August 7, 2021

At the Sunrise Café...


... is it really this bleak?

Joe Rogan calls vaccine passports "crazy."

"Jay-Z and Beyoncé were still in, as of Friday. David Axelrod and Larry David were out...."

"The party, the uninvited were told, had been scaled back because of growing concerns about the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus.... [Larry David] was uninvited. So were the majority of former Obama administration officials... The late-night talk show hosts David Letterman and Conan O’Brien were also cut from the guest list.... Celebrity couples Chrissy Teigen and John Legend, as well as Dwayne Wayde and Gabrielle Union, were photographed arriving on the island ahead of the party, alongside actor Don Cheadle and comedian Steven Colbert. Even a 'Real Housewives of Atlanta' star, Kim Fields, was photographed flying into the island. It was possible that some of the famous new arrivals decided to come to the Vineyard despite being cut from the party list.... Steven Spielberg was on the guest list.... along with Bruce Springsteen...  and George Clooney..... Tom Hanks.... was also still invited.... Oprah Winfrey and Ava DuVernay had pulled out of the party earlier...."

The NYT reports "What Is Going on With Obama’s 60th Birthday Bash? The former president scaled back the guest list for his party on Martha’s Vineyard. Who’s in and who’s out?"

Boldface provided to help you find the funniest part.

"Smell goes directly to your emotions, you are crying, you don’t know why... Smelling has a power that none of the other senses have..."

"... and I must tell you now, it is molecular, it goes to the essence of the essence.... When I smell him, in reality I am entering into a level of intimacy more intense than if we slept in bed together.... We have never had so many fragrances around us.... But at the same time, we have no idea of what life really smells like.... [Smell has been] absolutely denigrated through centuries because smell reminds us that we are just animals.... There came this sudden obsession with sterilizing and disinfecting... now everyone must smell absolutely neutral.... [T]here is nothing more complex than nature.... We should be complex, but we have a problem with accepting our complexity and contradiction in ourselves."

From "Fragrance Maker Dares to Sniff ‘What Life Really Smells Like’/Crafting scents that demand a brave nose, and leading smelling tours through a landscape in Catalonia painted by Dalí, an evangelist of odor urges people to catch a whiff of the 'sublime'" (NYT).

"Most filmgoers under the age of sixty are puzzled by the scene in Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles in which Black Bart attempts to persuade the craven townspeople of Rock Ridge..."

"... to stand up to the evil Hedley Lamarr by telling them, 'You’d do it for Randolph Scott.' To this they respond in unison, 'Randolph Scott!' then doff their hats reverently—an accurate indication of how closely identified Scott was with the Western genre. He always played the same character, a lanky, dryly amusing cowboy with a Virginia accent who spoke only when spoken to and shot only when shot at, and you could take it for granted that he’d do the right thing in any given situation. If he’d been younger and prettier, he would have been too good to be true, but Scott was no dresser’s dummy: he had a thin-lipped mouth and a hawk-like profile, and wasn’t afraid to act his age on screen. Nobody in Hollywood, not even John Wayne, looked more believable in a Stetson."

I'm reading "What Randolph Scott Knew/It was in a string of westerns late in his career that the actor came to embody an ethic that was the essence of the genre" — a Terry Teachout essay published in American Cowboy in 2005. 


I'm reading the old Teachout essay because — as I mentioned a couple days ago — Meade and I are watching that "string of westerns" — the "Ranown Westerns" at my favorite streaming service, The Criterion Channel. These are all directed by Budd Boetticher and written — or in the case of "Decision at Sundown," doctored — by Burt Kennedy.

These are low-budget films that are short — about 70 minutes — and — except for "Decision at Sundown" — shot almost entirely — or in the case of "Ride Lonesome," entirely — outdoors amongst the rock formations of Lone Pine, California. The plots are alike. As Teachout puts it:

"Angel argues that, unlike the drives of hunger or thirst, desire does not operate on a deprivation model for either gender."

"She does, however, support the idea that male desire is 'spontaneous' and female desire 'responsive' to explain why women are perceived as suffering from a lack of overt sexual interest. The intention to have sex doesn’t 'just happen' for women as often as it does for men; it may, however, be elicited. She quotes contemporary work by Rosemary Basson, the director of the Sexual Medicine Program at the University of British Columbia, that describes a kind of loop in which the sexual setting, 'the relationship, the power dynamics, the safety and trust…are all critical in enabling or impeding the virtuous circle of arousal and desire.' So men can persuade women into bed by supplying context first ('love,' perhaps) and then by arousing them. This also feels a little transactional. No matter where we start from, we are always back in the same place.... It is not clear to me, in the discussion of the 'circularity' of female desire, what 'linear' male desire might look like (apart from the obvious)." 

From "The Burden of ‘Yes’/Katherine Angel is part of a new generation of female writers who are revisiting ideas of female submission" by Anne Enright (NYRB).

Just imagine.

"As a police officer turned Roy Thorne around to cuff his hands behind his back, the 45-year-old father saw the same happening to his 15-year-old son."

"Feelings came quickly then to Thorne, who’s Black: rage that his son was being arrested. Humiliation that the teenager had to watch his dad get handcuffed while the whole neighborhood looked on. Confusion about how viewing a house with his real estate agent on a Sunday afternoon could lead to a half-dozen police officers pointing guns at them.... Thorne and his son were touring a home Sunday with real estate agent Eric Brown, who’s also Black, in Wyoming, Mich., when police suddenly surrounded the house with guns drawn. The officers were responding to a neighbor’s 911 call about a break in. They ordered the three out of the house, handcuffed them and put them in separate vehicles."

From "A Black Army vet toured a house with his real estate agent and teen. Police surrounded the home and handcuffed them" (WaPo).

"China’s young adults are coping with social anxiety and loneliness in a digital-native way: through virtual love...."

"AI chatbots are now a $420 million market in China.... 'Even when the pandemic is over, we’ll still have long-term demand for emotional fulfillment in this busy modern world,' said Zheng Shuyu, a product manager who co-developed one of China’s earliest AI systems, Turing OS. 'Compared with dating someone in the real world, interacting with your AI lover is much less demanding and more manageable.'... 'Boys never learn, but Qimat does'” said Milly Zhang [who is 20]... Qimat 'listens to me, calms my insecurity and encourages me to open up.... When he talks gibberish, I sometimes ignore him. And when we talk art or philosophy, the conversation can flow for hours.... I won’t judge if someone dates their Replika and a human being simultaneously, but for Qimat and me, it’s always been mutually ... exclusive.... For 20 years, I didn’t really know what I wanted....'"

From "China’s lonely hearts reboot online romance with artificial intelligence" (WaPo).

