March 12, 2022

At the Last Cold Day Café...

... you can talk about whatever you want.


No  sunrise photo today. The "feels like" temperature was below zero this morning. We've had quite the late-winter cold snap these last few days. But it will be over tomorrow. The next 10 days look like they'll hit 50° and beyond. By then it will be spring. The first day of spring is March 20th. And speaking of landmarks of the calendar, tonight is the spring forward into Daylight Saving Time. It's dark now, so the next time you see daylight, engage in the mass fantasy of saving it. It's what we do.

I watch TikTok so you don't have to. Here are my 5 selections of the day.

1. Nurse Melissa channels Nancy Pelosi. 

2. Tiny toddler tastes a Peep and reaches a new level of consciousness. 

3. How to interact with a crackhead. 

4. Have you encountered the "Be a man" man yet? Well, here's one example. Lots more here.

5. A sheep burdened with 40kg of extra wool is saved.

Profoundly sad.

Irina Maniukina plays her piano for the last time. Via my son John at Facebook, "Playing this piano in Ukraine for the last time before fleeing Russia’s war crimes. (The music is Chopin’s 'Aeolian Harp' Étude, Op. 25, # 1.)"

"The West is not a geographical place. Russia is European, but not Western. Japan is Western, but not European."

"'Western' means rule of law, democracy, private property, open markets, respect for the individual, diversity, pluralism of opinion, and all the other freedoms that we enjoy, which we sometimes take for granted. We sometimes forget where they came from. But that’s what the West is. And that West, which we expanded in the nineties, in my view properly, through the expansion of the European Union and NATO, is revived now, and it has stood up to Vladimir Putin in a way that neither he nor Xi Jinping expected. If you assumed that the West was just going to fold, because it was in decline and ran from Afghanistan; if you assumed that the Ukrainian people were not for real, were not a nation; if you assumed that Zelensky was just a TV actor, a comedian, a Russian-speaking Jew from Eastern Ukraine—if you assumed all of that, then maybe you thought you could take Kyiv in two days or four days. But those assumptions were wrong."

Says Stephen Kotkin, a scholar of Russian history, in "The Weakness of the Despot/An expert on Stalin discusses Putin, Russia, and the West" (The New Yorker).


"[C]onsider the case of [the] assistant principal... fired for reading a class a book called 'I Need a New Butt!'"

"[Toby] Price told us that last week, he’d been asked to schedule a Zoom meeting for another school official to read to all the second grade classes. But she didn’t show up. After this, Price says, his boss asked him to do the reading. So Price grabbed a nearby book which happened to be the tome on butts. Price said he has read this 'very silly, very funny' book to classes in the past without incident. 'After I read it, the principal called me into her office,' Price says, recounting that she warned him that parents were going to complain. Soon after, he says, he was placed on administrative leave while being investigated, and two days later he was informed that he’d be terminated. As Price put it, he was told that 'choosing this book showed a lack of professional judgment, because it included the words 'butt' and 'fart,' and different examples of butts like a robot butt and a bulletproof butt.' 'Stuff like "Captain Underpants" and "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" talks about more suggestive things than this book does,' Price told us."

From "Opinion: Teachers are under fire in increasingly bizarre ways" by Paul Waldman and Greg Sargent (WaPo).

In 2 big cases, Texas courts defer to the legislature.

1. "Texas Court Halts Abuse Inquiries Into Parents of Transgender Children/A judge said the governor’s order to consider medically accepted treatments for transgender youth as abuse had been improperly adopted and violated the State Constitution" (NYT). 

[Gov.] Abbott’s order... directed state officials to consider medically accepted treatments for transgender youth — including hormones and puberty-suppressing drugs — as abuse.... [Judge Amy Clark Meachum in Travis County held that to] “violate separation of powers by impermissibly encroaching into the legislative domain.”

2. "Texas Supreme Court Shuts Down Final Challenge to Abortion Law/The ruling says state officials have no authority to enforce the law, which empowers private citizens: 'We cannot rewrite the statute'" (NYT).

“The act’s emphatic, unambiguous and repeated provisions” declare that a private civil action is the “exclusive” method for enforcing the law, the justices wrote.


"The entire place, in fact, has a time-warped quality. It is reminiscent of college or summer camp — but for people who..."

"... no longer have to worry about what they’re going to be when they grow up or what their political choices will bring. For Villagers, the future is less of a concern than living their best life. Right. Now. Here, baby boomers still reign supreme, in a place that caters to some of their most self-absorbed, self-indulgent impulses. The culture, like the overwhelmingly conservative politics, can feel like a scrupulously maintained bulwark against the onslaught of time and change.... Crime, inequality, homelessness, climate change, racial strife, the high cost of child care and college — these are challenges for other communities to grapple with.... Early one evening, I settle in near the Sumter Landing bandstand to watch the Hooligans, a local favorite that plays all the classics — Pink Floyd, the Clash, the Police, Rod Stewart. At one point, a trim, relatively young woman sporting short dark hair and a golf visor wanders over to ask if I’m the band’s agent.... After quizzing me about who I work for and what I’m working on, she introduces herself succinctly: 'Brenda. Strong conservative and strong Christian.'... [S]he drifts back into the sea of seniors swaying as the band belts out Radiohead’s 'Creep': 'What the hell am I doin’ here? I don’t belong here. …'"

From "The ‘Disney’ for Boomers Puts Hedonism on Full Display" by Michelle Cottle, opinionating from The Villages in Florida for the NYT.

That went up a few days ago, but I noticed it just this morning, when a lot of "To the Editor" letters went up. (The original article lacked a comments section.) Most of the letters complain about the bias and snobbishness. But not all. The last letter in the series says: 

A starkly cut off skirt and top is getting a lot of attention on the internet.

At the NYT, I see "Brief Encounters With a Micro Miniskirt/A low-rise skirt by Miu Miu went viral last month. Here, three perspectives on wearing it." 

And at The Cut, there's "The Life Span of a Micro-Mini Trend How the Miu Miu miniskirt ended up on every fashion-magazine cover."

The skirt has its own Instagram account, so let me embed this: 

You see the idea. Very ordinary clothes are lopped off, and it seems to mean something.

This made me think of Yoko Ono's 1964 performance "Cut Piece":

"The Saudi blogger Raif Badawi has been released after being imprisoned in the kingdom for a decade for 'insulting Islam,' his Canadian-based wife has said."

The London Times reports.

He had set up, in 2008, a website called Free Saudi Liberals, which discussed social issues in Saudi Arabia, promoted freedom of expression and human rights, criticised religious figures and promoted liberal views of Islam. 
After his sentencing a judge recommended that he also be tried for apostasy, which carries the death penalty, because Badawi had refused to “repent to God”. This was not pursued by prosecutors. His lawyer, Waleed Abulkhair, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for his statements denouncing severe penalties against Saudi citizens, including Badawi.

He's banned from traveling and journalism for the next 10 years. 

MEANWHILE: "Saudi Arabia has executed 81 men over the past 24 hours, including seven Yemenis and one Syrian national, on charges including terrorism and holding “deviant beliefs“, state news agency SPA said on Saturday" (The Guardian).

"In trunks, the cold really bites hard and you glide through the water a lot less."

"It’s abominably tough. It’s mind-blowing. It’s not just because of the layer of ice over your head. It’s also the physiological reaction to a long apnea in icy water. The body reacts very strongly." 

Said Arthur Guérin-Boëri, 37, quoted in "Diver sets world record for under-ice swim on single breath" (London Times). He swam finless and without a wetsuit for 105 meters. 

