September 4, 2021

The lake at 6:53 this morning.


Talk about anything you want in the comments.

Sorry we lost the game, but great to see the stadium packed and everyone jumping around.

(I know: no masks.)

For the annals of litigious babies.

"Facebook users who recently watched a video from a British tabloid featuring Black men saw an automated prompt from the social network that asked if they would like to 'keep seeing videos about Primates'..."

"... causing the company to investigate and disable the artificial intelligence-powered feature that pushed the message.... The video... featured clips of Black men in altercations with white civilians and police officers. It had no connection to monkeys or primates."

News flash: Human beings are primates. Black, white, whatever — we're primates. Notice how the love of science drops out of the picture altogether when there's an accusation of racism to be made. 

Of course, it's wretched of the AI to refer to black people as "primates" when that's not the standard way to refer to all human beings. It's touchy creating AI that can make embarrassing mistakes, and I think the companies have long been on notice that AI does a worse job at facial recognition when the subject is a black person.

"After being cited for a rip in her jeans on the first day of school, Sophia Trevino has led a protest seeking changes to the district’s dress code, which she says unfairly targets girls."

 The NYT reports.

Lined up with other students as they came into the school, Sophia was asked to put her hands down by her thighs to measure if the rip in her jeans was lower than her fingertips. It was not. She and 15 other girls were written up before first period. Every Friday since then, Sophia and other students at Simpson Middle School, about 25 miles north of Atlanta, have worn T-shirts that denounce dress codes as “sexist,” “racist” and “classist.” ... 

“Dress codes are definitely sexist,” [said Sabrina Bernadel, a fellow at the National Women’s Law Center]. “They put the onus on girls to not be distracting or not call attention to themselves instead of putting the onus on all students to respect everyone’s body.”... 

Sophia said her main issue with the dress code was that it singled out girls and made them responsible for boys’ actions. “In school, they think that the boys are just drooling over our shoulders and our thighs,” Sophia said. “They aren’t. They don’t care. And even if they do, that’s not our fault. That’s theirs.”

ADDED: This is the same idea I heard from the school principal circa 1965 when I kept getting in trouble for wearing miniskirts. To me, they were the fashion and they looked cute. We girls weren't allowed to wear pants. We had to wear skirts, and wearing a skirt that came down to your knee looked ridiculous, so I rehemmed everything I had, often re-rehemming as the Mod Era raged on, from 2 to 3 to 4 to 5 inches above the knee, as I deemed appropriate. 

I'd been sent to the vice principal many times, but I got passed up to the principal, perhaps because I defended my choice. The vice principal took the rules-are-rules position, even though the rule wasn't being enforced to the letter. I was just going too far. The principal shocked and offended me my making a plea on behalf of the boys. Did I understand what they were going through?! Well, no. It wasn't about the boys, and the boys seemed to be doing all right without any need for his creepy empathy. It was about fashion!

"With the return of really big hair, a new generation is discovering rollers. Here’s how to master the look."

The NYT tells us, in an article illustrated only with an old image of a woman with her hair set in hot rollers. 

In the comments section, just about everyone says, What the hell? It's an article about hairstyles, but you don't have any pictures of the hairstyles? The readers want to know what's being talked about — "the return of really big hair." Really? What does it look like? You need rollers for that?

What seems clear to me, though is that the editors think it's charming that something old is new again. Rollers! You'd think they'd be dead and buried forever, but here these kids on TikTok are doing their hair with rollers. Look: rollers!

From the article: 

"I am monitoring this trend of MSM comments that make anything into an occasion to bring up Trump."

I said, in the comments to a post yesterday, because I felt that I needed to explain why I saw fit to quote a comment that appeared in the NYT: "I find that imagining I am going to wake in the morning and read in the NY Times that Trump is dead puts me to sleep immediately." 

It was an article promising tips on how to get back to sleep when you wake up in the middle of the night. Trump doesn't belong there! Maybe someone who loves Trump could get back to sleep contemplating Trump, but here's a reader who loathes Trump and feels compelled to shoehorn her hate into a discussion about how to relax. So she envisions him dead! Now, death is also not a good subject for lulling yourself back to sleep, but the commenter brought in death because it was a way to make the subject of hating Trump cozy and comfortable. 

As for my comment — "I am monitoring this trend of MSM comments that make anything into an occasion to bring up Trump" — it prompted retail lawyer to say:
Ann, you're going to need a bigger blog, as Insty says. Scott Adams today was talking about "Long haul TDS." It seems to be a real thing, but I know of no well-done studies on the syndrome.

A blog will accommodate whatever you want to put in and will forgive you for any and all lapses in comprehensiveness. That is to say, I'll just do posts on the topic when I run into things, and I run into things sometimes by opening up a comments section on an article — usually in the NYT or the Washington Post — and doing a search for "Trump." 

I'm going on intuition, but what inspires me to do a search is an article that I'm already reading — because I'm interested in the topic — that has nothing to do with Trump. A place where Trump does not belong. I bet Trump's in there, I think. Or: I wonder how long it will take the commenters to connect this to Trump. 

I mean, there was an article on getting back to sleep. Can you get from that to Trump? Yes!

"This is the voice of someone — in this case, and often, a man — who is as comfortable speaking about virtually any subject as he is uncomfortable speaking at all."

"(This is not the careful, measured voice of Sheryl Sandberg, the cheerily blustering awkwardness of Elon Musk.) It is, by default, one of the defining communication styles of its time. Right? So. ZuckTalk is a style of unpolished speech exhibited in contexts where polish is customary. It’s a linguistic hooded sweatshirt in a metaphorical boardroom. It is more than a collection of tics, but its tics are crucial to understanding it. One: So. Another: Right? In their Zuckerbergian ultimate form, combined as a programmatic if-then connective move: Right? So."

Here's the example given of Zuckerberg's "right, so" tic:


I think what's going on here is a person who knows he's very smart trying to include his interlocutor, but not trying that hard. He's essentially saying I care that you're keeping up and I do want you to follow along, but I'm still going to get all this out without stopping to let you speak and, perhaps, to show that you're not really on the same page with me. I'll just credit you with understanding and agreement and proceed with what I've got to say. Trust me, we'll all be better off if you go along with all this. Why, it's almost a human relationship.

September 3, 2021

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk about whatever you like.


And please think of supporting this blog by doing your shopping through the Althouse portal to Amazon, which is always right there in the sidebar. Thanks!

"I find that imagining I am going to wake in the morning and read in the NY Times that Trump is dead puts me to sleep immediately."

That's the second-most-liked comment at "Wide Awake at 3 A.M.? Our Readers Offer Advice. Well readers share a range of strategies they use to get back to sleep in the middle of the night" (NYT).

The internet of yesteryear.

"It’s galling that the word 'climate' appears nowhere in Manchin’s piece, even as he piously suggests he has a divinely inspired reading of what America truly 'needs to spend.'"