August 6, 2021

At the Sunrise Café...


 ... the sun rises on the first café since Easter. 

Easter began a new approach to comments for reasons discussed in this post and in the comments there.

Today, I began what I called "A new era of comments on this blog." Everything is still moderated and I'm maintaining the stricter standards, but you can write the comments in the comments box. With that change, I'm able to do an open thread at the end of the day again — a "café" post.

I'm continuing the tradition of putting up a photograph of the sunrise, part of my ritual of running to witness the arrival of the new day.

Today, is also the arrival of a new season, as I mark the seasons. I put the solstice/equinox in the center of the season and count out 6.5 weeks in either direction. Today, we begin the approach to the fall equinox. I love the seasons of more equal balance between light and darkness, and that's what's starting today. 

Enjoy the café. You can talk about anything, but to make it through moderation, it will need to be something I think readers will enjoy.

"Climb aboard the Almost Heaven, which is somewhere between a trawler and a yacht, big and boxy."

"Step inside the cabin and marvel at the creature comforts: a semicircular, plush-leather couch with a matching ottoman, glass cabinets trimmed with dark wood, a marble dining-room table with thick white candles... Below deck, the master bedroom is cozy but well-appointed.... There's a guest room.... Up on the party deck, amid the wrought-iron chairs and tables with umbrellas, you might see Trump-allied Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), just months removed from objecting to President Biden’s election, talking college football with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. 'Pete’s from Notre Dame,' said Tuberville.... On one evening cruise, some years back, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) was so moved by the picturesque Washington skyline that she began singing 'God Bless America.'....  Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), an Almost Heaven regular, has regaled fellow passengers with 'American Pie.'... 'All I’m saying is I don’t think our Founding Fathers anticipated the survival of this democratic experiment to rest in the hands of a man who lives in a house boat,' Jenna Valle-Riestra, a press secretary for the Senate Judiciary Committee wrote in a now-deleted tweet...  [The boat is] a place where deals can be floated and bills can get watered down. Where trust can live, if fleetingly, among people whose constituents don’t trust each other at all.... For some that sounds like Almost Heaven. For other’s that’s just a nice way to describe living in limbo."

 From "Washington’s hottest club is Joe Manchin’s houseboat" (WaPo).

The name of the boat is the first 2 words of John Denver's beloved song about Joe Manchin's state. 

Does Manchin actually live on the boat? Yes, it is his residence when he is in Washington, The Washingtonian reported back in February: "Manchin lives on a boat because he doesn’t like living here." Republicans attacked him for owning an expensive boat, but it was cheap compared to the price of land-based housing in Washington.  

And John Denver didn't write that song, and the song wasn't really written about West Virginia! It's about Gaithersburg, Maryland or maybe Massachusetts:

"You know who doesn’t need a plus-one? The married, engaged, or cohabitating. They live together. They see each other constantly."

"There could be no greater gift than allowing the coupled up a chance to flirt with strangers, watch bad hotel TV and order weird room service, and wake up blissfully alone in a king-size hotel bed. Oh God, and the person who’s left at home? They get the bigger gift (assuming there are no children, of course), which is that they are alone at home. They are standing in the kitchen topless eating a rotisserie chicken with their bare hands. For 48 hours, the person at home is feral.... And think of the joyous reunion!... They realize they’ve missed each other. Look at that. You’ve saved their marriage."

From "Here’s an Idea: Rewrite the Plus-one Rule at Weddings" by Leah Beckmann (NY Magazine). The current rule, in case you didn't know, is that the married, engaged, or cohabitating get a plus-one invitation, and that other people don't. Beckmann is trying to completely flip the rule.

A new era of comments on this blog.

Instead of taking emailed comments and cutting and pasting them into the comments section, I've set it up so you can write comments by clicking on "comments" at the bottom of any post (including old posts). That will cause the comment to be emailed to me and then I can publish the comment by clicking a button in my email instead of needing to cut and paste the comment into a comments box. 

This will be easier for me, and it will also display the comments under the commenter's name, rather than requiring me to write "X writes:" and then put quote marks around the comment — quote marks or the dreaded italics. I've resorted to italics when the comments have a lot of paragraphs, and I don't like how they look. They're harder to read. 

Anyway, I've greatly appreciated the willingness of some commenters to email comments, and I'm not changing my standard for publication, just trying to make things look better and work more fluidly. The wait time for publication will vary depending on where I am and what I'm doing. 

ADDED: What is my standard for publication, you may wonder. I tried to sum it up in the message that appears under "Leave your comments" and above the compose window: "things that I think readers will find rewarding" and "I encourage brevity and substance and discourage personal attacks and repetition." 

This is a standard I impose on myself, and I don't want my efforts undermined. I only post when I've found something new and different, so I don't want comments that repeat whatever it is you'd like to say about the general topic. The post is a prompt, and you can go in many different creative directions, but make it new. Think of the reader. I go for brevity and humor and surprise. Make it fun to read.

"Throughout the history of the Jewish people, Jews have held an ideal standard for Jewish family life that is manifested in the term shalom bayit."

"Shalom bayit signifies completeness, wholeness, and fulfillment. Hence, the traditional Jewish marriage is characterized by peace, nurturing, respect, and chesed (roughly meaning kindness, more accurately loving-kindness), through which a married couple becomes complete. It is believed that God's presence dwells in a pure and loving home."

That's from the Wikipedia article "Shalom bayit," which I'm reading this morning after receiving an emailed comment from impresaria:

Removing the rock exemplifies the Jewish value of "shalom babayit," peace in the house. You give in in something even though you are in the right, to avoid unpleasantness with those you care about. 

Here's my post from last night about the removal of a 70-ton rock from the scenic high point of the University of Wisconsin campus. Some students insisted on the removal of the rock — because at least once, long ago, a newspaper referred to it as a "[n-word]head" — and the university acceded.

Is a university like a marriage?

August 5, 2021

The sunrise at 6:01.


"UW-Madison will remove a 70-ton boulder from the heart of campus Friday morning following calls over the past year from students of color who view the rock as a symbol of the university's racist past."

UPDATE: I just went over to see the set up for removing the rock. This is my photograph, taken at 6:01 p.m.



"Chamberlin Rock, located on top of Observatory Hill, is named in honor of Thomas Crowder Chamberlin, a geologist and former university president. But for some students of color on campus, the rock represents a painful history of discrimination. The boulder was referred to as a 'n-----head' — a commonly used expression in the 1920s to describe any large dark rock — at least once in a 1925 Wisconsin State Journal headline. University historians have not found any other time that the term was used but said the Ku Klux Klan was active on campus at that time. UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca approved the removal of Chamberlin Rock in January but the Wisconsin Historical Society needed to sign off on the rock’s removal because it was located within 15 feet of a Native American burial site. The university announced Thursday that the rock will be removed at 6:30 a.m. Friday."

