April 16, 2022

At the Sunrise Café...

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... you can talk about whatever you want.


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Somehow the most depressingly dressed mannequin is the one somebody thought needed a sign telling you not to try on its clothes.

I wished I'd included more of the hat, but I don't think stores like you taking pictures, so I was sneaking this. The sign says "Display only/Please do not try on/Please see a team member for more details/We apologize for any inconvenience."

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Well, fine. But will you apologize for being so depressing? This is the saddest outfit I have ever seen, especially if you include the sign and the overall setting, replete with brown carpet and brown pillar. [And the mask!]

What sorry looking retail establishment was Althouse patronizing? Whole Foods.

"Many people wish there wouldn’t be this huge pressure on 'What’s the next big "It" plant?' It has this peak where it’s $400..."

"... and then Costa gets it, it goes out to all Walmarts and Ikeas and whatever across the country, and so now it’s $19.99 and nobody wants it anymore."

Said Katie Dubow, president of Garden Media Group, quoted in "The Fiddle Leaf Fig Is Dead/Meet the man working to put the next big 'It' plant on every windowsill in North America" (NYT).

This gets my "interior decoration" tag, because we're talking about decorating with plants, and as I explained a few years ago...  

"It's a failure of male leadersh- — uh, of adult leadership..."

A fascinating slip by Tucker Carlson (at 1:43):

"The book 'Bad and Boujee: Toward a Trap Feminist Theology" by Jennifer M. Buck, a white academic at a Christian university, was... widely condemned on social media as poorly executed and... cultural appropriation...."

"The theologian Candice Marie Benbow, author of 'Red Lip Theology,' was 'livid' to learn that a white academic had published a book about the theology of trap feminism — an emerging philosophy that examines the intersection of feminist ideals, trap music and the Black southern hip-hop culture that gave rise to it. 'It matters that you have an academic text that would situate Black women’s lived experiences and Black women’s spirituality, and it’s not written by a Black woman,' she said.... In a statement, Wipf and Stock Publishers said... 'We humbly acknowledge that we failed Black women in particular, and we take full responsibility for the numerous failures of judgment that led to this moment.... Our critics are right.' Among the objections raised, the publisher said, were the book’s cover, which features a young Black woman with natural hair, and which Benbow called intentionally misleading and 'profoundly racist,' and the lack of endorsement by Black experts.... [Sesali Bowen, a pioneer of the concept of trap feminism] found Buck’s use of Black vernacular 'weird and cringey'.... '[Trap queen'] is not what Black women from the hood call themselves,' Bowen said. 'The fact that she has latched onto that specific terminology is weird, and it speaks to a surface-level relationship that she has with this particular community.'"

From "A White Author’s Book About Black Feminism Was Pulled After a Social Media Outcry/The book 'Bad and Boujee' centers on Black women’s experience, but critics said it was written by a white professor and was flawed in its execution" (NYT).

Would you look at this cover and mistakenly believe that's a photo of the author?

Maybe not, because the title is putting down this person. That is in-your-face mean, but I doubt the author designed the book cover. It's no wonder the publisher has responded vigorously. 

I'm interested in the small-print part of the title, "Toward a Trap Feminist Theology." That implies that the author is not merely writing about something other people are doing but is proposing and promoting her own way of thinking. Combined with the photograph, it does strongly suggest that the author is black. That is the publisher's fault.

"Poison pills have been around for decades... Netflix adopted a poison pill in 2012 to stop [Carl] Icahn from buying up its shares. Papa John’s used one against..."

"... the pizza chain’s founder and chairman, John Schnatter, in 2018. Investors rarely try to get around a poison pill by buying shares beyond the threshold set by the company, according to securities experts. One said it would be 'financially ruinous,' even for Mr. Musk. But Mr. Musk, who is worth more than $250 billion... rarely abides by precedent.... Twitter is the 'de facto town square,' Mr. Musk said, adding that 'it’s really important that people have the reality and the perception that they are able to speak freely within the bounds of the law.... My strong intuitive sense is that having a public platform that is maximally trusted and broadly inclusive is extremely important to the future of civilization'...."

From "Twitter Counters a Musk Takeover With a Time-Tested Barrier/The company is intent on fending off the billionaire’s bid to buy it in a deal that could be worth more than $40 billion" (NYT).

The poison pill is that "if Mr. Musk bought more than 15 percent of the company, Twitter would flood the market with new stock that all shareholders except Mr. Musk could buy at a discounted price."

The dissenting Wisconsin Supreme Court justices "called the approval of the Republican maps nonsensical, noting that while [Governor] Evers’s maps had added a Black-majority Assembly district, the Republicans’ maps had removed one...."

"The conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, which had filed a brief in the case, said the justices had correctly 'recognized that our Constitution reserves race-based decision-making for the most extreme situations.' 'The governor did not justify his race-based redistricting,” the organization continued. 'The court was right to reject it.' Wisconsin has been among the most bitterly contested legal battlegrounds over partisan gerrymandering."

From "Wisconsin Supreme Court Approves Republican-Drawn Legislative Maps/The court had approved state maps drawn by the Democratic governor, but the U.S. Supreme Court struck down that decision, citing the federal Voting Rights Act" (NYT).

So one party tried to get one more majority-minority district and the other party tried to get one less. Neither tried to keep the number the same. Under the U.S. Supreme Court decision, the governor needed to show that the federal Voting Rights Act required this additional majority-minority district. He didn't, so we end up with the only other map, the Republicans'.

April 15, 2022

At the Sunrise Café...

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 ... you can talk about whatever you want.

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"The most important thing to keep in mind is that Russia is a completely depoliticized country. People generally don’t want to have anything in common with politics."

"There is an incredible contempt and disdain for all kinds of politics just because Russians are completely certain that there is no possible way to change anything through politics, that no change is possible in general. So for that reason, people prefer to lead their private lives. They have opportunities to do that because most of them are better off under Putin. Any kind of political activity is all just complete nonsense to a vast majority of Russians. If you believe in extraterrestrials, that’s at least interesting. If you are into politics, you’re silly. Particularly for people in business, that’s a complete no go. I always say the best way to spoil the party is to start talking about politics in Russia. You will never be invited again.... The vast majority is either in denial of what is going on in Ukraine or assume this attitude of passive support that the narrative produced by the state is enough for them to keep leading their everyday lives.... The TV show House was actually incredibly popular in Russia precisely because the motto is 'Everyone lies.' This is so to the point with what Russians feel. Everyone lies. There’s no truth at all. It’s endless relativism. And the media was saying all the time that you should never trust anyone, including the media, of course...."

