February 12, 2022

At the Lakeside Café...


... you can talk all night.

"Unfortunately Breyer’s book... is not a thoughtful exploration of the virtues and vices of well-meaning deception."

"In his stubborn avowal that the Court... remains an apolitical body, he perpetuates a lie that is anything but noble. I have written much that is entirely positive about his judicial opinions, so it pains me to say that his book reads as though it had been written by someone oddly unaware of the implausibility of its factual claims. Invoking Cicero, Breyer opens by noting that legal obedience, the kind a society needs if it is not to descend into chaos and what Tennyson called the law of 'tooth and claw,' requires either fear of punishment, hope of reward, or belief that the law is just even when it doesn’t deliver what you hope for. The central thesis of his book is that the reason Americans have over time abided by the Supreme Court’s interpretations of the law.... is that they have accepted the view that the justices are not acting 'politically.'... [H]e is content to express his belief that 'jurisprudential differences, not political ones, account for most, perhaps almost all, of judicial disagreements'—even while conceding that 'it is sometimes difficult to separate what counts as a jurisprudential view from what counts as political philosophy, which, in turn, can shape views of policy.' What accounts for these so-called jurisprudential differences? To what degree are they mere window dressing, attached after the fact to conclusions consciously or unconsciously reached on other grounds?"

Writes Laurence Tribe in "Politicians in Robes/Why does Stephen Breyer continue to insist that the Supreme Court is apolitical?" (NYRB).

The morning's texts at Meadhouse, presented without links or comment.

"[F]amilies of means tend to choose play-based preschool programs with art, movement, music and nature. Children are asked open-ended questions, and they are listened to."

"This is not what [the researcher Dale Farron] is seeing in classrooms full of kids in poverty, where 'teachers talk a lot, but they seldom listen to children.'... Private preschools, even home-based day cares, tend to be laid out with little bodies in mind. There are bathrooms just off the classrooms. Children eat in, or very near, the classroom, too. And there is outdoor play space nearby with equipment suitable for short people. Putting these same programs in public schools can make the whole day more inconvenient. 'So if you're in an older elementary school, the bathroom is going to be down the hall. You've got to take your children out, line them up and then they wait,' Farran says. "And then, if you have to use the cafeteria, it's the same thing. You have to walk through the halls, you know: 'Don't touch your neighbor, don't touch the wall, put a bubble in your mouth because you have to be quiet.'... 'Whoever thought that you could provide a 4-year-old from an impoverished family with 5 1/2 hours a day, nine months a year of preschool, and close the achievement gap, and send them to college at a higher rate?' she asks. 'I mean, why? Why do we put so much pressure on our pre-K programs?' We might actually get better results, she says, from simply letting little children play."

From "A top researcher says it's time to rethink our entire approach to preschool" (NPR).

I'd never before noticed that phrase "put a bubble in your mouth." Here's an article about it. Excerpt:

"Could those who concocted this sentence ever recognize their kinship with the moral purifiers of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge? Or of Mao’s Cultural Revolution?"

"Or the Stalinist interrogator Gletkin in Arthur Koestler’s 1940 novel 'Darkness at Noon'? If so, would UIC’s unconscious emulators be discomfited by the resemblance? Unlikely. Today, bureaucrats parasitic off academia’s scholarly mission outnumber actual scholars. These threat-discerners, diversity-planners, bias-detectors, sensitivity-promoters, sustainability-guarantors and other beneficiaries of today’s multibillion-dollar social justice industry are doing well during the nation’s supposed apocalypse."

George Will condemns the authorities at the University of Illinois at Chicago for their treatment of lawprof Jason Kilborn after he gave a civil procedure exam with a fact pattern about a lawsuit brought by a black woman against an employer whose managers had called her — and this is how it was written on the exam — a “n_____” and a “b_____.” 

Here's Will's column: "Even by today’s standard of campus cowardice and conformity, this repulsive episode is noteworthy" (WaPo).

For details about the what UI did to Kilborn, here's the complaint in his lawsuit against the university. You can see all the measures the university took and also the serious difficulty over Kilborn's statement that the dean might have thought that Kilborn would "become homicidal" if he saw the student petition criticizing him about the exam.

"Wisconsin law requires the DNR to hold a hunting season between November and February whenever the wolf is not listed as endangered, but this winter’s hunt was put on hold...."

"U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White in Oakland, California, said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had failed to show wolf populations could be sustained in the Midwest and portions of the West without protection under the Endangered Species Act, so he reinstated them as an endangered species....  Permits that allowed land owners to kill wolves when experiencing conflicts with the animals are no longer valid, the [Wisconsin] DNR said.... Training dogs to track and trail wolves is also no longer allowed, the DNR said. The DNR said it 'remains committed' to helping people who have conflicts with wolves."

Madison.com reports.

Random Attack on Joe Rogan of the Day.

From WaPo's regular "Date Lab" feature, an episode titled "Her roommate says her type is ‘generic.’" This was all going along very blandly sweetly until the attack on Joe Rogan sprang up:
“Every time I talk to my roommate, she says that my taste is so ‘generic,’ ” Fiona [Forrester, 23,] recalled, clarifying, “generic and boring.”... 
Her No. 1 priority is just finding a “nice person.” She favors “outdoorsy” guys, she said, who “are a bit more quiet. Like a mix between Jim from ‘The Office’ and Tom Holland in ‘Spider-Man.’ ”... 
"[A] big no for me [is] if someone is impolite to anyone,” she said. Then she added, “Podcasts come up quite a lot in conversations and I feel like so many guys will ask me what I like and I’ll tell them a podcast and they’ll say they just listen to Joe Rogan.” 
Following the media personality is a red flag for her, as everything she’s learned about him is “some wacky stuff.” 

"First off, let me take this one. Hold up. I’m Black. I can take this one. Look, there’s a lot of c*nts in this game. There are a lot of snakes in this game."

"I’ve been in this fight game since 2008. Joe Rogan is one of the nicest, coolest, humble motherf*ckers I’ve had the pleasure of working with. Understand that. F*ck the noise. You know what they’re trying to do. You can’t control the man. He’s got the biggest platform in the world right now. That’s my ***** Joe Rogan. F*ck the noise.... Just keep doing you, Joe. Have some mushrooms. Keep doing you.” 

Said the UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya at the UFC 271 pre-fight news conference, when the promotion president Dana White was asked about Rogan (including that montage of Rogan saying the "n-word" over the years). 

Adesanya is quoted in "Israel Adesanya gives fired-up defense of Joe Rogan: 'F*ck the noise. You know what they're trying to do'" (UFC) 

Meanwhile, the NY Post reports, "Joe Rogan won’t be on UFC 271 broadcast as controversy lingers." 

