July 17, 2021

At the actual sunrise time, there was almost nothing to see, but 25 minutes later, it got interesting....


5 minutes after that:


Meade catches me walking away from the dock:


And here's a little music list I call "Sketchy": 

"Whenever someone wants to play down the importance of vocal virtuosity, Bob Dylan is Exhibit A: a brilliant croaker..."

"... who makes you feel sorry for all those hacks content to simply carry a tune. But for precisely that reason, Mr. Dylan isn't really a bad singer. He's got an unconventional voice, to be sure... but he's too idiosyncratic, too rock 'n' roll. A great bad singer must never give up on goodness. Perhaps Mr. West knows how preposterous he sounds, but he's still singing the best he can. I'd propose that the father of modern bad singing is Biz Markie, the rapper best known for the classic anti-love song 'Just a Friend,' from 1989. His bellowed plea -- wildly out of tune, and totally unforgettable -- sounded like something concocted after a day of romantic disappointments and a night of heavy drinking: 'Oh baby, you/ You got what I need/ But you say he's just a friend.' With each repetition of the chorus, he sounded funnier and more unhinged."

That's from "The Sweet Sounds Of Really Bad Singing" by Kelefa Sanneh, published in the NYT on January 18, 2004. That was 4 days after this blog began, but somehow I didn't catch it and blog it at the time. I'm reading it today because it's linked in what is — I'm sad to say — an obituary: "Biz Markie, Hip-Hop’s ‘Just a Friend’ Clown Prince, Dies at 57/An innovative yet proudly goofy rapper, he had an unlikely crossover hit with a tune that led one critic to call him (favorably) 'the father of modern bad singing'" (NYT). 

This is a wonderfully catchy song, and the terrible singing is part of what make it catchy and fun. If you watched MTV back in 1989 — as I did — this will surely resonate. Skip ahead to 1:33 to get right to the singing, but start at the beginning for spoken-word cheesy comedy and a story told in slow-paced rap: 


From the obituary: 

Biz Markie has said he was never supposed to be the vocalist handling those notes. “I asked people to sing the part, and nobody showed up at the studio,” he explained later, “so I did it myself.”

Perfect! How beautiful when things go wrong and the end result is far superior than if everything had worked out as planned.

Am I more Jewish than Elvis?

I'm reading "Display of mother’s Star of David headstone revives talk of Elvis’s Jewish roots/60 years after her death, a new exhibition showcases the headstone of Elvis Presley’s mother, Gladys, featuring both the Jewish symbol and a cross, designed by Elvis himself" in the Times of Israel:

Stories of Elvis’s Jewish heritage have long been in circulation, but when it comes to a legend like Presley — whose death is not even considered settled fact in some quarters — it’s not always easy  to separate fact from fiction. With [his mother's] headstone now on public display and an accompanying sign proclaiming 'Gladys’ Jewish heritage,' the 'Jewish roots' of the King of Rock and Roll are a talking point again.... Angie Marchese, Graceland’s vice president of archives and exhibits, is certain of Elvis’s Jewish ancestry. Marchese says Elvis’s maternal great-great-grandmother was a Jewish woman named Nancy Burdine.

When I read that, I said out loud: "I'm as Jewish as Elvis!" But about 2 seconds later, I thought, no, but am I more Jewish than Elvis or less Jewish than Elvis. I have — as I recently figured out — not just 2 Jewish great-great-grandparents, but a Jewish great-grandparent (their son who married a Christian). That would seem to make me more Jewish than Elvis? But my Jewish great-grandparent was male, and his daughter was my father's mother, so if Jewishness is matrilineal, then I'm not Jewish at all. 

But does that make me less Jewish than Elvis?

"What is the problem with individualism?" — The New Yorker's Isaac Chotiner asks Robin DiAngelo

From an interview titled "Robin DiAngelo Wants White Progressives to Look Inward/The author of 'White Fragility' discusses her new book, 'Nice Racism'":
Your book is a critique of individualism, by which you mean, as you put it, "Our identities are not separate from the white supremacist society in which we are raised, and our patterns of cross-racial engagement are not merely a function of our unique personalities." What is the problem with individualism? 
Individualism cuts the person off from the very society that the concept of individualism is valued in. That’s the great irony, right? If we were in a more community-oriented or collective-oriented society, we wouldn’t value being an individual the way that we do. We have been conditioned to see that as the ideal, that every one of us is unique and special and different, and if you don’t know somebody specifically you can’t know anything about them. 

She's saying that individualism is not individualistic at all, but something we absorb as part of a group that deludes us into not seeing ourselves as part of the group.

"Thinking Critically about Critical Race Theory."

"As an indoor kid at heart, it took me a while to warm up to being outside all day every summer."

"I could easily fill an entire day reading library books, creating new outfits for my Barbie out of candy wrappers, or practicing crochet chains with the giant ball of yarn my grandma gave me. Inside was full of wonder, mystery, and the life of the mind. Outside was a hellscape of insects, rusty nails, and scraped knees.... Wildness can exist indoors, but it’s not as fun.... Indoor creativity pushes the boundaries of parental patience far quicker than outdoor wildness. In the past year, as we received the indoor-kid dream directive to stay inside, I’ve never felt lonelier, less focused, or more anxious.... I’ve started to look back on those childhood summers with more fondness, making promises to my future self that I would recapture those fleeting moments of freedom whenever possible.... I’ve watched enough true-crime documentaries to want to keep my goddaughter heavily chaperoned until she turns 50, but after the year we’ve all had, I hope there’s some room for kids to take a cue from the 1980s and explore this summer."

From "Those Were the Days of Our Lives This generation will never know the true freedom — and neglect — of being an ’80s kid" by Danielle Henderson (adapted from her memoir "The Ugly Cry: A Memoir").

Take a cue from the 1980s.... 

Now, people who grew up in the 80s are talking about it the way we Boomers have been talking — since the 80s — about growing up in the 50s.

One day the Alphas will look back on the 20s, that golden age of freedom. I hope. But they've got to get outdoors, now, before it's too late.

July 16, 2021



BONUS: Here's a little music collection I made in Spotify: 

And a gold cloth dollar sign stitched to your clothing right over your heart.

What have they done to my hula hoop?

I'm reading the "Ask a Cool Person" column at New York Magazine, and I see "100-Teen Poll: What Is Actually Cool to Buy in 2021? We surveyed high schoolers around the country. Here, 19 takeaways about how teens shop." After seeing the cool type of "top" is a corset and something about comfortable sweatpants and favorite "loungewear" brands I get to: 

4) The only workout item mentioned multiple times was the weighted Hula-Hoop. 

A respondent named Aida bought this Hula-Hoop after seeing it on TikTok. “I like it because it’s not an intense workout and instead it’s a more relaxed one you do for a long period of time,” she says. “I watch TV while I do it sometimes.” Just don’t expect to magically get a waist like the girl in the video, Aida says: “Definitely not the realistic outcome of hula-hooping for, like, 30 mins a day.” Plus, she added, TikToks like that one “are quite triggering,” and the platform is “very toxic when it comes to body positivity.”