Says Greg Yudin, a political philosophy professor at the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences, quoted in "'Russia Is Completely Depoliticized' A sociologist from Moscow explains how the nation learned to deny reality" (NY Magazine).

"Part of the Left’s outrage at Trump was his refusal to speak in hieratic language.* He’s spent his life buying and selling politicians, negotiating with construction unions, bureaucrats, and The Boys."

"He speaks American, and those of us who also love the language are awed and delighted to hear it from an elected official."

Writes David Mamet, in the essay "Attention Must Be Paid," collected in "Recessional: The Death of Free Speech and the Cost of a Free Lunch." 

Here's the footnote, which is the main reason I'm blogging this:

 

Those people who got so mad at Trump for lying — in Mamet's view, what really made them mad was that he did not lie. Consider that. It's the language he eschewed — the "hieratic language" — that's full of lies.

"Mr. Trump repeatedly used the word 'we' in his remarks that day. 'We will not take it anymore, and that’s what this is all about,' Mr. Trump said."

"'And to use a favorite term that all of you people really came up with: We will stop the steal.' Mr. Miller rebutted the implication that the word 'we' indicated that Mr. Trump was trying to incite the crowd to action... arguing that it has been used in political speech for decades, including by President John F. Kennedy in reference to the moon landing."

From "Jan. 6 Panel Presses Stephen Miller on Whether Trump Sought to Incite Crowd/In about eight hours of questioning, investigators pressed the former White House aide on former President Donald J. Trump’s use of 'we' in his speech to supporters before the riot" (NYT).

Imagine spending 8 hours getting asked over and over what Trump might have meant by "we"? Everyone has access to the speech and can speculate. What's Miller supposed to say?

"We" is an important word in political speech. "We, the People." And hasn't Trump ended every rally with a litany that repeats "We will..." with various aspirations expressed, culminating in "We will make America great again"? 

It's a trope. 

Here's your palate cleanser. JFK saying "We choose to go to the moon...."


What do you mean "we," Jack? We weren't all going to the moon!

WaPo begins its story about censorship in medias res, and I'll bet most WaPo readers don't notice that the story is incomprehensible.

I'm trying to read "An author was set to read his unicorn book to students. The school forbade it" by Jaclyn Peiser. 

How does it happen that an author gets into the position of being "set to read" his book to a captive audience of children? There are thousands of authors who might want access to children. They can't all be sitting there in a little chair reading their book to a bunch of kids who've been forced to sit quietly at their feet and receive the ideas they've put into a book. You can love books and hate censorship and still want to carefully control what books are read to the children in your care!

The article begins "Jason Tharp wants to write books for weird kids...." He's written a book and, we're told:

"The Russian conservative elites currently in power supported war because they see Western power as decadent and declining...."

"In his sermon approximately two weeks into the war, on March 6, the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church justified the invasion of Ukraine as necessary to defend Orthodox Christians against Western values and gay pride parades. On March 24, during a meeting with young artists, Russian President Vladimir Putin complained... the West was now 'trying to cancel a whole 1,000-year culture, our people … Russian writers and books are now canceled.'... Russian media filled with TV shows and 'documentaries' on 'Gayropa' and 'Sodom.' These shows conjured up a caricature of weak 'gayish' Western males and women who lost their femininity by competing with men in spheres where they could achieve nothing serious. Russian media frequently stressed the oddity that many Western democracies nominated women as defense ministers... ... Russia depicted itself... as the country of strength, the bulwark of traditional families: with strong men, fertile women and children properly guarded against subversive homosexual propaganda... Fascinated by this flattering vision of Russia, elites, it seems, overestimated the nation’s strength and underestimated Ukraine’s."

Write Kristina Stoeckl and Dmitry Uzlaner in "Russia believed the West was weak and decadent. So it invaded. Russia sees itself at the global forefront of the culture wars, leading the resistance to gay parades, ‘cancel culture,’ and liberal values more generally" (WaPo).

I'm seeing various reports that Charlie Rose is poking up again, but nothing about anything worthwhile he might be saying.

"Disgraced journalist Charlie Rose is back conducting interviews — but this time it’s for his own website," The L.A. Times informs us.
“I’m proud to share this recent conversation with Warren Buffett,” the 80-year-old newsman wrote on his website. “It is his first interview on camera in almost a year, and the first I’ve done in more than 4 years. It is a step in a journey to engage the most interesting people and explore the most compelling ideas in the world.”

Rose is 80. That's 11 years younger than Buffett, but still, why not keep to your private life? Yes, the world has its "most compelling ideas" that could be "explored" and "most interesting people" to be "engaged," but you're not giving off the slightest ray of hope that you're the man to do it. You were disgraced, and we'd pretty much forgotten about you.

The article has nothing about the substantive content of that interview, which you can watch, here, at Rose's website. I'm certainly not recommending it.

"Musk’s attempted takeover came in the middle of a 'focus week' at Twitter. Employees were treated to... minimal meetings throughout the week."

"During focus weeks, company-initiated nonessential meetings are canceled, and individual teams are encouraged to do the same, to give employees more uninterrupted time to finish projects.... 'Hey this is a focus week at Twitter, this is not helping,' one engineer for the company tweeted in response to Musk announcing his takeover offer.... Some workers have expressed disappointment and disdain at the news. 'Just go to therapy dude,' a team lead at the company wrote, referring to Musk. But other Twitter users joked about the potential takeover and the reactions to it. 'I’m going to leave Twitter if Elon Musk takes over is the new I’m going to move to Canada if Trump wins,' one user shared."

From "Twitter employees complain that Elon Musk ruined their calm 'focus week'" (Fortune).

That's kind of a junk article compared to what I was trying to find, which is something more like percentages of Twitter workers who hate the idea of Musk taking over and those who like it or are neutral. What proportion of Twitter workers have jobs devoted to the kind of censorship that Musk might seem to be about to eliminate? Are these people planning to quit? Do they think they might sway Musk to appreciate at least some of their moderating function? Are they just hoping to hold onto their jobs and ready to readjust to the new agenda? How passive and resigned are they? Is there some plan of action? Are they preparing sabotage?

April 14, 2022

At the Forest Café...

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... you can talk about whatever you want.

I've got 10 selections for you today from TikTok. Let me know which one(s) you like best.