"This is doubly absurd, given that he sternly lectures us about how this spending will imperil our ability to meet 'future crises.'... Manchin justifies his demand for a 'pause' on spending by citing fears of inflation. But that’s a terrible theoretical pitfall. As economist J.W. Mason told Eric Levitz, a big threat posed by inflated inflation fears is that they could become a justification for efforts to 'scale back our plans for decarbonization.' The irony, as Mason noted, is that volatile fossil fuel prices are themselves introducing 'instability into the economic system,' so inflation actually tells us that 'we need to transition faster away from fossil fuels.' Manchin is learning exactly the wrong message, threatening awful consequences."

From "Joe Manchin’s new threat to destroy Biden’s agenda is worse than it seems" by Greg Sargent (WaPo). Not quoted with approval. 

"If Biden and Trump are the eventual nominees in 2024, Trump is slightly favored with 47%, while Biden is at 46%."

According to a new Emerson poll.
Among Republican voters, a majority (67%) said that they would vote for former President Donald Trump in a hypothetical Republican primary with 7 other candidates. When Trump was listed as a potential candidate, Governor Ron DeSantis was the only other candidate who got double digit support at 10%....
And look at how people assign responsibility for the war in Afghanistan:

I wish they'd asked, "Not counting President George W. Bush, which President holds the most responsibility for the war in Afghanistan?" I think if that were the question, Trump might have gotten as much as Obama or Biden or even as much as Obama and Biden added together, because the Democrats would go for Trump. What surprises me most is that Obama got so many votes. I'd been thinking that he bears so much responsibility for continuing the war after the death of Osama bin Laden, but that he'd been flying under the radar, by not making a big move to end the war, and because Americans — many but not all Americans — seem inclined to protect him from criticism and remember him in a golden glow of patronizing nostalgia.

The sandhill crane patriarch sings from the grassy knoll.

"Books to stop a young man from getting deeper into the alt right."

A post on the subreddit s/suggestmeabook:
My friend's brother loves to read, mostly nonfiction. He also listens to a lot of podcasts. The past few years he's been getting further into right-wing media and punditry. He reads so much, but it's all shit about Fascism and conservative viewpoints. What sort of books can help show him a different perspective without immediately turning him off?

Usually on this subreddit, people are looking for something else for themselves to read. They liked a certain book, and they want to hear about other, similar books. Or they have a certain feeling, and they want books about characters who feel like that too. But here's somebody who wants to massage or manipulate another person — a person they don't even like. They want to derail a young person who seems to be finding his way along a conservative path. 

But the most interesting thing about this thread, to me, isn't the desire to affect another person's political orientation, it's that the other commenters have a hard time coming up with good ideas about books that might reroute this young reader. Don't lefties have some antidote-to-conservatism books? 

And then there's the way they get twisted up in confusion over whether individualism is fascism. 

Somebody asks:

... you'll be a man, my son... a man... in shorts.

"It's been more than 5 months since NYT reported Matt Gaetz was 'under investigation' for sex with an underage girl."

"Maybe one day he'll be charged, but leaking the existence of investigations without charges is a crime for a reason: destroys reputations with no chance of defense."

"TikTokers flood Texas abortion whistleblower site with Shrek memes, fake reports and porn."

The Guardian reports, pointing at things like this:

"China’s government banned effeminate men on TV.... Broadcasters must 'resolutely put an end to sissy men and other abnormal esthetics,' the National Radio and TV Administration said..."

"... using an insulting slang term for effeminate men — 'niang pao,' or literally, 'girlie guns.' That reflects official concern that Chinese pop stars, influenced by the sleek, fashionable look of some South Korean and Japanese singers and actors, are failing to encourage China’s young men to be masculine enough...."

The Wikipedia article "Niang pao" pointed me to "China’s Pop Idols Are Too Soft for the Party" (Foreign Policy, 2018)...
Smooth-skinned, slim-figured, and impeccably coiffed, the young male idols referred to colloquially as xiao xian rou (“little fresh meat”) have come to dominate the Chinese pop cultural landscape over the last decade.
... and "CIA turned our celebrities into ‘sissy pants’, says Chinese Academy of Social Sciences" (London Times, 2019): 

No one loves...

 (Excellent tribute version by Tiny Tim: here.)


"Big, exciting changes are afoot."

Enthuses David Brooks, sketching out some neuroscience that he seems to think will really intrigue and surprise us. 

It all sounds like stuff I read a quarter century ago in a completely popular, mainstream book — "Descartes' Error." So reason and emotion are not separate and distinct... oh, really?!

Enough sarcasm. Let me look at the comments to see how hard it was for readers to drag Trump into it. Because, you know, that always has to happen. Ah, the top-rated comment has Trump in it. And then there's Trump in this one:
This is the science that explains why we’re so polarized as a country, why it feels as if people are living in side-by-side realities. Fear is the emotional basis for many of our “rational” stances and decisions—for white Trump supporters, the fear of losing power and being “replaced.” This science is a mechanism by which we could admit when we’re wrong and start to come out of delusions—and that reconciliation is what has to happen for democracy to continue here....

Well, that would be a big, exciting change — if science would work as a mechanism to lead us out of our delusions. That itself is a delusion. The science seems to say delusion is who we are. And I love the way the commenter sees so clearly that the "white Trump supporters" are the deluded ones. But at least she thinks somehow those deplorables can find a way into the light of reason. I remember when they were in a basket and declared "irredeemable." 

"So, you know, under existing Court doctrine, the majority's point of view has some force, but under, you know, sort of fundamental principles of good government and justice, it just seems very odd that a legislature can set out to evade judicial review in order to do something unconstitutional."

Said Adam Liptak on the NYT "Daily" podcast this morning, in an episode called "How Texas Banned Almost All Abortions/Legislation banning most terminations has gone into effect in Texas. How did it avoid being immediately struck down like so many previous anti-abortion laws?"

I transcribed that because I'm fascinated by the articulateness of the inarticulateness — you know... sort of....

Liptak knows the majority opinion makes sense as a matter of doctrine — and, believe me, it's a sophisticated area of procedural doctrine — and he can't say why the dissenters' opinion makes sense as a matter of doctrine. He can only express consternation that that something that feels wrong is working. It just seems very odd

But judicial power is, like other governmental power, limited, and the law that limits judicial power is law too, and it matters. Judges don't get to say it's odd that I don't have power, therefore put the law of judicial power to the side because my need to exercise power must prevail. That is also one of the "fundamental principles of good government and justice," as I am positive Adam Liptak knows. 

"Those leaders, from President Biden down to New York’s Democratic nominee for mayor, Eric Adams, expressed a similar sentiment in their reactions to the storm: Climate change is here."

From "Storm heightens a sense of vulnerability to climate change" (NYT). 

The storm was Ida, as it hit the New York metropolitan area, killing 23 in New Jersey (mostly people trapped in cars) and 13 in New York City (many in "ground-level" (below ground level?) apartments).  

It's disturbing to hear political leaders reacting to one storm by declaring it climate change. We're supposed to believe the science and, simultaneously, accept prodding to believe that's not done scientifically but emotionally and politically. 

"[Seventy-eight percent] of hospitalizations due to COVID are Obese and Overweight people. Is there an underlying problem that perhaps we have not given enough attention to?"

