May 7, 2022

At the Sunrise Café...


 ... you can talk all night.

I've selected 7 TikTok videos for you this time. Let me know which one you like best.

1. If you combined Nick Cave, Tom Waits, Johnny Cash, and The Doors into one voice, how would it sound?

2. Never seen an adult male cry? It's "weird"?

3. Imitating rock stars by their walk.

4. The inside of one of those twee cabins. 

5. Nominees for the Dad Award for Food-Related Fails.

6. Imitating Ira Glass.

7. The "My dog stepped on a bee" meme. (Don't worry: No dogs stepping on bees — or even any dogs or bees — in this video.)

"We use stare decisis as a mantra when we don’t want to think."

Said Justice Clarence Thomas, quoted in "Clarence Thomas says he worries respect for institutions is eroding" (WaPo). 

Some of the people who think think about the way stare decisis preserves respect for the Court.

Thomas worried about the "different attitude of the young" and how they bully the Court when they don't get the outcome they want, but how deferential to authority should young people be? 

When you impugn stare decisis as a "mantra," you call for more analysis and criticism and less passive obeisance to authority. I would say that's inconsistent with a demand that we accept the outcomes handed down by the Court from on high. That too is obeisance.

The Court seems to be withdrawing a right that was in place for 50 years. You can't expect people to humbly receive the new version of what the law is. Did you think we'd all sit quietly reading a hundred pages of careful reasoning and be impressed by the cogency of it all? There's a good chance that no one has dutifully read every word. We jump into guesses and theories about what's really going on.

It's not just these kids today. People have never regarded the Supreme Court as an oracle of truth. We can and should criticize the Court. It's not bullying!

"How dare you!"

When I hear the phrase "How dare you!" I think of Greta Thunberg — at the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit— famously orating

"This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope? How dare you! You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction. And all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!"

How dare you steal from the future lives of the children. But now "How dare you!" has been deployed in the abortion debate, by the pro-abortion rights side:


"Some Republican leaders are trying to weaponize the use of the law against women. How dare they? How dare they tell a woman what she can and cannot do with her own body? How dare they try to stop her from determining her own future? How dare they try to deny women their rights and their freedoms?" 

Politico — the publisher of the leaked Supreme Court draft — calls that Kamala Harris speech "the Biden administration’s most forceful defense of reproductive rights." 

Technically, to say that is not to call the speech forceful. The "most forceful" thing could be quite weak. What was the competition? But I think praise was intended.

What an opening for critics! All they have to do is answer the question: "How dare they?" Look back at the iconic Thunberg speech. Greta demanded that the adults of today make sacrifices for the children of the future. The anti-abortion rhetoric springs quickly to mind.

Mike Pence stepped up: 

“I say with the lives of 62 million unborn boys and girls ended in abortion since 1973, generations of mothers enduring heartbreaking and loss that can last a lifetime: Madame Vice President, how dare you?”

ADDED: Andrew Sullivan's new column is titled "How Dare They?" Subtitle: "The left's attitude problem when it comes to democracy." 

"Pleasure is to women what the sun is to the flower; if moderately enjoyed, it beautifies, it refreshes, and it improves; if immoderately, it withers, etiolates, and destroys."

Wrote Charles Caleb Colton in "Lacon: Or, Many Things in Few Words : Addressed to Those who Think," in 1820:

That's quoted at the OED definition for "etiolate,"  which means "To lessen or undermine the strength, vigour, or effectiveness of (a quality, group, movement, etc.); to have a weakening effect upon." 

That's the second meaning. The oldest meaning is about plants: "To cause (a plant) to develop with reduced levels of chlorophyll (esp. by restricting light), causing bleaching of the green tissues, elongated internodes, weakened stems, deficiencies in vascular structure, and abnormally small leaves."

You take the plant out of the sun to etiolate it, but the woman needs to be kept out of the sun, lest she etiolate. So said Colton, anyway. He was one of the "boys" referenced in the more recent aphorism: "Some boys take a beautiful girl and hide her away from the rest of the world/I want to be the one to walk in the sun...." The sun, Colton. 

But C.C. Colton is long gone. He died in 1832 — forever excluded from the sun — died of suicide, committed because, we're told, he had an illness that required surgery, and he dreaded surgery.

I'm reading about the word "etiolated" because I used it yesterday: "I'm collecting examples of this avoidance of the word 'woman' and the resultant etiolation of speech."

May 6, 2022

At the Dark Sunrise Café...


... you can shed some light.


"On April 14 of this year, I was fired by Netflix for what they determined to be unacceptable behavior on set...."

