November 13, 2021

Sunrise, 6:55.


Deer at sunrise.

As seen from the path:


Zoomed in:


I'm surprised that I saw the one deer, not that the second deer was invisible to me until I saw the second photograph. I still can't see the second deer in the first photograph.

"On the dubious assumption that the Mandate does pass constitutional muster—which we need not decide today—it is nonetheless fatally flawed on its own terms."

"Indeed, the Mandate’s strained prescriptions combine to make it the rare government pronouncement that is both overinclusive (applying to employers and employees in virtually all industries and workplaces in America, with little attempt to account for the obvious differences between the risks facing, say, a security guard on a lonely night shift, and a meatpacker working shoulder to shoulder in a cramped warehouse) and underinclusive (purporting to save employees with 99 or more coworkers from a 'grave danger' in the workplace, while making no attempt to shield employees with 98 or fewer coworkers from the very same threat). The Mandate’s stated impetus—a purported ‘emergency’ that the entire globe has now endured for nearly two years,' and which OSHA itself spent nearly two months responding to—is unavailing as well. And its promulgation grossly exceeds OSHA’s statutory authority."

From the 5th Circuit opinion, which came out yesterday, extending the stay of OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard "pending adequate judicial review" of the motion for a permanent injunction. 

The news of "moral panic."

1. "The conservative moral panic over a new California bill on children's toys" (SF Gate): The purported "moral panic" is criticism of a bill that requires toy stores to have a "gender neutral" section. Who's closer to a condition that can be called "moral panic" — the people who push through legislation like this or the people who don't appreciate the regulation? 

2. "The BBC and The Times are accused of stoking a 'moral panic' against the trans community" (Insider). A trans person asserts "I now feel like I'm a disease, a problem, something that needs to be gotten rid of, because every story that features in the British press about trans people is negative." There was a BBC article recently, "We're being pressured into sex by some trans women" about lesbians objecting to being called transphobic because they only want to have sex with people who are biologically female. (Isn't this Insider article itself raising a moral panic — about attacks on transgender people?)

4. "A Frenzy of Book Banning" by Michelle Goldberg (NYT). "[T]he paranoid belief that liberalism is a front for pedophile cabals is a staple of the QAnon conspiracy theory. This spreading moral panic demonstrates, yet again, why the left needs the First Amendment, even if the veneration of free speech has fallen out fashion among some progressives." (But isn't there also a moral panic about QAnon?)

5. "Election guru Rachel Bitecofer: Democrats face '10-alarm fire' after Virginia debacle Democrats could still win midterms and stop Trump's coup, says election forecaster — if they actually had a plan" (Salon). Republicans are using "the bogeyman of 'critical race theory' to mobilize white voters anxious about demographic change and overly eager to protect their children (or other people's) from the truths of American history" and Democrats lack "anything close to an adequate defense against these racist moral-panic attacks." (Isn't this idea of "Trump's coup" also a moral panic?)

6. "‘Traditional Values’ Unite Both Sides in a New Ideological Cold War/Republicans and global authoritarians around the world from different political, cultural and social contexts use alarmingly similar tactics" (Moscow Times). "Far-right demagogues from Moscow to Texas increasingly incite moral panic to stir up tensions and deflect from domestic troubles.... [Putin] did not address public health measures and instead chose to rail against 'cancel culture' and gender-segregated bathrooms in the West."

7. "How Did Paul Gosar Become Such a Deranged Meme Lord?/'You are a dentist, for God’s sake. You don’t need to be tweeting these "Attack on Titan" memes'" (Daily Beast)."You’re seeing these weird shades of conspiracy theories—there’s a softer, leftier tinge to all of these. I’m seeing people with, like, anime avatars using astrology to argue [Travis Scott's Astroworld concert] was a Satanic ritual... There is sort of a soft spiritualism, I think, among certain Gen Z and millennial cohorts… I think that these audiences are a little bit more receptive to moral panics than older folks might realize."

8."How France's ‘great replacement’ theory conquered the global far right" (France24). 'The people who watch that interview and who may fall for this moral panic, this idea that they’re going to be replaced ethnographically... don’t want to be called racist and will say they’re defending civilisation."

"The form-fitting dresses and retro color palette that Sinema favors are a way of broadcasting her bona fides as a middle-class politician and thus someone in step with middle-class values."

"One might laugh at how literal this sounds as political stagecraft, but consider that almost all people in this country think of themselves as middle class, regardless of how much (or little) money they have. It is our cultural default, and we see it as normative. We use 'middle-class' interchangeably with other powerful nationalist signifiers like 'citizen,' 'voter' and 'American.' And, though my progressive comrades may balk at this comparison, if you compare Sinema to some of Congress’s best-known female politicians, her style is easily the most accessible to her constituents. I know enough about fashion, and how much it costs, to know that few American women can afford to dress like, for instance, the preternaturally turned-out Nancy Pelosi. In fact, part of what makes Sinema’s style performance so uncomfortable for many of us is how middle-class it is: She doesn’t seem to be trying to do better. But that does not mean her style story lacks aspiration.... [Her] presentation reads like 'someone who’s got a catalog budget but is trying to imagine what that high-end editorial looks like, someone who aspires to be cool and edgy.' One dimension of class in Sinema’s sartorial performance is that it is basic but aspirational, not in power, but in coolness."

Another article about Kyrsten Sinema's clothing in the NYT. This one is "How Kyrsten Sinema Uses Clothing to Signal Her Social Class" by Tressie McMillan Cottom, who is "an associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Information and Library Science, the author of 'Thick: And Other Essays' and a 2020 MacArthur fellow."