"We cannot run away from it and no vaccine nor mask will save us (in full disclosure I am vaccinated and support others to get vaccinated).... Our best bet is to learn how to best live with it and focus on overall health [vs.] preventing infection..... We clearly have no problem with government overreach on how we live our lives all in the name of 'health.' What if we made the food that is making us sick illegal? What if we taxed processed food and refined sugar to pay for the impact of the pandemic? What if we incentivized health?" 

Obviously, he deserves extra scrutiny for promoting a government policy that would benefit his business. He sells salad

But does the criticism "fat-shaming" fit? Another way to put that is: Does broad use of the term "fat-shaming" dilute its effectiveness? I'm going to say yes. Here's my point. 

The narrow use of "fat-shaming" works very well to restrain people who, without social pressure, would express the opinion that people who are overweight look bad or have negative personality traits. It's good to whip out the easy 3-syllables — fat-shaming! — to push back louts who are insulting fat people. They are ugly and stupid, those louts.

But if the term "fat-shaming" gets bigger and bigger — out of control — it's going to lose its effectiveness. If it's used to intimidate anyone who wants to talk about obesity and health — chilling speech on an immensely important matter of personal and public concern — then those who are using the term may seem like truth-averse bullies. 

And yet, there's little use of "fat-shaming" to intimidate those who want to talk about obesity and Covid. The intimidation was so easy it happened with almost no discussion. All you need is the occasional "fat-shaming!" hurled at somebody like that Sweetgreen CEO, and you've squelched that whole branch of the conversation. Now, let's get back to talking about how people who don't get vaccines and wear masks are stupid and evil.

September 2, 2021

Moon and sun.


At 6:26 a.m.

"Some internal thinking can be detrimental, especially the churning, ruminative sort often associated with depression and anxiety."

"Try instead to cultivate what psychologists call freely moving thoughts. Such nimble thinking might start with a yearning to see your grandmother, then careen to that feeling you get when looking down at clouds from an airplane, and then suddenly you’re pondering how deep you’d have to bore into the earth below your feet before you hit magma. Research suggests that people who do more of that type of mind-wandering are happier. Facilitate unconstrained thinking by engaging in an easy, repetitive activity like walking; avoid it during riskier undertakings like driving."

It's funny that walking, that is, physically wandering, helps the mind wander. That makes me think of one of my favorite songs, "I Wonder as I Wander" — sung here by the man who wrote it, John Jacob Niles. And there it is, the mind wandering once again, and I'm not even walking. Just blogging, not slogging. Tripping along.

I like walking, but I find I get my best mind wandering done while running. I do 1.6 miles at sunrise nearly every day, and I like the quality of thinking that happens with that activity — at that time of day, in that setting. If I start thinking about, say, a movie I just watched — e.g., today, "Little Murders" — I can access all sorts of ideas about it and tangential to it. 

Maybe I could do even better mind wandering while walking, but there's so much mind space in walking that I use an audiobook to fill it up. I rarely use headphones while running, but I nearly always use headphones while walking alone (and conversation when walking not alone). Maybe I should leave the headphones out — they're fixing 2 holes that stop my mind from wandering. 

The other thing I do for exercise lately is mountain biking. Now, mountain biking is terrible for mind wandering. It's something I like about mountain biking: My mind automatically stays focused on precisely the task right there in front of me. It's great for flow. Flow, the mental state. There's also flow, the type of mountain bike track. That flow/flow is like the wander/wander mentioned above.

Anyway, here's the original trailer for that movie, a weird and very dark romcom about what happens when a thoroughly apathetic man (Elliott Gould) goes along for the relationship with a entirely energetically optimistic woman: 


I don't think there's a better bad wedding than in that movie, with Don Sutherland as the hippie priest:
Why does one decide to marry? Social pressure? Boredom? Loneliness? Sexual appeasement? Love? I won't put any of these reasons down. Each in its own way is adequate, each is all right. Last year, I married a musician who wanted to get married in order to stop masturbating. Please, don't be startled, I'm not putting him down. That marriage did not work. But the man tried. He is now separated, still masturbating, but he is at peace with himself because he tried society's way.
So did I use all the ideas my mind wandered into as I wrote this post? No, not yet anyway. There was that Donovan, but the lyric ran through the head with a misremembered word, "trip" for "skip": "Rebel against society/Such a tiny speck... -ulating whether to be a hip or/Skip along quite merrily." It fits now, though — don't you think? — with that priest's wedding homily. 

Amazon's "Cinderella."

That has a 41% rating at Rotten Tomatoes. I scanned the reviews. Nothing worth quoting. 

The preview is enough. I looked it up after reading this comment on the review that appears in WaPo: "I watched the preview and was struck by the whole message that Cinderella's new dream is to get to work MORE. Feed into the capitalistic machine, Cinderella! You have no value unless you dream of WORK."

Yes, there's a male fairy godmother, not that he's called a "fairy"! He's referred to as "Fabulous Godmother." 

At this stage in the woke evolution of the language "mother" is fine, "fairy" is not. Will that ever change? It seems to me, in the history of the mythology of fairies, there was a land of Fairy, and it wasn't an all-female realm:

Do you recognize either of these women?

Which one looks more like Monica Lewinsky? 

Check your answer here, at The Daily Mail.

ADDED: I said "Which one looks more like Monica Lewinsky?" because one of them is Monica Lewinsky, but another question could be: Does Monica Lewinsky look more Monica Lewinsky or more like Melania Trump? 

Who would have imagined that in 2021, women would age into a similar look, not an old look, a more or less beautiful look, but a look-alike look? I'd say "Twilight Zone" imagined it, in "Number 12 Looks Just Like You."

"The majority opinion was unsigned and consisted of a single long paragraph. It said the abortion providers who had challenged the law in an emergency application to the court..."

"... had not made their case in the face of 'complex and novel' procedural questions. The majority stressed that it was not ruling on the constitutionality of the Texas law and did not mean to limit 'procedurally proper challenges' to it."

The "complex and novel" procedure — empowering random citizens to bring lawsuits against individuals — is a reason why getting early relief from this law is especially important. But it did make it hard to satisfy the traditional requirements for federal courts to act, which is exactly what the legislature meant to do. 
Usually, a lawsuit seeking to block a law because it is unconstitutional would name state officials as defendants. However, the Texas law... bars state officials from enforcing it and instead deputizes private individuals to sue anyone who performs the procedure or “aids and abets” it.... Plaintiffs, who do not need to live in Texas, have any connection to the abortion or show any injury from it, are entitled to $10,000 and their legal fees recovered if they win....

Here's the full opinion. There were 4 dissenters — the liberals plus Chief Justice Roberts. How did they get around the procedural problem (other than by sheer outrage at the aggressive attack on a well-established constitutional right)? The defendants in the case are — with one exception — state judges, who may, at some future time, have to deal with cases that may be filed under this new law. 

These judges are obligated (under the Supremacy Clause) to apply federal law, and they ought to dismiss any cases that are brought under the new law, because the law is, under current binding precedent, unconstitutional. For federal courts to enjoin state judges from enforcing the law, they would need to presume the state judges won't perform their duty as judges. 

September 1, 2021

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk about whatever you like.

The photo was taken at 6:24 a.m.

And please think of supporting this blog by doing your shopping through the Althouse portal to Amazon.

"52% of Voters Think Biden Should Resign Over Afghanistan Withdrawal."