1. Walking like Obama/Biden/Trump/Macron/Erdogan/Putin.

2. Get creative when annoying your wife.

3. Living in a narrowboat on the British canal system without a permanent mooring.

4. Dining versus eating — in the mind of Nancy Pelosi.

5. Something white people can do that black people can't.

6. That lady from HR.

7. Jack White can guess from just 1 second what Beatles song you're playing.

8. This poor man is so uncomfortable.

9. "Daddy, where are we?" (Daddy = Steven Tyler)

10. When women get passionate talking about nothing.

"Margaret Sanger believed in euthanasia and sterilization of 'unfortunates,' the mentally challenged, and Blacks. She was the founder of Planned Parenthood, which, like all organizations..."

"... expanded its brief (originally one of control of subhumans) into control of all conception. Her insights were taken up in the 1960s when 'hygiene' classes became 'sex education,' educators holding that because perhaps the children were not taught at home, the higher orders needed to take charge. And now we have kindergartners trained in a bizarre catechism of sexual identity politics. How could a school be a complete community? The church or synagogue was not, neither was the shop or business. Each was understood to be a part of a community, a community that would thrive as each of its components contributed its own unique efforts. A school could be a complete community only if all other aspects of the community were destroyed. The Hitler Youth could be a complete community. It was a gang. The gang exists to supplant both the family and the marketplace, as we now see with education, having taken upon itself schooling not only in sexual practices but in political (and so economic) direction...."

Writes David Mamet in "Recessional: The Death of Free Speech and the Cost of a Free Lunch."

"We’re entering a new age where male-presenting bodies are feeling comfortable wearing effeminate shapes, effeminate fabrics that did not exist when I was growing up."

"It feels like a very brave new world. We’re really trying to explore and push and question the binary that has limited us for so long.... This was born on the dance floor.... Everything was so curated and wonderful and beautiful.... I needed to step up what I needed to wear, whether it was a soft harness instead of all the leather, or the metal on the market, or a body-con bodysuit that would accentuate my features as a male-presenting person."

Said Louis Dorantes, 30, who founded the men's lingerie company Leak NYC, quoted in "Sexy Lingerie for Men Is Here/Lacy thongs and sheer undergarments designed for men’s bodies are shaking up the traditional lingerie market" (NYT).

I note the term "male-presenting person." It appears the NYT for the first and only time in that article:

 

Keep an eye on that. It may become the new standard term.

"[E]xperiencing ambient music — to allow its political, philosophical and oppositional knowledge to become visible — requires a full use of the senses."

"It means tapping into the sensorial vitality of living: the tactile, spatial, vibrational and auditory experiences that being human affords us. The experimental music pioneer Pauline Oliveros foresaw how a sensorial approach to music and listening could cultivate politically dynamic thinking. She spent her life developing a theory of deep listening, a practice that promotes radical attentiveness. In this approach, there is a distinction between hearing versus listening; the former is a surface-level awareness of space and temporality, and the second is an act of immersive focus...  I practiced deep listening... especially with the new-age innovator Laraaji’s composition 'Being Here.'... This is music that curls into the ears, mutating into an imagined Elysium, stopping time and space. It’s not just scenery, not a simple balm for immeasurable pain.... It asked me to forget the looping of time, to disengage with any kind of predictive chronology.... Being here, slowing down, was not about inactivity or lack of energy.... It was an insurgent break in time — a call to drench myself in the reality of a catastrophic present and to equip myself to do something about it."

Writes Isabelia Herrera, an arts critic fellow, in "Ambient Music Isn’t a Backdrop. It’s an Invitation to Suspend Time. In the face of crisis, our critic turned to music that demanded that she relinquish control" (NYT).

ADDED: I see that my little excerpt included the idea of politics twice, even though it doesn't at all reveal what's political. I guess it's political to ignore politics. Some people seem to need everything to be political. So ambient music contains "political... knowledge" and might lead to "politically dynamic thinking." Getting a good night's sleep might lead to "politically dynamic thinking." So might eating a nice dinner. 

I decided to check out all the other appearances of "politics" (and its variants) in this article. There are only 2 others. We're told that ambient music can be an "escapist salve for... political instability" and that it can "soften barriers and loosen ideas of sound, politics, temporality and space."

I've been listening to "Being Here" as I write this post, and it just sounds like music to get a massage by. Maybe I'm hearing but not listening (to quote a phrase from "The Sounds of Silence"), but I really don't think there's anything political about it other than that you receive it into your brain and you use that same brain to do politics.

"Secret Service agents were outraged last year by the White House’s attempt to downplay bite injuries caused by then-first dog Major — even trying to get President Biden to personally pay for a damaged coat, newly released documents show."

The NY Post reports in "'Now I’m pissed’: Secret Service agents outraged by White House spin over First Dog bites." 

The records, released in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by Judicial Watch, show that attacks occurred both earlier and later than previously known. They also show internal discord at the Secret Service, which has been embroiled since last week in a bizarre infiltration scandal that involves at least four agents. 

White House press secretary Jen Psaki acknowledged just one biting incident at a briefing on March 9, 2021, saying that one day earlier “the first family’s younger dog, Major, was surprised by an unfamiliar person and reacted in a way that resulted in a minor injury to the individual.” 

The March 8 bite actually was the final attack in an eight-day streak and the wounded agent — whose injuries were categorized as “severe” by a colleague — fumed about Psaki’s spin. “NO I didn’t surprise the dog doing my job by being at [redacted] as the press secretary just said! Now I’m pissed,” the agent wrote to a coworker....

"The last year has been extremely painful and distracting for me, flying back and forth to visit my dying husband who passed just a few weeks ago."

"But there’s no question I’m still serving and delivering for the people of California, and I’ll put my record up against anyone’s."

Said a written statement from Dianne Feinstein dated, March 28, quoted in "Colleagues worry Dianne Feinstein is now mentally unfit to serve, citing recent interactions" (San Francisco Chronicle).

I'm creating a new tag, "gerontocracy" to keep track of the news about the many aging politicians and judges and other leaders who seem to be gaining in power as time wears on. There's an instinct to be kind and forgiving or at least polite to these older folks, an instinct that may be about our own self-preservation. We may fear our own aging, and the loss of power and influence that threatens to accompany it. But we also fear that will be accused of discrimination or bigotry if we impugn the old, even if they crowd out the younger people who should be rising into the most challenging positions.

Anyway, this obviously isn't just about Dianne Feinstein. It's about President Biden and Donald Trump and many other individuals who don't know when it's time to scale back. Obama had his "bitter clingers," who were just ordinary people who didn't have much and were "clinging" to things that everyone can have — guns and religion. But the clingers of the gerontocracy are depriving others of something — power. They may have lost the ability to use that power competently. And we ordinary people can barely bring ourselves to criticize them for clinging (other than in the stupidly partisan manner that has infected and thoroughly debased American political speech).

