February 19, 2022

Here's a place...

... where you can talk about whatever you want.

Matt Yglesias wants process rights to vary depending on the substance. At least he admits it.

"Seattle Bike Helmet Rule Is Dropped Amid Racial Justice Concerns."

The NYT reports. 

The board of health... began to scrutinize the helmet rule in 2020 after an analysis of court records from Crosscut, a local news site, showed that it was rarely enforced, and enforced disproportionately when it was. Since 2017, Seattle police had given just 117 helmet citations, over 40 percent of which went to people who were homeless. Since 2019, 60 percent of citations went to people who were homeless. A separate analysis from Central Seattle Greenways, a safe streets advocacy group, found that Black cyclists were almost four times as likely to receive a citation for violating the helmet requirement as white cyclists. Native American cyclists were just over twice as likely to receive one as white cyclists....

You know, I laughed at the headline, but I've got to say, good. And this is the argument against too many rules. Don't have rules you won't uniformly enforce — enforce against your friends and family. This is a rule like that. And let the presumption always be against requiring people to do something, because this danger of unequal enforcement is always lurking.

I know you're going to say but maybe black people are less likely to wear helmets, but I really don't care, because my point is the presumption should be against restrictions.

"Of all human failings, he found humorlessness the funniest. Back then, the political left was so earnest about saving the world..."

"... that there was no room for laughter, which denoted a lack of earnestness. Self-deprecating humor, P.J.’s trademark, wasn’t allowed because it could undermine the mission. Saving the world was no laughing matter. One titter and the whole edifice could come crashing down. Humorlessness has crept in its petty pace to the right, where it is conducted with North Korean-level solemnity by the bellowing myrmidons of MAGAdom. A sense of humor, much less self-awareness, are not traits found in cults of personality. If Tucker Carlson has said anything advertently funny, witty or self-knowing from his bully pulpit, I missed it. Maybe you had to be there."

Writes Christopher Buckley in "P.J. O’Rourke and the Death of Conservative Humor" (NYT).

 Did you chuckle at "myrmidons of MAGAdom"? It's got a nattering-nabobs-of-nepotism air about it.

Does Joe Rogan have a "no-holds-barred podcast"?

It took 4 New York Times writers to write "Spotify Bet Big on Joe Rogan. It Got More Than It Counted On. The deal that brought his podcast to Spotify is said to be worth over $200 million, more than was previously known. Accusations that he spreads misinformation have roiled the company." 

This piece is about the business of streaming, and that's a great topic:

Spotify was already the king of music streaming. But to help propel the company into its next phase as an all-purpose audio juggernaut, and further challenge Apple and Google, it wanted a superstar podcaster, much as Howard Stern helped put satellite radio on the map in 2006. Spotify executives came to view Joe Rogan — a comedian and sports commentator whose no-holds-barred podcast, “The Joe Rogan Experience,” was already a monster hit on YouTube — as that transformative star.

I guess they didn't want to waste any time trying to explain what's so great about the Joe Rogan podcast, but as a regular listener, I was irked to see "no-holds-barred." 

It invites non-listeners to imagine all sorts of ugly nastiness, and it piles on after people have made various inapt accusations. And you can't really understand Spotify's decisionmaking if you don't appreciate what's so good about the show, if you think it's sweaty, loutish guys letting loose with sexism and racism!

Obviously, some "holds" are "barred." Joe lets his guests speak and he listens, but he breaks in and challenges things that seem off or where he's aware of other evidence. And he's selective about guests, often bringing in scientists with excellent credentials.

But maybe "no-holds-barred" just means freewheeling and rambling, not tightly edited. 


Are you looking for a little escape?

This is an unprecedented display of strength and determination.

"Lieutenant Halvorsen and his two crewmen joined with fellow American airmen to drop a total of 23 tons of candies, chocolate and chewing gum wrapped in tiny parachutes from their planes..."

"... while preparing to touch down at Tempelhof airfield with vast quantities of other supplies in an effort to break a Soviet land blockade of Berlin’s Allied-occupied western sectors.... A 9-year-old named Peter Zimmerman sent him a homemade parachute and a map providing directions to his home for a candy drop. Lieutenant Halvorsen searched for the house on his next flight but couldn’t find it. ... Peter sent another note reading: 'No chocolate yet.... You’re a pilot... I gave you a map.... How did you guys win the war anyway?' Lieutenant Halvorsen sent Peter a chocolate bar in the mail. 'Gail Halvorsen enchanted the children of Berlin,' recalled Ursula Yunger, who had been one of those children and later settled in the United States. 'It wasn’t the candy,' she told The Tucson Citizen in 2004. 'It was his profound gesture, showing us that somebody cared.' Ms. Yunger had met Mr. Halvorsen for the first time at a reunion of airlift veterans in Tucson in September 2003. 'I was just shaking,' she said. He hugged her and handed her a Hershey bar."

From "Gail Halvorsen, ‘Candy Bomber’ in Berlin Airlift, Dies at 101/Lieutenant Halvorsen came up with the idea to drop candies, chocolate and chewing gum for the children of West Berlin during a tense Cold War standoff" (NYT).

3 things on TikTok.

1. A woman's impressions of celebrites are done in a single word (or "word").

2. Testing whether a teenaged boy, disguised as a baby, will be served a free meal at IHOP, where kids eat free. 

3. A real baby, prompted to say a word that begins with "r," comes up with "rindow," and makes a compelling argument that his answer will do.

Feminist book cover from 1975.

This amused me:

Wikipedia tells us: 

The Female Man... was originally written in 1970 and first published in 1975 by Bantam Books. [Joanna] Russ was an avid feminist.... The novel follows the lives of four women living in parallel worlds that differ in time and place. When they cross over to each other's worlds, their different views on gender roles startle each other's preexisting notions of womanhood. In the end...

Spoiler alert!

... their encounters influence them to evaluate their lives and shape their ideas of what it means to be a woman. The character Joanna calls herself the “female man” because she believes that she must forget her identity as a woman in order to be respected (p. 5). She states that “there is one and only one way to possess that in which we are defective … Become it” (p. 139). Her metaphorical transformation refers to her decision to seek equality by rejecting women's dependence on men.

Metaphorical transformation. But the book cover seems to depict the physical peeling away of the female form. The browser is enticed to imagine something surgical.

Now, why was I reading that? I became interested in the word "munch" because I encountered an author who kept using the word "munch" as a replacement for "eat." I wondered if I had ever even once — in the entire 18-year history of this blog — used the word "munch." 

A search of my archive turned up 7 posts — 5 of which have "munch" in the sense of  the artist Edvard "The Scream" Munch. 

One is a stray reference to the Girl Scout cookie Thank U Berry Munch. (I'm imagining an Obama inner monologue, there's a reference to marijuana, and so there's a nudge to think about "the munchies.") 

The 7th post was part of my "Gatsby" project: "I know many of you don't like or don't get the 'Gatsby' project, in which we isolate and munch on a single, possibly turgid, sentence from 'The Great Gatsby,' more or less every day around here on the Althouse blog."