 According to a Rasmussen poll.

ALSO: "McConnell: 'There isn't going to be an impeachment' of Biden" (CNN).

"The Texas law will significantly impair women’s access to the health care they need, particularly for communities of color and individuals with low incomes."

"And, outrageously, it deputizes private citizens to bring lawsuits against anyone who they believe has helped another person get an abortion, which might even include family members, health care workers, front desk staff at a health care clinic, or strangers with no connection to the individual."

We need to start traveling again? Why, exactly... and why don't you even mention climate change?

I'm trying to read "We Need to Start Traveling Again. Here’s How" by Tony Blair, John Bell, and David B. Agus (NYT).

The piece is all about documenting vaccinations worldwide, and the assumption that people should be encouraged to travel is a given.

We're barraged with articles about climate change, full of demands that we cut back on all sorts of things, but here we are, already traveling much less. Why don't we assume that's a good thing — a wonderful accomplishment — and speak only of restraining ourselves from getting back to the pre-pandemic practice of blithely jetting about the planet?

I'm glad to see that the comments at the NYT are full of this opinion:
"With climate change increasingly being shown to be an existential threat, we should NOT be trying to "jump start" any additional travel whatsoever. It's time to set priorities, and then act like they are a priorities. I know the argument for more travel is related to the economy, as always. The earth cannot support economic growth forever," "Unleashing worldwide travel is exactly the wrong idea in the era of Climate Crisis. The argument that travel is essential to healthy economies is similarly wrong headed. The cost of forever climate emergencies is incalculable by today’s standards," "My immediate reaction to the headline - confirmed in the essay - is that this is completely wrong-headed. Less travel is a good thing, not a bad thing - good for the planet, good for individuals. Yes it is hard on places that depend on tourism ... but eliminating coal-fired plants is hard on places that depend on coal mining. Some necessary travel will resume and some pleasure travel will resume, but if there is less, it will be good for the world as a whole," etc. etc.

Late summer color — 6:39 a.m.


"You clearly have the best military, you have 300,000 well-armed forces versus 70-80,000 and they’re clearly capable of fighting well, we will continue to provide close air support..."

"... if we know what the plan is and what we are doing. And all the way through the end of August, and who knows what after that.... But I really think, I don’t know whether you’re aware, just how much the perception around the world is that this is looking like a losing proposition, which it is not...."

Said Joe Biden, quoted in "Excerpts of call between Joe Biden and Ashraf Ghani July 23" (Reuters).

"A Texas law prohibiting most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy went into effect on Wednesday after the Supreme Court failed to act on a request to block it..."

The NYT reports:
The justices may still rule on the request, which is just an early step in what is expected to be an extended legal battle over the law.... The law makes no exceptions for pregnancies resulting from incest or rape.... 

Did you fall for this fake: "I am happy to take questions if that’s what I am supposed to do, Nance. Whatever you want me to do"/"No, we don’t want him to talk"?

It was comedy repurposed as fake news, Reuters reports, in "Fact Check-Clip appearing to show Nancy Pelosi saying she does not want Joe Biden to talk at a conference originated as satire."
Voice actor and comedian Mike Kaminski confirmed to Reuters via email that the voice heard toward the end of the clip is indeed his voice imitating Nancy Pelosi.
But wait. 

That only says the "No, we don’t want him to talk" part is fake. 

Apparently, Biden really did say, "I am happy to take questions if that’s what I am supposed to do, Nance. Whatever you want me to do." Doesn't that make "No, we don’t want him to talk" superfluous? Biden's own statement shows him following orders, ready to do whatever's he's told. 

"U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson recently said 'there’s nothing obviously skewed about the results' of the 2020 presidential election..."

"... even as Wisconsin Republican lawmakers this week authorized the expansion of an investigation into the election. Johnson told a liberal activist posing as a conservative that former President Donald Trump lost the election in Wisconsin because he didn’t do as well as other Wisconsin Republicans on the ballot in November.... 'There’s nothing obviously skewed about the results,' Johnson told the woman. 'There isn’t. Collectively, Republicans got 1.661 million votes, 51,000 votes more than Trump got. Trump lost by 20,000. If Trump got all the Republicans, if all the Republicans voted for Trump the way they voted for the Assembly candidates… he would have won. He didn’t get 51,000 votes that other Republicans got. And that’s why he lost.'... But.... Johnson also told Windsor that he supports the Wisconsin GOP election investigation and audit, but said investigations should focus on the vote totals produced by the voter machines rather than the integrity of the voter machines themselves. 'The last thing I’d really focus on would be the machines, because we have paper ballots, we have the machine logs, we’ve got the machine totals, we should be focusing on that,' Johnson said."

It's on video:

It's Acne Positivity Day.


Of course, there's tons of naysaying — negativity about the positivity. But I'm going to cherry pick some of the positivity about Acne Positivity Day. See below. Nobody is saying they like having acne or don't want it to heal. They're just being positive about their overall worthiness as a person and appreciating the support.


"If I really believe that life is that devastating, that destructive, I’m afraid that my immune system will believe it, too. And I can’t afford to take that risk. Neither can you."

Says a character in "Safe," quoted in "The 1995 film ‘Safe’ has new meaning during our coronavirus isolation" (America/The Jesuit Review). 

We watched "Safe" last night (the last chance to catch it on the Criterion channel) and this morning I'm reading articles that connect it to the Covid pandemic. To list a few: 

"Watching Safe at the End of the World/In the second installment of his series about films that resonate in the age of COVID-19, our critic dives deep into an unsettling 1995 movie with Julianne Moore" (Variety): "[T]he trembling, terrified, inexplicable Carol White—who starts the movie at the peak of late-’80s prosperity and ends it battle-scarred, gaunt, and living in a literal igloo on a commune—has been on my mind. Yes, because of COVID-19: because a movie in which a woman starts to feel alienated from her own home, and from the people surrounding her, and from her own life writ large, has an eerie resonance." 

"Todd Haynes’s Masterpiece 'Safe' Is Now a Tale of Two Plagues" (The New Yorker): "'Safe' is an unsettling film to watch while in quarantine from a disease that feels both everywhere and nowhere, and which is being willfully misunderstood by powerful people who can’t quite care enough to fight it. Whatever name the culture gives to the force that prises people apart at a given moment in time, it has always pushed in the same direction—back inside and further into solitude, back into blame and shame and doubt, back toward the mirror and a reflection we keep trying to trick." 

"Why Julianne Moore in Safe Is Everyone’s Social Distancing Panic Mood Right Now/Todd Hayne's 'Safe' is all too prescient" (W): "Though fans of the film point out that it touches on numerous themes of modern life (there are correlations to AIDS, feminism, predatory self-help mumbo jumbo, and the loneliness of privileged suburban life, for sure), the film resonates especially right now because it asks 'What’s worse: a mysterious disease or the stress of trying to protect yourself?'"

"I have what I call 'NYT whiplash' from reading both stories of horror and despair coming from Afghanistan and being horrified and despairing at reading that people spend so much time, money, and energy (literal energy) on fridges and their display (or lack thereof)."