"If there’s no community control of the schools, what we have is kids being not only indoctrinated but groomed in a very real sense by people who are, whether they know it or not, sexual predators."

Said David Mamet, quoted in "David Mamet slammed over claim that many male teachers are ‘inclined’ to be pedophiles" (NY Post).

“Are they abusing the kids physically? No, I don’t think so. But they’re abusing them mentally and using sex to do so,” he added. “This has always been the problem with education – teachers are inclined, typically men because men are predators, to pedophilia,” the 74-year-old said....

“People have gone nuts and people are frightened because there’s huge changes in society, that are brought about by the people in power,” Mamet said. “The people in power, as always, are to a large extent, parasites who are feeding off of the decaying flesh."

"I made an offer."

"On April 13, 2022, the Reporting Person delivered a letter to the Issuer (the 'Letter') which contained a non-binding proposal (the 'Proposal') to acquire all of the outstanding Common Stock of the Issuer not owned by the Reporting Person for all cash consideration valuing the Common Stock at $54.20 per share (the 'Proposed Transaction'). This represents a 54% premium over the closing price of the Common Stock on January 28, 2022, the trading day before the Reporting Person began investing in the Issuer, and a 38% premium over the closing price of the Common Stock on April 1, 2022, the trading day before the Reporting Person’s investment in the Issuer was publicly announced." 

From Musk's letter to Twitter Chairman Bret Taylor: "I invested in Twitter as I believe in its potential to be the platform for free speech around the globe, and I believe free speech is a societal imperative for a functioning democracy... Twitter has extraordinary potential. I will unlock it."

ADDED: He's promising us free speech. Can we trust him? I don't know, but: 1. We can't trust the current owners of Twitter, and 2. We need to stay engaged and hold his feet to the fire: You promised us free speech, now, and you must give it to us. That won't assure that we get free speech. It will always be a struggle. And not just with him, but with ourselves. You can't know that you will continue in your love for free speech. You may love it in the abstract, but you might fall out of love if you really see it in practice.

In November 2019, they all laughed at Dennis Prager for saying what, in 2022, they all get mad at you for not saying.

April 13, 2022

At the Skunk Cabbage Café...

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... you can talk all night.

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(Photos taken around 2 in the afternoon today, as it was about to rain, at the Skunk Cabbage Bridge in the UW Arboretum.)

"On the flip side, CNN engages in this partisan coverage filtering as well."

 

ADDED: Here's the WaPo opinion piece on that segment: "CNN’s Brian Stelter blindsided by co-author of Fox News study" by Erik Wemple. CNN's Brian Stelter was "blindsided" because the researchers who were expected to criticize Fox News proceeded to say CNN does it too.

Let's take a closer look at CNN+.

Yesterday, we talked about the news that CNN's new streaming service had only picked up 10,000 subscribers, and I wrote: "$5.99 a month for CNN is pretty ridiculous. 10,000 subscribers... hilarious."

But — curious about what was actually on CNN+ — I looked at its webpage and was surprised to see that you can subscribe for only $2.99 a month — and "save 50% for life" — if you sign up by April 26. So there has been pressure to sign up before that offer ends. That makes the 10,000 number look much worse.

Anyway, what is on CNN+?

"'I don’t think that most people appreciate that most years, alcohol kills more people than drugs,' Kristof told me, though he clarified that he does not believe this is true of the type of alcohol that he makes."

"He also does not think that profiting off the sale of alcohol and lowering rates of alcohol addiction, two of his stated immediate goals, are in conflict. 'You know, I’ve lost friends to alcoholism, but I haven’t lost any to Pinot Noir alcoholism,' he said. 'I wouldn’t be in favor of barring alcohol in general. I think that wine can be, or cider can be, a social good and can create social capital. Things that bring people together, I think, are good for society. I think alcohol can do that, and I think that’s true of wine and cider. I take your point that some people start with nice Pinot Noirs and then… ,' he trailed off. 'But I think that is much less common, and those who die, the mortality from alcoholism, it’s driven really by working-class Americans, and it’s in kind of bulk hard liquor particularly. I don’t think that good wine and cider add significantly to the problem.'"

That's the most hilariously elitist thing I've read in a long time. Kristof is Nicholas Kristof, the former NYT columnist, who left that job to run for governor in Oregon, but got stopped in his tracks by the state law requirement of 3 years' residency, and he only had 1.

The quote is from "Nicholas Kristof’s Botched Rescue Mission/How the lauded Times columnist lost the race for governor of Oregon before it even began" (NY Magazine).

Why did he think he could run if he didn't meet that very specific requirement? Answer: lawyers! Just as his vineyard doesn't produce the kind of wine that entails the usual problems of alcohol, his 1 year could count as 3, couldn't it? With fancy enough arguments, his 1 could be the Pinot Noir of 3... couldn't it?

You know they say the states are the laboratories of democracy. It's such a shame we didn't get to see the mind of Kristof applied to the laboratory that is Oregon!

"The person of interest in Tuesday’s mass subway shooting in Brooklyn... Frank James, 62... raged about the war in Ukraine, and said it would become the precursor for a race war to wipe out Black people."

Says The Daily News, in "Person of interest in NYC subway shooting ranted for hours in YouTube videos about Mayor Adams, homelessness and race wars." 

“They’re white, you’re not. They’re doing that to each other? What do they think they’re going to do to you?” he fumed. “It’s just a matter of time before these white motherf---ers say, ‘Hey listen, enough is enough, these n-----s gotta go.’ What’re you going to do? You gonna fight. And guess what? You gonna die.” 

NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell said... “We’re not calling them threats. He made some concerning posts, or someone made some concerning posts.... They were general topics of concern. Complaints about homelessness, complaints about New York.”

Bill Maher has a podcast. Watch him talk with Bella Thorne about sex.

 

My favorite thing about this discussion — the reason I'm blogging it — is the disconnect on the question whether music is a key component of a sexual encounter. Bill: "No music?? NO MUSIC?!!??" Bella doesn't want the distraction, the sense of fucking to this song. And Bill seems as though he can't conceive of sex without music — it would be "dry" — and how can you not have "a soundtrack." The overall vibe here is weirdly fake — the decor, the lighting, the we're getting high together ....

Meanwhile, Bill was on Joe Rogan's show. That's where I found out about Bill's new podcast. And you can tell that Bill and his people are trying to create a similar aura of intimacy, but there's a big difference. What Joe has isn't easy to copy. There's something that's missing in Bill Maher's setup. It's hard to figure out exactly what!

"For years, people marched, got tear-gassed, donated and literally put their lives on the line in the hopes of Black emancipation — not a Black influencer McMansion."

