July 10, 2021

5:11 a.m. and 5:26 a.m.



By the way, there was a little wedding going on just to my left as I took the second photograph. This was the second time I've run into a wedding on my sunrise run.

There goes Robert E. Lee...

I was walking down by the Limnology building when I saw a concentrated pile of bird doo....





"This makes it postable!"

I got email this morning from Bob Boyd, aiming at commenting on last night's post about MSNBC angsting about J.D. Vance: 

Media attacks of this kind will only help Vance with voters and increase his name recognition. 

Here is a twitter thread by a guy who has a very good grasp on the evolution of the thinking of Trump's voters over the course of the last few years and he explains it concisely. For anyone interested in understanding their point of view, this is very much worth reading. 

I didn't click on that link because other emailers had already called it to my attention. I just said:

yes, i saw that it's so annoying to read in the form of a twitter thread though 

Actually, Boyd sent me a link to a "Twitter reader" version of the thread, so it actually wasn't as annoying as what I'd seen, which was a long series of tweets on Twitter. Instead of pointing that out, Boyd responded...

No matter how annoying something is, it can always be worse. 

... and sent me this:

I responded:
thanks... this makes it postable!

"[T]he sudden, rapid, stunning shift in the belief system of the American elites... has sent the whole society into a profound cultural dislocation."

"It is, in essence, an ongoing moral panic against the specter of 'white supremacy,' which is now bizarrely regarded as an accurate description of the largest, freest, most successful multiracial democracy in human history.... The elites, increasingly sequestered within one political party and one media monoculture, educated by colleges and private schools that have become hermetically sealed against any non-left dissent, have had a 'social justice reckoning' these past few years. And they have been ideologically transformed, with countless cascading consequences. Take it from a NYT woke star, Kara Swisher, who celebrated this week that 'the country’s social justice movement is reshaping how we talk about, well, everything.' She’s right — and certainly about the NYT and all mainstream journalism.... The reason 'critical race theory' is a decent approximation for this new orthodoxy is that it was precisely this exasperation with liberalism’s seeming inability to end racial inequality in a generation that prompted Derrick Bell et al. to come up with the term in the first place, and Kimberlé Crenshaw to subsequently universalize it beyond race to every other possible dimension of human identity ('intersectionality'). A specter of invisible and unfalsifiable 'systems' and 'structures' and 'internal biases' arrived to hover over the world...."

Writes Andrew Sullivan in "What Happened To You?/The radicalization of the American elite against liberalism" (Substack).

Just take one more minute for rational reflection and you will be all set.

That's what I have to say to metalmom, who writes this comment to "Do We Really Need to Take 10,000 Steps a Day for Our Health? The advice that we take 10,000 steps a day is more a marketing accident than based on science. Taking far fewer may have notable benefits" (NYT):

What really burns me up about the endless reports of how we need to do at least 30 minutes of vigorous exercise five days a week: who has time for that? Let me get this straight. You have young children. You get them off to school and then commute an hour to your job. Do your job all day and then rush home to your kids. Help them with their homework, make dinner, attend school-related or community-related events. And all the housework including laundry and grocery shopping, and yardwork. Fit in a few minutes of conversation with your partner. Handle phone calls about the family or friends. Then fall into bed too stressed out to sleep. Repeat every day. Don’t forget to get your vigorous exercise in! And feel guilty if you don’t!

Such unnecessary burning up! 

ADDED: It occurs to me that if one were really burning with anger, it would consume calories. I'm thinking I could get rich writing a new diet book. Has anyone ever used this idea before? You lose weight by getting angry, so angry you feel the burn. That heat could not exist if not for calories. So don't worry about going running or off on your long runs. Stay on the internet and keep reading those websites that fire you up.

FROM THE EMAIL: Washington Blogger writes:

I lost 7 pounds reading the Althouse comments section. Now all that weight is back under the new format. However, blood pressure is down. I think my doctor prefers it that way, so you get a thumbs up from her. :)

"In many ways, Lex Lederman, 28, is a classic American family man. He owns a farm in New Hampshire, where he lives with his wife and three children (plus a sizable company of chickens, pigs and geese)."

"He’s teaching himself home renovation (plumbing, electrics, how to lay floors) and regularly helps out with homeless food charities, refugee relief, and the local high school football team. But this lifestyle has only become possible since he quit his construction job for a full-time career on OnlyFans – the content subscription service where he uploads erotic pictures and videos for his predominantly gay male fanbase.... Towering at 6ft 3in and shredded like a Marvel hero, Lederman has always had a social media presence with big Dilf energy. On Instagram (his biography reads 'husband, father, goofball'), he shares photos of his family, documents his bodybuilding gains, and uploads videos of himself chopping wood in overalls. Those aspects of his real life feed into his OnlyFans persona, fuelling an erotic fantasy of the 'unattainable family man' that keeps him sitting comfortably in the top 1% of creators.... Now, Lederman’s material ranges from editorialised underwear shots to homemade masturbation videos. Once he realised that he was earning more doing three hours of OnlyFans than he was doing 60 hours of construction, he quit his day job.... ... OnlyFans is that the latter has the feel of social media ... Fans can talk to creators directly, which means OnlyFans also offers a more intimate alternative to watching porn....."