"The rich profiled in this article (and others) are so, so clueless and awful. It really reeks of 'Decline and Fall...'. I am not ultra-rich or even NYT-rich, but I like to think that even if I were, I'd still have my priorities in better order than these people appear to have."

From the comments section of "In the Kitchens of the Rich, Things Are Not as They Seem/Good luck finding the ice" (NYT), an article about how rich people have refrigerators covered with wood paneling that matches the cabinets.

The article — which somehow is not marked as a paid ad from Sub-Zero — is loaded with quotes from an interior designer named Martyn Lawrence Bullard, who says inane things like: "Freezing food is becoming less and less fashionable. People want to eat more organically."

"The video does not show the Taliban executing someone with a U.S.-supplied helicopter. It shows a Taliban fighter trying to put a flag on a building."

Did you fall for the fake news? 

August 31, 2021

A 6:27 panorama.


That's 6:27 a.m.

Write about anything in the comments.

And please think of supporting this blog by doing your shopping through the Althouse portal to Amazon, which is always right there in the sidebar. Thanks!

"Students and professors, editorial assistants and editors in chief—all are aware of what kind of society they now inhabit. That’s why they censor themselves..."

"... why they steer clear of certain topics, why they avoid discussing anything too sensitive for fear of being mobbed or ostracized or fired without due process.... Many people have told me they want to change this atmosphere, but don’t know how. Some hope to ride it out, to wait for this moral panic to pass, or for an even younger generation to rebel against it.... Anonymous reports and Twitter mobs, not the reasoned judgments of peers, will shape the fate of individuals. Writers and journalists will fear publication. Universities will no longer be dedicated to the creation and dissemination of knowledge but to the promotion of student comfort and the avoidance of social-media attacks. Worse, if we drive all of the difficult people, the demanding people, and the eccentric people away from the creative professions where they used to thrive, we will become a flatter, duller, less interesting society, a place where manuscripts sit in drawers for fear of arbitrary judgments. The arts, the humanities, and the media will become stiff, predictable, and mediocre....  There will be nothing to do but sit back and wait for the Hawthornes of the future to expose us."

Hawthorne = Nathaniel Hawthorne, author of "The Scarlet Letter."

Biden live now.


ADDED: "I was not going to extend this forever war, and I was not extending a forever exit."

AND: This was a strong speech. Well delivered. And it would have been cogent if he'd come out and declared that Trump did the right thing in his agreement with the Taliban. 

"A Texas law that bans abortions anytime a fetal heartbeat is detected will 'immediately and catastrophically reduce abortion access in Texas' if it is allowed to take effect on Wednesday..."

"... a group of abortion providers told the Supreme Court on Monday. They asked the justices to intervene on an emergency basis and block the enforcement of the law while a challenge to its constitutionality is litigated in the lower courts.... [T]he Texas case that rocketed to the court on Monday, known as Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson, involves an abortion law that... bars doctors from performing abortions once they can detect a fetal heartbeat, including the kind of cardiac activity that occurs at roughly the sixth week of pregnancy. The law also allows private individuals to bring lawsuits against anyone who provides or 'aids and abets' an abortion. Individuals who bring successful lawsuits are entitled to collect $10,000 or more from individuals who are found to have violated the law.... Even Texas acknowledges that pre-viability bans on abortion conflict with Supreme Court precedent, the challengers argue...."

6:19 a.m.


"After the Americans leave, what will happen to Afghan artists and performers, cultural workers, and nongovernmental organization staffers engaged with heritage, traditional crafts and preservation?"

 Asks WaPo art and architecture critic Philip Kennicott.
A young man who leads the local offices for an international cultural heritage organization said he was determined to stay in Afghanistan. “I am checking every day, and right now, things are normal and safe,” he said....
Some arts, including ceramics and woodwork, are passed on through a deeply conservative master-apprentice system which is embedded in traditional Afghan culture. Miniature painting, which has roots in Persian culture, too, is more fraught because it includes representational imagery and the human figure. During the Soviet occupation that began in 1979, rug-making — one of the most pervasive and revered Afghan crafts — morphed from an abstract craft to a field of resistance, with individual craftsmen making “war rugs” that recorded the brutality of the Russian war effort.... 
[One] leader of an organization that does cultural work in Afghanistan said...“Was everything we did for nothing?.... You can think of it like a building, a Jenga tower, and it all just fell down. But this is also about human capital. Millions of people got 20 years of relative stability, and freedom, and perhaps they will do something for their country. Maybe they will come back.”

"[T]he chaotic rush of the government’s collapse during the Taliban advance could leave an unfixable economy, ruin and hunger...."

"As for those left behind in Afghanistan, a country of 38 million minus the thousands who have fled or died in recent weeks, all they can do is look forward, asking themselves and anyone who will listen: What comes next?"

There's almost nothing in that article trying to answer that question, "What comes next?" I'm actively looking for answers to this question. The Taliban waltzed in, but now what? 

The United [Nations] says more than 18 million people - over half Afghanistan's population - require aid and half of all Afghan children under 5 already suffer from acute malnutrition amid the second drought in four years....

There's not much more than that on the question of how Afghanistan can function under the Taliban, just a bit of discussion about whether there will still be flights from the airport.  

Sunrise with moon.


At 6:05 this morning.

Song I would have embedded in the previous post if a fear of insensitivity/cheesiness hadn't overwhelmed me.


Minimal, memorable lyrics: "Find the cost of freedom/Buried in the ground/Mother Earth will swallow you/Lay your body down." 

That's the whole song. It was the B-side of the single "Ohio." Actually that's a song I thought about the other day, when I was reading about the shooting of Ashli Babbitt. Didn't the National Guard soldiers who shot Kent State students that day say they were under attack and shot in self-defense?

"No, the Taliban did not seize $83 billion of U.S. weapons."

Says WaPo Fact Checker Glenn Kessler, reacting to this statement by Donald Trump: "ALL EQUIPMENT should be demanded to be immediately returned to the United States, and that includes every penny of the $85 billion dollars in cost." 

Trump rounds the number up from $83 billion, but we've all heard that number, so why does Kessler give Trump 3 Pinocchios for that? I note that Trump calls that the "cost," and it might be a little ambiguous. "Cost" means what we paid, perhaps for everything. It's not the current resale value of whatever physical objects we left behind.

Indeed, Kessler says that the number comes from the report to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, and it refers to "all the money spent to train, equip and house the Afghan military and police" — spent over the entire 20 years of the war. We also spent another $36 billion on the Afghan government that melted into nothing. That's a statement of the cost. 

If you break out the cost of the equipment alone, it's something like $24 billion. Much of it was spent on vehicles — 76,000 of them — but that's over the entire period, so many of these are worn out (or destroyed). There were 211 aircraft, but only 167 are still usable (according to the Special Inspector).

August 30, 2021

This morning's sunrise.




The third photo is by Meade. 

Feel free to talk about anything you want in the comments.

"Johnson aimed to teach his English students words like 'aberration' and 'lethargy' by including them in purposely outlandish sentences relying on gory imagery and absurdist humor..."

