September 11, 2021

6:39, 6:36 a.m.



6:35 a.m.


How do we know there won't be some dramatically effective 9/11 memorializing at the big fight?

Also, is it racist to accuse Trump of bad taste?




Ono's: I don't know what you think of "celebrity 9/11".... It's a matter of taste, but they are trying, with decent enough sincerity.

"I never once believed — nor do I now — that the purpose of instruction was to lead my students to a particular conclusion...."

"But brick by brick, the university has... transformed a bastion of free inquiry into a Social Justice factory whose only inputs were race, gender, and victimhood and whose only outputs were grievance and division. Students at Portland State... are being trained to mimic the moral certainty of ideologues.... [I]n 2017, I co-published an intentionally garbled peer-reviewed paper that took aim at the new orthodoxy. Its title: 'The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct.' This example of pseudo-scholarship, which was published in Cogent Social Sciences, argued that penises were products of the human mind and responsible for climate change. Immediately thereafter, I revealed the article as a hoax designed to shed light on the flaws of the peer-review and academic publishing systems. Shortly thereafter, swastikas in the bathroom with my name under them began appearing in two bathrooms near the philosophy department.... In 2018 I co-published a series of absurd or morally repugnant peer-reviewed articles in journals that focused on issues of race and gender. In one of them we argued that there was an epidemic of dog rape at dog parks and proposed that we leash men the way we leash dogs. Our purpose was to show that certain kinds of 'scholarship' are based not on finding truth but on advancing social grievances.... ... Portland State filed formal charges against me [for 'r]esearch misconduct' based on the absurd premise that the journal editors who accepted our intentionally deranged articles were 'human subjects.' I was found guilty of not receiving approval to experiment on human subjects."

ADDED: The Wikipedia article on Boghossian is interesting. Excerpt:

"The pay was 9 pounds — about $17. With two young children to feed, she showed up at 8:30 p.m. to tune her harp and was handed a piece of sheet music."

Only later did she learn that the notes she played were to be the intro on 'She’s Leaving Home' by the Beatles.... Mrs. Bromberg’s harp intro and rhythm, backed by a full string section, set the poignant tone of the track before Paul McCartney (who recorded separately) began the lyric 'Wednesday morning at 5 o’clock as the day begins.'...  She played harp on two early James Bond films starring Sean Connery — 'Dr. No' (1962) and 'Goldfinger' (1964)... She also performed the solo intro to the 1976 hit disco single 'Boogie Nights' by the band Heatwave. She recalled that the heat in the studio was so intense, she played with her feet in a bucket of icy water.... During the 1960s and ’70s, she was a member of the BBC’s Top of the Pops orchestra... Mrs. Bromberg couldn’t afford child care, her son recalled, and he was dragged along to the Top of the Pops studio and sat in the control room alongside Michael Jackson (at the time part of the Jackson Five), the Osmonds, Shirley Bassey and Tom Jones.... Her Ukrainian grandfather (at the time Ukraine was part of the Russian empire) was a principal trumpet player in Kiev’s symphony orchestra before fleeing anti-Jewish pogroms. He settled in London, where he made a scant living playing in coffeehouses. Other members of the family moved to the United States, and a cousin of Mrs. Bromberg, the multi-instrumentalist David Bromberg, became one of Bob Dylan’s favorite guitarists, playing on several of his albums."

I'm glad to see a long obituary for someone who played a supportive role. That "She’s Leaving Home" harp touched many hearts, and there's no reason to believe she wasn't properly paid. 

As for that cousin, David Bromberg, he wasn't just a backup player to Bob Dylan. I remember him as a solo artist in the early 70s. His recording "The Holdup" was pretty popular at the time. I don't know how many times we went to see him at The Ark in 1971 and 1972.

"Are we creating a brave new, standardless world stripped of any canonical texts? Or are we reaching backward?"

"[M]any of those behind the most radical political experiment in history studied in little, rickety houses, in medium-sized, mostly uncultured cities or on the edges of sprawling farmlands. They read with the aid of candlelight. They were Zoom-less. They squeezed their studies in between milking cows and learning how to use a rifle. They were steeped in the greatest minds of the ancient world and the Enlightenment. The Founders did not have the benefit of any playground or tablet or teachers union, but they were free thinkers. The Constitution, Speed pointed out, 'was largely the work of people instructed at home.'" 

Film clip for 9/11.


Don't be put off by the larger context here. I've clipped a section that is entirely the reaction of human beings on the street in New York City on that day. 

You can scroll out of my start and stop points and watch the entire movie. Moore has made it available free on YouTube. I have never watched the movie, but, with 20 years distance, I am considering watching it today.

"When acceptance is the highest value, when avoiding condemnation online is worth more than the truth, the truth will be swiftly discarded."

"Online likes, followers and reputation — weak, empty values — dominate the teenage world because teenagers are not being taught alternative ones by the culture or, often, by the adults in their lives. They — we — are not being given the tools to answer the questions that really matter: What is truth? What is justice? And what is the purpose of life?"

From "I'm 17. And I'm Immunized from Woke Politics. Here's how" by Daniel Idfresne (at the Bari Weiss Substack). 

Idfresne has a YouTube channel. Here's an example of what he puts up:

"It was the last known missile fired by the United States in its 20-year war in Afghanistan, and the military called it a 'righteous strike'..."

"... a drone attack after hours of surveillance on Aug. 29 against a vehicle that American officials thought contained an ISIS bomb and posed an imminent threat to troops at Kabul’s airport. But a New York Times investigation of video evidence, along with interviews with more than a dozen of the driver’s co-workers and family members in Kabul, raises doubts about the U.S. version of events.... While the U.S. military said the drone strike might have killed three civilians, Times reporting shows that it killed 10, including seven children, in a dense residential block.... 'Because there were secondary explosions, there is a reasonable conclusion to be made that there was explosives in that vehicle,' the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark A. Milley, said last week. But an examination of the scene of the strike, conducted by the Times visual investigations team and a Times reporter the morning afterward, and followed up with a second visit four days later, found no evidence of a second, more powerful explosion. Experts who examined photos and videos pointed out that, although there was clear evidence of a missile strike and subsequent vehicle fire, there were no collapsed or blown-out walls, no destroyed vegetation, and only one dent in the entrance gate, indicating a single shock wave. 'It seriously questions the credibility of the intelligence or technology utilized to determine this was a legitimate target,' said Chris Cobb-Smith, a British Army veteran and security consultant.... Neighbors and an Afghan health official confirmed that bodies of children were removed from the site. They said the blast had shredded most of the victims; fragments of human remains were seen inside and around the compound the next day by a reporter, including blood and flesh splattered on interior walls and ceilings." 

The article looks at evidence about the driver, Zemari Ahmadi. We're told he "had worked since 2006 as an electrical engineer for Nutrition and Education International, a California-based aid group." He was observed picking up 3 passengers on his way to work. He made a stop at a Taliban-controlled police station to get permission, the passengers said, to distribute food. Our military claims they saw him put heavy objects in the trunk, but there's camera footage, and he is, the Times says, filling containers with water from a hose.