Here's the Adesanya video, unbleeped:

By the way, Joe's lineup of guests on his podcast this week has been fantastic. Last week was an uncharacteristic drought, and I'd gotten the idea that Rogan was putting himself on suspension. There were 6 days between January 27 and February 3 when no podcasts went up, but look what happened next:

You can see that I've listened to them all.  They are bold and, I think, a deliberately strong move against his critics. Look at the variety. Look at the subjects. You have to listen to see how much he is doing with these episodes. The one with the comedian Akaash Singh is notable for how many other comedians they talk about and how vigorously — yet casually and naturally — he is promoting other performers. The one with the comedian Dave Smith — who used to appear regularly on CNN — is full of critique of mainstream media.

February 11, 2022

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk all night. 

It was a dreary day — not cold, but dreary — and I took a second walk. Here's how things looked in late morning:

IMG_9150 2

"I'm awake! My fellow geraniums, our nation's in crisis...."

Biden's mother hated the English and wrote "hundreds of poems describing how God must smite the English and rain blood on our heads."

From "Joe Biden’s mother so disliked England she refused to sleep in bed Queen had slept in/Veep writer Georgia Pritchett reveals US president’s Irish mother wrote poems calling for God to ‘rain blood’ on the English" (The Guardian).
[Biden] also recalled how his mother, Catherine Finnegan – known as Jean – visited the UK and spent a night in a hotel where, she was told, the Queen had once stayed. 
“She was so appalled that she slept on the floor all night, rather than risk sleeping on a bed that the Queen had slept on,” Pritchett wrote, adding she personally admired anyone who allowed their principles to take precedence over a comfortable bed.

What's with these stories about highly emotive reactions to beds in foreign countries that somebody once slept in? I'm thinking of the myth of Trump's procuring prostitutes to urinate on a bed in a Russian hotel that Barack and Michelle Obama slept in. If beds so absorbingly retain a spiritual residue of those who've slept there, how can anyone sleep in any hotel?

"I understand why the name of this award has changed, but I really love being a woman and being a female artist. I do! I’m really, really proud of us. I really, really am."

Said Adele, accepting the Brit Award for Artist of the Year and referring to the change to gender neutrality, after years of awarding the best female and the best male, quoted in a NY Post column, "Good on Adele for celebrating female — not gender-neutral — achievement" by Maureen Callahan. 

Callahan writes that Adele is being "slandered a TERF — a trans-exclusionary radical feminist." I'd like to see the wording of that "slander," because I can't even understand it. How are trans people involved in gender neutrality? It seems to me they're at the opposite extreme. Adele says "I really love being a woman," but isn't that what a trans woman would say? Gender is especially important, not neutralized

What would be "trans-exclusionary" would be to keep the male and female categories but refuse to allow artists to compete for the award that goes with their declared gender. You could even say that switching to gender neutrality just as trans people are coming to the fore is trans-exclusionary — a bit like reacting to racial desegregation by closing the public swimming pool.

Quite aside from the TERF charge, there's the problem of excluding artists who declare themselves non-binary, notably Sam Smith. Here's an article from The Guardian from last March: "Sam Smith excluded from gendered categories at 2021 Brit awards/Solo male and solo female categories mean no room for chart-topping non-binary singer, who calls for awards to reflect society."

A Brit awards spokesperson later responded, saying: “Sam is an extraordinary British artist and we agree with what they have said today. The Brits are committed to evolving the show and the gendered categories are very much under review. But any changes made to be more inclusive need to be just that - if a change unintentionally leads to less inclusion then it risks being counterproductive to diversity and equality. We need to consult more widely before changes are made to make sure we get it right.”

There are winners and losers — in awards and in structuring and re-structuring awards — and maybe the best answer is screw awards. This is art, not sports.

It's like "Clockwork Orange" but without actual clamps holding your eyelids open.

In case you've forgotten "Clockwork Orange," you can easily get up to speed on that and other eyeball horrors in the movies at "A Clockwork Orange And 8 Other Movies With Terrifying Eye Scenes" (CinemaBlend).

The great Wordle freakout of February 11th.

"Masculinity... is always under threat and eating animals is its protection racket.... Our whiteness is part of the problem of meat-eating..."

"Could the Soup Nazi have secretly been a member of the gazpacho police? We asked Larry Thomas, who played the character, for his take..."

"... on the moment as soups and Nazis march back into the headlines.... 'How in the world can a grown person, who grew up in the 20th century, not know what the word Gestapo is?' he asks. 'They say "You can’t write this shit." It’s beyond you can’t write this shit.... If she got the word wrong with a nonsensical word, it would be one thing, but I knew as soon as she actually used the name of a soup that I was in trouble... And then she turns around and makes an actual Soup Nazi reference [on Twitter], you know, the "no soup for you, and you’re gonna end up in the goulash." I’m sure somebody wrote that for her. She can’t possibly be that funny.'"

From "The Soup Nazi on Marjorie Taylor Green’s gazpacho police: ‘I knew I was in trouble’/Larry Thomas, the actor behind the Seinfeld character, gives his take on the viral gaffe: ‘You can’t write this shit.’"

In case you missed it:

"You put a statue up to him, you don't want to be pulling it down later if things go badly, if the person goes astray."

Said Georgia state senator Nan Orrock, quoted in "Georgia Senate votes for Clarence Thomas monument despite objections from Black senators" (The Hill).

I suspect Orrock's remark was about Thomas in particular, but it could, more graciously, apply to statues depicting any living person. More expansively, the statement could be made about all human beings: None should be idolized. We are all gone astray.

"I think we’ll get a vote from Republican side for the following reason: I’m not looking to make an ideological choice here."

"I’m looking for someone to replace Judge Breyer with the same kind of capacity Judge Breyer had, with an open mind, who understands the Constitution, interprets it in a way that is consistent with the mainstream interpretation of the Constitution."

Said President Biden, quoted in "Biden talks Supreme Court timing with Democratic senators/The president huddled with Judiciary Committee members as a nomination fight looms" (WaPo). 

Top-rated comment: "Why is it going to take over a month to make a choice? Six of the senate votes on the Democrat side are octogenarians - we're one heartbeat away from another stolen seat." 

I read the WaPo article because it was linked by David Lat in an update to his "President Biden's Supreme Court Nominee Will Be..../Here are updated odds that reflect the current state of play":

Is the requirement that barristers wear wigs — perukes — racially discriminatory or maybe just fashion nonsense?

I'm reading "Ban culturally insensitive wigs, says black barrister with afro hairstyle" (London Times).