From "‘Where else can I make a month’s rent in two days?’: the unlikely stars of OnlyFans" (The Guardian).

"What’s difficult about having your relationship rewritten and memorialised in the most viral short story of all time is the sensation that millions of people now know that relationship as described by a stranger."

"Meanwhile, I’m alone with my memories of what really happened – just like any death leaves you burdened with the responsibility of holding on to the parts of a person that only you knew."

Writes Alexis Nowicki, the real-life person upon whom the story "Cat Person" was based, quoted in "The Cat Person debate shows how fiction writers use real life does matter/Kristen Roupenian’s viral 2017 short story is again being debated, now over her alleged use of details drawn from life. The questions this raises do not have neat answers" (The Guardian). 

[Nowicki] alleges that biographical details in the story were taken from her life and relationship with an older man, whom she calls Charles. Nowicki had never met Roupenian, but came from the same small home town, lived in the same college dorms, and worked at the same theatre as Margot....

As it turns out, Roupenian did know Charles and told Nowicki that she had gleaned details of her previous relationship with Charles through social media. It’s a sad story, especially as Charles died suddenly last year and Nowicki clearly desires to set the record straight about a man she felt was kind and decent, unlike [the character in the story] Robert....

Of course, writers always use people like this... or maybe not quite like this. Change some of the details at least! And yet, it's Nowicki drawing attention to herself and to Charles. She seems to have felt Charles was wronged. Roupenian turned him into a symbol of misogyny, and Nowicki wants to clear his name... which requires an additional sullying of his name.

The author of the Guardian piece — the delightfully named Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett — says the "the most interesting question" here is: "how do you go about reconciling the necessary use of real human experience as a way of exploring human psychology while doing right by people?"

It was Graham Greene who wrote that every writer has a splinter of ice in their heart. I think he was right: you have to have it, otherwise you would spend all your time worrying about the impact of your work on others and you would never write at all.

"On Thursday President Joe Biden spoke in defense of his ill-considered, hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan, in remarks peopled with straw men and littered with false assertions."

Writes Peter Bergen, CNN's national security analyst and author of "The Rise and Fall of Osama bin Laden."  

First, Biden contended that he was bound by a 2020 Trump administration agreement with the Taliban to withdraw all US troops by May 2021. But that was an agreement conducted by a previous administration -- so it's not binding -- and it was predicated on [a number of conditions that haven't been met]....

What could be sweeter than watching Bob Weir earnestly endeavoring...

... to do TikTok?

When there is a clearly visible need, people really do step up.

July 9, 2021

"Liberals know which politics threatens their hegemony...."

"Today I learned that people exist who take out $200k+ in loans for film studies degrees."

Kayaker paddles into the sunrise.

5:13 a.m. 


5:16 a.m.


"If your child is a football fan and likely to be up until after 11pm on Sunday watching the final, then let them stay in bed a little bit longer on Monday morning."

"They must be in school by 10.30am and we would rather have rested children in school ready to learn than absent all day or grumpy children at home.... It is 55 years since England were in a major football final so this is a massive learning opportunity."

From "Euro 2020: Schoolchildren given extra time in bed after final" (London Times).

"Normally I buy the Audible package, sync up and try to quell waves of panic that I’m not better-read in key areas."

"The most recent went, like, 'Ahhh, I’ve barely read any Russian literature!' Though I was a Kafka nut as a teenager. So now I’m halfway through Maggie Gyllenhaal’s reading of 'Anna Karenina.' Which is long."

From "How Ronan Farrow Spends His Sundays/For one thing, the award-winning reporter eats sardines and cottage cheese while on deadline. He’s also into Mario Kart" (NYT). 

Here's that audiobook of "Anna Karenina." Listen to the sample before you spring for it. Famous actors are not necessarily the best book narrators. I was just saying I couldn't listen to Jennifer Jason Leigh narrating "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood." American actresses tend to have casual, idiosyncratic speech patterns — good for dialogue but distracting or irritating for the long haul through descriptions and multiple characters.

Farrow is 33. Maybe that's the key age for worrying that you're not better read. "Waves of panic" sounds extreme, but maybe people — some people — are deeply distressed that they haven't read all the books it seems you're supposed to have read. If there's anyone I associate with that feeling, it's Woody Allen. Maybe fear of not having read the great Russian classics is a displaced communion with his estranged father. The How-I-Spend-My-Sundays piece of literary fluff does have a reference to Woody — a veiled reference:

Mario is 40.

"Donkey Kong is an arcade game released by Nintendo in Japan on July 9, 1981."

That was 40 years ago today.

