July 31, 2021

This morning's sunrise, at around 6 a.m.

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Socially distanced theater.

 

Video by Meade. That's me at 0:16. The play was "Rough Crossing" by Tom Stoppard. An excellent performance. And I didn't go home with a sunburn. 

We traipsed through the prairie on our way out: 

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"The White House is frustrated with what it views as alarmist, and in some instances flat-out misleading, news coverage about the Delta variant...."

"In some instances, poorly framed headlines and cable news chyrons wrongly suggested that vaccinated Americans are just as likely to spread the disease as unvaccinated Americans. But that isn't quite the case. Vaccinated Americans still have a far lower chance of becoming infected with the coronavirus and, thus, they are responsible for far less spread of the disease. 'The media's coverage doesn't match the moment,' one of the Biden officials told me. 'It has been hyperbolic and frankly irresponsible in a way that hardens vaccine hesitancy. The biggest problem we have is unvaccinated people getting and spreading the virus.'"

From "White House blasts Covid coverage" by Oliver Darcy (CNN).

The Biden Administration gets such sympathetic coverage, but they're still unhappy with the news media. That's how bad the new media are. The coverage of the new CDC data really is awful. 

#WokeOlympics: "Why do we allow the people who just want to bitch to always win?"

After the excellent line I used in the post title, the audience fails to react. A little while later, at 2:30, after another failure of the audience to enjoy his joke about how nobody seems to get jokes anymore, he bitches, "Where did we get this crowd?"

Comparing what happened to Simone Biles to a golfer getting the "yips."

I'm seeing this comparison all over the place, but I'll just quote this, which came in the email after one of the several posts I'd written about Biles. 

A reader named Leland wrote: 

Hi Althouse— great golfers often get the yips, the inability to execute the movements necessary to strike the ball—which is just sitting there, isn’t it—in a way necessary to get it in the hole. Tom Watson and Ben Hogan are examples of Greats who lost the ability to make short putts. Ian Baker Finch lost his game completely. Baseball players can get the yips, too—think of Chuck Knobloch and Steve Sax, who suddenly couldn’t control short throws to first. Simone Biles, after years of performing at the highest level, has got the yips. I give her high marks for honesty and realism in this moment. It is startling to see it happen at the Olympics when she was doing the impossible earlier this year, but this is a story familiar to anyone who follows golf or baseball.

Maybe there are some similarities. Who understands the mysteries of the connection between the mind and the body and what happens in the cases of the most accomplished and focused human beings?

But I just want to sketch out the differences:

1. Professional golfers are mature adults. Women's gymnastics is a girls' sport. Little girls are selected and trained, their body and mind are shaped to this performance. At adulthood, the body is past peak for gymnastics purposes, and the mind, still growing into maturity, has new reason to surge past the gymnastics-specific format that had been drummed into the girl since early childhood.

2. Unlike golf, gymnastics is extremely dangerous, and the mind must not interfere with the task. Unlike the "yips" in golf, a normal mind in an adult body rationally rebels against the demands of gymnastics. The yips are interesting because they happen when the thing that needs to be done is easy.

3. Professional golfers own themselves. They are independent contractors, entering tournaments in the hope of winning big money. The stakes affect the mind, and it's tough to control, and sometimes something called the "yips" intrudes. But it's the pressure, not any danger, that leads to a mind-body screwup, and the golfer has absolute confidence that it's all worth it for that money that will be his if he prevails. The worst that can happen is that he goes home with a lot less money (or no money at all). But the young gymnast is in it because adults trained and encouraged her. Their ambitions are mixed up with hers in a complex way, and they've led her down a very dangerous path. She hasn't owned herself, and she doesn't get a direct and huge payout for her performance on any given day. Yes, there is an amorphous economic reward in the future. But it's not the golfer's immediate this-for-that.

"Living with a virus — rather than defeating it — is not emotionally satisfying. It does not, in our minds, remove the threat."

"But the truth is: humans have no choice but to live with viruses. We always have. I’ve lived with a potentially fatal one buried in my bone marrow for almost 30 years. I still test HIV-positive. Almost certainly, I will die HIV-positive. But I will not die of HIV. And that’s ok. As long as I can prevent it wreaking havoc on my immune system, and ruining and ending my life, I’m content to live with it. We’re almost friends at this point. These viruses challenge the psyche, and the trick, it seems to me, is not to deny their power and danger, but to see past them to the real goal: the living of your life. If you are not careful, this one viral threat can crowd out all other perspectives, distort your judgment of risk, and cause you to be paralyzed by excessive caution and fear. But defeating a virus often does mean living with it. We already do this with the flu. There’s no reason we can’t do it with Covid as well."

Writes Andrew Sullivan in "Let It Rip/How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Live With The Virus" (Substack).

"Leibovitz... is worshipful. Riesman is relentlessly debunking, if not desecrating. Leibovitz credits [Stan] Lee with reawakening 'America’s moral imagination.'"

"Riesman hammers on the notion of Lee as a credit thief. Published as part of Yale’s Jewish Lives series, Leibovitz’s book presents Lee as the contemporary equivalent of Harold Bloom’s J: Spider-Man is 'a direct descendant' of Cain, Mr. Fantastic is 'a nuclear age Hasid,' Iron Man embodies 'a stern reminder, drawn from the core of Jewish theology, that redemption comes only when human beings get together and pursue common goals.' With regard to The Fantastic Four, Leibovitz writes, 'anyone with even a hint of familiarity with the Bible would recognize the pattern of the flawed and conflicted leaders wrestling with their stiff-necked people.' Lee’s comic books are like Bob Dylan’s songs, 'an ongoing dialogue with the artist that mirrors the ancient Talmudic logic of constant conversation.' Riesman makes no such elevated claims, although he may be said to contribute to the conversation when he notes that, while Lee’s immigrant parents were observant Jews, Lee himself 'felt no kinship with the Jewish community and was allergic to the very idea of religion.' Riesman is most insistent in questioning Lee’s integrity, specifically with regard to [Jack] Kirby, considering it 'very possible, maybe even probable, that the characters and plots Stan was famous for all sprang from the brain and pen of Kirby,' adding that 'it’s already provable that Stan lied blatantly and often about Kirby’s contribution to their comics together.'"

From "Marvel’s Ringmaster/Under Stan Lee’s guidance, Marvel marketed not only its characters but also the men who created them" by J. Hoberman (NYRB), which reviewers "True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee" by Abraham Riesman and  "Stan Lee: A Life in Comics" by Liel Leibovitz.

"People sometimes send us pieces that were deliberately made to be bad, and you can usually see right through that. It's fake bad art, and it shows."

Said Louise Sacco, the permanent acting interim director of the Museum of Bad Art, quoted in "Treasures from the Museum of Bad Art" (CBS).