We're told: "In a discipline with mixed genders, he beat the 103m record held by Johanna Nordblad of Finland." Some of the commenters over there are questioning the term "mixed genders." Considering the multiplicity of gender, wouldn't all sports include mixed genders? The distinctiveness here is that both sexes participate in the same event. In the effort to appear enlightened, you can trip over yourself.

"If I were you, I would think about the lives of my people and take the offer."

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, quoted in "Bennett advises Zelensky to surrender to Russia, Zelensky refuses - report/Vladimir Putin made an offer to end the Russian war with Ukraine, but it includes many Ukrainian sacrifices" (The Jerusalem Post).

The report comes from an unnamed "Ukrainian official," who said: "Bennett told us to surrender. We have no intention of doing so. We know Putin's offer is only the beginning... If Bennett wants to be neutral and mediate, we would expect to see him appoint someone to work on it day and night and try to get a compromise." Instead, according to the official, Bennett is just acting like a "mailbox," passing messages back and forth.

"Sarah had terrible clothes. When I met her she wore baggy army pants which hid her incredible figure and then would say, ‘I dress for comfort,’ which is no excuse."

Said Alexandra Leenen, quoted in "What happened when my banker husband became a woman: inside our trans marriage/When Sarah Simoni fell in love with Harold Leenen, he had a high-flying career in the macho world of corporate banking – and a secret. Eight years later, Harold is now Alexandra" (London Times).

March 11, 2022

At the Friday Night Café...


 ... you can talk about whatever you want. 

The photo was taken at 11:44 this morning. No sunrise picture today. It was too cold to go out!

"And when you got criticized for saying that Vladimir Putin is smart, we’ve had many conversations, and you’ve often quoted to me Sun Tzu, ‘The Art of War’: Keep your friends close and your enemies closer."

"Is that how you viewed Vladimir? Did you view Vladimir Putin and people like President Xi and Kim Jong Un and the Iranian mullahs as enemies that you needed to keep close?"

Sean Hannity asked Trump last night, quoted in "'I got along': Trump avoids criticizing Putin The former president had several opportunities during a Fox News interview to criticize the Russian leader's invasion of Ukraine, but didn't" (Politico).

Trump answered: "I got along with these people. I got along with them well. That doesn’t mean they are good people. It doesn’t mean anything other than the fact that I understood them and perhaps they understood me — maybe they understood me even better. That’s OK, because they knew there would be a big penalty.... Putin is for Russia, and you see what happened... And that is all because they didn’t respect our leader. Look, there was nobody, and Putin will tell you this — if he was telling the truth, and I am sure he has told it to all of his inner sanctum — nobody was tougher on Russia than me."

"Take the serious side of Disney, the Confucian side of Disney. It’s in having taken an ethos, as he does in Perri, that squirrel film..."

"... where you have the values of courage and tenderness asserted in a way that everybody can understand. You have got an absolute genius there. You have got a greater correlation of nature than you have had since the time of Alexander the Great. Alexander gave orders to the fishermen that if they found out anything about fish that was interesting, a specific thing, they were to tell Aristotle. And with that correlation you got ichthyology to the scientific point where it stayed for two thousand years. And now one has got with the camera an enormous correlation of particulars. That capacity for making contact is a tremendous challenge to literature. It throws up the questions of what needs to be done and what is superfluous."

Said Ezra Pound in an interview with The Paris Review in 1962.

I found that as a consequence of reading Larry McMurtry's "Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen: Reflections on Sixty and Beyond," pp. 30-31:

"The ruling marks the first time in the records of Washington, D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department — and one of very few times across the country — that a suicide has been classified as a line-of-duty death."

"The moment may be a tipping point in a crusade to lift long-held taboos against open discussion of depression, addiction and suicide in policing, with several groups pushing for officers to have greater access to confidential counseling and other emotional supports."

From "Police Officer’s Suicide After Jan. 6 Riot Is Ruled a Line-of-Duty Death/'If he did not go to work that day, he would be here,' said the widow of Officer Jeffrey Smith of the Metropolitan Police" (NYT).

"Liz Pickard, an office worker from Denver, was raised Episcopalian, but discovered the story of Brigid on an earlier visit to Ireland."

"She came to Solas Bhride this year for a weeklong stay in its hermitage. 'I was searching for meaning and she gives so much meaning,' Ms. Pickard said. 'Right now, if you go down a certain road with religion, there’s a lot of pain caused by these people, but with Brigid, I think there’s a lot of kindness, and a lot of service and courage.' Two sisters, Georgina O Briain and Caragh Lawlor, sat in the calm of Solas Bhride’s central prayer space on Saint Brigid’s Day, quietly weaving rush crosses... 'Brigid was both Christian and pagan, a mix of the two, and while I’m not very religious, I am very spiritual, and she brings it together for me,' Ms. O Briain said.... Tellingly, Brigid’s Christian nuns maintained a pagan-style fire shrine on the grounds of her abbey, even after the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland in the 12th century, in which the English monarchy imposed strict Roman Catholic doctrine on the independent-minded Celtic church of Brigid, Patrick and Columba — Irelands’ trio of patron saints...."

From "As Ireland’s Church Retreats, the Cult of a Female Saint Thrives/The cult of Saint Brigid, with its emphasis on nature and healing, and its shift away from the patriarchal faith of traditional Catholicism in Ireland, is attracting people from around the world" (NYT). 

I didn't know the legend: "Around the year 480... a freed slave named Brigid founded a convent under an oak in the east of Ireland. To feed her followers, she asked the King of Leinster, who ruled the area, for a grant of land. When the pagan king refused, she asked him to give her as much land as her cloak would cover. Thinking she was joking, he agreed. But when Brigid threw her cloak on the ground, it spread across 5,000 acres — creating the Curragh plains...."

Here's the Wikipedia article "Curragh." An excerpt:

There has been a permanent military presence in the curragh since 1856... Records of women, known as Wrens of the Curragh, who were paid for sex work by soldiers at the camp, go back to the 1840s.  They lived in 'nests' half-hollowed out of banks and ditches, which were covered in furze bushes....

Nowadays, the pagan-curious ex-Episcopalians traveling to commune with St. Brigid might gaze longingly at an "offbeat" Airbnb "nest" — a half-hollowed-out bank covered in furze bushes.

"If you can shoot someone for throwing popcorn at you under Florida’s flawed Stand Your Ground law..."

" would be hard to convince a jury that a person’s not allowed to hit someone who instigated a confrontation by storming into their business and barking the most aggressive and inflammatory term in the English language in their face."

Said Andrew Warren, the state attorney for Hillsborough County, quoted in "Customer’s Racial Slur Drew a Fatal Punch. The Sentence Is House Arrest. A plea deal in a confrontation at a Dunkin’ shop in Tampa, Fla., 'holds the defendant accountable while considering the totality of the circumstances,' the prosecutor said" (NYT).

The sentence was 2 years of house arrest.

"One of the striking things about 'Western civilization' is that as an idea it is not particularly old."

“It came to the fore during World War I, when the fight against Germany and its allies — the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires — was conceived by Anglophone liberals as a war of Western civilization against Eastern despotism. John Maynard Keynes, a cosmopolitan liberal, was convinced there was a civilizational gulf even between Germans and Anglo-Saxons, while the Russians, though allied with the West, were well beyond the pale of Western modernity. In the wake of World War I, courses on 'Western Civilization' began to be taught at elite American universities. By the onset of the Cold War, the term 'Free World' supplanted 'the West' because American power demanded a more globally inclusive banner that could rally South Vietnamese, Indonesians and others in the war on Communist 'slave societies.' After the Cold War, however, conservative American thinkers, such as Samuel Huntington, revived the idea of 'Western civilization' as a way of dramatizing how a set of values was now under siege from new threats: migrants, terrorists and moral relativists."