The hula hoop is a workout item?! I was a kid in the late 1950s, when the hula hoop became a big fad in the United States. I had a hula hoop, and I was pretty good at it.* It was all for fun — fun and some thinking about Hawaii, which was about to come in as a state (and my young head envisioned "coming into the United States" as the islands floating steadily toward California and about to connect). 

No one talked about "working out" back then, and certainly no one — no one anywhere around me — regarded the hula hoop as an exercise device. It was play and a display of skill that was amusing to watch, because it was like doing the hula, which was not treated with politically correct cultural respect in those days, but seen as an entertaining dance, like the twist, that entailed hip wiggling with accompanying arm movements. 

And, of course, no one talked about "triggering" and being "toxic" or "body positivity" back then. Here's this toy that was perfectly fun for young people in the days when Baby Boomers were kids, and now it's part of a grim agglomeration of everything but fun, where you have to work on your body, worry about it, and also worry about worrying about it. Did you watch the linked TikTok video? It's all about tape-measuring your waist over and over and earnestly attempting to reduce the number by hula hooping.

I know I'm old, and I'm even giving this post my tag "these kids today," so I'm aware that I'm speaking like a stereotypical old person, but what are we doing to our culture? The NY Magazine column purports to represent coolness, but it's only finding out what teenagers are buying and assuming that things going on with teenagers are cool. I wish they were! 


* If you told me Wikipedia's photograph — by George Garrigues, at the top of its article "Hula hoop" — is in fact a photograph of me, I could not with 100% certainty say that it is not:

"Vladimir Putin personally authorised a secret spy agency operation to support a 'mentally unstable' Donald Trump in the 2016 US presidential election during a closed session of Russia’s national security council..."

"... according to what are assessed to be leaked Kremlin documents. The key meeting took place on 22 January 2016, the papers suggest, with the Russian president, his spy chiefs and senior ministers all present. They agreed a Trump White House would help secure Moscow’s strategic objectives, among them 'social turmoil' in the US and a weakening of the American president’s negotiating position. Russia’s three spy agencies were ordered to find practical ways to support Trump, in a decree appearing to bear Putin’s signature. By this point Trump was the frontrunner in the Republican party’s nomination race. A report prepared by Putin’s expert department recommended Moscow use 'all possible force' to ensure a Trump victory. Western intelligence agencies are understood to have been aware of the documents for some months and to have carefully examined them. The papers, seen by the Guardian, seem to represent a serious and highly unusual leak from within the Kremlin. The Guardian has shown the documents to independent experts who say they appear to be genuine. Incidental details come across as accurate. The overall tone and thrust is said to be consistent with Kremlin security thinking...."

From The Guardian reports, and this is quite a conundrum! If you can believe the story told in the documents, then you should also believe that it's at least as likely that there's a different plot and these documents are crafted to further that plot. If you think Moscow aims to do anything to cause social turmoil in the U.S., then why would it not, after the fact, fake evidence that it affected the election? 

The Guardian thinks it has a scoop here, and I know I'm encouraging them by linking, but the article on its face is full of skepticism-provoking phrases: "the papers suggest... the papers, seen by the Guardian, seem to represent a serious and highly unusual leak...  appear to be genuine... come across as accurate... said to be consistent with Kremlin security thinking...."

"Is calling something 'poetic' calling it a 'poem'?"

I find myself retorting to a reader, Nancy, who emailed me to say — in response to my calling something "a sincere effort at poetic polemic" — "Polemic, yes, but who would call that a poem?" 

At the link there's video of a performance called "White Privilege," which Slate called a "poem." I can see that I repeated that word, "poem," before my sentence that began with "I think": "I think it's a sincere effort at poetic polemic." I know I wrote "poetic polemic" to nudge the reader to question whether something that's too polemical deserves to be considered poetry. 

But, speaking of "White Privilege," isn't it white-privilege-y to question whether this set of words is a poem? I'm resisting googling "What is a poem?" but I do remember watching the "Master Class" course with Billy Collins teaching reading and writing poetry, so let me give you this from the old white man:


"No one else could have written that. This voice is just yours, and yours alone."

ADDED: I went back to the email to tell Nancy: "I made a poem post out of this."

And I see that Nancy has written back to me: "She calls it a poem." 

"She" is the reciter of "White Privilege," who I see I haven't yet dignified with a naming in this post, so let me say, it's Kyla Jenee Lacey.

"The spelling vendor is the standard spelling. The New Yorker, as part of its bizarre house style, uses the spelling vender. No one else does, besides those trying to emulate The New Yorker’s style."

"Of the 45 examples in COCA, only 17 were actual uses of the spelling vender outside of The New Yorker (compared with over 2000 examples of vendor, a ratio of over 100 to 1). Two were proper names, eleven were from The New Yorker, and fifteen were in foreign languages." 

The website English Language & Usage gave me answered the spelling question that I had as I wrote the previous post. I'd thought "vendor" seems right, but maybe it's like "advisor," and it's wrong in that pretentious way that is most important to avoid. 

"Vender" looks wrong, but it has the virtue of adherence to the general rule of adding "-er" to verbs to make them into a noun doing whatever the verb has them doing — "paint" become "painter," not "paintor," and "blog" becomes "blogger," not "bloggor."

"The restoration work not only reveals the rogue addition of an upturned smile, but also a jarring strip of dirty sky added to make the canvas square rather than rectangular."

From "Restoration work wipes smile off the face of Dutch vegetable seller/Painting reclaims former glory as English Heritage rights the wrongs of 19th-century additions" (The Guardian).

What I find so interesting here is not the outrage of painting changes onto a valuable work of art, but that the changes are so discordant. Assuming the changes were done at the same time — and there you see an easy off ramp from the conundrum — I wonder: Who would think both that a resting-bitch-face woman ought to give us a smile and that a luscious display of fresh food needs to be offset by a glum, grimy sky? 

I can see thinking the original painting was too cheerful...

... and needed a depressing sky to remind us that the pleasures of life are transitory and geographically limited, but then why not leave the woman's face alone, hinting of her awareness that all this food is about to rot?

I see the food display is also darker and sadder. Perhaps the darker aesthetic was thought to be more serious and elevated, but then why not leave the woman with her original expression. Why make her smile

Explanation #1: The original expression makes the woman seem like an ordinary worker, more suspicious of customers than aware of the beauty of the vegetables. A little smile, along with less beautiful vegetables, makes her seem — or so it was hoped — like a full human being aware of the meaning of life and able to convey her knowledge if you, the viewer, stop long enough and gaze into her face. You know, like with the Mona Lisa.

Explanation #2: The owner of the original painting found the expression unsettling. She looks uneasy and even hostile. An artist fixed the expression, but then the rest of the painting made the whole thing look too cheesy, like an ad — did they have ads then? — for a vegetable stand, and to pump up the high-art vibe, everything else was toned way the hell down.