The article is from 2015. Some readers will know why I'm thinking about it today.

Click through and scroll to see what sort of badness is museum-worthy. It must be "sincere and original, and something went wrong in a way that's interesting." 

I laughed a lot looking at these pictures — hardest at "President Kennedy Eating Ice Cream":

It's obvious what went wrong there. It's the same thing that went wrong with most of the examples at the link and that, once you think about it, causes the interestingness to fade. The painter was looking at a photograph of a person frozen in action. 

There's a particular way the camera captures gesture and expression: in a snap. But a painting develops over time. What is the artist observing — other than the painting itself — during this time? You could paint entirely from your mind, remembering or imagining. And you can have something you glance at now and then, without attempting to reproduce it. 

But if you are going to stare intently at this thing and make it into a painting, you have a special problem. You could become analytical and translate what you see into something that comes from your brain — like Cezanne painting a bowl of fruit. But let's assume you're just devoting your time to copying what you see. If it's a real person, that person is going to live and breathe, and they're not going to be in the middle of smiling or dancing or licking ice cream! 

You'll produce a portrait that might be good or bad, but we'll be able to tell that it was painted from a live model. If you paint from a photograph that's a portrait, you might get away with it. But if you paint from a photograph that captures expression and gestures and you do it with an intent simply to reproduce it, it will be bad. You are perverting your humanity with laborious copying of what only a camera can do, and we feel revulsion. We must laugh at your work product to escape despair. 

ADDED: Is that Kennedy photograph the reason for all of Biden's posing with ice cream cones?

I'll have a double scoop of the plagiarism swirl.

ALSO: Here's a Reddit thread from a couple years ago that displays and discusses the photograph of JFK. The photo is from August 1963. Somebody says "Probably the last ice cream he ever ate" and somebody else says "Brain freeze."

UPDATE:  I wrote: "Some readers will know why I'm thinking about it today." I didn't want to reveal an answer from the NYT crossword. One clue was "The 'BA' of the Boston museum MOBA." Answer: "bad art."

July 30, 2021

Primrose.

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A fresh keyboard.

How long do you put up with an old keyboard before you face reality and order a new one? I've seen keyboards fail before. It's always one key or 2 or 3 keys that get balky and then don't work at all. I once had a keyboard that failed beginning with the space bar. You face up to that really quickly. Another time, the "u" failed. That too is hard to work around. But this time it was the square brackets. For months, I have been working around the lack of square brackets keys. I need them whenever I'm shortening quotes and must supplement words or adjust capital letters. But what I've been doing is going to another document and cutting brackets out then pasting them into the new document. It's absurd how many times I have done this before taking 2 minutes to order a new keyboard. Now, the keyboard is here and I can handle quotes with ease once again. Let me try:

Human meat was typically prepared two ways: roasted or boiled.... [B]odies [were cut] into quarters with a bamboo knife, severing the head and the limbs from the trunk.... "The head is first carefully shaved . . . then boiled, as are the intestines, in ceramic cooking pots. Regarding the meat proper and the internal organs, they are placed on a large wooden grill under which a fire is lit.... [T]he meat... is divided among all those present. Whatever is not eaten on the spot is set aside in the women’s baskets and used as [food] the next day. As far as the bones are concerned, they are broken and their marrow, of which the women are particularly fond, is sucked."

That quote, like the quote in the post 5 posts down, is from the book I'm reading David Grann's "The Lost City of Z."

5:51 a.m.

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"Biles need only watch the documentary The Last Dance, which features [Michael] Jordan alone in a mansion drinking enormous glasses of alcohol and hating everybody..."

"... to understand that there is a cost to valorizing competition to the exclusion of everything else. [Tiger] Woods’s career self-imploded in a way that seemed like a direct response to the punishing mentality required to dominate every tournament — which didn’t stop the emergence of the narrative that he had to start winning again in order to redeem himself. There are surely superathletes who avoid becoming alienated head cases (Roger Federer seems like a pretty well-balanced individual). But clearly, there is a severe mental toll, oddly underexamined in our sports-obsessed culture, that comes from a life of perpetually breaking the very limits of what it means to be human, with a human’s emotions and vulnerabilities."

From "The One Limit Simone Biles Wouldn’t Break" by Ryu Spaeth (NY Magazine). 

"Let’s tear this horrible glittering Schwarma down once and for all."

A comment on "The Vessel Has Closed Again After a Fourth Suicide" (NY Magazine). 

You know The Vessel?

And you know the shawarma....

UPDATE: From the NY Post: 

“There were lots of tourists around. The kid was racing up the stairs with his younger sister and having a blast, having so much fun,’’ said a security guard at the Manhattan tourist attraction to The Post on Friday, a day after fatal jump.

“One of my colleagues told them, ‘I know it’s fun and stuff, but you are not allowed to run in the Vessel,’ and, ‘Stay with your parents.’ Somehow, when he got to Level Eight, he jumped,” the guard said of the teen from upscale Livingston, New Jersey.

5:52 a.m.

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"The sauba ants that could reduce the men’s clothes and rucksacks to threads in a single night. The ticks that attached like leeches..."

"... (another scourge) and the red hairy chiggers that consumed human tissue. The cyanide-squirting millipedes. The parasitic worms that caused blindness. The berne flies that drove their ovipositors through clothing and deposited larval eggs that hatched and burrowed under the skin. The almost invisible biting flies called piums that left the explorers’ bodies covered in lesions. Then there were the 'kissing bugs,' which bite their victim on the lips, transferring a protozoan called Trypanosoma cruzi; twenty years later, the person, thinking he had escaped the jungle unharmed, would begin to die of heart or brain swelling. Nothing, though, was more hazardous than the mosquitoes. They transmitted everything from malaria to 'bone-crusher' fever to elephantiasis to yellow fever."

I'm reading "The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon" by David Grann.

Is this the most obscure Fellini movie?

Here's something I watched just because it was short — 43 minutes — and I was clicking idly about in my streaming service — Criterion — which said "Federico Fellini’s loose adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s 'Never Bet the Devil Your Head' stars Terence Stamp as an alcoholic actor who suffers from disturbing visions":

  

I'd never heard of this film or that Poe story. The film is so short because it was part of a set of 3 adaptations of Poe, packaged as "Spirits of the Dead," which Wikipedia says "received a mixed critical reception, with the Fellini segment widely regarded as the best of the three." 

I'm not sure that the film has much to do with Poe's "Never Bet the Devil Your Head," which seems to be all about the problem of taking statements literally. There are some points of connection, but the Poe story does not have a surreal awards ceremony — "The Golden She-Wolves" — or a 1964 Ferrari 330 LMB Fantuzzi. The point of Fellini's story seems to be... well, his is less of a story with a moral... I'll just say it's: Life is hell when you're a hopeless drunk.