From "Vladimir Putin Has Revived ‘The West.’ Is That a Good Thing?" by Thomas Meaney, who does not think it's a good thing.

March 10, 2022

"Jussie Smollett has been sentenced to 150 days of jail and 30 months of probation."

"He will have to pay back the City of Chicago just over $120,000 in restitution and was also fined $25,000. Following the sentencing, he had an emotional outburst and screamed 'I am not suicidal and I did not do it.'"

WGN9 reports.

ADDED: If you watch the video clip, you'll understand what he meant by "I am not suicidal":


He's saying that if he turns up dead in prison, it will not be because he's killed himself. He seems to be underscoring his argument against prison time: There's a danger that he could be killed in prison. And he wants everyone to know that if they say he killed himself, it will be wrong.

Nearly everyone believes he faked the attack on himself. He still denies it, but he's lost the capacity to convince anyone of his version of the story. Now, as he speaks about the future, he could be setting up another faked attack on himself. That is, he could indeed be suicidal, planning suicide, and trying to lay a foundation for theories that he did not kill himself.

I hope he is guarded so that he cannot carry out this terrible plan, if that's what it is. He deserves punishment for what he did, but not the death penalty. He seems to be a self-dramatizing person with very poor judgment, and I think he needs to be protected from himself.

At the Thursday Night Café...

 ... you can talk about whatever you want.


No sunrise photograph today. I overslept! I didn't expect that to happen. I slept over 8 hours, woke up with light in the room, and wondered what's going on? It took me a second to realize it was the sun. I'm getting to the part of the year when I need to set the alarm as a backup. There are so many mornings when I wake up at 3 or 4, so I assume that 5:30 is no problem, but it can happen. 

And yes, I know that the great resetting of the clocks is about to hit us in a couple days, but that makes no difference to me. I've set myself to the sun and only use the clock to keep track of its position, which never leaps forward or falls back but moves slowly and continuously.

"We’re not at war with Ukraine and Ukrainians, but at war with the USA inside Ukraine."

Said a Russian soldier in Ukraine, quoted in "Russian troops insist to Ukrainian that real target of war is ‘USA inside Ukraine’" (NY Post).

"Wisconsin liberals on Thursday filed a federal lawsuit alleging that Republican Sen. Ron Johnson and two other GOP congressmen are insurrectionists in violation of the U.S. Constitution..."

"... for their words and actions in support of Donald Trump leading up to the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. The lawsuit, alleging a violation of the 'Disqualification Clause' of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, says Johnson, R-Oshkosh, and U.S. Reps. Tom Tiffany, R-Minocqua, and Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, conspired to undermine President Joe Biden's victory and sow public distrust of the outcome." reports.

This loathsome lawsuit has no chance of success, other than as a stunt that will appeal to partisans.

"The neoliberal vision of brother Biden, which, in his own individual case, is predicated on crimes against humanity..."

"... in terms of mass incarceration, the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and the Wall Street bailout that led toward the collapse of so many poor and working people’s life chances—to me those are crimes against humanity.... It’s very clear he turns out to be milquetoast, and the only way he can deliver is the opposing posture, as if you put a Black sister on the Supreme Court and you satisfy the Black women who voted. You’re going to tell me that Black women voted solely to have a representative on the Supreme Court, and not to deal with Black people, Black children, and other folk who are suffering economically and socially? All you need is just a Black woman on the Court, and you’re satisfied now? Most Black sisters out there that I know did not go out for that. But, of course, we want a Black progressive on the court, and a Black woman, fine. But he can’t fight for voting rights for a whole year, can’t hardly engage in any courageous action for that for a whole year?"

Said Cornel West, quoted in "Cornel West Sees a Spiritual Decay in the Culture/A conversation with the prominent philosopher about democracy, disagreement, and how to stay upright in a fallen world" (The New Yorker).

I've shown it to you before. This is a Borsalino fur felt fedora that I bought in Austin many years ago...

... and have used extensively, mostly to shield my eyes while I'm blogging in front of the big bright windows — for example, in this old post.

But now, it's in this condition, a bite taken out of it...


I could buy a new one but it's so expensive I'm afraid I'd feel pressured to wear it because it was expensive. I'm therefore working on how I think about it. Something like distressed jeans or perhaps evocative of a character in a Western movie — someone who's been through a life-changing ordeal.

"Any newspaper editor in 2022 could tell you that it’s gender o’clock in America, and yet Faderman seems to muffle her ears, partly, to this loud ticking."

"She is hip to modern phrases like 'assigned female at birth,' to Generation Z’s increasing acceptance of nonbinary identities and Facebook’s 56 gender options and men’s diminishing sperm counts. But the parameters of her book stay, mostly, safely in the past. 'What is clear is that today one can choose whether or not to call oneself a woman,' she writes. 'What is more complicated is the meaning that the term "woman" has to those who use it to describe themselves.' For Faderman, who writes about Betty Friedan having called proud lesbians the 'lavender menace,' to omit a discussion of 'trans-exclusionary radical feminists' — an insult lobbed at J.K. Rowling, among others — seems notable, if understandable. That conversation can get very, very heated. Perhaps Faderman is simply waiting, and watching, for time to cool things off."

Writes Alexandra Jacobs in the NYT in "'Woman' Is an Ambitious Attempt to Capture Four Centuries of Being Female/Lillian Faderman’s exhaustive survey of American history comes up to the present but stops short of engaging with today’s charged gender debates" (reviewing "WOMAN/The American History of an Idea" a 571-page book by Lillian Faderman, who, we're told is "one of the pre-eminent L.G.B.T.Q. scholars of our time" and published by Yale University Press).

I think "What is more complicated is the meaning that the term 'woman' has to those who use it to describe themselves" is a good question. But my question is, does Faderman answer it or just point to it as a "complicated" question? 

I scroll through TikTok so you don't have to. Here are 4 things I found for you.

1. A 4-year-old girl narrates her snowboard run: "Dada, I absorbed those!"

2. "Why are missing feet washing up on Canada's beaches?"

3. "Why your pianist friend never answers the phone." 

4. Dad is always concerned about eating early.

"She and Musk used a surrogate this time, which in combination with the pandemic enabled them to keep their daughter a secret, right up until Y shared the news just now" (by crying like the baby she is).

"That’s what they call her, by the way: Y. She’s got a full name, but this doesn’t seem like the moment to ask for it..."

I'm reading "'Infamy Is Kind Of Fun”' Grimes on Music, Mars, and Her Secret New Baby With Elon Musk/The visionary pop star holds nothing back, talking with Vanity Fair about everything under the sun, including her thrilling upcoming album, Book 1" (Vanity Fair).

[O]ne thing that really pisses [Grimes] off is how many people think that she surrendered her agency to [Elon Musk]. They took her silence for complicity, rather than how she viewed her silence, which was not submitting to their sexist horseshit....

They named the woman-focused sports bar Sports Bra.

I'm reading "A bar of their own: Portland’s Sports Bra will only show women’s sports/Jenny Nguyen’s sports bar, opening in April, has already received praise from women’s sports fans around the world" (WaPo). 