The Wisconsin State Journal reports.

"This guy might be the perfect pick because he’s already got everyone responding ‘Who is Mike Richards?'"

A tweet quoted in "Who is Mike Richards? Meet Alex Trebek’s reported ‘Jeopardy!’ host successor" (NY Post). 

Richards has been the executive producer of the show for the last year, and he has lots of experience with game shows and, specifically, with Trebek. When he subbed as host, he displayed a "command of the fast-paced game and easy on-air manner." The choice seems to be to have someone who blends into the show. 

Some people wanted Ken Jennings and some wanted LeVar Burton. There are, unfortunately, some people crying racism over the failure to pick Burton. The NY Post quotes this tweet: "YALL COULD HAVE A WHOLE ICONIC LEVAR BURTON BUT YOU PICKING CHAD MCWHITERSON FOR… WHAT???"

I think a problem with Jennings is that he's indulged in some partisan politics on Twitter and displayed contempt for people. I can see how that goes with his persona as a smart guy but it can't be good for a big TV quiz show where I think the idea is to radiate generic love for everyone who watches.

"[My husband and I] were fully vaccinated, eager to get out into the world and bent on seeing a bucket list place that, given rising sea levels, may not be around for much longer."

"(More than 80 percent of the islands that make up the Maldives are less than one meter above sea level; it has the lowest terrain of any country in the world.)... The day after we arrived... the wind kicked up and rain blew in, ushering in the sort of storm that eschews rules. 'The classical, typical monsoon is no longer the case.... The rainy season is rather unpredictable because of global environmental changes.' A bummer, but [the new resort] prepared for this: sumptuous interiors, redolent in rose gold and emerald green, a bed that begot naps, a spa that offered a timely 'inner strength and resilience' massage, which felt like being rolled out like a sheet of cookie dough. There was no shortage of gustatory delights: sushi and pasta conceived by Michelin star chefs, biryani as good as its brethren on the subcontinent, a Turkish breakfast buffet with an olive bar that rivaled Whole Foods.... Then there were the classes. Yoga and HIIT, yes, but also: gin tasting, wine tasting, sake tasting.... [O]n our final night, sipping gin and tonics while Bruno Mars played from the speakers... we got to engage in the kind of conviviality that travel offers, and that the pandemic prevented. We shared Netflix recommendations with a bartender from Costa Rica, discussed Dogecoin with a server from the Philippines. 'Pfizer or Moderna?' 'AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson?'"

I'm reading and laughing/crying over "The Maldives Knows Y.O.L.O./The island nation is positioning itself as the place to go to rediscover the beauty of travel. But it needs to convince would-be visitors that it’s more than 'just a beach'" (NYT).

How can any American who flies to the Maldives say anything claiming to care about global warming?  

"After White House legal advisers found he could not extend a national eviction moratorium, President Biden told Chief of Staff Ron Klain to seek the advice of Harvard law professor emeritus Laurence Tribe..."

"Tribe suggested to Klain and White House Counsel Dana Remus that the administration could impose a new and different moratorium, rather than try to extend the existing ban in potential defiance of a warning from Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, the person said.... Biden, who served as the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has known Tribe since the 1980s and frequently seeks his legal advice.... On Monday, Sperling told reporters there was no possible legal avenue for either extending the existing moratorium or enacting a new, more targeted eviction ban.... The next day, the administration reversed itself and said it had found a legal basis for the move — even as Biden publicly expressed doubt about the legality of his administration’s actions. 'The bulk of the constitutional scholarship says that it’s not likely to pass constitutional muster,' Biden told reporters, citing conversations with legal experts. 'There are several key scholars who think that it may, and it’s worth the effort.' A White House spokeswoman did not provide the names of other scholars the administration depended on to justify the ban."

From "Biden told White House chief to seek Harvard legal scholar’s guidance, leading to reversal on evictions/Ron Klain consulted with Laurence Tribe about the legality of a new eviction moratorium, helping to bring about a dramatic White House pivot" (WaPo).

"Rudy Giuliani says driving Cuomo out of office would be 'unjust, dangerous and entirely un-American.' People, do you think this is because..."

".... A) Giuliani just wants to see Cuomo suffer through a long, painful impeachment. B) Giuliani made the remark at a party after several tumblers of scotch. C) Giuliani thinks it’ll help his son Andrew’s chances to be governor. Yeah, yeah, it’s A. Well, very possibly all three. But short of Rudy, Cuomo does seem to need all the help he can get. He’s been trying to defend himself by showing pictures where he’s kissing and hugging lots of people who seem perfectly happy with the attention. Of course, some are elderly fans who were standing in line waiting for it. Others, like, say, Al Gore, seem … not transported."

Writes NYT columnist Gail Collins, in "What Makes Cuomo So Grabby?" 

A disgusting headline by the way. Are we supposed to care about the internal workings of his mind? Ah, I guess they did that with Trump, diagnosing him with narcissism and whatever, though that never seemed like an honest exploration of human psychology. It was always political attack and therefore a perversion of the field of psychology. Is it any different with Cuomo?

Oh! Now I've read the column, and I don't think it answers or even asks that question in the headline! Looking for what could possibly justify the headline, I'm at a loss. "His private life seems to be a little — wanting" — that is, he's divorced and his girlfriend left town. Albany is "a somewhat isolated world." And there's a gender imbalance "in the power structure." It's almost like saying boys will be boys. What the hell? Who wrote that headline?

But, yeah, forget that. Let's all kick Giuliani. That's how you pad this column. But what I'd like to know is not why Cuomo would commit so many acts of sexual harassment for so long, but who knew and who protected him? Presumably, there are a lot of New York Democrats who've protected Cuomo over the years, probably people who made sanctimonious pro-woman statements in the heyday of the "Me Too" movement. Tell me about them. Instead you wheel out a convenient Republican.

And by the way, the phrase "so grabby" — in "What Makes Cuomo So Grabby?" — trivializes sexual harassment in the workplace. It makes it sound like Cuomo is just childishly uncontrolled in the hands. But sexual harassment is a mechanism of power, structuring the workplace for the benefit of men and relegating women to a separate track, where success and failure depend on things other than work. Start taking it seriously.

"While some have questioned the university’s use of the term 'blackface,' and whether such a definition is solely limited to using makeup on one’s face..."

"... the university used the term as it is often used by historians — comedic performances of ‘blackness’ by whites in exaggerated costumes and makeup. Regardless of how one views this particular definition, it does not change the nature of the underlying conduct."