Leslie Thomas, QC, said that wigs were “fashioned for caucasian hair” and look “ridiculous” on black advocates. He was speaking after Michael Etienne, a black barrister who has an afro... wrote to the Bar Council to seek clarity over what would happen if a barrister with an afro declined to wear his wig before a judge....

Etienne found out he could be held in contempt of court. 

Those who support the wigs, we're told, say they are "a symbol of authority and solemnity" that give the barristers "a degree of anonymity."

Thomas dismissed the justifications for them as “nonsense” and called for wigs to be scrapped from the legal profession entirely. “Wigs are 17th century male fashion,” he told The Times. “To have them in the 21st century is nonsense.”

I can see that Thomas is trying to help, but why did he say the wigs look "ridiculous" on black people? Maybe they look ridiculous on everyone, but those who want to keep them believe they lend solemnity to one's appearance. So, are they serious or silly? How could that have to do with black and white?

Or is it just that a particular male barrister is choosing to wear his hair long, and wigs work best with short hair (or baldness)? Note the references to "a barrister with an afro." A wig may look "ridiculous" if it's pushing down the top of big hair and distorting the overall shape. What about women? It seems that the wig requirement applies to them too and that if there's a race discrimination claim to be made, there's a sex discrimination claim too. There's at least disparate impact, but the retention of the requirement could be said to serve the needs of traditionally groomed white men.

By the way, the wigs are only worn in some situations. Read this Wikipedia page if you want to know the picky/revered details.

February 10, 2022

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want. 


"It was devastating to read a false accusation that I had anything to do with murder. I felt powerless – that I was up against Goliath. The people were David. I was David...."

"When you know lies are told about you...that causes some stress. Hard to get a good night’s sleep.... The New York Times, the be all and end all, the loud voice in the media, had… taken a knee-jerk reaction and tried to score political points, trying to politicize horrific violence." 

Sarah Palin testified, quoted in "Palin calls New York Times the ‘Goliath’ in libel dispute" (AP).

2 quotes — heard by me in the last 24 hours — that use the concept of the audition.

1. "I'd like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition." — John Lennon, spoken at the end of The Beatles last public performance, quoted in "The story of the Beatles rooftop concert at the heart of ‘Get Back’" (WaPo)." (I heard this last night as I took in the final hour of the 8-hour Peter Jackson documentary, which I have now watched, in its entirety, twice.)

2. "I cannot believe you would make me audition for you. You look like clowns. I am not bluffing." — Dave Chappelle, quoted in "SEE IT: Dave Chappelle criticizes affordable housing plan before Ohio village votes against it" (Daily News). (I heard this today because the incident occurred on Monday and the story was prominent in the news today.)

Lennon was being comically humble, exiting the stage as if the band were tiny when it was the biggest band the world has ever known (and it still is, more than half a century later). As you may know, because I've said it before, the jokes that delight me the most play with the idea of big and small, and this little line of John's falls roughly in that category (understood broadly (not narrowly!)). 

Chappelle, who is specifically a comedian, was dead serious, and he meant to appear as large as possible as he spoke at a Yellow Springs village council meeting, where he intended to intimidate the council into voting the way that suited his real estate interests. For him, the concept of the audition meant something that was beneath him. Everyone is supposed to know who he is, how great he is, and how much is owed to him.

This isn't intended to destroy Joe Rogan, but if the left has already canceled him and the righties are thinking he must be their guy, it's the perfect attack.

34 of 38 Harvard faculty members who signed a letter supporting Professor John L. Comaroff have signed a retraction letter saying they "failed to appreciate the impact" their letter would have.

The Harvard Crimson reports. (Harvard Crimson). 

Comaroff is accused of "unwanted touching, verbal sexual harassment, and professional retaliation."

The initial letter posed a series of sharp questions about sanctions levied against Comaroff, who it described as “an excellent colleague, advisor and committed university citizen.” But professors began to pull their support for the letter after a federal lawsuit filed against Harvard on Tuesday detailed years of sexual harassment allegations against Comaroff — some of which had been reported previously.

Among those who did not retract were Harvard Law School professors David W. Kennedy, Randall L. Kennedy, and Duncan Kennedy. I think you can extrapolate their reasons if you read the retraction letter:

"Our concerns were transparency, process and university procedures, which go beyond the merits of any individual case.... We failed to appreciate the impact that this would have on our students, and we were lacking full information about the case. We are committed to all students experiencing Harvard as a safe and equitable institution for teaching and learning.”

What happened to the concerns for "transparency, process and university procedures, which go beyond the merits of any individual case"?! They openly proclaim that their interest in sound procedure for the individual should be subordinated to the emotional state of the larger group... but only when the group speaks in a loud enough voice. How did they "fail[] to appreciate the impact on... students"? It seems more likely that the professors didn't believe there would be an outcry that would make them so uncomfortable.

"Theories about prostitutes frequenting ice shanties on winter weekends date back to at least 1988, when some reported that as many as 10,000 men gathered on Minnesota’s Mille Lacs Lake..."

".... over the weekends to pay for sex..... But the folk tale has seemingly remained just that — a fish story. Back then, authorities said they had made no arrests on prostitution charges related to fishing houses.... [Hudson, Ohio mayor Craig] Shubert has previously made headlines for his controversial remarks. Last fall... Shubert criticized a book given to some high school seniors that he described as 'essentially … child pornography'...."

From "Ohio mayor lambasted for saying ice fishing would lead to prostitution: He ‘embarrasses our town with wild claims'" (WaPo).

Here's an article about Shubert's accusation about the high school book, which was "642 Things to Write About," a book of writing prompts for high school seniors that included "write a sex scene you wouldn't show your mom," and "rewrite the sex scene from above into one that you'd let your mom read." It does seem inaccurate to call that "essentially …child pornography." It's more an effort to entice teenagers to write erotica for their teachers.

"I use the default emoji, the yellow-toned one for professional settings, and then I use the dark brown emoji for friends and family. I just don't have the emotional capacity to unpack race relations in the professional setting."

Said Jennifer Epperson, quoted in "Which skin color emoji should you use? The answer can be more complex than you think" (NPR).

But is the yellow emoji really a way to stay neutral and leave race out of your texting? One researcher, Zara Rahman, argues that skin tone emojis "make white people confront their race." But what are you supposed to do? If you're sensitive about white supremacy and you choose a white emoji, how does that distinguish you from white supremacist? But if you pick the yellow emoji, because it was the original emoji color and because you sort of identify with The Simpsons, how do you know that doesn't make you seem to be misidentifying yourself as Asian? Or worse, how do you know it doesn't seem to mean I don't want to confront my race.

Rahman says, "I completely hear some people are just exhausted," but emoji color selection is "one of those places where we just have to think about who we are and how we want to represent our identities." Why are social media companies subjecting us to "places where we just have to think about" some particular thing? They should be neutral platforms where we get to choose what to express and what to leave unspoken.