Why "munch" there? There's no actual eating. It's an eating metaphor, really a chewing metaphor. Indeed, the dictionary definition of "munch" stresses the the chewing — the mouth action — and not anything further along in the digestive process: "To eat (food) with a continuous and noticeable chewing action; to eat eagerly and audibly, or with evident enjoyment; to make a snack of." 

That's from the OED — where I go to get my definitions, mainly because I love the lists of historical examples and where I found one that ended with the title that got me to that book cover:

a1425 (▸c1385) G. Chaucer Troilus & Criseyde (1987) i. 914 Some wold monche [v.rr. muchche, mucche, muche, meche] her brede alon, lying in bed and make hem for to grone....

1600 W. Shakespeare Midsummer Night's Dream iv. i. 31 I could mounch your good dry Oates.

1905 Baroness Orczy Scarlet Pimpernel xviii. 172 She partook of this frugal breakfast with hearty appetite. Thoughts crowded thick and fast in her mind as she munched her grapes.

1975 J. Russ Female Man 175 Munched chips, crackers, saltsticks, what-not.

"Dr. Bromage suggests a cigarette analogy: If someone were smoking, would the smell and taste of cigarettes quickly fill the air?"

"If yes, so would the virus. You’d be smart to wear a mask. If not, it’s unlikely that you’ll get infected. 'When I walk into a space, I always do that,' Dr. Bromage said. 'How high are the ceilings? Is the air moving? Can I create my own little buffer of space?'... Take a big box store with high ceilings. 'Those tend to have good ventilation and because of the high ceilings, there’s a lot of dilution,' said Linsey Marr, an engineering professor at Virginia Tech who studies the airborne transmission of viruses. 'The risks are pretty low, unless you’re in a crowded line waiting to check out. If it’s a smaller space and crowded space, Trader Joe’s, for example, or some New York market with tiny aisles and people are really packed in there, the risk is higher.... You might want to wear a mask.'... At a restaurant, one person’s cigarette smoke at the next table over wouldn’t fill the air above yours. But you would smell someone smoking at your own table, so your direct dining companions pose the highest risk, Dr. Bromage said."

From "Should You Still Wear a Mask? Experts weigh in on where, and when, you can safely take one off" (NYT). Here in Madison, we're 10 days away from the end of our mask mandate.

As a person with an almost nonexistent sense of smell, I appreciated the wording "would the smell and taste of cigarettes quickly fill the air?" Somehow that made me think of the question, if a tree falls in the forest, and only a deaf person is there, does it make a sound? 

It's interesting to read that someone smoking at the next table in a restaurant might not matter. I don't remember reading that in the NYT back when the ancient practice of smoking in restaurants was getting snuffed out in the United States.

February 18, 2022

Here’s a place…

 … where you can talk about whatever you want.

Antic grotesquerie.

I'd thought this morning was the first time I'd ever used the word "grotesquerie" on this blog. I was talking about the female Olympics figure skaters. But no, back in 2014, I wrote of "the grotesquerie of politicians finding love with the Hollywood stars." I did not like seeing Leonardo DiCaprio and John Kerry locked in embrace.

But it felt new. I even looked it up in the OED to see if it counted as an English word (because if it were only a foreign-language word, I'd have put it in italics). Yes, it's English. They were saying it back in 1655:

1655    Ld. Orrery Parthenissa IV.  ii. vi. 536   In a large Compartiment compos'd of Groteskery were seene Sphynxes, Harpyes, the Clawes of Lyons, and Tygres, to evidence, that within, inhabited Misteries, and Riddles.

Of course, "grotesquerie" is just a noun version of "grotesque," and I got sidetracked into the original meaning of "grotesque": "A kind of decorative painting or sculpture, consisting of representations of portions of human and animal forms, fantastically combined and interwoven with foliage and flowers." 

Dolls and Porsches.

1. "Dolls and Drinks for Likes and Clicks/The American Girl Cafe has become an unlikely party spot for influencers and their imitators" (NYT)("'Come with me to get absolutely obliterated at the American Girl Doll Cafe,' begins a TikTok video... The store comped their meal, as they sometimes do for influencers').

2. "Ship Carrying 1,100 Porsches and Other Luxury Cars Is Burning and Adrift" (NYT)("No rescuers or crew members were injured in the 'highly skilled and physically demanding' operation... that whisked the crew members to the nearby Portuguese island of Faial").

"The Giddy, Terrifying Siege of Ottawa" — a great headline with a great photograph...

"... for a NYT column by Michelle Goldberg. 

I'm blogging this because not because I'm terrified or think what's happening in Ottawa is "giddy." I'm just interested and I love the photograph (by Dave Chan). The photo centers on an exulting, shirtless man who reminds me of the QAnon Shaman:

Go to the link for the full photograph. He's surrounded by all sorts of signs and flags. The word "freedom" is key. I kept the upside down maple leaf, though I have no sense of how intense Canadians feel about their flag. Do they venerate the leaf? 

The sign on the left reads: "Freedom pour nos enfants tabarnak/tabarouette." I had to look up "tabarnak," and was interested to see that it originally means "tabernacle" — the place in a Christian church where they keep the communion materials — but has come to mean "fuck." "Tabarouette" is a toning down of "tabarnak."  Those links go to Urban Dictionary, which I'll trust at least for now. So the sign seems to mean "Freedom for our fucking frigging children."

There are 6 more Dave Chan photographs at the link, and I've been studying all the details in them rather than scanning to figure out what's so terrifying and giddy to Michelle Goldberg. None of the other photos show anyone as "terrifying" as the shirtless man I've shown you. They seem pretty nice. One photo has the caption "A relatively small number of people have snarled the capital."

Goldberg reports from Ottawa. She's actually talking to the people, not opining from afar. I like the first 2 paragraphs, but I see nothing giddy or terrifying about them:

"Thousands of women applied for 30 train driving jobs advertised for women in Saudi Arabia, revealing the extent of untapped potential in the conservative desert kingdom..."

"... which only permitted women to drive in 2018.... Some 28,000 put themselves forward to operate bullet trains between the holy cities of Mecca and Medina... Feminists greeted the news with cautious optimism.... Until recently Saudi women were mainly employed in health or education. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has promised to open more opportunities to women after he came under criticism for his role in the war in Yemen, the arrest of women’s rights activists and the killing of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi."  

The London Times reports.

"The women’s free skate had promised to be one of the most-watched events of the Games. But few could have expected its stunning denouement...."

"[Kamila Valieva, 15].... had stepped on the ice wearing the same face she’s worn all week in Beijing: Nearly expressionless.... Now that her free skate was over, she buried her face in her hands.... 'Why did you let it go?' [asked her coach Eteri Tutberidze]. 'Why did you stop fighting? Explain it to me, why? You let it go after that axel.' Valieva did not reply.... On NBC, Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir called the scenes around the end of the competition 'heartbreaking' and 'devastating,' and made clear, over and over, that they believed it had been unfair — to Valieva, to the other skaters, to viewers around the world — for the 15-year-old to have competed.... 'It’s not fair,' Lipinski said as the sobs played out on the screen, for a 15-year-old to have dealt with all of this. Her colleague Johnny Weir posted a video to his Instagram story soon after the broadcast ended, calling the night the 'most bizarre and heartbreaking event I have seen in my entire life.'... And on Russian state television, the commentator Andrei Zhuranko thundered, 'Sports officials, you have broken the most talented figure skater in the world.'"