So said the president of California Lutheran College, Chris Kimball, quoted in "They Were Accused of Wearing Blackface. Now They’re Suing Their College" (Chronicle).

You need to be careful when you're putting highly defamatory labels on your students. You should worry about lawsuits, and you should also worry about the welfare of the young human beings who are in your charge. It is sloppy and reckless to use a term that has a specific meaning where the specific meaning does not apply and to argue — when you are called on it — that there is also broader meaning. 

Kimball used the term "blackface" against students who had done nothing to darken their skin and had put on blonde curly wigs — what they're calling "Napoleon Dynamite" wigs. 

To say "blackface" against your students, when there was no blackening of the face is like calling them "whores" when there is no prostitution — because some people use the word "whores" just to refer to women who are sexually active. 

ADDED: The students did a performance of the "Fresh Prince" theme song. Are young white people getting the message that they should never sing songs associated with black people? Never do dances that originated with black dancers? Never dance to music performed by black musicians? Or is it just don't demonstrate your enjoyment enthusiastically? Be sure to maintain whiteness as you sing and dance? Who can understand these rules? But how nefarious of oldsters to impose these rules on the young! These mysterious rules. And isn't it awful to have confusing, mysterious rules that you can only be sure you'll avoid breaking by restricting and restraining your speech and behavior? It doesn't take a real disease to send us into lockdown.

"'Wow — that is what you call journalism.' To be fair, that’s why Bari Weiss can’t be at the NYT anymore."

Writes Glenn Reynolds, linking to my post "Listen to Bari Weiss's podcast about 'The Central Park Karen,' Amy Cooper." 

Glenn is quoting my commenter J, who'd said: 

I’m not that interested in delving into the minutia of a he-said/ she-said spat in the park. I forced myself to listen.

Wow — that is what you call journalism.

Everyone should listen. It’s a fair delve into the details that are missed by the “narrative” press. It is the sound of what real journalism should be in this country.”

It's important to notice that the underlying journalism in that podcast was conducted by Kmele Foster, who has a podcast called The Fifth Column. Weiss is excellent at drawing him out and conversing with him about what he's discovered. Both of them are most critical of the way the New York Times (and other media) jammed the story into a simple race template.

If only Bari Weiss could be put in charge of the New York Times. Then she could be there. Alternatively, why can't some billionaire bankroll a new operation with the vision: What the NYT would be if Bari Weiss were in charge.

"A crucial link between the classicism of John Ford and the postmodern revisionism of Samlp

"... represent one of the great director-star collaborations in Hollywood history. All written, with the exception of DECISION AT SUNDOWN and BUCHANAN RIDES ALONE, by expert screenwriter Burt Kennedy, the films made the most of their lean production values, achieving an expressively stripped-down stylistic purity that served to heighten their psychological tension. With Scott cast in each film as a taciturn loner pitted against a memorably complex adversary, the Ranown westerns display an extraordinary thematic and stylistic coherence that mark them as the work of a true, underappreciated auteur."

That's the description of "The Ranown Westerns" at the Criterion Channel, a streaming service I highly recommend if you want a big selection of high-quality movies from the entire history of film. (Ranown is  the name of the production company, a combination of the names Randolph and Brown.)

I'd clicked on the first one — "7 Men from Now" — out of mild curiosity, but we massively enjoyed it and, the next night, watched "The Tall T." It was hard to decide which was better, and I saw that both movies were rated 100% "fresh" at Rotten Tomatoes. On the third night, we watched "Decision at Sundown," and there was something off about the writing, and we ended up laughing at it a lot. Perhaps only "expert screenwriter Burt Kennedy" can pull the various elements together. But "7 Men from Now" and "The Tall T" also had a great bad guy to balance Scott — Lee Marvin and Richard Boone, respectively. In "Decision at Sundown," Scott himself was a nasty guy. That could have worked....

August 4, 2021

I know. It looks fake. But this is this morning's sunrise. At 6:17. With cattails.


Listen to Bari Weiss's podcast about "The Central Park Karen," Amy Cooper.

Here. Background at Substack: "The Real Story of 'The Central Park Karen'/New evidence comes to light. And Amy Cooper breaks her silence." 

Kmele Foster, friend of Common Sense and co-host of The Fifth Column podcast, has spent the past several months reporting this story. For the first time since that viral video, Amy Cooper — who now lives in hiding and is suing her former employer for race and gender discrimination — sat down for an extensive interview. Kmele also uncovered important context lost in the public narrative, including:

Cease and desist!

"[A]s a young teenager he was sent, like other children of the global elite, to summer school in Oxford. There he befriended two Spanish girls, went rowing on the Thames..."

"... and visited Stratford-on-Avon. Nonetheless, he found the British 'morally degenerate.' By the age of 16 he was fiercely religious. At 17 he married a 15-year-old cousin.... At the time of his death in 2011, his wives ranged in age from 28 to 62 and his children from 3 to 35. When it came to his family, bin Laden was a man of contradictions. On the one hand, he required his daughters from the age of 3 to be separated from males and insisted that females leave the room when men appeared, even on satellite television. Yet two of his older wives were highly educated, with doctorates in Koranic grammar and child psychology. They helped write his public statements and curate his public image; they engaged in discussions with him on strategy. Bin Laden permitted his second wife to divorce him in 1993, after 10 years of marriage, and his first wife to leave him in 2001. His fifth wife was an ill-educated 16-year-old Yemeni... [H]e told his other wives that she was 30 and highly educated... It appears to have been a happy marriage and the two were in bed together the night of the raid, with two other wives in the bedroom downstairs. Apparently bin Laden was fond of natural aphrodisiacs to help keep his three wives happy while they were all in hiding together. He also used Just for Men hair dye."

From "A Fuller Picture of Osama bin Laden’s Life" a review, in the NYT, of the biography "The Rise and Fall of Osama bin Laden." 

The use of "happy" — boldfaced above — is straight out of the patriarchy handbook: If a man has a woman in bed, she must be happy. If a woman is dosed with a sex drug, it is to make her happy.

As for "man of contradictions," also boldfaced, I suppose bin Laden contained multitudes.

Would it be possible to provide this feature for iPhone (or other music streaming devices)?

I can see that my iPhone allows me to "Reduce Loud Sounds" in the headphones. I can choose the decibel level that I want to be the ceiling. So if I've got the volume set where I want it for a soft part of the music and it's composed or engineered to get loud, my phone intervenes, and protects my ears. Nice. But I don't use that function. I haven't had a problem with soft/loud music. Look, my iPhone keeps track:

Seems like I'm "OK." 