From the comments at WaPo:

1. "Men have become discontented and snarly. Women still possess hope. So women's sports and sports fans are still fun. I'd like Netflix or Britbox to feature women's sports leagues. Is that an idea? Why not sports on streaming sites?"

2. "There isn't the demand to warrant that. The reality is that the vast bulk of women's sports don't have a very high level of interest or make any money.... Mark my words, six months from now the headline will read 'bar that only had women's sports on tv closes.'" 
3. "Okay, whateverdoodle, oh Dearth of Hope comment-maker."

Unclear? It's about as clear as any prediction we can make about what the Supreme Court will do.

I'm reading "Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Harvard ties raise recusal questions in Supreme Court’s affirmative action case" (WaPo):

In the case before the Supreme Court, it is unclear whether Jackson’s participation would be a deciding factor in the outcome. The slim majority that in 2016 upheld the limited use of race in school admissions has been replaced by a more conservative bloc of six, including three nominees of President Donald Trump. The Trump administration supported those challenging Harvard’s policies as unconstitutional. The Biden administration urged the court not to accept the case.

"If you want to cancel something, cancel federal gridlock, cancel the incompetence, cancel the infighting, cancel crime, cancel homelessness, cancel education inequality, cancel poverty, cancel racism."

Andrew M. Cuomo is leveraging cancel culture.

Quoted in "Andrew Cuomo has reemerged. But New Yorkers don’t want him back" (WaPo).

ADDED: I can see by the first few comments that I need to make my point more obvious. I'm saying "Andrew M. Cuomo is leveraging cancel culture" because Andrew Cuomo paints himself as the victim of the cancel culture. He's ready for the pushback that will in one way or another insist that he should have stayed canceled. The quote in the post title is the response he's crafted. He must think it's clever and powerful rhetoric... or, at least, the best he can do under his constrained circumstances.

"These f*cking little dweebs who keep going on about their trauma. Shut the f*ck up. They’re f*cking b*tches."

Said NYT National Security Correspondent, Matthew Rosenberg, quoted in "Pulitzer Prize Winning New York Times Reporter: January 6 Media Coverage ‘Overreaction,’ FBI Involved, Event Was Not Organized Despite Ongoing Narrative" (Project Veritas). 

You have to watch the video to get the full effect. Poor Rosenberg seems to be having such a lovely time impressing the unseen woman who is tricking him into chattering about his work:

Other men are "fucking little dweebs" — "fucking bitches." He's parading his own manhood and deeply self-smitten. To be fair, he is attractive and performing well in the manly style. But the unseen woman is also performing well — in the classic "feminine" style. For us, the audience, it's fascinating and hilarious.

But it's not funny if there really was a coup going on! Since Rosenberg seems to be saying that there was not, he's giving us all the go-ahead to laugh at him.

"Most Ukrainian men ages 18 to 60 have been banned from leaving the country.... There are exemptions — fathers with three or more children can leave, as can people with medical issues. There are also ways to sneak out...."

"Some men said they took exit routes that were illegal.... 'We just wanted to live... We ran from hell. Like Stalingrad in 1942.'... A 24-year-old [medical student] from Kyiv... ran through a field and then a forest, 'scared s---less,' he said, until he and the others ended up on a cold road in what happened to be Moldova.... The medical student received papers giving him the legal right to be in Moldova. There’s just one thing missing: a Ukrainian exit stamp. 'So I don’t know how I can go back,' he said. ... In Chisinau, at the army barracks, a 32-year-old IT employee from Kyiv said he and his father, 57, had managed to cross without any problems. They presented non-Ukrainian passports. The catch is that in Ukraine, dual citizenship is illegal. The 32-year-old said he had talked with his dad at length about whether they were doing the right thing, and they agreed that war had forced them into a terrible, cold decision: picking their own interests above those of their country. 'I don’t feel like a traitor,' the son said. He said it was natural to choose self-preservation. 'Just like America,' the father said...."

From "In a war of terrible choices, these are the fighting-age men who left Ukraine" (WaPo).

March 9, 2022

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

"The Philosophy of Modern Song could only have been written by Bob Dylan...."

"He analyzes what he calls the trap of easy rhymes, breaks down how the addition of a single syllable can diminish a song, and even explains how bluegrass relates to heavy metal."

Pitchfork relays info from a press release about the new book from Bob Dylan that's coming out this fall.

Until then, we might amuse ourselves by thinking of single syllables that have diminished songs, maybe Bob Dylan songs. We can wonder if there's a corollary that the best songs could not benefit from the addition of a single syllable? And can you take a Bob Dylan song and make it better by subtracting or adding a single syllable? 

I read between the lines that Bob is saying he's seen to every last syllable of his songs... and until heaven and earth pass, not one jot or tittle shall pass from these songs, until all is fulfilled.

As for getting out of the trap of easy rhymes: form, storm, warm, storm, corn, storm, thorns, storm, morn, storm, horn, storm, forlorn, storm, scorn, storm, born, storm.

"Chollet celebrates not only the witches of the past, but also the so-called 'witches' of today..."

"... independent women who have chosen not to have children, aren’t always coupled, often defy traditional beauty norms (letting their hair go gray), and thus operate outside the established social order."

From "A French Feminist Tells Us to Embrace Our Inner Hag" (NYT)(reviewing "IN DEFENSE OF WITCHES/The Legacy of the Witch Hunts and Why Women Are Still on Trial"). 

Since [Mona] Chollet’s childhood, the word ["witch"] “has had a magnetic hold on me,” she writes. “Something about it fizzes with energy. The word speaks of a knowledge that lies close to the ground, a vital power, an accumulated force of experience that official sources disdain or repress.”...

Sometimes, by choice or by circumstance, a woman becomes what Chollet calls a “femme fondue,” or dissolving woman, who becomes overwhelmed by “the service reflex” and disappears into motherhood or child care, losing her grip on the first person. 

We're told that the book refers to all of these feminists: Rebecca Traister, Gloria Steinem, Susan Faludi, Adrienne Rich, Susan Sontag, Elizabeth Gilbert, Audre Lorde, and Rebecca Solnit.

What about Mary Daly?! 

When I think of feminism and witches, I think of Mary Daly. As Wikipedia puts it: "Daly said it is the role of women to unveil the liberatory nature of labels such as 'Hag,' 'Witch,' and 'Lunatic.'" That links to a page in Ruether, "Women and Redemption: A Theological History" where we find this snappy paragraph:

A question about running speed.

As you may know from my ritual of photographing the sunrise and posting these relentlessly repetitious photographs on this blog...


... I go out for a short run — it's 1.5 miles — every morning (that is, unless it's very cold, rainy, or dangerously windy). I've been doing this since September 2019, when I got the idea for this ritual, and I'm pleased with having kept it up. It's healthy and wholesome (and artistic and spiritual). I didn't think I was even able to run. I'd never been a runner, and I didn't even know how to breathe. I watched videos on how to breathe while running. I had to research what to wear

But here's my question now. I'm not concerned with running a longer distance, but I would like to go faster. My iPhone records my speed. It shows a range of speed for any given run, and that varies, but it often goes as high as 4.9 mph. And yet it never hits 5. It's like the phone is toying with me. If I can do 4.9 on any given ordinary day, why do I never hit 5?

"We wouldn’t just go drown someone or burn someone at the stake. But if midazolam is not capable of maintaining that insensate state, we may well be producing the same feeling in the person being executed."

Said lawprof Maria Kolar, quoted in "This Sedative Is Now a Go-To Drug for Executions. But Does It Work? A legal battle in Oklahoma over whether prisoners feel severe pain after being given the sedative, midazolam, will determine whether its use is constitutional" (NYT).