"As with previous months, higher prices oozed into just about every sector of the economy, leaving households to feel the strain at the deli counter, shopping mall and just about everywhere else."


It's getting nasty. WaPo is saying "oozed" in "Prices climbed 7.5% in January compared with last year, continuing inflation’s fastest pace in 40 years/High inflation is undermining a robust recovery, testing policymakers at the Federal Reserve and White House." 

The White House has been touting its actions to lower prices, including targeting corporate consolidation to help create product markets that are more competitive. But inflation has proved a blistering political handicap for Biden, and a litmus test for how many Americans judge the economy. Republicans largely blame Democrats’ $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan for overheating the economy, and the GOP is set to hammer on inflation going into the midterm elections this fall.

ADDED: The word "ooze" — according to the OED — comes from the same line as the Old Frisian word wāse, which means mud, the Old Icelandic word veisa (wetness, mud, marshy ground), the Norwegian veis (marshy soil), and the Danish regional vejs, which means something that is more fun to say in English: oozy bottom. As a noun meaning wet mud or slime, "ooze" goes back to early Old English. The verb "ooze" is more recent, and I can see that the earliest uses had to do with bodily fluids. Example: "Ulcers that lye deep, and ouze out their Matter thro'..winding Passages" (1737). 

Some of the greatest wordsmiths have deployed the verb "ooze":

"The art critic John Berger once remarked that 'the state of being envied is what constitutes glamour' — and glamour, Berger thought..."

"... was what our culture (especially advertising) pushed us to aspire to. The cocktails, cars and expensive clothes that prove our superiority. Berger would have been horrified to discover how envy has triumphed, and become, perhaps, the predominant modern social emotion. Twitter, Instagram and Facebook earn our engagement (our clicks and eyeballs) by feeding our envious, self-wounding appetite for others’ achievements.... Nietzsche writes with acute psychological perception about the way the vain, self-promoting man wants 'to give joy to himself at the expense of his fellow men' by aiming at a reputation so high 'that it would have to cause them all pain by arousing their envy.'... Half the moral fury on social media is envy in disguise, something that should give pause to those who desperately seek to be envied. Inspiring envy in others is a potentially self-destructive hobby...."

From "Online moral fury is often just envy in disguise/Inspiring jealousy is considered a great achievement but it also drives others to want to tear us down" by James Marriott (London Times).

Writing this post, I discovered I had a tag called "envy shortcircuiting," but I'd only used it the time I created it, and I'd meant for it to be something I was going to keep track of. In that post, the subject was "poverty appropriation," where people who have a choice chose something associated with poor people. I wrote:

"'This is not my city,' said Ellie Charters, 45, crossing the street before a line of shoulder-to-shoulder tractor cabs, their metal grills festooned in flags, handmade signs and stuffed toys."

"Ms. Charters, a local resident, called the party scene a 'sanitization' of the protest’s darker motives. From the start, the protest, initially organized to oppose a vaccine mandate for cross-border truckers, has attracted the company of far right, anti-government and other fringe groups in Canada.... Many demonstrators... demanded Parliament be dissolved, and Mr. Trudeau be removed from office. But when many of the thousands of protesters who first arrived in Ottawa went home, several hundred truckers held firm. They parked their vehicles and refused to leave — and the police could do little to force them out. Now, the protesters who have dug into Ottawa’s core for nearly two weeks are giddy with their sense of collective purpose and, so far, perceived success. However, many of the residents who live in nearby apartment buildings and renovated heritage homes don’t see it as a celebration but as an unruly, disrespectful and even dangerous occupation. How could a group of ostensible anti-vaccine protesters, many wonder, descend upon their city and manage to take it over?... Many protesters say they are here in peace. Some get on their knees and pray outside Parliament.... But there is a definite edge — like that end-of-the-night feeling at a tailgate party, when some of the crowd might have had too much to drink, and things could go sideways..... Many locals said they felt abandoned by the police..... 'Why weren’t they enforcing the law at all? The police aren’t doing anything,' said Ms. Charters, a community activist..."

From "'This Is Not My City': Protesters Turn a Quiet Capital Upside Down/The Ottawa protesters are giddy with their sense of collective purpose. But local residents see the demonstration as an unruly, disrespectful and even dangerous occupation" by Catherine Porter (NYT). 

It's like the takeover of Portland, Oregon in 2020. How long did that go on and how did it end? And the old Occupy movement. These things demonstrate how close we are to chaos. I understand that these protests are against the excessive imposition of order by the government, but for a lot of people, they prove the opposite, how much we love order. The order we rely on is mostly invisible. It becomes visible in its absence.

And what would you do, alone at "The World as Non-Objectivity," loomed over by eyeless heads?

Let's have some empathy for the security guard, tasked to watch over something called "The World as Non-Objectivity," an art exhibit at the Yeltsin Center in Yekaterinburg. I mean I'm trying to be non-objective!

Here is the alienating image, "Three Figures" by Anna Leporskaya:

Look at them long enough and they call to you. Have mercy, kind sir, give us eyes!

He got out a ball point pen and drew in little eyes. Who are you to condemn him? An objective observer? What are you doing here, in The World as Non-Objectivity?!


The headline at The Daily Mail says, "£740,000 painting is ruined after 'bored' security guard draws eyes on faceless figures on his first day in the job at Russian gallery," but the text of the article says, "The painting is being restored, the damage... can be eliminated without any long-term damage to the artwork." The cost of repair is estimated at £2,470, so that's a far cry from "ruined."

You see? We don't need Russian painters from the 1930s to nudge us, artistically, toward the concept of non-objectivity, which usually tends to mean abstract, without reference to things in the real world, but aren't those supposed to be heads?

Maybe not! Maybe that's the eye-dee-a. They're NOT heads. Not at all. What makes you think they are heads? 

But we don't need Russian painters in Yekaterinburg to demonstrate the absence of objectivity, because we've got our idiot press, every damned day, with something as bad as saying a £740,000 painting is ruined when it can be completely restored for £2,470. We've got non-objectivity like mad.

February 9, 2022

The frozen lake at sunrise.

 Western vista:


Eastern vista:


Write about whatever you want in the comments.

"Now Henderson, a single mom in Blairsville, Georgia, is facing criminal reckless conduct charges for letting her 14-year-old babysit."