"Its gameplay maneuvers Mario across platforms to ascend a construction site and rescue Pauline from the giant gorilla named Donkey Kong, all while avoiding or jumping over obstacles. Donkey Kong is the product of Nintendo's increasingly desperate efforts to develop a hit to rival Pac-Man (1980) and break into the North American market.... The game debuts Mario, who became Nintendo's mascot and one of the world's most recognizable characters" — Wikipedia

Newborn, Mario looked like this:

And as long as I'm talking about Mario, let me once again show you this clip, from the movie "Putney Slope," containing what was for me one of the top-10 funniest things I ever heard in a movie, "How many syllables, Mario?": 


The director of that movie, Robert Downey Sr., died 2 days ago. From the NYT obituary

“Putney Swope,” a 1969 comedy about a Black man who is accidentally elected chairman of a Madison Avenue advertising agency, was perhaps Mr. Downey’s best-known film.

“To be as precise as is possible about such a movie,” Vincent Canby wrote in a rave review in The New York Times, “it is funny, sophomoric, brilliant, obscene, disjointed, marvelous, unintelligible and relevant.”...

“They’re uneven,” [Downey] said of the films. “But I was uneven.”

"It just doesn’t feel right... that company CEOs Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey and Sundar Pichai get to decide which politicians Americans can hear and which ones we can’t."

"Everyone mocking Trump’s misreading of the First Amendment would be foolish to dismiss that feeling. Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet (which owns Google and YouTube) barred Trump from their platforms after he incited violence on Jan. 6. They are private companies, and they had every right to do so.... But the fact that Trump failed so miserably to find alternatives to these platforms reinforces the common-sense feeling that they are not ordinary private businesses. Most people understand that they are private companies but also that, in today’s America, if those three are silencing you, you are being excluded in a serious way from the public square. And many understandably wonder: Why should they get to make that call? Trump’s lawsuits certainly don’t point the way to an answer.... Yet that brings us back to the hard question: Do we want Facebook CEO Zuckerberg making those judgments?" 

Writes Fred Hiatt in "Opinion: Legally, Trump’s tech lawsuit is a joke. But it raises a serious question" (WaPo).

CORRECTION: I had the wrong name for the columnist and have corrected it.

Winning the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee.


ADDED: The winner, Zaila Avant-garde, considers herself more of a basketball player than a speller:

“Basketball, I'm not just playing it. I'm really trying to go somewhere with it. Basketball is what I do,” Zaila said. “Spelling is really a side thing I do. It's like a little hors d'ouevre. But basketball's like the main dish.”

She holds 3 records — having to do with dribbling multiple balls — in the Guinness Book of World Records.

As for her unusual last name, we're told that her "father changed her last name to Avant-garde in honor of jazz musician John Coltrane." ("The Avant-Garde" is an album title.)

ALSO: I'm sure Avant-garde knows how to spell "hors d'oeuvre," but it's misspelled in the article about her! That's an Associated Press article at NOLA.com. You would think that they'd take special pains about spelling when writing about a spelling champ. And everyone knows that "hors d'oeuvre" is a hard word. Check the spelling!

July 8, 2021

5:22 a.m.


"Hillbilly Elegy was cited by Hillary Clinton and feted at pointy-headed panel discussions, though some liberals criticized its up-by-the-bootstraps framing."

"At a time when elites struggled to comprehend Trump’s appeal, [J.D.] Vance’s diagnosis of rural white Americans’ disillusionment with a government and society that had left them behind seemed prescient. These days, Vance’s persona is more right-wing provocateur than establishment darling. But it’s his stance toward Trump that seems destined to dominate his campaign in a primary that could be a bellwether for the post-Trump GOP. As his rivals strain to outdo one another with displays of fealty to the former President, Vance’s past opposition has been cited as proof of an all-too-convenient conversion. Vance admits it took him time to come around, but points to his book and commentary as evidence he understood Trump’s appeal before most. 'I sort of got Trump’s issues from the beginning,' Vance says. 'I just thought that this guy was not serious and was not going to be able to really make progress on the issues I cared about.'"

From "Breakfast with J.D. Vance, Anti-Trump Author Turned Pro-Trump Candidate" by Molly Ball (Time).

I think his position on Trump is just fine. What's more interesting is the way liberals embraced "Hillbilly Elegy" before they decided it was a yucky conservative they had in their arms.

ADDED: Here's a New Republic article from November 17, 2016, "J.D. Vance, the False Prophet of Blue America/The bestselling author of 'Hillbilly Elegy' has emerged as the liberal media's favorite white trash–splainer. But he is offering all the wrong lessons."

Hmm... and I recently bailed quickly on "The Overstory" because I thought it was badly written.

From a NYT interview with Michael Pollan (and sorry, but it's just by chance that 2 out 3 posts this morning have been about Pollan!): 

What’s the last great book you read? 

“The Overstory,” by Richard Powers, is a book that, the further I am from reading it, looms larger and larger in my imagination.... 

Can a great book be badly written? What other criteria can overcome bad prose? 

I probably haven’t stuck around long enough to find out — I usually bail quickly on badly written books....

"The person that shot Ashli Babbitt — boom, right through the head. Just, boom. There was no reason for that. And why isn’t that person being opened up, and why isn’t that being studied?"