Explanation #3: It all started with a big square frame that needed using. A strip of canvas was added, and somebody painted that gloomy sky and other dark stuff to fill the space. To integrate this material with the rest of it, shadows were painted down into the vegetables. The artist probably thought something like, I am really maximizing the chiaroscuro, like the big-shot artists do. When the owner of the painting saw what had been done, he just said one thing: Well, can the lady at least be smiling?

Explanation #4: The woman never looked right, never looked like a street vendor, and she was probably the daughter of the rich person who commissioned the painting. In the original painting, she looks like who she was, a wilful young girl, forced into stupid clothes and an awkward position. She hates the artist. All that work painting all those vegetables, and the main point of interest is still the human face, and it's a human face radiating ill will. When the painting was redone, toned down, and made more suitable to a posh, somber environment, the face was also toned down, softened into a gentle smile.

"Los Angeles will return to mandatory mask-wearing indoors, even for people who have been vaccinated...

"... amid a rapid and sustained increase in Covid-19 cases in the nation’s largest county. Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, LA county’s public health officer, Dr Muntu Davis... said the county had been recording more than 1,000 new cases each day for a week and that there is now 'substantial community transmission.' Nearly 400 people hospitalized with Covid-19 as of Wednesday, up 275 from the week before. Nine new Covid-19 deaths were reported on Wednesday. 'This is an all-hands-on-deck moment,' he said."

The Guardian reports.

Contrary to my initial reaction, upon reading the article, I think this is an appropriate precaution, based on the numbers. You don't want to backslide into over-cautious mask-wearing, but you don't want to backslide into a new spike. 

But I'd like to know what percentage of the new cases, new hospitalizations, and new deaths involved fully vaccinated persons. If the problem is with the unvaccinated, publicize this information and show them what they need to do. Don't deprive the vaccinated people of a key benefit — taking off the mask.

July 15, 2021

Sunrise with cattails.


"One thing that the school board mentioned in their decision to dismiss Hawn was the 'inappropriate' language in your poem. What was your reaction upon hearing that? Did that strike you as being the real reason why?"

"I know it’s not the real reason why. I have their required reading list. And in the books that they are required to read, there’s sexual assault, murder, a lot of cursing. So I know that it was just a terrible excuse for their discomfort. And this is coming from somebody who was 16 years old having to, who grew up in a mostly white neighborhood, in my latter childhood, reading Mark Twain and reading the word 'n***er' over 200 times in a book. Huck Finn was bad. That’s classic literature, but the fact that I say, 'You’re not racist because you don’t use the N word, but y’all use n***as every day,' now it’s too much? Now, it’s superfluous? Fuck out of here."

From "What the Author of the Poem 'White Privilege' Thinks of a Teacher Getting Fired For Showing It to His Class/'I know that it was just a terrible excuse for their discomfort,' said Kyla Jenee Lacey." (Slate). 

Here's the video of the poem the teacher played for the students. I recommend using headphones. I think it's a sincere effort at poetic polemic, but the "n-word" is said out loud. 


As for the firing, I don't like seeing teachers fired, but I don't understand how a teacher could think that could be played out loud in class. 

"The engine behind CLIP+VQ-GAN consists of two neural networks – algorithms designed to mimic a human brain – one of which classifies images (CLIP) and one that generates images (VQ-GAN)..."

"... CLIP is trained to recognise images using a mountain of raw data drawn from the internet, where people routinely upload images and identify them with captions. Given the text prompt ('Australia') it combs through a library of 400 million images to find visual elements that correspond with this term. The image results CLIP produces have been described as like a 'statistical average of the internet.' According to the image above, the elements that best correspond to 'Australia' are roads, a desert horizon, the ocean, and a few furry and scaly creatures. Once it has its image results, CLIP then feeds these to VQ-GAN, which has been trained to assemble and compose original images of its own. This happens mostly out of sight, but you can get some sense of the process in this video of CLIP+VQ-GAN making the image."

ABC News reports on the awesome computer wizardry that yields some atrocious looking art and a disgusting hint of the junkpile of cliché and obviousness that's out there in the outback of the internet. Here's that video of the AI in action:

"Historically, Wikipedia has been written and monitored by a community of volunteers who collaborated and contested competing claims with one another."

"In the words of Wikipedia’s co-founder, Larry Sanger who spoke to Freddie Sayers on LockdownTV, these volunteers would 'battle it out.' This battle of ideas on Wikipedia’s platform formed a crucial part of the encyclopaedia’s commitment to neutrality, which according to Sanger, was abandoned after 2009. In the years since, on issues ranging from Covid to Joe Biden, it has become increasingly partisan, primarily espousing an establishment viewpoint that increasingly represents 'propaganda.' This, says Sanger, is why he left the site in 2007, describing it as 'broken beyond repair'.... 'Because there is a lot of influence. Wikipedia is known now by everyone to have a lot of influence in the world. So there’s a very big, nasty, complex game being played behind the scenes to make the article say what somebody wants them to say.'"

From "Wikipedia co-founder: I no longer trust the website I created/Freddie Sayers spoke to Larry Sanger about why he left" (UnHerd).

"Shed of the black robe, he wore khaki shorts, a short-sleeved blue and orange striped shirt and sandals. Still, he remained a cautious conversationalist, declining to speak of the court's confidential deliberations."

From "Exclusive: Stephen Breyer says he hasn't decided his retirement plans and is happy as the Supreme Court's top liberal" by Joan Biskupic (CNN).

Are you cranked up about whether or not Breyer retires?
pollcode.com free polls

"These past studies of brain plasticity generally focused on gray matter, though, which contains the celebrated little gray cells, or neurons, that permit and create thoughts and memories."

"Less research has looked at white matter, the brain’s wiring. Made up mostly of fat-wrapped nerve fibers known as axons, white matter connects neurons and is essential for brain health. But it can be fragile, thinning and developing small lesions as we age, dilapidations that can be precursors of cognitive decline. Worryingly, it also has been considered relatively static, with little plasticity, or ability to adapt much as our lives change. But Agnieszka Burzynska, a professor of neuroscience and human development at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, suspected that science was underestimating white matter. 'It’s been like the ugly, neglected stepsister' of gray matter, she says, ignored and misjudged.... So, for the new study... they divided the volunteers into groups, one of which began a supervised program of stretching and balance training three times a week, to serve as an active control. Another started walking together three times a week, briskly, for about 40 minutes. And the final group took up dancing, meeting three times a week to learn and practice line dances and group choreography.... In the new scans, the nerve fibers in certain portions of their brains looked larger, and any tissue lesions had shrunk. These desirable alterations were most prevalent among the walkers, who also performed better on memory tests now. The dancers, in general, did not.... Meanwhile, the members of the control group, who had not exercised aerobically, showed declining white matter health after the six months, with greater thinning and tattering of their axons and falling cognitive scores."

From "How Walking Can Build Up the Brain/Older men and women who walked for six months showed improvements in white matter and memory, while those who danced or did stretching exercises did not" (NYT).