"The charges carry a maximum penalty of one year in prison and fine of $1,000. The arresting officer, Deputy Sheriff Marc Pilote, wrote in his report that anything terrible could have happened to Thaddeus, including being kidnapped, run over, or 'bitten by a venomous snake.' (When Henderson protested that the kid was only gone a few minutes, Pilote responded that a few minutes was all the time a venomous snake needed.)... When I spoke with the district attorney, Jeff Langley, he said he felt the cops acted prudently... Langley said he believed the boy was 'wandering naked in a thunderstorm.' In reality, while the boy was wearing only a shirt, there was no storm. Langley added the officers informed him that 14-year-old Linley had 'some measure of learning disability'... Henderson told me that her daughter was previously diagnosed with ADHD. She has a GPA of 4.45, is vice president of the 4-H Club, broke school records in varsity track, completed the Red Cross Childcare program, and is certified in CPR."

From "Mom Handcuffed, Jailed for Letting 14-Year-Old Babysit Kids During COVID-19/'I almost don't have words for how low it made me feel,' says Melissa Henderson" (Reason).

"Have you seen the news? I'm right wing now!"

The heart of this video is a series of statements in the form "If X is right wing, then I'm right wing." His self-identification, stated at the beginning, is strongly left wing.

"Left splits over Supreme Court pick pushed by top Biden ally/Rep. Jim Clyburn is stumping for judge Michelle Childs to get the president's nod. While labor interests are skeptical, not every progressive senator is."

 Politico reports. 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) declined to talk about Childs at all: “I’m not going to comment. Nope.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)... offered a subtle warning.... “You want somebody who is going to be reflective of the needs of working families and understands that we are moving towards an oligarchy in this country"...

"Did Biden Admin ‘Fund Crack Pipes’ To ‘Advance Racial Equity’?"

A question asked at Snopes and deemed "Mostly False."

Mostly false? Okay. What part of it isn't false?

In 2022, a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services substance abuse harm reduction grant did require recipients to provide safer smoking kits to existing drug users. In distributing grants, priority would be given to applicants serving historically underserved communities. However...

This was just one of around 20 components of the grant program and far from its most prominent or important one...

So it's "mostly false" because the program as a whole has 20 components and this is just one component, but isn't it still true that the Biden administration is funding crack pipes to advance racial equality? I've never noticed that putting something that's true on a list of other things made it "mostly false." 

But there's also the idea that the primary purpose of the program was to reduce physical harm from drug use — thus a "safe smoking kit" might include a rubber mouthpiece for a glass pipe. "Racial equity" came into play as applicants were required to make a “behavioral disparity impact statement" about the effect on “racial, ethnic, sexual, and gender minority groups.” And the HHS stated that it would “prioritize funding for programs which address the needs of underserved communities.”

"Mostly false" is a subjective categorization, but considering how much trouble people get for spreading misinformation these days, I think it's misinformation upon misinformation to jump on impish clickbait headlines like "Biden administration to fund handing out crack pipes to addicts to improve 'racial equity.'" 

That was the original headline at The Daily Mail, which has changed the headline to "Biden administration to fund programs that hand out crack pipes to prevent infection and promote 'racial equity'" (which is in The Daily Mail).

UPDATE: The Daily Mail headline has changed again. Now it's "Biden administration denies funding programs that hand out crack pipes to prevent infection and promote 'racial equity.'" And the Snopes page has been updated with the rating changed from "Mostly False" to "Outdated. That's because HHS "stipulated that federal funding would not be used to include pipes in safe smoking kits."

"The strongest reason to keep up pandemic restrictions is that some people remain vulnerable. Those who are unvaccinated, for example...."

"What do we owe to them?... Even as we heap scorn on the unvaccinated, we make sacrifices on their behalf. The unvaccinated are subject to immense pressure and moral indignation. Governments and private institutions are doing what they can to make their everyday lives difficult. A number of people, including anonymous commentators on Reddit and columnists at the Los Angeles Times, even engage in open schadenfreude when anti-vaxxers die from COVID. This is wrong. We owe every victim of this pandemic compassion... [but it's also wrong that] the unvaccinated are, implicitly, the main justification for ongoing restrictions.... Immunocompromised people and the elderly remain in significant danger through no fault of their own.... That’s tragic. But it is not a sufficient reason to permanently change our society in ways that make it less free, sociable, and joyous. Just as we are willing to take on calculated risks in other areas of life, so we should be willing to tolerate some risk of infectious disease. When you set out to drive across the country, you know that you could get into an accident. You might get hurt, and so might another driver, or even a child crossing the road. But that does not create a moral obligation to stay put for the rest of your life. Because COVID will likely remain endemic for the foreseeable future, delaying a return to normal life until the risk it poses has been completely eliminated simply is not a realistic plan."

From "Open Everything/The time to end pandemic restrictions is now" by Yascha Mounk (The Atlantic).

"Althaus, who helped Germany win the mixed team event three times at the ski jumping world championships, was among the women disqualified Monday when FIS ruled that their suits were 'too big and offered an aerodynamic advantage.'"

"Bigger suits could increase the time ski jumpers are able to stay aloft, given the possibility of increased wind resistance... 'I have been checked so many times in 11 years of ski jumping, and I have never been disqualified once, I know my suit was compliant,” the German star [Katharina Althaus] said.... The sport is among the eight that go back to the original Winter Olympics program in 1924, but women weren’t allowed to participate until 2014, after a group of athletes filed a lawsuit in 2009, ahead of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. 'It’s like jumping down from, let’s say, about two meters above the ground about a thousand times a year, which seems not to be appropriate for ladies from a medical point of view,' former FIS president Gian Franco Kasper infamously claimed in 2005. (Kaser, a Swiss native who held that position from 1998 to 2021, did not have a medical background.)... In an Instagram post, Althaus wrote in German: 'I have no words for the decisions that were made today. Our sport was damaged as a result. Athletes and their dreams were destroyed. … It was one of the most important competitions for us women, a premiere for the entire sport and then something like that!! I am so disappointed and angry.'" 

From "Five female Olympians disqualified because of suits in one of the ‘darker days’ for ski jumping" (WaPo). 

I love the name Althaus, but I must say, looking at the photograph, below, that the very long crotch on those pants seems to give something of a wingsuit — or flying-squirrel — effect. I can see why competitors would seek every advantage they can get from their gear, but if they are technically in violation, they take on the risk of disqualification. It also looks bad, and so — to paraphrase Kasper — it seems not to be appropriate for ladies from a fashion point of view. Do looks matter? Is the Olympics about getting us to watch?

February 8, 2022

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want. 


"Boys and men across all regions and ethnic groups have been failing, both absolutely and relatively, for years. This is catastrophic for our country...."