"They’ve already written it off. They said that case is closed. If that were the opposite, that case would be going on for years and years, and it would not be pretty.... Nobody knows who that man [was]... If that were the opposite way, that man would be all over. He would be the most well-known — and I believe I can say ‘man,’ because I believe I know exactly who it is — but he would be the most well-known person in this country, in the world." 

Said Donald Trump, quoted in "Trump says ‘there was no reason’ for officer to shoot rioter who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6" (WaPo) ("Trump made the remarks during an event in Bedminster, N.J., where he announced he is filing lawsuits against U.S. social media companies following their suspensions of his accounts.... The companies cited the former president’s incitement of violence in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob as a reason for his suspension").

"What Michael Pollan Learned from Quitting Caffeine for 3 Months."

July 7, 2021

5:22 a.m.


"The specifically English hatred of patriotism has long been kept alive by its intellectual classes, the people who, as George Orwell wrote, 'would feel more ashamed of standing to attention during God Save the King than of stealing from a poor box.'"

"Because England was not the creation of intellectuals, patriotism has never been an intellectual pastime. The ecstasies of 19th-century Romantic nationalism which gave birth to Germany and Italy were forged by poets, musicians and the re-assemblers of lost national epics and folk traditions. By this time England had been muddling along for a millennium. Unlike nations ushered into being by Enlightenment intellectuals which enshrined philosophical abstractions as national principles ('liberty, equality and fraternity' for Republican France, 'freedom' for the United States), British patriotism comes from below. Accordingly it is usually defined in hilariously prosaic terms: queueing, warm beer, roast beef, rain. These are all things disliked by intellectuals.... Our long tradition of national self-hatred has in some ways stress-tested the national consciousness. Self-hatred doesn’t portend a 'chasm.' It is something we are long-sufferingly accustomed to. Things are more dangerous in brittler, prouder America." 

From "It’s deeply British to question our patriotism/A tradition of tolerating dissent is a sign of national strength rather than something to fret over" by James Marriott (London Times).

We're brittler than Brits, he says. And prouder. He sounds proud, you might say, but not proud of his country, and that's his point about pride.

I do think our intellectuals look down on patriotism too, though less amusingly. There's a lot of expression of patriotism in America because most of us don't take our cues from intellectuals. I'm sure at least half of my readers are, right now, rankling at my acceptance of Marriott's word "intellectuals" to refer to America's present-day elite.

The top-rated comment at the London Times quotes James Boswell’s "Life of Johnson" (entry dated April 7, 1775):

Patriotism having become one of our topicks, Johnson suddenly uttered, in a strong determined tone, an apothegm, at which many will start: “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” But let it be considered, that he did not mean a real and generous love of our country, but that pretended patriotism which so many, in all ages and countries, have made a cloak for self-interest.

"Here in the Netherlands, where there is little land and a lot [o]f rain, hydroponic farming is almost all there is."

"Frankly, the vegetables and fruits such as strawberries have almost no flavor. Tomatoes taste like red sponges. It’s efficient but that’s it. Many of us live for the summer to travel to France, Spain or Italy where fruits and vegetables are grown in the ground and have real flavor."

From the comments section on this NYT article: "No Soil. No Growing Seasons. Just Add Water and Technology/A new breed of hydroponic farm, huge and high-tech, is popping up in indoor spaces all over America, drawing celebrity investors and critics."

"But the Democratic Party establishment distanced itself from the Wisconsin uprising. Notably, President Barack Obama did not go to Wisconsin..."

"... during the Act 10 protests, betraying a campaign promise to 'put on a comfortable pair of walking shoes myself' and 'march on that picket line with you' if collective bargaining rights were ever under attack. (Vice President Biden did not go to Wisconsin either.) Outrage over Act 10 prompted an effort to recall Mr. Walker that garnered nearly a million signatures and forced him to face a new election in 2012. But Mr. Obama deliberately avoided campaigning with Tom Barrett, the governor’s Democratic opponent. 'This is a gubernatorial race with a guy who was recalled and a challenger trying to get him out of office,' Stephanie Cutter, Mr. Obama’s deputy campaign spokeswoman, told NBC News. 'It has nothing to do with President Obama.' The fallout from the financial crisis, and Mr. Obama’s tepid economic response to it, helped enable the Tea Party backlash, allowing the movement’s funders to realize long-held ambitions of weakening the labor movement and the public sector under the guise of austerity. That effort was made easier by the Democrats’ embrace of their framing. A few months before Mr. Walker announced Act 10, his predecessor, Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat, bragged that he made steeper cuts to size of the state employee work force than any governor in Wisconsin’s history. Mr. Obama, too, championed public austerity, imposing a two-year wage freeze for federal workers just after the 2010 election...."

From a NYT op-ed titled "Scott Walker’s Wisconsin Paved the Way for Donald Trump’s America."

"We think, condom on a banana, and that’s enough, and then we’re confused as to why there’s a consent problem. We’re still teaching the golden rule and we should be teaching the platinum rule: to treat others the way they want to be treated."