But I want something more specific: the detection and elimination of applause. I was out walking this morning, listening to a playlist that I'd put together, so this was something I wanted to hear — the version of "Helpless" in the "Last Waltz" concert. You can watch the performance — The Band with Neil Young — at YouTube, here, and it begins where the music begins. But that's not how the album track works! The album track begins with 50 seconds of crowd cheering and applause. 

I have to take it off my playlist. I never want that in my ears again. I kept waiting for it to end. I hate applause in my ears even if it's just 5 seconds or whatever producers deem necessary to convey that this is a live concert. I never want to hear any applause on any music recording. It's the opposite of musical. It's cacophony. So I would love a feature on my iPhone that just skips over any applause.

Oh! Now, the Covid restrictiveness has gone too far! The perfidious killjoys have ruined Obama's birthday party!

I'm reading "Obama Significantly Scales Back 60th Birthday Party as Virus Cases Rebound/Hundreds of former Obama administration officials, celebrities and Democratic donors had been planning to attend the huge bash on Martha’s Vineyard on Saturday" (NYT).

The party plans had been months in the making and many invitees had already arrived on Martha’s Vineyard when former President Barack Obama belatedly announced he was canceling his huge 60th birthday bash scheduled for Saturday.

CANCELING! All the headlines say "scales back." That's because the official statement uses that phrase: "the President and Mrs. Obama have decided to significantly scale back the event to include only family and close friends."

Hundreds of former Obama administration officials, celebrities and Democratic donors had been planning to attend the party at Mr. Obama’s island mansion.

The donors! What a crushing disappointment!

"I am a white woman living in an overwhelmingly white, low-crime neighborhood. My homeowners’ association pays off-duty members of the local Police Department to patrol the neighborhood..."

"... even though there is broad agreement among Black community leaders that the department has a race problem. I have become increasingly uncomfortable paying for this patrol. I want everyone in my neighborhood, regardless of what they look like or whether they live here or are just passing through, to be safe. If I don’t want to give money (beyond my tax dollars) to this Police Department, can I decline to pay that portion of my homeowners’ dues?"

So writes a lady in Missouri to the NYT "Ethicist" columnist, Kwame Anthony Appiah.

I think we all know the answer to the question, and Appiah has many sentences, but 3 of them give the answer that must be given: 

You chose to buy a house in a neighborhood with a homeowners’ association, which is, in effect, a hyperlocal government. You have a voice in it — a voice that can be amplified by suasion — but so do your neighbors. You can’t simply withdraw from it or renegotiate its terms by yourself.

Another answer, prominent in the comments over there, is: MOVE! 

But what's the point in that? The woman doesn't like what's being done, but it's not being done to her. If she leaves, she'll have no voice at all, and it's even less likely that the change in behavior she wants will occur. 

And yet she does continue to enjoy the extra crime control her neighborhood has bought for itself. Does she need to move to give up that benefit — move somewhere more out of control, put her personal safety on the line? Or is it enough that she has put her distaste for her own privilege into words and gotten those words published in The New York Times?

"What is there to say about an art exhibition that is closed to the public? We can wrestle theoretically with whether art requires a physical viewer to be fully realized...

"... but there is nothing abstract about art going unseen that is still resolutely there: just as carefully preserved, hung with the same meticulous precision, thoughtfully interpreted by unread wall text, and in the dark, behind locked doors. And yet, 'Painting Edo,' the ambitious jewel of an exhibition currently on view for no one at the Harvard Art Museum, is perhaps arguably experiencing its most historically authentic moment in the strangeness of ours. Because to fully understand the significance of the Edo Period in Japan, which lasted from around 1600 to 1868, is to place yourself in a country that flourished even as it was closed off to the rest of the world. Japan was famously isolated during this period, save for some Dutch trade, and the most enduring legacy of this seclusion is a diverse and elegant body of art that evolved as a result of this fervid inward gaze."

From "Art in Isolation: The Delicate Paintings of Edo Japan Tamar Avishai 'Painting Edo,' the ambitious jewel of an exhibition currently on view for no one at the Harvard Art Museum, is perhaps arguably experiencing its most historically authentic moment in the strangeness of ours" by Tamar Avishai (NYRB).

You can see the unseeable exhibition through a series of videos, here. I'll embed one:


I've long observed the topic I call "Seen and Unseen." That link goes to all the posts I've tagged that way. I love the phrase "on view for no one." It seems more profound than "not on view." The idea that it is "on view" seems to survive, and this "no one" seems like a spiritual entity that does move through the galleries, gazing at the artwork.

The article ends: "These objects that keenly observe, create, and reflect their world comprise an exhibition about isolation that can’t help but gain new meaning in our current world." That is, our reaction to covid. "Perhaps we can take some solace by imagining what’s taking place inside those darkened galleries—scrolls stretching, fans in conversation, butterflies dancing between buds, flourishing even in our absence."

If that's all just too damned twee, here's a quick explanation of the history of Japan, and it's much more video-as-video than the video I embedded above.


If you watched that, I'm pretty sure you were entertained, but I hope you thought about whether it's a story "about isolation that can’t help but gain new meaning in our current world."

August 3, 2021

This morning — 5:46, 5:51, 5:52.




The moony eyes of propriety.

Just a screenshot I took from the front page of my local paper, The Wisconsin State Journal. Such dreary propriety. The horizontal gray bar is adding to the mind-crushing dullness of our world today, so I should reveal that it is part of a banner that contains text. If I'd included more of the page, you'd see a news alert: "Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, probe finds." 

The nearly five-month investigation, conducted by two outside lawyers who spoke to 179 people, found that the Cuomo administration was a "hostile work environment" and that it was "rife with fear and intimidation." "Specifically, the investigation found that Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed current and former New York State employees by engaging in unwelcome and nonconsensual touching and making numerous offensive comments of a suggestive sexual nature, that created a hostile work environment for women," [state Attorney General Letitia James] said at a press conference on Tuesday.

And now, here's the app for college athletes to cash in on their fleeting moment of personal marketability.

We were just talking about Fuck You Pay Me, the app for "influencers," touted in the New York Times. Now, here's Cameo, the app for college athletes, touted in The Washington Post — "College athletes are finally allowed to profit off their own images. So, of course, they’re turning to Cameo." 

At the beginning of July, the NCAA said college athletes could profit off their name, image and likeness.... [N]ot every college athlete will be able to snag a big-name deal. For them, Cameo has turned into a potentially profitable alternative.

The social media platform’s concept is simple: Users pay celebrities to create short, personalized videos. The buyer outlines a request, and the celebrity fulfills it however they see fit.... The athletes’ prices... range from $5 to $177 per video....