Writes Karen Attiah in "Black Lives Matter needs to get its (real expensive) house in order" (WaPo).

[T]he Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation secretly purchased a $6 million, 6,500-square-foot mansion near Malibu, Calif., using donated funds. According to memos quoted in the report, the foundation’s leaders settled on a tactic of describing the mansion as both a “safehouse” and a place providing “recording resources and dedicated space for Black creatives to launch content online and in real life focused on abolition, healing justice, urban agriculture and food justice, pop culture, activism, and politics.” Huh?... 

I emailed BLM’s national organization. They did not respond to questions. The lack of transparency is a serious betrayal. During the Trump years, many of us wanted to protect the movement from attacks by the right. But we can’t defend a BLM national leadership that arrogantly refuses to be accountable to Black victims and communities....

From the top-rated comment over at WaPo: "This isn't just a blunder, it sounds like they're heading down the road toward tax fraud. Frankly, the IRS needs to do a better job at enforcement of laws pertaining to non profits."

"Gajda says that she used to be uncomfortable with the idea that courts could balance protections for an individual’s dignity and liberty with protections for a free press and free speech..."

"... as a journalist, she was worried that an overzealous judiciary might curtail the reporting of real news that powerful interests were keen to keep secret. Now she seems to see things differently, placing what seems to me a surprising amount of faith in the judicial branch and even Facebook’s Oversight Board, of all things, to generate norms that balance speech with privacy and 'unite the world as one.'"

From "‘Seek and Hide’ Grapples With the Complexity of the Right to Privacy/The law professor Amy Gajda writes about the tug of war between the right to know and the right to be let alone" — a NYT book review by Jennifer Szalai.

I hope someday you'll join us/And the world will live as one....

"But for many employees who enjoyed the freedom of working remotely, the return to office — no matter how fancy — carries a touch of end-of-summer, back-to-school dread."

"Few, it seems, are keen on going back five days a week. On Memegen, an internal company site where Google employees share memes, one of the most popular posts was a picture of a company cafeteria with a caption: 'RTO is just bumping into each other and saying "we must grab lunch soon" until one of you quits Google.'... The main draw for heading to the office, according to the surveys, is that employees want to see colleagues in person. After a number of postponements, Google kicked off its hybrid work schedule on April 4, requiring most employees to show up at U.S. offices a few days a week. Apple started easing staff back to the office on Monday, with workers expected to check in at the office once a week at first.... When Microsoft employees returned to their offices in February as part of a hybrid work schedule, they were greeted with 'appreciation events' and lawn games such as cornhole and life-size chess. There were classes for spring basket making and canvas painting. The campus pub transformed into a beer, wine and 'mocktail' garden."

From "Welcome Back to the Office. Isn’t This Fun? Tech companies really want their employees to be happy — or at least less annoyed — about returning. So they’re providing concerts, food trucks and other perks" (NYT).

RTO = "return to office."

"Obvious efforts to circumvent the law for example an unreasonably small portion of soup, a serving of canned beans, a handful of lettuce... will be treated as a violation of the law."

Said the New York State Liquor Authority, quoted in "No ‘Cuomo chips’ allowed: ‘Substantial food’ needed for to-go booze" (NY Post). 

"Cuomo chips" refers to the way bars and restaurants responded to a Cuomo-era requirement that bars and restaurants serve food along with liquor.

In response, the owner of Saratoga Springs’ Harvey’s Irish Pub automatically put $1 “Cuomo Chips” on customers’ tabs so they weren’t required to fork over the money for a full meal when patrons just wanted to sip on a beer or cocktail....

At first, the chips were deemed good enough, then Cuomo said they weren't: 

How damaged is NY Governor Kathy Hochul?

The NYT has this by Luis Ferré-Sadurní, "Hochul Picked a Running Mate. Now She Has to Pick Another One. Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin’s resignation in the face of a criminal indictment creates a major political test for Gov. Kathy Hochul":

The search [for lieutenant governor] was relatively swift, with Ms. Hochul, a white Democrat from Buffalo, homing in on elected officials of color from downstate. She picked Brian Benjamin, a Black state senator from Harlem who was expected to help Ms. Hochul broaden her appeal in New York City, announcing her choice at a campaign-style rally in Upper Manhattan in August. 

The move came despite a string of ethics questions that had followed Mr. Benjamin and that centered on some dubious campaign finance practices during his time as senator and his unsuccessful run for city comptroller last year.... 

Mr. Benjamin’s arrest appeared to blindside Ms. Hochul, disrupting her schedule just as she was increasing her time on the campaign trail this week. The arrest coincided with a mass shooting at a Brooklyn subway station, and Ms. Hochul had to call off a union fund-raiser in Manhattan and a news conference on Long Island....

And what did she say at that news conference? How did that go? The NYT just said she had to interrupt her campaigning and moved on to the possibility that Andrew Cuomo might run for governor again. That "would most likely be a steep climb for him," we're told. It's for the reader to wonder how much less steep that the climb suddenly got.

The damage to Hochul looks much more lurid over at the NY Post. Here's Bob McManus in "Kathy Hochul’s terrible judgment leads to one terrible day." McManus begins by trashing that press conference (video at the link):

April 12, 2022

At the Coot Café...

IMG_9900

... you can talk all night.

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"About 2016, when [Erica Anderson] began working with the Child and Adolescent Gender Center at UC San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospital, she noticed a growing group of transgender youth..."

"... adolescents who had not appeared to question their gender much, or at all, before puberty. Some drifted from one identity to the other: gender-questioning, trans, nonbinary, gay. And many of their cases were complicated by anxiety, depression, autism, bipolar disorder or other mental health conditions that predated their desire to transition.... Online, a stream of transgender influencers and activists told teens that if they felt uncomfortable with their bodies, or didn’t fit in, maybe they were trans. Some coached kids on how to bind their breasts, how to change their name and pronouns at school, how to push their parents for testosterone. 'To flatly say there couldn’t be any social influence in formation of gender identity flies in the face of reality,' Anderson said. 'Teenagers influence each other.'... In her view, gender-affirming care is not accepting everything a teen says at face value, but engaging with the patient in an empathetic, open-minded way.... What did Cody mean, she asked, when he referred to his gender as abstract?... 'One friend says that their gender is the same vibe as a raccoon. They’re not saying that their gender is a raccoon. They’re saying that their gender has the same, like, chaotic, dumpster vibes as raccoons.' 'Dumpster?' Anderson asked. 'What would the human version of that be like?' 'There isn’t one; it’s just the same chaotic energy that their gender has,' Cody said. 'Which is why it’s, like, very hard to explain. It’s just kind of like a dialect — a way to talk about gender that just kind of builds up within groups.'"