Said Justine Ang Fonte, quoted in "A Private-School Sex Educator Defends Her Methods/After nine years at Dalton, why was Justine Ang Fonte suddenly being pilloried by parents?" (NYT).

The W.H.O. guidelines state that between the ages of 5 and 8, children should learn to “identify the critical parts of the internal and external genitals and describe their basic function” and “recognize that being curious about one’s body, including the genitals, is completely normal.”

“I equip them with a way that they can exercise body agency and consent, by knowing exactly what those parts are, what they are called, and how to take care of them,” Ms. Fonte said. “That was paired with lessons around, what are the different ways to say ‘no’? And what’s the difference between a secret and a surprise? And why you should never have a secret between a grown-up and you. Because it’s never your responsibility as a child to hold a secret or information of a grown-up.”...

“I wanted to believe that Columbia Prep was a school that was ready to take on these issues in an educational, intellectual way and at least one person at that school trusted that I could do it,” she said. “And I did. But they weren’t ready to back it up, and it cost me my safety.”

July 6, 2021

A view of the Over Lode trail in Blue Mound State Park.


This is designed as a mountain bike trail — on the difficult/very difficult level — but I love it as a hiking trail. It's too challenging for me to mountain bike. It's funny how hard it is to take a still photograph of a trail in the woods. I don't know how to make it look as steep as it is.

You might think it's bad sharing a trail with mountain bikers, but it's not. At least not in a place like this, where there are few people out there at the same time. I only saw one other walker, and maybe there were 10 bikers in the space of 4 miles. You can tell when bikes are catching up to you, you can easily step to the side, and they're always nice and, when they pass, they say "thanks" and maybe some other pleasantry like "Have a nice hike."

"Eric Adams won the Democratic nomination in the race to replace Mayor Bill de Blasio — squeaking out a narrow victory in the ranked choice primary..."

"... according to a preliminary count of the final vote tally Tuesday. Adams emerged narrowly ahead of Kathryn Garcia, 50.5 percent to 49.5 percent.... Adams declared the primary race over in an evening statement. 'While there are still some very small amounts of votes to be counted, the results are clear: an historic, diverse, five-borough coalition led by working-class New Yorkers has led us to victory in the Democratic primary for Mayor of New York City,' he said." 

The NY Post reports.

I'm so glad that happened. It would have been very hard for people to accept a different outcome. Who could trust what happened inside a computer that shuffled and recounted votes for weeks if it didn't match in the original, simple version of the count?

"The Taliban have showed off containers full of weapons and military hardware seized from the Afghan military as American forces withdraw from the country...."

"The weaponry includes 900 guns, 30 light tactical vehicles and 20 army pickup trucks.... District after district has fallen to the Taliban. The militants have seized 120 districts since May 1.... [M]any military outposts have been surrendered without a fight, allowing the Taliban to seize weapons, according to multiple Afghan military and government sources."

NBC reports.

"It’s not my job to heal the University of North Carolina. That’s the job of the people in power who created the situation in the first place."

Says Nikole Hannah-Jones, quoted in "Nikole Hannah-Jones to join Howard faculty after UNC tenure controversy/Author Ta-Nehisi Coates is also set to join the faculty of Howard, a historically Black university in the nation’s capital" (WaPo). 

Hannah-Jones will also found a Center for Journalism and Democracy at Howard. She said it will aim to train journalism students from historically Black schools to “accurately and urgently [cover] the challenges of our democracy with a clarity, skepticism, rigor and historical dexterity that is too often missing from today’s journalism.”

Meanwhile, Coates "will be a writer-in-residence in the university’s College of Arts and Sciences, and hold the Sterling Brown chair in the English department." We're told he "also has plans to finish his bachelor’s degree, which he started at Howard in 1993."

Sunrise — 5:29, 5:37, 5:40.




"After 500 years of injustice, you can’t just put up a fake village manned by a token Indian and say, 'We’re good.' We want to meet with Biden and ask him to honor the treaties. We want to find out what he will do to stop the ethnocide of our people."

Said Phil Two Eagle, quoted in "The battle for Mount Rushmore: ‘It should be turned into something like the Holocaust Museum’" (The Guardian).

Have you noticed all the anti-4th-of-July articles?

Here's one I'm just catching up on: "Maybe it’s time to admit that the Statue of Liberty has never quite measured up" (WaPo).

It's time! Why is it time? Is there a "Time's Up" movement that's sweeping up all the manifestations of love for America? No more enjoyment of the comfortable attributes of everyday patriotism!

Here's an excerpt from the column, which is by WaPo's art and architecture critic Philip Kennicott. 

The ironies and blind spots pile up. Liberty was depicted as a woman, at a time when women didn’t have the right to vote. In 1882, the United States passed the nakedly racist Chinese Exclusion Act; a year later, construction of the base of the statue began with Chinese laborers among the workforce. The idea of the statue was associated with the 100th anniversary of the revolution that brought American independence. But Bartholdi created a sedate, classicizing and mostly sexless figure, not the radical revolutionary icon of liberty known in France as Marianne (the bare-chested woman seen in Delacroix’s 1830 painting, “Liberty Leading the People).”