September 10, 2021

6:34 a.m.


6:11 a.m.


"Every Republican in the country — especially those running to the right in primaries — is salivating over Joe Biden [igniting] the vax debate. Republicans think that he's made even pro-vax conservatives into 'anti-vax mandate' Americans."

Said a top House Republican aide" quoted in "America's civil war of 2021" (Axios). The Axios writer, Mike Allen, begins dramatically:
Top Republicans are calling for a public uprising to protest President Biden's broad vaccine mandates, eight months after more than 500 people stormed the U.S. Capitol to try to overturn the election. 
Why it matters: It has been decades since America has witnessed such blatant and sustained calls for mass civil disobedience against the U.S. government.
See what he did there? He conflated civil disorder and civil disobedience! Civil disobedience is protest that takes the form of not following the rule that you oppose. Here, that would mean you don't get the vaccine. That's nothing like storming the Capitol.  

Allen also quotes "an official close to Biden": "Biden beat Trump by promising strong action based on science." What's the science of how human beings act when the government compels them to do things to their body? 

"Then the Comments section of your blog became taken over by a far-Right cabal which was just as offputting as any conceivable Far Left gang of assholes might have become."

I received this email from Todd Grimson which begins with a compliment about this post that I put up yesterday and continues with some less-than-complimentary stuff:
Exceptional piece. I liked your blog early on, then became annoyed when it seemed like you kept taking shots at novels and fiction in general -- as this was/is my chosen field, the highest calling in my view, where I excel. I thought you were perhaps demonstrating some misgivings about how the writing of blogs might be viewed in the future (where, as Criswell reminds us at the beginning of PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE, we all shall one day reside); also, listening to some actor's performance on an audiobook does not equal the actual reading experience, end of fucking story (to invoke TRAINSPOTTING's Irvine Welsh). 
Then the Comments section of your blog became taken over by a far-Right cabal which was just as offputting as any conceivable Far Left gang of assholes might have become. You came to realize this, it seems, but it took you a long time. 
I brought your attention recently to the Netflix series based on my book just as a friendly gesture and I suppose because of the friendly feeling engendered by years of reading your blog. The show has become a phenomenon.

Grimson gave me permission to publish that. The Nexflix show is "Brand New Cherry Flavor":

And here's Criswell: 

A "cabal" is "A small body of persons engaged in secret or private machination or intrigue; a junto, clique, côterie, party, faction" (OED). So have at it, cabalists.

"Michelle Obama said that it was 'the best piece of art in any form that I have ever seen,' an observation that put Michelangelo, Mozart and Miles Davis in their place."

"There have been a few detractors but most have been confined to isolated pockets of social media, like guerrilla fighters facing overwhelming odds. What is it that generates so much excitement?... [W]hatever [Hamilton]’s true merits, it has at least bridged the ever-growing gap between Broadway and popular song. Think of it, if you like, as Les Mis for the beatbox generation. Just as the Boublil and Schönberg celebration of life on the Parisian barricades goes overboard with the bombast, so Miranda’s narrative bludgeons you with facts. The one obvious problem is that the rap lyrics are at the same time mundane and relentlessly dense.... The effect is sometimes numbing: imagine if Cole Porter, who had a more nimble grasp of language, wrote nothing but list songs. We’d be bored."

"Hamilton" is reopening in London after the lockdown, so this is a reassessment from Davis. If you want to get into the subject of how people in England respond to an American telling of the Revolution, you'll have to go back to reviews written in 2017. So don't wonder about why Davis isn't doing that. 

He's mostly bellyaching about rap, and I thought the complaint "rap lyrics are at the same time mundane and relentlessly dense" was worth thinking about. I don't listen to enough rap to have a valid opinion, but I do find it offputting because it demands a lot work out of the listener. You have to pay attention... though I always resort to looking up the lyrics and reading them if there are ever lyrics I want to be familiar with, as occasionally happens.

But what is this category of songs called "list songs" — "imagine if Cole Porter... wrote nothing but list songs"? I'd never heard of this, but there's a Wikipedia article:

"A woman in a gorilla mask riding a bicycle threw the small white object past Elder’s head..."

"... as seen in a video posted on Twitter by Spectrum News reporter Kate Cagle. The woman appeared to be white, Elder is Black, and ape characterizations have been used as a racist trope for centuries. Moments later, the woman took a swing at a man who appeared to be part of Elder’s team. The man was hit by at least one other heckler just before Elder was escorted into the SUV." 

Here's the Kate Cagle tweet discussed in the quote: The WSJ piece points us to Kyle Smith's piece in National Review: "Why Isn’t the Attack on Larry Elder the Biggest Story in America?" 

Sunrise rowing.

This morning at 6:35 on Lake Mendota.

"Authoritarians found God. They used religious symbols as nationalist identity markers and rallying cries...."

"Xi Jinping is one of the architects of this spiritually coated authoritarianism. Mao Zedong regarded prerevolutionary China with contempt. But Xi’s regime has gone out of its way to embrace old customs and traditional values. China scholar Max Oidtmann says it is restricting independent religious entities while creating a 'Socialist core value view,' a creed that includes a mixture of Confucianism, Daoism, Marxism and Maoism.... The Chinese internet is apparently now rife with attacks on the decadent 'white left' — educated American and European progressives who champion feminism, L.G.B.T.Q. rights and such. Vladimir Putin... has long associated himself with religious philosophers like Ivan Ilyin and Nikolai Berdyaev. In an essay for the Berkley Center at Georgetown University, Dmitry Uzlaner reports that the regime is casting itself as 'the last bastion of Christian values' that keeps the world from descending into liberal moral chaos.... [M]any of the so-called Christian nationalists who populate far-right movements on both sides of the Atlantic are actually not that religious. They are motivated by nativist and anti-immigrant attitudes and then latch onto Christian symbols to separate 'them' from 'us.'... The pseudo-religious authoritarians... act as if individualism, human rights, diversity, gender equality, L.G.B.T.Q. rights and religious liberty are just the latest forms of Western moral imperialism and the harbingers of social and moral chaos. Those of us on the side of Western liberalism have no choice but to fight this on the spiritual and cultural plane as well, to show that pluralism is the opposite of decadence, but is a spiritual-rich, practically effective way to lift human dignity and run a coherent society."

Writes David Brooks in "When Dictators Find God" (NYT).

He criticizes what he detects to be pseudo religion then urges us to use pseudo religion spirituality against that pseudo religion. Who can draw the line between real and fake religion? There are, I think, many religious people who question within their own mind whether their own religion is truly sincere. I tend to think these would be the most sincere ones. 

One way to try to draw the line between real and fake is to look at whether religion is being used to manipulate and control people, whether it's a matter of worldly power. Then you can criticize everyone who uses religion in politics, but then what can you say about Brooks's idea of fighting "their" religion with the "religion" of the West, full of individualism, diversity, gender equality, and L.G.B.T.Q. rights? You're making religion out of the things you like in this world, and that's exactly what makes you look insincere.

But Brooks isn't claiming his liberal wish list is religion. It's a religion substitute — something that gets into the place in the human mind where religion resides in people who are religious. It's what's "practically effective," tarted up as "spiritual-rich." (Yes, he wrote "spiritual rich," not "spiritually rich." I have no idea why. It sounds like a description of music! Take my hand, precious Brooks.)

"Our politicians, rich people and powerful people have built such houses by shedding people's blood. We hope to see Allah's paradise. This [mansion] doesn't mean anything to me."

September 9, 2021

Sunrise, 6:27.


Write about anything you want in the comments. This is just my recording of the fact that the sun came up this morning, and I was witnessing the predictable but glorious occasion in my usual place beside the lake they call Mendota.

"It was just very cordial, very understanding. He was awesome. He was just talking about the finest of the finest. He said he heard and saw everything that we had said, and he offered his condolences several times, and how sorry he was."

Said Darin Hoover, father of one of the Marines who died recently in Afghanistan, quoted in "Trump reaches out to families of U.S. service members killed in Afghanistan" (WaPo).

Hoover, who traveled to Dover Air Force Base when his son's body was brought home, "declined an offer to meet with President Biden. But out of the blue last week his cellphone rang, and he instantly recognized the voice on the other line: Donald Trump."

I'm blogging this mainly because it's positive coverage for Trump that is appearing in The Washington Post. I read The Washington Post every day, and I find it blogworthy that The Washington Post would treat Trump this well. Maybe it's just pure empathy for the Gold Star father, and I should just stop there, but I read on. 

I think I see the motivation:

"A second federal judge in Washington questioned whether the lead felony charge leveled by the government against Capitol riot defendants is unconstitutionally vague..."

"... as 18 Oath Keepers accused in a conspiracy case urged the court on Wednesday to toss out a count carrying one of the heaviest penalties against them. U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta asked how federal prosecutors distinguish felony conduct qualifying as 'obstructing an official proceeding' of Congress — punishable by up to 20 years in prison — from misdemeanor offenses the government has charged others with, such as shouting to interrupt a congressional hearing. 'Essentially, what you said is, "Trust us,"' Mehta said. '. . . And that is a real problem when it comes to criminal statutes, to suggest, "We know it when we see it, and we’ll pick and choose when it is an appropriate exercise of prosecutorial discretion."'... Prosecutors have brought the obstruction charge in many of the most notorious cases, including against members of the Oath Keepers, Proud Boys and Three Percenters groups who allegedly conspired and prepared in advance for violence.... Prosecutors have sought to distinguish such acts from protest-related civil disobedience that rarely results in prison time and more politically charged offenses such as sedition.... 'The million-dollar question is: What’s the limiting principle?' Mehta said, suggesting the statute 'clearly brings in innocent conduct,' encompassing anyone seeking to influence Congress."

From "Second U.S. judge questions constitutionality of lead felony charge against Oath Keepers in Capitol riot" (WaPo).

WaPo tells us Mehta "was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in 2014" and never mentions the name Obama, though (obviously) Mehta was appointed by Obama.

"In your post, you talk about cutting the statue in 3 pieces."

Says Meade, answering my question why the advertising AI was serving me up an ad for a "plasma cutting table" (something I had to click through and read about even to begin to understand):

When I asked the question, I thought this shows AI is not so smart. I mean, most of the time I get ads that seem apt — cashmere sweaters, expensive lip balm — but this goes to show just how wrong they can be. But Meade is right. My first post of the day, about taking down the Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond, Virginia, refers to the plan to cut the massive bronze object in the 3 pieces. 

So this bizarre item — bizarre to me — actually goes to show how right the AI is. Unlike sweaters and lip balm, this is a very expensive item — "Request a quote!" — and the advertiser scores big if they ever find a customer. Presumably, part of the process for them involves accepting a large number of false positives. But the AI didn't screw up. I'd talked about cutting large pieces of metal.

"While the Ministry of Culture and Tourism is preparing a ban on karaoke songs deemed out of line with 'the core values of socialism'..."

"... city officials are regulating dancing in China’s parks, a popular pastime for retirees.... 'Everything the government does — they do it to maintain the stability of its governance, sometimes without considering the impacts on individuals,' [said Ouyang Haotian, a 22-year-old student]. 'It is a trial and error process, so people have to accept those errors and move on.... [But t]here is a point where government regulations stop working. You can ban artists and certain movies or songs, but you cannot teach people what to think.'"

"That passage links to Chinese language webpages. Here's a Google translation of the page about karaoke. Here's what's forbidden in song lyrics: 

"... Biden’s decisions on withdrawal were mostly buttressed by his long-held belief that, when al-Qaeda was driven out of Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden killed, America’s strategic needs had been met."

"Despite his deep convictions about the correctness of his decisions, Biden brought trouble on himself by offering cheery predictions – such as that the Afghan government wouldn’t fall any time soon. When that proved unrealistic, Biden became defensive, even belligerent, which dented his reputation as a nice guy. Another factor that may have played a role in shaping Biden’s Afghan policy is the striking difference in the nature of the president’s foreign and defense policy team and his domestic policy advisers. The latter is comprised of former mayors, governors, members of congress, and at least one business executive – people of independent standing. But Biden’s national security team is dominated by former aides. The soft-spoken Secretary of State Antony Blinken is a loyal, longtime Biden adviser. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, a youthful-looking 44, was Biden’s national security adviser as vice president. Biden often cites the concurrence of his advisers as confirmation of the wisdom of his decisions, but one gets the strong impression that he makes clear to them what advice he wants."

Writes Elizabeth Drew in "Joe Biden's Afghan Nightmare" (Project Syndicate).

ADDED: Rereading this, I laughed at "dented his reputation as a nice guy."

"Just watched as a massive crane took down the magnificent and very famous statue of 'Robert E. Lee On His Horse' in Richmond, Virginia."

"It has long been recognized as a beautiful piece of bronze sculpture. To add insult to injury, those who support this 'taking' now plan to cut it into three pieces, and throw this work of art into storage prior to its complete desecration. Robert E. Lee is considered by many Generals to be the greatest strategist of them all. President Lincoln wanted him to command the North, in which case the war would have been over in one day. Robert E. Lee instead chose the other side because of his great love of Virginia, and except for Gettysburg, would have won the war. He should be remembered as perhaps the greatest unifying force after the war was over, ardent in his resolve to bring the North and South together through many means of reconciliation and imploring his soldiers to do their duty in becoming good citizens of this Country. Our culture is being destroyed and our history and heritage, both good and bad, are being extinguished by the Radical Left, and we can’t let that happen! If only we had Robert E. Lee to command our troops in Afghanistan, that disaster would have ended in a complete and total victory many years ago. What an embarrassment we are suffering because we don’t have the genius of a Robert E. Lee!

Said Donald Trump, in a written statement at his website, here

1. I had some trouble finding the original statement. News sites quote without linking, and Trump's website is rather hard to find by casual Googling. They don't want you to see it. So, when I finally found it, I made a bookmark, and now I intend to make a point of checking it every day. These efforts to hide things can backfire.

2. I notice that Trump is far more grounded in aesthetics than your run-of-the-mill politician. The first thing he talks about is the magnificence and beauty of the statue. That's my first reaction to this issue: Richmond, you have had a beautiful statue in your midst! Regardless of the extent to which you want to honor or dishonor the man it depicts, it is a work of art. To tear it down because of the ideas you think it represents is like the Taliban blowing up the Bamiyan Buddhas.

3. Trump has a visual mind: The "magnificent statue" is attacked by the "massive crane." He's especially drawn to the huge. That's his word — yooge. And here you have 2 huge things in confrontation. It's epic, the crane vs. the statue, like Godzilla v. Rodan. For that link, I Googled "Godzilla vs." and Google wanted to autocomplete that as... let's just say another large movie monster that it would be distracting to name.

4. But I will sidetrack you into this crucial piece of the Trump-and-art puzzle: To prepare the site for Trump Tower, his yooge monument to himself, Trump famously destroyed prominent Art Deco bas-relief sculpture that had been a focal point of 5th Avenue in New York City. In his new statement, Trump observes that the statue of Lee will be cut in 3 pieces, but Trump completely destroyed that stone artwork. 

5. More visuals: The cut-up sculpture is "thrown" into storage. It will be stored, not completely destroyed. On first glance, you might think you read "complete destruction," but Trump writes "complete desecration."

6. To say "desecration" is to say that the statue of Robert E. Lee contained sacredness. 

7. But the rest of the statement is not about holiness but military aptitude. Trump vaunts Lee as a great military strategist. Like a moviemaker pitching an alternative history script, he visualizes Lee in command of the Union Army: "the war would have been over in one day." And Lee in command in Afghanistan: There would have been "a complete and total victory many years ago."

8. It's not enough to end wars. You need to end them well, something we didn't do with Afghanistan, but which Lee — in Trump's telling — did: "He should be remembered as perhaps the greatest unifying force after the war was over, ardent in his resolve to bring the North and South together through many means of reconciliation and imploring his soldiers to do their duty in becoming good citizens of this Country." 

9. That makes me think of Trump's January 6th speech. After losing (or ostensibly losing) the 2020 election, Trump could have been more of a "unifying force," "ardent in his resolve" to bridge the partisan divide. He could have pursued "many means of reconciliation and implor[ed his supporters] to do their duty in becoming good citizens."

10. Trump enlarges the picture — I think of the crane shot in "Gone With The Wind" — and we see the entire culture. The Radical Left is destroying not just this one sculpture, but everything. This is Trump's cinematic visual mind operating again. The filmmaker has us concentrating on Scarlett looking for one man then pulls back and exposes hundreds of wounded men. 

11. Trump had us looking at one sculpture, then pulls back and urges us to gaze upon the entire culture. The Left is besetting all of "our history and heritage, both good and bad." He's so protective of our culture that he's alarmed about extinguishing "both good and bad." What's wrong with extinguishing the bad?! And isn't the demand for more teaching about slavery and racism the opposite of extinguishing the bad? Let's see it! Let's make kids look right at it.

12. I'm just noticing the very close similarity in the words "sculpture" and "culture." Just pull the "s" and the "p" out of "sculpture" and you have "culture." Sorry, that's just me being visual about letters and words. Is there any meaning to that? Of course there is! Go farther down that road and you might be a poet.

September 8, 2021

Sunrise — 6:29, 6:32.



"In backgrounding partisan politics and foregrounding Lewinsky’s experience of being strung along by the leader of the free world, at great personal expense, whether she knew it or not..."

"... the show makes Tripp an awful friend, a bitter woman, a conservative hack primarily responsible for the world crashing around Lewinsky’s ears, but one who is also granted an inch of ground to stand on. Bill Clinton was far worse than his allies and friends ever wanted to admit. That she chose the most harmful, duplicitous, self-serving way to address this is still true—but if she comes out looking bad, it’s still better than she’s ever looked before."

As for Bill Clinton... why isn't he the villain (at long last)?

"Ms. Spears has told this Court that she wants control of her life back without the safety rails of a conservatorship."

"She wants to be able to make decisions regarding her own medical care, deciding when, where and how often to get therapy. She wants to control the money she has made from her career and spend it without supervision or oversight. She wants to be able to get married and have a baby, if she so chooses. In short, she wants to live her life as she chooses without the constraints of a conservator or court proceeding."

"The comments are no substitute for a Public Editor and since the Times did away with one, there's been very little accountability."

"After being a subscriber for decades, I often don't recognize the NY Times -- not for its inclusiveness, which I welcome -- but for its standards. Often misleading headlines and worse."

One of the comments on "How Your Comments Make Our Journalism Better/Reader responses add an extra dimension to Times articles, and a lot more" (NYT).

"Bro, do I have to sue CNN? They're making shit up. They are saying I'm taking horse dewormer. I literally got it [Ivermectin] from a doctor."

"And CNN is saying I'm taking horse dewormer. They must know that is a lie.... If the internet says it, who cares? But CNN is saying it. Jim Acosta! CNN was saying I am a distributor of misinformation.... I don't know what's going on, man... One of the speculations involves the Emergency Use Authorization for the vaccines. That, in order for there to be an emergency use authorization, there has to be no treatment for a disease. So, because there is this treatment in Ivermectin... there's a lot of pushback against potential treatments, pretending they don't really work or they are conspiracy theories. The grand conspiracy is that the pharmaceutical companies are in cahoots to try and make anybody who takes this stuff look crazy.... But what's crazy is look how better I got! I got better pretty quick, bitch. Because I wasn't scared during the entire pandemic, what they would like is that when I did get sick that I was really sick and became really scared and learned my lesson. Instead, it is the worst-case scenario for them. I bounce back about as quick as I can. They're haters. But that's their life. Imagine spending any time whatsoever wishing that a person felt bad... It doesn't make people feel worse."

Said Joe Rogan, on his podcast, transcribed at Real Clear Politics. This is the same podcast episode I blogged last night, here, but I think this additional transcription is well worth reading and discussing.

He's outraged if something sloppy is said about him, but he lobs a conspiracy theory against  the pharmaceutical companies. But I doubt that he will sue CNN. "Bro, do I have to sue CNN?" is rhetoric, and it works as speech. He doesn't need to get litigious. But maybe he should... 

Should Joe Rogan sue CNN for defamation? free polls

"I have a friend who wears headphones on long solo runs because, he says, 'I can’t spend that much time alone in my head.' I disagree. He can, and he should."

"Spending that much time inside one’s head, along with the voices and the bats hanging from the various dendrites and neurons, is one of the best things about running, or at least one of the most therapeutic. Your brain is like a duvet cover: Every once in a while, it needs to be aired out. I am conflict-averse by disposition and funny by profession, and like the unpopular flavors of soda pop, my darker, angrier and more earnest thoughts tend to accumulate in the dispenser and gum up the works. When I decide to run alone, with nothing in my ears but the air and the occasional gnat, it gives me a chance to rehearse the things I’m too shy or self-conscious to actually say, and to put them into words with the help of my constant left-right-left metronome.... On my runs, unlike in real life, there are no rebuttals, no counterarguments, no ripostes beginning with 'Well, how about the time you —' In my running mind, and only there, my opponents are dumb with sheepish recognition."

Here's the book "The Incomplete Book of Running." I'm thinking of getting the audiobook and listening to it when I go on my run. It's not really a contradiction to what Sagal is talking about because he says he listens to music nearly all the rest of his time, including while writing. I almost never listen to music while reading and writing. Too distracting! I listen to things while walking and (sometimes) while running because I want the distraction. 

And here's my post from September 2nd about mind wandering, where I said: "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... I can access all sorts of ideas about it and tangential to it." I also, like Sagal, do imaginary conversations and practice ideas an arguments. But unlike him, I have rebuttals, counterarguments, and ripostes. I imagine them! Not to torment myself, but because I like debate, and I need to test my ideas.

By the way, how old do you need to be to know what that title — "The Incomplete Book of Running" — refers to? 

"If there is a message, it is to look at the leadership of Mexico here: This is possible, it is happening. When you have adverse conditions, like in Texas, you need to double down on your efforts."

Said Giselle Carino, head of the International Planned Parenthood Federation’s Western Hemisphere region, quoted in "Mexico’s Supreme Court Votes to Decriminalize Abortion/The ruling, which sets a precedent for the legalization of abortion nationwide, follows years of efforts by a growing women’s movement in Mexico" (NYT). 
In its ruling, the Supreme Court had considered a challenge to the law in the northern state of Coahuila, which had set prison penalties of up to three years for having an abortion. The justices struck down the state law, finding broadly that any criminal penalization of abortion violated Mexico’s Constitution.

September 7, 2021

Sunrise panorama.


Joe Rogan talks about his quick bout with Covid and credits various treatments — including doctor-prescribed Ivermectin.


ADDED: Toward the end of this clip, Joe talks about the way people were openly talking about their hope that — because he questioned some of the expert advice — he would get really sick. He laughs. He's able to laugh, because "I was only sick for a day." "It's the worst-case scenario for them: I bounced back.... They're haters. But that's their life. They gotta live like that.... I heard that was going on, but I didn't pay attention. They're weak bitches."

When Biden said "looks like a tornado, they don't call them that anymore," he was trying to think of the word "derecho."

It's fake news to write "Biden twisted inside out as he claims people don't say 'tornado' anymore" (which is a headline in The Washington Examiner).
"The members of Congress know, from their colleagues in Congress that, uh, you know, the, looks like a tornado, they don't call them that anymore, that hit the crops and wetlands in the middle of the country, in Iowa and Nevada. It's just across the board."
I just learned the word myself a few weeks ago, blogged here

He was referring to the storms, last year, I presume. Here's the Wikipedia article, "August 2020 Midwest derecho."
On August 10–11, 2020, a powerful derecho swept across the Midwestern United States — predominantly eastern Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana. It caused high winds and spawned an outbreak of weak tornadoes.... The greatest damage occurred in eastern Iowa, and northern Illinois, where multiple tornadoes touched down.... Terry Dusky, chief executive officer of electrical infrastructure company ITC Midwest, described the storm damage as "...equivalent of a 40-mile wide tornado that rolled over 100 miles of the state."

Now, there is something dumb about Biden's statement. He said "Nevada" when he meant Nebraska. 

"The Taliban have started replacing murals on Kabul’s streets with paintings of their flags and Islamic slogans.... The murals addressed everything from the killing of George Floyd in the US and the drowning of Afghan refugees in Iran..."

"... to the signing of the US-Taliban agreement towards peace and murder of a Japanese aid worker. 'Artlords,' a group of creatives, painted the murals on walls and blast barriers, spending eight years transforming swathes of Kabul until the Taliban marched in....  'All of the murals are an extension of me, extension of Artlords and extension of the artists who worked on them,' [said Omaid Sharifi, the art group’s co-founder]. 'Some of these murals were the soul of Kabul. They gave beauty to the city and kindness to the people of Kabul who were suffering.... These are about the wishes, demands and the asks of Afghan people. It was their voice on these walls.... Our aim was to promote critical thinking and put pressure on the government to accept people’s demands.... There is no vocabulary about art in the Taliban’s dictionary. They even cannot imagine art. I think they don’t understand it, that’s why they are destroying it.'"

I think that many people who can "imagine art" would still have trouble understanding the specifics of these murals. Why should public art in Kabul show George Floyd

6:34 a.m.



"In the days leading up to jury selection, previously sealed court records revealed that [Elizabeth] Holmes may attribute her involvement in the Theranos debacle to a decade-long, allegedly abusive relationship..."

"... with her onetime boyfriend Ramesh 'Sunny' Balwani — also the company’s president and chief operating officer, who is scheduled to go on trial separately early next year — and that she will likely take the stand in her defense..... ... Holmes’s lawyers may claim she was the victim of an alleged 'abusive intimate-partner relationship' with Balwani in which he subjected her to psychological, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse for 'over a decade' that, in turn, led to post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety. According to court filings, Holmes has claimed, among other things, that Balwani controlled what she ate and how she dressed, that he monitored her calls, texts, and emails, and that he threw what are at one point described as 'hard, sharp objects at her.' In addition to providing expert testimony on the subject, Holmes’s lawyers said that she is 'likely to testify herself to the reasons why she believed, relied on, and deferred to Mr. Balwani' in order to demonstrate that 'she lacked the intent to deceive because, as a result of her deference to Mr. Balwani, she believed that various representations were true....  It would... present the government with a difficult strategic decision given the sensitivity of the allegations.... [S]he would only need to convince one person to hang the jury, which would be tantamount to a victory...."

You just need one juror to follow the "believe all women" approach to allegations that the man abused the woman. And if Holmes takes the stand, she'll deploy those powers of hers that bamboozled Henry Kissinger and George Schultz and whatever other experienced, intelligent males fell for her. 

"Memories of the acrid scents of the hospital burn unit haunted her — she showered three times a day and cleaned her home top to bottom over and over..."

"... but she couldn’t escape the stench of rotting flesh. It radiated off her clothes, filled the RV where she lived with her family, and flavored her food. At night, the sensation of sleeping in a 'heap of bodies' kept her awake. She considered shaving her head to stop smelling her hair."

From "The Stench of Living (and Working) With Parosmia" (NY Magazine).

"Don't say 'hostage' until you know it's a hostage situation. Watch out for fake news."

I said in the comments yesterday, after I'd blogged about something else about Afghanistan and commenters tried to redirect me into the "hostage" situation. 

"Did WaPo report on the hostages? Seems like a bigger deal than [what you've chosen to blog about]," one commenter wrote. I've been irked by comments of the don't-blog-that-blog-this kind since 2004. Maybe you've noticed.

Anyway. This morning, speaking of WaPo, I see this headline over there: "Blinken denies Taliban holding Americans in Afghanistan ‘hostage.'" 

I don't trust Blinken, and I think avoiding the word "hostage" might be something you'd do if you had a hostage situation. So let's read: 
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday that some evacuation flights out of Afghanistan have been prevented from taking off because they included passengers without valid travel documents, an explanation that undercuts Republican claims that the Taliban is holding Americans hostage....

"One person who has discussed Trump’s plans but declined to comment on the record... said that 'he really hasn’t decided, but we all think he’ll run … he wants to get in a position to where it’s a turnkey operation once he says yes....'"

"Only one former president, Grover Cleveland in 1892, has ever returned from defeat to reclaim his old office. Trump would turn 78 years old during the 2024 campaign, making him even older than Ronald Reagan when he left office at the end of his second term.... '[Biden] started bleeding, and Trump is like a shark. He smelled blood,' said one confidante with whom Trump has recently spoken. But another cautioned that 'he was running before the Afghanistan debacle. It’s nothing new.'... Former presidents have at times criticized their predecessor, but none have shattered the norms of post-presidential decorum like Trump, who has taken swipes at Biden and offered his own daily commentary."

Why did Politico bring up Reagan like that, noting that at 78, Trump would be "even older than Ronald Reagan when he left office at the end of his second term"? Biden is 78 right now, in the first year of his term. Isn't Biden the proper comparison? 

Anyway, I guess we all know that Trump is running. How can he not, being who he is? Are you happy with that?

Are you happy with Trump running again in 2024? free polls

"In 1890, muckraker Jacob Riis’ 'How the Other Half Lives' chronicled the shocking fate of tens of thousands of New Yorkers, mostly poor immigrants and their children..."

"... crammed into the 'inhuman dens' of disease-ridden tenements. Even back then, though, New York had a law against this, enacted in 1867, giving people a 'legal claim' to 'air and sunlight,' as Riis wrote. The city just didn’t enforce it. Similarly, 146 people died at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory downtown in 1911 not because New York didn’t have laws against locking exit doors, but because the owners didn’t follow them. Both the laws and their enforcement improved, part of New York’s century-long public-health triumph. Now, we’re going backward. Eleven people, including 2-year-old Lobsang Lama, drowned in their basement apartments during last week’s flash floods. Five of the six apartments in which they drowned were illegal. The city knew about at least three of these illegal apartments — and ignored the violations. Most basement apartments are illegal for a good reason: You can’t easily escape from them. But Goth­am has long ignored illegal dwellings: Last year, three people died in fires in illegal units."

"He leaves Marseille. He steals a car. He wants to sleep with the girl again. She doesn’t. In the end, he either dies or leaves — to be decided."

That's what Jean-Luc Godard put on paper for Jean-Paul Belmondo for "Breathless," and the rest was improvisation, according to Belmondo, quoted in "Jean-Paul Belmondo, jaunty star of New Wave classic ‘Breathless,’ dies at 88" (WaPo).
He added that he was comfortable with a film almost wholly dependent on improvisation. “If I’m told exactly how to do everything,” he said, “I become stiff and uncomfortable.” He embraced Godard’s suggestion to “play around” with the character. 
Knowing that Mr. Belmondo liked to shadowbox in character, Godard filmed him boxing in front of a mirror as he experimented with his lines: “I’m not much of a looker, but I’m quite a boxer.” 
The film — sexy, witty, youthful and fatalistic — became a cultural phenomenon. Mr. Belmondo became the subject of articles chronicling “le belmondisme,” his appealing air of insouciance.
AND: There's much to say about Jean-Paul Belmondo, but this is a blog, so I'll just say one thing that is important to me. He makes a prominent appearance in the Donovan song "Sunny South Kensington" — (on the delightful "Mellow Yellow" album). 

The chorus begins with the name Jean-Paul Belmondo:
Jean-Paul Belmondo and Mary Quant got stoned to say the least 
Ginsberg, he ended up dry and so he took a trip out East

What's in the verses? We're invited to take a walk in the London neighborhood of South Kensington, "a groovy place to live." Donovan points out the various characters — girl in a silk blouse who "ain't no freak," "a fella with a cane umbrella" — and tells us how we might act: "flip out, skip out, trip out" and "spread your wings."

Ginsberg is presumably Allen Ginsberg, who was famously in London in 1965. The "Mellow Yellow" album came out in 1966. When did Ginsberg go to India and why? We could read this from an Indian website from 2019: "Disillusioned with America, did the poet Allen Ginsberg find an antidote to rationality in India?" ("India turned his attention 'away from his cosmic obsessions and toward the humanity around him in the swarming streets of Kolkata and Varanasi'"). 

As for Mary Quant, she was celebrated last year in at the V&A South Kensington Museum — South Kensington, the place where Donovan pictured her stoned in 1966 — and here's the museum's video, intended to capture that 60s vibe, half a century after the fact:


I can attest to the fact that the false eyelashes I'm wearing in that picture I used in the sidebar on my now defunct blog The Time That Blog Forgot were Mary Quant eyelashes. The photo was taken by my father in 1968, when I would have been thrilled to wear anything and everything Mary Quant, and my Aunt Dorothy, who lived in London, sent me those eyelashes.

"Relying on an anecdote, arguing ad hominem — these should be mortifying."

Said Steven Pinker, quoted in "Steven Pinker Thinks Your Sense of Imminent Doom Is Wrong" (NYT), an interview with Pinker about his new book "Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters."

Then the interviewer asks him "Do you see any irrational beliefs as useful?" and he says:
Yeah. For example, every time the media blames a fire or a storm on climate change, it’s a dubious argument in the sense that those are events that belong to weather, not climate. You can never attribute a particular event to a trend. It’s also the case, given that there is an availability bias in human cognition, that people tend to be more influenced by images and narratives and anecdotes than trends. If a particular anecdote or event can in the public mind be equated with a trend, and the impression that people get from the flamboyant image gets them to appreciate what in reality is a trend, then I have no problem with using it that way.

Should we be mortified?

I'm sure Pinker could give a rational or rational sounding answer to the question whether he contradicted himself, but let me try to do it myself. You can wish people would favor rationality so much that they'd be mortified by reliance on anecdote and still notice, quite rationally, that as irrationality rages on in the human mind, it will, at least some of the time, drive people in the right direction. 

By using climate change as his example, Pinker is assuming the reader already believes what he believes and what he believes rationally, which is that climate change is indeed an immense problem and one that the less rational people have difficulty facing. So he likes that irrational thought — reliance on "images and narratives and anecdotes" — will work on these less rational people. We already know what we need them to think and that their minds don't work right, so it's okay — it's rational — to do what's necessary to get them to think what it's good for them to think. In that sense, propaganda is rational.

I'm not agreeing with all that, just sketching it out as a sympathetic reader after I flagged a seeming contradiction. 

September 6, 2021

6:23, 6:29 a.m.



"At the close of the 2020-21 academic year, women made up 59.5% of college students, an all-time high, and men 40.5%..."

"The divergence increases at graduation: After six years of college, 65% of women in the U.S. who started a four-year university in 2012 received diplomas by 2018 compared with 59% of men during the same period.... American colleges, which are embroiled in debates over racial and gender equality... have yet to reach a consensus on what might slow the retreat of men from higher education.... Enrollment rates for poor and working-class white men are lower than those of young Black, Latino and Asian men from the same economic backgrounds.... Social science researchers cite distractions and obstacles to education that weigh more on boys and young men, including videogames, pornography, increased fatherlessness and cases of overdiagnosis of boyhood restlessness and related medications. Men in interviews around the U.S. said they quit school or didn’t enroll because they didn’t see enough value in a college degree for all the effort and expense required to earn one. Many said they wanted to make money after high school....  Jerlando Jackson, department chair, Education Leadership and Policy Analysis, at the University of Wisconsin’s School of Education, said few campuses have been willing to spend limited funds on male underachievement that would also benefit white men, risking criticism for assisting those who have historically held the biggest educational advantages. 'As a country, we don’t have the tools yet to help white men who find themselves needing help,' Dr. Jackson said. 'To be in a time when there are groups of white men that are falling through the cracks, it’s hard.'"

"We don’t have any literature that says he made the painting for Tiffany... But we know a little bit about Basquiat... We know he loved New York, and that he loved luxury and he loved jewelry."

"My guess is that the [blue painting] is not by chance. The color is so specific that it has to be some kind of homage. As you can see, there is zero Tiffany blue in the [ad] campaign other than the painting... It’s a way to modernize Tiffany blue."

Said Alexandre Arnault, a communications vice president at Tiffany, quoted in "Basquiat’s friends ‘horrified’ by Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s Tiffany campaign" (NY Post). 

I was going to quote the expressions of horror by Basquiat's friends, but when I got to Arnault's defense of Tiffany, I saw that those expressions were surplusage. You've heard the phrase "The best defense is a good offense." But sometimes the best offense is a bad defense. Defense is self-serving, so when it works against you, it really works. 

Jean-Michel Basquiat died of a heroin overdose 33 years ago at the age of 27.

But Beyonce and Jay-Z are living well and posing artfully....

It's all so stilted, this "modernization." To my eye, Jay-Z is a tribute to the Maxell blown-away guy of the 1980s...

... and Beyonce is a tribute to John Singer Sargent's "Portrait of Madame X":

Not too "modern." 

Then again I could be wrong in my mental associations. At least they are — unlike Arnault's idea that Basquiat mixed that color blue to say "Tiffany!" — unaffected by commercial interests.

"He take me round to the city hospital. The clock was striking ten/I done hear my companion say, 'I don't b'lieve I'll see your smiling face again.'"


A song — "Meningitis Blues" — that I ran into while poking through jug band music on Spotify (which I was doing as a result of listening to a podcast about skiffle music). I thought it made interesting listening during our covid times. 

Here's the Wikipedia article on The Memphis Jug Band, which was "an American musical group active from the mid-1920s to the late 1950s... [that] featured harmonica, kazoo, fiddle and mandolin or banjolin, backed by guitar, piano, washboard, washtub bass and jug [and]... played slow blues, pop songs, humorous songs and upbeat dance numbers with jazz and string band flavors."

"A statue of divisive European explorer Christopher Columbus that was on prominent display in Mexico City will be replaced with a figure of an Indigenous woman..."

"The looming Columbus figure had stood tall on the Paseo de la Reforma boulevard for over 100 years, but on Sunday the mayor of the capital city, Claudia Sheinbaum, said it was time for a change of landscape and to make way for a monument that delivers 'social justice.'... Last month, [President Andrés Manuel] López Obrador asked the country’s Indigenous peoples for forgiveness for the abuses inflicted on them during the bloody 1521 Spanish conquest of the Aztec empire. He has previously called on Spain’s royal family and Pope Francis to formally apologize for atrocities committed during the Spanish conquest at the beginning of the 16th century.... For Mónica Moreno Figueroa, a Mexican academic in the United Kingdom and co-founder of the Collective to Eliminate Racism in Mexico (COPERA), the removal of the Columbus statue is 'symbolically important.'... However, simply replacing Columbus with a possibly anonymous Indigenous woman, in a country that is home to at least 50 Indigenous groups, lacked nuance...."

From "Statue of Christopher Columbus in Mexico City to be replaced by Indigenous female figure/The removal of statues of the explorer has been common in the United States and elsewhere as countries reckon with the public commemoration of their past" (WaPo).

"Attacks such as those of former President Donald Trump on the 'deep state' turned out to be attempts to demolish the bureaucratic state itself."

"The ultimate effect, and often the explicit intention, was to return power to the person of the ruler. In this respect, Trump can be understood as part of a global wave of anti-bureaucratic patrimonialism that includes Vladimir Putin in Russia, Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, and Victor Orban in Hungary. In each case, rule by men requiring unfailing loyalty as a prerequisite for political influence has led to the de-modernization of political authority and a return to personalistic rule. This explains why social divisions about public health measures are so bitter and enduring: They are rooted in divisions about the nature of political legitimacy itself. The global rebellion against the modern bureaucratic state, and the scientific and professional expertise on which it is built, has degenerated into a zero-sum struggle against any effort whatsoever to impose binding, impersonal rules to defend the public good.... The robust defense of rational, reasonable public health measures to fight COVID-19 can play a useful role in pushing back against patrimonialism, in the U.S. and globally."

From "Why can't we mandate anything?" by Stephen E. Hanson (vice provost for academic and international affairs at the College of William & Mary) and Jeffrey S. Kopstein (professor of political science at the University of California, Irvine) (The Hill). 

I added that link on "patrimonialism." And I want to underscore that the authors are saying that mandating things is a way to push back against a system in which power flows directly from the leader. In this view, bureaucracy is a safeguard, and people ought to appreciate it. But how do you get people to appreciate it? One idea that a mask requirement would provide an occasion for speaking persuasively to the people about how "rational, reasonable" experts are working earnestly to preserve good order. 

"After retiring from his 40-year career as a machine operator for Gardner Bakery about 10 years ago, Krieger, 72, filled his days with card games and visits with friends."

"After adding garbage collection to his hobbies, Krieger can’t go anywhere without stopping for litter. He even keeps a backup trash grabber in his car at all times, what he calls his 'gun.' 'In some ways I’m sorry I started, but then I’m thinking, "Just stop. Could you live with it?"' The answer, Krieger said, is always no."

"The Taliban on Monday seized Panjshir province, a restive mountain region that was the final holdout of resistance forces in the country..."

"... cementing its total control over Afghanistan a week after U.S. forces departed the country. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement that the Islamist group had 'completely conquered' the Panjshir Valley. 'Our last efforts for establishing peace and security in the country have given results,” he said. A senior official of the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan, who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, confirmed that the Taliban had taken over. 'Yes, Panjshir has fallen. Taliban took control of government offices. Taliban fighters entered into the governor’s house,' the person said."