"For months, the CDC has married a god-awful communications strategy with a determination to cater to the most irrational whims of the paranoid, triple-masking urban gentry..."

"... the whims of the archetypical Karen, in other words.... Overall, a majority of voters — 55 percent — agree that 'despite good intentions, shutting down businesses and locking down society did more harm than good.'... There is a great deal of pent-up frustration and resentment over the inconvenience, the loss of freedom and the general climate of hectoring that the government’s pandemic response has created. It’s irritating to be lectured by officials who claim to be smarter than you. It’s infuriating to be lectured by government officials who claim to be smarter than you — but clearly aren’t.... Republicans would be foolish not to capitalize on this well-earned distrust of public-health officials, especially among key Democratic constituencies. The Democrats, beholden to the laptop class and to bossy interlopers, are likely to favor extended and intrusive interventions and a long-lasting power-grab by health bureaucrats. Republicans can [use] a simple, consistent message: The pandemic is over. The vaccines have crushed the virus... Say no to masks, to irrational rules, to the ways Karen and her bureaucratic servants would suffocate ordinary people’s lives, especially working-class Americans who can’t work remotely."

Writes Glenn Reynolds in "No, Karen, we’re not masking again: A winning GOP message for 2022 & beyond" (NY Post).

1. Please, I'm begging you, don't use the old "Karen" meme. Either it's pointlessly gendered or you actually mean to stir up antagonism toward women. I know it often seems as though the Democrats are the women and the Republicans are the men, but both parties need men and women and both parties should resist trading in gender stereotypes. 

2. Not only is there a risk of looking — and being! — sexist if they deploy "Karen," Republicans have to be careful not to look like they are rejecting science and reason. I know: Trump wasn't careful, and look how successful he was. Yeah, look how successful he was . So successful, he himself told us we'd get tired of all the winning. We did get tired. You can't operate at that level, mocking everyone, doubting everything. We need to feel secure. We want to be free, but not reckless. 

3. The high ground is open for either party to take. Science should not be political. There are experts, they should advise within the area of their expertise, and we should value what they give us for precisely what it is worth, as input to policy choices, and I want politicians who can sanely and intelligently analyze the policy, not taunt and aggravate.

"In some ways, I believe that these tech giants are more powerful than government officials.... take Donald Trump versus Mark Zuckerberg. Trump could be dis-elected..."

"... he could be sued, he can be impeached. And none of the above is true for Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, etc, no free speech rights against them, no due process rights against them. And... we've seen more and more of a coalescence between particular political and government leaders, putting increasingly overt pressure on the tech companies to censor speech that these politicians don't like and that they would be completely barred by the First Amendment from directly censoring themselves.... So from from a legal perspective... whether you call it collaboration or pressure, the interrelationship between the two is constitutionally significant, because even private sector actors are directly bound by constitutional norms, including the First Amendment free speech guarantee, if you can show that there is in the legal term to describe this is called entanglement, sufficient entanglement between the government officials and the nominally private sector actors, that if they are essentially conspiring with the government doing the government's bidding, the government can't do an end run around his own constitutional obligations that way.... And I have to say, you know, you talk about certain orthodoxies on the left, I was really shocked at how cavalier and how dismissive the so-called mainstream media was in sneering at Trump's lawsuit, because it really has to be taken seriously.... there is a serious First Amendment challenge here...."

From "Interview with Nadine Strossen on Threat of Big Tech and Big Gov Collusion Against the First Amendment/'Private sector actors are directly bound by constitutional norms, including the First Amendment' if they are being coerced or colluding with the government" (interview with Sam Husseini on Substack).

Nadine Strossen, a law professor, was president of the ACLU from 1991 to 2008.

July 29, 2021

"Your daily tooth-brushing routine is a great opportunity to... try doing calf raises, squats or lunges... to meditate by focusing on the taste of the toothpaste and sound of the water."

Ludicrous advice in the NYT, in "Day 7: Brush Your Way to a New Habit."

"In the first study, nursery school children watched an adult heaping verbal and physical abuse on an inflatable Bobo the clown doll..."

"... punching it in the nose, kicking it, hitting it on the head with a mallet and throwing it around the room. When the children were then given a chance to interact with a similar doll, they copied the adult’s abusive behavior and produced additional forms of abuse that they thought up on their own. In contrast, children who watched an adult interacting peacefully with the doll, or who were not shown a model at all, were significantly less aggressive.... Later studies indicated that just showing a film of an adult acting aggressively could produce similar results. And the children’s response to the adult model could be influenced by whether the aggressive behavior was rewarded or punished.... The results of the Bobo doll experiment were at odds with behaviorism and conflicted with the reigning mental health theory of the time, psychoanalysis, which held that vicarious aggression — watching a violent film, for example — would provide a catharsis, diminishing the need to act out aggressive impulses."

From "Albert Bandura, Leading Psychologist of Aggression, Dies at 95/He was most known for his Bobo doll experiment, in which children mimicked adults in attacking an inflatable doll. The work challenged basic tenets of psychology" (NYT).

"Oh, you thought that too, didn't you? No? What an angel you are!"

I said, expressing skepticism about the story, reported in the NYT, about a grizzly bear in Alaska that "terrorized a man for days."

Now, I'm seeing the Daily Mail report, "Alaska gold miner is accused of making up story about bear stalking him for four days":

Now, however, locals are questioning his version of events after going to the cabin where he was rescued but finding no evidence of the days-long battle he described. Other local miners who were interviewed by The Nome Nugget went to the cabin where Jessee was rescued but found no bear tracks. They did however find the ATV and attached trailer that Jessee said the bear pushed into the water. They think he simply crashed the ATV but was too embarrassed to admit it, so made up the story after being rescued....

'There’s no hair, no tracks, no scat, nothing. He made a fool of us. We found out that his story didn’t match what we found.'... 

Thanks to reader Scott for sending me that link and for making one of the cleverest comments ever back on the original post, processing the elements of the NYT-reported story from the perspective of the bear:

Dialogue about rape in the 1972 Woody Allen comedy, "Play It Again, Sam."

As I mentioned yesterday, I rewatched this movie, which I'd absolutely loved when it came out. The script is by Woody Allen, who plays an extremely nervous and clumsy man whose wife has left him, and he's desperately looking for love with the help of his married friend, played by Diane Keaton. As the title suggests, there are references to the love triangle in "Casablanca."

Much of this movie worked quite well for me today. I even got waves of full-body chills at one point — to my surprise. I thought, what the hell? How did they make that happen? Movie magic! But not long before that climactic moment, there was an awkward love scene that included some dialogue that I can't remember accepting at the time but must have been considered hilarious and that is totally beyond the pale today:

KEATON: Did you read that another Oakland woman was raped?

