human society would not exist without ample lubrication."

From the NYT review of Edward Slingerland's book "Drunk/How We Sipped, Danced, and Stumbled Our Way to Civilization."

I just put that in my Kindle. I enjoyed Slingerland's encounter with Joe Rogan. Here's a 14-minute segment of the show (which was 166 minutes):


There's a lot of historical detail in the book, looking into why human beings did so well over the millennia when we've been sloshing around in alcohol the entire time. The negatives are obvious, so there must be something quite positive. 

I've written a few times about what I've considered the crucial benefit of alcohol: "freedom and democracy depend on our disinhibition; we need to be able to laugh at authority."

Here's the Reddit discussion of that Joe Rogan episode. Most interesting comment: "If you listen carefully, you can hear Joe's erection slamming into the underside of the table when that guy mentions gobekli tepe." 

Here's the Wikipedia article "Göbekli Tepe." Oh, what am I doing, reading Wikipedia. I have the book in my Kindle now. From the book: 

June 28, 2021

Sunrise — eastern view at 5:28 and western view at 5:34.



I think that second picture is the most eastern-looking western view of the sunrise I've ever seen.

A Meadhouse dialogue.

MEADE:  “So, do you think the pandemic is over?”

ALTHOUSE pauses.

MEADE: “You have to answer yes or no.”

ALTHOUSE, after another pause: “Not entirely. No.”

MEADE, immediately: “You’re a Democrat.”

5:04 a.m.


"Adolf Hitler favored [Clark] Gable above all other actors. During World War II, Hitler offered a sizable reward to anyone who could capture and bring Gable to him unscathed."

An interesting fact I ran across, reading the Wikipedia article for Clark Gable, which I was doing a propos of reading my son John's write-up about his favorite movies from 1939. "Gone With The Wind" came in third for that year. In any case, here's what got me started researching:

One of this great but frustrating movie’s weaknesses is the lackluster performance by the out-of-place Leslie Howard, who, unlike Vivien Leigh, couldn’t manage to put aside his real-life British accent and commit to playing a Georgian. I agree with this BBC piece (“Gone with the Wind: Is it America’s strangest film?”): 

The idea that anyone — let alone anyone as unconventional as Scarlett — would choose this wishy-washy character over ... Rhett is absurd: the most preposterous aspect of a daringly, bewilderingly idiosyncratic film. After more than 75 years, we’re still mesmerised by Scarlett. We’re still tantalised by Scarlett and Rhett. But Scarlett and Ashley? Frankly, we don’t give a damn. 

If only he’d been played by Jimmy Stewart! 

The reference to Jimmy Stewart makes more sense in the context of the entire post, the #1 choice for the year being a Jimmy Stewart movie. And the #4 choice.

Leslie Howard died in 1943 when his plane was shot down by the Nazis:

"I hate the word process, I just can’t bear it. People say, ‘What’s your process?’ My process is allowing my soul to leave my body and enter into the body of another human being...."

"I like to pretend that I’m the most attention deficit disordered person I’m ever going to meet.... I’m very conscious of keeping the reader’s interest. And I’m easily bored — I’m easily bored by books, I hate to say. And so I want there to be some sort of suspense or some sort of payoff.... It’s all about language.... Once I can figure out what the language inside [the characters'] head is — that way in which people talk to themselves without saying anything, the stream of what is running in your head — once I can figure out what that language is, I can get the character. It just clicks in."

From "‘I’m Easily Bored by Books,’ Says Writer of 22 Novels/The latest from the aptly named Francine Prose is 'The Vixen,' a surprisingly funny tale involving Ethel Rosenberg and the C.I.A." (NYT).

Notice that she's talking about inhabiting the head of the characters and the head of the readers. Those are 2 very different processes, but she's set on doing both things. If you had to choose one or the other, which would you pick? Do you want to read things written by writers who assume you have no patience at all? I'd rather be trusted to absorb what is actually good and also trusted to cast off what is bad. Write well, and earn our patience. Write badly and credit us with the sense to throw it off no matter how desperately you worked to grab our attention. So of the 2 processes, the better one is to get inside the characters' own stream of thought. Do that right and the problem of reader boredom should take care of itself. 

By the way, how funny is Ethel Rosenberg? Ethel Mertz funny?

FROM THE EMAIL: Paul quotes my long paragraph — the one that begins "Notice..." — and offers this quote from Umberto Eco's "Post-Script to The Name of the Rose" (1984):

My friends and editors suggested I abbreviate the first hundred pages, which they found very difficult and demanding. Without thinking twice, I refused, because, as I insisted, if somebody wanted to enter the abbey and live there for seven days, he had to accept the abbey’s own pace. If he could not, he would never manage to read the whole book. Therefore those first hundred pages are like a penance or initiation, and if someone does not like them, so much the worse for him. He can stay at the foot of the mountain.

ALSO: EDH sends this (and why have I never heard of it? I love Jermaine Clement!):

"What do you think of Howard Stern’s painting?"

My son Chris asks, texting this:


ME: it doesn’t seem to express anything about him...
        just looks like a tediously copied photo...
        he’s such a special person. he should express himself! 

CHRIS: His paintings always seem like realistic paintings of flowers and stuff like that 

ME: maybe what he’s expressing is that he’s a big old dullard!
        maybe it’s a meditation or self-calming
        maybe he’s atoning for his shock-jockeying 

CHRIS: Yeah I think he does it as a hobby as a calming thing
        His show has changed a lot over the years

Chris also sends that kitty-cat-in-a-shoe painting below. That's a Howard Stern painting from last year. 