"I was playing the leading role of Roderick Usher in Edgar Allan Poe’s classic The Fall of the House of Usher, modernized as an eight-episode series for Netflix. It is a glorious role, and I had come to regard it as, most likely, my last hurrah...  On March 25 of this year, I was performing a love scene with the actress playing my young wife. Both of us were fully clothed. I was sitting on a couch, she was standing in front of me. The director called 'cut.' 'He touched my leg,' said the actress. 'That was not in the blocking.' She then turned and walked off the set, followed by the director and the intimacy coordinator.... [Someone from Human Resources contacted him a week later and said] 'Before the love scene began on March 25... our intimacy coordinator suggested where you both should put your hands. It has been brought to our attention that you said, "This is absurd!"' 'Yes,' I said, 'I did. And I still think so.' It was a love scene on camera. Legislating the placement of hands, to my mind, is ludicrous. It undermines instinct and spontaneity. Toward the end of our conversation, she suggested that I not contact the young lady, the intimacy coordinator, or anyone else in the company. 'We don’t want to risk retaliation... Intention is not our concern. Netflix deals only with impact.'"

Writes Frank Langella in "Fired By Netflix, Frank Langella Refutes Allegations Of 'Unacceptable Behavior'" (Deadline). Langella is 84 years old.

"It's what I call a human issue: It's a very complicated issue. It's so fraught with emotion. And it's so political."

It's a "human issue"... compared to what? What's the unspoken other sort of issue? The first alternative I thought of was: legal issue. But it could also be considered a matter of natural science. And it could be considered a matter of religion.

"When she asks me, 'What do you recommend?' I tell her, 'There’s no real basis for a medical recommendation in this case. Any of the options I’ve presented'..."

"... are safe and reasonable. It’s a personal decision. It’s really up to you.' Then I see a look in her eyes, like: You’re kidding. Up to me? Sometimes it is a look of fear, at least at first. But inevitably it transforms into something else: a deep, probing, inward gaze that shows me she is, in my presence, accessing a very private place within herself. I have not provided her access to this place—she can get there without me—but I have given her permission to enter it. To withdraw, for a moment, from me and my medical expertise, from the judgments and biases of her friends and family, from the shouts of the protesters in the parking lot. This is one of my favorite parts of my job: watching her go into that place and emerge from it with a decision—or a thoughtful question, or just a word, or yet another expression on her face, one of resolution or sadness or grief or relief. Whatever it is, it comes from within her. It belongs to her."

From "Aspirations/As an abortion provider, what I give my patients is not just a procedure but the space to make their own decisions about their bodies" by Christine Henneberg (NYRB).

That corresponds to the sentiment expressed in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which I've quoted many times on this blog:

"At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State."

"When Justice Stevens wrote his opinion in Chevron, he meant to solve a knotty problem, but he did not mean to produce a major ruling, or even to make any change in the law."

"Justice Harry Blackmun’s private papers, which are now public, show that members of the Court found the case to be highly technical and difficult to decide.... Revealingly, Chevron had hardly any influence on the Supreme Court in its first years. Everything changed after Justice Scalia joined the Court in 1986 and became Chevron’s champion, urging that it inaugurated a new approach for courts to apply in reviewing the interpretations of administrative agencies. Justice Stevens repeatedly disagreed with him; he insisted that Chevron did not make any big change in the law, and that questions of law were for courts, not agencies. By the early 1990s, Scalia had prevailed: whenever an agency’s interpretation of a congressional enactment was at issue, Chevron was widely understood to give the administrative state a lot of room to maneuver. If you worked at a federal agency at the time, Chevron was your best friend." 

Writes Cass Sunstein in "Who Should Regulate? Cass R. Sunstein The question of whether federal agencies or the courts should have the right to interpret legislation may seem technical, but it significantly affects the power of the government" (NYRB)(reviewing "The Chevron Doctrine: Its Rise and Fall, and the Future of the Administrative State" by Thomas W. Merrill).

For those who are uninitiated and yet not utterly bored — a small group, I'm thinking — the Chevron case provides — in Sunstein's words — "that when the language of statutes enacted by Congress is ambiguous, federal agencies are entitled to interpret it as they see fit, as long as their interpretations are not unreasonable."

Don't miss this casual phrase: "Justice Harry Blackmun’s private papers, which are now public..."  Was that treacherous leakage? The leakage was by Blackmun, of course, but I'm still asking if making all those notes and drafts public was an example of "the gravest, most unforgivable sin." Shouldn't we have access to these materials to understand why these decisions come out the way we do? Why should we be controlled by the careful wordings and omissions of the final version?

And I see that Chief Justice Roberts referred to Blackmun's papers in the oral argument about overruling Roe last December!