"Boys are more than twice as likely as girls to be diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder... are five times as likely to spend time in juvenile detention; and are less likely to finish high school.... Men now make up only 40.5 percent of college students.... Median wages for men have declined since 1990 in real terms. Roughly one-third of men are either unemployed or out of the workforce. More U.S. men ages 18 to 34 are now living with their parents than with romantic partners.... On a cultural level, we must stop defining masculinity as necessarily toxic and start promoting positive masculinity. Strong, healthy, fulfilled men are more likely to treat women well.... Here’s the simple truth I’ve heard from many men: We need to be needed. We imagine ourselves as builders, soldiers, workers, brothers — part of something bigger than ourselves. We deal with idleness terribly. 'A man … with no means of filling up time,” George Orwell wrote, is “as miserable out of work as a dog on the chain.'"

Andrew Yang takes up the cause of men in "The data are clear: The boys are not all right" (WaPo).

Let me single out the line "Strong, healthy, fulfilled men are more likely to treat women well." I've made approximately that argument myself on occasion... and gotten into some of the worst arguments of my life. I'll check the comments now because I'm sure the most liked comment will be something that shows why this seemingly moderate position can enrage those focused on women. Yes, here, from one "Jane Guy":

Guess what? If men started doing their share of housework, child care, and the emotional labor of a family (which every study shows they do not), they would feel needed. They ARE needed, in fact, just not in the way you say they want to be. Our culture needs to stop defining "masculinity" as being "builders, workers, soldiers, brothers" and start defining it as being "productive members of society and equal participants in family life."

"Donald Trump Promised He Wouldn’t Nominate a Black Woman to the Supreme Court."

Claims Garrett Epps at Washington Monthly.
I can already hear snuffling noises off to my right protesting that he did no such thing, that Trump actually, as he said at the time, named highly qualified federal judges “representative of the kind of constitutional principles I value.” 
Yet it is a fact that the two lists his campaign developed with the counsel of conservative activists (which he had promised not to stray from in filling the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat on the Court) contained not a single Black woman. Trump said nothing about excluding Black female judges. He just did it....

Yes, and Biden would be in a very different position if he'd said nothing about choosing a black woman and had just done it. That's the traditional way of adding diversity to the Court. You say you're picking the very best person for the job and the person you chose is accorded the dignity of being called the best person and not merely the best within a constricted pool. 

But it is true that by offering the list the way he did, Trump assured anyone who cared that he would not nominate a black woman.

"And the gender dynamics — male economists piling on against a female economist and a female journalist, Times' reporter Jeanna Smialek, in ways distinctive from typical academic arguments — look terrible here."

Writes Emily Peck at Axios in "Male economists are freaking out over a NYT profile." 

You may remember I talked yesterday about that NYT article and the reaction to it and said "my feminist alarm went off," so I'm interested in Peck's discussion.

More from Peck:

“I am sorry to see the @nytimes taking MMT seriously as an intellectual movement. It is the equivalent of publicizing fad diets, quack cancer cures or creationist theories,” [Larry] Summers tweeted. ...
Noah Smith, a well-known economist and former Bloomberg columnist... calls the Times profile a "puff piece," noting that Smialek writes about Kelton's outfits. The phrase puff piece wasn't much used back when Summers was credited with saving the world from an economic meltdown on the cover of Time magazine in 1999, Mark Paul, an economics professor at New College of Florida, tells Axios.

Joe Rogan: "When people are like, 'how are you handling all this bullshit?' I send them this. Plus I’m on 🍄"

"My mind, on the other hand, seems less willing to yield to discipline, behaving as though it has a mind of its own."

"I have dabbled in internet 'brain games,' solving algebraic problems flashing past and rerouting virtual trains to avoid crashes. I’ve audited classes at a university, and participated in a neurofeedback assessment of my brain’s electrical impulses. But these are only occasional diversions, never approaching my determination to remain physically fit as I move deeper into old age.... Some with life-altering disabilities — my blind friend, another with two prosthetic legs — are more serene and complain less than those with minor ailments.... My brain would have to become the muscle I counted on to carry me through these final years with the peace and purpose others had found....  I’ve always found it extremely difficult to concentrate when I’m in a noisy setting. At this lunch with a friend in an outdoor restaurant, a landscaper began blowing leaves from underneath the bushes surrounding our table.... The discipline so familiar to me in the gym — this time applied to my mind — proved equally effective in the restaurant. It was as though I had taken my brain to a mental fitness center...."

Writes Robert W. Goldfarb, who is 88, in "The Secret to Aging Well? Contentment/Despite having many friends in their 70s, 80s and 90s, I’ve been far too slow to realize that how we respond to aging is a choice made in the mind, not in the gym" (NYT).

I support the general goal of keeping the mind in shape, but the skill of putting up with a leaf blower right next to your table while you're eating at an outdoor restaurant makes me think he's taking the pursuit of serenity too far. There are other mental skills including protecting yourself from damaging decibels and feeling that you are entitled to basic respect.

I've never cared less about the Oscars.

I'm only noticing that the nominations just came out because one of my sons texted me.

"I have been lazy my entire life. I just got by in school, including college where I finished near the bottom of my class...

"... although I had superior SAT & GRE scores. I got a government job by scoring well on their exam (and had the required sheepskin). I continued to be lazy by being highly efficient. My supervisors always praised my work and considered me a top employee even though I was putting in little effort. Eventually, I retired early. When I am not wandering around museums and the streets of foreign cities, I spend my time reading and philosophysing (daydreaming). I also post comments. There's a lot more to life than work."

Writes a commenter named Paerdegat at a WaPo advice column where the question comes from a man who is absurdly disgusted with his wife because she, unlike him, is not using the extra 30 hours — gained by not commuting to work — to be "productive." The remote work for both of them is full-time — in the field of law — and both completely fulfill household chores and cooking. 

But he has "read 25 biographies, developed decent conversational skills in two foreign languages, upped my running program to the point that I am marathon-ready, and started volunteering for voter registration advocacy." 

All she does with the leftover time is read fantasy novels — "books better suited to children" — watch some TV — not crap, but History Channel documentaries — something he calls "exercise," and this thing he puts in scare quotes: "unwind."

Which character do you most identify with?
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"Science adviser Eric Lander apologized for mistreating subordinates. The White House struggled Monday to explain why he wasn’t departing. In the evening, he quit."

That's the sub-headline at the Washington Post article, "Top White House scientist resigns after review finds he demeaned staff," where is says it was published "Yesterday at 10:57 a.m. EST" and "Updated yesterday at 9:18 p.m. EST." 

The top-rated comment is: "It’s hard to reconcile Biden’s statement with the lack of consequences for Lander. The science community has no shortage of qualified individuals to fill this post. Lander should resign." 

So you can infer what happened. It took the WaPo article to force Lander out, but it only took a few hours for the article to work. 