"In a further attempt to engage his pre-teen students, he’d insert their first names at random into the sentences. Sometimes he’d string sentences together, such as in the story of 'Crazy Lobster Boy' — a student who grabs two pairs of pruning shears, declares himself a lobster and runs around terrorizing his classmates while teaching them words like 'simulating' and 'alleviate.' Most students adored the vocab questions....  [But t]he parent who filed the complaint with the school felt that his son was being mocked for his speech impediment in a sentence describing 'his tendency to babble like an idiot and drool on his classmates.'... The parent was also furious that his Jewish son was made the protagonist of the 'lobster boy' story, arguing that a joke that the boy probably 'had a crab or crayfish somewhere back in his ancestry' was evidence of Johnson’s 'thinly veiled antisemitism' because the sentence connected the boy’s violent behavior to his crustacean DNA. 'Humiliating a young boy on the verge of puberty by calling him a crustacean and referring to his "lobster claws" at a time already complicated with fears and ambivalence about body image and sexuality is utterly shocking from any adult, let alone the Head of School and English teacher,' the parent wrote...."
From "‘Lobster claws’ test questions land Crowden School principal in hot water/Teachers are quitting and parents are pulling their kids from a private Berkeley music school after the principal was fired in connection with a fill-in-the-blank vocabulary test involving crustacean jokes" (Berkeleyside).

"The last vestiges of the American presence in Afghanistan have departed Kabul airport..."

"In recent days, American military leaders said the United States would continue evacuation efforts and fully withdraw by Aug. 31. But those efforts were wrapped up a full day early. Evacuation flights ended on Monday, and the military finished packing everything it intended to fly out of the airport onto transport planes before loading the remaining U.S. service members onto planes for departure. Control of the airport was left in the hands of the Taliban.... The Taliban’s chief negotiator, Sher Mohammed Abas Stanekzai, said Friday that the group would not stop people from departing, no matter their nationality or whether they had worked for the United States...."

"But there is much in the Democrats’ [$3.5 trillion] outline that makes less sense. They want to make community college free for everyone, even wealthy students."

Writes the Washington Post Editorial Board in "Opinion: Democrats should seize this chance to reshape the safety net. But not all they propose makes sense."

As many of the commenters over there are pointing out, wealthy people don't send their kids to community college. A test of who's wealthy could just be who wouldn't send their kids to community college even if it were free. So you don't have to worry about including the wealthy. What you should worry about is channeling un-wealthy people into community college. Who should go to community college? 

Shouldn't the answer be something other than those who need/want to spend less money? Here's a U.S. News article from 2019, "10 Reasons to Attend a Community College." There are reasons other than money. It might be a good choice for those who were not very good high school students and need to "ease into" a college experience. It might be good for older students with a family or a job that they need to balance with schoolwork. And it might be good if you want to go into a specialized career where there's a 2-year certificate program

"At first I thought it was the Taliban. But the Americans themselves did it. I saw the whole scene. There were burnt pieces of flesh everywhere."

Said Samia Ahmadi, 21, quoted in "A family says 10 of its members were killed in a U.S. drone strike in Kabul" (NYT).
Hours after a U.S. military drone strike in Kabul on Sunday, Defense Department officials said that it had blown up a vehicle laden with explosives, eliminating a threat to Kabul’s airport from the Islamic State Khorasan group. But at a family home in Kabul on Monday, survivors and neighbors said the strike had killed 10 people, including seven children, an aid worker for an American charity organization and a contractor with the U.S. military.... 
The missile hit the rear end of the Corolla in the narrow courtyard inside the walled family compound, blowing out doors, shattering windows and spraying shrapnel. [Zemari] Ahmadi and some of the children were killed inside his car; others were fatally wounded in adjacent rooms, family members said.... Mr. Ahmadi was a technical engineer for the local office of Nutrition and Education International, an American nonprofit based in Pasadena, Calif.....

"China Limits Videogames to Three Hours a Week for Young People/New regulation will ban minors from playing videogames entirely between Monday and Thursday."

 The Wall Street Journal reports.

China on Monday issued strict new measures aimed at curbing what authorities describe as youth videogame addiction, which they blame for a host of societal ills, including distracting young people from school and family responsibilities.... Videogames have become a particular object of ire as Beijing seeks to reshape an industry it has described as motivated by profit at the expense of public morals.... Chinese leader Xi Jinping, too, has warned publicly in recent months about the perils of youth gaming addiction, remarks that have put more pressure on officials to act....

"'Well, I know that your father did his best.' People love saying this when a parent dies."

"It’s the first thing they reach for. A man can beat his wife with car antennas, can trade his children for drugs or motorcycles, but still, when he finally, mercifully dies, his survivors will have to hear from some know-nothing at the post-funeral dinner that he did his best. This, I’m guessing, is based on the premise that we all give a hundred and ten per cent all the time, in regard to everything: our careers, our relationships, the attention we pay to our appearance, etc. 'Look around,' I want to say. 'Very few people are actually doing the best that they can. That’s why they get fired from their jobs. That’s why they get arrested and divorced. It’s why their teeth fall out. Do you think the "chef" responsible for this waterlogged spanakopita is giving it his all? Is sitting across from me, spouting clichés and platitudes, honestly the best that you can do?'"

"DeVegh, who is now 83 and blind, said that she wanted her experience to serve as a warning to young women."

"Despite the progress of the MeToo movement, many girls continued to worship older men and were drawn into toxic relationships with harmful power dynamics, she said. 'The whole idea of conferred specialness — "You go to bed with me, I’ll make you special" — we’ve seen a lot of that with Harvey Weinstein, Roger Ailes'...  Kennedy and de Vegh first met in 1958, when she was starting at Radcliffe College, a women’s liberal arts institution in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He gave a campaign speech in a Boston ballroom while running for re-election to the Senate. He appeared at her table, telling her date: 'Give me your seat, so a tired old man can sit next to a pretty girl.' He then invited her to an event the following week, and soon the affair began. 'I was 20 years old with a full supply of hormones and madly in love with this compelling man,' she recalled."

Does DeVegh's story "serve as a warning to young women"? I don't see the warning. It seems designed to inspire envy. Do "girls... worship older men" or do young women fall madly in love with handsome, charming, highly accomplished 40-year-old men? Where's the part where DeVegh explains how the relationship was "toxic" and "harmful"? 

"The White House called the event a 'dignified transfer' of the bodies; rather than a 'ceremony' it was described as a 'solemn movement.' The precise language was so that families did not feel obliged to attend..."

"...  officials said. Biden clasped his right hand to his chest when the order to present arms came with each transfer as military officers saluted. His eyes were locked on the cases as they were carried to the transfer vehicles, occasionally bowing his head and appearing to close his eyes. Family members of all 13 victims were represented but it is not clear if all spoke to Biden during a private meeting....  The father of one of the marines [said] 'They sent my son over there as a paper pusher and then had the Taliban outside providing security... I blame my own military leaders... Biden turned his back on him. That’s it.'... [He] really loved that [Marine Corps] family. He was devoted. He was going to make a career out of this, and he wanted to go... No hesitation for him to be called to duty.'... The oldest victim was marine staff sergeant Darin Hoover, 31. His father, also called Darin, said his son was on his third tour of Afghanistan. 'He led his men into that and they followed him, but I know — I know in my heart of hearts — he was out front... And they would’ve followed him through the gates of hell if that’s what it took, and, ultimately, that’s pretty much what he did.'... Rylee McCollum’s.... mother, Kathy, said that her son was 'getting ready to come home from freaking Jordan [where he was stationed] to be with his wife to watch the birth of his son. And that sackless, dementia-ridden piece of crap just sent my son to die.'"