Why would dancing and walking produce different results? Burzynska suggests that it might be that these dancers spent time watching instructors rather than moving, so maybe dancing continuously would be as productive of neurogenesis as walking. I couldn't tell if the walking was done outdoors. Maybe the difference is not in the exertion but in the experience of moving through and encountering the real physical world.

And here's something else, as expressed in the most-liked comment over there: "One aspect not addressed by this article: While walking, one is engaged in a kind if relaxed thinking. I walk a lot and constantly think about things - important and mundane things. I make plans, solve problems, talk to myself about issues - walking provides a kind of meditative state while you’re doing it. Not sure why this article never mentions this aspect."

Yes, walking — and, I find, low-key running — does release and sustain a certain kind of flowing, creative thinking — especially if you don't use earbuds to pipe words or music into your head. 

AFTERTHOUGHT: The post title I'm thinking of too late: White Matter Matters.

A reader sends an email at 7:29, commenting on the first post of the day, but it seems to fit even better on the post I put up at 7:33.

There are thematic convergences today, and I'll celebrate the phenomenon by making this a new post.

Here's what George just sent me, a propos of the mention of Howard Dean in the first post of the day, and with no awareness that I was working on a post about the monetization of the legalization of cannabis:

Former Gov. and physician Dean sits on the board of Tilray, a publicly traded company affiliated with Anheuser-Busch that bills itself as a "global cannabis-lifestyle and consumer packaged goods company" that sells alcoholic beverages and hemp-based foods, i.e. dope itself in the form of mints, chocolates, etc. (Vodka, by the same way of thinking, would be a 'grain-based beverage.') 

So, here is a family medicine practitioner selling booze and pot, which is far, far, far, stronger than anything he may have used as a teenager and causes scromiting, the mysterious new condition that causes screaming and vomiting in a third of dope users, according to a 2015 (!) study reported in Health.com. 

“Then it became pretty obvious that poor kids of color with bad educations, they already had three strikes against them and the fourth was having a joint,” said [family medicine doctor] Dean [in 2019]. “Which after all is probably not as bad as alcohol.”

The monetization of the legalization.

I'm reading a NYT article titled "Travel’s Back. And It’s High Season/While the pandemic had travelers cooped up, a growing number of states legalized cannabis. Love it or hate it, you will probably encounter it on your next trip" by the aptly named Julie Weed. (Excellent illustration by Russell Cobb, by the way.)

The article begins:

For Caitlyn Hunter’s 21st birthday trip to Las Vegas last month, her mother booked spots on a “Las Vegas Cannabis Tour,” a business started during the pandemic that guides tourists through marijuana dispensaries in that city. Ms. Hunter, of Houston, Texas, expected an educational afternoon where she, her mother and grandmother could smoke marijuana together, and her grandmother could learn about different marijuana strains that might help her with knee pain.

What they got instead, Ms. Hunter said, was a “crazy experience,” involving a guide in 4-inch pink stilettos cracking dirty jokes, a raucous van ride around the Las Vegas Strip (with a sober driver), the consumption of multiple cannabis products, a shopping bag full of decorative bongs to use as flower vases back home and, at one point, a grandmother unable to speak without bursting into uncontrollable laughter. In short, Ms. Hunter concluded, a perfect celebration.

I don't understand what's crazy. A mother, daughter, and grandmother got their hands held so they could get inebriated and buy bad souvenirs in Las Vegas. It's all subjective. They felt they were having a crazy time.

I guess these ladies are not from the set of people who have abstemiously excluded the word "crazy" from their vocabulary, as we were discussing 2 days ago. Looking for that post in my archive, I ran across a post from 2018 where I noted the problem "crazy":

By the way, some people think it's wrong to make an insult out of "crazy" and words that mean crazy, because there's collateral damage to persons with mental illness. But it's so common. It would be insanely inhibiting to self-censor that one, but I did used to have many long conversations with a person who insisted on my refraining from deploying "crazy" as an insult. I know what you're thinking: He sounds crazy.

Back to the NYT article. It begins with that Caitlyn Hunter birthday story, but you have to read quite far down to get to the cold facts: Those ladies paid $150 apiece — that's $450 — to get driven around and cracked dirty jokes at for 2-and-a-half hours. 

What else is there in the world of cannabis travel? According to the head of the Cannabis Travel Association International, there are "things like the cultivation tours at Huckleberry Hill Farm and Papa and Barkley Social, which offers a cannabis-themed spa, dispensary and consumption space," and "cannabis pairing," where you "get advice on the strain of marijuana that might best enhance a hike or specific meal." 

So... don't think of cannabis as the equivalent of alcohol generally, think wine specifically, and there's your monetization of the legalization. 

ADDED: In the comments at the NYT article, there's a lot of talk about involuntary encounters with cannabis while traveling: Smelling marijuana smoke in your hotel. Of course, the hotels ban smoking anything, but that smell is there — or is there a smell of something else that was used to mask the smell? One solution is to steer people toward edibles, but with edibles the effect is different and it's also delayed, as Maureen Dowd famously demonstrated.

I strained to remember where I was or even what I was wearing, touching my green corduroy jeans and staring at the exposed-brick wall. As my paranoia deepened, I became convinced that I had died and no one was telling me.


"CPAC did two straw polls: One with former President Donald Trump included and one without him."

"In the first, Trump crushed with 70%, which, if you've followed politics over the past, say, five years, will not surprise you. DeSantis came in second with 21%, the ONLY candidate not named Trump who got more than 1% in the straw poll. In the second straw poll -- without Trump -- DeSantis took 68%(!) of the vote. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo came in second with 5% followed by Donald Trump Jr. and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz at 4% and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem at 3%."

From "The leader of the Republican Party *not* named Donald Trump" from Chris Cillizza (CNN). 

Meanwhile, about that "Don't Fauci My Florida" campaign merchandise — which we talked about yesterday — there's "Ron DeSantis' Anti-Fauci Florida Merchandise Prompts Outrage: 'This Is Madness'" (from Newsweek): 

The [former] governor of Vermont, Howard Dean, was among those to criticize his Florida counterpart over the sale of such items. He tweeted: "DeSantis is a well educated crackpot with no allegiance to our country, his constituency or the truth."...

MSNBC host Joy-Ann Reid was similarly scathing, sharing a link to The Washington Post's report on the merchandise alongside the quip: "Siri: show me an ignorant ghoul..."

They really are helping him sell more merchandise.

July 14, 2021

This morning's sunrise — at 5:36:15, 5:36:53, and 5:44.




"Reader, I rolled my eyes. I know that’s not the kind or constructive thing to do when someone is brave enough to come out, but I’m afraid I couldn’t help it..."