"Biden's statement" refers to this:

Lander’s resignation came after the White House struggled throughout the day to explain why he had not quit or been fired, and how that squared with a pledge Biden made on his first day in office. On that day, he told staffers at swearing-in ceremony, “If you are ever working with me and I hear you treat another colleague with disrespect, talk down to someone, I promise you I will fire you on the spot. On the spot — no if, ands or buts.”

The editing at WaPo is slapdash: "he told staffers at swearing-in ceremony." I guess that means Lander's swearing in.

Female staffers in particular raised concerns about Lander’s pattern of belittling women at the White House, complaints that were corroborated by the internal White House investigation. Some noted Biden’s close personal relationship with Lander, who served on the board of the Biden Cancer Initiative, the nonprofit Biden started after his term as vice president ended.

There's still an old boys network, apparently, so it's important to lay strong blame on Biden — who has used gender politics to elevate himself — when he's caught using it egregiously and to the detriment of women.

February 7, 2022

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

"The NYT article on MMT, written by Jeanna Smialek, is mostly a puff piece about Stephanie Kelton, MMT’s most well-known proponent."

"In glowing tones, it describes Kelton’s clothes, her office, her house, her neighborhood, her blog, her manner of speaking, her personal story, and so on, calling her 'the star architect of a movement that is on something of a victory lap.' Very little is written about the background of the macroeconomic policy debate, and what does appear is highly questionable: 'In economics, there’s a school of thought sometimes called “freshwater.” It’s the set of ideas that became popular at inland universities in the 1970s, when they began to embrace rational markets and limited government intervention to fight recessions. There’s also “saltwater” thinking, an updated version of Keynesianism that argues that the government occasionally needs to jump-start the economy. It has traditionally been championed in the Ivy League and other top-ranked schools on the coasts. You might call the school of thought Ms. Kelton is popularizing, from a bay that feeds into the East River, brackish economics.' The brief description of freshwater and saltwater economics is fine, but to describe MMT as being 'brackish' — i.e., some sort of fusion of freshwater and saltwater, or a middle ground between the two — is absurd."

From "The NYT article on MMT is really bad/The fringe ideology's star is falling, and puff pieces will not resuscitate it" by Noah Smith (Substack).

Here's the NYT article: "Is This What Winning Looks Like? Modern Monetary Theory, the buzziest economic idea in decades, got a pandemic tryout of sorts. Now inflation is testing its limits."

I'm in no position to judge any of this, but who cares about the metaphor? And my feminist alarm went off: A man is irked by an article by a woman about a women — in a field that's traditionally male and featuring details that seem like the stuff of women's magazines — her clothes, her office, her house, her neighborhood....  And why is it called "Is This What Winning Looks Like?" Looks?!

"A sign at a playground in Moraga, a 35-minute drive from San Francisco, advises parents that rattlesnakes are 'important members of the natural community' and to give the snakes 'respect.'"

"Across the Bay in the San Francisco suburb of Burlingame, an animal shelter has rescued a family of skunks from a construction hole, a chameleon from power lines and nursed back to health 100 baby squirrels that tumbled out of their nests after their trees got trimmed. With the exception of the occasional aggressive coyote, the animals that roam the hills and gullies of the Bay Area — turkeys, mountain lions, deer, bobcats, foxes and the rest of a veritable Noah’s Ark — find themselves on somewhat laissez-faire terms with the humans around them. Not so for the rampaging feral pigs...."

From "The Rampaging Pigs of the San Francisco Bay Area/A proposed California law would make it easier to hunt feral swine, the voracious “super invaders” that are the bane of some East Bay suburbs" (NYT).

"Everyone in this article is incredibly annoying."

That's the top-rated comment — by a lot — at "Sometimes I Hate My Husband’s Peloton/Yes, exercise is hugely beneficial. But can too much of a good thing cause tension in your relationship?" (NYT). 

Some things people in the article said:

"We know if we don’t get this soothing time in, we become monsters." ("Soothing time" = time spent exercising.)

"I cry all the time on Robin’s rides, because I feel very connected to her." (Robin is an instructor on Peloton.) 

"My husband will walk past and hear this other guy making me laugh." (The "other guy" is a Beachbody instructor.)           

"I had so much FOMO that I paid for the resort’s Wi-Fi and sat by the pool, watching it on my phone...." ("It" = a Peloton class characterized as a "Pride Ride" and led by a favorite instructor.)

"Perhaps nowhere is more vulnerable than Ocean Shores... the tsunami that could accompany a 9.0 rupture would wash over all of it. People could try driving out..."

"... but officials expect roads to be buckled and sunken, or covered in power lines, trees and debris. The expected subduction would cause the entire area to abruptly sink up to seven feet; the shaking could cause liquefaction of sandy soils before the tsunami reached shore. People could try running to high ground outside of town, but Ocean Shores sits on a six-mile-long peninsula. Those who live toward the southern end would be about eight miles away from high ground. Depending on their location, residents might have only 10 minutes after the shaking stopped before the wave started washing over them.... The best option may be to get on a rooftop or to climb a tree.... Dozens of other waterfront communities are also at risk.... To improve the chances of survival, officials in Washington State have proposed a network of 58 vertical evacuation structures along the outer coast and advised considering dozens of others. They could provide 22,000 people with an option for escape, although thousands of others would remain out of range. Each structure could cost about $3 million. Vertical evacuation structures have been embraced in Japan for years, in the form of platforms, towers and artificial berms..."

From "The Tsunami Could Kill Thousands. Can They Build An Escape? A major quake in the Pacific Northwest, expected sooner or later, will most likely create waves big enough to wipe out entire towns. Evacuation towers may be the only hope, if they ever get built" (NYT).

"In the spring of 2020... [i]f ​ever there was a time for news organizations to educate and inform the public, this was it. Instead, Zucker apparently believed..."

"... it was the perfect time to exploit the situation for political gain and to help the network's ratings. Andrew Cuomo benefited from briefings that made him​ appear to be the adult in the room ​regarding COVID-19 and Trump ​appear to be the villain. ​Cuomo got a $5.1 million book deal as a result. Chris Cuomo and Zucker/Gollust/CNN benefited from marathon interviews with ​Cuomo's governor/brother, which didn't touch the governor's alleged nursing home scandal. Ratings soared. So, was Zucker's departure ​simply about a consensual relationship with a co-worker?... Moving forward, what's next for CNN when the company falls under the Discovery Channel umbrella later this year? Let's hear from its soon-to-be largest shareholder, John Malone of Liberty Media. 'I would like to see CNN evolve back to the kind of journalism that it started with, and actually have journalists, which would be unique and refreshing,' Malone said...."

From "CNN's collapse is now complete" by Joe Concha (at The Hill).