Like breasts slipping out of a bodice, that quotation mark has slipped outside of the parenthesis. Here's the Delacroix:

Lots of guns in that picture. Kennicott implies that this woman (Marianne) is not "mostly sexless," but it's a call to arms, not a call to sex. Does Kennicott think the pantsless man in the foreground is sexy? 

Speaking of sex:

"For many years, there was one kind of swim cap. It was ultratight, made of latex or silicone..."

"... and it was 'one size fits all.' But those swim caps left out large groups of swimmers, adding to structural inequities that often keep people of color out of the pool. Many swimmers have celebrated recent advances in swim cap technology. Several brands... have introduced options with more flexible material that vary in size, accommodating swimmers with hair that is larger and more textured than their White competitors’...  [T]he International Swimming Federation...  said the design does not fit 'the natural form of the head.' To the best of their knowledge, they added, 'the athletes competing at the international events never used, neither require … caps of such size and configuration.'"

From "Swim caps for natural hair are banned from the Olympics. Black women hear a clear message: ‘You don’t belong.’ The International Swimming Federation said the design does not fit ‘the natural form of the head’" (WaPo). 

I expect this decision to be reversed. It's not as though the enlarged crown of these hats gives the swimmer an advantage. It must be a disadvantage, increasing drag. 

July 5, 2021

Until tomorrow...


5:35 a.m.


Stop the nay-saying — neigh-saying? — this is delightful and lovable.

Via Instapundit, who says "But since this didn’t happen by accident, why is Zuck suddenly trying to look like a patriotic redneck? Because there’s a reason."

There are depths, presumably, but purely superficially, it's delightful and lovable. It's silly, corny Americana. Perfect for the 4th (the 5th). 

And it makes a nice contrast to that NYT article we were all reading yesterday: "A Fourth of July Symbol of Unity That May No Longer Unite/In a Long Island town, neighbors now make assumptions, true and sometimes false, about people who conspicuously display American flags."

Politicians of both parties have long sought to wrap themselves in the flag. But something may be changing: Today, flying the flag from the back of a pickup truck or over a lawn is increasingly seen as a clue, albeit an imperfect one, to a person’s political affiliation in a deeply divided nation. 
Supporters of former President Donald J. Trump have embraced the flag so fervently — at his rallies, across conservative media and even during the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol — that many liberals.... worry that the left has all but ceded the national emblem to the right. 

Here's one of those headlines where it's hard to tell the nouns from the verbs and the illusion of something that's not there — dogs — is completely distracting.

Here, at Politico: "Virus lab leak theory dogs Democrats eager to keep focus on Trump's Covid failings."

I might be interested in this topic, but I'm distracted by "theory dogs." Theory dogs — it could be a comic strip I'd like to read. What are the theory dogs thinking about today? And how about that one dog, the so-called "virus lab"? It's such a jumble of words to sort out at the beginning — Virus lab leak theory dogs. Does that Lab need to go out to take a leak?

Yes, I know covid is serious, which is why I'm saying that "dogs" did not belong in that headline. It's an exciting and pithy verb. I get it. But people fixate on dogs, the beloved house mammals, and that's going to tip us into reading "dogs" as a noun. And so soon after "lab." You just tumble into fantasy land.

But let's consider the real meaning. Apparently, Democrats don't like the idea of misdoings at the Chinese level because they're hot to blame Trump for as much as they can. I'll just observe that the Democrats have a big stake in portraying themselves as the ones who are dedicated to science and rationality. Stamping a political template on everything degrades that image.

Now, I'll read the article:

President Joe Biden’s order to the intelligence community in May to redouble efforts to study the virus’ origins has given the issue more currency, though China isn’t cooperating and the administration hasn’t said whether it has uncovered new information. Democrats worry that murky conclusions that don’t identify the origin of the virus could play into the Republicans’ hands, while evidence that might disprove the lab leak theory will trigger more accusations of a cover-up.

There's fear of investigations that are too difficult to carry out and not certain to be conclusive. That's antithetical to a commitment to science.

"The problem with woke and with cancel culture is that it is never done. The conflict and divisions never end. This is not what the people of the UK want — but it’s coming anyway...."

"Woke begets woke. It’s a narrative that Labour is promoting now but the Conservatives will pick it up as a reaction. The damage and the consequences of that chasm is awful. When you have decided that your country is institutionally racist and discriminatory you don’t normally go back.... I’m seeing things that you are going to see six months to a year from now. It’s already done significant damage to our system in the United States. It prioritises equality over meritocracy. We’re becoming intolerant of tolerance.... We are writing each other off and out of our lives. The damage and the consequences of that chasm is awful. The consequences are so significant, less cooperation, less compromise, more negativity."

Said the American pollster Frank Luntz, quoted in the London Times, in "‘Woke’ culture war is biggest dividing line among voters."