"I wish students had the choice of either writing essays or speaking them."

"We would train them in the ability to speak carefully and coherently with the same goal of making a point that we require in writing.... It is unclear to me that there is a reason to classify oral suasion as something lesser than the written version, as long as students are instructed that they are to maintain a basic, tempered poise, without relying on volume or colorful rhetoric to stand in for logic. Some will object that students will need to be able to craft arguments in writing in their future endeavors. But to channel the modern kind of skeptical response: Will they, though? How elaborate do memos get? And especially, are enough students really likely to need writing that it must be drilled into all of them?... To be sure, only formal writing can harbor 'Beloved' or 'Ulysses,' extended scientific proofs or detailed historical documentation. However, when it comes to individuals expressing their intelligence for assignments or teaching, I cannot see that writing is the only legitimate and effective vehicle."

Writes John McWhorter, in "If You Have Something to Say, Then Say It" (NYT).

He specifies that he's not talking about "the mano a mano of debating or the thrilling but colloquial speechmaking of preaching." He's interested in what he calls "formal oratory."

November 12, 2021

Sunrise, before the first snow of the season.


"Today, I want to talk about a revolutionary approach to how to connect our world — without being super-weird."

"Sucking in the stomach and keeping your abdominal muscles tense as you go about your day might seem innocuous, but... [it] can have physical and mental consequences over time."

"Beyond potentially affecting the pelvic floor muscles, which are involved in posture, urination, bowel movements and sex, sucking in your gut all the time 'could alter the mechanics of your abdomen; it could alter its ability to respond to demands in the environment.... It could change your breath patterns.'... Habitually contracting your oblique abdominal muscles can exert force down on the pelvic floor muscles and potentially cause the pelvic floor to become overwhelmed, which could have consequences such as incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse.... 'When you activate those upper abdominal muscles, you’re creating an increase in intra-abdominal pressure at baseline.... Many people’s fixation with having a flat stomach, or at least the appearance of one, has largely been fueled by a well-intentioned idea about health and fitness — having a strong core — that has been taken to the extreme.... While you should engage those muscles if you’re lifting a barbell, you shouldn’t be tensing them at full strength when you’re standing in line at the grocery store.... Consistently sucking in your stomach could alter the appearance of your abdomen, including a protrusion of the lower abdomen and a flaring of the rib cage. To begin retraining your muscles, experts recommend consciously trying to relax and let your stomach out...."

Who knew this was a problem?! I suspect it's symbolic of a whole set of problems — shallow overachievement leaving you in worse condition than if you would just relax and take it easy. 

Live-streaming the Rittenhouse trial.

"UW-Madison told its employees on Thursday that they must be vaccinated by early 2022 to comply with a vaccine mandate for federal contractors."

"The university said the order applies to all workers, including student employees, those working remotely from home and part-time workers. About 95% of employees are already fully vaccinated.... Roughly 1,800 UW-Madison employees have not yet provided proof of vaccination.... The University of Wisconsin System last month said it would comply with President Joe Biden’s executive order to avoid jeopardizing millions of dollars in federal contracts."

"How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?"

An interesting question, attributed by many people — including the President of the United States — to Satchel Paige. I'm encountering it this morning because Instapundit linked to a Pajamas Media item called "Joe Biden Refers to Satchel Paige as 'The Great Negro.'" Yeah, Biden ought to speak more fluently, but he was obviously trying to say "the great Negro Leagues pitcher" and got tripped up, perhaps because he knows you're not supposed to say "negro" without "leagues" immediately after it. 

Quick! Say "Leagues" or there's big trouble! Could everybody just calm down?

Anyway, Biden was just trying to get to the quote, "How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?" I hadn't seen the thought put like that, which seems a bit like a Zen koan. I like it! I certainly like it much better than the very trite "You're only as old as you feel" or this meme I saw on Facebook recently: "The sad part about getting older is that no one can see you're still young on the inside."

What does "feeling old" consist of? Each of us has our own internal experience, which includes a lot of imagining how other people feel, and if you are old but think you "feel young," aren't you just saying you don't feel the way you — with your anti-oldness prejudice — have ascribed to various old people who are not you? But how do you know how they feel? It's a big bundle of bias. 

Anyway, I like the format of the observation in "How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?" But did Satchel Paige originate it? I was pleased to see that Quote Investigator has looked into this already. It found the quote in a 1927 sermon that was discussed in a New York newspaper. Satchel Paige supposedly said it on his 47th birthday, which was in 1953.

"It was a Razzie-worthy performance in my view, but I’m not the target audience for this sick show."

Writes Ja'han Jones, in "Kyle Rittenhouse’s white crocodile tears hold value in America/The man charged with homicide in the deaths of two anti-police brutality protesters put on quite the show for a nearly all-white jury this week" by  (MSNBC).
The Rittenhouse murder trial is being prosecuted in front of a nearly all-white jury, before a white judge who uses conservative lingo to describe protesters, in a country where white vigilantism is often excused, if not worshipped. In that context, Rittenhouse’s tears, real or not, have tremendous value. There’s a type of person who is vulnerable to emotional appeals from violent white men, and Rittenhouse’s attorneys only need one of 12 jurors to fit the profile to win this case.... 
From the outset, the Rittenhouse murder trial has been theater, with a cast of characters who are seemingly meant to vindicate conservatives’ violent hero worship. Rittenhouse’s waterworks were an essential part of the act, painting him as a reluctant killer instead of a boastful one. His acquittal would set a dangerous precedent, but it could be the finale we’re headed toward. 
Prepare yourself for much more of that. The media are not going to help preserve the peace if Kyle Rittenhouse is acquitted (or the judge grants the motion for a mistrial with prejudice).