A highly rated comment over there: "Please explain to me why there can be painless, peaceful assisted suicide and yet our prison system is totally inept at execution. Of course, this barbaric act of execution should never be a part of our society."

I thought that was interesting because it seems to accept assisted suicide while putting the death penalty beyond the pale. Traditionally, it was the death penalty that was accepted and suicide that was beyond the pale.

And if the question is the possibility that pain is experienced — there's no intent to inflict pain but it's possible that pain is felt — then one ought to face the comparison to abortion. Do those who care about the possibility of pain in the context of execution support the effort to cut off access to abortion at the point where it is possible that the unborn feels pain?

"Our imaginations are wild, if we exercise them. I chose to just, as this character, believe in everything. And when I was told that something wasn’t true, I doubled down."

Said Amanda Seyfried, quoted in "The Women of ‘The Dropout’ Want to Humanize Elizabeth Holmes/In a group interview, Elizabeth Meriwether, Amanda Seyfried and Rebecca Jarvis discuss the new Hulu series about the fall of Theranos and their efforts to reveal the woman beneath the turtleneck" (NYT)(Seyfried plays the part of Elizabeth Holmes). 

The NYT interviewer, Alexis Soloski, does a nice job of highlighting the problems with the show without overtly confronting the interviewees about the weakness of their project:

The Apple aesthetic is taking a sojourn in Hell.


My heaven of Apple ads was back in 2008: 


Consider the difference. The new ad creates an oppressive environment, like something I imagine in those thrilling movies I never go to see or in the kind of video games I've been encouraged to feel amazed by, where a little person — you, supposedly — goes into a surreal environment that is irritatingly lit and pumped full of pulsating sounds and elbowing you endlessly to be excited, be very very excited. Ugh!

And I want to buy a new desktop computer and would never buy a computer/tablet/phone that isn't Apple. I know they don't make ads for the old and they need to beg for favor from the young, but that just makes me worry more. Who are these young people who would bond to Apple over that ad? Where is the beauty, the kindness, the joy?

ADDED: The emphasis on the pattern of ventilation holes in the new ad may trigger trypophobia.

"Paramount was famously opposed to the idea of your playing the role"/"Well, they rejected his entire cast! They rejected Brando. They rejected Jimmy Caan and Bob Duvall. There was conflict."

From "'THE GODFATHER' AT 50/Al Pacino on ‘The Godfather’: ‘It’s Taken Me a Lifetime to Accept It and Move on’ Fifty years later, the actor looks back on his breakthrough role: how he was cast, why he skipped the Oscars and what it all means to him now" (NYT).

"The Endurance22 Expedition has located the wreck of Endurance, Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship which has not been seen since it was crushed by the ice and sank in the Weddell Sea in 1915."

The Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust annnounces.

Clear video of the wreck (in what the leader of the expedition calls "a brilliant state of preservation"):

Here's the NYT article, "At the Bottom of an Icy Sea, One of History’s Great Wrecks Is Found/Explorers and researchers, battling freezing temperatures, have located Endurance, Ernest Shackleton’s ship that sank in the Antarctic in 1915." 

Under the terms of the Antarctic Treaty, the six-decade-old pact intended to protect the region, the wreck is considered a historical monument. The submersibles did not touch it; the images and scans will be used as the basis for educational materials and museum exhibits...

Shackleton left England aboard Endurance with a crew of 27 in 1914, bound for a bay on the Weddell Sea that was meant to be the starting point for an attempt by him and a small party to be the first to cross Antarctica....

And let me recommend the excellent New Yorker article, "The White Darkness/A solitary journey across Antarctica" by David Grann (available at Amazon in book form). Excerpt: 

He had studied with devotion the decision-making of Shackleton, whose ability to escape mortal danger was legendary, and who had famously saved the life of his entire crew when an expedition went awry. Whenever Worsley faced a perilous situation—and he was now in more peril than he’d ever been—he asked himself one question: What would Shacks do?

March 8, 2022

At the Sunrise Café...


 ... you can talk about whatever you want.

Sunrise rime, it's sublime.



"For April Fools’ Day in 2016, Wardle made Robin... Two strangers were paired in a small chatroom and then given three options..."

"... stay in the small room, merge with others to form a bigger room, or abandon the chat. The moral of the game was that bigger is not always better, and people seemed to get it. 'Much like reddit, it starts small and you can talk to people, then it gets bigger and shittier and noisier,' the top-voted comment read. 'Can confirm,' the next comment read. 'Started with 2 people, was pleasantries. With 16, its a noise chamber.' Wardle told me, 'Very quickly, as eight becomes sixteen becomes thirty-two, you start to see spam, name-calling—all the classic terrible Internet stuff.' Still, he added, most people chose to keep merging: 'There seems to be something compelling about the competition to become the biggest room, even if you know it’s going to be painful.'"

From "Does Wordle Prove That We Can Have Nice Things on the Internet?/Josh Wardle created the viral game as part of his ongoing quest to design online spaces that don’t devolve into spam and swastikas" (The New Yorker).

$200 million — that makes sense.

"Graphically, the 'Z' is clearly closer to the swastika than to any prominent Soviet symbol, such as the five-pointed star, the hammer and sickle, or the red flag."

"Its use seems to require a double inversion: first, the people of Ukraine—a nation that suffered some of the greatest losses at the hands of Nazi Germany and one that is currently led by a Jewish President—are rendered as Nazis; then, the Russians, who claim to be fighting for peace and 'de-Nazification,' adopt a visual symbol that appears to reference the swastika.... It took only a week for the 'Z' to become the symbol of the new Russian totalitarianism. But totalitarian symbols are usually created at the top. The red flag and the swastika—the two main visual symbols of twentieth-century totalitarianism—emerged from years of ideological, aesthetic, and even spiritual movement-shaping. The 'Z' is a different animal, a ready-made symbol picked up by a society that has already reconstituted itself as totalitarian."

Writes Masha Gessen in "'Z' Is the Symbol of the New Russian Politics of Aggression/In the days following the latest Russian invasion of Ukraine, the letter came to stand for devotion to the state, murderous rage, and unchecked power" (The New Yorker).

"Richard Keller, a medical historian at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, says that much of the current pandemic rhetoric..."

"... the premature talk of endemicity; the focus on comorbidities; the from-COVID-or-with-COVID debate—treats COVID deaths as dismissible and 'so inevitable as to not merit precaution,' he has written. 'Like gun violence, overdose, extreme heat death, heart disease, and smoking, [COVID] becomes increasingly associated with behavioral choice and individual responsibility, and therefore increasingly invisible.' We don’t honor deaths that we ascribe to individual failings, which could explain, Keller argues, why national moments of mourning have been scarce. There have been few pandemic memorials, save some moving but temporary art projects. Resolutions to turn the first Monday of March into a COVID-19 Victims and Survivors Memorial Day have stalled in the House and Senate. Instead, the U.S. is engaged in what Keller calls 'an active process of forgetting.' If safety is now a matter of personal responsibility, then so is remembrance."

From "How Did This Many Deaths Become Normal?/The U.S. is nearing 1 million recorded COVID-19 deaths without the social reckoning that such a tragedy should provoke. Why?" by Ed Yong (The Atlantic).

"The prospect of women conceiving without men has moved a step closer after Chinese researchers produced a baby mouse from an unfertilised egg for the first time."