From "Tears and sobs, and not just from Kamila Valieva, follow her crushing Olympic end" (NYT).

I used to be part of the huge audience that watched what must always be the most-watched event of the Winter Olympics — women's figure skating. I can't watch anymore. There's something awful about it. We're watching abused children, aren't we? So tiny, so young, so insanely controlled. It used to seem beautiful. It was always emotional, but now the emotion is ugly. The fashion is still idiotically sparkly, pumping up the grotesquerie.

"The mess began last Friday, February 11th, when National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan gave an address warning American citizens to evacuate Ukraine...."

"... American reporters began telling audiences a curiously detailed story about upcoming Russian invasion plans. PBS NewsHour’s Nick Schifrin cited 'three Western and defense sources' in saying Vladimir Putin had already made up his mind to invade. He then cited six sources — 'US and Western officials' — who told him the U.S. expected an invasion of Ukraine the following week. These voices left little to the imagination, saying the invasion would be a 'horrific, bloody campaign,' with two days of aerial bombardment, followed by electronic warfare and possible regime change.... That afternoon of the 11th, Politico cited 'a person familiar'.... reporting that Joe Biden held an hourlong call with Western leaders pegging February 16th as a possible invasion date.... It should be clear to any reporter that a national security source who whispers not only the alleged date of a coming invasion, but the number of days of aerial bombardment and the war’s expected level of horror and bloodiness, is either yanking your chain with a fairy tale, or using you, or both."

Writes Matt Taibbi, in "Another All-Time Media Faceplant/After the Biden administration and the press wrongly predicted a Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 16th, they kept compounding the error in spectacular fashion" (Substack).

February 17, 2022

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk all night.



No, this is not an "option to opt their children out of learning about Black History Month."

I clicked there from the WaPo article, "An Indiana school planned Black History Month lessons. A letter sent to parents allowed them to opt out." 

I read the letter. What exactly is the proposed lesson? It may take place during Black History Month, but it's not a lesson in black history (or, as the tweeter ineptly puts it, a lesson about Black History Month). 

It's something else. I'd need to guess exactly what, but the lesson comes from the "school counselor," who signs his name with the letters "LSC" and "M.S.Ed," which I believe stands for Life Sciences Communication and Master of Science in Education. [ADDED: Here’s a list of things LSC can stand for, including light switch cover and licensed school counselor.]

The words of the letter suggest — vaguely — that the children will receive some sort of psychological training in cross-racial relationships. I suspect that the school officials wanted to extract consent from the parents: "If you would like your child to receive these lessons in class, then you do not have to do anything." It's hard to opt out both because it will be stigmatizing and because it's so hard to understand what the lesson is.

But those who are sharing this document are pushing you to think it's a history lesson. I would like to give them a reading lesson.

"I don’t believe in ultimatums. I don’t want nobody giving me one, and I’m not going to give anybody else one."

"I may be disappointed for the rest of my life, but I’m not going to give an ultimatum." 

Said Jim Clyburn, who is 81, quoted in "Jim Clyburn saved Biden’s candidacy — and now has the president’s ear on Supreme Court picks/The South Carolina lawmaker has tremendous influence in the White House, and he has made clear he wants the president to nominate U.S. District Judge J. Michelle Childs to the Supreme Court" (WaPo).

"My years of therapy equipped me to analyze my feelings with unhurried curiosity, to probe my mind and return back to the world with a clear description of how I feel and what I want."

"They did not equip me to argue, to think on my feet, to turn anger into persuasive language. And after 11 years together, four married and three as parents, my husband and I still can’t calmly work things out when we clash; there are no family meetings in our home. So we text.... We deploy the couples communication skills we’re constitutionally incapable of in person: using 'I' statements and feeling words, avoiding absolutist statements, telling the other person we hear what they’re saying... There are a few reasons text-fighting works for us. For one, when you have to type a sentence, you’re less likely to say something tremendously hurtful than if you just blurted it out. Texting also lets me articulate complex, emotionally loaded thoughts, something I’ve only ever been able to do through writing. So instead of yelling, 'It’s incredibly fucking rude for you to show up late and not text,' I spell out, 'It made me feel disrespected when you didn’t apologize for coming to dinner late.' It allows for precision of word choice, for restraint, for nuanced language.... And beneath all of it is the analgesic knowledge that we know how to do this; that, unlike with our volatile in-person altercations, we can land this plane."

From "Texting Is the Only Way My Husband and I Can Argue Without Destroying Each Other" by Kate Willsky (NY Magazine).

"Her favorite author was Henry James. Once, when talking about him, she said with a smile, 'I think I am in love!'"

"She adored Catherine Sloper and Daisy Miller, two very different Jamesian protagonists, both rebels in their own ways. When I left that university, I lost touch with Razieh. Years later, another former student told me about being arrested in the 1980s, during the protests against the Cultural Revolution. While in jail, she had met Razieh. They reminisced about my classes and spent many hours talking about F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 'The Great Gatsby' and James’s 'Washington Square.' 'We had fun,' she said. Fun? I wondered. There was a pause in our conversation. 'You know,' she finally said, 'Razieh was executed.' I didn’t know. Never when I was her teacher could I have imagined that Razieh would someday be in jail, thinking and talking about Henry James, awaiting her execution... It is alarming to think that American communities in 2022 are actively seeking to deprive people of the reading experiences for which my students in Iran paid such a heavy price.... Book-banning is a form of silencing, and it is the next step along a continuum...."

From "I witnessed brutal censorship in Iran. We should all take U.S. book bans as a warning" by Azar Nafisi (WaPo).

"There are things forgotten by chance, and there are things forgotten on purpose. But then there are things that aren’t really forgotten as much as they are deliberately ignored..."

"... usually because the memory has come to necessitate an elephantine level of discomfiting rationalization. America’s involvement with the 1996 Russian democratic election falls into this third category. Boris Yeltsin, the boozehound incumbent, overcame mass unpopularity to win reelection as Russian president, significantly due to assistance from clandestine United States operatives and the support of Bill Clinton. When the news of this subversion first surfaced, it was hailed as a masterstroke of U.S. statecraft. The July 15 cover of Time magazine pulled no punches: 'Yanks to the Rescue: The Secret Story of How American Advisers Helped Yeltsin Win.' Decades later, the concept of interfering with another country’s election (and particularly an election in Russia) has adopted a more sinister overtone, and there’s a revisionist temptation to claim the role America played in the affair was exaggerated. But it did happen, and it’s almost inconceivable to imagine Yeltsin winning reelection had it not..."

Writes Chuck Klosterman on page 307 of "The Nineties." 