From "A transgender psychologist has helped hundreds of teens transition. But rising numbers have her concerned" (L.A. Times).

"Lt. Gov. Brian A. Benjamin of New York resigned on Tuesday as the state's second-in-command, hours after federal prosecutors unsealed an indictment..."

"... accusing him of directing a brazen scheme to funnel illegal donations to his past political campaigns and cover up the criminal activity.... 'This is a simple story of corruption,' Damian Williams, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.... 'Taxpayer money for campaign contributions. A quid quo pro [sic]. This for that. That’s bribery, plain and simple.'"

The NYT reports. 

Selecting Benjamin was one of the first things Gov. Kathy Hochul did when she rose from Lt. Governor to Governor after Andrew M. Cuomo resigned. This will, the NYT writes, "complicate Ms. Hochul’s bid to be elected to her first full term as governor." She promised to end corruption.

"Fewer than 10,000 people are using CNN+ on a daily basis two weeks into its existence, according to people familiar with the matter...."

"The subscription news streaming service... charges $5.99 a month or $59.99 annually.... [T]here is broad skepticism whether there’s enough demand to sustain a stand-alone news streaming service, with entertainment-first options dominating the landscape. Disney+, for instance, posted more than 10 million subscribers on its first day.... Disney’s ESPN+, which offers sports news programming in addition to live event broadcasts, recently reported 21.3 million subscribers. NBCUniversal’s Peacock, which features news programming, reported 24.5 million monthly active accounts in the U.S., more than 9 million of which were paid members." 

CNBC reports.

$5.99 a month for CNN is pretty ridiculous. 10,000 subscribers... hilarious.

"Witnesses to the shooting described the gunman as a short, dark-skinned man with a heavy build wearing a green construction vest and gray sweatshirt."

"The van was spotted in front of an apartment building on West 3rd Street just off the Kings Highway shopping strip in the Gravesend neighborhood, the senior law enforcement official said. The official also said that a gun had been found inside the subway station. The authorities have not released a suspect’s name, nor a motive for the attack. But another high-ranking police official said that the attack appeared to have been planned and showed no signs of having stemmed from something spontaneous like a dispute on the train. As the shooting unfolded and the doors of the N train opened, sending smoke billowing through the station, fearful riders fled, many of them hurrying onto an R train sitting across the platform. Subway seats and cars were streaked with blood as people called for help."

The NYT reports.

Coots on Lake Mendota at sunrise.

This morning at 6:18:

"Why the Past 10 Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid/It’s not just a phase."

A good headline... for a piece in The Atlantic by Jonathan Haidt.

Excerpt:

"Herd immunity now seems impossible. Welcome to the age of Covid reinfection."

 Writes Devi Sridhar in The Guardian. 

The rising number of documented reinfections, sometimes occurring relatively quickly after the initial infection, as well as the high number of infections with the Omicron variant among the fully vaccinated, means that herd immunity is likely impossible – even if seroprevalence hits 100%.... 

Vaccines have largely blunted the virus’s ability to kill, and its destructive impact on health services. However.... Covid-19 is not yet mild enough to be treated like the common cold because it makes people so ill that they cannot work.... 

It’s clear that it’s better that no one is infected with this virus.... An increasing number of people who are unable to return to work, or suffering from chronic illness, will be a major burden on healthcare services as well as the economy...

"Prices climbed 8.5% in March, compared to last year, amid growing fears of economic slowdown."

WaPo reports. 

Just a few months ago, officials at the White House and Federal Reserve hoped that inflation was starting to tick down month by month. But those projections were quickly dashed by Russia’s invasion, covid shutdowns at major Chinese manufacturing hubs, and the bleak reality that inflation continues to spread through every crevice of the economy.

“One cannot escape it, even if one wanted to,” said Joe Brusuelas, chief economist at RSM. “This is going to continue for a while.”

April 11, 2022

At the Sunrise Café...

IMG_9847

... you can talk about anything you want.

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"I once believed that I would be more successful finding love as a woman than as a man, but in truth, few straight men are interested..."

"... in having a physical relationship with a person who was born the same sex as them. In high school, when I experienced crushes on my male classmates, I believed that the only way those feelings could be requited was if I altered my body. It turned out that several of those crushes were also gay. If I had confessed my interest, what might have developed? Alas, the rampant homophobia in my school during the AIDS crisis smothered any such notions. Today, I have resigned myself to never finding a partner.... From the day of my surgery, I became a medical patient and will remain one for the rest of my life.... I was still a virgin when I went in for surgery.... I chose an irreversible change before I’d even begun to understand my sexuality. The surgeon deemed my operation a good outcome, but intercourse never became pleasurable.... The prospect of sex can be intimidating. But sex is essential in healthy relationships. Give it a chance before permanently altering your body."

From "What I wish I’d known when I was 19 and had sex reassignment surgery" by Corinna Cohn, who is now 50. The article is — surprisingly — in The Washington Post.

ADDED: Cohn writes "It turned out that several of those crushes were also gay." Also gay? That would seem to need to mean that Cohn is/was a gay man and not transgender at all. The warning is: You'd better make absolutely sure you're not gay.

I bring you 8 TikTok selections in the hope that you'll say which one(s) you like and why.

1. A song about cooking salmon in your studio apartment.

2. Scary stories for horses.

3. Dolly Parton and Patti LaBelle use their acrylic fingernails for percussion.

4. A freaky optical illusion.

5. A Tasmanian devil yawns.

6. How to live with a boy and still have a cute apartment.

7. Thatched roof skills.

8. Ukrainians before the war and now.

Cattail sunrise.

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IMG_9887 

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What is this hashtag — #RespectMySex?

ADDED: The London Times has an article about that event: "JK Rowling joins ladies who lunch and laugh off trans fury The author and other women targeted in the debate over gender have launched a campaign, James Beal writes." 

Rowling organised the lunch, at The River Café, Hammersmith, for campaigners, including the Labour MP Rosie Duffield and the philosopher Kathleen Stock, who have been targeted by the trans lobby.... 

The lunch followed the launch of the Respect My Sex women’s rights campaign and Forstater said: “It was getting together, celebrating each other, keeping our spirits up and having a nice lunch. It was amazing, a lovely day.”

There's a link on "Respect My Sex" that goes to another London Times article published today: "If you want our vote, talk about sex/Door-knocking election candidates had better watch out, writes Damian Whitworth." 