I watched in real time as Rittenhouse broke down and cried, and I said:

November 11, 2021

At the Rainy Day Café...

 ... there's no photograph — I didn't go out — but you can talk about whatever you want.

"One would think... that Democrats... would be more than happy to defend the idea that racism exists at every level of American schooling and tout the work of educators to address inequality."

"Instead, many have embarked on a great campaign of denial. This is particularly strange, because significant, equity-based changes in schools across the country should be seen as progressive victories. The problem seems to be that some small portion of what’s produced in the name of equity in schools is pretty embarrassing. That stuff, which mostly can be found in diversity trainings, then gets blasted out to the world as proof that the race hucksters are taking over the schools.... If you’re getting mad at an equity or antiracism idea gone wrong, make sure it’s either an actual policy or part of a curriculum or a training program. This means not getting worked up over singular examples in which a teacher says something in a classroom and then suddenly every 'woke' teacher in America has to answer for them. Try to disregard ephemera like quotes from random parents and, especially, students. Do critically engage with school board members, especially in big cities, and, of course, politicians. As much as possible, try to talk in concrete terms. This goes for both sides. Moral panics feed off ambiguity and confusion...."

From "Can We Talk About Critical Race Theory?" by Jay Caspian Kang (NYT).

"We are heating Europe, but they still threaten us with closing the border. But what if we cut off [gas] for the Poles and, for example, for the Germans? What will happen then?"

"We should stop at nothing when defending our sovereignty and our independence.... I would recommend that the Polish leadership, the Lithuanians and other brainless people think before speaking."

Said President Lukashenko of Belarus, quoted in "Huge far-right protest in Warsaw as Poland-Belarus border crisis intensifies" (London Times).

Joe Rogan and Ben Shapiro talk about the Metaverse. They don't like it.

"Then we hit the 'My Cousin Vinny' point in the cross. For those of you who are sadly unfamiliar with the best law-themed movie ever produced..."

"... two young men find themselves mistaken for murderers. When told by police that they are suspected of having killed someone, one of the men bursts out, in question form, 'I killed someone?' This would later be read in court as if it were a statement of confession, rather than an outburst of bewilderment. In this real-life trial, it turns out that someone had accused Kyle to his face, on the street, of having pointed a gun at him. Knowing that he’d never done that, Kyle responded sarcastically, 'Yeah, I pointed a gun at you,' and immediately turned around and walked away from a situation that could have been escalated. Now, in court, Binder presented this sarcastic remark as if it were a statement of fact, and characterized Kyle’s denial of the statement being made seriously as a lie."

From "Rittenhouse Trial Day 7: Kyle Survives Abusive Cross-Examination" by Andrew Branca (Legal Insurrection)(video of this portion of the trial at the link).

Are you ready to accept Nicole Kidman as Lucy? Javier Bardem as Desi?


I was very skeptical about this project. Both actors seem way too old, and they both have to do accents to fit the characters. Kidman comes from Australia, and Bardem comes from Spain. Desi came from Cuba, and Lucy grew up in Jamestown, New York. 

But that trailer overcame my resistance and — this is beyond my rational analysis — gave me chills. Did Aaron Sorkin do that? I haven't seen much of Sorkin's work. Of all his movies, I've only seen "Moneyball" and "The Trial of the Chicago 7" (and a little bit of "The Social Network"). As for his TV, I haven't seen any of it! Am I the only one who's never watched a single episode of "The West Wing"?

Bonus fact from Lucy's Wikipedia page: "Ball recalled little from the day her father died, except a bird getting trapped in the house, which caused her lifelong ornithophobia." She was 3. Her father was 27.

From that ornithophobia link, we're told Ingmar Bergman also had a fear of birds, and so do David Beckman and Scarlette Johansson. Eminem has a fear of a specific bird: Owls. We're not told the word for the fear of owls. (Strigiformophobia?) But we are told the word for the fear of chickens — alektorophobia — and the fear of ducks — anatidaephobia.

WaPo's fact checker casts doubt on Robert A. Caro's "The Power Broker."

In "Robert Moses and the saga of the racist parkway bridges" (WaPo), Glenn Kessler fact-checks something Pete Buttigieg said: 
"I’m still surprised that some people were surprised when I pointed to the fact that if a highway was built for the purpose of dividing a White and a Black neighborhood or if an underpass was constructed such that a bus carrying mostly Black and Puerto Rican kids to a beach — or that would’ve been — in New York was — was designed too low for it to pass by, that that obviously reflects racism that went into those design choices."

The question isn't whether Buttigieg got it wrong, but whether the massively respected Robert A. Caro got it wrong in his 1974 book about Robert Moses. And Kessler finds that in the years since the publication of the book, significant doubts have been raised about the part — 2 pages — containing the anecdote about the motivation for the height of the underpasses. 

Caro's only source for the story was Sidney M. Shapiro, "a close Moses associate and former chief engineer and general manager of the Long Island State Park Commission."

"The lack of trend is the trend."

Said jeans designer Katrina Klein, quoted in "Is Denim in an Identity Crisis?/Low slung, high waisted, skinny, cropped, baggy, flared — there’s no consensus on jeans these days. What does that say about the era we’re living through? And what can it tell us about ourselves?" (NYT).