What does it mean to talk about making cannabis "equitable"?

I'm reading "Miss Grass Wants to Make Cannabis More Equitable," an interview with Kate Miller, the CEO of Miss Grass, an online cannabis shop for all things cannabis. She says:
[W]e all have a responsibility to be conscious leaders, amplifying the right people to support an equitable industry. This plant has a very complex history to it. But the short of it is that it has been used to disenfranchise and harm Black and brown communities. Legalization is starting to sweep our nation, but when you look at the leaders in the space, unfortunately, you still see a lot of white men. It’s our responsibility to honor this plant and to support the people whose backs this industry was built on, to make sure that they have their place in actually benefiting from this plant’s legalization.... ... I want us to be a part of creating a model of an industry that’s equitable, that really shifts the fabric of our society, that is led with compassion and empathy and collaboration. I think that cannabis has such a immense opportunity to be that industry, and it damn well should be given its very complex and, frankly, racist history of making sure that the people who have been harmed the most by its prohibition are the ones that have an opportunity to benefit and create generational wealth from legalization.

That makes some sense. There is a racist history to marijuana! I could see laughing at "honor this plant," but actually, I'm generally inclined to honor plants, whether they insinuate their way psychedelically into my brain or not. 

Why, just this morning, I honored a random plant simply for existing in the sunlight (and I wasn't even high):


"Why So Many Tennis Players Don’t Want the Covid Vaccine."

 A NYT headline. But are we told why?

Only about 50% of professional tennis players are vaccinated. Is there something about the sort of person who plays and excels at tennis that makes them less likely to get the vaccine? I start thinking of stereotypes about tennis players and how they connect to resistance to vaccines. I don't follow tennis at all, but I think the stereotype is that these people are more aggressively cantankerous than average. So, I'm thinking this article might find an interesting pathway into understanding vaccine resistance in the general population.

But I'm searching the text for any sort of answer:

While some players are openly skeptical of the need for a vaccine as a healthy young person, some simply haven’t prioritized it....

That could be true of any professional athlete. Tell me why it's especially true of tennis

The French veteran Gilles Simon [said] “I’m not very scared of Covid, actually... My basic philosophy is: ‘If you’re afraid of it, you get vaccinated; if not, no.’ It’s still a choice.”...

Anyone might say that. Was there anything tennis-related that made him more likely to say that?

August 29, 2021

Today's was the best sunrise of August, with 3 interesting stages: Part 3.


6:30 a.m.

"Well, Jake, there's a political slogan, end endless wars. But that doesn't translate it into a serious policy decision."

"And the real policy is this. You can't, as one party, end a war. It takes two parties to end a war. The Taliban and the radical violent jihadists in the world, they haven't stopped fighting. They're going to continue to fight us. The war is not over. We're just no longer at a place where the war had its apex, where the Taliban was able to allow al Qaeda to grow and to attack us on 9/11. We went to Afghanistan because we got attacked on 9/11 and lost thousands of American lives. Now America is more in danger. The reason we have a military is to protect America. And by -- the decision to pull our military out of Afghanistan puts us in greater danger. We -- look, don't forget, we went to Afghanistan to knock down al Qaeda. But we stayed in Afghanistan to make sure they couldn't reconstitute to attack us again. So, pulling out means we are less safe. And, also, recognize the war is not over. We're just in a weaker position. We don't have boots on the ground. We don't have eyes on the ground. When they say, look, we have over-the-horizon capacity, that's a fancy phrase. What does that mean? It means we're not there."

Said Mitt Romney on State of the Union" this morning. Transcript. Video:

Today's was the best sunrise of August, with 3 interesting stages: Part 2.


6:22 a.m.

"The problem with aspirational lists, of course, is that they often skip the point entirely. Instead of helping us grapple with our finitude..."

"... they approximate infinity. They imply that with unlimited time and resources, we can do anything, be anyone. We can become more adventurous by jumping out of airplanes, more traveled by visiting every continent, or more cultured by reading the most famous books of all time. With the right list, we will never starve with the hunger of want. A few years ago, the father of one of my divinity students discovered that he was in the last months of life. Much to everyone’s astonishment, his father didn’t have a wish list. In fact, his father didn’t wish for anything at all. Not a trip. Not a meal. He sat contentedly in his overstuffed recliner in the living room humming about how much he loved his family."
From "One Thing I Don’t Plan to Do Before I Die Is Make a Bucket List" by Kate Bowler (NYT). Bowler, 35, a professor at Duke Divinity School, has "Stage IV colon cancer and a slim chance of survival." She is subjected to "mental health assessments at the cancer clinic during which lovely and well-meaning counselors, all seemingly named Caitlin, are telling [her] to 'find my meaning'" and suggesting that she "consider making a 'bucket list.'"

Today's was the best sunrise of August, with 3 interesting stages: Part 1.


6:05 a.m.

There's a small but nice view of the state capitol building about a quarter of the way in from the right.

"Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana on Sunday as a Category 4 storm.... The storm’s maximum sustained winds on Sunday morning reached 150 miles an hour, closing in on the 157 m.p.h. winds of a Category 5 storm...."

"The storm has New Orleans directly in its path.... The storm could also wreak serious havoc farther inland, in places like greater Baton Rouge, where a number of areas have been devastated by inland flooding in recent years from much less powerful storms. Hurricane Ida will bring 'extremely threatening storm surge inundation of 9 feet or higher' between Burns Point, La., and Ocean Springs, Miss., the Hurricane Center warned. In some places the surge could be as high as 16 feet....  Governor Edwards [said] 'We can sum it up by saying this will be one of the strongest hurricanes to hit anywhere in Louisiana since at least the 1850s'....  The storm made landfall on the 16th anniversary of the landfall of Hurricane Katrina....  The trajectory and strength of Ida will present a high-stakes test of the levees, flood walls, pumps and gates that were reinforced around New Orleans after Katrina.... ... Mr. Edwards said that the pandemic had thwarted plans to evacuate hospitals. 'Evacuating these large hospitals is not an option because there are not any other hospitals with the capacity to take them'...."

"There was an attempt..."

"My neighbor across the hall installed a Ring camera that captures the entire floor. It faces my apartment directly..."

"... providing a clear view inside whenever I open the door. Aside from the fact that it’s uncomfortable knowing that all my comings and goings are being recorded, I wonder if this is legal." 

The columnist says the tenant's only hope — other than a direct appeal to the neighbor — is to ask the landlord require the removal of the camera. Though the landlord can object to the installation of anything, the tenant alone can do nothing because there's no expectation of privacy in the common areas, and that includes sightlines from the common areas into your apartment whenever you open your door. 