"About 63% of applicants submitted test scores in the first test-optional year.... Applicants submitting scores were less likely to be female, Black, Hispanic, first-generation and eligible for a Pell grant."

"They were more likely to come from a higher-income neighborhood, have a higher high school GPA, have completed more rigorous high school coursework. Test-submitters were also more likely to apply for majors in science, technology, engineering or math. Test-optional admissions led to an increased volume in applications but didn’t lead to changes in applicant characteristics, such as race or income level, compared to previous admissions cycles."

From "Here’s what early results of UW-Madison’s ACT/SAT test-optional experiment show" (Madison.com).

"[A man] had visited the Tiffany & Co. jewelry store on Michigan Avenue and made a modest purchase, in part so his granddaughter could enjoy the cachet of the signature turquoise gift bag."

"But before the reader left the store, the clerk discreetly placed the bag in a more anonymous sack. The implication? It’s not safe to walk down Michigan Avenue with a Tiffany bag anymore. That anecdote focuses the mind on the perception of high crime bedeviling what long has been known as the Midwest’s most prestigious shopping destination.... According to the Urban Land Institute, the vacancy rate on Michigan Avenue stands close to a troubling 25%.... The Urban Land Institute report has... good ideas, including an upgrade in dining options. Michigan Avenue never has been hospitable to restaurants, especially on the ground floor, a function of high rents and canyon-like ambience. That’s also true on New York’s Fifth Avenue but was never the case on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, where you can sip and watch people promenade...."

From "Editorial: The Michigan Avenue crisis is getting worse" (Chicago Tribune).

"In 2018, I officially changed the gender marker on my passport from M to F. By that point, I had socially transitioned, undergone top surgery..."

"... and been on hormone replacement therapy for years. But updating the marker didn’t make travel easier. Traveling while transgender only became more difficult. I’m well over 6 feet tall. Unless I decide to dress extremely femme and put on a full face of makeup — to then sit for hours on a cramped, sweaty airplane — the F on my passport actually invites extra scrutiny. Because I don’t always 'pass,' it frequently outs me as trans. The U.S. State Department... will soon have the option to choose X as their gender marker as an alternative to M or F.... But given the trouble that often accompanies being out as non-binary, the move won’t 'advance inclusion' as much as the department’s announcement claims. If the State Department really wanted to take a step forward, there’s an easier, cheaper and more powerful option: remove gender from passports altogether.... In the future, we may live in a society that doesn’t require trans people to out ourselves at the airport."

From "There’s a better solution than offering X-gender passports" by Abeni Jones (WaPo).

Yeah, why is the government involved in your genitalia? What are you bringing onto this plane?

"In an unusual, and labor intensive, project, two political scientists paid a group of regular Fox News viewers to instead watch CNN for a month."

"At the end of the period, the researchers found surprising results; some of the Fox News watchers had changed their minds on a range of key issues, including the US response to coronavirus and Democrats’ attitude to police. 

From "What happens when a group of Fox News viewers watch CNN for a month? A study that paid viewers of the rightwing cable network to switch shed light on the media’s influence on people’s views" (The Guardian). 

David Broockman and Joshua Kalla, political scientists at the University of California, Berkeley and Yale university, respectively, paid 304 regular Fox News viewers $15 an hour to instead watch up to seven hours of CNN a week during the month of September 2020....

By the end of September, the CNN watchers were less likely to agree that: “It is an overreaction to go out and protest in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin” and less likely to believe that: “If Joe Biden is elected President, we’ll see many police get shot by Black Lives Matter activists”, when compared with their peers who continued watching Fox News... In addition the CNN viewers were 13 points less likely than the Fox News viewers to agree that: “If Joe Biden is elected President, we’ll see many more police get shot by Black Lives Matter activists.”...

But once it was over, and the $15 an hour was taken away, “viewers returned to watching Fox News”, Kalla said....

Maybe if there were a news channel that gave the news straight and didn't lean either way, after exposure to it, people would stay with it, rather than return to the channel that tracked their political inclination. The subjects of this study may have moderated some of their more extreme views, but I presume they were also continually irritated by the liberal bias of CNN. Were they surveyed about that?

The otter at sunrise.

"Musk informed Twitter on Saturday morning that he would not, in fact, take the board seat."

"Musk’s appointment would have started on Saturday, 'contingent on a background check and formal acceptance,' according to [Twitter CEO Parag] Agrawal. 'We... believed that having Elon as a fiduciary of the company where he, like all board members, has to act in the best interests of the company and all our shareholders was the best path forward,' he wrote.... Throughout the weekend, without revealing that he had turned down the board seat at Twitter, Musk posted a number of ideas to transform the social media company and its products. One of the suggestions was a coarse joke in the form of a Twitter poll. Musk asked people to vote on whether Twitter should drop the 'w' from its name. Doing so would turn Twitter into 'titter,' an allusion to female anatomy."

From "Elon Musk decides not to join Twitter board, says CEO Parag Agrawa" (CNBC).

An allusion to female anatomy! To "titter" is to laugh. But I guess there are people — I'm thinking of Beavis and Butt Head types — who hear the word "titter" and titter over tits. And I wouldn't be surprised if Elon Musk intended to amuse such people, and CNBC did say allusion

Anyway, you can see good reason for Musk to decline the position. It's right there in Agrawal's statement: background check and fiduciary duty.

April 10, 2022

At the Sunrise Café...

IMG_9836 

... you can talk all night.

"When a single ceramic cockerel, sitting atop a kitchen cabinet, survived a bombardment of Borodianka, it became a symbol of Ukrainian resistance."

"So when Boris Johnson and Volodymyr Zelenskiy were given one each as a gift as they walked through Kyiv, it carried an added significance."

From "Ceramic cockerels surprise Boris Johnson and Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Kyiv walk/‘I’m from London’ says British PM. ‘I know, I’m from Kharkiv,’ says bystander proffering traditional jugs that in the war have come to symbolise Ukrainian resilience" (The Guardian). 

You can see the presentation of the cockerels at 0:57 here:

"President Emmanuel Macron will face Marine Le Pen, the French far-right leader, in the runoff of France’s presidential elections."

"With 92 percent of the ballots cast on Sunday counted, Mr. Macron, a centrist, was leading with about 27.4 percent of the vote to Ms. Le Pen’s 24.3 percent. Ms. Le Pen benefited from a late surge that reflected widespread disaffection over rising prices, security and immigration. With war raging in Ukraine and Western unity likely to be tested as the fighting continues, Ms. Le Pen’s strong performance demonstrated the enduring appeal of nationalist and xenophobic currents in Europe. Extreme parties of the right and left took some 51 percent of the vote, a clear sign of the extent of French anger and frustration."