The article cites that 2004 book "The Paradox of Choice" by  Barry Schwartz, who famously took the position"  that — as the NYT paraphrases it — "too many choices makes us anxious." 

I've already written — back in 2011 — about Barry Schwartz agonizing over which jeans to buy when there are so many choices and you just want "normal" jeans. That's how he begins his book! I wrote: "Get a grip, Barry! I feel like Barry I-just-want-normal-jeans Schwartz was the guy who inspired one of my favorite songs." And I'm absolutely delighted that the embedded video — "Randy Normal Jeans" — still works.

But back to today's NYT fashion article about the trend of no trend:

"If Biden were to back down now, I don’t know that it would lower the political temperature. It might even inflame the issue and embolden the opposition."

Said Lawrence Gostin, professor of global health law at Georgetown University, quoted in "Opinion: Now is not the time for Biden to back down on the vaccine mandate" (WaPo). 

And that's the way it goes, isn't it? Can't back down now! It will only inflame the issue and embolden the opposition.

How much pain — through the history of humankind — has flowed from that line of thinking?

Back to the specifics of the vaccine mandate: Biden took a hard line. He bet that the hard line would work best, get the most people vaccinated, avoid the most suffering and death. But too many people failed to snap to it and obey. So now what? The hard line must hold. Never give in. Never never never...

... except to convictions of honor and good sense.

"Linus is annoying Lucy, wheedling and pleading with her to read him a story. To shut him up, she grabs a book, randomly opens it..."

"... and says, 'A man was born, he lived and he died. The End!' She tosses the book aside, and Linus picks it up reverently. 'What a fascinating account,' he says. 'It almost makes you wish you had known the fellow.'"

From "The Comfort Zone/Growing up with Charlie Brown" by Jonathan Franzen, published in The New Yorker on November 21, 2000. 

This material also appears in Franzen's "The Discomfort Zone: A Personal History," which I'm rereading because it also tells about his experience as a teenager in a church youth group that is very much like the youth group at the center of his new novel "Crossroads." 

November 10, 2021



"On the stand, Kyle Rittenhouse begins to sob loudly as he describes how he was 'cornered' in a parking lot by Joseph Rosenbaum, the first man that he shot and killed."

"Wendy Rittenhouse, his mother, is crying from the gallery. The judge calls for a recess."

Writes Julie Bosman live-blogging the trial in the NYT.

EARLIER: At the same link, Mitch Smith analyzed whether it would be in Rittenhouse's interest to testify:
By taking the witness stand, Kyle Rittenhouse could look jurors in the eyes and try to convince them that he was scared for his life before he shot three men last summer in Kenosha, Wis. But doing so would also open himself up to a grilling by prosecutors, who are likely to accuse him of stirring up trouble and opening fire without reasonable fear that he would be killed or badly hurt.
He didn't merely look the jurors in the eye and try to convince them, he seemed to relive the experience and to be overtaken with trauma, crying in a way that could not be faked. It was very real and convincing that he is suffering. One might attempt to argue that he feels sorry for himself, and he was reliving the horrible moment his life went to hell, and the men he killed are not alive to cry and win our sympathy, but I think his show of emotion will impress at least one juror that he felt truly cornered.

AND: Here's video of today's testimony. Scroll to the parts where the judge is talking (scroll to 1:21:00 to catch the judge's fiery attack on the prosecutor). 

UPDATE: The video was a live stream, and it became unavailable at the close of the day. Here's one highlight:

"Did she really clear the room of staff by saying she wished to masturbate, or was it the cheddar and crackers I foolishly had before bed?"

"This is a total cheese dream of a film —did she really just eat a pearl? — but also it’s a riveting one as well as a thrillingly entertaining one. Plus it all somehow feels true even if it isn’t. Broken woman, unfeeling family. That seems about right.... It is billed as ‘a fable from a true tragedy,’ whatever that might mean, and Diana’s marriage to Charles is irrevocably on the rocks but the family still imagine she can be brought to heel.... Sandringham, with its endlessly long corridors, is like that hotel in The Shining, but colder....  At one point she pulls from her neck the pearl necklace Charles had given her — he gave the same one to Camilla — the pearls fall into her soup, and she eats them, with great cracking sounds. Crazy, but we get it.... [T]his film is so clever that you also understand why they loathed her, why she was so annoying...."

Writes Deborah Ross in "A riveting cheese dream of a film: Spencer reviewed/Kristen Stewart looks nothing like Diana but is somehow Diana. I think it’s called ‘great acting’" (The Spectator).

Ha ha. That made me want to see the movie, but I'm not willing to sit through a movie wearing a mask, so that leaves the question whether and where it's streaming. Too complicated!

"I regret that I did the same on a Monty Python show, so I am blacklisting myself before someone else does."

Not much fun in Stalingrad, no...

"More than a third of East High School's student body stayed home Tuesday, a day after police used pepper spray to put down numerous fights, which were followed later Monday by..."

"... social media rumors of more violence to come. As of noon, 602 students, roughly 37% of the student population, were counted absent from East.... The large number of absences came after anonymous social media posts late Monday warned of potential threats at the school and urged students to stay home.... Gordon Allen, East's student body president, said he opted to stay home from school after talking about the threats circulating on social media with his mother. 'When I saw those things going on, on social media I did get anxious,' he said. 'A lot of my friends, we didn’t want to take that risk even though I believe the school has been doing things to ensure safety, we still don’t want to be in that environment if something were to happen.'"

That's from the Wisconsin State Journal, linked and discussed here at Reddit. East High School is in Madison, Wisconsin.

From the comments at Reddit:

"As a rule of thumb, I’d say that if the leader of a nation farts in front of you at a climate-change summit, please try to resist telling everyone about it, no matter how long or loud it is."

Writes Danielle Cohen in "Do Not Fart Near Camilla Parker Bowles" (NY Magazine).

"[A] successful metaverse needs to have ways to make money. If you buy a Chanel bag, you also get to have it as an NFT in your metaverse."

"If I were Ferrari, I would be thinking about how to ensure IP protection such that someone has to buy a Ferrari offline to show a Ferrari in my metaverse or my Tinder profile. You essentially would be signaling power and wealth online, which would create a lot of mating opportunities or signaling capability in these metaverses..... But Facebook’s metaverse won’t work.... The fundamental mistake people make around these AR or VR experiences is to immediately think of sight as the entry point into a metaverse. When Mark Zuckerberg says, 'Imagine your friend is at a great concert around the world and you can join her.' Let’s play that out. I get a text message from my friend and I’m at the mall, or a movie, or at school. Am I going to pull out my handy Oculus and throw it on my head and start jamming to the Weeknd? It doesn’t make any sense. The Oculus is not a wearable.... When the internet came about, the initial vision for retail was that you would have these avatars that would go to a shelf for a sweater and then walk over to the cash register and buy it. It was just stupid and didn’t make any sense. We have these similar things now. We’re going to be legless avatars in a meeting?"

From "Why Facebook’s Metaverse Is Dead on Arrival" by James D. Walsh (NY Magazine).

November 9, 2021

It was a calm sunrise...


.. but the day grew brilliant: 

IMG_8152 2

Unhappy marriages, circa 1970.

1. "Crossroads" by Jonathan Franzen. This is a 2021 novel — 600 pages — that I just finished. It takes place mostly around Christmas 1971 and Easter 1972. The parents have an early-70s-style struggle with marriage, and one of their offspring — the troubled genius son — is named Perry. 

2. "Diary of a Mad Housewife" is a movie that came out in 1970. I watched it because I was reading "Crossroads," and I got the idea that it might have influenced Franzen and that the name Perry was intended as a clue. The director of the movie was Frank Perry, and the screenplay was by his wife Eleanor Perry. I'd never seen this movie before, even though I saw tons of movies in 1970. I think I avoided it because I didn't want to get bogged down in the problems of a subordinated housewife.

Anyway, I enjoyed both works of art, even though I didn't identify with either married couple. "Crossroads" had a younger generation that got caught up in events and ideas that affected me when I was young, and "Diary of a Mad Housewife" had little to do with the 1970s that I lived through. It was about awful people of a sort that I avoided. But what a spiffy work of art. 

I especially liked the 2 male actors — the husband played by Richard Benjamin and the lover played by Frank Langella. Benjamin was comically repellent and his odd looks intensified the effect. I said he looked like Pete Buttigieg, and Meade said take Pete Buttigieg and add Mr. Bean (Rowan Atkinson):

Where is Jake Tapper's bullshit detector?

I follow Jake Tapper on Twitter, but I do not appreciate getting spammed by his "liking" phony-baloney statements from celebrities, like this:

It's one thing to have to see junk like this on Facebook, where I encounter various nice people I know who unthinkingly pass along inspirational "quotes" that would cause an educated sensible person to question whether that celebrity could have said that. 

It's quite another thing to get that kind of crap on Twitter, where I'm only following people I think might say something sharp and intelligent!

Anyone who cares what Hemingway said ought to know he's unlikely to have said "We are all broken — that's how the light gets in." And annoyed as I am to have been spammed because Tapper "liked" that, I'd be more alarmed to learn that Hemingway actually did say that. 

Quote Investigator has examined "We are all broken..." — which means the questionable attribution has been around for a while. Indeed, that Quote Investigator article is 5 years old. So this is a hoary annoyance! 

The investigation is interesting enough to thoroughly de-annoy me. I'm glad I got prompted to dig this up:

"He kept screaming, 'I can’t breathe.'"

"But everyone was pushing. It was so tight with no exits. His dad couldn’t breathe at all and passed out. We don’t really know what happened to Ezra after that... He has injuries to his kidney, to his lung, to his liver. Basically every organ has damage. He had cardiac arrest. His heart is weak and has damage as well. And his brain has swelling, and he’s in an induced coma. They’re just trying to keep him comfortable and trying to figure out a plan for him. They tried to take him off the medications that were paralyzing him, to keep him still, and they had to put him back on. We’re just at that place right now, just hoping for the best in spite of all the negative information.... I’m a nurse, but it’s still horrifying to see Ezra like this because that’s a part of us there.... Why couldn’t this have been prevented? I’m just angry and sad and upset. Why didn’t Travis Scott stop? Wasn’t he watching the ambulances and people performing CPR? Doesn’t he care about the city of Houston? The mayor gave him the key. This is the city he’s from. Why wasn’t he looking out for the people?... Ezra is so wonderful. He’s a joy to be around. He loves music, skateboarding, school, his mom and dad. He loves to perform. He’s just an all-around entertainer...Why did this have to happen to our grandson?"

"Maybe because it’s hard to write a drama in which the villain hasn’t done anything terrible yet, Greenhouse makes an uncharacteristic misstep in a brief excursus that compares the new justice to the late Phyllis Schlafly."

"To be sure, Schlafly was an important figure in the early anti-abortion movement. But her anti-feminist crusade against women in the workplace sits oddly with Barrett’s lifelong pursuit of a full-time career as a law professor and judge while raising seven (no, that’s not a typo) children. The only motivation for the invocation of Schlafly seems to be that, as Greenhouse notes, she was the subject of a television mini-series in 2020, and that both were lawyers with large families. 'Forty years later, more than a few people looked at Amy Coney Barrett and saw Phyllis Schlafly,' Greenhouse writes, with no indication of who those people were. 'And how could they not, given the similarity in the two women’s biographies?' This isn’t even guilt by association. It’s guilt by free association. "

I haven't read Linda Greenhouse's book — nor will I — but it sounds like she indulged in a style of writing that Maureen Dowd uses so much lately. She's watching TV shows and movies and they come up in her stream of consciousness thoughts about current events, and if you let that flow into you're writing, it feels interesting and conversational. 

Ironically, it is not unrelated to the way Donald Trump talks at his rallies. 

"The prosecutor with his head in his hand near the end here is just brutal."

X is my religion, I googled, because I'd just read "Sex, to me, should be a religion."

I was rereading the previous post, which included that quote, from the diaries of Patricia Highsmith, and it called to mind a subject I blogged 2 weeks ago.

John McWhorter has a new book — "WOKE RACISM/How a New Religion Has Betrayed Black America" — premised on the idea that wokeism is a religion:

"I do not mean that these people’s ideology is ‘like’ a religion. I seek no rhetorical snap in this comparison. I mean that it actually is a religion. An anthropologist would see no difference in type between Pentecostalism and this new form of antiracism."
In my post about that, I quote Bob Dylan: "To her, death is quite romantic/She wears an iron vest/Her profession’s her religion/Her sin is her lifelessness."

So now I had 3 statements — sex is a religion, a political ideology is a religion, and a profession (prostitution?) is a religion. Looking for more things that fit this set, I googled "X is my religion." I landed on a Know Your Meme entry, "What's Your Religion?" 

What's Your Religion is an exploitable image series featuring a screenshot of a text message conversation in which a bizarre image in sent in response to the question "What's your religion?," leading the recipient to say "I'm interested."...
On August 31st, 2016, Redditor cortexer submitted a screenshot of a text message conversation in which a person asks "Are you religious? I'd like to introduce you to my religion" followed by a picture of a Teletubby doll hung on a crucifix and the reply "I'm interested"...

Later, on Reddit, there's a discussion of whether this really is a meme, and somebody says it's "never been used widely enough to be normified" — the test of whether something's a meme? — and somebody else says "No, its too offensive for the normies to use." It doesn't strike me as offensive at all. It's silly, and it's a way to be playful about saying that you're not serious about real religion. 

When someone says "What's your religion?," they are introducing the subject of religion. They're surprised by a response that isn't religion at all. It doesn't have to be a "bizarre image." Texted "What's your religion?," if you are not traditionally religious, you could reply with a photograph of your children or of delicious food or the sunrise. 

But in the 3 examples above — Highsmith, McWhorter, and Dylan — no one wanted to talk about real religion. Everyone wanted to name something other than religion and to elevate and intensify its importance from the perspective of the person who is dedicated to it. 

One reason to have a religion is to put religion in the place in your psyche that could otherwise get filled with something unworthy of that kind of devotion. But perhaps you want to live dangerously, leaving that place gapingly open, capable of getting filled with something profane.

"She was always half-broke. When you date women, she joked, there’s no man to grab the check...."

"If you are made nostalgic by the mention of defunct Manhattan bars and restaurants, this book will be like reading the liner notes to a Billie Holiday or Frank Sinatra album at midnight through a glass of bourbon....  'Sex, to me, should be a religion,' Highsmith wrote. 'I have no other.... As long as beautiful women exist, who can be really depressed?'... She was a powerful and systematic drinker... 'The world and its martinis are mine!... I wonder if any moment surpasses that of the second martini at lunch, when the waiters are attentive, when all life, the future, the world seems good and gilded (it matters not at all whom one is with, male or female, yes or no)'.... Writers drink because 'they must change their identities a million times in their writing... This is tiring, but drinking does it automatically for them. One moment they are a king, the next a murderer, a jaded dilettante, a passionate and forsaken lover; other people actually prefer to stay the same person, stay on the same plane, all the time.... Without liquor I would have married a dull clod, Roger, and had what is called a normal life.'... She kept snails as pets, and would smuggle them through customs in her bra."

November 8, 2021

Sunrise — 6:40, 6:47.



"The 16-year-old girl sat beside her alleged kidnapper, looking out the car window at the other people on the road — people who could save her, if they only knew what was happening."

"She couldn’t scream. She couldn’t bang against the window. She couldn’t wave her arms around and mouth 'Help!' Not without putting herself in danger. So she started flashing hand signals, hoping others knew what they meant. She didn’t use American Sign Language, but gestures she’d learned on the social media platform TikTok. Last year, the Women’s Funding Network, a philanthropic organization dedicated to helping women and girls, created the 'Signal for Help' gesture so people could communicate they were in danger without alerting those around them. The group’s video demonstrating the gesture later went viral on TikTok."

Here's the viral video:

"Giving a description of yourself for the benefit of blind or visually impaired people – when meeting a group of people for the first time; when speaking at a conference or seminar – is good practice, and part of your professional responsibilities."

I'm reading "Self-description for inclusive meetings" (at VocalEyes), which gives some insight into what was going on in the video we were talking about a few days ago, in which a couple Microsoft employers, introducing themselves, let us know that they were "Caucasian" and (in one case) had long blonde hair.

In the comments at my post, Lurker21 said:
Even if you accept that saying your race and gender before large groups of people is now appropriate and necessary you might puzzle over why physical descriptions of the face became necessary before references to sexual orientation. Maybe a large part of the audience is blind (but not blind from birth since visual appearance wouldn't mean so much to them)?

And it turns out these extended descriptions of looks do seem to be motivated by a desire to include the blind. I'm sure the blind are aware that they are missing something other people are getting, but do they appreciate extra explanations that are just about how people look (as opposed to explanations of nonverbal communication like gestures or things written or drawn on a whiteboard)? 

At that VocalEyes website, you're told that, when introducing yourself, you should "restrict yourself to three key elements and one or two sentences." And it's "a political and personal act." There are suggestions about which elements to choose:

"The recommended treatment is stomach removal."

So begins "A food lover faces an unimaginable choice: Give up her stomach or risk a fatal cancer" (NPR).
I had just learned I carry a genetic mutation that puts me at an incredibly high risk for a rare stomach cancer. This type of cancer is almost impossible to detect in the early, treatable stages — it lurks in the inner lining of the stomach in a lace-like pattern. By the time endoscopies, which give doctors a view into the digestive organ, can see the webby cancer cells forming, they've usually spread to other organs and the disease is incurable.... 

She decides to get the surgery. Wouldn't you? The description of life without a stomach isn't as bad as what I imagined:

But after a year, many people go back to eating all the things they did before surgery, with small portions and a lot of chewing.

I pictured nothing but Ensure, but she is "able to get all the pleasure from food I always have." 

Click through to see her description of all the things she ate when she knew she'd be losing her stomach. But the good news is, she can still eat those things, just in small bites and with a lot of chewing (and with the benefit of knowing she's shut stomach cancer out of her future).

"The deed is done. Too late trying to convince me of anything now."

 I blogged, 5 years ago today, with this photograph:


"Meade and I walked over to the First Congregational Church, walked through the dark hallways, and passing us right at this point was a young man in a black T-shirt that said in big letters: TRUMP. I'm keeping my privacy about how I voted, so don't even ask. I wish the best for my fellow Americans and hope that whatever happens, you'll be able to handle it."

That was written at 10:55 in the morning, when we had no idea what a wild crazy day it would be. 

In the comments, Snark wrote:
Has Althouse said why her vote will be private this time? (or were past votes initially private as well? Can't remember, but I don't think so?) That's what I'm curious about, and what it means in the abstract if it can be extrapolated in any way to the thinking and behaviour of other voters. I could hypothesize that as a blogger she just doesn't want the distraction and inherent uselessness of knee-jerk blowback in the comments for the next four years, either way. Or that she perceives some value to the blog in being formally inscrutable. Or that she is being practical given that her commenters and perhaps her readers too lean right, and she has already sensed a shift in tone at times that suggests prudence. I wonder, too, if she and Meade voted the same way or differently.
Did I ever reveal how I voted? I think I eventually did, but I can't remember why or where. I wasn't happy with the choice! I wasn't happy in 2020 either, but in 2020, I revealed who I voted for: No one!

"We unearthed this hunk of tuber, and we thought to ourselves, ‘what is this? Was it some sort of a strange fungal growth?'"

"...recalled Colin Craig-Brown, 62.... 'It looks like a big tumor. A great big bumpy gross looking thing.' Eager to identify the strange growth, Colin bravely executed a taste test... After swirling the bite around in his mouth, he turned to his wife and confidently said: 'Honey, it’s a bloody potato!'... They named the potato Dug — 'because we dug him up. Plain and simple,' said Colin, adding that many media outlets have misspelled the spud’s name, calling it 'Doug' instead. The couple also made the potato its own small transport cart.... Since eating Dug would be 'sacrilege,' he continued, the grand plan is to eventually turn the potato into alcohol. 'We’ll have a wake for him, and I’ll get all my friends around, and we’ll toast him off with his own vodka'...."

"In Mississippi in 1947, two Black teenagers asked for fried chicken and watermelon before they went to the electric chair. Professor Green painted one ornate platter for each boy."

From "Julie Green, Artist Who Memorialized Inmates’ Last Suppers, Dies at 60/For more than two decades, she rendered death row prisoners’ requests for a last meal on a series of plates, bringing a human face to capital punishment" (NYT). 
She planned to paint the meals until capital punishment was abolished, or until she had made 1,000 plates, whichever came first. In September, she painted her 1,000th plate, an oval platter with a single familiar image: the bottle of Coca-Cola requested by a Texas man in 1997. She died a few weeks later....

The plates are white china with the image of the food done in cobalt blue glaze. She got the idea to do this project when she read about a man whose last meal choice was glazed doughnuts. The obituary writer does not note the glaze/glaze inspiration/coincidence. It's just put there for us to see.

Nor does the obituary discuss race, even though — out of all those 1,000 plates — one of the choices it highlights is the fried chicken and watermelon that 2 black teenagers wanted. For many years, it has seemed verboten to mention fried chicken or watermelon in connection with black people. What is it about this context that made it seem okay?

Is it just that Julie Green — who looks white in the photograph — has died? Is it that she meant to express empathy for the condemned? But she systematically commemorated any condemned person who was given a meal choice. The obituary chose which examples to isolate. I was surprised to see this breach of taboo.

The author of the obituary is the NYT style writer Penelope Green. No relation to Julie Green, I presume. I see I have a tag for Penelope Green, and I see that I have especially enjoyed her writing — about Marie Kondo (here), Cat Marnell (here), and new urban communal living, blogged here: "And another thing I like about Penelope Green is: She put 'social justice' in quotes." 

I wonder what Penelope Green really thought about Julie Green's art project. An obituary writer can't inject criticism. Or can she?

November 7, 2021

Sunrise — 6:35, 6:41, 6:42.




"So why the raids? Since when does the FBI [conduct] raids over missing diaries?"

Asks Jonathan Turley in "FBI Raids Project Veritas Writers . . . Over A Missing Biden Diary?" 
Project Veritas decided not to run the story because it could not verify that the diary belonged to [Ashley] Biden... Instead, it alerted the police, according to [James] O’Keefe: “Project Veritas gave the diary to law enforcement to ensure it could be returned to its rightful owner. We never published it.” ...

What is the alleged federal crime (and what is the precedent for a major federal investigation over such an alleged theft)? What precautions were taken by the Biden Administration in light of the claimed media status of the targeted individuals? Why was there a delay in this action being taken if the alleged theft occurred a year ago? Has this matter been under investigation for a year and did the White House request the intervention of the FBI?

"'Spencer' is, in many ways, baloney, abundantly spiced with slander. It is contemptuous of those whom it accuses..."

"... of treating Diana with contempt. Although [her confidante] Maggie says to her, 'Don’t see conspiracy everywhere,' the film sees nothing but. I can’t decide what made me laugh louder: the dead pheasant, stiffly positioned on the road at the entrance to Sandringham, like a prop from a Monty Python sketch, or the Prince of Wales informing his wife that 'you have to be able to make your body do things you hate.' He sounds like a Pilates instructor.... For all its follies, I would rather watch it again than sit through further episodes of 'The Crown.' The sight of that show clawing toward the credible, without ever quite getting there, is painful to behold, whereas [Spencer's director Pablo] Larraín is somehow freed by the liberties that he takes with historical facts.... [H]e tunes in to Diana’s high anxiety; the camera is constantly on her, with her, and around her, as if drunk on her perception of the world...."

Writes Anthony Lane in The New Yorker, reviewing the new movie "Spencer," about Princess Diana, played by Kristen Stewart. Here's a trailer for the movie.

"This is exactly what it feels like to cancel cable. This is not a sketch, it's a documentary."

That's the top comment — and I totally agree with it — on this:

"[P]rogressive pedagogies... did not begin in the pandemic or after the murder of George Floyd, but those events accelerated enthusiasm for their adoption...."

"For more than a year, much of this curricular ferment has taken place online and therefore in families’ homes — hypervisible to parents who have new portals into their children’s classrooms. In addition, people are as likely to view these issues through the lens of the national news media as through their immediate circumstances: Viral clips of teachers behaving badly or of school board fights in distant states can seem to foreshadow what’s in the pipeline for their own communities or what might already be underway. Conservatives have skillfully harnessed unease.... Democrats do themselves no favors by ignoring concerns about a changed educational environment, or dismissing those who raise questions as entitled whiners (who 'just want their babysitters back') or ignorant bullies (for not understanding that critical race theory is only taught in universities). Notably, schools were closed for the longest periods, and have reopened in the least-recognizable versions of their former selves, in blue areas. These areas are also where newly progressive pedagogies have had the most traction. Public school has transformed in the past 18 months, and denying this is a surefire way to alienate voters — and undermine one of the most important institutions in many Americans’ lives ."

From "School culture wars stirred up voters for a reason: Classrooms really did change" by Natalia Mehlman Petrzela. (WaPo). Petrzela, a history professor, wrote the book "Classroom Wars: Language, Sex, and the Making of Modern Political Culture."

Sunrise run.



Photos by Meade. That's me in the photos, taken at 6:32 and 7:00, Central Standard Time.

ADDED: Beauty is wherever you can find it. Yesterday, Meade found it in the Target parking lot and made this video:

"The GPS in my car sometimes wants to veer off into off-road travel. Before I make a long trip, I always check the route on my cell phone map..."

"... so I know generally what roads I’m supposed to be on, and I also have a paper map in the car, just in case." 

Says a commenter on "Missing Oregon mom dead, daughter alive in Idaho forest" (WaPo)("the women... were driving to Utah and following a navigation system when they got lost in the northern Idaho forest").

"I have argued for years that the conservative-populist coalition was born in 2008 when John McCain became the Republican nominee."

"These voters either stayed home or voted against their interests for Barack Obama because of his candidacy's historic and aspirational nature. By 2009, their breakaway began, and the anti-establishment Tea Party movement was born. The 2010 midterm elections demonstrated the coalition’s strength, but it felt the same way toward Mitt Romney as it had for McCain — nice guy but didn’t inspire them.... Democrats shed their blue-collar and rural voters that had been part of their coalition and went full elite progressive. The 2014 election was the result, an even worse bloodbath for Democrats than 2010. Two things were missed in the coverage of 2016. First, Trump was never the cause of that election — he was the result of a coalition that had been building for a decade, made up of suburban-educated voters, blue-collar and rural voters, and a growing number of middle-class Hispanic voters.... Now, Biden and the Democrats have been caught once again failing to appreciate why they were sent to Washington, D.C. They underestimated just how toxic their intersection with the cultural curators would be for them — with those constantly telling voters they are insurrectionists and racists and lying about voting laws in Georgia and Texas and Pennsylvania or smearing them because they don't want idiotic ideas driven into their children's skulls..."

Writes Salena Zito in "The voters revolt against our cultural curators, again" (Washington Examiner)."

SNL's new Donald Trump, James Austin Johnson, is fantastic!