Sedona Prince... [t]he University of Oregon basketball forward already had a massive social media following... currently charges $63 per video, the requests came pouring in.... Someone else asked Prince, a tattoo aficionado, what ink to get. She frequently dances on her coffee table in her videos.

Words that don't appear in the WaPo article: "nudity," "sex," "pornography." I had to look up Cameo to see that it is "not the place to send or solicit pornographic, indecent, obscene, objectionable or sexually explicit content." Apparently, the requests for videos are going to be relatively wholesome. There are other apps for that sort of thing

"Social media influencers are probably one of the worst things to happen to our society"/"Getting paid to be an influencer. Now there's an important, socially relevant job."

Those are the top 2 highest rated comments on the NYT article "The App With the Unprintable Name That Wants to Give Power to Creators/Fed up with the imbalance between online influencers and brands, Lindsey Lee Lugrin and Isha Mehra created a platform to change that."

We see the very pretty Lugrin and Mehra posing with sun-dappled foliage and poised over laptops in a minimalist office space.

The "unprintable name" is easy to print. Here, I'll print it for you: "Fuck You Pay Me." Apparently, influencers are underpaid for the influencing they do for brands...

Brands have long had an upper hand with influencers. Most creators operate without a manager or an agent. There are no standard pay rates for creating a post for a brand or running digital advertising alongside their videos and posts. Brand deals are negotiated through a messy mix of direct messages and emails.

 ... and this website aims to intervene. The main idea seems to be to provide a place where "influencers" can describe their experiences with different brands, and that might help them make better deals. But aren't the influencers in competition with each other? Doesn't everyone want everyone else's deal? Where's the sharing? Isn't there always another newer, younger influencer who will undercut your price and look cuter doing it?

"Macaques at Japan reserve get first alpha female in 70-year history."

 The Guardian reports: 

Yakei’s path to the top began in April when she beat up her own mother to become the alpha female of the troop at the Takasakiyama natural zoological garden in Oita city. While that would have been the pinnacle for most female monkeys, Yakei decided to throw her 10kg weight around among the males. In late June, she challenged and roughed up Sanchu, the 31-year-old alpha male who had been leader of “troop B” at the reserve for five years....

"I've tried really hard not to tell people what to think... because, really, I trust people to consider the issue and form their own opinions... but some people take emotions as the starting point for how they feel about the situation..."

Transgender Olympian Laurel Hubbard gives an interview: 

August 2, 2021

Spring Green landscapes.



(Spring Green is the name of a place in Wisconsin.)

"Kathy Griffin has revealed she attempted suicide last year as she was struggling with addiction to prescription drugs, and also announced that she has stage one lung cancer..."

"... despite never smoking cigarettes, and will have to have part of her left lung removed. Griffin, who was placed in psychiatric hold after her suicide attempt, says she developed her addiction to cope with the backlash she endured after posing with a bloody effigy of then-President Donald Trump in 2017." 

The Daily Mail reports.

I'm sorry to hear all that and wish her well.

"Hubbard, who made history as the first transgender athlete to compete at the Olympics, was eliminated after failing to record a single lift in three attempts in Monday’s over-87-kilogram super-heavyweights."

The NY Post reports.

Yesterday's post about Hubbard included this passage from a NYT article:

"I don’t know if there is a good solution where everybody is happy," said Janae Marie Kroc, a world champion bodybuilder who stopped competing after she transitioned because she did not want to invite criticism of transgender athletes. 'My biggest fear is Laurel does really well, has her best performance and others falter, and then it’s used against trans athletes."

The outcome Kroc feared did not happen. So Hubbard seems to have helped the transgender movement in 3 ways: 1. She got accepted into the Olympics as a woman, 2. She weathered the exposure and criticism, and 3. She did badly, which cuts against the argument that transgender women have too much of an advantage.

"In the opening months of the pandemic, the lab leak hypothesis was actively discredited by the media and scientific establishment, with anyone associated with it smeared as 'racist.'"

"The question we have to ask now is how, and why, did this happen? To a great extent, I believe the answer lies with the world’s most powerful news outlet, the New York Times. At the start of the pandemic, the Times set the news and policy agenda on the lab leak hypothesis, discrediting it and anyone who explored it. The Times did so while taking money from Chinese state-owned propaganda outlets, such as China Daily, and while pursuing long-term investments in China that may have made the paper susceptible to the CCP’s strong-arm propaganda tactics in the first months of the pandemic."

From "Did the New York Times stifle lab leak debate?/Were commercial relationships with China a factor?" by Ashley Rindsberg (UnHerd).

"In 1983, a literary historian named Paul Fussell wrote a book called Class: A Guide Through the American Status System. Most of the book is a caustic and extravagantly snobby tour..."

"... through the class markers prevalent at the time. After ridiculing every other class, Fussell describes what he called 'X people.' These were people just like Fussell: highly educated, curious, ironic, wittily countercultural. X people tend to underdress for social occasions, Fussell wrote. They know the best wine stores and delis. They have risen above the muck of mainstream culture to a higher, hipper sensibility. The chapter about X people was insufferably self-regarding, but Fussell was onto something. Every once in a while, in times of transformation, a revolutionary class comes along and disrupts old structures, introduces new values, opens up economic and cultural chasms. In the 19th century, it was the bourgeoisie, the capitalist merchant class. In the latter part of the 20th century, as the information economy revved up and the industrial middle class hollowed out, it was X people. Seventeen years later, I wrote a book about that same class, Bobos in Paradise. The bobos didn’t necessarily come from money, and they were proud of that; they’d secured their places in selective universities and in the job market through drive and intelligence exhibited from an early age, they believed. X types defined themselves as rebels against the staid elite. They were—as the classic Apple commercial had it—'the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers.'"

From David Brooks new article in The Atlantic, "How the Bobos Broke America/The creative class was supposed to foster progressive values and economic growth. Instead we got resentment, alienation, and endless political dysfunction."

Fussell's book is great. I've read it twice. I've read Brooks's "Bobos" too. "Bobo" — I had to look it up — refers to bourgeois bohemians.

It really shouldn't be a surprise that the pursuit of progressive values led to resentment and alienation! The dysfunction was built in, wasn't it? "Bourgeois bohemians" are designed for destruction. You have to let go of one or the other — bourgeois or bohemian. If you cling to both, you'll make yourself unhappy. Pick one!

"Fruit baskets that have survived intact from the fourth century BC are being studied by archaeologists who unearthed them from a sunken city off the coast of Egypt."