ALLEN:  I was nowhere near Oakland! Do they know who did it?

KEATON: No, they haven't a clue. He must be very clever.

ALLEN: Yeah,  you gotta have something on the ball to rape so many women and get away with it. 

He's smiling mischievously at that point.

KEATON: You know, I think if anybody ever tried to rape me, I'd just pretend to go along with it until the middle and then just grab a heavy object and let him have it... that is, unless, of course, I was enjoying it.

ALLEN: They say it's the secret desire of every woman. 

KEATON: I guess it depends on who's doing the raping.

It's one of those rare mornings when — quite by chance — a theme appears on the blog.

I've written 2 posts: 1. "The strongest case for noncitizen voting today is representation: The more voters show up to the polls, the more accurately elections reflect peoples’ desires," and 2. "'People get very wrapped up in the idea of spontaneously desiring sex,' Dr. Nagoski said, but, especially in women, it’s fairly rare." 

In the presence of this blessed convergence of the Forces of Blog, I perform the ritual of deliberately searching for more manifestations of the day's theme. You see what it is, don't you? 

"The strongest case for noncitizen voting today is representation: The more voters show up to the polls, the more accurately elections reflect peoples’ desires."

From "There Is No Good Reason You Should Have to Be a Citizen to Vote" by Atossa Araxia Abrahamian (NYT), who favors "lifting voting restrictions on legal residents who aren’t citizens — people with green cards, people here on work visas, and those who arrived in the country as children and are still waiting for permanent papers." 

The proposition quoted in the post title is untrue, but it's a widely held belief, that it's better to have more people voting. But every person who votes offsets someone else's vote — up to the point where you have the voters who provide the margin of victory and determine the outcome. It might feel nice to see that a lot of people voted, but each person who shouldn't be voting vote — put to the side the question who "shouldn't" be voting — can be paired with someone who voted for the other candidate, and those 2, taken together, don't affect the outcome. 

Then you can't say the more voters, "the more accurately elections reflect peoples’ desires." The sneaky thing about that phrase is "peoples'." Who are "the people"? Argue about that. I'm not engaging with that question. Go ahead and think about whether noncitizen residents with green cards or citizen nonresidents with dual citizenship should be participating in producing the outcome. All I want is recognition that it is wrong to say that the more voters, the more accurate the outcome.

Have you ever walked to the polls with somebody who you knew was going to vote for the candidate you were going to vote against? I have. And it's quite obvious, when you do that, that it makes no difference whether the 2 of you go through with the voting activity or whether you walk past the polling place and go get an ice cream cone and talk about the weather. 

Have you ever declined to go for that walk to the polling place when you knew your voting companion was going to vote for the candidate that you, if you went along, could not bring yourself to vote for? I have. And maybe I could refuse to think about it — but I'm not that kind of person — but it's painfully obvious to me that by failing to cancel that my companion's vote, I left a vote for his candidate uncancelled. And what does that say about the "peoples' desires"? My nonvoting had an effect. It expressed my desire, a weaker desire than the desire of the person whose vote I did not cancel.

"'People get very wrapped up in the idea of spontaneously desiring sex,' Dr. Nagoski said, but, especially in women, it’s fairly rare."

"Based on a wide body of research on gender and sexual desire, Dr. Nagoski estimates that roughly 15 percent of women experience spontaneous desire, whereas most experience responsive desire — wanting sex when something erotic is happening. 'When we study people who have great sex over the long-term in a relationship, they do not describe spontaneous desire as a characteristic,' she said.

From "Take Back Your Sex Life/With all its stress and uncertainty, this year hasn’t exactly been a banner year for intimacy. But that can change" (NYT). 

A highly rated comment: "Same old suggestions. Here's the real deal: if you are in a sexless marriage, and you are unhappy, and you've tried to fix it but nothing changes, GET OUT. I stayed, and now I'm old, but I'm still bitter that I have lived without touch, without intimacy." 

I can't tell if that's a man or a woman, but many of the comments criticize the article for taking the woman's perspective. The article does begin with a woman telling her (non)story: “It’s not that I don’t want to... It’s just that there’s so many things to do besides have sex with my partner, who I do hypothetically find attractive and theoretically want to have sex with. It feels pretty — at times — hopeless, our sex life.”

Theoretically want to have sex with... I thought that was pretty funny. Especially on second read. The first time I saw it, I felt uncomfortable that this woman was identified by name: "Melissa Petro is a 40-year-old writer who lives in New York with her husband of four years and two children."

Key word: "write." I was just saying yesterday: "Writing is an invasion of your own privacy and the privacy of others, but the writer is always deciding where and how far to invade."

ADDED: I wonder how old that "old, but... still bitter" person is and whether she/he has "tried to fix it."

July 28, 2021

This morning at 6:10...

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A little earlier, at 5:52...

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"While tornadoes garner a lot of attention because of their destructive ability, derechos can rival tornadoes in terms of destruction an impact."

"Derecho damage is typically 'in one direction along a relatively straight swath,' according to the National Weather Service."

From "From Midwest prepares for intense severe storms, threat of derecho/A derecho moving through Iowa last year killed four people" (ABC News).

The derecho has certainly garnered our attention here in Madison.

"During most severe thunderstorms, there is a brief period of very gusty winds. A location that is hit by a derecho will see long-lived, extremely severe winds. The derecho itself may travel several hundred miles or more over the course of several hours. Because the period of peak wind gusts may last for an extended period, some have compared the destruction of a derecho to that of a hurricane."

Rewatching 5 movies I saw in the theater when they first came out and I was in my early 20s.

I have what I called my "imaginary movie project, " but it's been stalled since 2019. It began in 2019. The idea was to see how I react to these things today and try to remember and relate it to how I felt at the time. I began with the year 1960, when I was 9, and I got up to 1968, with the last of the movies I saw when I was in high school. Oh, how I cried! 

Now, my son John is doing a movie blog project, where he identifies his favorite movie of every year beginning with 1920, reaching a new year each day. He got up to the point where I left off, and his 1968 movie just happens to be the same as mine. Then one of his 1969 movies is the movie I watched for 1969. I watched it, but I didn't blog about it. And then I've also watched my movie for 1970, 1971, 1972, and 1973 — my college years! — all without blogging. 

So now there's a horrible disconnect between watching and writing, but let me solve the problem by writing about all 5 movies right now. Here they are — in their ghoulish, gouldish glory:

1969 — "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice"
1970 — "MASH"
1971 — "McCabe and Mrs. Miller"
1972 — "Play It Again, Sam"
1973 — "The Long Goodbye"

"When the French government launched a smartphone app that gives 300 euros to every 18-year-old in the country for cultural purchases like books and music, or exhibition and performance tickets..."