Joan Biskupic wrote about it last December, right after the oral argument, in "Why John Roberts cited the private papers of the justice who wrote Roe v. Wade" (CNN):

"You opened your eyes and looked around—supposing that you were young and critically alert, wherever you might stand in that constellation of twentieth-century urban centers—and a diagnosis suggested itself."

"You were witnessing an accountancy-driven compression of human potential within a global interlock of power, money, mechanization, and mass media. This condition, which Breton termed 'rationalism,' seemed to underpin all extant forms of governance, whether capitalist, Stalinist, colonial, or fascist. (A sliding scale, argued the Martinican Surrealist Aimé Césaire, for the violence the Nazis inflicted on Europe simply built on the precedent of violence inflicted by Europeans on others.) Surrealism offered a certain route out of that historical claustrophobia. Flaunting your anomaly—your disobliging, disagreeable x—you not only affirmed your personal intransigence but also signed on to an energizing counterconspiracy."

From "An Impulse Felt Round the World/A recent show and catalog on Surrealism proposes that the thoughts expressed in André Breton’s 1924 manifesto were latent in disparate urban centers, only awaiting his coining of a movement identity" by Julian Bell (NYRB)(reviewing "Surrealism Beyond Borders").

This is a reference to "The Inferno" — to the 9th Circle of Hell — right?

I'm just focusing on this SCOTUSblog tweet from 4 days ago:

I thought "the gravest, most unforgivable sin" was an absurd overstatement. I can think of far more horrible sins. Murder springs to mind first. Mass murder. Torture murder. And so on.

But I realized, no, in Dante's "Inferno," the lowest circle of hell is not for murder. It's for treachery:

Trapped in the ice, each according to his guilt, are punished sinners guilty of treachery against those with whom they had special relationships. The lake of ice is divided into four concentric rings (or "rounds") of traitors corresponding, in order of seriousness, to betrayal of family ties, betrayal of community ties, betrayal of guests, and betrayal of lords. This is in contrast to the popular image of Hell as fiery; as Ciardi writes, "The treacheries of these souls were denials of love (which is God) and of all human warmth. Only the remorseless dead center of the ice will serve to express their natures. As they denied God's love, so are they furthest removed from the light and warmth of His Sun. As they denied all human ties, so are they bound only by the unyielding ice." This final, deepest level of hell is reserved for traitors, betrayers and oathbreakers (its most famous inmate is Judas Iscariot).

If you won't say "women," you are embracing the self-subordination of weak political speech.

I'm collecting examples of this avoidance of the word "woman" and the resultant etiolation of speech.

In "Abortion bans and penalties would vary widely by state," Politico quotes Farah Diaz-Tello, senior counsel to something called If/When/How:

"Even if a bill doesn’t allow pregnant people to be charged directly, we’re concerned about the ways increased surveillance could lead to people being criminalized for an abortion or another kind of pregnancy loss....These bills create an environment where a person’s private health information, their affect and demeanor and whether they are sufficiently distraught, could all become evidence in a case against someone else. They could still be treated as a suspect."

Here's the webpage for If/When/How, subtitled "Lawyering for Reproductive Justice." It describes its purpose without saying "women":

"Can the women’s movement be as effective without the word ‘women’?"

Asks Megan McArdle (at WaPo). 

Ironically and amazingly, McArdle goes about trying to answer this question without using the word "transgender" — or even "gender"! It is out of deference to transgender men (and transgender women) that we're seeing this avoidance of the word "woman." But McArdle is doing her own form of avoidance in this critique of avoidance.

Let's see how she does it:

Historically, the “women’s movement” was mobilized around what sociologists call a “thick” identity. Womanhood influenced almost every aspect of your life, from the biology of menstruation and childbirth, to how you dressed and acted, to your social roles....

But if you're a transgender woman, you don't have the menstruation and childbirth component, and if you're a transgender man, you don't dress and act and perform social roles in a manner that expresses womanhood. So in the transgender-focused view of the world, the "thickness" becomes series of thinner layers.

May 5, 2022

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk all night. I can't explain the color changes other than to say this is how the iPhone reacted to the moments — 5:36, 5:46, 5:47, and 5:49. No hue adjustments by me — only by nature and the phone.




Just 5 selections from TikTok for you tonight. Let me know what you like best.

1. Sublimely twee cabins.

2. Dog on a log.

3. Brilliantly uninformed fashion critique.

4. There seems to be a gigantic gaping pit in this on-ramp.

5. Mouth-focused impressions of mouthy mouth actors.

Why does he cry? Why don't you cry?