"... my old gay eyes rolled involuntarily....When I came out, 20 years ago, I wasn’t worried that people might think I was declaring myself queer because it was cool – it was decidedly not cool... Last time I checked, demisexuals weren’t exactly an oppressed minority fighting for equal rights. They are just people who aren’t sexually attracted to others unless they form a strong emotional bond with them first. (Congratulations, some of you may suddenly have realised that you are not actually the boring hetero you thought you were – you are an exciting demisexual! You even get your very own flag!) Acting as if needing to get to know someone before jumping into bed with them constitutes a marginalised sexual orientation that needs a flag seems to play into the hands of rightwingers who are desperate to argue that liberals are narcissists with a victimhood complex."

From "What does the dawn of demisexuals tell us?/How sex-drenched society has become" by Arwa Mahdawi (The Guardian). Mahdawi is reacting to Michaela Kennedy-Cuomo's announcing that she's "demisexual."

What is Ashley Olsen doing, walking in the forest with a beer and a machete?

"It's unbelievable how that society changed from the brutality of the Taliban, and all of a sudden — sadly — I'm afraid Afghan women and girls are going to suffer unspeakable harm."

"I'm sad. Laura and I spent a lot of time with Afghan women, and they're scared. And I think about all the interpreters and people that helped not only U.S. troops but NATO troops, and it seems like they're just going to be left behind to be slaughtered by these very brutal people. And it breaks my heart." 

"Deaths from drug overdoses soared to more than 93,000 last year... The death toll jumped by more than 21,000, or nearly 30 percent, from 2019..."

"The increase came as no surprise to addiction specialists, drug counselors and policy experts who have watched the steady rise in deaths throughout the pandemic.... ... 2020 brought the added complications of a worldwide viral pandemic. Health care resources were stretched and redirected toward the emergency. Anti-addiction medication was more difficult to obtain. Stress increased dramatically."

WaPo reports.

ADDED: From the NYT article on the subject: 

The death toll from Covid-19 surpassed 375,000 last year, the largest American mortality event in a century, but drug deaths were experienced disproportionately among the young. In total, the 93,000 deaths cost Americans about 3.5 million years of life, according to a New York Times analysis. By comparison, coronavirus deaths in 2020 were responsible for about 5.5 million years of life.

"The Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro has been admitted to hospital... after being struck down by an unremitting bout of the hiccups which has lasted for more than 10 days...."

"In a recent social media broadcast, Bolsonaro said his hiccups problem had started after he underwent dental surgery on 3 June, and blamed it on drugs he had been prescribed. The Folha said Bolsonaro had undergone a series of surgical procedures since his election-trail stabbing, an event many believe helped propel him to the presidency. Less than two months later he won a landslide election victory against his leftwing rival, Fernando Haddad."

The Guardian reports.

"'Don’t Fauci My Florida,' read drink koozies and T-shirts that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s campaign team rolled out just as his state sees some of the highest coronavirus hospitalizations..."

"... new infections and deaths per capita in the country. It’s the latest example of Republicans running on their opposition to virus-fueled shutdowns and mask mandates. A pandemic hero to some and villain to others, Fauci has become a high-profile target.... While discussing the Florida budget this summer, DeSantis said his state’s rosy financial outlook would not have been possible 'if we had followed Fauci.' 'Instead we followed freedom,' he said. His campaign’s 'Team DeSantis' Twitter account announced the new merchandise Monday. The Fauci items are listed alongside 'Keep Florida Free' hats and red koozies that take aim at face coverings with a DeSantis quote: 'How the hell am I going to be able to drink a beer with a mask on?'"

From "DeSantis sells ‘Don’t Fauci My Florida’ merch as new coronavirus cases near highest in nation" (WaPo).

This campaign merchandise is viral — viral 2 ways. 1. It's about coronavirus, 2. It gets DeSantis haters to carry his message for him. Those haters may think they're attacking him, but try as they might, they're helping him more than they're hurting him.

As for beer koozies, I think I can count on one hand the number of times I've drunk anything straight from a can in my entire life. I'll drink from a bottle, but not a can. I follow freedom, and I choose not to challenge my face with sharp edges of aluminum. I'll put a mask on my face if it's genuinely necessary, but I expect care to be taken in dictating when that is. 

Anyway, I'm not the market for any koozie, let alone a beer-specific koozie with a political slogan. I don't drink from cans, I almost never drink beer, I never wear or wield items emblazoned with politicized writing, and I would never casually expose the general public — which includes children — to aggressive words like "How the hell...?" 

But I did get a little interested in the word "koozie," which to my ear sounds dirty or insulting. Is it some combination of "cool" and "cozy"? I was interested in the etymology! Now, I'm reading Wikipedia. But it doesn't give the origin of the word, so I will maintain my belief — graphically stated at Urban Dictionary (definition #3) — that it started with a vagina metaphor.

"The Democrats in the Texas House of Representatives... said they had no other recourse, and they admitted that they have no endgame..."

"... as [Republican Governor Greg ] Abbott promised to keep calling special sessions, over and over, until the election legislation has its day. But they chose Washington, a hideout in full view, for a reason: to garner national attention and escalate the stakes in a long-running effort to pressure Congress and President Biden to approve federal voting-rights protections that would outlaw the kinds of restrictions Texas Republicans — and dozens of other legislatures across the country — are trying to enact.... 'The endgame is, we need Congress to act,' said state Rep. John Bucy III, who with his wife, Molly, decided to drive to Washington rather than fly, because their 17-month-old daughter, Bradley, has not received a coronavirus vaccine and is too young to wear a mask on a plane.... Republicans accused Democrats of abrogating their legislative duties in the Texas Capitol for a junket to Washington on private jets. They pounced on Democrats’ social media posts showing smile-filled selfies on the coach and in the planes. They even homed in on what appeared to be a case of Miller Lite sitting on one of the seats in the coach they took to the Austin airport...."

From "Inside the secret plan for the Texas Democratic exodus: A phone tree, a scramble to pack and a politically perilous trip" (WaPo).

They're fleeing but they're not hiding. They want to be seen.. In fact, it's not enough merely to get attention, they want to garner attention. 

By the way, I see we're naming little girls Bradley now.

"Judge Cronan's dismissal is the joke, and more than a bad joke at that."

Said Roy Moore's lawyer Larry Klayton, quoted in "Sacha Baron Cohen, Showtime win dismissal of Roy Moore defamation lawsuit." 

Moore fell for one of Baron Cohen's pranks and then sued Baron Cohen for $95 million, alleging defamation. 

The judge said it was "clearly a joke," and "It is simply inconceivable that the program's audience would have found a segment with Judge Moore activating a supposed pedophile-detecting wand to be grounded in any factual basis."

"Public opinion suggests there’s widespread bipartisan support for liberalizing cannabis laws, but that shift hasn’t translated to the Senate..."

"Schumer has several reluctant members within his own caucus and will have to scrounge up at least 10 Republican votes for the legislation during an already chaotic Senate calendar filled with Biden administration priorities on infrastructure, police accountability and education. Schumer would also need to corner President Joe Biden — who has supported decriminalizing marijuana but not legalizing it — to sign the bill.... The discussion draft of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act includes provisions that cater to both 'states rights' Republicans and progressive Democrats. While the proposal seeks to remove all federal penalties on weed, it would allow states to prohibit even the possession of cannabis — along with production and distribution — a nod to states’ rights.... Federal weed legalization is dicey at best, especially given the more pressing concerns of infrastructure spending and pandemic recovery." 