"Parthenogenesis, the Ancient Greek term for a virgin birth, is used by scientists to describe a process where eggs spontaneously divide, without fertilisation by sperm, to form an embryo... 'Could this be moved straight to humans? The answer is no, because you’re talking about having hundreds of miscarriages to get one baby.... Other people who’ve commented on it have said this could be moved to humans within ten years. I disagree with that. But it does make it more realistic that a similar approach could eventually be done in humans.'"

The London Times reports.

Yesterday, we seemed to have state park all to ourselves.



"The nurse, they were all telling us, like, ‘Oh, if you had fallen back to sleep,’ which I totally was going to just go back to sleep, because when I was sleeping I felt better. They said if we went back to sleep, we probably would’ve died in our sleep."

From "UW System conducting facilities review after gas leak sent 17 students to hospital" (

"Former California Gov. Jerry Brown is living off the grid in retirement... 'I’m very happy where I am — it’s a very amazing place. I can’t imagine being in a better place'...."

"He then wondered aloud whether he could have avoided the same mistakes as those who became president. Then he quickly switched to considering why a hummingbird that caught his eye was moving so quickly from tree to tree."

That should be a poem.

But it's just an AP article — "Climate change is like war, California’s Jerry Brown says."

"I don't know whether the backlash this piece has inspired is ridiculous or depressing. The truth is..."

"... that anyone who has spent time on a college campus in the last few years knows what this author is talking about. There is an ever-narrowing range of permissible opinion, and any apparent divergence from it risks serious social repercussions. No one really speaks their mind, except those who are most religious in their adherence to the favored ideology. I taught a university seminar recently where students repeatedly thanked me — in private — for putting tough questions to guest speakers. The students were afraid to challenge the speakers themselves — not because they were afraid of them, but because they were afraid of the other students in the room."

From the most-liked comment at "I Came to College Eager to Debate. I Found Self-Censorship Instead" by University of Virginia senior Emma Camp (NYT).

ADDED: Some of that backlash might be envy, as in: Why does this college kid get a NYT op-ed when I could have said the same thing? But the fact is, you have say it! There's real place in the world for people who just plainly state the obvious. If you can do it too, do it too!

"President Joe Biden will announce a Russian oil import ban on Tuesday, avoiding a fight with Congress and his own party, which was poised to act if he didn’t."

"The announcement will complete a shift for the White House which just days ago expressed fear that an import ban would send gas prices skyrocketing. Officials were hopeful to enact a ban in lockstep with European allies. But they are adjusting to what has become an overwhelming bipartisan interest on Capitol Hill, and within corners of the administration, in ridding U.S. markets of Russian oil as Vladimir Putin continues his assault on Ukraine."

 Politico reports.

According to a new Quinnipiac poll:  

... Americans say 71 - 22 percent that they would support a ban on Russian oil even if it meant higher gasoline prices in the United States.... Democrats (82 - 12 percent), independents (70 - 22 percent), and Republicans (66 - 30 percent) all support banning Russian oil. 

MEANWHILE: "Moscow has stoked fears of an energy war by threatening to close a major gas pipeline to Germany after the US pushed its European allies to consider banning Russian oil imports over its invasion of Ukraine" (The Guardian).

"There is a longstanding tradition with the U.S. left as well as in Europe that NATO has played a role... in emphasizing militarized solutions when diplomacy could lead to more long-term stability."

"It feels a little bit absurd for people to be acting like it’s a political crime to criticize NATO."

Said Ashik Saddique, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America’s National Political Committee, quoted in "Socialists’ Response to War in Ukraine Has Put Some Democrats on Edge/The Democratic Socialists of America’s view that U.S. 'imperialist expansionism' through NATO fueled Russia’s invasion has created challenges for politicians aligned with the group" (NYT).

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the D.S.A. took the position that the United States should "withdraw from NATO and to end the imperialist expansionism that set the stage for this conflict."

With a majority of Americans backing Ukraine as it struggles to repel a bloody, often live-streamed Russian invasion, the D.S.A.’s desire for a policy discussion about NATO appears to have sown unease in campaign circles: None of the nine New York City candidates the D.S.A. endorsed this year would consent to an interview on the topic, even as more centrist Democrats are now using the subject as a cudgel. 

"Hate for Putin’s Russia Consumes Ukraine/Much of the bitterness is directed at President Vladimir V. Putin, but Ukrainians also chastise ordinary Russians, calling them complicit."

The NYT reports. 

Some Ukrainians... have vented by writing on the reviews pages for websites of Moscow restaurants. And they have been mocking Russians in scathing terms for complaining about hardships with banking transactions or the collapsing ruble currency because of international sanctions. “Damn, what’s wrong with Apple Pay?”

"People should try to learn to live with them. If they‘re literally in your way, I can see taking a web down and moving them to the side, but they're just going to be back next year."

Said Andy Davis, University of Georgia research scientist, quoted in "Millions of Palm-Sized, Flying Spiders Could Invade the East Coast/A huge invasive spider that invaded Georgia from East Asia could soon take over most of the U.S. East Coast, a new study has revealed" (Scientific American).

It says that the "palm-sized Joro spider" is a "3-inch" spider, which is an annoying discrepancy, but must have to do with whether you're including the legs.

Still, that's pretty big. But with all that's going on in the world, hordes of big, flying spiders may be a welcome diversion. You can worry and express anxiety, but the thing is right here in front of you — "jet-black body... with bright yellow stripes, and... intense red markings" — and, though a classic fear (spiders!), quite harmless. The opposite of the unseen and deadly covid.

It's an antidote of an anxiety, perhaps just what we need to reset our brain.

ADDED: From the "big and small" archive here at Althouse: "Large boulder the size of a small boulder." I'm just helping any of you commenters who happen to be here at 5 in the morning and working on a comment sort of like "Large spider the size of a small spider." Do you even know what I'm talking about? As I said at the time — January 2020 — "If you ever want to get me to laugh at your jokes, just remember 'Large boulder the size of a small boulder.'"

Ah! January 2020 — just before the descent of the Great Unfunniness.

ALSO: I'm pushed back in the comments about whether palms in fact do tend to be 3 inches. I'll just post a photo of a Joro spider on a palm, where you can see the the spider body without including the legs is quite a bit smaller than the palm, but including the legs, the spider is larger:

March 7, 2022

At the Sunset Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

The photo was taken — by Meade — at 5:56 p.m.

"The relics believed to be of St. Nicholas were brought from present-day Turkey by sailors 1,000 years ago, and his bones have been entombed in Bari ever since...."

"The presence of the relics has long made Bari an unusual linchpin in relations between Italy and Russia and between the Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox churches. In 2007, Mr. Putin himself came to Bari and knelt in front of St. Nicholas’s tomb, just as the faithful did during the prayer for peace.... Larisa Dimetruk, 62, from Lutsk in northwestern Ukraine, said she came to beseech St. Nicholas to make the Russians 'stop their president.' 'Only the people can stop him,” she said. 'We didn’t come here to pray together. We came here for a miracle.'... Others simply felt torn and had no interest in talking politics. 'We’ve all run out of tears,' said Olga Sebekina, from St. Petersburg, Russia, who said her grandmother was Ukrainian and that she still had family there. 'Which side of my heart should break more?'"

 From "Italian City Tied to Russia by a Revered Saint Feels the Sting of War in Ukraine/The port of Bari holds relics venerated by Orthodox Christians throughout the former Soviet bloc. Today it is also home to a spillover of tensions from Russia’s invasion" (NYT).