Speaking of Bill Clinton, here's a fascinating quote from Bill Clinton:

"Alternative music expanded into the umbrella of alternative culture, meaning the prefix 'alt' could now be applied to almost anything for an instant jolt of reconsideration."

Writes Chuck Klosterman on page 307 of "The Nineties." 

Yes, my name was cooler in the 90s/early 00s. I remember. It makes me think about the time a law professor told me:

[Y]ou should call your blog "alt.house" (alt-dot-house), which simultaneously (a) uses your name, (b) uses "house" more directly to suggest a place, (c) is a cyber-pun, riffing on the old "alt-dot-whatever" names for usenet newsgroups, and, relatedly, (d) with the "alt" prefix, implies the ever-so-slightly offbeat nature of what you write about and how you write about it.

And as long as I'm talking about that book again, let me quote something else that jumped out at me.... Oh, no, this needs to be a new post, otherwise it will seem as though I'm burying it. Hang on.

"The CDC provides guidance. Our guidance currently is that masking should happen in all schools right now."

Said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky at a closed-door House Energy and Commerce committee briefing on Tuesday.

Quoted at Reason in "In Leaked Audio, CDC's Rochelle Walensky Privately Confirms She Won't Relax School Mask Guidance/Walensky acknowledged 'limitations' of available studies but told a congressional committee 'our guidance currently is that masking should happen in all schools'" (Reason).

Walensky faced criticism—from members in both parties—that the CDC's guidance is confusing and out-of-step with human behavior at this stage of the pandemic. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R–Wash.), the committee's ranking Republican member, challenged Walensky on the science behind school mask mandates, noting that the Arizona study oft-cited by the CDC in support of masking kids has been thoroughly debunked by The Atlantic....

February 16, 2022

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can chat 'til dawn.

"I feel that if someone looking at Piss Christ is affected by it in a negative way, or upset by it, they should think about what the photograph symbolizes..."

"... and that the crucifixion is a really ugly way to die. And all your fluids come out, your piss, your blood, and even your excrement." 

Said Andres Serrano, recently, quoted in a New York Magazine article titled "Medieval in Manhattan Artist Andres Serrano’s ecclesiastical Greenwich Village home is not a museum." 

“I realized that the things that made the most sense here were religious in nature. They were Christian paintings, Christian statues, even furniture that looks ecclesiastical, that sometimes. actually came from a church, but it made sense because the Renaissance and the medieval period were all about Christian objects and paintings.” 

Serrano was raised Catholic in Williamsburg and became one of the most famous artists in the world during the ’80s “culture wars,” after his 1987 photograph Piss Christ enraged Senator Jesse Helms.

"The very act of making a sexual harassment claim can set off a convoluted legal procedure, in which the accusers may not fully understand the rules or the repercussions of any decision..."

"... like releasing medical records.... The chain of events was set off when Harvard asked Ms. Kilburn for the names of people who had information that would be relevant to her case, her lawyers said. She gave Harvard’s Office for Dispute Resolution the name of her psychotherapist.... The complaint suggests that Harvard somehow persuaded the therapist to disclose information without authorization.... Harvard said it would only contact a therapist if a patient said the therapist had relevant information — and then only with consent.

This headline got my attention because I like taking shoes off at the door to a private home, but I had no idea I was in for a racial attack.

I'm reading "I’m putting my foot down – only barbarians wear shoes inside" by Arwa Mahdawi in The Guardian, and it ends like this:

Dear white people reading this, I’m going to say this as delicately as possible but I’m afraid you have something of a reputation when it comes to cleanliness. Last year, for example, there was a heated online debate about white people not washing their legs in the shower. This followed on from a debate, instigated by a white person, about whether swimming counts as bathing. Then there are all the rich white celebrities who love boasting about how they don’t like washing themselves (Jake Gyllenhaal), their kids (Ashton Kutcher), or their clothes (Stella McCartney). When you are a non-white person who has to deal with stereotypes about “dirty foreigners” it can be grating, to say the least, to see privileged white people revel in being disgusting. But, you know what? I’m not going into the racialised aspects of hygiene discourse here. Instead, I would like to ask a member of the white community to come forward and condemn the grotesque actions of some of your wearing-boots-inside brethren. If white people want to be good allies, it’s time to take a stand! But not in your dirty shoes, obviously.

Somehow this reminds me of how Whoopi Goldberg positioned herself with respect to the Holocaust: I stand back and watch when white people fight each other. But Whoopi wasn't saying she wanted that particular fight, Mahdawi is asking for a fight; and berating other people as disgustingly dirty is nowhere near as bad as the Holocaust; but race-based disgust is not a good way to go. And I realize Mahdawi probably believes this is funny. You can say very funny things if you take the liberty to go racial.

"The United States has recorded more than 1 million 'excess deaths' since the start of the pandemic, government mortality statistics show, a toll that exceeds..."

"... the officially documented lethality of the coronavirus and captures the broad consequences of the health crisis that has entered its third year.... Although the vast majority of the excess deaths are due to the virus, the CDC mortality records also expose swollen numbers of deaths from heart disease, hypertension, dementia and other ailments across two years of pandemic misery....

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg wants his employees to call each other 'Metamates'...."

"'Metamates' will replace 'Facebookers'.... 'Now is the right time to update our values and our cultural operating system,' Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page after announcing the change during a company-wide staff meeting Tuesday...."

From "Zuckerberg’s new ‘Metamates’ nickname mocked by Facebook employees" (NY Post). 

That Post article quotes "quips" at Twitter, but nothing is actually funny. What the hell is the difference — Facebookers or Metamates? Is one stupider than the other? To my ear Facebookers is worse because it sounds like "face boogers," but Metamates is bad because it seems like you're in a marital relationship (unless you keep thinking that the company is a ship upon the ocean and it's more of an "ahoy, mates" kind of thing).

"In 1997, the alt-rock band Harvey Danger had a minor hit with the song 'Flagpole Sitta.' One of the lines from the song was, 'And I don’t even own a TV'..."

"... which was a phrase a certain kind of person used to say a lot during this era. It was a sign of pretension, but also code for brainpower and maturity—a person without a television was not a slave to passivity, since passivity was the only possible outcome from interacting with a medium whose job was to fill time. Though accepted as true by virtually every knee-jerk intellectual of the time, it’s increasingly difficult to understand why TV was considered so inferior to not just film, but to almost every other variety of entertainment from this era. The prevalence of that dismissive view clearly had no relationship to its popularity—statistically speaking, television was more popular than everything. But here again: In the nineties, that was its own kind of problem. If everyone enjoyed something, how good could it possibly be?"

From Chuck Klosterman's "The Nineties" (pp. 232-233)(noting that critics considered "Frasier" brilliant television because it had characters who were the kind of people who would never watch television).

"What does 'worse than Watergate' mean?"

Asks Andrew C. McCarthy in "Did Durham find something worse than Watergate? Not so far" (The Hill). 

Let’s say a presidential administration puts the government’s law enforcement and intelligence apparatus in the service of its party’s presidential candidate by trying to portray the opposition party’s candidate as a clandestine agent of a hostile government.

Spring is here.