It's such an intrusion to install a Ring camera that goes straight into your neighbor's apartment! And yet, it's an intrusion to share a hallway, just an old-time-y intrusion that we don't think much about. But if you want the protection of a Ring camera — so that you don't open your door to strangers or let bad people figure out that no one is home inside — you've got to impose on your neighbors. It seems awful, but as time wears on, it will seem more and more normal, and tenants will probably settle into the idea that these cameras protect everyone, and isn't it easy enough to slink through a slightly cracked open door whenever you come and go? 

"The spurious prudence, making the senses final, is the god of sots and cowards, and is the subject of all comedy."

"It is nature's joke.... Prudence does not go behind nature, and ask whence it is. It takes the laws of the world, whereby man's being is conditioned, as they are, and keeps these laws, that it may enjoy their proper good. It respects space and time, climate, want, sleep, the law of polarity, growth, and death. There revolve to give bound and period to his being, on all sides, the sun and moon, the great formalists in the sky: here lies stubborn matter, and will not swerve from its chemical routine. Here is a planted globe, pierced and belted with natural laws, and fenced and distributed externally with civil partitions and properties which impose new restraints on the young inhabitant. We eat of the bread which grows in the field. We live by the air which blows around us, and we are poisoned by the air that is too cold or too hot, too dry or too wet. Time, which shows so vacant, indivisible, and divine in its coming, is slit and peddled into trifles and tatters. A door is to be painted, a lock to be repaired. I want wood, or oil, or meal, or salt; the house smokes, or I have a headache; then the tax; and an affair to be transacted with a man without heart or brains; and the stinging recollection of an injurious or very awkward word, — these eat up the hours."

From "Prudence" by Ralph Waldo Emerson, stumbled across this morning after Emerson and comedy happened to pop up in one post, the previous post. It was just a haphazard sequence, not any connection between Emerson and comedy. So I went looking, on the theory that there was none. 

"I thought Robin hated me. He had a habit of making a ton of jokes on set. At 18, I found that incredibly irritating."

"He wouldn’t stop and I wouldn’t laugh at anything he did.... There was this scene in the film ['Dead Poets Society'] when he makes me spontaneously make up a poem in front of the class. He made this joke at the end of it, saying that he found me intimidating. I thought it was a joke. As I get older, I realize there is something intimidating about young people’s earnestness, their intensity. It is intimidating – to be the person they think you are. Robin was that for me."

Said Ethan Hawke, quoted in "Ethan Hawke on Richard Linklater Transcendentalism Project, Politicization of Pandemic in U.S." (Variety). Robin = Robin Williams. 

I clicked on that because I was interested in Richard Linklater's "transcendentalism project." It seems that Linklater is writing a screenplay about Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and their friends. As Hawke puts it: "They were the first leaders of the abolition movement; they were vegetarians; they fought for women’s rights. Rick is obsessed with how their ideas are still very radical. This could be a super cool movie and Rick is writing it right now." But Variety adds that Linklater "has been working on a movie about Transcendentalism since 1999, according to an interview in The New Yorker in 2014."

From the New Yorker article:

"China announced further steps to control celebrity fan culture, which regulators say has become 'chaotic.'..."

"The Cyberspace Administration of China on Friday... said that it would take punitive action against the spread of harmful information in celebrity fan groups. Discussion channels may be shut down.... It wants to halt algorithms that encourage users to spend large amounts of money or spend money in a way that 'may disrupt public order.'...  Celebrities have been especially targeted by the crackdown. Superstar singer-actor Kris Wu has been arrested following rape allegations, and, as a consequence, his internet presence has been largely deleted. Another star, Zhang Zhehan who is accused of hurting Chinese feelings after posing for photos at Tokyo’s notorious Yasukuni Shrine recently saw his films and TV series deleted by broadcasters and streaming platforms.... Streaming platform iQiyi this week said that it had has cancelled plans for talent contest shows, which create celebrities. The company’s CEO Gong Yu said that the shows are 'unhealthy.'... The Communist Party of China may be eliminating all other sources of power and influence in civil society – wealth, technology, media and fame – other than its own."

What is the Yasukuni Shrine?

"Fox News found a good thing. They can make fun of liberals and they are doing it to great success...."

"I've been asked over the years many times, 'Why isn't there a conservative comedy?' And I would always give the answer, which I think was the true answer, ‘There’s not good fodder for it. 'You know, the liberals aren't crazy. This was my answer for many years.… Now, I don't think it's the same situation. I keep saying to the liberals, 'If what you’re [doing] sounds like an Onion headline, stop.' And... this is why there's an opening for conservative comedy. Because when you tear down statues of Abraham Lincoln in the Land of Lincoln, 'Land of Lincoln cancels Lincoln,' it's an Onion headline. You know, 'Three-year-olds pick their own gender' is an Onion headline. You know, a lot of this stuff that's going on the left now, it's, you know, 'Seattle votes to decriminalize crime.' Now, the problem is that [conservatives] don't know how to do comedy, but if they found someone who did.... Because comedy goes where the funny is. And there is funny on the left now as well as the right." 

Said Bill Maher, quoted in "Bill Maher amazed by Greg Gutfeld, 'new king of late night': 'Fox News found a good thing'/The liberal comedian says the Fox host has taken advantage of 'an opening for conservative comedy'" (Fox News). 

The segment continued, with Katty Kay saying "Gutfeld!" is like a Trump rally, but Ralph Reed saying: "I know Greg. He's funny. He's smart. He's quick. And particularly when you put him with an ensemble as they've done where he gets to play off other people, it works."

While Kay complained that Gutfeld's show is "pretty predictable," Maher pushed back. "I could say the same thing about the [liberal late-night] shows. Absolutely... It is the one true opinion out there. If you don't have the one true opinion, don't go in front of the audience that comes because they don't like it.... And they're there more to clap for the opinion they already believe in than to laugh. And that's what changed.... Everything became partisan. … It became more important to cheer for your team than to actually have a laugh." 

I don't think that's "Bill Maher amazed by Greg Gutfeld." It's more Bill Maher disgusted that partisanship has taken priority over comedy on what are supposedly comedy shows and acknowledging that the conservatives are now able to do that too, notably on "Gutfeld!"

Here's that segment in its original context, beginning with some anti-conservative memes:

"As someone who personally helped resettle over 30 Afghan SIV families in 2017, here is what the local residents can expect. First, the fathers all speak English..."

"... and most have a college degree. They either worked with US soldiers on the battlefield and working with local villagers. Some worked on US AID programs or helped staff the US embassy. Many are engineers or accountants. They usually have several young children and a wife who does not speak English (some exceptions to that). They need affordable housing, jobs and a low cost used car (so that they can work as delivery men). The wives want to learn English quickly so an ESL program is important. The young children will learn English within a few months just by being in a classroom setting. Access to healthcare is also important (they all receive Medicaid cards)."

That a comment at "Wisconsin towns await influx of Afghans — and wonder what it will mean" (WaPo)(reporting on "thousands" of Afghan refugees arriving at the Fort McCoy Army base near Sparta and Tomah, Wisconsin). 

It's not the highest-rated comment. The highest-rated comment is: "Well, I don't imagine they'll attack the U.S. Capitol, so they'll certainly make better citizens than Republicans." That's nastily partisan and poorly written. There's unintended ambiguity, suggesting that the refugees will not make good Republicans. I presume the commenter meant to assert that Republicans don't make good citizens.