"There is less and less access to accurate information from the West amid the relentless pounding from increasingly hysterical state propaganda, which admittedly, is having its effect...."

"We have a long way to go before we get to 1937, but for the first time the road is clear. You can see far ahead, like on a cold, crisp winter morning, and there, in the distance, you can just about make out the outlines of the guillotines."

Said Sergey Radchenko, a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies Europe, quoted in "With New Limits on Media, Putin Closes a Door on Russia’s ‘Openness’ The Russian leader is undoing the social freedoms introduced at the end of the Soviet Union, risking a return to total control and ideological isolation" by Steven Lee Myers (NYT).

The article says that by "1937," Radchenko meant the year of Stalin’s Great Terror and links to this pieced from September 13, 1937, "Soviet 'Cleansing' Sweeps Through All Strata of Life/Starting With Generals and High Leaders, Stalin's Purge Is Now Hitting Cooks and Nurses-People Getting Inured to Arrests":

Here's the continuation of the article on page 8, replete with the splurge of handmade lingerie:

"Then I saw a leg lying on the tarmac in front of me. It had my shoe on. That was it. I might be able to lie here thinking that some day I’ll get a prosthesis and walk..."

"... and work again, but all I hear is artillery outside, and the thought of my immediate future is terrifying. I am wondering more whether I shall live, than if I will walk again."

Said Dima Zadoroznyi, 41, a painter and decorator, quoted in "War in Ukraine: Kharkiv’s hospitals reveal the hideous cost of Putin’s invasion/The brutality of the invasion is etched on the faces of victims in the city’s hospitals. They have lost limbs, eyes and hope, writes Anthony Loyd" (London Times). 

If you go to that link, you'll see a horrific photograph of Yelena Bolyachenko, 55, a sales manager, who is quoted: "I crawled around unable to see, my head covered in blood and felt my face full of gaping holes. Eventually I found a towel and mopped away the blood hoping I’d be able to see. But I can’t. I’ve been completely blinded in one eye and can no longer see properly in the other. The doctors cannot tell me if I’ll ever get even 50 per cent of my sight back."

After the snowfall...



"Even as a parent we don’t know, straight off the bat, if our kids are medically fragile or compromised in some sort of way... That’s the scary part about COVID."

"You just don’t know how it’s gonna affect your children or how it’s gonna affect you. We don’t know enough about this virus to be like, 'Oh yeah, this person will have a mild [case] and this person will end up with long COVID suffering for years, decades of their life, or losing their life.'... All of the mitigation measures need to be there. And then, if we have the right ventilation, if we have all of the testing and we still have really low community spread that is data informed, then sure. We can talk about unmasking, that’d be great."

Said Kaliris Salas-Ramirez, a professor at the CUNY School of Medicine, quoted in "'I Don’t Feel Like This Is a Safe Choice Yet'/The end of NYC’s school-mask mandate is a relief for many, but some worry the move is premature" (NY Magazine).

She says her son will be going back to school, but "with a mask and with his five spare ones in all the different pockets in his backpack."

"Inversion is building earth-orbiting capsules to deliver goods anywhere in the world from outer space."

"To make that a reality, Inversion’s capsule will come through the earth’s atmosphere at about 25 times as fast as the speed of sound, making the parachute essential for a soft landing and undisturbed cargo.... Inversion aims to develop a four-foot-diameter capsule carrying a payload equivalent to the size of a few carry-on suitcases by 2025. Once in orbit, the capsule could, the company hopes, navigate itself to a private commercial space station or stay in orbit with solar panels until summoned back to earth.... If Inversion is successful, it’s possible to imagine hundreds or thousands of containers floating around space for up to five years — like some (really) distant storage lockers."

Not a joke. A big article in the NYT: "Dreaming of Suitcases in Space/A California start-up company believes it can one day speed delivery of important items by storing them in orbit."

"[T]here has been surprisingly little discussion of the fact that [Ketanji Brown Jackson] would join Justice Amy Coney Barrett as the court’s second working mother."

Writes by lawprof Melissa Murray in "Another Working Mom for the Supreme Court?" (NYT). 

While Democrats have touted [Jackson's] sterling qualifications and the historic nature of her nomination as the first Black woman to the court, few have leaned into her identity as a mother, as the Republicans did with Justice Barrett.

Murray knows there are 2 big differences. One is that Barrett has 7 children — and the youngest was only 8 at the time of confirmation, 2 were adopted (from Haiti), and 1 has Down Syndrome. Jackson, by contrast, has 2 children, ages 21 and 17.  

The other big difference is, as Murray puts it: "Democrats may be less inclined to flag a nominee’s family status as evidence of professional accomplishment or acumen." What I'd say there is that liberals and progressives are more likely to criticize people who call attention to a woman's status as a mother: Why are you talking about the fact that a woman is a parent when you don't talk about men that way?! In fact, I have to wonder about Murray, touting Jackson's momhood. Does she write NYT columns about the dadhood of male nominees?

"The phrase wuxin gongzuo – ‘working with your mind on Ukraine’ – has been trending on Chinese social media network Weibo."

"Essentially what it means is ‘distraction from work because you’re obsessed with the war.’...  There’s little doubt that in Zhongnanhai, the leadership compound in Beijing, Chinese Communist party higher-ups are, in a more literal sense, working with their minds on Ukraine.... A few weeks ago, a prominent Chinese nationalist told me that the Ukrainians were ‘Russians really.' It doesn’t seem that way today... Beijing has in the past argued, in terms like those used by Moscow about Ukraine, that long-standing historical ties and linguistic similarities make the case for unification. Yet regardless of the legal differences between Taiwan and Ukraine’s international standing, the scenes from Kiev and Kharkiv show a very different narrative to the world, including to China: people in a democratic, developed state refusing to accept annexation by a powerful, autocratic neighbour.... Any assault on Taipei would receive massive coverage. Russia cares little about global PR. China, despite its increasing assertiveness, is still keen to promote its image as a peaceful power that seeks economic partnership. Footage of terrified civilians hiding in the Taipei metro would hardly burnish that image. The brutality evident in the streets of Ukraine may have given Taiwan a breathing space."

From "Could the Ukraine war save Taiwan?" by Rana Mitter, Oxford history professor and author of "China’s Good War: How World War II is Shaping a New Nationalism" (The Spectator).

"Mr. Ortiz was classified as a sex offender, and a New York law barred him from living within 1,000 feet of a school while on parole."

"Prison officials would not let him go until he identified a suitable address. They did almost nothing to help him.... Mr. Ortiz served an extra 25 months because he could not find a place to live. He wanted to return to New York City, where his mother and daughter lived. But most of the city was off limits because almost all residential areas are within 1,000 feet of a school.... [There is] 'a cruel Catch-22' for people classified as sex offenders, Allison Frankel wrote in 2019 in The Yale Law Journal Forum, because corrections officials will 'not release them from prison until they obtained approved housing, but their poverty, disabilities and sex-offender registration status made finding housing impossible.'"

From "Their Time Served, Sex Offenders Are Kept in Prison in ‘Cruel Catch-22’/New York prisons will not release people convicted of some sex offenses until they find housing far from schools. But that is hard to do, especially from behind bars" by Adam Liptak (NYT).

"Prices at the pump already top four dollars a gallon in some states, and Joe Biden’s approval rating stands at just forty-two per cent... so it’s easy to see..."