It was 40° at sunrise today and the flowing water near the shore revealed where the spring is. Click to play the short video so you'll see the flowing (and hear the romantic sound of the train whistle).

I started to play Semantle but found it way too revealing of the patterns of my own mind.

What a devious tool! Also, it would take insanely long to figure out how your own word associations related to what the computer has connected, and I don't really want to learn and internalize the computer's patterns. 

In short, what's mine is mine. I don't want that thing spying on me and collecting information, and I don't want to use my mind to collect information about it. 

Sorry, I'm raving... after following MadisonMan's link (in last night's café):

A little harder than wordle. Explanation for how it works at the website.
By the way, we have a family word game — invented by my son John (I must have described before on this blog, but where?) — that's a bit like Semantle but more fun and less devious.

"It’s the people rising up in revolt in San Francisco and saying it’s unacceptable to abandon your responsibility to educate our children."

Said Siva Raj, a San Francisco parent a leader of the recall effort, quoted in "In Landslide, San Francisco Forces Out 3 Board of Education Members/The recall, which galvanized Asian Americans, was a victory for parents angered by the district’s priorities during the pandemic" (NYT).

The recall was a victory for parents who were angered that the district spent time deciding whether to rename a third of its schools last year instead of focusing on reopening them. It also appeared to be a demonstration of Asian American electoral power, a galvanizing moment for Chinese voters in particular who turned out in unusually large numbers for the election.

"Chinese voters"? I guess they mean Chinese-American voters. Yikes. What's in their style guide?!

In echoes of debates in other cities, many Chinese voters were incensed...

 They really must mean to say "Chinese voters." Isn't that an embarrassment?

"This is supposed to be the year in which Britain celebrates the Queen’s glorious 70-year reign on the throne, a unique Platinum Jubilee..."

"... to remind the world what a magnificent monarch she has been, and what a great institution she heads. But if Andrew had persisted in trying to fight his case, the cascade of humiliating details that would have erupted about his sex life, and his long-time friendship with sex offenders, would have wrecked all that goodwill. Doubtless, [plaintiff's lawyer David] Boies would have quizzed Andrew specifically about conversations he’s had with the Queen about the allegations. The prospect of Her Majesty being dragged into this repulsive sewer at the age of 95, with all the salacious global headlines that would have inevitably ensued, was an outrageous, totally unacceptable situation which could have inflicted terminal damage on the Monarchy.... There can be no way back to any form of public life for the Queen’s second, and some say favourite, son. He must be immediately stripped of all remaining titles and privileges that come with being a Prince and despatched [sic] to the ignominious obscurity that his appalling behaviour demands."

From "COWARD'S WAY OUT/Prince Andrew’s a snivelling little coward whose denials weren’t worth the paper they were written on, says Piers Morgan" (The Sun)(commenting on Andrew's settling the case for what is said to be £12 million).

What is cowardly about sacrificing his right to defend himself, spending a great deal of money, and withdrawing into obscurity for the sake of the Queen? It sounds as though Morgan is miffed at that he won't get the spectacle of a public trial with all the gory details and royal squirming that he'd been hankering after.

February 15, 2022

Sunrise — 6:58, 7:09, 7:13/


Talk about whatever you want in the comments.



Goodbye to P.J. O'Rourke.

His death is reported here.

My son John collects some of his quotes at Facebook. Excerpt:

"Once you've built the big machinery of political power, remember you won't always be the one to run it."

"The Democrats are the party that says government will make you smarter, taller, richer, and remove the crabgrass on your lawn. The Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work, and then they get elected and prove it." 

"Democrats are in favor of higher taxes to pay for greater spending, while Republicans are in favor of greater spending, for which the taxpayers will pay."

Here's something of his that I quoted in May 2016:

"I am endorsing Hillary, and all her lies and all her empty promises. It's the second-worst thing that can happen to this country, but she's way behind in second place. She's wrong about absolutely everything, but she's wrong within normal parameters."

"Durham dropped his filing on a Friday night, when reporters, like most people, are ending their workweek."

"More importantly, Durham has an established history of floating allegations that disintegrate upon inspection.... So now, appropriately, the media is going to perform its due diligence and look into Durham’s charges rather than echo them in credulous headlines.... These stories completely debunk the erroneous Fox News coverage that prompted all the right’s complaints. The charges in the filing — an alleged conflict of interest by a technology executive — fell far short of the broader conspiracy Durham is insinuating. (This is in keeping with Durham’s pattern of using minuscule criminal allegations to make sweeping but unsubstantiated allegations — I described his last filing as a 'Hannity monologue wrapped around a parking ticket.').... The unexciting reality that the mainstream media was going to wait until Monday to report Durham’s hazy allegations was not one they could imagine, because it is premised on following conventions of journalistic objectivity that they can’t fathom."

Writes Jonathan Chait in "John Durham and the Right’s Media Paranoia/They don’t understand how the press is supposed to work" (NY Magazine). 

See also "Court Filing Started a Furor in Right-Wing Outlets, but Their Narrative Is Off Track/The latest alarmist claims about spying on Trump appeared to be flawed, but the explanation is byzantine — underlining the challenge for journalists in deciding what merits coverage" by Charlie Savage (NYT).

MEANWHILE: At the NY Post:

"A jury returned a verdict against Sarah Palin in her libel suit against The New York Times on Tuesday..."

"... finding that there was insufficient evidence to prove the newspaper had defamed her in a 2017 editorial that erroneously linked her political rhetoric to a mass shooting."

The NYT reports.

"Of course, in a perfect world, should Chad Oulson have grabbed a bag of popcorn and tossed it onto the defendant? Of course not. But … you can’t shoot and kill another person over that."

Said Scott Rosenwasser, the Pinellas-Pasco assistant state attorney, addressing the jury, quoted in "He shot a man over tossed popcorn, prosecutors say. His defense: Stand-your-ground" (WaPo).

The defendant, Curtis Reeves was irritated by the light emanating from the cell phone Chad Oulson had left on in the movie theater. At some point Oulson threw popcorn at Reeves and Reeves shot Oulson dead. Stories like this tend to get boiled into the idea that X shot Y over popcorn (or something similarly trivial). 


In pretrial hearings, Reeves testified that Oulson was “on top of” him... “He hit me with his fist or with something. I think he had his cellphone in his hand because I saw the blur of the screen,” Reeves said.

Oulson was 43, Reeves 71.

"[O]ne of the unintended consequences of turning statesmen into standups [at the White House Correspondents' Dinner] was the election of Donald Trump."