"... most young people’s impulse wasn’t to buy Proust’s greatest works or to line up and see Molière. Instead, France’s teenagers flocked to manga.... As of this month, books represented over 75 percent of all purchases made through the app since it was introduced nationwide in May — and roughly two-thirds of those books were manga, according to the organization that runs the app, called the Culture Pass.... But the focus on comic books reveals a subtle tension at the heart of the Culture Pass’s design, between the almost total freedom it affords it young users — including to buy the mass media they already love — and its architects’ aim of guiding users toward lesser-known and more highbrow arts."

From "France Gave Teenagers $350 for Culture. They’re Buying Comic Books/Young people can buy books, tickets and classes via a government smartphone app. But rather than discovering highbrow arts, many are choosing mass media they already love" (NYT).

"General Milley had no direct evidence of a coup plot. But in the days after Mr. Trump’s electoral defeat, as the president filled top military and intelligence posts..."

"... with people the general considered loyal mediocrities, General Milley got nervous. 'They may try,' but they would not succeed with any kind of plot, he told his aides, according to the book. 'You can’t do this without the military,' he went on. 'You can’t do this without the C.I.A. and the F.B.I. We’re the guys with the guns.' While some might greet such comments with relief, General Milley’s musings should give us pause. Americans have not usually looked to the military for help in regulating their civilian politics. And there is something grandiose about General Milley’s conception of his place in government. He told aides that a 'retired military buddy' had called him on election night to say, 'You represent the stability of this republic.' If there was not a coup underway, then General Milley’s comments may be cause more for worry than for relief. Were we really that close to a coup?... It was, instead, mayhem on behalf of what had started as a legitimate political position.... For all Mr. Trump’s admiration of military officers, they wound up especially disinclined to accommodate his disorderly governing style.... We might be grateful for that. But our gratitude should not extend to giving military leaders any kind of role in judging civilian ones."

From "What if There Wasn’t a Coup Plot, General Milley?" by Christopher Caldwell (NYT).

"There’s duck poop everywhere, and it’s murky. It’s a solid brown-green on a good day. It’s just gross … We were getting [bitten by] duck mites. Apparently they like to eat ducks’ poop. We were covered in bites... it built character. I’m funnier because of it."

Erica Sullivan, discussing training by swimming in Lake Mead when the swimming pools were closed for coronavirus — quoted in "Get to know silver medalist Erica Sullivan. Everyone else wants to" (WaPo).

Before I ran into that quote, I was all set to make a post out of this other quote of hers:

“I’m multicultural. I’m queer. I’m a lot of minorities. That’s what America is. To me, America is not about being a majority. It’s about having your own start. The American Dream is coming to a country to establish what you want to do with your life.”

So she was doubly blog-worthy for me. What a delightful, amusing young lady! Tracing her character back to poop, to which we could, perhaps, all of us, trace our character. What would we do without ducks, lakes, and arachnids?

And I like hearing about her after she's won. All these people who are supposed to win.... Why not wait? Otherwise, the only interesting thing they can do is lose.

"In 1958, Michael Young, a British sociologist, introduced the word 'meritocracy,' warning that the widespread use of I.Q. tests as a sorting device would result in..."

".... a new and deeply resented kind of hereditary class system. But that’s not how people came to understand the term. To many, it denoted an almost sacred principle: that tickets to success, formerly handed out by inheritance or luck, were now given to the deserving... In the summer of 1948, Henry Chauncey, an assistant dean [at Harvard] who became the first president of the Educational Testing Service, was stunned to read an article co-written by one of the most prominent Black academics in the country, the anthropologist Allison Davis, who argued that intelligence tests were a fraud—a way of wrapping the privileged children of the middle and upper classes in a mantle of scientifically demonstrated superiority. The tests, he and his co-author, Robert J. Havighurst, pointed out, measured only 'a very narrow range of mental activities,' and carried 'a strong cultural handicap for pupils of lower socioeconomic groups.' Chauncey, who was convinced that standardized tests represented a wondrous scientific advance, wrote in his diary about Davis and Havighurst, 'They take the extreme and, I believe, radical point of view that any test items showing different difficulties for different socioeconomic groups are inappropriate.' And: 'If ability has any relation to success in life parents in upper socioeconomic groups should have more ability than those in lower socioeconomic groups.'

From "Can Affirmative Action Survive?/The policy has made diversity possible. Now, after decades of debate, the Supreme Court is poised to decide its fate" by Nicholas Lemann (The New Yorker).

I put that last sentence in boldface because it's so provocative. Take a few seconds to understand exactly what he is saying. It's an idea you do not see expressed too often, because it's experienced as offensive and depressing. The words "any relation" and "more ability" make it a fairly modest assertion, but even in that weakened form, you don't hear it said these days.

Smiling at black people.

"Just before the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian ever, began to discuss wrestling with depression and suicidal thoughts."

"Since then, the N.B.A. players DeMar DeRozan and Kevin Love and the figure skater Gracie Gold, among other athletes, have gone public to say they grapple with anxiety and depression. Though sports psychologists say a stigma persists about athletes and mental health, and Biles was surely disappointed not to have lived up to enormous Olympic expectations, she was also widely embraced as the latest active, elite athlete who had the courage to acknowledge her vulnerability.... It was not unlike the tennis star Naomi Osaka’s withdrawal from this year’s French Open rather than face what she considered invasive and dispiriting questioning from the news media...."

From "Simone Biles Masters a Star’s New Move: Showing Vulnerability By withdrawing from two Olympic events, Biles joined a growing group of elite athletes who have rejected a long tradition of stoicism" (NYT). 

A new narrative forms around Biles. Will she become a mental health celebrity like Prince Harry and Monica Lewinsky? What grandiose media plans are whirling in Oprah Winfrey's head right now?

The NYT article links to this from May 24th: "Simone Biles Dials Up the Difficulty, ‘Because I Can’/The Olympic gold medalist’s new vault is so dangerous that gymnastics, for now, limits the scoring rewards for trying it. Biles says that’s unfair" (NYT). 

That piece muses that the authorities set a low score on the risky vault because "Biles is so good that she might run away with any competition she enters simply by doing a handful of moves that her rivals cannot, or dare not, attempt." Now, we've seen, Biles herself dares not attempt it.

This was the occasion for the article that came out in May:

July 27, 2021

Overcast sunrise, at 5:47.

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No sun to see, but there was a little moon:

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"While workers of all ages have become accustomed to dialing in and skipping the wearying commute, younger ones have grown especially attached to the new way of doing business."

"And in many cases, the decision to return pits older managers who view working in the office as the natural order of things against younger employees who’ve come to see operating remotely as completely normal in the 16 months since the pandemic hit. Some new hires have never gone into their employers’ workplace at all.... In a recent survey by the Conference Board, 55 percent of millennials, defined as people born between 1981 and 1996, questioned the wisdom of returning to the office. Among members of Generation X, born between 1965 and 1980, 45 percent had doubts about going back, while only 36 percent of baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, felt that way.... At the same time, more than a few older workers welcome the flexibility of working from home after years in a cubicle, even as some in their 20s yearn for the camaraderie of the office or the dynamism of an urban setting...."