"The wicker containers were found filled with grapeseeds and doum nuts, the fruit of an African palm tree sacred to ancient Egyptians, in the submerged ruins of Thonis-Heracleion.They had remained untouched since the city disappeared beneath the waves in the second century BC, when it was struck by a series of disasters including a powerful earthquake. The discovery has been hailed as 'incredible' by Franck Goddio, a French marine archaeologist who found the ancient site two decades ago.... 'Nothing was disturbed. It was very striking to see baskets of fruits.'"

The London Times reports.

"The moment I got my first vaccine shot, I started thinking of the coronavirus the way I think of scurvy—something from a long-ago time that can no longer hurt me, something that mainly pirates get."

"'Yes,' the papers would say. 'But what if there’s a powerful surge this summer? This Christmas? A year from now? What if our next pandemic is worse than this one? What if it kills all the fish and cattle and poultry and affects our skin’s reaction to sunlight? What if it forces everyone to live underground and subsist on earthworms?'"

That's David Sedaris, in "Happy-Go-Lucky/'Who are you?' I want to ask the gentle gnome in front of me. 'And what have you done with Lou Sedaris?'”

That's in The New Yorker, so it's some kind of read on the location of the liberal American mind in this stage of the disease. I'm sure the story was written and nailed down before the most recent summer spike and new CDC words of guidance, but I'm going to take Sedaris's ridicule as a statement of where we — we, the New Yorker readers — are now.

There's much more to the story, and I won't spoil it, but it's an important update in the longstanding comedy that is the Sedaris family. I was delighted to see at the bottom of the last page: "His new book, 'A Carnival of Snackery: Diaries (2003-2020),' will be published in October, 2021." That is the second volume of his diaries, and I am — I believe — the world's biggest fan of the first volume. I have listened to the audiobook over 1,000 times.

"Someone had a dirty sense of humor at AP."

A reader named Jake emails, linking to "It’s in and it’s big: Senate unveils $1T infrastructure bill."

Let's not twist again, like we did last Summer Games.

From "Simone Biles to compete in balance beam final, USA Gymnastics says" (The Guardian): 

Biles said that while previous mental blocks have primarily affected her on vault and floor routines, this time it was affecting her on all events and particularly on her twisting skills.On the balance beam, Biles normally attempts fewer twists than all other events and so she may feel most comfortable in that event. Her sole twisting skill is her high-difficulty full twisting double back dismount, which she could downgrade to a less difficult dismount if the skill remains a problem for her.

Cultural reference:

3 views of the August 2d sunrise — 5:59, 6:02, 6:03.




"I’m not someone who gets hired to play in a lot of cinema, but by being able to do a superhero movie, I can make a movie about something I really care about."

"I have a vision for the whole totality of 'Aquaman.' There are environmental issues that I get to put into it. So while you’re going, 'Oh yeah, it’s just this popcorn movie,' I’m like, 'Well, I get to open people’s eyes to things that are important to me.'"

Said Jason Momoa, quoted in "Jason Momoa Is Bummed About Hollywood’s Attitude Toward Action Movies" (NYT).

I have zero interest in superhero movies, but if the movie stars are inserting their political issues into them, I've got 2 more reasons not to be interested: 1. Political issues have been inserted, and 2. The stars are somehow empowered to put issues into the movies.

"I get to open people’s eyes to things that are important to me"... leave my eyes alone. If I want to figure out what to think about the environment, I'll seek out my own sources, and it surely won't be a superhero movie with issues inserted by the movie star.

But I acknowledge that popular films are powerful vehicles of propaganda, and they can push beliefs into pliable minds, especially the minds of the young. I would never say, "Oh yeah, it’s just this popcorn movie." It has phenomenal power, and we are all tremendously vulnerable. I say all, because we don't have to see these movies to be affected by the state of mind of our fellow citizens.

"Obama defies CDC guidance by inviting 500 people to his celebrity-studded 60th birthday party at his $12m mansion on Martha's Vineyard/Pearl Jam will perform and guests including Steven Spielberg will be served by 200 staff."

The Daily Mail reports. 

1. You can't "defy" "guidance." Guidance is guidance. You can follow it or make your own choice.

2. Thanks, Obama, for showing us how to handle guidance and to make our own choice.

3. And good for you for having so many wonderful friends. You are sublimely lovable, inspiring some of us, perhaps, to be a little more amicable, but if not and in any case, we can see why it is you and not we who have 500 ultra-glamorous friends and why it would be surly of us to begrudge you that celebration on the occasion of marking the 60 years that you have graced Planet Earth.

4. Pearl Jam. Why Pearl Jam? Is that your favorite group? Points for not thinking you had to demonstrate diversity and just picking the music you like best or the music that most powerfully draws the celebrities you want to your remote island home. 

5. I think it would be annoying to have Pearl Jam in my home. But then, I think it would be annoying to have 500 people in my home. Annoying and ludicrous. What am I saying? Obviously, the people are going to be somewhere out in the yard — on the grounds — perhaps with some sort of tent or...

6. Maybe they're building a free-standing ballroom for the occasion. I've seen grunge bands play at a place called a ballroom. There was moshing. I'm picturing Obama's 500 celebrity studs moshing. Moshing at Martha's.

7. To mask or to mosh? That is the question. Answer it for yourselves! That's the message from the most charismatic man in the world.

August 1, 2021

Sunrise at 5:51 and 6:08.



"This son of a bitch is sitting up there acting like, 'Well, I don't know if it was before. I don't know if it was after. Oh, lordy, Jesus, I don't remember. I got to look at my notes.' You know, bitch, what time you called the president, and you know what you said. You're a grown-ass man! Stop acting like you're 10 years old and you got caught masturbating by your mama. Stop it!"

Said Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele addressing Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, quoted in "Former RNC chairman to Jim Jordan on Jan. 6: 'You know, b****, what time you called the president'" (Washington Examiner). 

Steele wasn't speaking to Jordan's face, just doing a performance of his own thoughts for the benefit of a Lincoln Project audience. The subject was Jordan's vagueness about his conversations with Trump about the January 6th incident. 

Here's how soberly the Lincoln Project presents Steele's comic routine:

"Now it's the first of the month and rent — and back rent — is suddenly due for millions of Americans who have been shielded from eviction during the pandemic."

"Millions of households could face eviction over the next month — when lawmakers on are on their annual August recess — and some have predicted a full-blown eviction crisis, just as a surge in Covid cases from the highly contagious Delta variant may be prompting renewed calls for people to stay home and keep their distance. 'We only learned of this yesterday,' House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters Friday evening after the House tried and failed to pass legislation that would extend the federal eviction moratorium. 'There was not enough time to socialize it within our caucus as well as to build a consensus necessary,' she said, with a promise from her top lieutenant to revisit the issue ASAP. ... Pelosi was likely referring to the fact that the Biden administration only formally asked Congress to pass an extension on Thursday, two days before the program expired. Some White House officials made a late-stage push last week to reexamine the legal potential for President Joe Biden to extend the moratorium but were told by administration lawyers it wasn't possible, according to people familiar with the deliberations. You'd never know from the White House's late ask or Pelosi's lame excuse that the Supreme Court was very clear one month ago; either Congress could vote again to authorize the program or evictions could go forward."