"Why does everyone [mock Jordan] Peterson for caring about young, lost or depressed people? Is it such a bad thing to get emotional? The man speaks truth and good, but still people don't get it..." (Reddit).

"On Saturday, the comedian Trevor Noah stood before a ballroom of 2,600 journalists, celebrities and political figures at the White House Correspondents Dinner, and asked: What are we doing here?"

"'Did none of you learn anything from the Gridiron Dinner? Nothing,' Mr. Noah said, referring to another elite Washington gathering in April, after which dozens of attendees tested positivefor the coronavirus. 'Do you read any of your own newspapers?' By Wednesday, Mr. Noah’s chiding remarks at what he called 'the nation’s most distinguished superspreader event' were beginning to appear prophetic as a growing number of attendees, including a string of journalists and Antony J. Blinken, the secretary of state, said they had tested positive for the virus."

From "Virus Cases Grow After White House Correspondents Dinner/Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken was among the attendees reporting coronavirus infections on Wednesday" (NYT).

This is a Washington Post reporter:

Putin apologizes.

"In a phone call Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin apologized to [Israeli] Prime Minister Naftali Bennett for incendiary comments made by... Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov claiming that Adolf Hitler had 'Jewish blood'.... [Lavrov was attempting] to explain Moscow’s attempts to 'de-Nazify' Ukraine, whose president, Volodymyr Zelensky, is Jewish."

The Times of Israel reports.

"In a room filled with artifacts like Dylan’s leather jacket from the 1965 Newport Folk Festival and a photograph of a 16-year-old Bobby Zimmerman posing with a guitar at a Jewish summer camp in Wisconsin..."

"... a digital display lets visitors sift through 10 of the 17 known drafts of Dylan’s cryptic 1983 song 'Jokerman.' The screen highlights typed and handwritten changes Dylan made throughout the manuscripts, showing, for example, how the line 'You a son of the angels/You a man of the clouds' in the song’s earliest iteration was tweaked, little by little, to end up as 'You’re a man of the mountains, you can walk on the clouds.'... In characteristic fashion, Dylan — fully active at 80, with a tour on the road and a new book coming out in the fall — has stubbornly avoided engaging with attempts to examine his own work, and had no involvement in the center that bears his name, aside from contributing one of his ironwork gates for the entryway."

From "The $10 Million Bob Dylan Center Opens Up His Songwriting Secrets/A new space in Tulsa, Okla., built to display Dylan’s vast archive, celebrates one of the world’s most elusive creators, and gives visitors a close-up look at notebooks and fan mail" (NYT).

Finally, there's good reason for Kamala Harris to burst out laughing, but she can't do it.

"Leaks can serve a really important role in helping to correct government malfeasance, to encourage government to be careful about what it does in secret and to preserve democratic processes."

Said Harvard law professor Jack Goldsmith, author of "Power and Constraint: The Accountable Presidency After 9/11," quoted in The Washington Post on December 6, 2012, in a column titled "Why we don’t need another law against intelligence leaks" (by Leonard Downie Jr.).

And here's a CNN piece by Princeton history professor Julian Zelizer, "Why Washington is leaking like a sieve," published May 31, 2017:

The dress was dangerous then and it's dangerous — in a newly fussy way — now.

From the L.A. Times article:

Horse hypocrisy.


Has the Court's Dobbs draft shifted the press and other partisans back to saying "women," or is "pregnant people" still something they feel disciplined to say?

The Star Tribune has a column (by lawprof Laura Hermer) titled "Pregnant people have rights. Products of conception don't. The leaked Dobbs draft opinion gets fetal rights backward." The text uses the phrase "pregnant person" 5 times and there's also one "person who gave birth" and 5 appearances. 

The word "women" does show up once at the very beginning and once at the very end — in the phrase "women's rights." If you want strong political speech on this issue, you need to say "women's rights." You invite ridicule — even if we stifle our urge to ridicule outside of the confines of our head — if you decorously substitute "pregnant people's rights."

At USA Today, there's "People of color, the poor and other marginalized people to bear the brunt if Roe v. Wade is overturned" by Nada Hassanein. Wouldn't it be stronger to write "Women of color, the poor and other marginalized women"? 

We're told: "If Roe is overturned, people may travel hundreds of miles to get to states where abortions are still allowed. Young and low-income people, who are disproportionately of color, may not be able to afford the cost of travel." Wouldn't "women" generate more empathy? But "people" is used to remember to be empathetic to trans people. 

Anyway, the word "woman" is also used repeatedly in that article, including to refer to the as-yet-not-renamed National Women’s Law Center. 