"I love the idea that, with a trailer park, you’re in a kind of community. At my age, if I fall down in the middle of the street, I want someone to go, 'Hey! What’s that girl doing in the middle of the street?'"

Said Betsey Johnson, who is 78, and don't you want to do 78 — when and if you are ever 78 — with equivalent élan?

Quoted in "Inside Betsey Johnson’s Malibu Dream House/The designer gives T a tour of her pretty but punk home in one of California’s most scenic trailer parks" (NYT). 

"I realized, 'I’ve got to create a new house for myself.' And I decided that it was going to be a dollhouse.” Feast your eyes on the punk dollhouse:

"The evening’s first ritual was a name-changing ceremony: The desert became the ocean; peyote became chayote squash."

"Name changing helps the pilgrims envision entering a new world. The pilgrims also underwent a public confession around midnight, during which each person listed all their past and present sexual relationships. The names were then publicly read around the bonfire; the intention was to let go of the past. Each of the relationships was tied as a knot on individual palm branches. The branches were then burned in the fire."

From "Inside a Peyote Pilgrimage/Drug tourists, mining companies and farming encroachment are threatening the Wixárika people’s annual hunt for the psychedelic plant in the Mexican desert" (NYT). 

From the comments: 

The premise of the article is that drug tourists are threatening the abundance and stability of this fragile ecosystem and the indigenous sacred practices that belong there. Got it. So the NYTimes sends a writer and photographer who microdose and tell the reader exactly where the peyote fields are. Cue the stampede for the Burning Man crowd. I’m just wondering if there were any discussions in the editorial office about the ethics of this piece?

How a male audiobook narrator does female voices.

This is a fascinating and technical discussion: 

I found that when I was looking for discussion of how a female narrator does male voices. I'd just finished an audiobook that had a very skillful female narrator, but after watching the movie of the same book, I realized how much the narrator had influenced how I thought about the male character in the book. 

She was great at producing a lower pitch for the male, but she also used a somewhat morose, gruff, flat tone. Maybe this particular character deserved that interpretation, but is that what the author intended? It's not really any different from the way actors in the movie have their interpretation of the character and don't and can't simply channel the author.

But I wondered whether female audiobook narrators are relying on a stereotype of men — that they are emotionally flat. Here's an opinion I've read in a few different places: When female audiobook narrators do males they sound like all women sound when they are mocking men and doing a "male" voice.

That might be a reason to prefer male audiobook narrators, but I've certainly noticed that a lot of them rely on the idea of women as gentle and restrained or bubbly and lightweight. The video above shows a male narrator — Travis Baldree — who is impressively serious about producing a full range of female characters. What books does he narrate?  I looked it up. Not the sort of thing I'd read, but here's "Shadeslinger: The Ripple System, Book 1." 

It's LitRPG. I need to look up what that is. Per Wikipedia: 

LitRPG, short for Literary Role Playing Game, is a literary genre combining the conventions of computer RPGs with science-fiction and fantasy novels.... [G]ames or game-like challenges form an essential part of the story, and visible RPG statistics (for example strength, intelligence, damage) are a significant part of the reading experience.

RPGs — I had to look that up too — are role-playing video games, "where the player controls the actions of a character (or several party members) immersed in some well-defined world, usually involving some form of character development by way of recording statistics." It's funny to think of wanting to set aside the game and read that in a book, but then again, why trouble yourself with playing a game when you can just read the game-like story? And with the audiobook, you can get out of the house, go walking and running and doing your errands or commuting. You can't do those things while playing a videogame.

FROM THE EMAIL: Scott sends the "obligatory Seinfeld reference":

AND: Andrew writes: "This is one of those rare times when Seinfeld is not the go-to reference. Rather, it's Elizabeth Holmes from Theranos" — here. "If you wish to manipulate, use a deeper voice." It's weird that her manipulation worked — apparently on some ridiculous older men. To me, she sounds like a huge phony. Which is what she was.

July 4, 2021

Sunrise — 5:30, 5:34, 5:34.




"When he was making those hearts, he was making New York into a storybook that we might all want to live in. To him, New York seemed to be losing its soul, and he was trying to put back its soul, and in the end I think it wore him out."

Said Lily Koppel, a close friend of Hash Halper, quoted in "Hash Halper, Street Artist Who Adorned New York With Hearts, Dies at 41/He was something of a downtown folk hero, bringing positivity to a harsh city with his humble shards of chalk. But he harbored his own struggles" (NYT).

"The Swartzentruber Amish do not have running water in their homes, at least as most would understand it."

"Water arrives through a single line and is either pumped by hand or delivered by gravity from an external cistern. In 2013, Fillmore County adopted an ordinance requiring most homes to have a modern septic system for the disposal of gray water. Responding to this development, the Swartzentruber Amish submitted a letter explaining that their religion forbids the use of such technology and “ ‘asking in the name of our Lord to be exempt’ ” from the new rule.  Instead of accommodating this request or devising a solution that respected the Amish’s faith, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency filed an administrative enforcement action against 23 Amish families in Fillmore County demanding the installation of modern septic systems under pain of criminal penalties and civil fines. Faced with this action, the Amish filed their own declaratory judgment suit... But the Amish also offered an alternative. They offered to install systems that clean gray water in large earthen basins filled with wood chips that filter water as it drains...."