"I’m referring to President Barack Obama’s roasting of Trump at the 2011 dinner. Obama 'lampooned Mr. Trump’s gaudy taste in décor,' wrote Maggie Haberman and Alexander Burns of The New York Times. 'He ridiculed his fixation on false rumors that the president had been born in Kenya. He belittled his reality show, The Celebrity Apprentice.' And what was the result? 'That evening of public abasement, rather than sending Mr. Trump away, accelerated his ferocious efforts to gain stature within the political world,' Haberman and Burns continued in their 2016 article. 'And it captured the degree to which Mr. Trump’s campaign is driven by a deep yearning sometimes obscured by his bluster and bragging: a desire to be taken seriously.'... As president, Trump boycotted the WHCD.... Today, I suspect that many Republicans would viscerally recoil at the notion of a GOP president self-flagellating for the amusement of people unwilling to give him a fair shake.... Booking Trevor Noah [to host this year's WHCD] screams out-of-touch progressive.... The WHCD is an antiquated relic that does more harm than good. We should have just let it fade from our collective memory, rather than trying to resurrect this monster."

From "Nobody Missed the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner. Why Bring It Back? WHO IS THIS FOR? It’s is a grotesque, self-congratulatory, backslapping event for the elites, by the elites" by Matt Lewis at The Daily Beast.

"When (predominantly White) crowds protest for the right to ignore public health rules in mostly peaceful but occasionally violent and highly disruptive actions..."

"... Republican officials hail the glory of civil disobedience. When (heavily Black) crowds protested for racial justice in mostly peaceful but occasionally violent and highly disruptive actions, Trump called them 'rioters, looters and anarchists' not to mention 'terrorists,' 'arsonists' and 'violent mobs.' 'I’m old enough to remember when Black Lives Matter shut down highways and the right responded with laws making it easier to run protesters over — and get away with it!' conservative Matt Lewis wrote in the Daily Beast. It’s true: Last year, Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, signed a law granting civil immunity to people who drive through protesters blocking a street. Texas, Oklahoma and other states enacted similar laws. Now, Republican officials are lending rhetorical support and financial protection to the White men blocking the streets of Ottawa? This isn’t 'reclaiming the dream.' It’s a bad acid trip."

Writes Dana Milbank in "Opinion: Sixty years late, right-wingers join the counterculture" (WaPo).

"For the Te’po’ta’ahl of California’s central coast, the bald eagle is the Creator himself. After constructing the world, Bald Eagle molds a man from clay..."

"... turns one of his feathers into a woman, and brings the man to life with a flap of his wings (in a plot twist, Bald Eagle next orders a coyote to inseminate Eve).... Though [Jack E. Davis, in 'The Bald Eagle'] writes that [Native Americans] 'spoke to animals as if speaking to an elder: with respect,' and that 'many people today think of Indians as the original environmentalists,' he also must acknowledge that they killed loads of eagles. He describes parkas sewed out of the downy skin of eaglets, a dance troupe dressed in the feathers of 300 birds, and a ritual in which eaglets were sprinkled with cornmeal and squeezed to death. Some of the customs persist: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Eagle Repository, the legally designated morgue for every dead eagle in the nation, distributes feathers, heads, and entire corpses to various tribes for use in ceremonies. The agency also recently authorized the Hopi to seize 40 eaglets a year from their nests, douse them in cornmeal, and strangle them."

From "America’s Love-Hate Relationship With the Bald Eagle/Revered as a national symbol, reviled as an actual bird" (The Atlantic).

"Timothy and Tracy Ferriter told [the handyman] exactly what they wanted him to build [in their garage]: an 8-foot-by-8-foot structure with its own ceiling and door..."

"The space also needed to have electricity, a window air conditioning unit and a camera in the ceiling — and it had to be built in two days.... The Ferriters... also requested the structure have a doorknob only on the outside.... The handyman said something felt off, so he contacted the Jupiter Police Department to report the incident. It wasn’t until police visited the house about one month later — after the Ferriters’ 14-year-old adopted son had run away from home — that they discovered a small room in the family’s garage that matched the specifications described by the handyman.... Jupiter police began looking into the family’s situation starting Jan. 28, when Tracy Ferriter called police to report that the teen had gone missing...." 

From "A handyman was asked to build a ‘strange’ room in a couple’s garage. Police say their son was locked inside and surveilled" (WaPo). 

The police seem to have done nothing in response to the handyman's report and only acted when the mother reported the boy missing.

"Instagram removed... a post from the Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association’s Instagram page urging followers to boycott The Super Bowl in protest..."

"... of half-time performer Snoop Dog’s song lyrics that promote anti-police violence. According to Instagram, the Feb. 11 post, which decried anti-police violence, was 'removed for violence and incitement.' 'Encouraging people to shoot police officers apparently earns you a spot as a headliner at the Superbowl,' the PBA wrote in the post.... The post included lyrics to Snoop Dogg and J5Slap’s song 'Police,' screenshotted from a New York Post column by sportswriter Phil Mushnick questioning the NFL and sponsors’ money-grabbing decision to allow the rapper to headline. The song, which features incendiary, anti-police lyrics was released on Jan. 22, just weeks before the big game."

From "Suffolk County PBA’s post condemning Snoop Dogg removed by Instagram" (NY Post). Instagram later restored the post.

"Though the authorities have not determined that Ms. Lee was targeted because of her ethnicity, her killing stoked fears in the city’s Asian community.... Her killing also fit a pattern..."

"... that has become an unsettlingly common feature of the pandemic in New York City: a seemingly unprovoked attack in which the person charged is a homeless man. In many neighborhoods in Manhattan, residents have expressed growing concern about homeless people, some of whom seem to be struggling with mental illness, menacing and harassing passers-by.... Mr. Nash had a string of arrests dating to 2015 in New York and New Jersey on charges including assault, burglary and drug possession. He proclaimed his innocence as detectives led him in handcuffs out of the Fifth Precinct station house.... 'I didn’t kill anyone,' he said. 'I don’t know what’s going on.'... In January, he was charged with criminal mischief and unlawful escape; the police said he was disabling MetroCard machines at several subway stations and tried to escape from a police van after his arrest. The judge handling the case could have set bail on the escape charge, but prosecutors did not request it...."

From "Screams That ‘Went Quiet’: Prosecutors’ Account of Chinatown Killing/Christina Yuna Lee, who was described as 'irreplaceable,' was stabbed to death in her apartment after a man followed her into her building" (NYT).

Police heard the woman crying out as they struggled to break through the locked door, and Nash was found inside the apartment, hiding under a bed.

"New Yorkers who live in areas where controversial stop-and-frisk searches happen most frequently are also more likely to be surveilled by facial recognition technology..."

"... according to research by Amnesty International and other researchers. Research also showed that in the Brooklyn, Bronx and Queens boroughs of the city there was a direct correlation between the proportion of non-white residents and the concentration of controversial facial recognition technology. 'Our analysis shows that the NYPD’s use of facial recognition technology helps to reinforce discriminatory policing against minority communities in New York City,' said Matt Mahmoudi, artificial intelligence and human rights researcher at Amnesty International...."

The Guardian reports.

February 14, 2022

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

“A federal judge said Monday he planned to dismiss Sarah Palin’s defamation lawsuit against The New York Times….”

The NYT reports.

The unexpected decision by the judge, Jed S. Rakoff, came during the second day of jury deliberations in the case. He said he would allow the jury to continue working and that if they ruled in favor of Ms. Palin he would dismiss the case. He indicated that he believed an appeal by Ms. Palin was likely, and he said that the appeals court “would greatly benefit from knowing how the jury would decide” the case.