Let's take a quick look at the Wikipedia page of John Malone, "an American billionaire businessman, landowner and philanthropist." We're told his "political beliefs have been described as libertarian, and "he is on the board of directors for the Cato Institute." Also:

Malone reportedly shuns the limelight and glamorous lifestyle and takes his family vacations alongside long time friend Gary Biskup, in a recreational vehicle. However, in business dealings he has been dubbed "Darth Vader," a nickname allegedly given to him by Al Gore.... In 1994, Wired portrayed Malone on their cover as "Mad Max" from The Road Warrior....

Here's the "amazing Wired interview," if you want to read about the "cable wars" of the early 1990s.

February 6, 2022

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want. 


Finally, we got a day when it was perfectly warm — February warm.

"It would hit Alina Black in the snack aisle at Trader Joe’s, a wave of guilt and shame that made her skin crawl. Something as simple as nuts."

"They came wrapped in plastic, often in layers of it, that she imagined leaving her house and traveling to a landfill, where it would remain through her lifetime and the lifetime of her children. She longed, really longed, to make less of a mark on the earth. But she had also had a baby in diapers, and a full-time job, and a 5-year-old who wanted snacks. At the age of 37, these conflicting forces were slowly closing on her, like a set of jaws.... Eco-anxiety, a concept introduced by young activists, has entered a mainstream vocabulary. And professional organizations are hurrying to catch up, exploring approaches to treating anxiety that is both existential and, many would argue, rational... [M]any leaders in mental health maintain that anxiety over climate change is no different, clinically, from anxiety caused by other societal threats, like terrorism or school shootings. Some climate activists, meanwhile, are leery of viewing anxiety over climate as dysfunctional thinking — to be soothed or, worse, cured. But Ms. Black... needed help right away... The plastic toys in the bathtub made her anxious. The disposable diapers made her anxious. She began to ask herself, what is the relationship between the diapers and the wildfires? 'I feel like I have developed a phobia to my way of life'...."

From "Climate Change Enters the Therapy Room/Ten years ago, psychologists proposed that a wide range of people would suffer anxiety and grief over climate. Skepticism about that idea is gone" by Ellen Barry, dateline Portland, Oregon (NYT).

Zuckerberg cried.

TikTok mocks:

Let's listen in as Spotify renegotiates its contract with Joe Rogan...

"But controversy attracted by Rogan has not been limited to COVID. Singer India Arie this week said she was pulling her music..."

"... and podcasts off Spotify, saying that 'I find Joe Rogan problematic for reasons other than COVID interviews… For me it’s also his language around race.' Arie subsequently posted a video clip on Instagram compiling 24 times Rogan used the N-word on his podcast. 'He shouldn’t even be uttering the word,' Arie said in the post. 'Don’t even say it, under any context. Don’t say it. That’s where I stand. I have always stood there.'"

From "Spotify Removes 70 Episodes of ‘Joe Rogan Experience’; Podcast Host Apologizes for Using N-Word/None of the dozens of segments pulled by the streamer were related to COVID misinformation" (Variety).

If we're going to take the "language around race" seriously and withdraw from group projects that include you with someone who's said something racially wrong, then where can you go? What can you do? And won't we also take the language around gender seriously? All of the machinery of pop culture will collapse. 

ADDED: I've asked where's the stopping point, and I can see an answer in this quote from India Arie: "You" — Spotify — "take this money that you generate and you use it to invest in this guy." It is the special and huge investment in Joe Rogan that makes him different from all the other performers on Spotify whose "language around race" might be considered wrong. That link goes to Independent, where you can see the montage India Arie presented. It's hard to listen to carefully, because the "n-word" is bleeped with a piercing sound, but it seemed to me that Rogan was (always?) talking about the word, not actually using the word. Is there any reason to think that Rogan is a racist? Well, there's reason to think that racism is unavoidably woven into every human organism, but that returns me to my where's-the-stopping-point question.

ALSO: If you search Spotify for the "n-word" (written out), you'll find lots of songs and spoken word. There are artists who use that word as part of their name and at least one who has that as his entire name. And I saw multiple profiles that had just that word as their name, including one whose profile picture is a photograph of a naked, erect penis.

"[T]he movie version of 'Breakfast at Tiffany’s,' while certainly beloved, isn’t nearly as interesting to any Capote fan as the novel..."

"... in which the author’s voice comes through (and where the character was imagined as more of an 'unfinished' type, à la Marilyn Monroe, whom he wanted for the role). Capote was disappointed by the casting of Audrey Hepburn; ergo, clips from the movie actually misrepresent his vision."

From "'Truman & Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation' Review: An Imagined Tête-à-Tête Between Capote and Williams/Director Lisa Immordino Vreeland uses the friendship between two icons as a leaping-off point for an affectionate if somewhat forced dual portrait" (Variety).

I watched 2/3 of that documentary last night and stopped only because of streaming problems (which I attribute to my internet service, AT&T, not to the streaming service, Criterion Channel).


In that trailer, Capote, at 1:12, says "Here is a man who has devoted his whole life to art and is a genius" and then, at 1:28, "Most people think because somebody is a creative individual, they must be intelligent. It is not so. Like Tennessee Williams."

"After graduating from the Bronx High School of Science in 1959 at 16 as class valedictorian, he studied mathematics at Harvard. A clean-cut supporter of Adlai E. Stevenson..."

"... he fell in love with a woman whose parents had been communists. She opened his eyes to folk music and to an outlaw culture that fascinated him, and he became involved with a peace group called Tocsin. Before he graduated in 1963, he met Tom Hayden and other leaders of what was then a tiny organization, Students for a Democratic Society. 'I wanted to be like them,' [Todd] Gitlin wrote in 'The Sixties.' 'These exalted, clear, somehow devout souls so loved the world.'"

From "Todd Gitlin, a Voice and Critic of the New Left, Dies at 79/He earned his stripes in the antiwar movement of the 1960s. In his later years, he was often critical of his erstwhile kindred spirits" (NYT).

Note the centrality of love. You have someone super-smart — valedictorian at Bronx Science at 16 — and studying math at Harvard, supporting the Democratic Party candidate, and he falls in love. He joins up with radicals because, in them, he perceives love

Or so his story is told in the NYT obituary.

I see I have a tag for Todd Gitlin, and I'm surprised to see that I've used it 9 times in the 18-year history of this blog. In 2015, I quoted something he'd written in 2003:

"My generation of the New Left — a generation that grew as the war went on — relinquished any title to patriotism without much sense of loss. All that was left to the Left was to unearth righteous traditions and cultivate them in universities. The much-mocked political correctness of the next academic generations was a consolation prize. We lost — we squandered the politics — but won the textbooks."