From "Return to Office Hits a Snag: Young Resisters/ A generation gap has emerged between them and colleagues who value the workplace over the advantages of remote work. Bridging it may require flexibility" (NYT). 

 I like this comment over there:

How many oceans are there — 1, 4, or 5?

Apparently, the worst answer is 4.

"Simone Biles has withdrawn from the team final competition due to a medical issue."

ADDED: I'm reading "What Happened in Simone Biles’s Vault" (NYT):
Simone Biles balked midway through her vault in the women’s team final on Tuesday, then suddenly exited the competition.... Biles’s absence created a bigger opening for the Russians, who ultimately won the gold.

From the comments there: 

Now the reports are that Ms. Biles withdrew for mental health issues. It is sounding like the pressure affected her performance which is understandable. Heard a "Hidden Brain" feature on choking... and this description of her vault fits into what was being discussed. She began to think about her performance rather than simply do it. Hesitation and balking seem to be symptoms of using her working memory during the vault, i.e. thinking about what she was doing rather than simply letting her body do what she has done many times before.

And, a less sympathetic view: 

If Biles withdrew because of an injury, she was right to do so. If she withdrew because she didn't want to get less than first place, this is unsporting and discredits her good-sportsmanship, even if not her skill.

UPDATE: "Biles... said she pulled out of the event because she wasn’t in the right place mentally to perform the difficult and often dangerous skills she is known for, after feeling so much pressure to be successful. She had been struggling with the stress of being the greatest gymnast in history, she said, and outside expectations were just too hard to combat" (NYT).

The stress of being the greatest? Part of being the greatest is handling the stress. 

AND: The London Times quotes Biles: "I had no idea where I was in the air. I could have hurt myself and it’s very uncharacteristic. So why push it? I just felt it would be a little bit better to take a back seat and work on my mindfulness. I didn’t want to risk the team a medal for my screw-ups because they have worked too hard for that.... I think it shows power in the athlete — protecting my mental and wellbeing that I didn’t want to go out there and do something dumb and get hurt and be negligent.... If you would have said four or five years ago, that definitely wouldn’t have been that Simone — I would have gone out there and did whatever. But today it was like, you know what, I don’t want to do something stupid, get hurt. It’s not worth it, especially when you have three amazing athletes that can step up to the plate and do it. Not worth it.... There comes a time when I have to do it for myself. Coming in today was like fighting those demons. I have to do what’s right for me and not jeopardise my health and wellbeing.”

"I always thought of my career that you could reflect on it through the decades by who comes up to you and says what. If it’s a 40-year-old woman, she’s gonna talk about Father of the Bride."

"If it’s a 40-year-old guy, he’s gonna talk about Three Amigos. If it’s a 55-year-old guy, he might talk about Ed Grimley. But definitely, if it was a 29-year-old stoner, he would mention Clifford. Because he’d seen it 18 times in a row high in his dorm room. I use the word 'stoner,' and it probably is not fair. I don’t think that you had to be stoned in your dorm to like Clifford, but I do think it’s like what Conan O’Brien once said about       — that it was on from 12:30 until 2, and he and his brothers thought they were the only people in the world that had discovered it and that it was for them. And I think when a film is obscure enough, you feel it’s now yours. Your parents don’t know this film, but you do. So it’s your film. And then you get into the pace of it and the oddness of it. Especially if you’re high. And it becomes more like it’s talking to you."

Said Martin Short, in a truly amazing, very long dialogue in New York Magazine, "'Look at Me Like a Human Boy! An oral history of Clifford, the 1994 cult comedy about a deranged little boy played by Martin Short." 

Maybe you can't read it, because maybe you need a subscription to New York Magazine, and you don't have one, but I have one, and I'm telling you this one piece is worth the price of an annual subscription. 

Here's one scene from the movie, with Short and Charles Grodin:

"For too long, we’ve been pretending that Jan. 6 didn’t happen. Kevin McCarthy is technically my Republican leader. And to call members of Congress by childish names like Donald Trump used to do, I guess is just kind of par for the course."

Said Congressman Adam Kinzinger, quoted in "Shunned by G.O.P., Cheney and Kinzinger Seek Answers on Jan. 6 Riot/They have been isolated and ostracized by their party for accepting Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s offer to sit on the special committee investigating the Capitol assault" (NYT).

McCarthy called Kinzinger and Liz Cheney "Pelosi Republicans."

They've accepted a role on the committee. Now, Kinzinger and Cheney need to step up and distinguish themselves. It's fine that McCarthy has laid down his insult. It's a default interpretation that represents what many of us believe, that the committee will not seek the truth but do the political work of the Democrats. I'm sure Kinzinger and Cheney would love us to trust them and to regard them as truth-bringers. But I want a fire lit under them. They'll need to rebut the presumption that they're "Pelosi Republicans."

July 26, 2021

Sunrise — 5:45, 5:47, 5:47.

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The best movies of 1968.

I don't blog about it every day, but my son John has a blog — that he adds to every day — that goes year by year from 1920 to 2020 and gives his favorite movie (or movies) from each year. For some years, he isolates a single movie, but for other years, he lists a runner-up or 2 or 3.  He hit 1968 today, and this is a year with 4 movies. 

The top choice is "Monterey Pop":

 

Truly amazing. And you can watch it at home on 4K now (with the right streaming channels, about which John will always inform you). 

The second choice is something I watched recently, Franco Zeffirelli's "Romeo and Juliet." I watched it as part of a project — my imaginary movie project — that I began in 2019 and stalled on in 2019. I was rewatching movies that I'd seen when they came out, beginning with 1960 and only getting up to 1968. My 1968 movie was "Romeo and Juliet," and I wrote about it here. I've watched the movies for the next 5 years, but somehow I never got around to blogging about them. How, when I blog every day, do a watch a whole movie, specifically meaning to write a post about it, but then I don't?! Maybe I expect myself to say so much that I end up saying nothing at all.

Anyway... John's third choice is the Ingmar Bergman movie "Shame," which I saw when I was in college, when I had so many Ingmar Bergman movies loaded into my brain.

John's fourth choice is something I haven't seen — Frederick Wiseman's documentary "High School." I'm so impressed by the approach of using nothing but film, with no voiceover or text explanations:

"Costa Rica’s lone gymnast Luciana Alvarado finished her Tokyo Olympics floor routine Sunday by taking a knee and raising a fist in apparent support of the Black Lives Matter movement...."