A priest in Phoenix performed invalid baptisms for 20 years.

He used the wrong pronoun, the NYT reports.

He said “We baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” but:

The Vatican instructs priests to say “I baptize,” and if it is not said that way the baptism is deemed invalid....  Sandra Yocum, a professor of faith and culture at the University of Dayton, said that if a priest said “we,” it would imply that the source of the grace of the baptism came from the community, whereas saying “I” would correctly assert that “it’s God doing this work of grace” through the priest.

"I was told that the main complaint against me was that 'I was not a friend of the Black community at Levi’s.' I was told to say that 'I am an imperfect ally.' (I refused.)"

Writes Jennifer Sey (who was a national gymnastics champion in 1986) in "Yesterday I Was Levi’s Brand President. I Quit So I Could Be Free. I turned down $1 million severance in exchange for my voice" (at the Bari Weiss Substack). 

By the way, this sentence needs rewriting (and maybe rethinking): "This time, I was called a racist—a strange accusation given that I have two black sons—a eugenicist, and a QAnon conspiracy theorist." 

Rewriting — because it's easy to imagine she's saying her sons are a eugenicist and a conspiracy theorist. Rethinking — because having black sons is not a persuasive way to establish that you can't be a racist.

Can you find the mask? What's Martha googling on her cell phone? Why is she eating fun-size candy bars?

Such a fascinating picture from the Super Bowl:

Just to help you with the middle question: She's googling who's that guy? Ironically, it's a guy named Guy.

"I don’t doubt President Biden cares, but I do not understand why he would not manifest that care into taking this investigation more seriously...."

"Biden always bristles at this because he feels confident that ending the war in Afghanistan was the right decision.... No part of these military interviews ring true because ‘that’s not what I was told’? ... Don’t you have an obligation, sir, to be told?... Isn’t that how you demonstrate how much you care? Otherwise isn’t it just words?"

Via "Jake Tapper Levels Biden Over Outright ‘Rejection’ Of Army Report: ‘It’s Difficult To Overstate How Insulting It Is’" (Daily Wire).

"A 2018 Korean study involving six men in their 20s found that they fell asleep, on average, in 7½ minutes when they wore socks, compared with about 15 minutes when they didn’t...."

"In a 2007 Dutch paper, eight subjects with no sleep issues who were between the ages of 21 to 39 fell asleep, on average, in about 11 minutes, compared with 16 minutes when they wore socks to bed.... Feet are burgeoning with special vessels (called AVAs—arterio-venous anastomoses) that connect small arteries with small veins. This allows for an impressive amount of blood flow close to the skin, which, in turn, aids in the warming of it. Pulling on socks is more effective than piling on blankets because socks are a layer of insulation that stays in place even as you shift your feet. 'They make sure your feet stay warm, and there’s a constant signal going to the brain that it is safe to sleep'.... (Incidentally, mittens on hands work the same way, though it’s easier to tuck your hands beneath your pillow or body.)"

From "How a Pair of Old Socks Cured My Insomnia/We’ve looked over the guidance in this post to make sure it’s up-to-date, and we still stand by our advice" (NYT).

"Ideally, all of State Street would become a grand promenade and urban park with sidewalk cafes, public art, trees, live music, small business kiosks and more."

"That’s been a dream in our community for half a century — one the State Journal editorial board will continue to promote. For now, though, the mayor insists her snazzy and long BRT buses must run up and down the top half of State Street. We don’t agree with that decision, and we hope a future mayor thinks bigger about Downtown’s potential.... As soon as the weather improves this spring, Madison should cordon off lower State Street on weekends and give a longer pedestrian mall a try. Assuming the extra space is popular — and we’re confident it will be — Madison can then pursue remaking at least half of State Street into a permanent mall without vehicles, similar to Pearl Street in Boulder, Colo. Madison should make this the summer that its most famous street comes roaring back after years of struggle."

Write the editors of the Wisconsin State Journal, after a public transit consultant hired by the city recommends new bus routes that avoid the lower half of State Street (the 3 blocks closest to the University).

"To be sardonic is to be disdainfully or cynically humorous, or scornfully mocking."

Wikipedia explains at "Sardonicism," to which I was redirected when I clicked on the words "sardonic grin" in the caption "Sardo-Punic mask showing a Sardonic grin" under this riveting image:

I found that at the Wikipedia article "Punic people," which I was reading because the letter combination "punic" had arisen in the course of talking about a particular word puzzle.

But what is the "Sardonic grin"?

"And together, their righteous music created all kinds of tacit friction with the accusations of racism currently being leveled at today’s NFL..."

"... from the league’s silencing of quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s public stand against racist policing to coach Brian Flores’s recent lawsuit against the league for its allegedly discriminatory hiring practices. Not so tacit: Dre’s foregrounding of rap music as a truth-to-power speaking mechanism and a rebuke of the American police violence that continues to disproportionately end so many Black lives across this broken country of ours."

Writes Chris Richards in "Dr. Dre delivered the Super Bowl halftime show rap music deserves/Today’s most popular idiom of American music was long overdue for this kind of celebration" (WaPo).

Tacit friction....

"Righteous music" creates "tacit friction" — "all kinds of tacit friction" — friction against "accusations of racism." What point is being made (if any)? The fact that rap artists performed at the Super Bowl somehow counters all the various arguments that there is racism within the business of football? 

If that's Richards's point I'm not impressed. Of course, the business of football likes to put the most famous and popular artists out there on its big Super Bowl half-time stage. They want credit for that, presumably, but I wouldn't give any. Do they get demerits? Eh. Why? So what can you say? You can say it creates all kinds of tacit friction. In which case, why say anything?

Speaking of not saying anything, I couldn't hear the words. Rarely can you understand the words from the performers at Super Bowl half-time, but it's a special problem with rap, which depends so heavily on its words. But I know the material performed is very famous, so much of the audience knows the words and heard it just fine.

And anyway, as I was just saying yesterday, here, "My personal policy is to skip every song as soon as the 'n-word' comes up." And by "comes up," I mean, I hear it. I never did.

"Is the legal standard for libel outdated? Sarah Palin could help answer. Her lawsuit against the New York Times will hinge on an earlier case. Some critics think it’s time for a new rule."

Headline at The Washington Post for an op-ed by University of Chicago lawprof Genevieve Lakier:
It’s rather strange that such a heated debate is raging over the 'actual malice” standard. These words, now a lodestar of constitutional law, almost didn’t make it into [New York Times v.] Sullivan at all. None of the litigants in that case argued for such a rule, nor was there much debate about it during oral argument. Justice William Brennan, who wrote the opinion in the case, claimed that his clerks came up with it in chambers. Perhaps unsurprisingly for a rule fashioned on the fly, there really is much to criticize about it.... 

Lakier puts a link on "clerks," and it goes to a law review article that says, "In later years, Justice Brennan would recall that his clerks discovered the opinion’s 'actual malice' language, but in fact, it was contained in Herbert Wechsler’s brief." Wechsler argued the case for the New York Times.