From "Schumer launches long-shot bid for legal weed/The majority leader backs marijuana legalization, but he still needs to convince his party, Republicans and even the president" (Politico).

It's a nice distraction from "the more pressing concerns of infrastructure spending and pandemic recovery." Schumer is cuing up a distinct accomplishment that can be grabbed if they choose. 

I'd like to see this pass if only to restore order. It's chaotic for various states to be operating as if marijuana is legal when it is outlawed at the federal level.

July 13, 2021

It was a 100% cloud cover sunrise, but the wildflowers were popping out nicely.




Random objects.

"I have 38D boobs and have been wearing a bra since fifth grade, so the thought of returning my boobs to any state of confinement has left me horrified."

"How could I go back to imprisoning my ladies after a wondrous year of letting them roam? In the words of Kate Lambert, 'I see women out and y’all are wearing bras again. I THOUGHT WE HAD AN AGREEMENT.'... Babe, I assure you, it is not about politics — it is about comfort. A few years back, a dear friend wrote about her bra-free path, saying that the decision to not wear a bra was not political, 'except insofar as everything a woman does with her body that isn’t letting someone else dictate what she ought to do with it is a political decision.' That sounds about right to me."

From "Free the Boob!" by Dayna Evans (NY Magazine).

After 37 years as a cable TV customer, I finally did it. I cancelled!

Don't even ask me how many months I continued to pay over $200 a month for TV service that I barely used at all. If I want to watch TV, I go to Netflix or Amazon Prime or YouTube, not the AT&T U-Verse that was costing so much. I knew I was throwing money away delaying calling, and it wasn't at all that I was clinging to it, thinking maybe I'd miss it. It was purely my resistance to the administrative work of making the phone call.

"South Dakota did not do any mandates. We trusted our people, gave them all the information and told them that personal responsibility was the best answer."

Tweeted South Dakota governor Kristi Noem, roughly quoting her recent CPAC speech and quoted in a Philip Bump WaPo column with the aggressive headline "Kristi Noem leans into her people-can-choose-to-die-if-they-want-to 2024 messaging."

Here's the text of the column that might support the headline: 

What’s fascinating about this argument is that it’s actually immune to a seemingly challenging response — um, but a lot of people died — using a straightforward rhetorical trick: pinning those deaths on the personal choices of the dead.

Yeah, but that doesn't mean people chose to die! People individually assessed risk and chose which precautions to take, but they were hoping not to die, I think we can presume. A lot of people died — it's true — but does Bump know how the deaths correlated to the choices people made? 

For example, I almost never wore a mask because I didn't like mask-wearing, but what I did instead was avoid going places where I was close enough to other people to need a mask. I kept my distance. That was an individual choice, and I won't say that's why I never got Covid (or never had any condition that caused me to get tested for Covid). I don't know!

Bump acknowledges that Noem's position is "a natural extension of a conservative small-government philosophy: If people want to put themselves at risk from the virus, who are we to stop them?" It's not that people want risk. It's that people are balancing risk against freedom. The question is just whether to let people do their own balancing. Noem's "leaning" is just the conventional conservative preference for individual choice. Bump leans in the conventional progressive direction, allocating more choices to government. 

You probably know which way you lean, so it's an old topic, perhaps too dull to write a column about. To disguise the dullness, they cobbled together the adjective "people-can-choose-to-die-if-they-want-to."

"We’re a comedy show and there are obviously a lot of words we’ve been careful to weed out. We’ve used words like ‘unhinged’ or ‘intense’ to replace ‘crazy.’ Are there words you would suggest using?"

Said Jennifer Flanz, executive producer and showrunner of “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah,” quoted in "In closed-door meetings at MTV, creators are grappling with how to make entertainment more responsible/An inside look at an ambitious plan that has writers working with mental-health professionals" (WaPo).

Would calling someone “crazy” or “unhinged” contribute to the kind of stigmas that makes people afraid to seek help?...

“It’s definitely OK to find humor in the challenging experiences people face,” [said Meredith Goldberg-Morse, senior manager of social impact at MTV Entertainment Group]. “But when you’re doing that, it’s important to be mindful of not sending the message that the person managing the condition is the punchline of the joke.”

Notice that there are 2 different phenomena under discussion here: 1. Actual mental health conditions, and 2. The use of mental-health language to insult or mock. These 2 things are interrelated, because caring about people with actual mental health conditions seems to be the main reason to think you ought to refrain from using mental-health language to insult or mock. 

I can think of some other reasons: 1. It's stale and unimaginative to just call the people you don't agree with "crazy." 2. It's inaccurate (you're not diagnosing a disorder). 3. It's a way to avoid making specific and substantive arguments. 4. It's hypocritical (because you yourself sound crazy when you endlessly call other people crazy). 5. It's part of the problem of winding people up about everything (which is why I stopped watching "The Daily Show" years ago).

"We will choose an identity that unequivocally departs from any use of or approximate linkage to Native American imagery."

Said Jason Wright, president of the Washington Football Team (the erstwhile "Redskins"), quoted in "WFT’s new name won’t be ‘Warriors’ or include any Native American imagery, Jason Wright says" (WaPo).

“One might look at this name [Warriors] as a natural, and even harmless transition considering that it does not necessarily or specifically carry a negative connotation,” Wright wrote on the team’s website. “But as we learned through our research and engagement with various groups, ‘context matters’ and that makes it a ‘slippery slope.’ ”...

“We recognize that not everyone is in favor of this change,” he added. “And even the Native American community offers a range of opinions about both our past and path forward. But in these moments, it is important to prioritize the views of those who have been hurt by our historical use of Native American language, iconography and imagery."...

The team has been working with Code and Theory, a creative agency, to pore over 40,000 fan submissions, hold focus groups, send out fan surveys and talk with local and national leaders to narrow the list....

How would you like to work at Code and Theory, the creative agency? Here's their page discussing their work with the Washington Football team. Sample text:

July 12, 2021

"Louis C.K. tickets sell out in Madison despite comedian's sexual misconduct."

 The Wisconsin State Journal reports.

Four of C.K.'s Madison show were sold out by Monday afternoon, shortly after a Wisconsin State Journal story was posted online. A fifth show was listed as "tickets currently not available." Tickets were $30 before fees.

That's in Madison, so I infer that Louis C.K. can do his show anywhere in America. I'd say he's been punished enough. He's a comic genius and plenty of people obviously want him back. 

Here's the discussion at the subreddit r/madisonwi. Sample chitchat:

Don’t like him? Don’t go. I don’t care for him but it’s a free country and if he wants to do a show and people want to pay for it that’s their business as consenting adults. Quit being the hall monitor. Adults can do as they wish. 

Did you just ask Madison, Wisconsin to actually let people live their lives?

Sunrise sequence: 5:32, 5:34:25, 5:34:40, 5:37:13, 5:37:52.