"It's unlikely Alvarado’s gesture, which was incorporated into her artistic routine, would garner any punishment from the International Olympic Committee. The IOC relaxed some aspects of Rule 50, which prohibits political gestures from athletes in the Olympics. The IOC said athletes can protest but not during a competition or on the medal stand." 

Fox News reports.

It's an "artistic routine," so one must be free to do gestures that have meaning. Maybe change the sport to get rid of the non-sporty dance moves. I think protest dancing is a bad choice for the nonsensical wiggling and emoting that's part of women's but not men's gymnastics, but they shouldn't allow some expressions and punish others. If "I am a cutesy sprite who can get a little sexy" is an acceptable expression then "I object to police brutality" must also be accepted. 

"The usual racist racial drivel WAPO thrives on" — that's the top-rated comment at WaPo...

... for the article "Many Black women felt relieved to work from home, free from microaggressions. Now they’re told to come back." The article is written by Natachi Onwuamaegbu, a "reporting intern" who has a BA from Stanford in Political Science, English and African and African American Studies.

A comment on the comment says, "WaPo Pulitzer Prize winning level reporting you term 'racist racial drivel'. How many Pulitzer Prizes has Breitbart garnered?" 

I'm mainly quoting that because I keep track of the word "garnered." This is an interesting case of the use of "garnered." Most often it's used as a fancy substitute for "got." But here it's used to avoid "won." If WaPo gets a Pulitzer Prize, the prize is won. But if Breitbart ever got one, it would only be garnered.

I wonder why I keep getting a busy signal from the Wisconsin Department of Revenue.

I'll bet I'm not the only person who got a letter on Saturday from the Wisconsin Department of Revenue that said:

Wisconsin Tomorrow Small Business Grant — Application Denied

Important: If you did not recently file a Wisconsin Tomorrow Small Business Recovery Grant Application with the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, call us immediately at (608) 266-2772....

I hate the feeling of rejection, but it's annoying to get rejected when you didn't even apply... and then be agitated by the announcement that it's important to call the Department of Revenue "immediately," then to learn that you can't call on Saturday, to wait until Monday, and then to have the line endlessly busy.

But beyond this annoyance is my suspicion that the Department of Revenue considered every taxpayer with "small business" income as if they'd applied. If that's what they did, I don't like being treated as if I'd applied. And I really don't like having to worry that someone could be using my name to apply for a grant.

Here's a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel from last May: "State to give 84,000 Wisconsin businesses $5,000 grants by end of June."

Gov. Tony Evers authorized $420 million, through funding received by the American Rescue Plan Act, to be distributed to businesses that apply by 4:30 p.m. on June 7.

Maybe they didn't get enough applications, and they needed to imagine them. If so, I'd like to know who got the money without applying. Not that I think my little business here deserves a $5,000 "rescue" grant. I just want to think that the Department of Revenue is a fair and orderly place, and I don't like being agitated by a weird letter and told to "immediately" call a number that is always busy. I can handle it well enough, but I doubt that I'm the only one who got this rejection letter.

UPDATE, Tuesday 1:50 p.m. — I finally got through and, after waiting on hold, was told the letter means that someone filed a fraudulent application using my name and that this has happened to thousands of people in Wisconsin. The application was denied, so there's nothing to do other than to know what I already know, which is that my information is out there to be used. 

"If it's true they are saying anti-government right-wing groups or domestic extremist groups are THE greatest threat to national security, which is what Biden and the intelligence community are saying..."

"... greater than ISIS or al Qaeda or China or Russia, why do they need to manufacture a plot — and put in people's heads — the idea let's go kidnap Governor Whitmer? There should be tons of plots that they are detecting? That leads to the question people on your network and others have asked to the horror of the liberal sector of the corporate media, which is: What did the FBI know about the planning of the January 6 attack? How embedded were they in these groups? Because what happens is when these kinds of attacks happen, the FBI and the security state seize on them to say See? there are grave dangers, we need more money, more power, more surveillance authorities in order to keep you safe. And so if they are the ones driving it, it leads to the question of what those motives are."

Says Glenn Greenwald talking to Fox New's Jesse Watters. Video at Real Clear Politics, with a transcript that I've touched up based on the video.

"I want to go back to being the little girl I am. I don’t want to have responsibility. I want to go on being the lively little girl I am for all of Brazil."

Said the 13-year-old Rayssa Leal (in Portuguese), quoted in "They’re Olympic gold and silver medalists. And they’re 13 years old." (WaPo). She won the silver medal in first Olympic women’s street skateboarding event. The winner of the gold was Momiji Nishiya of Japan. 

We were just talking about the American skateboarder, Alexis Sablone, in this post, 2 days ago. Sablone is quite a bit more than twice their age. She's 34. She came in fourth. 

At 34, Sablone is everything Nishiya and Leal are not. She has a graduate degree in architecture from MIT, is an artist, a graphic designer and has created her own shoe for Converse.... She joked about recently seeing Leal’s mother at a skating contest and thinking, “I’m older than you.”...

"Austria’s Anna Kiesenhofer came to the Tokyo Olympics without a pro team and, in a huge upset marked by uncertainty and confusion at the finish line, pedaled off with a gold medal..."

"... claiming her country’s first cycling medal in 125 years and its first gold in the Summer Olympics since 2004. After she crossed the finish line, she lay on the pavement, gasping for breath. The end of the 85-mile road race on a brutally hot day took other cyclists’ breath away, too, but in a different way. Kiesenhofer, a 30-year-old mathematician, had been riding with Poland’s Anna Plichta and Israel’s Omer Shapiro as they took a big lead over more than 10 minutes. At Kagosaka Pass, Kiesenhofer decided to take off, and the rest of the peloton forgot about her. Over the final miles, Annemiek van Vleuten of the Netherlands broke away from the remaining cyclists and crossed the finish line alone, throwing her arms into the air in the belief that she had won her country’s third straight gold medal in the event. She wasn’t alone. Britain’s Lizzie Deignan told the BBC: 'The best person won the bike race here today. Annemiek was clearly the strongest.'Except she had finished in second place, 1 minute 15 seconds behind Kiesenhofer."

WaPo reports. 

The video is very cool: 

AND: From Velonews, "Anna Kiesenhofer: The mathematician who carved an unconventional path to Tokyo Olympic success":

"While male gymnasts either wear loosefitting shorts or full-length pants... women and girls at many levels of gymnastics have for decades tended to wear leotards cut high up their thighs."