"... why the prospect of another rise in prices would alarm some people in the White House. But, with Russia’s government reliant on energy exports for about forty per cent of its income, the moral argument for cutting off these mammoth revenue streams is hard to counter. 'The world is paying Russia seven hundred million dollars a day for oil and four hundred million dollars for natural gas,' Oleg Ustenko, an economic adviser to the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, told me, in a telephone interview from Kyiv this weekend. 'You are paying all this money to a murderous leader who is still killing people in my country.'"

From "The Economic Challenge and Climate Opportunity in Supporting Ukraine/Putin’s dependence on oil-and-gas exports presents a chance to make the U.S. less beholden to fossil fuels and the autocratic governments that control them" by John Cassidy (The New Yorker).

"Spies in Russia’s infamous security apparatus were kept in the dark about President Putin’s plan to invade Ukraine, according to a whistleblower who described the war as a 'total failure' that could be compared only to the collapse of Nazi Germany."

"A report thought to be by an analyst in the FSB, the successor agency to the KGB... said the FSB was being blamed for the failure of the invasion but had been given no warning of it and was unprepared to deal with the effects of crippling sanctions.... FSB officers had been ordered to assess the effects of western sanctions, they said, but were told that it was a hypothetical box-ticking exercise. 'You have to write the analysis in a way that makes Russia the victor... otherwise you get questioned for not doing good work,' they wrote. 'Suddenly it happens and everything comes down to your completely groundless analysis.'"

The London Times reports.

That makes it sound as though the spies are trying to save their ass by saying that before the invasion they were trying to save their ass. We weren't wrong, we were deceptive, and we didn't think it would matter. We did bad work, yes, but it was all because we wanted to meet your standard of doing good work.  

A bit more from the unnamed analyst:

"A Russian gymnast has been placed under investigation for wearing a 'Z' symbol linked to support for President Putin’s invasion of Ukraine on his leotard while sharing a podium with a Ukrainian rival...."

"[Ivan] Kuliak wore it in place of the Russian flag, which had been banned by the governing body of gymnastics.... The symbol, which has been used as a designation on Russian military vehicles deployed in Ukraine, has become a symbol in Russia of support for Putin and the war.... The Russian Defence Ministry has previously issued a statement saying that 'Z' means victory."

The London Times reports.

If would be trivial and not worth saying, but because we are talking about symbols and victory, I will add that the Ukrainian gymnast, Kovtun Illia, won the gold. The Russian was on the podium to pick up the bronze. 

Is "Z" supposed to be the Roman letter Z? It doesn't look any of the letters in the Russian alphabet. If you were using that shape to mean something other than a letter, what would you be trying to say. Perhaps it means "anti-Nazi" — half of a swastika.

At the London Times link, there's a photo with the caption: "In Kazan, Russia, terminally ill children and their parents made a Z formation at their hospice to show support for the invasion."

"Hundreds of French châteaux for sale as owners cut and run."

The London Times reports. 

On the one hand environmental rules and other bureaucratic initiatives are driving up the cost of maintaining stately homes. On the other, “the younger generations are urban,” [said Olivier de Lorgeril, chairman of La Demeure historique]. “They often want to have international careers and to live in towns and cities.”...

“A monument that is not lived in is a monument that is not looked after,” he said. “We keep repeating that our national monuments are in danger.”...

And here's a conversation between the elderly owners of Château de Courson, whose family has owned the place since 1775 and whose children don't want it because it "consumes just about all your life":

“We had that singer here once”...

“Oh, what was his name?”


Yes. The article makes it sound as though Sting just dropped by once, but it was the location for his excellent 1985 film, "Bring on the Night." We saw the band rehearsing in at the Château de Courson. Michael Apted directed. 

From the contemporaneous NYT review:

In addition to the performance footage, Mr. Apted also includes a few unexpected moments: a visit by a tourist group to the chateau where the musicians happen to be rehearsing (one woman keeps her fingers in her ears while walking through the room) and a disagreement between the costume designer Colleen Atwood and Miles Copeland, Sting's pushy manager. ''Well, I'm sorry, I'm just a peasant, man, but I'm telling you they look boring to me,'' Mr. Copeland complains noisily about the backup singers. It's a scene straight out of ''This Is Spinal Tap.''

Speaking of Sting, I was just thinking about his song — also from the mid 80s — "Russians":

We share the same biology, regardless of ideology/But what might save us, me and you /Is if the Russians love their children too....

"Russia did not show up for a hearing at the United Nations’ top court on Monday, effectively boycotting Ukrainian efforts to seek an immediate end to the fighting."

"The proceedings in front of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, went ahead without Russia’s presence. The case centers on Russia’s official explanation for its invasion of Ukraine, which President Vladimir Putin has said is supposed to lead to the 'denazification' of Ukraine and end a 'genocide' in eastern Ukraine.... Ukraine seeks an emergency order that would require Russia to halt its invasion. Both countries have signed the 1948 treaty on the prevention of genocide, and Russia would in theory be mandated to follow the court decision.... [O]ne of its long-time lawyers, Alain Pellet, resigned last week, writing in an open letter that it 'has become impossible to represent in forums dedicated to the application of the law a country that so cynically despises it.'"

WaPo reports.

March 6, 2022

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

That photograph is from yesterday — 15 minutes earlier than the vivid orange photographs that many of you liked in last night's post. I didn't catch the sunrise today because it was too windy to go running safely in the woods.

And let me give you one more. This one is from 6:42 — 2 minutes after the ones posted yesterday and significantly different, with a full view of the sun and a big reflection on the ice.


"Being deprived of seeing half of the face could be overcome precisely because of that brain plasticity. Babies and young children are far more adaptable to their changing conditions in the world than we are as adults."

Said David Lewkowicz, who studies speech and language development in young children, quoted in "Do masks for young children impede their language development? Research is sparse on this issue. But the few studies that do exist suggest masks do not inhibit kids from learning how to communicate" (WaPo).

There's an understandable effort to assure parents that there children are not being damaged by masks, but in amongst the reassurance, I'm reading:

"There can only be one conclusion: You also want us to be slowly killed."

UPDATE: My post consisted of an embedded Reddit post that is now removed. It showed Zelensky, speaking in Ukrainian, and had subtitles that may or may not have been accurate. I don't know why Reddit removed the post. 

AND: You can still see the Reddit post here, along with a note that it was removed by moderators. And: "Moderators remove posts from feeds for a variety of reasons, including keeping communities safe, civil, and true to their purpose."

The subreddit, r/nextfuckinglevel, is "A subreddit for gifs and videos that are next fucking level!" My guess is that they don't want that subreddit to be updates about Ukraine.

"It hadn't penetrated my think-tank that this was your hacienda when I came mavericking in."

Wrote William MacLeod Raine in the Western novella "Bucky O'Connor" (1910). 

The original meaning of "think tank" was brain. I learned that just now from the OED. 

In 1964, the St. Louis (Missouri) Post-Dispatch quoted Harry Truman saying that he wants to live to be 90 "if the old think-tank is working."  I guess the skull is the container — the tank — and the brain the contents. I see that people also said "think box." 

Does anyone still use the phrase "think tank" like that? It would be confusing, now that "think tank" has come to mean "A research institute or other organization providing advice and ideas on national or commercial problems" (OED). 

The oldest published appearance of that usage is:

"How does Putin extract himself from this nightmare of his own making?"

That's the headline at the London Times, asking precisely the question I had. I could not think of any answer. It seems there's nothing Putin can do but move forward into his calamity. Even if he wants out, there's no way out.

This piece is by Mark Galeotti, an honorary professor at University College London School of Slavonic and East European Studies and the author of "The Weaponisation of Everything."