ME: it’s like he wants women to love him
        before he was overdoing his effort at appealing to men
        but where is the real howard stern?
        maybe inside he feels like nobody

"When she crossed the line and looked at the clock, McLaughlin covered her mouth with two hands and 10 pristine-white fingernails."

Fingernails loom large in WaPo's report "Sydney McLaughlin sets world record in 400-meter hurdles at U.S. Olympic trials." 

Pristine-white — has that descriptor ever appeared in the news before? 

Anyway, here's what matters!

And yet, I don't have a tag for running, and I'm not going to create one, but I do have a tag "fingernails," and I'm delighted to get to use it again. 

I hadn't used it since July 2018, when somebody had "tapered nails painted bright sapling-green." There's been newsworthy fingernail biting. And Viking beliefs about cutting one's nails

And my all-time favorite: "'Record nails broken in car crash.'... Not the worst car accident injury, though possibly the worst fingernail-breaking injury.... I wish somebody would bring her the world's largest blackboard."

June 27, 2021

Sunrise, 5:19 to 5:24 a.m.





"Why does it matter if other people can see that we have panties on? Why does it matter if our panty line is visible?"

"It does not matter. You should be happy that I am wearing panties, and my kitty-cat juice is not all over the place. I don't understand why we need this contraption... This is not innovative. We are human. We all wear the panties...."

Pinky reacts — on TikTok — to a strapless stick-on thong.

"I'm not sure why the Times would print a recommendation of a practice that's strongly discouraged by doctors."

"Individuals discovering this for themselves, or inheriting this method from a parent, is one thing. Hundreds of thousands of people simultaneously receiving encouragement through the media for something that doctors consider dangerous is another thing entirely."

That's a comment on "The Best Way to Clean Your Ears: With a Spoon/Doctors strongly discourage people from scraping inside their ears. But knowing better and doing it anyway is part of what makes us human" (NYT).

I think the answer to the question why the NYT would print this can be seen in what I'm boldfacing:

"I feel like it was setup... I feel like they did that on purpose, and I was pissed, to be honest. I was thinking about what should I do. Eventually, I just stayed there and just swayed. I put my shirt over my head."

Said Gwen Berry, explaining her behavior when the national anthem played as she took the stand after qualifying for the U.S. Olympic team, WaPo reports. 

She'd finished finished third in the hammer throw, and, we're told, she didn't think they'd be playing the national anthem for each medal ceremony at the trials, the way they do for the Olympic finals.

She continues:

"It was real disrespectful."

By that, she means not that she was disrespectful to turn away and pull  her T-shirt over her head, but that they were disrespectful to play it. 

Trump did a rally last night — "Do you miss me? They miss me" — the first rally of the 2022 campaign.

Maybe you skipped it, but here it is: 


Message: The Biden administration is a mess — and just a few months ago, everything was so perfect.

ADDED: J.D. Vance was there:

Ukranian TikTok star hands a little girl a new iPhone to record her reaction but then still wants it back.

But the girl's mother doesn't accept the characterization of what happened. He says it was a prank. She makes the argument — it's a legal argument — that he made a gift, and he can't take it back... and she's video'd the whole thing and it's her video that goes viral. 

Indy100 reports: "Voloshin posted a video of his “touching” encounter with the little girl on TikTok, but left out the cruel punchline."

Here's the Reddit discussion at the aggressively named r/iamatotalpieceofshit: 

Sky ladder.


The notion of a “sky ladder” or corresponding space elevator has been considered by humans since 1895, when it leapt from the brain of Russian space pioneer Konstantin Tsiolkovsky... Engineers would first assemble an enormous space station, and then drop cables down to the Earth that would be fixed on the equator – as it would be impossible to build in the United States or Europe. Unfortunately, a cable that is both long enough, and strong enough, to maintain its integrity is yet to be invented. Once that has been overcome, however, it is likely that the cost of travelling into space would fall by over 99 per cent, with equipment and personnel travelling relatively simply between planets.

That was published on the 25th. I'm seeing it today because I googled "sky ladder," the name of a documentary we happened to watch last night. It was featured on my Netflix home page, but it came out in 2016: "Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guo-Qiang."

... Sky Ladder is a 1,650-foot-tall ladder, held aloft by a giant balloon and rigged with explosives. As the massive sculpture ignites, it creates a fiery vision that miraculously ascends to the heavens.

I'm quoting a review at ArtNet. You can judge for yourself whether a ladder-shaped concatenation of fireworks held up by a hot air balloon looks miraculous. It's not as miraculous as a space elevator made of materials not yet invented. 

The Chinese government looms large throughout the film. As a child during the Cultural Revolution, Cai helped his father, [an] artist and bookseller who spent most of his salary buying his own [wares], burn the vast majority of the family’s library. Cai is perhaps best-known for the spectacular firework show he created for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but there are some who question his willingness to collaborate with an authoritarian regime.... [T]here’s also Cai’s disappointing involvement with the government’s 2014 Asia-Pacific Economic Conference. The filmmakers sat in on meetings where the artist’s vision was severely compromised by government officials....

The government official says — to quote the subtitles — "I'm telling you, the government is here to help you... You have to figure out something creative with all these chains on you... Mao taught us to be practical and realistic.... We'll support you only when you follow the rules." 

And the artist works with them — works on what is bombastic propaganda for the Chinese government. 

The movie mostly offered up Cai as a great artist, but it also gave us plenty of reason to think he was more of a con artist. In that light, it was tantalizing that — to me, at least — he looked so much like Obama.

NOTE: The "sky ladder" topic is — by chance — a continuation of yesterday's Tower of Babel theme.