"Unitards, however, are allowed, as are leggings of the same color as a given leotard. In addition to helping some competitors feel more comfortable, such outfits can be favored by athletes for reasons of cultural and religious modesty. 'We women all want to feel good in our skin,' [a German gymnast said]. 'In the sport of gymnastics it gets harder and harder as you grow out of your child’s body. As a little girl I didn’t see the tight gym outfits as such a big deal. But when puberty began, when my period came, I began feeling increasingly uncomfortable.'... 'So now where we’re seeing athletes speaking out about uniforms, you know, it really could be symbolic of the need for athletes to have more voice in general in the sport context,” [said Elizabeth Daniels, a University of Colorado psychology professor who has written about the sexualization of female athletes], 'which could alleviate some of these really tragic abuse cases that have come to national and international attention more recently.'"

From "Wearing unitards, German gymnasts promote comfort, take stand against sexualization" (WaPo).

I'd rather see the female gymnasts in full length leotards because it would highlight the overall positions of the body — all the body parts in their changing relationship with each other — which is what we're supposedly judging in this sport. 

And the leotards really do seem ridiculously outdated with their spangles and other showgirl touches. It doesn't say: sport. It says: Little girls' beauty pageant. 

And these are little girls. I know Simone Biles is now 24 and reportedly even better than ever, and that's fantastic. But for the most part, we are looking at young girls. That makes it especially important not to wear costumes that only narrowly cover the crotch and that leave an expanse of buttock bare.

July 25, 2021

5:48 a.m.

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5:46 a.m., 5:47 a.m.

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Cue the jokes about feminist comedy.

I'm reading this in the Wisconsin State Journal:

A local feminist organization plans to protest comedian Louis C.K.’s performances at Comedy on State next week, while seven female comics are offering counter-programming at Bos Meadery on Madison’s Near East Side.

C.K. faced public shaming in 2017, at the height of the #MeToo movement, after he admitted to masturbating in front of five female comedians after years of denying rumors about that behavior.

“Join us in the streets outside the venue July 25-27th during Louis C.K.’s performances to let Comedy on State know he’s not welcome here!” the Socialist Feminist Working Group of the Madison Area Democratic Socialists of America said in a social media post.

That is, you have 2 choices, not including actually getting in to see Louis, whose shows all sold out quickly. You can join the socialism feminists in the street outside the the comedy club, downtown. Or you can head out to the "meadery" on East Washington for the alternative comedy show, which I see is called "Babe-apalooza" (not to be confused with babesiosis). 

Is it good feminism these days to use the word "babe"? 

"Masturbating in front of five female comedians"... There were five of them? At the same time? Or is that just how the newspaper prose makes it sound? If he was really masturbating in front of five female comedians, you'd think they'd have destroyed him with their comedy powers right then and there.

"I’ve never been a prepper, not even of workweek meals portioned into Tupperware or for the written part of my driver’s exam."

"I didn’t inherit my dad’s apocalyptic preoccupation. I always figured that if the big one hit the Cascadia subduction zone, I’d rather go down quickly than draw out the inevitable while eating dehydrated food and becoming dehydrated myself. But the realities of climate change are slapping me in the face... They’ve forced me to reevaluate my indifference toward prepping. But I do not know where to start.... I’m reminded of the clip-on crampons I bought after a winter storm four years ago, when I’d slipped and injured my wrist. They are still in their packaging, a waste of the money I don’t have much of, and a waste of steel and plastic that will end up in a landfill.... Despite my father’s insistence and my mother’s example, I still haven’t packed a bug-out bag. Perhaps I can’t bring myself to truly prepare for the worst-case scenario. It’s not lost on me that this has been the problem all along: We, collectively, have been unable to internalize these possibilities for the future, our future." 

From "My dad’s prepping for the end times. Climate change makes me think I should, too" by Karleigh Frisbie Brogan, who lives in Portland, Oregon (WaPo).

"People are notoriously bad at discerning how dangerous a situation really is. 'I’m going to die of heat stroke' will always trump 'I’m going to get babesiosis'..."

"... because feeling hot is more immediate than the possibility of getting sick a few weeks from now. Now, if you felt ticks crawling up you, you might feel a more immediate need to keep those critters off your skin. But ticks are notoriously sneaky with their small bodies, stealth method of walking on their toes, and ability to inject pain killers and antihistamines."

From "Tick Bite Prevention – Dressing the Part" (Cornell). This video quickly explains how to dress for your forays into tick territory (and will also earn a "men in shorts" tag):

As for babesiosis, it's not like the new word I learned writing the previous post — "horsiculture" — which actually has to do with horses. There are no babes in "babesiosis." It's a tickborne disease: "Babesia microti is transmitted by the bite of infected Ixodes scapularis ticks—typically, by the nymph stage of the tick, which is about the size of a poppy seed." It can kill you.

"Bradley Pitts, a 43-year-old artist, says his climate-related emotions have offered him 'opportunities to engage in decisions in a different way.'"

"After attending Good Grief meetings, he and his wife have shifted personal choices toward adapting to and mitigating climate change. They purchased an old commercial farm in upstate New York, and committed to returning it to meadows and forestland."

From "How to Calm Your Climate Anxiety/Between wildfires, heat waves and hurricanes, we’re all feeling nervous about the future. But stewing or ignoring the problem won’t ease your burden" (NYT). 

Good Grief is an organization that offers "a 10-step process" for dealing with climate-related distress. There are "weekly meetings that culminate with a commitment to 'reinvest in meaningful efforts.'"

Interesting phrase — "old commercial farm." What would a noncommercial farm be? Googling my question, I found a scholarly paper: "Beyond ‘Hobby Farming’: towards a typology of non-commercial farming" (Springer): 

"Propriety long ago came to seem like morality’s prairie dress, standing prim in a riotous digital landscape..."

"... where no one knows who is Zooming pants-less and intimate selfies are the equivalent of a Tumblr hello. Seen in that light, underwear on Fifth Avenue was probably always a logical endpoint in a progressive blurring of distinctions between public and private. Or so I imagined until an afternoon last week when, glancing up from my Harvest Bowl at Sweetgreen, I spotted through the window a young woman casually crossing Astor Place wearing a pair of cutoffs, some sandals and — it is fully legal to do this — naked above the waist."

That's the end of this long, lavishly illustrated NYT "critic's notebook" piece by Guy Trebay, "Suddenly It’s Bare Season Bras in the parks, skivvies on Fifth Avenue: Is this the logical endpoint of increasingly blurred distinctions between public and private?"

When I first saw this article yesterday, I thought the NYT was gratuitously splashing its pages with pictures of scantily covered breasts. This morning, looking for a morsel of text to cut and display here, I thought it was all pretty funny —  "morality’s prairie dress," "Zooming pants-less," "underwear on Fifth Avenue." 

I was chuckling over the gratuitousness, not of the breasts, but of "my Harvest Bowl at Sweetgreen." If morality wears a prairie dress, surely, morality eats a harvest bowl. 

(Speaking of gratuitous, why capitalize Harvest Bowl? I could understand the capitalization if it was a frozen dinner in a box. Or a football game.)