"We stand with the Cuban people and their clarion call for freedom and relief from the tragic grip of the pandemic and from the decades of repression and economic suffering to which they have been subjected by Cuba’s authoritarian regime."

"The Cuban people are bravely asserting fundamental and universal rights. Those rights, including the right of peaceful protest and the right to freely determine their own future, must be respected. The United States calls on the Cuban regime to hear their people and serve their needs at this vital moment rather than enriching themselves."

That is, in full, the Statement by President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. on Protests in Cuba."

What if there were a color that could drive (some) people mad?

It's some kind of litmus test, so take the test: 

What is your reaction to this Ivanka family photo?
pollcode.com free polls

ADDED: My theory is that they adjusted the color until Arabella was dressed in the shade of blue associated with Tiffany & Co. — see it here — and the other clothing (and the sky) went along for the ride. It came out so cute and hilarious that they put it up on Instagram, and the haters made it viral.

BUT: I looked through her Instagram but didn't see the picture. Others dug all the way back to last year — I didn't go that far — and found it:

He's telling the truth about himself and everyone else — and he's doing it with brilliantly casual humor, which his audience easily gets, while the George Conways of the world stand at a distance and tsk.

"Younger artists in the dreary, austere Britain of the early 1950s began to reject the modernist disdain for the garish hucksterism of capitalist salesmanship."

"[In 1957, one theorist said Pop Art should be] popular, transient, expendable, gimmicky, glamorous, and—he used the term explicitly—big business. Such a frank alliance between avant-garde art and capitalism was made possible by the cold war. The rivalry with communism gave consumerism an appearance of depth. It was not, as elitist critics had long maintained, shallow and meretricious. Consumerism stood for what Harry Truman called, in the 1947 speech that inaugurated the cold war, a 'way of life.' Communism imposed everything from above. But capitalism—in its own self-image—created infinite choice. Its claim (seldom borne out in reality) was that it allowed the consumer to make all the decisions. Coke or Pepsi, Gillette or Wilkinson Sword, Max Factor or Revlon—it’s entirely up to you... It is not the artist but the viewer, listener, reader, or audience member who creates the meaning of the work. The aim of aesthetic creation is to make the producer disappear and leave only the object and the consumer.... At the heart of the self-image of the West in the cold war was a powerful but often amorphous idea: freedom....What, in any case, was freedom, and to whom did it belong? The desire for the art object to be free came easily enough to artists who were male and white...."

From "Freedom for Sale/In the 1950s and 1960s, a new generation of American artists began to think of advertising and commercial imagery as the new avant-garde" by Fintan O’Toole (NY Review of Books)(reviewing "The Free World: Art and Thought in the Cold War" by Louis Menand).

"Other podcasts, billed as 'true-crime comedy,' offer up a homeopathic remedy: steep yourself in murder, and the murderers can’t get you."

"This weird logic is openly acknowledged in the first episode of My Favorite Murder, the Gen-X and Millennial answer to True Detective. With hosts Karen Kilgariff, a stand-up comedian, and Georgia Hardstark, a cooking show personality, it launched in 2016 with the women saying, 'Let’s get cozy and comfy and…talk about murder!' Girlfriends huddling around a campfire sharing scary stories, they take violence to be inevitable. 'Tell me everything so I can avoid it!' says Hardstark in that first episode. Kilgariff replies, 'I just want to collect information and hear theories and stories so I can be braced, so that…I’m ready.' She goes on: 'It’s the law of physics…the more you know about something, the less likely it will happen to you.' That’s more fantasy than physics, but this program too has been downloaded millions of times. The hosts’ motto and title of their 2019 joint memoir is Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered. It’s a joke, but it’s not a joke."

That's an isolated snippet of "Murder Is My Business/In the true crime genre’s latest iteration, writers, reporters, bloggers, documentary filmmakers, and podcast hosts have taken a soiled brand and turned it into a collective exercise in retributive justice, recording and correcting the history of sexual violence" by Caroline Fraser (NY Review of Books). 

Lots more in that article, including a recommendation of the book "True Crime Detective Magazines 1924–1969."

Here's the website for "My Favorite Murder."

I've mostly stayed away from the true-crime genre myself. I listened to "Serial" but ultimately disapproved of it. I listened to "Dirty John" around the same time. But I've avoided all that since then. I don't want those things in my head. I don't even want to watch movies with murders anymore. There's something very strange about the way we humans entertain ourselves with murder, and I am not buying the homeopathy theory!

Let's read the full text of Trump's CPAC speech.

Here's the transcript of yesterday's speech. I'll just give you some highlights — things that jumped out at me as I read it, seeing things for the first time (that is, I didn't watch the speech):

For generations, the American conservative union has helped lead the charge to defend our values, protect our country, and preserve our glorious American heritage. You see they’re taking our heritage away....

In a matter of mere months, Joe Biden has brought our country to the brink of ruin.... Now the Biden administration has turned the border into the single greatest disaster in American history, and perhaps in world history. Nobody’s ever seen a border like this. Other countries don’t have a border like this....

This morning at 5:12 and 5:28.



What happened after 5:28 was interesting too, but I'll save that for later. Oh, the suspense! You can imagine, given the structure of the clouds at the point where the sun will emerged. 

I wanted to put the first 2 photos up early because I'm going through my email, and I see this question from Portly Pirate: "Have you ever mentioned which season is your favorite for sunrises? Do you even have a favorite?"

If I clicked my "sunrise" tag and scrolled and scrolled, I might be able to form an opinion about which season has the best chance of a better than average sunrise balanced against the likelihood of a very plain sunrise, factoring in my preference for the completely cloudy form of plainness over the completely clear form of plainness, especially when there's at least some structure to the clouds. 

But here's the thing about seasons. We live in the day. Let each day reveal itself. Show up and pay attention. Don't worry about the days in the recent past or near future. There's nothing I can do about the sunrise other than to witness and respect whatever sunrise presents itself in the day I'm in. The sunrises don't group together and influence each other, and there's no benefit to thinking about the likelihood of better sunrises in particular seasons.

We were walking in the woods yesterday and talking about the way the leaves looked at this point in the summer. We were all enclosed in an area that in winter will open up. And it will be pretty in a different way in the fall and the spring. What good is there in picking favorites? All the seasons are beautiful, and if you believe that, the seasonal change increases the beauty.

It's like growing old. You can say, It was better to be young!, but it's better to believe that it was not better.

July 11, 2021

5:31 and 5:51 a.m.



"From the Malecón, Havana’s famous seawall near the old city, to small towns in Artemisa province and Palma Soriano, the second-largest city in Santiago de Cuba province, videos live-streamed on Facebook showed thousands of people walking and riding bikes and motorcycles along streets while chanting 'Freedom!' 'Down with Communism!'..."

"... and 'Patria y Vida' -- Homeland and Life -- which has become a battle cry among activists after a viral music video turned the revolutionary slogan 'Homeland or Death' on its head. 'We are not afraid!' chanted Samantha Regalado while she recorded hundreds of people walking along a narrow street in Palma Soriano."

From "‘Freedom!’ Thousands of Cubans take to the streets to demand the end of dictatorship" (Miami Herald).

"There are four warring factions of the police. There is no security. There are 100 gangs with guns. There is no way we can have elections. The people are too scared to vote."

Said Ralph Chevry, board member of the Haiti Center for Socio Economic Policy in Port-au-Prince, quoted in "In Haiti, rivals claw for power as crisis escalates after assassination" (WaPo).

The caption on the top photograph at the link is: "Haitian citizens hold up passports as they gather in front of the U.S. Embassy in Tabarre, Haiti, on July 10, asking for asylum after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse."

Front-yard farming at Meadhouse.





What's the carbon footprint?

I see "Richard Branson completed a daring, barnstorming flight to edge of space Sunday, rocketing through the atmosphere in the spaceplane he’d been yearning to ride for nearly 20 years." That's the Washington Post dribbling enthusiasm like a sci-fi fanboy. 

I have no idea what "edge of space" means, but I suspect it should be "the edge of space," and it's sloppy editing. 

Anyway, WaPo is normally concerned about global warming and I don't know why the "daring barnstorming" of a billionaire gets a pass. How many home-to-work commutes in an SUV would it take to emit the carbon released in this old man's pleasure trip? 

It's a long article, and it includes references to Jeff Bezos, who owns The Washington Post:

By moving up his flight, [Branson] was able to beat Bezos to space by nine days.... Branson has repeatedly denied that he was in a race with Bezos and said in the interview that it was just “an incredible, wonderful coincidence that we’re going up in the same month.” But when asked about a rivalry with Bezos on CNBC, he couldn’t help himself, saying “Jeff who?”

Oh, isn't that darling? 

There's nothing about the carbon footprint of this joyride. I wanted to read the comments over there to see if there's any discussion of climate change. But: "Comments are not available on this story." 

Looking around at other news sites, I see this from E&E news:

"The past year has been very good to Howard University. One of its alumna — Kamala D. Harris — ascended to the vice presidency.... And last week, the university scored a coup..."

"... announcing Nikole Hannah-Jones and Ta-Nehisi Coates as new faculty.... Long-standing concerns over the way the school treats survivors of sexual assault were put on display when College of Fine Arts dean and actress Phylicia Rashad — another recent high-profile hire — shared her support for 'The Cosby Show' co-star Bill Cosby after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court vacated his sexual assault conviction.... The backlash — from students and others outside the Howard community — was swift. The issue was personal for Aliya J’mari, a 2016 graduate who said she had trouble getting help from school officials when a professor physically assaulted her during her senior year.... 'I just felt a little sad for the students that are at Howard now that are going to be up under her leadership,' J’mari said...."

Writes Lauren Lumpkin in "Nikole Hannah-Jones, Ta-Nehisi Coates appointments signal new era for Howard University/The recent growth at Howard University comes a few years after students waged a nine-day protest over conditions at the school and called for their president’s resignation" (WaPo). 

The highest-rated comment over there is: "As long as Howard continues to focus on celebrity over intellect, and to foster the concept of racial segregation for its student body, the university is doomed to a destiny of mediocrity. As proof, take a look at the SAT scores of incoming freshman at Howard versus the Ivy League schools — no comparison."

Today's sunrise at 5:12 and 5:27.



May I present a helping of Sunday-morning class politics — edgy but light and humorous, the way you like it, no?

"A 62-year-old Texas man who waited hours to cast a ballot in last year’s presidential primary was arrested this week on charges that he had voted illegally."

"The man, Hervis Earl Rogers of Houston, waited seven hours outside Texas Southern University to vote in the state’s presidential primary in March 2020. On Wednesday, he was arrested and charged with two counts of illegal voting, a felony. According to court documents, the charges stem from ballots that Mr. Rogers cast on March 3, 2020, and on Nov. 6, 2018, while he was still on parole and not legally permitted to vote.... Mr. Rogers’s story ricocheted around social media after he was identified as the very last person in line to vote at his polling place. Houston Public Media reported at the time that Mr. Rogers arrived at the polls just before 7 p.m. and waited roughly six hours to vote, long after the polls had closed and many others had left the line. 'It is insane, but it’s worth it,' Mr. Rogers told Houston Public Media while waiting in line."

From "Texas Man Who Waited Hours to Vote Is Arrested on Charges of Illegal Voting/Hervis Rogers was ineligible to cast a ballot in the 2020 presidential primary because he was still on parole, according to the state’s attorney general. He now faces four decades in prison" (NYT).

A link on "ricocheted around social media" goes here:

"I believe all National Parks should be closed to visitors unless they have been invited. There should be a selection process..."

"... and it should be based on intelligence, respect for nature and intent. No selfie sticks, no babies, no kids younger than an age where they can grasp their surroundings and the concept of nature. Littering and damaging nature in any way should be met with a fine so steep that no one would dare. In NYC, our parks and landmarks are overrun by the ugliest, rudest tourists one can imagine. They have ruined life here and with a welcome mat fro[m] officials who only see dollars."

That's a comment at the NYT article, "How Crowded Are America’s National Parks? See for Yourself. Americans are flocking to national parks in record numbers, in many cases leading to long lines and overcrowded facilities. Here’s what four parks looked like over the holiday weekend."

As the "See for Yourself" part of the headline indicates, there are lots of photos and video clips at the link showing beautiful landscapes obscured by roiling crowds of uncool people in summer clothes.

Do people really love empty landscapes and solitude? Everyone's a photographer now, and no one — except these journalists documenting overcrowding — wants strangers doing selfies in their photographs. You go out to experience nature, and then you're stuck with whoever else chose the same vantage point. And some places are just terribly well-known vantage points that jump right onto all those bucket lists. There are many interesting rock formations all over the country where you might muse about what that rock looks like to you, but you've got to follow the signposts to Skull Rock, that one rock that been determined to look a particular thing, and you can stand in a group that must all think that indeed it looks like a skull. 

Yet it's easy to avoid crowds. Hike to less accessible parts of crowded National Parks or just go some time other than summer. Much easier: Go to state parks. There are 66 state parks in Wisconsin — lots of variety — and it's easy to get to them — many just for day trips — and there's hardly anyone else there. 

The most grandiose landscapes have been snapped up into National Parks, but if you genuinely love nature, you should value the mellower beauties of the state (and county) parks. Learn to look more closely and find details — especially if you are bringing children along. Those videos at the NYT link show some little children, and many of them look fussy and bored. They were dragged across the country, cooped up in cars, subjected to lines, exposed to glaring sun, and told what to look at, told it is amazing, told it belongs in their head as a memory. They should be grouchy. They should be outraged.

But I wouldn't exclude them. No kids allowed! The commenter who says invitees only is, I hope, a satirist. But parents on their own ought to decide to scale down the encounters with nature. Way down. Maybe to the level of your own town or — it might be best — your own backyard.