Wrote Justice Gorsuch, concurring in Amos Mast v. Fillmore County, where the Supreme Court granted cert., vacated the judgment, and remanded the case for consideration in light of Fulton v. Philadelphia.

At Reason, Josh Blackman, in "Justice Gorsuch Sketches The Post-Fulton Roadmap in Amish Septic System GVR," says: "I think Justice Gorsuch has sketched a three-part roadmap for Free Exercise Clause claims after Fulton. Lower courts, take notice." 

Are you one of the thousands of Americans who are thinking "Ningbo?!! Never heard of it!" this morning?

It's a city of almost 10 million people. Don't you think it's odd that there are cities on this earth that large that you have never heard of, whose names sound like sheer nonsense? 

The first character in the city's name ning (宁 or 寧) means "serene", while its second character bo (波) translates to "wave"... It was once named Mingzhou (明州; Míngzhōu). The first character (明) is composed of two parts, representing two lakes inside the city wall: the Sun Lake (日湖) and the Moon Lake (月湖) dating back to Tang Dynasty 636 AD. Today, only the Moon Lake remains, and the old Sun Lake dried up in 19 century...

Ningbo is one of China's oldest cities, with a history dating to the Jingtou Mountain Culture in 6300 BC and Hemudu culture in 4800 BC. Ningbo was known as a trade city on the silk road at least two thousand years ago, and then as a major port for foreign trade along with Yangzhou and Guangzhou in the Tang Dynasty, and Quanzhou and Guangzhou in the Sung dynasty.

If you don't know why Ningbo is nagging at us this morning....

"'Moorish sovereign groups adhere to 'the notion that African Americans had special rights because of a 1780s treaty with Morocco, as well as the belief that African Americans were descended from African "Moors"...'"

"'... and often as well the belief that African Americans were also a people indigenous to the Americas.' On its website, the group says that 'sovereignty and nationality can be considered synonymous,' and that it considers Moorish Americans to be the 'aboriginal people of the land.' In a video Saturday morning, an unidentified member of the group disputed the sovereign-citizen moniker, saying, 'We are not anti-government. We are not anti-police, we are not sovereign citizens, we’re not Black identity extremists.'."

From "What to know about Rise of the Moors, an armed group that says it’s not subject to U.S. law" (WaPo). Here's the previous post about the 9-hour stand-off with the police.

The WaPo article quotes Freddy Cruz of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC): "Especially with these sovereign Moorish groups, there is this idea that is rooted in ancient civilizations like the Aztecs, the Olmecs, Incas... They have this belief that the U.S. government has no right to be enforcing or creating laws in territories that don’t belong to them, so they see themselves as forming their own sovereign nation....What we are seeing as well as the uptick in activity is the idea that these sovereign-citizen groups like Rise of the Moors, they try to prey on Black and Brown individuals... Typically with this idea that society is unfair and it preys on individuals who are maybe down on their luck, they have a place to turn where these groups promise a more fair and equitable society."

"Women could never, for example, have made High Noon. Instead, we would have made High Noon-ish..."

"... with the added rider: ‘Just get here when you can, love, and if we don’t get round to vengeance today maybe we can do it tomorrow, at High Ten-ish. Does this work for you?’ So, for this reason, I opted for the adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel Never Let Me Go, and...? My dears, how one longed for some tumbleweed to roll by. It would have seemed quite thrilling. Never Let Me Go is, first and foremost, as well as second and secondmost, a spectacularly inert film; so inert that even I, who favours inertness, wanted to go at it with a stick in the hope of beating it into some kind of life. Perhaps such passive solemnity is true to the book, but on screen, along with the sad tinkling piano and the sad violins that just won’t quit, the overall effect is so enervating that you simply don’t feel a damned thing. It was the same with, for example, Jane Campion’s Bright Star. It did all the right things in all the right places, but was so painterly and restrained and in such good taste it could not draw you in emotionally. Indeed, when Keats began to cough, instead of feeling moved or distressed, you simply thought, ‘Oh, good. Not long to go now.’ And that is just what this is like."

From a 2011 review by Deborah Ross (in The Spectator) of the movie "Never Let Me Go," which I watched yesterday after finishing the book. Interesting how, one decade ago, it was so acceptable to trade in such blatant gender stereotypes.

Here's the trailer for the movie (chock full of spoilers, basically, the entire story):

I read another book by the new Nobelist Kazuo Ishiguro, and was surprised to find a "Reader's Guide" with 11 questions at the end of the text.

Here's the book, "Never Let Me Go."

I've never seen this in a book before. I wonder when that was added and why. I suspect it's because there's at least one really obvious question that they wanted to get out there to say, yeah, we know, the author knows, and he meant to do that. It's your job to figure out why the book doesn't contain pages answering that question for you.

Spoilers after the page break: