December 4, 2021

Sunrise — 7:04 and 7:19.



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"In the Michigan Shooting, What Is the School’s Responsibility?"

The NYT asks. 
First, a teacher found Ethan Crumbley searching online for ammunition. The next day, there was an alarming note on his desk: “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me.” School officials met with Mr. Crumbley, 15, and his parents, informing them that he needed to begin counseling within 48 hours. After his parents resisted bringing him home, administrators allowed him to stay in school....

The parents have been arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter. Isn't the school more  responsible? 

Catherine J. Ross, a law professor at George Washington University and expert on student rights, said she found the school’s reaction “truly astounding.”... If the parents refused to take Mr. Crumbley home, it was the legal and ethical responsibility of the school, Professor Ross said, to “remove the student from the classroom and put them in a safe place — safe for other people and safe for themselves.”

By "put them in a safe place," I think Ross means put Ethan Crumbley in custody. He apparently begged "help me." It sounds as though he struggled with an uncontrollable impulse. I understand the school wanting to defend itself after the fact, but what's more important is for schools to take action to protect the students who are trapped there and endangered by other students. 

This is part of a larger issue of government declining to keep the peace and attempting to convince us that it cannot keep the peace, something I wrote about last month, after the Rittenhouse verdict and the Waukesha massacre, here:

Sunrise on Lake Mendota — 7:04 — what am I laughing at?

Ducks! I am easily amused. Sunrise. Ducks ducking. What more can you want? 

It goes to show you don't ever know.

"This from a man who wrote a book called 'Principles.'"

Quips Bari Weiss in "Women's Tennis Has Balls. Does Wall Street? Cowardice and courage on the question of China" (Substack). 

She's talking about this guy:

"Two programs at Harvard Law show close ties between the school, the Democratic Party, and liberal activist groups with an interest in fighting elections through the judicial system."

"Reporting the launch of the Election Law Clinic in April, Harvard Law Today said participating students will get course credit for working on political campaigns, as well as 'hands-on litigation and advocacy work across a range of election law areas, with an initial focus on redistricting and voter suppression cases. Clinic offerings include federal and state litigation projects, as well as some advocacy opportunities.'... Glenn Reynolds, the libertarian University of Tennessee law professor known for his Instapundit blog, tells RealClearInvestigations that if institutions such as Harvard start turning out significantly more students with expertise in election law, those lawyers will create a demand for their expertise and election litigation. 'That's just how the law works,' he says. The backgrounds of those staffing the putatively nonpartisan Election Law Clinic show a distinct progressive tilt...."

"Democrats in Springfield had total control over the redistricting process in the state and used their power to roil the GOP delegation."

"They shredded the district of Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a rare anti-Trump Republican, forcing him to decide between an early retirement or challenging fellow GOP. Darin LaHood in a primary. (He chose retirement.) They created a new deep blue seat by uniting parts of [GOP Reps.] Bost’s and Davis’s district into a snake that runs from East St. Louis north and east through Springfield, Decatur and Champaign, and created two other artfully drawn red-leaning seats downstate.... 'If [first-term GOP Rep. Mary Miller] chooses to run against Bost, he's going to beat her. If she chooses to run against Davis, Davis is going to beat her....'"

When is it okay to brag about gerrymandering? The question answers itself.

How snake-y does that snake look? You can see the new Illinois map here, at the very useful FiveThirtyEight site "What Redistricting Looks Like In Every State/An updating tracker of proposed congressional maps — and whether they might benefit Democrats or Republicans in the 2022 midterms and beyond."

What's that stench in the courtroom?

Whatever happened to dead baby jokes? I thought, when I saw the headline for Jonathan Turley's column at The Hill: "What's that you smell in the Supreme Court?" 

I knew he was talking about the oral argument in Dobbs, the case about whether to overrule Casey (AKA "Roe"). Sonia Sotomayor had the pro-Roe sound bite — smell bite — of the day. 

Per Turley (perturbingly):
She said many abortion opponents, including the sponsors of the Mississippi abortion law at issue, hoped her three new colleagues would allow for the reversal or reduction of Roe v. Wade. With Justices Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett listening, she asked, “Will this institution survive the stench” created from such political machinations — and then answered: “I don’t see how it is possible."  
Of course, when justices begin to declare their disgust at the very thought of overturning precedent, there is another detectable scent in the courtroom. Indeed, it felt like a scene from Tennessee Williams's play, “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” The only thing missing was the play’s central character, “Big Daddy” Pollitt, asking: “What's that smell in this room? … Didn’t you notice a powerful and obnoxious odor of mendacity in this room? There ain’t nothin’ more powerful than the odor of mendacity.”

Of course, when people detect bad odors, there's another famous line that comes to mind: "He who smelt it dealt it."

If we're going to detect lies, and characterize lies as smells, there are lies all around, possibly lies all the way down. If you think the other side's lies — however you define lies, perhaps broadly — smell bad, what about your own lies? Does your shit not stink?

Here's a famous dead baby joke from the 1960s: 

What's harder to unload, a truck full of bowling balls or a truck full of dead babies?

A truck full of bowling balls because you can't use a pitchfork.

That's quoted in the scholarly article "The Dead Baby Joke Cycle" by Alan Dundes (Western Folklore). One of the follow-on jokes to that one is: 

What's worse to be buried under: bowling balls or dead babies?

Bowling balls — you can't eat your way out.

Why were we telling jokes like that in the 1960s and into the 1970s? Why was this overt callousness attractive, and why did it fade out? Jokes play off of anxiety, but maybe after you've laughed enough, you've overcome the anxiety, so there's nothing to cause laughter. What's that smell in this room? If you've been in that room long enough, you can't smell it at all.

Sotomayor predicted a stench that would arise from the new decision — the overruling of Roe. Sotomayor seems to be saying that her new colleagues are disgusting — deplorable — they stink. Or they will stink, if they use their current majority to rewrite the work of an earlier majority that she doesn't find disgusting.

Another clue about what's that smell came from Justice Breyer, who said:

"[T]he problem with a super case like this, the rare case, the watershed case, where people are really opposed on both sides and they really fight each other, is they're going to be ready to say, no, you're just political, you're just politicians. And that's what kills us as an American institution.... and that they say is a reason why... when you get a case like that, you better be damn sure that the normal stare considerations, stare decisis overrulings are really there in spades, double, triple, quadruple, and then they go through and show they're not." 

That is, by the way, the only point in the transcript where anyone uses the verb "to kill." There's no truckload of dead babies on the premises. It's all about the reputation of the Supreme Court as an institution. If it's ever discovered that it's "just political" — key word, "just" — then it is killed! And the stench is the rotting corpse of the dead Supreme Court. Dead, presumably, because even though everyone already knew that the Court was political — is there an older accusation against it? — it had some element that was not political, making it not just political.

December 3, 2021

Sunrise — 7:20.


Talk about whatever you want in the comments.

Did Trump say he would only nominate Justices who committed to overruling Roe v. Wade?

I heard the NYT reporter Adam Liptak make that assertion (on yesterday's episode of the NYT "Daily" podcast), and I wondered if that was strictly accurate. 

Writing every day, I've followed Trump very closely, and I believe if he said anything like that, I would have blogged about it, and the key words to search my archive are so clear — Trump... Supreme Court... abortion — that I'm going to believe the answer is "no" if I am unable to find it. 


I needed to read through about 20 old posts to find what is relevant to my question — only 3 posts, which I'll present in chronological order, with boldface added:

June 27, 2016

I asked, "Why hasn't Trump said anything about the Supreme Court's new abortion case?" Answering my own question: "Gender politics isn't his thing. He only talks about abortion when pushed or when attacked."

October 20, 2016

Chris Wallace, moderating a debate, asked where the Supreme Court should take the country and what's the right approach to constitutional interpretation. Trump blathered a bit, seized on the Second Amendment, and threw in "The justices that I am going to appoint will be pro-life." You can be pro-life and still decide reaffirm the long-standing precedent, so his answer is an evasion. Wallace was smart to follow up:

"Former president Donald Trump this week asked a federal judge to dismiss a defamation lawsuit filed against him by E. Jean Carroll.... a new 'anti-SLAPP' law passed in New York state last year...."

"The [Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation] law allows defendants to seek a quick dismissal of the case, if they can prove the lawsuits against them have no 'substantial basis in fact and law.' In such cases, the people who brought the suit have to pay the defendant’s legal fees.... Her lawsuit says that Trump defamed her by denying her allegations that he assaulted her in a department store dressing room in the 1990s. In the filing, Trump said that Carroll’s sole purpose in filing the suit was to retaliate for truthful comments, 'maliciously inhibiting his free exercise of speech.'... Some experts said Trump’s motion ran counter to the intention of New York’s law. 'The spirit of anti-SLAPP laws are to prevent powerful people from bullying the powerless,' said Evan Mascagni of the Public Participation Project, a national group that advocates for anti-SLAPP laws. 'Was an anti-SLAPP law designed to protect the president of the United States?'... Does the state anti-SLAPP law apply to federal cases, like this one? Does it apply retroactively, to cases filed before the law was passed?"

ADDED: I haven't studied New York's statute or read the filings, but does Trump rely on the truthfulness of his comments? That's the substantive question in issue in the lawsuit — who's telling the truth about whether or not he raped her. Wouldn't it need to be obvious that he and not she is the truthteller for his anti-SLAPP motion to succeed? Shouldn't he just file a counterclaim based on her defaming him by calling him a rapist? 

I looked to see if he'd filed a counterclaim, and I see that it was announced 2 days ago that he will file a counterclaim. That is, he hasn't yet. I'm also seeing there (at Bloomberg) that Trump recently replaced his legal team. 

Perhaps the point of the anti-SLAPP motion — with its threat of shifting legal fees — is to motivate Carroll to settle the case. The counterclaim will increase the pressure. 

"Sorry but I don’t think it’s a big deal... Im just sad people get their feelings hurt so easily. And they are going into Theatre?"

Wrote Coastal Carolina University theater professor Steve Earnest — who we're told is "politically conservative" — quoted in "A drama professor told students they got their feelings hurt too easily. They decided to fight back" (L.A. Times).
If there was one thing Earnest tried to instill in his students, it was toughness. He would warn them that acting is a brutal profession full of rejection and requires a sturdy exoskeleton to survive. He himself is a rare species in the world of theater: a Donald Trump-voting conservative from a small town in Alabama with a deep passion for avant-garde European theater. 
Among the videos his freshmen watch in class is a postmodern remake of Henrik Ibsen’s “The Wild Duck” that includes a scene in which a father places his penis on a table while his blind daughter swings at it with a hammer....  
As more speech is construed as hurtful or even dangerous, can a professor be dismissed for creating an “uncomfortable” learning environment or “endangering” students?...

Much more at the link. I got past the paywall by clicking "Reader View." My post leaves out everything about the incident that set everything in motion. I've selected the material about teaching toughness on the theory that students are going to need it to succeed in the world. 

ADDED: I kept thinking about that blind daughter swinging a hammer at her father's penis, so I googled and found this in a philosophy dissertation, "Theatres of Reality, Fiction, and Temporality: Vegard Vinge and Ida Müller’s Ibsen-Saga (2006-2015)" by Andrew Friedman:

"'Your playlist is as long as your skincare regime,' Spotify told me on Spotify Wrapped. Given that my 'skincare regime' lasts for the five seconds it takes..."

"... to throw cold water on my face before rubbing vigorously with a towel, I can only conclude that when it comes to knowing about my musical tastes, I’ll trust humans, not robots." 

Do you even know what "Spotify Wrapped" is? I just found out yesterday, but it's been around since 2016. It's Spotify's "end-of-year algorithmic survey of your personal listening choices." Hodgkinson was told that his "most listened to track" was something he doesn't even remember hearing once.

Actually, I think Spotify does a great job of understanding what I like, perhaps because I show no interest in what's new and currently popular. I suspect that if it "thinks" you want to keep up on the latest things, it will infer that you'll want what they're seeing or predicting will hit big. If, like me, you never play any of that stuff, their choices will look like your choices.

"For a long time I have defended ideas and convictions and become what we call an intellectual. In truth, the problem in France is..."

"... that if you are not of the left, you are never called an intellectual. So they call you a sloppy polemicist instead.... Young people are always the first fanatics: you know, young communists, young fascists, young anarchists. Young people are susceptible to these things. They are very permeable. Also, this is not humanism. It is pacifism. Pacifism is the fear of confronting the enemy, of recognising him and fighting to preserve our civilisation. Humanism does not mean accepting that another civilisation must replace us and our civilisation. That’s not hating anyone. I do not hate anyone.... I repeat that I do not consider it racist to defend one’s culture. I do not consider it misogynistic to consider that men are not women. These are not protected areas for discussion. It’s a matter of words. They call me a racist. A racist is the one who measures skulls and considers that skin colour influences intelligence. I believe the contrary. I am an assimilationist. I think that wherever a person comes from he can become French if he appropriates the history of France and its popular culture. This is the opposite of racism." 

From "Éric Zemmour: ‘Am I the French Trump? No, I’m more like Boris’ Éric Zemmour, 63, is a former journalist whose inflammatory statements about immigrants have made him a new voice of the far right, to rival Marine Le Pen. Last week, it was revealed that his 28-year-old aide is expecting his child. So, what are his chances in next year’s French presidential election?" (London Times).

The interviewer, Andrew Billen, says he asks Zenmour "about his bizarre theory... that France’s resolve has been emasculated by feminists and homosexuals over the past 50 years." Billen calls this theory "worthy of the Canadian lobster-man philosopher Jordan Peterson" — lobster-man! — and pushes Zemmour about his use of the word "virilité" and asks if he's "masculine" and whether he got in fights when he was young. Answer:
"Was I a brawler? Mean to women? Not at all. No, I don’t have the looks. I don’t have the physique. And I don’t have the mentality either. No, no, I’m very French. I like flirting, the culture of flirtatiousness. I like French courtesy. I just think... there has been a domination of what we call women’s values, that is to say that peace is preferred to war, consensus over choice. It is these values that push your daughter to say, ‘Ooh là là! We must absolutely respect the values of others.’ Your daughter must be careful to respect other values, which are more masculine, like taking responsibility. It is man’s nature to defend."

December 2, 2021

Sunrise — 7:09, 7:11, 7:18.




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Justice Amy Coney Barrett connected the right to abortion and the right against mandatory vaccines.

This is interesting — challenging — because most people who believe in at least one of those rights believe in only one. Or so I assume. Is there entitlement to bodily autonomy or not?

Justice Barrett only made a passing reference linking these 2 purported rights. A ban on abortion after 15 weeks is "is, without question, an infringement on bodily autonomy," she said, then added that we have that "in other contexts, like vaccines." Clearly she meant mandatory vaccines.

Here's the whole context, from the transcript of yesterday's oral argument. Barrett — questioning Julie Rikelman, the lawyer for the respondent, the Jackson Women's Health Organization — brings up how easy it is these days to give up a newborn baby for adoption. Legally easy. So maybe Court shouldn't put much if any weight on the burdens of forced parenting. If the analysis is limited to the burdens of pregnancy and childbirth, Barrett says, "it focuses the burden much more narrowly. There is, without question, an infringement on bodily autonomy, you know, which we have in other contexts, like vaccines."

"Hi Ann - long-time local reader. After Breyer mused on 'super stare decisis' today I duck-duck-go'd it and your 2005 post was one of the first results...."

"I was struck by how it felt like this post could have been written today. Plus ça change." 

That's from my email. The 2005 post is "Luttig and 'super-stare decisis.'" I'll just print the whole thing (below) so you can read it and see how up-to-date it is.

First, here's what Justice Breyer said:
It is certainly true that we cannot base our decisions on whether they're popular or not with the people. Casey seemed to say we shouldn't base our decisions not only on that but whether they're going to -- whether they're going to seem popular, and it seemed to me to have a paradoxical conclusion that the more unpopular the decisions are, the firmer the Court should be in not departing from prior precedent, sort of a super stare decisis, but it's super stare decisis for what are regarded as -- by many, as the most erroneous decisions. Do you think there is that category? Is there -- or is it just normal stare decisis? 
And here's what I wrote 16 years ago (when GWB needed to fill a Supreme Court seat):

"I would never point a gun at anyone and pull a trigger at them — never.... Well, the trigger wasn’t pulled. I didn’t pull the trigger."

Says Alec Baldwin, quoted in "Alec Baldwin Says He ‘Didn’t Pull the Trigger’ in ‘Rust’ Killing/The actor said in a brief excerpt from an upcoming interview with ABC News that he had not pulled the trigger when the gun he was holding went off, killing the cinematographer" (NYT).

I interpret this to mean that he has no memory of intending to pull the trigger or pulling the trigger, but I think it's highly unlikely that the gun fired without his pulling the trigger. I don't think he can say that he didn't point the gun in the direction that the gun was pointed when it was in his hand. It's got to be merely an assertion that he didn't intend to point the gun at the woman who died (Halyna Hutchins).

Alec Baldwin is... free polls

Only 4% of the passenger vehicles bought in the U.S. in 2021 are electric, and it's obvious why: "range anxiety."

"In July, the Indiana Department of Transportation and Purdue University announced plans to develop the world’s first contactless wireless-charging concrete pavement highway segment.... The multiyear project will use a magnetizable concrete technology — developed by the German company Magment — enabling wireless charging of electric vehicles as they drive. The technology works by adding small particles of recycled ferrite — a ceramic made by mixing iron oxide blended with slivers of metallic elements, such as nickel and zinc — to a concrete mixture which is magnetized by running an electrical current. This creates a magnetic field that transmits power wirelessly to the vehicle. A plate or box made of the patented material, roughly 12-feet long by 4-feet wide, is buried inside the roadway at a depth of a few inches.... Surrounding the transmitter is normal roadway material — concrete or asphalt. The transmitters would be embedded in the roadway one after the other, allowing for a continuous power transfer.... 'Magnetized cement? Crazy, man,' said Chris Nelder, an energy analyst and consultant.... 'I would love to see it work. But this would be very early-stage technology, needing cars to be redesigned to use it as well as the actual implementation of the charging capability. But the need to redesign the cars is non-trivial.'"

I look forward to the amazing future, but I note "the need to redesign the cars." So it's no motivation to buy an EV now. You'll just need a different one. 

As for charging stations and the problem of range anxiety, the spending bill that just passed has a "$7.5 billion initiative... the goal of building a nationwide network of a 500,000 high-speed electric vehicle charging stations by 2030." That "with the goal" raises my skepticism. As does "2030." 

Am I in denial about the coming demise of Roe ?

I write "Roe" for simplicity, but Roe was replaced long ago by Casey. Denial is embedded in the precedent. Casey purported to discover the "essence" of Roe and rewrote the doctrine, and that was what it meant to adhere to stare decisis. 

After listening to the oral argument yesterday — before reading any commentary — I wrote "I predict stare decisis will prevail." This morning I'm reading the commentary, and everyone seems to be saying they know the Court will overrule Roe Casey, so I thought I'd link to a few things and then speculate about why, politically, that's what you'd want to say.

So, first, the NYT, Adam Liptak: "Supreme Court Appears Open to Upholding Mississippi Abortion Restriction/After two hours of sometimes tense exchanges in one of the most significant abortion cases in years, the court appeared poised to uphold the state law, which bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy." Liptak is vote counting, and he sees Roberts as looking for a middle way — drawing the line somewhere other than viability. Roberts needs another vote, and "the most likely candidates, Justices Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, said little to suggest that they were inclined toward that narrower approach." This middle way would resemble Casey, keeping the essence while changing the doctrine. 

Next, here's Noah Feldman at Bloomberg: "The Supreme Court Seems Poised to Overturn Roe v. Wade/The chief justice suggested a way to restrict abortion without going that far, but the swing voters didn’t engage his potential compromise." That sounds just like Liptak's position, but Feldman goes further characterizing the mindset of Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett: they "seemed pretty set on making history by overturning Roe."

Third, here's Amy Howe at SCOTUSblog: "Majority of court appears poised to roll back abortion rights." Howe counts Kavanaugh among the Justices who seem ready to "overrule Roe and Casey outright." She sees Gorsuch and Barrett as the ones who might join Roberts in this imagined middle position. 

Just one more — Dahlia Lithwick at Slate: "SCOTUS Will Gaslight Us Until the End/Oral arguments today made clear that this court will overturn Roe—and that they’ll insist on their own reasonableness the whole time." This piece is different from the other 3. It's much more of a rant, but overruling Roe Casey, if that's what the Court is really up to, deserves a rant. Lithwick doesn't believe the "precious" talk of the seemingly more moderate conservatives: It's a 6-3 Court and that's that.

I'm going to look at the transcript closely soon, and I'll explain why I think the middle position didn't get much traction and why, consequently, I'm going to stick with my position that the pro-abortion-rights position will win. But just to repeat what I already said: For all the weakness of viability as the place to draw the line, there is no better place, nothing with more of a real-world factual basis. And viability is the line that the precedent draws. 

But I see the value of predicting the overruling of Roe (that is, Casey). Activate people now. Get the political movement started early, because it will be immensely powerful if the Court overrules Casey ("Roe"). And there's some chance that the vision of powerfully activated Democratic Party politics will influence the conservatives on the Court and cause them to preserve the precedent. 

December 1, 2021

Late afternoon sky.

No sunrise run this morning. It was raining — raining on December 1st. Snow would have been much nicer, but it didn't happen. At 3:45 p.m. it was 48° — which was chilly enough on the exposed prairie (AKA the dog park). The pre-sunset sky looked like this:


Talk about anything you want in the comments, and think about supporting this blog by doing your shopping through the Althouse portal to Amazon.

Listen to the oral argument, starting now.


UPDATE: I listened to the entire thing. I predict stare decisis will prevail. The lawyer for the state was particularly weak in his effort to assure the Court that Roe and Casey could fall without endangering any other precedent (e.g., Obergefell). There was some effort to discover a compromise position, drawing the line somewhere other than viability, but nothing emerged. Not that I could hear on this first pass. I will probably say more when I get the transcript. 

ADDED: Thinking about Obergefell, I wanted to quote this passage from the Chief Justice's dissenting opinion:
By deciding this question under the Constitution, the Court removes it from the realm of democratic decision. There will be consequences to shutting down the political process on an issue of such profound public significance. Closing debate tends to close minds. People denied a voice are less likely to accept the ruling of a court on an issue that does not seem to be the sort of thing courts usually decide. As a thoughtful commentator observed about another issue, “The political process was moving . . . , not swiftly enough for advocates of quick, complete change, but majoritarian institutions were listening and acting. Heavy-handed judicial intervention was difficult to justify and appears to have provoked, not resolved, conflict.” Ginsburg, Some Thoughts on Autonomy and Equality in Relation to Roe v. Wade, 63 N. C. L. Rev. 375, 385–386 (1985) (footnote omitted). Indeed, however heartened the proponents of same-sex marriage might be on this day, it is worth acknowledging what they have lost, and lost forever: the opportunity to win the true acceptance that comes from persuading their fellow citizens of the justice of their cause. And they lose this just when the winds of change were freshening at their backs.

Boldface added.  

That was 6 years ago. What "winds of change" are "freshening... backs" today?

In any case, the question then was whether to take something out of the political arena. The question now is whether to throw something back in after it's been out for 50 years! 

AND: On the theme of keeping the government's hands out of our body, Amy Coney Barrett brought up mandatory vaccination. 

"Set against a pastoral Californian back yard, it at times resembled a play with three characters: a discontented (for good reason) woman, her angry and accommodating husband, and a mediator..."

"... tasked with drawing them out while acting as a stand-in for the curious public. Winfrey... is not just an interviewer but 'something of an emissary, a reactive translator of emotion, a master weaver, pulling disparate revelations into a collective portrait that colonizes the mind.' Some of Winfrey’s lines—like a simple, incredulous 'What?'—were among the most emotionally lucid moments of the broadcast. Of her many successes, this may be what she does best: listen, react, and press a little harder for the truth. As a television performance, it was a role that perhaps no other human being was equipped to play."

From "The Best Performances of 2021/The people who burst through the excess of amusements, onscreen or onstage, and did something extraordinary" (The New Yorker), designating, among the best, "Oprah Winfrey in 'Oprah with Meghan and Harry.'"

"More than 140 amicus briefs were filed in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the potentially momentous abortion case concerning a Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy."

"The briefs come from professors, politicians, states, and interest groups from across the ideological spectrum. We reviewed them all, identified some of the most noteworthy and novel arguments, and summarized them.... Numerous groups attack the viability standard that the court adopted in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.... Many amici focus on the principle of stare decisis – and urge the court not to follow it in this case....  Twenty-four states... criticize the court’s 'erroneous and constantly changing abortion precedent.'... Twelve governors write... that the court’s abortion precedent represents an 'intrusion into the sovereign sphere of the States.'.... Textualism and originalism Professors Mary Ann Glendon and O. Carter Snead write that the court’s abortion precedent is 'completely untethered' from the text, history, and tradition of the Constitution....  The Thomas More Society argues that the right to reproductive freedom is not supported by history or legal tradition.... A brief from the Susan B. Anthony List and 79 women [argues]... 'there is no longer a need — if there ever was — for this Court to assume that women cannot adequately protect their own interests through state political processes'.... The American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians & Gynecologists argues that the Mississippi legislature was correct to conclude that abortions performed after 15 weeks pose 'significant physical and psychological risks' to the patient.... Medical ethics The Christian Medical & Dental Associations argue that performing abortions violates a physician’s duty to protect life and avoid doing harm.... The Pacific Justice Institute suggests that abortion violates the 13th Amendment’s prohibition of slavery. 'When aborting her fetus, a mother treats her child as slave property'...."

From "We read all the amicus briefs in Dobbs so you don’t have to" at SCOTUSblog. The oral argument is today, at 10 Eastern Time. You'll be able to listen to the audio here.

From the summary of amicus briefs supporting abortion rights:

"When confronted with the reality that the Democratic Party is losing Black and Latino moderates, the response on the left is often to treat their views as morally beyond the pale."

"'Yes, it turns out that a number of people of color, especially those without a college education, can see the allure of the jackboot authoritarian thuggery offered by modern Republicans,' wrote The Nation’s Elie Mystal....  Obviously, nobody is proposing Democrats run on authoritarian thuggery. The question is whether any compromise with the center is acceptable. Obama competed for moderate views by promising that people could keep their private insurance even as he covered those who couldn’t get any coverage, that he would secure the border even as he gave amnesty to Dreamers. Reducing all these spectra of belief to a simple binary, then declaring the opposing position so horrific it cannot be accommodated, is not a political strategy. It is a kind of anti-politics. This anti-politics did not materialize out of thin air. It is the working assumption of a vast array of progressive nonprofit organizations and the millionaires who fund them. Over the past half-dozen years, several people who work in and around the nonprofit world have told me, the internal political culture at progressive foundations has undergone the same changes that have torn through elite universities, mainstream-media newsrooms, and private schools. An uncompromising version of left-wing political rhetoric has put the leadership of these organizations on the defensive and often prodded them to fund more radical organizations and ideas than before."

"My goal in 1982 was justice – not to perpetuate injustice. And certainly not to forever, and irreparably, alter a young man’s life by the very crime that had altered mine."

"I am grateful that Mr Broadwater has finally been vindicated, but the fact remains that 40 years ago, he became another young Black man brutalized by our flawed legal system. I will forever be sorry for what was done to him.... It has taken me these past eight days to comprehend how this could have happened.... I will continue to struggle with the role that I unwittingly played within a system that sent an innocent man to jail. I will also grapple with the fact that my rapist will, in all likelihood, never be known, may have gone on to rape other women, and certainly will never serve the time in prison that Mr Broadwater did.”

"West Side Story is fantastic. White people gonna be big mad tho and good. Bless you Steven Spielberg for not subtitling when our people use our language."

"In a country where nearly 20 percent of the population speaks Spanish, the subtitles just further keep us othered." 

Tweeted journalist Yolanda Machado — reportedly (it's been deleted now) — in "Steven Spielberg's 'West Side Story' earns early praise for omitting English subtitles: 'That's how it should be'" (Yahoo).

Are "White people gonna be big mad"? I think we all know how to watch a scene where a character is going on in some language you don't understand. It's how we first watched movies — and by "we" I mean the people who were around back in the silent movie era. The mouths moved, there were gestures, you got the story. It was accepted. If there's no translation into subtitles, you get the message that the actual words don't matter. Go on the feeling. Many of us who are around today learned when we were very young how to enjoy a show with a character speaking Spanish that we didn't understand:


We got it. Ricky got mad. The specific meaning didn't matter.

Now, with "West Side Story," the risk is that the Spanish characters — as seen by those who don't understand Spanish — may become less important compared to the characters who have the advantage of comprehensible speech. They may seem comical or like bundles of emotion. This could unintentionally lead to more stereotyping.

It's interesting to see how Spanish-speaking people are experiencing this choice to omit subtitles. Do they feel — as the deleted tweet says — less "othered"? Or do they feel more othered, as they are the ones who understand some things that are closed off to the rest of the audience? There could be a feeling of being the other but in a good way: We are the elite, in-the-know group. 

From what I've seen of Americans over the years, I'd say we tend not to feel pressure to learn other languages. Some of us get irritated — you know, the louts who say "Speak English!" But most of us, I think, just tune out the other language — perhaps after showing some mild interest.

It would be good to learn other languages, but why should one group think its language is the second language that Americans ought to learn? It's funny to express grievance from a minority position and at the same time to claim priority because your language group is so large — 20% (or is it 13.5%?). Isn't that othering the Americans who speak Chinese or Arabic or French? 

November 30, 2021

Sunrise — 7:03.


Melania was cold. Jill is warm.

Ugh. I should have steeled myself against this offensive goo. It's so very predictable. But I wasn't ready — it's still November — and this caught me before I'd prepared myself to simply laugh cynically, which is what it deserves: 

"Jill Biden’s first White House Christmas brings back a warmer, simpler vibe/The first lady chose 'Gifts From the Heart' as this year’s theme, filling rooms with shooting stars and peace doves" (WaPo).

A taste of the holiday fare:
The light, sound and smell of wood fires burning in the Green and Red rooms were just the first sign of the intimacy Jill Biden sought.... Gone are Melania Trump’s imposing — and some said, scary — blood red trees in the East Colonnade, from 2018, which late-night TV host Jimmy Fallon likened to Christmas in hell. Gone are the dozens of life-size “snow people,” wearing scarves and hats, in the first lady’s garden, installed by Michelle Obama in 2015, and moved inside in 2016.... “There’s a whole kind of Chucky element to them,” [Barack Obama] said. “They’re a little creepy.” Instead, Jill Biden’s Colonnade is a lower-key presentation, with shooting stars and peace doves hanging from the ceiling.... Biden’s first foray into holiday decorating at the White House was not glitzy or opulent, but rather an enhanced version of how many American families decorate their own homes, with lots of candles and twinkling lights....

So "some said" Melania's Christmas decorations were "scary." Why not cherry-pick the meanest things "some" are saying about Jill's decorations? I'll just read between the lines and flip the descriptions of Jill's stuff into the negative: It's so thudding uncreative. No grandeur, no awe, just the rich and powerful serving up their idea of what ordinary Americans supposedly do with their own home. 

Now, I must admit that WaPo isn't completely partisan, because — did you notice? — it takes a shot at Michelle Obama too, though the insult is a quote from her husband, who thought her snowmen and -women were "creepy" and Chucky-like. 

Ugh. The competition assigned to first ladies. Who's warm? Who's genuine? Who's got the best taste in clothes and interior decoration? Why is this still going on?

"I remember that day well" — the day Roe was decided — "because it was also the day when former president Lyndon B. Johnson died."

"I was one of the editors of the Michigan Daily, the student newspaper at the University of Michigan, and we had a passionate argument that went late into the evening over which should be our lead story. Should it be legalized abortion across the nation? Or the man who sent tens of thousands of young Americans to die in the Vietnam War? Most of the female editors saw the historic importance of Roe and understood the impact it would have on women’s lives. Most of the male editors — myself included, I confess — could not see past Vietnam and pushed hard for LBJ. We won, sort of: The paper ended up stripping Johnson’s death across the top of the front page and putting the Roe decision right beneath it, still above the fold, with a boldface two-line headline. For history’s sake, I thought that was the right call. I was spectacularly wrong. Johnson was indeed a towering figure, but he’d been long out of office and had to die at some point anyway. Roe was like a bolt from the blue, and with it the nation took a giant stride toward treating women as full and equal citizens under the law. The decision’s impact continues to this day — but perhaps not for many days longer."

I was a student there at the time, so I know I read that edition of the Michigan Daily. I didn't follow the Supreme Court, and I remember being completely surprised that the Court would do something so dramatic, to change so much about our experience of life. 

Isn't it interesting that the editors split by sex — everyone dominated by the  importance of sovereignty over one's own body?

As for the assertion in today's headline — who knows? Will overruling Roe "tear the country apart"? More than it's already torn apart? We may find out. I think it will help the Democratic Party, but you don't hear Democrats expressing hope for this gift of overruling.

"[Elizabeth] Holmes became teary-eyed on the stand as she described dropping out of Stanford University, in part, because she had been raped."

"Shortly after, she said, she struck up a relationship with Balwani, who would go on to become a Theranos executive. 'He said that I was safe now that I had met him,' she said. Holmes had met Balwani the summer before starting at Stanford. She was 18, and he is about two decades older. Balwani had a specific idea of how to make her into a good entrepreneur, Holmes testified, including her eating only certain foods that would make her 'pure' and give her energy for the company, not sleeping much and having a “very disciplined and intense lifestyle.' When she failed to live up to his expectations, Holmes said, Balwani would yell at her and sometimes force her to have sex with him when she didn’t want to, because 'he would say to me that he wanted me to know that he still loved me.' In Holmes’s first days testifying, she stuck to her defense that she was acting in good faith while she ran the start-up and said that she trusted staffers when they told her things were going well in the lab and with the business...."

The top-rated comment over there: "Holmes is a sociopath who thinks she's smarter than everyone else. She conned her investors, her board and her customers, and now she's trying to con the jury."

Random movie watched yesterday: The Luis Bunuel version of "Robinson Crusoe" from 1954.

I know Bunuel from "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie" (1972) and "Belle de Jour" (1967) and I wondered what he did with "Robinson Crusoe." I'll just say he had a very long career with many stages and quote the NYT obituary (1983) — "an iconoclast, moralist, and revolutionary who was a leader of avant-garde surrealism in his youth and a dominant international movie director half a century later." 

The entire "Robinson Crusoe" film is on YouTube. I ran into it on the Criterion Channel, but here's the whole thing, and I'll just clip out the one 4-minute section that I think is most distinctive, which happens when he's been alone for a very long time and before he has any thought that he'll ever see anyone again. His dog Rex has just died. "Now, truly alone, starved for the sound of a voice, any voice":


Here's the full text of the book. Have you read it? Recently? I don't think I have, though I do remember reading 2 of Daniel Defoe's  novels: "A Journal of the Plague Year" and "Moll Flanders." From his Wikipedia page
Defoe was a prolific and versatile writer, producing more than three hundred works—books, pamphlets, and journals — on diverse topics, including politics, crime, religion, marriage, psychology, and the supernatural. He was also a pioneer of business journalism and economic journalism.... In Defoe's early childhood, he experienced some of the most unusual occurrences in English history: in 1665, 70,000 were killed by the Great Plague of London, and the next year, the Great Fire of London left only Defoe's and two other houses standing in his neighbourhood.... Defoe died on 24 April 1731, probably while in hiding from his creditors. He was often in debtors' prison. The cause of his death was labelled as lethargy....

"We have always been trying to strike the right balance between enforcement, rehabilitation and prevention."

"I would rather have people who are going to shoot up do it in a safe and secure venue as opposed to a McDonald’s bathroom, an alleyway or a subway staircase."

Said Manhattan district attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., quoted in "Supervised Injection Sites for Drug Users to Open in New York City/The Manhattan facilities will provide clean needles, administer medication to reverse overdoses and provide users with options for addiction treatment" (NYT).

"Everybody learned a lot this year, and I just want to make sure there’s absolutely nothing that could ever be considered as insulting to Chinese culture."

"We look at everything through the lens of diversity, equity and inclusion. That’s the way of the future."

Dancers and choreographers of Asian descent say the revisions to “Nutcracker” are long overdue. Ma Cong, resident choreographer of Tulsa Ballet, said he was confused when he first saw “Nutcracker” productions featuring exaggerated makeup and stereotypical costumes. Ma, who grew up in China, recalled thinking, “That is not Chinese.” 
For reference, here's the Chinese dance — "Tea" — as it was performed by the Bolshoi Ballet in 2018:

November 29, 2021

Sunrise — 7:00.


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"Though it’s the film’s quieter absurdities – like its glorious shot of Crawford, sheathed in platinum sequins, descending a curved staircase while she scowls at a plate of cold, congealed steak – that tickle me more than its chaotic, cacophonous climaxes."

From "Mommie Dearest at 40: the derided camp classic that deserves a closer look/Faye Dunaway’s all-guns-blazing performance as Joan Crawford is one of many reasons why the reviled biodrama is not the disaster many have labelled it" by Guy Lodge (The Guardian).

Yes, it has been 40 years, and I rewatched it for the first time this week. Not because I noticed it's the 40 year anniversary but because it's in a collection of Frank Perry movies on the Criterion Channel, and I'd just watched one of them — "Diary of a Mad Housewife" — for reasons discussed in a November 9th post. And I'd watched another — "The Swimmer" — back in 2018, discussed here. Frank Perry is a strange director. All 3 of these movies have a heightened surreality. They're all heavily focused on an awfully unpleasant central character who's jammed right up in your face for 2 hours. 

There are 2 more Frank Perry movies collected at Criterion — "David and Lisa" (which I saw sometime in the 1960s and have never rewatched) and "Man on a Swing" (a 1974 movie that I don't think I'd ever noticed before).

Have you got anything to say about Frank Perry? If you know him at all, which of these movies is your opinion based on? If it's "Mommie Dearest," do you agree — as I do! — that these are the best 6 1/2 minutes in the movie?

George yawns as Paul invents "Get Back" out of thin air.

"But what Biden knows, after three-plus decades of being politically left for dead, is that nothing’s over just because a bunch of unnamed staffers who spend too much time reading polls say it’s over."

"He knows from experience that the more monolithic and reflexive the popular wisdom, the more likely it will be proved wrong. Does Biden run again? Personally, I’ve always thought he was most likely a one-term, stabilizing president, and I don’t really believe he has made up his mind to seek another term. But it’s early yet, and I’m pretty sure Biden won’t be spooked into accepting everybody else’s idea of political reality."

From "Panicked Democrats are ready to shove Biden aside. Again" by Matt Bai (WaPo).

Elon Musk "became a bright antithesis to Russian capitalism, a guide on how you can get rich in the right way and how you can spend the money you earned in the right way."

"The Russian environment could not produce this cultlike figure. And it is an easy import because Musk is not associated with some Wall Street billionaire, he is not a native American and he engages with Russia. So he is not perceived as a stranger, and this image is important to a stratum of people who are in need of one."

Said Alexey Firsov, founder of the Platforma sociological research and consulting firm, quoted in "Memes, merchandise and Mars cocktails: Russia’s mania for Elon Musk has no bounds" (WaPo).

And there's this, from a 29-year-old Moscow bartender who attracted the attention of SpaceX by applying for the job of bartending on its mission to Mars: "Probably the decisive thing that inspired me to follow Musk is when he said that you shouldn’t be afraid of failure. I think, here in Russia, if you make one mistake, it follows you. His view seems to be that if you make a mistake, you get experience and learn from it and won’t make it again. I think it’s unique for people in Russia."

In Russia, we're told, people love wearing Elon Musk imagery on their shirts:

"There are two pronouns: he and she. Our language is beautiful. And two pronouns are appropriate."

Said the French first lady, Brigitte Macron, quoted in "In a Nonbinary Pronoun, France Sees a U.S. Attack on the Republic/When a French dictionary included the gender-nonspecific 'iel' for the first time, a virulent reaction erupted over 'wokisme' exported from American universities" (NYT).
Lilian Delhomme, 24, a gender-nonconforming student of international affairs at the University of Paris 8 who has been using the pronoun “iel” for about a year, was appalled by Ms. Macron’s statement. 
“This for me was very violent,” Mx. Delhomme said in an interview. “Coming from the first lady, from a woman, from a French teacher, from someone whose relationship went against many societal norms, it made me lose hope.”
Mx. Delhomme was referring to the fact that the relationship between Ms. Macron, 68, and Mr. Macron, 43, began in high school when he was a teenager and she was his drama teacher, married with three children....
That's a nice example of going on the offense, but I wonder if the French who are outraged about the invention of ungendered pronouns might also reject the "many societal norms" that stand in the way of a sexual relationship between a teenaged student and his high school teacher. I don't know. I am not French. I don't have my finger on the pulse of the French. 

But, from afar, I empathize with the sentiment "Our language is beautiful." It is true of French and it is true of English, though awful writing and speech is possible in both languages, and it's hard to speak beautifully of the desire to control the growth of the language. There are always many extra words, and who could you trust to pare away the extra words?

One answer is: The dictionary! I remember when some people would eschew any word that wasn't "in the dictionary." 

ADDED: If you object to adding weird words, why would you say "wokeisme"? I detect eepocreeezeee.

"As South Koreans enter the living-with-corona phase of the pandemic, some are easing back into social life by visiting public spaces where they can be alone and do very little."

"Nothing is the new something in South Korea as people desperately seek refuge from the pressures of living as functioning adults in a global pandemic in a high-stress and fast-paced society with soaring real estate prices and often-grueling work schedules. At a Space Out Competition this year, competitors sought to achieve the lowest heart rate possible while sitting in a 'healing forest' on the southern island of Jeju....Spacing out is known in Korean as 'hitting mung,' a slang usage of the word 'mung' to describe a state of being totally zoned out.... With the weather change this fall, now popular are the terms 'forest mung' and 'foliage mung,' meaning spacing out while looking at trees or foliage. There’s 'fire mung,' or spacing out while watching logs burn, and 'water mung,' being meditative near bodies of water.... On Ganghwa Island, off South Korea’s west coast, a cafe named Mung Hit also offers no-activity relaxation areas. In one section is a single chair facing a mirror for anyone who wants to sit and stare. There are nooks for meditating, reading, sitting by a pond or the garden, or enjoying mountain views. No pets or children are allowed.... '"Hitting mung" is a concept of emptying your heart and your brain so that you can fill them with new ideas and thoughts. We opened because we wanted to create a space for people to do just that'...."

November 28, 2021

Sunrise — 7:11, 7:17.

I took this picture at 7:11: 


And Meade took this picture — I'm in it — at 7:17:


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"In many years of working as a travel writer — which I’ve often thought of as working the awe beat — I’ve come to understand that awe cannot be easily choreographed."

"Some of the times I have experienced awe: An hour of avalanches rumbling down the south face of Annapurna under a full moon. Fork lightning strobing across the empty deck of a cargo ship on Lake Victoria. An eagle hovering 20 feet above my shoulder in the Chilean tundra. These... transcendental moments... relied on serendipity...  Some occasions, by contrast, when I didn’t feel awe: gorilla tracking in Uganda, seeing the Mona Lisa at the Louvre amid a jostling crowd of people taking photos of it with their mobile phones, every safari I’ve ever been on.... Space tourism belongs to this subset of ostensibly awesome experiences that often feel anticlimactic precisely because they come with a promise of awe factored in... The sense of surprise that is arguably the most vital precondition for experiencing awe will have been watered down by the months of forethought and demystification.... It’s the difference between joining a 20-strong organized tour to see the Northern Lights and, say, camping alone in some Scandinavian wilderness and being roused from your tent by the aurora’s spectral green ripples illuminating the canvas.... 'The best way to access this everyday awe is by allowing yourself to wander, to avoid following a schedule each moment of the day. We didn’t evolve to feel awe about hurtling through space.'"

When have you experienced the sublime? Was it planned? Was it in a group? Did you pay for it? If it was planned, paid for, and in a group, did you really feel it, or did you fake it? What if other people murmuring about the sublimity they paid for punctured your sublimity? What if it left you cold, what if it felt like nothing? But you paid $450,000! 

I'm pulled into the upper right hand corner of The Washington Post — so dangerous, so syrup-drenched.

Here's that corner (9 items):

It's an omakase breakfast — omakase, not omicron — the selections entrusted to the illustrious mainstream newspaper. I will update this post, course by course. 

1. "For Clarence Thomas, avowed critic of Roe v. Wade, Mississippi abortion case a moment long awaited" by Robert Barnes. There's oral argument in the big abortion case this Wednesday, and, we're told, Thomas receives "unprecedented deference" these days — because of all his new colleagues, who "think like him," and because there's a new method of asking questions at oral argument, and not only does he speak now, he goes first, and no one cuts him off. They let him finish "his low-key inquiries." Thomas has repeatedly written separate opinions to say that Roe ought to be overruled. "Thomas’s idiosyncratic views and his resistance to compromise still make him the justice most likely to write a solo opinion," writes Barnes. But what's to prevent these new Justices, who may genuinely respect him, from curing that loneliness? Asking that question, I thought of the adage, "Any man more right than his neighbors constitutes a majority of one already." And then I realized I'm talking about the person named in the next headline down, Henry David Thoreau.

2. "The Black people who lived in Walden Woods long before Henry David Thoreau": "'Down the road, on the right hand, on Brister’s Hill lived Brister Freeman, ‘a handy Negro,’ slave of Squire Cummings once... With him dwelt Fenda, his hospitable wife, who told fortunes, yet pleasantly – large, round, and black, blacker than any of the children of night, such a dusky orb as never rose on Concord before or since,' Thoreau wrote in 'Walden.'"

3. "Amid massive shortage, Canada taps strategic reserves — of maple syrup": "Petroleum stockpiles aren’t the only strategic reserves being tapped this season amid concerns of supply shortages and sky-high prices." There's a Canadian federation that, we're told, gets called "the OPEC of maple syrup." The shortage seems to have mostly to do with people cooking more pancakes and such on account of the lockdown, but there's also stress to the maple trees from climate change, so make sure to keep worrying about climate change. It affects pancakes!

4. "The Rule of Six: A newly radicalized Supreme Court is poised to reshape the nation" by Ruth Marcus. The conservatives are no longer just looking for a 5th vote. With 6, it's like "an heir and spare." They can afford to lose one. No more need to cajole that last one, the fussed-over "swing" voter. And Marcus tells WaPo readers to be be afraid, be very afraid.

5. "Hanukkah isn’t ‘Jewish Christmas.’ Stop treating it that way. No need to include our holiday in the winter extravaganza of commercialization, thanks." Sample sentence, representing the tone and message of the entire piece: "No Jew has ever gazed longingly at a 12-foot inflatable reindeer and wished in her heart she had an equally large Moses to display in front of her house."

6. "Greece was in deep trouble. How did it right the ship? Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on the arrival of migrants — and tech companies." An interview with the prime minister. Highlights: "We should agree in principle that no country has a right to weaponize migrants. . . . We won’t let people come in as they please." About criminalizing “fake news”: "What we are doing is very measured and very valid."

7. "Five myths about the supply chain/No, self-driving trucks wouldn’t fix all our problems." "Much of today’s mess was caused by relying on extremely fragile — and extremely long — supply lines. Ohno would have shuddered at the thought that his ideas were being applied in this manner." Oh no! Taiichi Ohno originated the concept of just-in-time delivery.

8. "The newest coronavirus variant is raising alarms. The pandemic is not over." "It will take time to determine if the variant is more transmissible than delta, or more virulent, but it is a worrisome development." Won't there always be a new variant so that we will always be told we don't know enough yet and we will need, once again, to err on the side of safety? This feels like a treadmill that we can never step off.

9. "Stephen Sondheim made art that made life more real" by Alexandra Petri. A song "can’t be too clever, and it can’t be too dull. It has to land on your ear as a surprise. If it contains jokes, they have to rhyme. (If it contains rhymes, words that are spelled differently are funnier, Sondheim thought, than words that are spelled the same.)... The song has to take the character singing it somewhere. It has to be essential to the show. 'If you can take the song out,' Sondheim said, 'and it doesn’t leave a hole, then the song’s not necessary.'... Life also exists in time. You cannot stop it and start it and go back and hope to make yourself better understood. You must express yourself in the moments allotted and make yourself heard and choose what to say." 

If I hadn't committed to reading every one of those 9 stories, the ones I would have read would be: 1, 2, and 9. And I would have blogged all 3. 

Having read all the stories, I rank their bloggability, for me, beginning with: 1, 9, 2. Then, there's a big drop off. There's something I'd wanted to say that 8 gave me the chance to say, so I'll put 8 next. I'd put 3 dead last, because I don't really want to blog about the syrup supply, though it would shoot to the top if I had a "syrup" tag (and I might create a "syrup" tag, but it will take a while to add it retrospectively, and it's only interesting if it collects a lot of old things, which it will, more than 10). I put 4 next to last, because it's obvious to me what it will be from the headline and the author, and I don't need more of that. Third from last is 5, which is unnecessary holiday fluff, and I didn't like the insinuation that I was "treating" Hanukkah in any particular way. That leaves 6 in dead center. The Greek Prime Minister. I had to force myself to read that, but he was concise and hard core — quotable.

Oops, I forgot the supply chain. I know it's important, but it's not my thing. I put Greek Prime Minister at what I called "dead center" and in 5th place, so let's put 7 in 6th place. 

Final ranking: 1, 9, 2, 8, 6, 7, 5, 4, 3.

ADDED: I have now made the tag "syrup." Click. It's pretty exciting. 

"Audience members were treated to author Haruki Murakami serving as a disc jockey while playing the works of jazz great Stan Getz and talking about his music."

"Murakami played records from his own extensive collection during a session held Nov. 13 at the Waseda International House of Literature in Tokyo.... In the shadows of his spectacular and extensive musical career, Getz continued to suffer from alcoholism and drug addiction his entire life. 'Music is there like an independent form of life unto itself,' Murakami said. 'It keeps evolving even if it lives in a host who is so messed up.'"

From "Murakami spins best of Stan Getz while he talks about jazz great" (The Asahi Shimbun).

A reader sent me that link, and I greatly enjoyed reading it here at my computer with access to Spotify to listen to, notably, “Corcovado” from “Getz/Gilberto."

I made a bookmark for The Asahi Shimbum, where I was pleased to see that the biggest front-page item was "Pigeons figure the odds to perch where safety is assured"...
The unusual sight of 30 or so pigeons perched on the rooftop of a parked car on a road in central Tokyo, rather than an adjacent small park, seemed like an unlikely place to congregate. But in fact it made perfect sense.... It turns out that pigeons take two factors into account when they pick where to perch, according to Shigeru Watanabe, professor emeritus of animal behavior at Keio University who won... the Ig Nobel award, which honors “achievements that first make people laugh and then make them think,” for showing that pigeons can distinguish between paintings by Picasso and Monet by showing 10 pictures of each to them.
I who was lost and lonely/Believing life was only/A bitter tragic joke, have found with you, the meaning of existence, oh my love....