Lakier's conclusion calls the "actual malice" standard "an accident of history":

The rule is an icon of American constitutional law and unique in the common-law world. It’s an emblem of American free-speech exceptionalism and a source of pride. But it’s also, to some extent, an accident of history. We need not let Sullivan limit our imagination of how First Amendment law could better serve the public interest in a vastly different media environment from the one in which the decision was handed down.

As a writer in this "vastly different media environment," I think New York Times v. Sullivan is more valuable than ever. Go ahead ahead and exercise your "imagination" over how First Amendment law could "better serve" your idea of "the public interest," but the Supreme Court needs to keep the iconic precedent that we have relied on for so long.

February 13, 2022

Here’s a place…

… where you can talk about whatever you want. 

In "Index, A History of the," Dennis Duncan "gives a surprisingly vivid explanation of how the two foundations of the contemporary index — alphabetical order and pagination — themselves had to be invented."

"Alphabetical order requires us to pay attention not to meaning but to spelling, ensuring it would stay rare through the Middle Ages, disdained as an arbitrary imposition that was 'the antithesis of reason.' As for numbering pages, the notion of something so 'ruthlessly disinterested' from the text — impertinently insisting on a number for every page, regardless of its tendency to cleave paragraphs, sentences, even words — made it an intrusion that took some getting used to; the number’s allegiance wasn’t to the argument or the story but to the physical book itself...."

From "A Smart, Playful Book About the Underappreciated Index/Dennis Duncan’s entertaining and informative 'Index, A History of the' moves from the 13th-century origins of the form to the world of digital search engines" by Jennifer Szalai (NYT).

I'm going to buy this book when it's available, 2 days from now, and maybe you will too: "Index, A History of the: A Bookish Adventure from Medieval Manuscripts to the Digital Age." 

This is right up my alley! As proof of my intense interest, I remind you of this post of mine from last December, "The Order of Orders." Excerpt:

"Police largely cleared the self-styled and illegal 'Freedom Convoy' preventing access to a vital U.S.-Canada crossing on Sunday morning, arresting demonstrators and towing vehicles..."

"... that had been blocking the road between Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit. But authorities were holding off on reopening the route amid concerns that demonstrators would return. 'Enforcement actions continue at the demonstration area with arrests being made. Vehicles being towed,' police in Windsor tweeted Sunday morning, urging people to avoid the area. Police said those arrested will be charged with mischief. 'There will be zero tolerance for illegal activity,' police said. Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens said in a statement that 'today our national economic crisis at the Ambassador Bridge came to an end.'... Elsewhere, protesters continued to block parts of Canada’s capital, Ottawa, for the third consecutive weekend and staged disruptive blockades at other border crossings...."

WaPo reports.

"Peter Jackson’s Beatles doc in a nutshell... #comedy #fyp #thebeatles #getback" from benniball on TikTok.

Start here

That's Part 1. If you like it, click the "up" arrow for Part 2, etc. You might need to have watched the 8-hour documentary to understand how good it is, but mere familiarity with The Beatles might be enough. 

I'll embed Part 1:

"I resolutely boycott the castrated version of 'Friends.'"

Said someone on Chinese social media, quoted in "Chinese fans of 'Friends' angry after show re-released with censorship" (Reuters).

Neil Young is back on Spotify!


Joni too: 

"We pulled Trump off Twitter because of what he was spewing. Yet we are allowing music [with] displaying of guns, violence. We allow this to stay on the sites."

"We are alarmed by the use of social media to really over-proliferate this violence in our communities. This is contributing to the violence that we are seeing all over the country. It one of the rivers we have to dam."

Said NY Mayor Eric Adams, quoted in "Eric Adams urges social media to ban ‘drill’ rap videos for promoting violence" (NY Post).

There are so many songs about violence, often sung from the point of view of a murderer. Indeed, the second one that sprang to my mind was from the sanctimonious promoter of censorship, Neil Young:


I don't know rap. Never heard of "drill rap" before just now. So I have no rap-focused opinion. But I oppose censorship, and I understand art well enough to make the distinction between the writer and the story told.

Down by the river I shot my baby/Down by the river/Dead, ooh/Shot her dead, ooh....

And what was the first song Althouse thought of? 

"Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign paid an internet company to 'infiltrate' servers at Trump Tower and the White House in order to link Donald Trump to Russia, a bombshell new legal filing alleges...."

"Special Counsel John Durham filed a motion related to potential conflicts of interests in connection with the case of Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann, who is charged with lying to the feds.... Sussmann allegedly told the FBI he was not working on behalf of Clinton when he presented the agency with documents that supposedly linked the Trump Organization to a Kremlin-tied bank two months before the election.... Durham’s motion reportedly alleged Sussmann 'had assembled and conveyed the allegations to the FBI on behalf of at least two specific clients, including a technology executive (Tech Executive 1) at a U.S.-based internet company (Internet Company 1) and the Clinton campaign.' Records showed he 'repeatedly billed the Clinton Campaign for his work on the Russian Bank-1 allegations,' which involved an investigative firm, a tech executive, cyber researchers and numerous employees at internet companies, the motion reportedly stated."

The NY Post reports.


Covid culture, year 3 — how Valentine's Day looks on the front page of the NYT.

I just wanted to share this woeful screenshot from at the NYT:

Let's see... how depressing is this? 

1. "For Valentine’s Day, Try Being Nice to Yourself/Sending love to others is easy. Being kind to yourself can be surprisingly difficult." This piece was originally published on Valentine's Day, 2019, so only the choice to resurrect it reflects the dreary spirit of 3-year-old Covid.

Use this short test developed by Dr. Neff to gain a snapshot of your own level of self-compassion. If you score low, commit to learning some self-compassion practices.... "You deserve your care and attention... Treat yourself to a delicious meal, a good book, a nice walk with a lovely view. As you would invest in the person you love, so you should invest in yourself."

2. "The Unbearable Heaviness of Clutter/A cluttered home can be a stressful home, researchers are learning." Another piece from 2019. Remember, pre-Covid, when clutter was the great plague? I can see from my Marie Kondo tag that I still blogged about her up through the end of 2020, so I guess staying at home in Year 1 overlapped with the exciting passion for de-cluttering. But it didn't carry over to Year 2, so is it ready for a comeback in Year 3? Instead of finding love out in the real world, we're supposed to keep staying home and putting ourselves — see #1, supra — and our homes in good order? Or maybe that relationship you think you want can be analogized to household clutter:

Dr. Saxbe agreed that a good way to declutter is to keep items out of the house in the first place. She urged shoppers to consider whether they truly need an item or if it will add to their home’s sense of dysfunction. “Once it’s in the house, it’s really hard to deal with. You get attached to the things you own,” she said.

Once it’s in the house, it’s really hard to deal with — see what I mean? 

3. Now, why is my eyelid twitching? This is an article from last December, and I can only think that the reason for re-elevating this issue on Valentine's Day weekend is to direct your attention away from that other body part that normally gets the attention — the heart. Why does my heart ache? No no no, why does your eyelid twitch?