From "The rent is now due, America" (CNN).

As the article goes on to explain, the Supreme Court allowed the moratorium to continue, but it was a 5-4 decision, and Justice Kavanaugh, the 5th vote, concurred to say that he was only accepting this exercise of executive power because it was set to end on July 31st and that Congress would need to act for it to continue. 

The idea that Congress was not on notice is utterly untenable. "We only learned of this yesterday" indeed!

"I am more than willing to go to jail if they want to put me in jail. And if they do, they’re going to suffer the consequences in heaven. I’m not, I didn’t do anything wrong."

Said Rudy Giuliani, quoted in "Rudy Giuliani Says He’s ‘More Than Willing To Go To Jail’ But Did Nothing Wrong in Amazing Interview with NBC New York" by Caleb Howe at Mediaite. 

Giuliani's interviewer, NBC's Melissa Russo, follows up, asking, "Why are you willing to go to jail if you feel that you’re innocent?" 

His answer "Because they lie and they cheat" doesn't really answer the question, but it ought to prod us toward an answer. The Mediaite writer doesn't seem to have a clue or is choosing to act as though he hasn't a clue, but I think Giuliani — who'd just mentioned "consequences in heaven" — is playing the role of the martyr, unjustly persecuted, bowing to the impositions of worldly government, and deeply believing that his reward is in Heaven. 

Whether this is self-serving rhetoric or sincere religion is another matter. I wrote the preceding sentence after reading the text and realized I need to watch the video. Hang on a sec. No. I don't know. But I will confess to editing that "self-serving rhetoric." Before I watched the video, I'd written "self-serving bullshit." Be clear: I never called it bullshit. I just viewed it as an alternative to sincere religion. But after watching the video, I toned down the alternative. Here's what I thought: He's accused of a crime, and if he's going to speak on camera, he's got to defend himself staunchly. That's not bullshit.

Here's the Bible verse Giuliani's willingness to go to jail reminded me of, Matthew 5:10-12:

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Be glad to be persecuted.

"In the week since Lil Nas X released the provocative, pointedly homoerotic 'Industry Baby' music video and North Carolina rapper DaBaby regaled a Miami Rolling Loud audience with a vile quip about gay sex..."

"... and AIDS between songs, conversations about homosexuality and homophobia in hip-hop that have been percolating all year have come to a head..... It’s been illuminating watching masks come off and hearing what people think these two stories say about the state of hip-hop.... The message in the many twists this dialogue has taken is that a lot of people who claim credit for being open-minded also maintain that they deserve the right to object to some of the avenues of expression favored by the queer people they purport to have no problem with. It’s acceptance with a caveat: You can be gay, bi, trans, pan, nonbinary, what have you, so long as you don’t make too much noise about it. If you coddle hip-hop’s cisgendered, heteronormative core, you can cook. If you show too much queer attraction and self-expression, people get uncomfortable. The illusion of respect for our differences erodes. Acceptance is conditional upon giving the masses something to relate to.... More and more of us are taking up the language of the privileged but aggrieved, of people who see the slightest request for consideration as an attack on their personal freedoms.... A lot of people want things to stay the way they used to be and seem unable to grasp that the way things were required marginalized people to suck it up and live as second-class citizens in a country clearly built for someone else...."

From "I Don’t See an End to This" by Craig Jenkins (NY Magazine).

Here's the video — "Industrial Baby" — celebrating prison sex. I could only watch about a quarter of it because I turn off any recording immediately if I hear the "n-word." 

The "vile quip" was: "If you didn’t show up today with HIV, AIDS, or any of them deadly sexually transmitted diseases, that’ll make you die in two to three weeks, then put your cell-phone lighter up.... Fellas, if you ain’t sucking dick in the parking lot, put your cell-phone lighter up."

FROM THE EMAIL: J writes: "For some reason, very young children love Lil Nas. I find it disturbing." J links to the video below, and I don't see how you can wonder what the reason is. The kids are loving the very cute and catchy song "Old Town Road," which isn't about prison sex. It's just about riding a horse:

UPDATE: "DaBaby Pulled From Lollapalooza Lineup After Homophobic Comments" (NY Magazines):
“Lollapalooza was founded on diversity, inclusivity, respect, and love. With that in mind, DaBaby will no longer be performing at Grant Park tonight.”

He did make a mild effort at apology — basically the ultimate in nonapology — "My apologies for being me."

"Athletes, advocates for women’s sports and fair-sport campaigners have questioned whether Hubbard, who competed in men’s competitions before quitting the sport more than a decade ago, has an unfair advantage...."

"It complicates matters that the rules of the sport allow teams in the Olympics to have only one entrant per weight class. Tracey Lambrechs, a lifter from New Zealand who competed in the same weight class as Hubbard, said that the sport’s national governing body gave her an ultimatum several years ago, after Hubbard had begun outperforming her: Drop to a lower weight class or retire. Hubbard’s participation, Lambrechs said, deprived other women a chance to compete. Her comments led to their own backlash. 'We’re all about equality for women in sport, but right now, that equality has been taken away from us,' Lambrechs told TVNZ. 'Weight lifters come up to me and say, like, what can we do? Like, this isn’t fair, what can we do? And unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do because every time we try to voice it, we get told to be quiet.' At the weight lifting competition in Tokyo, athletes have largely avoided discussing the significance of Hubbard’s presence at the Games.... 'I don’t know if there is a good solution where everybody is happy,” said Janae Marie Kroc, a world champion bodybuilder who stopped competing after she transitioned because she did not want to invite criticism of transgender athletes. 'My biggest fear is Laurel does really well, has her best performance and others falter, and then it’s used against trans athletes.'"

From "Olympics’ First Openly Transgender Woman Stokes Debate on Fairness/Laurel Hubbard, a 43-year-old weight lifter from New Zealand, will compete on Monday, as some question her right to be at the Games" (NYT).

I question the phrase "Stokes Debate" in that headline. It seems more that the debate is suppressed. I notice that the NYT does not permit comments on this article, and I suspect that's because debate is not wanted on this issue. Has there ever been a more debate-provoking issue where the debate has been so thoroughly squelched? 

But the NYT posted this article at Facebook, and there are over 3,000 comments there. 3 samples: