October 16, 2021

Sunrise — 7:15, 7:11.

I arrived on the scene at 7:11 and waited for what I called "the dot": 

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There it is, our dot, our orb — the star of the show, the whole show, life on Earth. 

That's not me admiring the sun. I was taking that photograph. But 4 minutes earlier, pre-dot, it was me in the photograph, greeting the photographer, Meade:

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"From every direction, in every direction, people are moving: zigzagging by foot, wheel, and hoof."

"A man selling newspapers walks backward toward an approaching carriage. A trolley car nearly cuts off an automobile being pursued by a gaggle of taunting children. At one point, a man stands in the middle of the street, folding his handkerchief and gazing absently as figures weave around him."

"It’s an orchestrated series of near misses. But nobody gets hurt. An ancient law is at work: right of way."

Writes Brett Simpson in "Why Cars Don’t Deserve the Right of Way/The simplest way to make roads safer and reduce police violence at the same time" by (The Atlantic)(pointing to the embedded film that shows San Francisco in 1906, days before the devastating earthquake).

From the Roman viae publicae to the king’s roads of medieval England, Western public roads operated around a common premise: that every person has the right to travel unimpeded, with equal priority. Horses, walkers, and carts––and later bikes and trolleys––moved in a constantly negotiated balance of power. 

But as cars multiplied, horsepower became the enemy of equity....

"According to Ms. Evangelista’s lawsuit... those stubborn fat deposits that balloon beneath their skin do not look like normal flesh."

"Instead, they resemble longish, solid rectangular bars — which in fact, reproduce perfectly the shape of the hand-held CoolSculpting wand, the device that is passed over the flesh to 'freeze' the fat. In other words, in cases of [paradoxical adipose hyperplasia], the body permanently takes on the precise contours of the tool used to reshape it. The body has literally, visually, internalized the weapon that deformed it and conformed to that weapon. In Ms. Evangelista’s case, she says her body created a permanent, visible record of what it — and she — were supposed to conceal."

The NYT writer, Rhonda Garelick, works hard at portraying Evangelista's medical problem as a Greek tragedy. Evangelista, I would say, was the most beautiful model of her time. She could have been satisfied with her glory and resisted all treatments, not deigned to allow anything as gross as a CoolSculpting wand to come anywhere near her perfect — or erstwhile perfect — self. 

I don't think Garelick pulls off the Greek tragedy comparison, because look how she's blaming the world — a world obsessed with women’s hyper-visibility has dispatched her so swiftly to invisibility

No, no, if this is to be a Greek tragedy, it's Linda's fault! 

But this is to be a NYT article, so the woman can't be to blame. She's a victim of the culture. Ordinariness.

"Did you know what a caparison is? It's those crazy clothes they put on a horse."

I say out loud as Meade looks over my shoulder at this image:

Those are the Dukes of Brittany and Bourbon on caparisoned horses at a tournament fight (1460s), from "Le Livre des tournois" by Barthélemy d'Eyck, illustrating the Wikipedia article "Caparison." 

I encountered the word this morning in the sentence "But he prances in his new caparisons, and neighs a happy scorn at the old." 

The "he" is a grotesque racist Democratic Senator (in 1905), who popped onto my blog this morning as I delved into the weird word "bestridden." Having been turned on by one weird word — because I desperately needed to say "on an Earth bestridden by Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos" — I was vulnerable to the lure of any other weird word, and "caparison" was that word. 

From the Wikipedia article:

"It might be supposed that a melancholy man would here make acquaintance with a grim philosophy."

"He should learn to bear patiently his individual griefs, that endure only for one little lifetime, when here are the tokens of such infinite misfortune on an imperial scale, and when so many far landmarks of time, all around him, are bringing the remoteness of a thousand years ago into the sphere of yesterday. But it is in vain that you seek this shrub of bitter sweetness among the plants that root themselves on the roughness of massive walls, or trail downward from the capitals of pillars, or spring out of the green turf in the palace of the Caesars. It does not grow in Rome; not even among the five hundred various weeds which deck the grassy arches of the Coliseum. You look through a vista of century beyond century,—through much shadow, and a little sunshine,—through barbarism and civilization, alternating with one another like actors that have prearranged their parts: through a broad pathway of progressive generations bordered by palaces and temples, and bestridden by old, triumphal arches, until, in the distance, you behold the obelisks, with their unintelligible inscriptions, hinting at a past infinitely more remote than history can define. Your own life is as nothing, when compared with that immeasurable distance; but still you demand, none the less earnestly, a gleam of sunshine, instead of a speck of shadow, on the step or two that will bring you to your quiet rest. How exceedingly absurd!"

Wrote Nathaniel Hawthorne in "The Marble Faun," one of my favorite books, in a passage that I'm reading this morning because — as you know if you are reading this blog chronologically — I am studying the word "bestridden."

"The political warhorse of the past has been checked, martingaled, cruppered, and bestridden by King Cotton."

"But he prances in his new caparisons, and neighs a happy scorn at the old. 'We Democrats,' he avouches, 'are few potatoes in the hill at Washington, and we don't cut much figure;' therefore, let us hold and mind our own cotton at home, 'for the future is bright and promising.'... 'At Washington my policy, which some of the newspapers don't like, has been to get anything in sight for the South when I saw the chance, and I tried to get it, right or wrong, honestly or dishonestly, because the people up there have been stealing from us for so long."
 
That's from "King Cotton and King Grass," published July 10, 1905 in The New York Times. 

If you're reading this blog in chronological order — bottom to top — you probably know why I'm reading that. Writing the previous post, I needed the past participle of "bestride," and it seemed to need to be "bestridden," but I had to convince myself that the word wasn't disqualifyingly silly. 

Have you ever been checked, martingaled, cruppered, and bestridden? Have you ever pranced in a new caparison and neighed a happy scorn? Do you remember when Democrats were few potatoes in the hill at Washington? 

Who was that article about? Ben Tillman. His story is as far as you can get from silliness. Wikipedia summarizes:

It's all going as planned.

I said "Nice PR" back in 2018 when "Banksy Painting Self-Destructs After Fetching $1.4 Million at Sotheby’s." 

On Thursday, three years after Banksy’s act of destructive creation, the anonymous buyer put up for auction “Girl With Balloon,” or rather, its successor — the retitled “Love Is in the Bin.” After nine bidders battled for 10 minutes, the semi-shredded artwork sold for $25.4 million. That’s more than three times the auction house’s top estimate going into Thursday’s auction and more than 18 times what the spray-paint-on-canvas creation sold for in 2018 when it was intact.
Does anyone really care? Art commenting on the commerce of art has been going on for more than a century. Or maybe you find it lightly amusing, the impish artist. Is there satire in the sight of $1.4 million growing into $25.4 in 3 years? I'd say it's not really enough profit — on an Earth bestridden by Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos — to be perversely funny. Just a random transaction. 

In trying to present Sanjay Gupta as a science-is-real hero for talking to Joe Rogan for 3 hours, CNN laid the groundwork for fact-checkers to draw attention to all the most damaging omissions.

Fox News embraces the opportunity in "CNN praises Dr. Sanjay Gupta for interview with Joe Rogan, buries viral moments" (Fox News).

Ironically, CNN's self-serving effort to make Gupta look better than he did has the unintended effect of highlighting Rogan's serious and informed questioning about the vaccine and the covid therapeutics. And, more generally, it undermines CNN's reputation for journalism. 

Lots of transcribed conversation and video clips at the Fox News link.

That's just Fox News. I'm sure other sites are working on the same material, and I look forward to hearing what Joe himself has to say about the way Gupta enjoyed his hospitality for 3 hours then retreated into CNN world and trashed him. 

I say "his hospitality" because that's the feeling the podcast gives the listener and it's something Joe openly talked to Gupta about creating. You have the sense that these are 2 friends talking the way they'd talk all evening if they got together for drinks. You could accuse Joe of setting a trap, making the guest feel too comfortable and amiable. But I think Gupta knew what he was doing, and he intended to trap and use Joe too. 

October 15, 2021

Sunrise at 7:11, 7:12.

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"Students said they sat in stunned silence as [Laurence] Olivier appeared onscreen in thickly painted blackface makeup."

"Even before class ended 90 minutes later, group chat messages were flying, along with at least one email of complaint to the department reporting that many students were 'incredibly offended both by this video and by the lack of explanation as to why this was selected for our class.' Within hours, Professor Sheng had sent a terse email issuing the first of what would be two apologies. Then, after weeks of emails, open letters and canceled classes, it was announced on Oct. 1 that Professor Sheng — a two-time Pulitzer finalist and winner of a MacArthur 'genius' grant— was voluntarily stepping back from the class entirely, in order to allow for a 'positive learning environment.'...  'Of course, facing criticism for my misjudgment as a professor here is nothing like the experience that many Chinese professors faced during the Cultural Revolution,' he wrote. 'But it feels uncomfortable that we live in an era where people can attempt to destroy the career and reputation of others with public denunciation. I am not too old to learn, and this mistake has taught me much.'...  The Olivier film was controversial even when it was new. Writing in The New York Times, the critic Bosley Crowther expressed shock that Olivier 'plays Othello in blackface,' noting his 'wig of kinky black hair,' his lips 'smeared and thickened with a startling raspberry red' and his exaggerated accent, which he described as reminiscent of 'Amos ‘n’ Andy.' (To 'the sensitive American viewer,' Crowther wrote, Olivier looked like someone in a 'minstrel show.')"

See for yourself:

"The dozen young people said they were part of a now 3,000-strong troop of young Zemmour activists who dub themselves 'Generation Z.'"

"They describe themselves as radical but not extremist, backing a man who wanted to get to the root of France's perceived ills. 'Zemmour speaks often about insecurity, it's a big topic. He has the courage to speak openly about it, without mincing his words. That touches me especially as a woman...We don't talk enough about insecurity in France,' said [23-year-old Anne-Lys] Falicon."

"A polarising figure who has made a TV and writing career testing the boundaries of political correctness, [Eric] Zemmour accuses the political class of allowing a steady erosion of traditional Christian values and national identity in France. Born in Paris to Jewish Algerians who emigrated to metropolitan France in the 1950s, Zemmour points to himself as an example of how France once successfully assimilated its migrant population. Now, he says, waves of immigrants have been allowed to loathe France and push back against its core values."

"The U.S. military has sent 'gender and protection advisors' to Fort McCoy... to address gender-specific needs of the nearly 13,000 men, women, boys and girls..."

"Gender advisors for the Department of Defense were created by a 2018 law that mandates the U.S. military to address the gender needs of people and minorities in war and conflict zones.... The Wisconsin State Journal reported in September that some Afghan women at the base had faced harassment by Afghan men, many of them former members of the Afghan military. One Afghan man at the base was charged in federal court for sexually abusing two underage boys, while another is charged with choking and suffocating his wife."

"Now, could someone write an erudite, historically informed analysis arguing for why 'trap house' should be considered offensive?"

"Sure—and [Yale Law School diversity director] Yaseen Eldik, in his lecture to the sender of the email, has provided a helpful outline. But if you have to write a mini-dissertation on why something should be seen as offensive—or deliver a twenty-minute speech, as Eldik did—then it’s… probably not offensive.... In situations like this one, involving an allegedly offensive communication, law schools should have a 'meet and confer' requirement, like courts do when it comes to discovery disputes. Before the administration gets involved, the complaining students should be required to try and talk things out with the offending party.... ... I think that when students disagree with each other or take offense at certain statements made by other students, the students should be allowed to work out those differences on their own, without involvement by the administration (except in the most extreme circumstances). I recognize that the viewpoint I'm about to articulate is seen in some circles as naive or outdated, but I still believe that the proper response to misguided or offensive speech is more informed and appropriate speech (again, excluding situations of harassment, threats, and the like, which I realize can occur)."

"Hyper-educated?! Who's hyper-educated?"

 

Here's the column: "What happens if the progressive vanguard talks mostly to itself?" (WaPo, Megan McArdle). 

McArdle is reacting to the Ezra Klein piece about the progressive election analyst David Shor that we talked about back here. She writes: 

Shor thinks the left has a major problem with its youthful and well-educated activist base, which staffs left-leaning newsrooms and runs campaigns. They focus, naturally, on issues that excite them, and Shor told Klein “the things that are most exciting to activists and journalists are politically toxic.”... 

As Matt Yglesias pointed out on Twitter, “A closed circle of young, college educated staffers is likely to end up further off-center the more they talk to themselves.”... 

Democrats cannot afford to cater only to that hyper-educated class — not in a country where only a third of the population has a bachelor’s degree.

I don't even know if I'd call people who've gone to college educated. Especially these days. But hyper-educated? What the hell is that? Is it like hyperventilating — it goes to your head, makes you dizzy?

Hey, I looked it up in the OED. Not only is the prefix "hyper-" defined — it means beyond/over — but there's a separate entry for "hypereducated" and the one historical quote is from James Joyce, from "Dubliners" (1914): 

Had she really any life of her own behind all her propagandism? There had never been any ill-feeling between them until that night. It unnerved him to think that she would be at the supper-table, looking up at him while he spoke with her critical quizzing eyes. Perhaps she would not be sorry to see him fail in his speech. An idea came into his mind and gave him courage. He would say, alluding to Aunt Kate and Aunt Julia: “Ladies and Gentlemen, the generation which is now on the wane among us may have had its faults but for my part I think it had certain qualities of hospitality, of humour, of humanity, which the new and very serious and hypereducated generation that is growing up around us seems to me to lack.” 

"Oh, my gosh... there’s a rock in my bed."

Said Ruth Hamilton to the 911 operator, quoted in "Meteorite Crashes Through Ceiling and Lands on Woman’s Bed/After a fireball streaked through the Canadian sky, Ruth Hamilton, of British Columbia, found a 2.8-pound rock the size of a large man’s fist near her pillow." (NYT). 

Hamilton was asleep in bed at the time, 11:35 p.m., and she called 911 before understanding what had happened, and then "noticed a large charcoal gray object between her two floral pillows."
“It just seems surreal,” Ms. Hamilton said in an interview on Wednesday. “Then I’ll go in and look in the room and, yep, there’s still a hole in my ceiling. Yep, that happened.”...
Ms. Hamilton did not sleep the rest of that night, she said, and sat in a chair, sipping tea as the meteorite sat on her bed.... 
"My granddaughters can say that their grandmother just almost got killed in her bed by a meteorite,” she said.... 
The odds of a meteorite hurtling into someone’s home and hitting a bed in any given year is about one in 100 billion....

The article fails to say how much Hamilton's meteorite is worth. It ends saying she plans to keep it, but  she's got a hole in her roof to fix, and isn't it too valuable to display in your home? The article mentions a Christie's auction of meteorites that raked in $4 million. 

"For the first time since Donald Trump left office, he has surpassed Joe Biden as the betting favorite to win the 2024 presidential election."

"Trump emerged as the favorite Monday at multiple offshore sportsbooks to return to the White House in 2024. On Wednesday, he became the top choice over President Biden at Smarkets, a London-based betting exchange. Trump also is now the favorite at Ladbrokes sportsbook in London. According to Smarkets, the former president has a 20 percent chance.... Biden’s odds dropped to 19 percent (+426), and Vice President Kamala Harris’ odds dropped to 13 percent (+669).... 'Trump’s odds have been improving all year and in particular since Biden’s poll ratings began declining this summer,' [said Smarkets head of political markets Matthew Shaddick], 'There is absolutely no sign of Republican voters deserting him....'"

"The difference between is that Carter was a bumbling fool. Biden is destroying this country on purpose."

That's the most-responded-to comment at a WaPo column by Marc A. Thiessen called "It’s the 1970s all over again, and Joe Biden is the new Jimmy Carter." 

That commenter says: "The headline for this piece is all wrong. Biden is nothing like Carter. He is much much worse. He is trying to make this country into a socialist communist place." 

From the column: 

"[Joe Rogan] seems to see himself less a rapscallion and more of a sort of guardian of the galaxy, pointing out the missteps made by large institutions..."

"... such as the government and mainstream medicine, and then wondering aloud if they can still be trusted to make recommendations or even mandates for the rest of us."

To many, he represents a queen bee in a hive mind, advancing free will and personal liberty above all else. The free will of your fist ends where my nose begins. When I said this to Joe, the MMA fighter, he paused, sat back and listened for a while. I asked him: Is it not possible to advocate strongly for personal freedoms, but also recognize the unique threat a highly contagious disease represents?...

"Could Led Zeppelin happen today? Could one of the world’s biggest bands get away with making albums without as much as their name on the cover..."

"... with making far-reaching, hugely ambitious music that veers anywhere from heavy metal thunder to folky laments, all bound together with lyrics that delve into the mysteries of the universe? The answer is a resounding no. 'We used to throw songs into the live set that we hadn’t recorded yet, just for fun.... We did that with Immigrant Song at Bath Festival in 1970, and nobody had heard anything like it. You don’t have that freedom now because it would be posted online immediately. It was a fun time as a creative musician, a fun time to be in a band.... The singles the Yardbirds were forced to make broke their spirit... I didn’t want to get caught up in it. You’d do Whole Lotta Love and then the record company would say of the next album: where’s the Whole Lotta Love? It was a trap.'... Page is mysterious, rather glamorous, and above all focused and organised.... Plant is... bumbling and haphazard.... 'When I’d had enough of being with Jimmy Page,' Plant said... 'When I’d had enough of being a rock star, I would go for long walks on the Welsh borders. It cleared my head.'"

October 14, 2021

7:07 a.m.

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Talk about whatever you like in the comments.

Joe Rogan corners Sanjay Gupta.

All Gupta can do is smile and act casual and charming.

"By all rights, Russiagate should be dead as a serious news story. But as the Real Time episode showed, 'collusion' is still alive for some..."

"... and the bulk of the case essentially rests now upon the characterization of one person from the above passage as a Russian agent: a former aide to Paul Manafort named Konstantin Kilimnik...."

"How prescient was Jimmy Carter when he made his 'malaise' speech in 1979? The seeds he saw being planted have now..."

"... grown to sad, desperate fruition. What he said then might well describe where we are now: 'There are two paths to choose. One is a path I’ve warned about tonight, the path that leads to fragmentation and self-interest. Down that road lies a mistaken idea of freedom, the right to grasp for ourselves some advantage over others. That path would be one of constant conflict between narrow interests ending in chaos and immobility. All the traditions of our past, all the lessons of our heritage, all the promises of our future point to another path — the path of common purpose and the restoration of American values. That path leads to true freedom for our nation and ourselves. We can take the first steps down that path as we begin to solve our…problem.'"

Here, feast upon Carter's "malaise" speech (about which I must say, lest you feel you need to say, the word "malaise" never appears):

 

I'm blogging this because earlier this morning — before I saw the Spectator article, when I was just scanning the economic news — I got to thinking about the old "malaise" speech. At the time, I said, "That means we get Reagan next."

"But you all know how much I love Oregon, and how much I’ve been seared by the suffering of old friends there. So I’ve reluctantly concluded that I should try not only to expose problems but also see if I can fix them directly."

Writes Nicholas Kristof, quoted in "Nicholas Kristof Leaves New York Times as He Considers a Political Run/Mr. Kristof, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, is weighing a run for governor of Oregon, the state where he grew up" (NYT). 

Kristof "grew up on a sheep and cherry farm in Yamhill, Ore." That sounds wonderful.

"Instead of guessing — or worse, allowing politicians to favor explanations that fit their political agenda — it behooves us to find out the cause or causes of this phenomenon."

 Writes Jennifer Rubin, in "We should not have to guess why Americans are quitting en masse" (WaPo).

She says that right after asserting: "We know what is not a cause: unemployment benefits."

She proceeds to say: "Academics, private pollsters and government researchers need to get cracking." But why didn't she wait before asserting that government benefits are not sapping people of their will to work. 

And she goes on to suggest the very explanations that, unlike government benefits, would serve what I think is her political agenda:
Have more women than men quit? Have retail employees and others who deal with the public (e.g., airline attendants) had enough of the epidemic of rotten manners and even physical abuse they receive?... If the issue is child care, then the president’s Build Back Better agenda is essential... If the issue is fear of covid-19, the administration needs to start suing states that are attempting to ban lifesaving mask and vaccine mandates....

I certainly want accurate understanding of the causes of problems and well-designed solutions, but I don't trust Rubin — or the academics, private pollsters, and government researchers she calls on — to do anything that's not skewed by the quest for political power.

Elsewhere in The Washington Post, I'm seeing "Why is everyone quitting, and how do I know whether it’s time to leave my job?/Waves of Americans are leaving their jobs as part of the ‘Great Resignation.’ Here’s why."  This is a big topic because we just learned that 2.9% of the American workforce quit in August!

"I heard a big boom... The back window of the car just busted out — exploded. Then the guy jumped up and started screaming.... He was like, 'What happened?' And was like, 'You fell.' I was thinking, thank God, it probably helped that he had a fluffy jacket on."

From "Man plunges nine stories from NJ high-rise, lands on BMW — and survives" (NY Post).

What is a gender-neutral dressing room?

I'm trying to understand "A Black Trans 'Hamilton' Cast Member Has Filed A Discrimination Complaint Against The Show/In the federal complaint, Suni Reid said their contract was suspended after requesting a gender-neutral dressing room" (BuzzFeed).

Is this a demand for one's own separate dressing room while all the rest of the cast is using either the men's dressing room or the women's dressing room? Or is it a demand to remove the separation of men and women into 2 different rooms and mix the sexes in all of the dressing room space? 

It sounds as though Reid was using the men's dressing room:
According to the complaint, which was filed with the Los Angeles office of the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, Reid was repeatedly misgendered and mocked for their gender presentation during performances of the show. In dressing rooms, male cast members allegedly derided them for wearing dresses, at times calling them "auntie" and "Madea."

October 13, 2021

Good night!

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The morning shows "say whatever comes to their mind, like writing a fictional novel" and books "are made up stories and should only be sold as fiction."

According to a "Statement by Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States of America" that went up yesterday.

Here's the full text (which is, I assume, someone's tightly edited transcription of what Trump is saying these days):
Not even possible to believe the lies, exaggerations, and outright fraud committed by very poorly rated Morning "News" Shows about the January 6th protest. They say whatever comes to their mind, like writing a fictional novel. The press has lost its way at a level that is not even believable. Books, likewise, are made up stories and should only be sold as fiction. These are terrible human beings that do this to our Country. The 2020 Election was a fraud rife with errors, irregularities, and scandal. The Radical Left knows it, the media knows it, and the Patriots of our Country know it, and now the U.S.A. is paying a big price—it is very sadly going to hell!

I try to remember to check Trump's website every day, so I can get the equivalent of what once were his tweets. I see that today he sent us to the Newsweek article: "Bob Woodward Says He's Never Seen a Former President With as Much Political Strength as Trump"

Here's the full quote from Woodward (who does not put this "strength" in a positive light):

Katie Couric writes that she was "a big RBG fan" and — deciding that Ginsburg was "elderly and probably didn't fully understand the question" — suppressed part of Ginsburg's statements about football players who take a knee during the national anthem.

The Daily Mail reports.
The published story, which Couric wrote for Yahoo! News in 2016, did include quotes from Ginsburg saying refusing to stand for the anthem was 'dumb and disrespectful', but omitted more problematic remarks. Ginsburg went on to say that such protests show a 'contempt for a government that has made it possible for their parents and grandparents to live a decent life.' She said: 'Which they probably could not have lived in the places they came from... as they became older they realize that this was youthful folly. And that's why education is important.' 

Much worse than what Ginsburg said is the possibility that Ginsburg didn't understand the question in 2016! Couric is hurting Ginsburg much more now, but at least she's confessing her own journalistic sins. 

We're told that the day after the interview "the head of public affairs for the Supreme Court emailed Couric to say the late justice had 'misspoken' and asked that it be removed from the story." It seems more likely that Couric allowed Ginsburg to edit her remarks than that Couric decided Ginsburg didn't understand because she was elderly! If Ginsburg couldn't understand things because of her advanced age, then she did not belong on the Court!

We're also told that Couric sought help from her "friend, David Brooks," and he agreed that "Ginsburg probably didn't understand the question." Give me a break!

"A raft of evidence suggests that female voters, whose engagement and activism fueled the gains that Democrats made during Donald Trump’s presidency, are increasingly tuning out politics."

"In one survey conducted in May by the Democratic super PAC American Bridge 21st Century, nearly half of women in key swing states said they were 'paying less attention to what happens in Washington' than they were when Trump was in the White House. This was particularly true among female Biden voters who are independents, under the age of 35, college graduates and city dwellers.... This sense of growing political ennui among women comes through in focus groups, says Democratic pollster Celinda Lake. 'People are exhausted,' she explains. 'We have people deliberately saying, "I am just taking a break — enough."'"

You shouldn't want to keep people continually activated. Let us live our real lives on a human scale. If you won't leave us alone to do that most of the time and you manipulate us into a continual agitated state, our humanity will deteriorate and then what's the point of democracy? You're asking for the choices of people who shouldn't be trusted. If women are leading the way withdrawing from political activism, good for us. I bet many sensible men are doing the same thing.

I review the news every day because I have this blog, so I have to see the headlines and quotes from politicos — all these things that are obviously designed to crank us all up. The stuff that's supposed to get you on any given day will be forgotten in a few more days. 

Most of it I pass on instantly, but I choose some things because they fit something I want to write, but then, it's funny to me to look back on political posts from a year or a month ago, because so often I can't even remember what that item was. I mean, pick an old week from the archive in my sidebar and scroll down to see what the political posts were about, what people were angsting over back then. You'll probably struggle to remember what was that thing that I was supposed to get so worried about?

WaPo's front page features 2 different articles about North Korea promoting its superiority.

1. "Shirtless soldiers lie on broken glass, smash bricks with hands as Kim Jong Un vows ‘invincible’ military": "The extraordinary videos were part of a 'self-defense' exhibition on Monday in which totalitarian North Korea showcased its latest nuclear and other weaponry..."

2. "Netflix hit 'Squid Game' is so big North Korea is using it to slam South Korean society": "While the dystopian series has gripped viewers around the world with its gruesome tale of economic despair and deadly childhood-inspired games, a North Korean state-run website says the production serves to highlight the 'beastly' nature of 'South Korean capitalist society where mankind is annihilated by extreme competition.' In a post published Tuesday, the website said 'Squid Game' reflects an 'unequal society where the strong exploit the weak.'... In June, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un branded South Korea’s entertainment scene — including K-pop — 'a vicious cancer.' He accused it of corrupting the 'hairstyles, speeches and behaviors' of North Koreans...."

"What I would love to do is to communicate as much as possible the jeopardy, the vulnerability of everything. This air which is keeping us alive is thinner than your skin."

Said William Shatner, back on earth.

Sunrise — 7:12 and 7:15.

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"Back in 2005, there was a very specific incident that had made Chappelle realise his comedy might be harmful. In a sketch he considered to be ironic..."

"... he was dressed in blackface and dancing, when he heard the loud echo of a white man’s laughter reverberate across the set. To Chappelle, this was evidence that his satire wasn’t working: regardless of his intention, some people felt he was giving them the green light to laugh at an oppressed minority. Over 15 years later, The Closer confirms that Chappelle is no closer to remedying his original problem. After all, he is still drawing out mean-spirited laughs from a crowd – the difference is that the laughs are now at the expense of another marginalised group."

ADDED: As we were talking about yesterday, here, Chappelle uses the idea of blackface in his new show, in the context of imagining "TERFs" questioning what transgender women are doing: "They look at transgender women the way we blacks look at blackface. They go 'Oh, this bitch is doing an impression of me!'" That was criticized by a transgender woman who said “He compared my existence to someone doing blackface.” 

Now, in that old Chappelle show incident, Chappelle himself was in blackface, that is, Chappelle was doing a "impression" of his own "existence" and envisioning it in a negative way. That would be comparable to a transgender woman wearing makeup, clothing, and a hairstyle of a type that she herself didn't respect but thought was demeaning! That's more like what a drag performer might do. 

When should women who are not transgender say "Oh, this bitch is doing an impression of me!"? The real answer, I think is, when the getup is an expression of hatred toward women. That's when the blackface comparison is apt. 

ALSO: I said "That's more like what a drag performer might do." Note the "might." A drag performer might admire and respect women and might outright loathe women. There's a whole range in between that's involves satirizing women and clowning in the guise of a woman. But these performances are themselves subject to critique. You can do it, but we get to talk about your doing it.

October 12, 2021

7:15 a.m. with 100% cloud cover.

IMG_7690D

 Write about anything you want in the comments.

The Washington Post ought to have the nerve to open a comments section on this article.

"Netflix CEO argues that Chappelle’s new special, criticized as transphobic, is too popular to cancel" by Julian Mark. 
The memo followed condemnation from Jaclyn Moore, a transgender writer who worked on the Netflix original “Dear White People”.... 
Last week, Moore... wrote on Twitter that Chappelle used to be one of her “heroes.” “But he said he’s a TERF,” Moore wrote. “He compared my existence to someone doing blackface.” Moore said she was “done” with Netflix.

I recommend more speech. Why is what transgender women are doing different from blackface? Moore's answer is implied and worth discussing: Because it's "my existence." 

By the way, I was just reading the 1995 book "Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley" and I encountered this:

Liveability's "2021 Top 100 Best Places to Live in America" just came out.

 And it ranks Madison, Wisconsin #1.

"These days, we understand Thoreau to have been a nonpracticing gay man, whose retreat to his weatherized cabana at Walden was... an anti-heteronormative broadside."

I'm trying to read "Thoreau in Love/The writer had a deep bond with his mentor, Ralph Waldo Emerson. But he also had a profound connection with Emerson’s wife" by James Marcus (The New Yorker). 

I've taken an ongoing interest in Thoreau ever since I encountered him when I was a high school student in the 1960s, and I've noticed and blogged things about him throughout the 17 years of this blog, and I'm even also interested in the subject of historical figures who might have been gay. How did I miss the development of this understanding that Thoreau was "a nonpracticing gay man"? 

If he's nonpracticing, and he didn't talk about it, whence the idea that he was gay? Doesn't that erase asexuality?

Anyway. Let's read:

"Gruden also criticized President Obama during his re-election campaign in 2012, as well as then-Vice President Joseph R. Biden, whom Gruden called a 'nervous clueless pussy.'"

Oh, no! You can't do that! 


Interesting to see that now "clueless pussy" is fit to print.

"[Iohan] Gueorguiev made his name overcoming challenges hurled at his body and spirit. He was a star in the world of 'bikepacking'..."

"... long-distance bike travel conducted off main roads. Calling himself the Bike Wanderer, he stood out for his Beatnik-like romanticism about the open road, in contrast to the competitiveness of many bike jocks and gear heads.... [H]e spent from April 2014 to March 2020 biking from the Canadian Arctic Circle to its South American antipode, the icy mountains and valleys of Patagonia.... He shot his videos with a simple GoPro camera charged by a portable solar panel.... Headwinds on desert plains required him to take long breaks sheltered behind rocks and make a campsite in a stray shipping container, which itself shook from powerful gusts.... A spirit of generosity helped him get by. 'Hey, beautiful!' he called out to a large bear staring at him. When a tanker truck passing him on the road kicked up a storm of dust, he waved cheerfully in response. When he was running out of food on a particularly arduous journey, he nevertheless fed tortilla-and-peanut-butter sandwiches to stray dogs.... With the onset of the pandemic, Mr. Gueorguiev found himself stuck in Canada, unable to cross borders because of travel restrictions....  Mr. Gueorguiev had in recent months discussed feeling pressure about being unable to produce exciting new videos for his patrons.... He was also suffering from insomnia. 'I think I can get some sleep when I’m dead,' he wrote in a suicide note...."


"Most of us have gone on some sort of spiritual or existential odyssey in the last 19 months. Some were André, burning it all down..."

"... in the name of growth (and broadcasting it to anyone who would listen). Others were Wally, hiding under electric blankets, an anodyne to the suffering of the world because 'our lives are tough enough as it is.' Most of us were both — self-aware enough to know what’s coming but not yet brave enough to get out. Over a digestif, André concedes that his experimental antics have gotten old in the same way his past life has, and he has ended up with more questions and torment than before. His struggles to find meaning have been in vain, like interrogating an unexamined life, or a forever war or a plague. When the check arrives, André pays, Wally splurges on a cab home and nothing is resolved. No moralizing or grand resolutions — just malaise, the kind you’re left with after you meet up with an old friend who talks about himself the entire time."

From "'My Dinner With André' at 40: Still Serving Hot Takes The film was a feature-length conversation. And it is still stirring up plenty of chatter today" by Mariella Rudi (NYT). 

The movie — my favorite movie — premiered 40 years ago yesterday. I don't watch movies that often these days, but I did watch 2 movies in the last 2 days, which I rarely do. One was a movie that gives me a similiar experience to "André": "Coffee and Cigarettes." The other could be compared to "André" in that it's about the loss of the soul in a world of media: "To Die For."

ADDED: In the closing credits to "Coffee and Cigarettes," we hear Iggy Pop's version of "Louie Louie," which contains the line: "Turn on the news/It looks like a movie/It makes you want to sing/'Louie Louie.'" Iggy appears on one segment of the movie, consuming coffee and cigarettes with Tom Waits. Both men have quit smoking, and the celebrate quitting by having a smoke. 

The last thing you see in the credits is "Long live Joe Strummer." I had to google to try to understand what that was about. I don't really know, but I found this:

 

And this — from a 2019 interview with the director, Jim Jarmusch:
You cast musicians frequently in your films and one of my favorite bits of casting is Joe Strummer in 1989’s Mystery Train. What drew you to Joe Strummer as “Elvis”? 
Joe Strummer is a friend of mine, someone I deeply admire. He’s quite an interesting actor, he’s very focused. He and I were sort of like brothers in a way. Joe Strummer, in the most minimal way, taught me one of the most valuable things I’ve ever learned about human expression. That is what all of Strummer’s friends know as “Strummer’s Law,” these four words: no input, no output. You see that in The Clash, you see that in their openness to rockabilly, to reggae, to soul music, to hip-hop. You know, see that openness. In that way, The Clash are the antithesis of the Sex Pistols, who were super great in their style of reduction down to the essence. The Clash were open … like “Throw open the doors, see what the wind blows in on us.” Strummer was a very important person in my life. He’s someone who I miss a lot. I try to ask him advice sometimes, even now, and see what channels back to me. A remarkable person. I was so honored to know him.

Ah. Joe Strummer died in December 2002. "Coffee and Cigarettes" came out in 2003. Elvis died in 1977.

October 11, 2021

Sunrise on Lake Mendota and cranes at the turtle crossing.

This morning at 7:12 and 7:26:

IMG_7680D

"Why Are Moms Like Me Being Called Domestic Terrorists?"

 Asks Maud Maron (at Common Sense with Bari Weiss).

I am a mother of four, a criminal defense attorney and a lifelong liberal who is deeply concerned about the direction of New York City’s public schools. I’ve been outspoken about my views, along with an untold number of frustrated parents. For that, the FBI is considering using the PATRIOT Act against me....

The FBI is responding to the National School Boards Association, which pointed to troubles like:

... prank calls; a single individual in Ohio yelling a “Nazi salute in protest of masking requirements”; another individual in Washington State whose disorderly conduct prompted the board to call a recess; “spreading misinformation” online, and disorderly conduct arrests.

 Maron has herself served on a school board (in Manhattan):

"There’s three things the Amish don't like. And that's government— they won't get involved in the government..."

"... they don't like the public education system— they won't send their children to education — and they also don't like the health system — they rip us off. Those are three things that we feel like we're fighting against all the time. Well, those three things are all part of what Covid is.... When [the Amish] take communion, they dump their wine into a cup and they take turns to drink out of that cup.... The first time they went back to church, everybody got coronavirus.... It’s a worse thing to quit working than dying. Working is more important than dying. But to shut down and say that we can't go to church, we can't get together with family, we can't see our old people in the hospital, we got to quit working? It's going completely against everything that we believe. You're changing our culture completely to try to act like they wanted us to act the last year, and we're not going to do it.... Oh, we're glad all the English people got their Covid vaccines. That's great... good for you... Us? No, we're not getting vaccines.... We all got the Covid, so... all the Amish know we got herd immunity. Of course we got herd immunity!... We think we’re smarter than everybody. We shouldn’t be bragging, but we think we did the right thing."

"He said, 'It's your fault for encouraging these videos."

I got there via Know Your Meme, where Nikocado Avocado is a "Top Entry This Week." 

I was at Know Your Meme for something completely unrelated, the meme "Chad" — because that New Yorker humor piece (blogged in the previous post) used the name Chad, repeatedly, but possibly not within the well-known meme. There was the idea that "Dating a Chad (a man named Chad or a man with Chad energy)" should require you to overcome a filibuster in your chat group. There were 5 more iterations of the name Chad in that piece. 

Do the famous New Yorker fact-checkers check to ensure that nothing in an article is a meme or, if it is, that it's used intentionally and correctly? Or are they shaking their fist at the internet and yelling "It's your fault!"

"Bringing a child into this nightmare world. This should require two-thirds, too. If you want to feel maternal, you can care for my plant, Fernie Sanders."

So reads one punchline in a New Yorker humor piece, "The Filibuster Belongs in my Group Chat, Not the Senate." 

There are 3 authors for this short piece. Speaking of group chats, this is group humor. The authors are Ginny Hogan, Alex Connolly, and Katy Fishell. That might be 3 women, but I don't know. 

Also on the list of individual decisions the friends as a group control with a filibuster:
Hosting a destination wedding. This should be constitutional-amendment rare—so, like, two-thirds to bring a vote.....

Is the humor in agreeing with the notion that other people are making bad decision in this area or is it in thinking that friends who want tight control over their friends' decisions are horrible? Or is it funny because you can't really tell? Alternative position: It's not funny. 

I do think the hostility toward destination weddings is real, but the intrusion into decisions whether to bear a child must be intended to reflect badly on the proposal to subject it to a filibuster. I note that the filibuster is set up to make it harder to choose to go through with a pregnancy. There's an implication of forced abortion! The proposal is not to subject a decision to get an abortion to the filibuster. 

I know, I'm ruining all the humor. I can do that all on my own.

Even though there's no reference to women in that humor piece, it's clearly about the way women feel about other women and how much they desire to control them and how their go-to technique is to weaponize their need to be part of a group.

"Harry Truman-style, Biden should press Republicans about what benefits they propose to deny to Americans who need them."

Writes E.J. Dionne in "Biden needs a reboot. Fighting for democracy is the key" (WaPo).

That got me wondering what "Harry Truman style" actually looked like, so I watched this:


Here's the text of the full speech (from September 1948). Here's part that's in the video: 
It does my heart good to see the grain fields of the Nation again. They are a wonderful sight. The record-breaking harvests you have been getting in recent years have been a blessing. Millions of people have been saved from starvation by the food you have produced. The whole world has reason to be everlastingly grateful to the farmers of the United States. In a very real sense, the abundant harvests of this country are helping to save the world from communism. Communism thrives on human misery. And the crops you are producing are driving back the tide of misery in many lands. Your farms are a vital element in America's foreign policy. Keep that in mind, that is of vital importance to us and to the world.

"Defeats, inaction and compromise drag Biden’s poll numbers down"/"'Frustration is at an all-time high': Behind Biden’s falling poll numbers."

There's an interesting difference between the front page teaser — "Defeats, inaction and compromise drag Biden’s poll numbers down" — and the headline that appears at the article — "'Frustration is at an all-time high': Behind Biden’s falling poll numbers" — in The Washington Post.

The first is an active declarative sentence. You've got 3 things (defeats, inaction and compromise) doing something  (dragging Biden's poll numbers down). The second is vague and imprecise. On the one hand you've got "frustration" — whatever that refers to — and we'll just put that over there on the one side of a colon. On the other side, you've got Biden's falling poll numbers, and they're just falling for whatever reason. You'll have to read the article.

We see a photograph of a black man in a hoodie and a wool beanie, and he's looking sad. The caption says he's the founder of the Black Male Voter Project. His name is W. Mondale Robinson. I'm just going to guess the W is for Walter.

The "frustration" quote comes from him. He also says: "Black men are pissed off about the nothingness that has happened." Which is a great quote. They're not just pissed that nothing has happened. They're pissed about the nothingness that has happened. And he says: "They can’t call me and ask me to serve my brothers up on a platter for their benefit." 

You wouldn't know from the headlines — either of them — but this article is about how black people — black men — don't like Biden. I wonder why the headline writer muffled that. Democrats are obviously aware of how much they need black voters, so why not shout out the alarm? 

Is it another pathetic effort to protect Biden? The highest-rated comment over there suggests that is indeed what WaPo readers want:

"Absent a controlled experiment in which people are randomly assigned to either have or not have an experience, we are left with several uncertainties."

"We cannot be sure if the experience harmed the person’s mental state (in this case, that Instagram caused teenagers to become depressed); if the person’s poor mental state led to the experience (that depressed teenagers are more likely than others to use Instagram, or to use it more often); or if some other, unmeasured variable (such as family conflict) contributed to both the experience and the mental state, creating the appearance of a direct association between the two factors.... We need much better research than that described in the Facebook documents to sort out these competing accounts. Such research would be able to control for pre-existing differences between people who do and do not use the platform, to monitor them over time to look at changes in mental health during the period tracked, and to measure mental health with standardized measures of symptoms before and after.... [G]iven the widespread eagerness to condemn social media it’s important to remember that it may benefit more adolescents than it hurts.... We are told again and again that correlation is not causation, but we readily ignore this maxim when we are looking for an account that we hope is true."

Writes Laurence Steinberg in "Does Instagram Harm Girls? No One Actually Knows" (NYT).

Steinberg is a psychology professor who specializes in adolescent development. Here's his book: “Age of Opportunity: Lessons From the New Science of Adolescence.”

It's ludicrous that there's pressure to legislate when there isn't even any decent research on the subject. We've got some absurd political theater going on right now with the evil corporation, the heroic whistleblower, the secret documents, and the agitation to — quick — do something! 

What happened to the idea that we must be scientific about everything? What is it that causes the erstwhile elitists to degrade into the kind of people they'd otherwise call deplorable? 

The obvious hypothesis is: Political gain. The real goal isn't to help the kids at all but to increase the power of the Democratic Party. There is a noxious hope of coercing Facebook into controlling the flow of information in a manner that will serve the interests of the Democratic Party.  

I don't know that for a fact. Test my hypothesis. But the presumption should be against legislating, especially when the plan is to regulate speech.

October 10, 2021

Rowing at daybreak.

IMG_7640

"The couple had planned to live together in her home but Swedish police insisted it could not be made secure."

"They wanted her to live in his tiny flat, in effect a 'closet' where he kept all the paintings no one would exhibit, [said a friend of the artist, a retired judge who] had been trying to broker an agreement between the couple and police. Now it is too late. [The artist's girlfriend] suspects excessive speed — it was normal for the police car to travel at 100mph on the motorway — may have killed her partner: she had often been 'quite scared' in the days when she was allowed in the car. 'I would grab Lars’s arm,' she said. But she never complained. 'I’m sad our last year was spent like birds in a cage, I alone here, he at his place,' she added, tears in her eyes. 'I miss him terribly.'"

And there's this, from another friend of the artist: "It was as if he had some disease... If you touched him, you got it as well — became a persona non grata or a pariah."

"The backlash has led to police telling her she should stay off campus for now and teach classes online."

"Officers have become so concerned about her safety that she has been given a direct hotline to call.... One social media user shared a picture of a man with a gun and the invitation 'Kathleen Stock rest your weary head.' Another post described her as 'on the wrong side of history' and said she would die alone. The academic, who is a lesbian, broke down in tears as she told of a 'culture of fear' taking over university campuses.... For the past three years she and a group of like-minded feminists have argued that men cannot become women by surgery and that it is important to protect women-only spaces in institutions such as prisons and refuges.... The campaigns against Stock date back to 2018 when a consultation was launched over the Gender Recognition Act and whether people should be able to decide for themselves which gender they wanted to identify as, without the need for a medical opinion. Stock spoke out against it. There were death threats at the time and a spy hole was set up in her office door for her safety."

"Prince William, who joined crisis talks with his grandmother and father over the decision to remove Andrew from public life, agrees that the change should be permanent."

"'There is no way in the world he’s ever coming back, the family will never let it happen,' says a royal source. 'William is no fan of Uncle Andrew,' says a friend of the Duke of Cambridge. Another source close to William says that one of the 'triggers' that 'really gets him' about Andrew is his uncle’s perceived 'ungracious and ungrateful' attitude towards his position, which William considers 'a risk' and 'threat to the family.'... One of Andrew’s problems is that he is not very popular. Mention his name in royal circles and courtiers roll their eyes. As one former aide explains: 'He’s not made any friends on the way up, so no one is helping him on the way down.' One Whitehall source describes him as 'a self-important bore.' A military source who has dealt with Andrew on several engagements does not mince words: 'I’ve got no time for Andrew. He’s a total dickhead, an arrogant shit.'"

Foolosophy.

It's the word of the day at the OED, and it means what you think — foolish philosophy. 

It's an old funny word, traced all the way back to 1592:
1592 ‘C. Cony-Catcher’ Def. Conny-catching To Rdr. sig. A3 That quaint and mysticall forme of Foolosophie.

I had to look up "Cony-Catcher"/"Conny-catching" too, and I imagined, wrongly, that it was a reference to female genitalia. But, no, "coney" is the skin of a rabbit. And to "coney-catch" is to swindle. 

From 1907:
1907 Putnam's Monthly May 188/1 ‘Man is truly handicapped by reason.’ Doubtless, when it comes to this kind of ‘Foolosophy’. 
But what kind of philosophy was it? Here's the whole essay from Putnam's: "Quack Journalism."

"Ordinarily staid and silent Supreme Court justices have become whirling dervishes of late, spinning madly to rebut the idea that Americans are beginning to regard the court as a dangerous cabal of partisan hacks."

Writes Maureen Dowd in "The Supreme Court v. Reality" (NYT). 

I've already blogged this topic many, many times, including multiple times recently. I'm only linking for one reason: The casual — and offensive — disrespect for whirling dervishes!

 

"This kind of whirling is a form of physical meditation.... It is a form of worship...."

Dowd is treating the religion of The Other as ridiculous and silly. How is that still happening in the New York Times? I presume the continuing disrespect for fundamentalist Christians is intentional, but the Whirling Dervishes are Muslims!

From the Wikipedia article "Sufi whirling"

Trump rallies in Des Moines.


"As disastrous as the Biden administration has been, no one can blame the great state of Iowa, because boy we did really — we did really good here. Iowa, what a place!"

"How my Chef plates the cheesecakes at one the most expensive wedding venues in my city."

"'Crème anglaise' with Smuckers strawberry and chocolate sunday sauce, oh and if the crème anglais looks foamy to you it's because its just ice cream he left out."
 
From r/Kitchen Confidential (photo at the link).

The misspelling of "sundae" and lack of an apostrophe in "it's" are in the original, but no one paid the poster a lot of money to get it right.

Top comment: "Wedding venues are a total racket, seriously." To which someone appended: "Weddings in general." Other comments in that vein: "Some weddings go disastrously wrong. Like everyone says, the whole business is a racket"/"Well it's literally capitalizing on a shared state of emotional vulnerability between two people. Even the basic premise of the wedding planner is major fishy"/"I think it's also a little bit that offering any wedding-related service involves dealing with horrible, stressed-out customers with insane budgetary and time restrictions, and sane, qualified people don't want to do it. Like, I've planned events. But I wouldn't touch weddings with a ten foot pole. Certainly not for what most budget-grade wedding planners make. Same with photography. I'm a professional photographer, I've even shot friends' weddings. There's absolutely no way you could pay me enough to do it for strangers."

"British Airways has advised pilots and cabin crew not to refer to passengers as 'ladies and gentlemen' in onboard announcements as the carrier celebrates the 'diversity and inclusion' of its customers...."

The Telegraph reports today.

That caught my eye because I was just reading  a diary entry from 2017 in David Sedaris's new "Carnival of Snackery" about the decision to get rid of "Ladies and gentlemen" in announcements on the London Underground:

There’s something sad about this to me. It’s like a casual Friday for language, only it’s not just on Friday. I rather liked being thought of as a gentleman. Yes, I’d think whenever I heard it, I believe I’m up for this

The new announcements, he writes, would begin “Hello, everyone.”  

You know, it's funny that "Ladies and gentlemen" lasted as long as it did. Even 60 years ago, it sounded old fashioned. It was corny announcer-talk. It seemed to imagine an audience that was much more dressed up and proper than the people who'd actually shown up. It added some humorous grandeur or an edge of hucksterism. And that was long before any complicated gender critique bubbled up in the culture. 

ADDED: Milton Berle used to say "Ladies and germs" as a joke.

"Prince Harry’s mental health start-up has trebled its valuation in just eight months to $4.7 billion (£3.5 billion) after scoring $300 million from investors..."

"... including a secretive fund run for Silicon Valley tycoons such as Mark Zuckerberg. The latest cash injection will help BetterUp, where the Duke of Sussex is chief impact officer, to expand globally. It recently unveiled plans to open a London office and hire about 75 staff. The California-based company’s app costs $249 a month for users in the US, who get one-to-one coaching sessions on everything from mental health and nutrition to work and childcare. Prince Harry joined the company this year and has been on paternity leave after the birth of his daughter Lilibet."

The London Times reports.

Look at how money flows to that man! What work is he actually doing for this company? I mean, even when he's not off on paternity leave? Do Zuckerberg et al. really believe there are hordes of people able and willing to pay $249 a month for "one-to-one coaching sessions" on miscellaneous subjects — enough to explain a company worth $4.7 billion? 

I wonder if the one-to-one coaches will ever help subscription-payers with their addiction to Facebook?

And what is a "chief impact officer" anyway?

As long as they're handing out billions, why not propose mammophants as a way to fight climate change?

I'm reading "The climate crisis is spawning weird ideas to fix it. They might be all we have" (WaPo):
A new company called Colossal Laboratories & Biosciences recently announced plans to “de-extinct” woolly mammoths through genetic recombination with Asian elephants. Part of the rationale for this kooky experiment is to address climate change. Permafrost — frozen soil rich in organic carbon — is melting in the north, releasing carbon into the atmosphere and threatening to liberate up to twice as much carbon as is already present. Colossal says it wants to halt that process by unleashing beasts to uproot trees and stomp down grass to expose more permafrost to the cold Arctic air... Permafrost was once stable not because mammoths roamed the tundra, but because the climate was very cold and dry, which also allowed the animals to thrive, says Vladimir Romanovsky, a professor of geophysics in the Permafrost Laboratory at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks. The company’s plan has cause and effect reversed.

It's easy to laugh that one off... isn't it? But what's the next less laughable thing in the line of desperate proposals? And what if something that would work is mixed in and we're just skeptical about everything? 

If you're inclined to be skeptical, you're probably taking the easiest route of all and just being skeptical about the catastrophic anthropogenic climate change itself. Who cares how much of scam the proposed solutions are if you don't even believe there's a problem? 

Those who believe there's a problem feel desperate for a solution, and funding solutions is political activity that appeals to those who feel desperate. That's worrisome to those of us who just want the very best and most accurate science and technology.

But — oh, look! — elephants! We are babies. 

The authorities have decided that Martha Sepúlveda — that Colombian woman who was planning to get euthanized today — must live.

WaPo reports: 
[A] medical committee determined that she no longer met the conditions because her health had apparently improved.... She had no idea health officials were even meeting to review her case. She had been quietly living out her final hours, and had tuned out media coverage of her case. 

“She canceled her phone plan because she thought she was going to die tomorrow,” her lawyer, Camila Jaramillo, said on Saturday night. Jaramillo’s law firm, the Laboratory of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (DescLAB), has vowed to fight the decision, which it described as “illegitimate and arbitrary,” and one that violated her right to a “dignified death.”...

Here's my post from 2 days ago, based on WaPo's story about the planned event. The authorities say their new decision is based on the "high probability" that her disease — ALS — wouldn't kill her within 6 months, but it's very hard not to suspect that the news reports — especially the big WaPo article — caused the authorities to retreat from strong support for euthanasia. It's not just that the public was put in a position to express disapproval. It's also that she participated in publicity, providing evidence that the committee relied on:

Sepúlveda appeared on television smiling and laughing as she dined at a local restaurant this month.... 

ADDED: The authorities seem to have unwittingly inflicted something like the torture of a mock execution. Not exactly like, of course, unless there have been some victims of mock execution who, preparing to die, genuinely wanted to die.