The NYT reports.

Mom loves Elton John.

"[Trump] added that Oz had said he was in 'extraordinary health, which made me like him even more (although he also said I should lose a couple of pounds!).'"

"He also stated, without any specific evidence for his claim, that 'women, in particular, are drawn to Dr. Oz for his advice and counsel. I have seen this many times over the years.'"

From "Trump endorses Dr. Oz in Pennsylvania Senate race, a key battleground/The former president wades into a closely watched contest" (WaPo). 

Also: "'No teacher should ever be allowed to teach far left gender theories to our children without parental consent,' Trump said. 'It’s truly child abuse, plain and simple.'"

Schreibkraft.

"Mrs. Reinhard, then known as Carmen Weitmann, typed the names of more than 1,000 Jewish people — including her own and those of two friends — to create what became known as 'Schindler’s List.' She called herself a 'schreibkraft,' or typist. 'The only practical thing in my life that I learned was shorthand, but I never learned to type,' Mrs. Reinhard told the New York Times in 2007. 'I typed with two fingers only.'"

From "Mimi Reinhard, secretary who typed ‘Schindler’s List,’ dies at 107" (WaPo).

“It was a gamble as far as we were concerned,” she told Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper in 2007. “To go with Schindler was no guarantee of anything. We didn’t believe that Schindler would really succeed in saving us. He was just taking us to a different camp. Who knew? We took a chance only because we believed in Schindler.”...

“He was no angel,” Mrs. Reinhard said of Schindler. “We knew that he was an SS man; he was a member of the highest ranks. They went out drinking together at night, but apparently he could not stand to see what they were doing to us. … I saw a man who was risking his life all the time for what he was doing.”

When you want to hear a song but you need a cover version because you're not up for the harsh saxophone in the original....

... I found this:

 

I was in the mood to listen to that song after talking about rhyming in this post (and its comments). Here's the original by Supertramp. It's perfectly fine. I just don't need a saxophone yelling at me.

Sunrise — 6:12.

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David Crosby has questions and gets answers.

Smells like travel.

I'm reading "The best travel memento smells like vacation/Science says smells evoke memories. That’s why I buy a candle on every trip" by Dayana Sarkisova (WaPo).

I'm interested in this because 1. I'm a travel skeptic, 2. I have almost no sense of smell, 3. I never buy "souvenirs," and 4. Even if I had a good sense of smell, I wouldn't want scented candles. 

And I do think: 1. Sense of smell is part of the travel experience, 2. The decision to travel entails a cost/benefit analysis and smell can be a negative or positive, 3. Scented candles bought somewhere don't really contain the smell of that place, 4. You can reinforce any memory by linking it to a sensory experience, even one that has only a random connection to that memory, 5. It would be really annoying to travel with someone who needed to take time to shop for a scented candle on every damned trip. 

Because I have almost no sense of smell: 1. I can't experience the full dimension of the difference of a foreign place,  2. I can't get too excited about the food (and even have to worry that the food could be bad, even dangerously bad, and I wouldn't know it), and 3. If I had to live with someone who was really into burning scented candles, it wouldn't affect me, unless there was a verbal component — an oh-that's-the-smell-of-Paris narrative.

"The day after his mother died in 1977, Barthes began writing reflections of her death on small strips of paper. The collection of 330 cards..."

"... was published... as 'Mourning Diary.'... Note by note, he attempted to record and make sense of his mother’s passing in a collection of reflections accumulated into a postulation of a book. In one of his earliest entries, he notes how after someone dies, the future itself gives way to a sort of unhinged manufacturing of time he refers to as 'futuromania.'"

From "A memoir of loss, in encyclopedia entries/When my mother died, I struggled to untangle grief, time and memory" by Kristin Keane (WaPo).

Her memoir is called "An Encyclopedia of Bending Time." I would rule out reading any author who puts words together like this: "a collection of reflections accumulated into a postulation." It's close to the way rap music sounds to me, except for "accumulated." Try again, with "accumulation," and you might achieve something with intentional rhymomania.

"Haskins was walking on I-595 between the exits for I-95 North and I-95 South. The highway is eight lanes wide...."

"Haskins tried to cross the westbound lanes of I-595, where there was oncoming traffic. An oncoming dump truck hit him. The driver stayed at the scene and cooperated with authorities." 

From "How did quarterback Dwayne Haskins die on a South Florida highway? Here’s what we know" (Union-Bulletin). 

"Haskins tried to cross..." — What he was trying to do isn't one of the things we know.

Square pasta and don't get me started on the praying mantis.

Nicholas Cage just did what some say was the best Ask Me Anything ever. Here's the whole thread at Reddit. 

Asked "What's your favourite pasta shape?," he said:

I once went to an Italian restaurant in San Francisco about 25 years ago with Charlie Sheen because they had square tube pasta and he was very interested in trying square tube pasta and we did and we loved it so much we went back the next day to try it again. 

And everyone Googled "square tube pasta."

Asked "Do you like bees?," he said: 

Yes. I would have to say they’re my favorite insect. They make us honey. Bees, and then the firefly. And ants are interesting. Bumble bees are quite adorable. Don't get me started on the praying mantis. I told David Cronenberg once that the praying mantis was the most ferocious of the insects and he so said no, and I said what is, and he said the dragon fly larvae and he said that the beast in the Alien movies was designed after the dragon fly larvae because it shoots its teeth out and when it attacks.

And somebody said, "I think we might need to put 'Don't get me started on the praying mantis' on the banner of the subreddit." 

Asked a more apt question for actor — "Who is your favorite character in all of literature and film?" — he said:

That is so hard to answer. I will say that James Dean’s performance as Cal in East of Eden is largely the reason I became a film actor. His role in that is one of my favorite characters in cinema. But then we can go all the way to Rasputin...

I presume he meant Raskolnikov...

... or we can go to Dmitri Karamazov. Dmitri Karamazov is one my favorite characters in literature. I love him so much because he’s so happy and he has no money. He’s just living it up. He spent all his money trying to get the girl. I did the same thing once. I was very Dmitri Karamazov in high school. The most beautiful girl in high school who was a grade older than me invited me to the prom but I had no money. My grandmother gave each of us a little bond. My older brother bought a car. My second oldest brother bought some stereo equipment. And I splashed out on a chauffeur-driven limousine, a tuxedo and a four course meal at Le Dome on Sunset blvd. The car was $2000, the stereo was $2000, and my prom night was $2000 and man, that was money well spent. THAT’s Dmitri Karamazov.

His favorite movie of all his movies?