"The full title of Mr. Vizinczey’s best-known book was 'In Praise of Older Women: The Amorous Recollections of Andras Vajda.'"

"Its title character was a philosophy instructor who reminisces about finding his way to maturity through his relationships with a series of older lovers. The character’s definition of 'older' — and Mr. Vizinczey’s — may seem odd today; a woman in her mid-30s qualified. But the point, Mr. Vizinczey said at the time, was to provide an alternative to the prevailing view of sex. 'The North American myth that youth is wonderful, that the perfect "woman" is 18 years old, is simply a lot of hogwash,' he told The Gazette of Montreal in 1965, when the book was first published in Canada."

September 5, 2021

6:22, 6:27 a.m.



At the Goldenrod Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

"Mr. Biden is not a Gold Star father and should stop playing one on TV."

Wrote William McGurn, a speechwriter for President George W. Bush, in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, quoted in a New York Times column that strives to put Biden in the most beautifully golden light, "In Invoking Beau, Biden Broaches a Loss That’s Guided His Presidency/Referring to Beau Biden with families of U.S. Marines killed in the Kabul airport bombing drew criticism, but the president remains haunted by memories of a son he described as 'me, but without all the downsides.'" 

That headline appears above a photograph of Biden with his eyes closed and a tear rolling down his cheek. The piece is by White House correspondent Katie Rogers:
Mr. Biden has never claimed that his son died in combat, but he has often spoken of his son’s overseas deployment and the toll it took on his family. Mr. Biden’s supporters say that military families are entitled to their grief, but that the president is also entitled to his....  
The general thinking among Mr. Biden’s supporters is that he is a welcome change from President Donald J. Trump, who was almost always publicly unable to express empathy. They believe Mr. Biden is the right president for this moment in history, one so far marked by the unthinkable loss....

Biden needs to show people that he's focused on the problems that beset us now and that he can do something to help us. To stand there offering up himself as an example of a person who has suffered doesn't send a message of focus and competence. It's a message that can be read as Hey, I've got problems of my own. Faced with parents of marines who'd just been killed, he said, essentially, my son died too. 

His son died 6 years ago. You might be tolerant of an old man who came up to you at your child's funeral and wanted you to know how much he still hurts from the death of his child 6 years ago. It might be difficult, but you'd probably think something like, that poor old guy. But this poor old guy is President of the United States. He asked to be President of the United States, and by some strange twists of fate, he got what he said he wanted. And now everyone's problems are his. He needs to act like someone who can handle all that. If he's swallowed up in grief over his lost son — if he's "haunted," as the NYT headline has it — perhaps he should resign. 

It is possible — though it's awkward to say this — that he's not as absorbed in grief as he acts. He may be doing the theater of empathy. It's worked for him to a certain extent. Some people like to see a big display of empathy in politics. Others — a dead marine's father, McGurn, etc. — are telling Biden he's going too far. If it's theater, he can rein it it. Touch up those speeches. Get back to Obama-level empathy, but stress competence and mental clarity. 

But it's no wonder he's lapsed into the misconception that "Beau" is a magic word. The press has propped him up so much — including with this "Invoking Beau" article. You know, to "invoke" means "To call on (God, a deity, etc.) in prayer or as a witness" or "To summon (a spirit) by charms or incantation; to conjure; also figurative" or "To call upon, or call to (a person) to come or to do something." 

How is Biden "invoking" Beau? 

"Biden’s overall approval rating fell from 50 percent to 44 percent from June, also dragged down by 2-to-1 disapproval for..."

"... his handling of Afghanistan following a chaotic withdrawal. Biden’s ratings for handling the economy also have declined, from 52 percent positive in April to 45 percent in the latest survey."

WaPo reports. 

But elsewhere in WaPo, we have "Opinion: The Supreme Court rides to Biden’s rescue" by Kathleen Parker. 

That's got to be the most predictable column of the week. Yes, Biden's doing horribly, and yes, it's awful the way the Supreme Court couldn't stop that Texas abortion law, but isn't it good for Biden and the Democrats that the threat to abortion rights is suddenly powerfully grabbing the everybody's attention? 

That's my paraphrase. Here's a bit of Parker's pep talk:
President Biden’s personal hell month featured...  Hurricane Ida... Afghanistan... covid-19’s delta variant... a dragging economy... and uncontrollable fires out west.... 
The president has been bouncing all over the four Horses of the Apocalypse....

It's not "four Horses of the Apocalypse." It's Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. And I can't picture bouncing all over them. Is he supposed to be the rider of all 4 horses, like he is all 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse? I don't think the Biblical reference is properly understood here.

Back to the column:

The president has been bouncing all over the four Horses of the Apocalypse, a reluctant gladiator trying to rein in the ruin of his presidency when...

So a gladiator is bouncing on the horses, trying to rein them in? Here's a nice painting of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (by Viktor Vasnetsov, 1887):

"Coffee-pot groups were groups of poor black teenagers, who performed on street corners and tried to reproduce the sounds of the lush records they heard on the radio, using… well..."

"... using the equipment they had to hand. For string parts, you’d play ukuleles or guitars or banjos, but for the horns you’d play the kazoo. But of course, kazoos were not particularly pleasant instruments, and they certainly didn’t sound much like a saxophone or clarinet. But it turned out you could make them sound a lot more impressive than they otherwise would if you blew them into something that resonated. Different sizes of container would resonate differently, and so you could get a pretty fair approximation of a horn section by having a teapot, a small coffee pot, and a large coffee pot, and having three of your band members play kazoos into them. The large coffee pot you could also pass around to the crowd afterward, to collect the money in...."
From "A History of Rock Music in 500 Songs/Episode 6: The Ink Spots — 'That’s When Your Heartaches Begin.'" I'm immensely enjoying this podcast, so I recommend starting with "Episode 1: 'Flying Home' by the Benny Goodman Sextet." 

There is so much detail to the story — the story of rock music — and I've simply pulled out one sample passage that's both really interesting and demonstrative of the level of detail to be found. I love that the podcaster, Andrew Hickey, gives us a complete transcript. It's nice for people who want to share things on line and start conversations, as I'm doing here.

I'm up to "Episode 15: 'Hound Dog' by Big Mama Thornton."

"With the aid-dependent country’s economy in free-fall — nearly 80 percent of the previous government’s budget came from foreign aid that has been cut off..."

"... the United Nations has convened a 'high-level ministerial humanitarian meeting' in Geneva on Sept. 13 to appeal for aid. Nearly half the country is 'malnourished,' said the U.N.’s humanitarian coordinator in Afghanistan, Ramiz Alakbarov. Nearly half of all children under the age of 5 are predicted to be acutely malnourished in the next 12 months, the U.N. said. Still, there were signs of a creeping return to a kind of normality, as domestic flights resumed and the U.N.’s humanitarian flights restarted. Two cash transfer agencies, Western Union and MoneyGram, reopened for business, a vital step for a country with a large diaspora."