The Washington Post has "Roe to be decided in one of the worst cities to be Black and pregnant/The stakes are not evenly spread across people who become pregnant, and if the Supreme Court justices need a reminder of that, they don’t have to look far" (by Theresa Vargas). The article does use the word "women" many times, along with many appearances of "people." We're told the Court's "mulling over what protections pregnant people deserve" is occurring in a geographic location where "almost all the pregnant people dying are Black." There's a quote from a report that says "Black birthing people constitute roughly half of all births in DC." (As if the "birthing people" are the "births"!) 

There are a lot of pieces about the Dobbs draft in The Washington Post, but only one other uses "pregnant people": "Meet the Reddit ‘Aunties’ covertly helping people get abortions/The Reddit group offers a glimpse into a post-Roe era where people resort to informal networks to assist those locked out of an abortion" (by Pranshu Verma). This one is very intent on saying "people" and not "women." "People" appears 18 times and the only appearance of the word "women" (there's no "woman") is in a caption under a photo of a clinic that has the word "Women's" in its name. 

Meanwhile, in the NYT, the phrase "pregnant people" has only appeared once since the draft leaked (and there's no example of "pregnant person"). It's in a new column by Emily Bazelon, "Beware the Feminism of Justice Alito." 

So that's a little evidence that the "pregnant people" nicety is getting nixed.

I can't check every elite publication for the absence of "pregnant people" — not if I want to write in this form called blog — but I did check one more, which I regard as an exemplar of liberal elitism, The New Yorker. It has not printed "pregnant people" since last November, in "If Roe v. Wade Goes, What Next?" (by David Remnick). 

I'll stop here, so I can post, but I'll be looking at this issue.


Twitter pushes 2 tweets — from people I don't follow and not retweeted by anyone I follow — that have nothing in common — ostensibly — except the old-timey use of "shy." I felt inspired to make a screenshot of this juxtaposition:


Here's the Cure tweet.

Here's the WOW tweet.

Where did this use of "shy" come from?

The OED traces it back to Old English, with the meaning "Easily frightened or startled." The adjectival use of the word is much older than its use as a noun or verb. The most common use of the adjective, to mean "sensitively timid; retiring or reserved from diffidence; bashful" goes back to the 1600s. But what about this use that we're seeing in those 2 tweets, which I consider old-timey?

"Misdemeanors are being treated like felonies."

May 4, 2022

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can write about whatever you want.

I've made 7 selections from TikTok for you today. Let me know what you like best.

1. A teacher rates the insults he received from students today.

2. An impersonation of Amber Heard.

3. How America pictures a workday in Finland.

4. How Finland pictures a workday in America.

5. Follow the simple instructions and you, kids, can make a nice image of a horse.

6. The first half of the show was fashion for adults, the second half the toy version of those things.

7. Office jobs are kind of fake jobs, aren't they?

"How many of the women rallying against overturning Roe are over-educated, under-loved millennials who sadly return from protests to a lonely microwave dinner with their cats, and no bumble matches?"

Straight-out misogyny from Matt Gaetz


Gaetz is himself a millennial — he's 39 — so what can account for his creepy nastiness? Was he under-educated, over-loved, and excessively catered-to by his happy wife Ginger Luckey, and too easily accepted on that Seeking Arrangements website? I don't know. I'm just trying to keep up with his free-wheeling, hilarious approach to the psychoanalysis of people he loathes.

"It’s the main reason why I worked so hard to keep Robert Bork off the Court. It reflects his view almost — almost word — anyway."

"Look, the idea that — it concerns me a great deal that we’re going to, after 50 years, decide a woman does not have a right to choose within the limits of the Supreme Court decision in Casey.... But even more equally as profound is the rationale used. And it would mean that every other decision relating to the notion of privacy is thrown into question. I realize this goes back a long way, but one of the debates I had with Robert Bork was whether — whether Griswold vs. Connecticut should stand as law. The state of Connecticut said that the privacy of your bedroom — you — a husband and wife or a couple could not choose to use contraception; the use of contraception was a violation of the law. If the rationale of the decision as released were to be sustained, a whole range of rights are in question.... who you marry, whether or not you decide to conceive a child or not, whether or not you can have an abortion, a range of other decisions — whether or not — how you raise your child — What does this do — and does this mean that in Florida they can decide they’re going to pass a law saying that same-sex marriage is not permissible, that it’s against the law in Florida?"

 Said President Joe Biden yesterday.

"Only a move as extraordinary as eliminating a constitutional right in place for half a century could transform the court into an institution like any other in Washington, where rival factions disclose secrets in the hope of obtaining advantage...."

"In an editorial last week, The Wall Street Journal expressed concern that Chief Justice Roberts was trying to persuade Justices Kavanaugh and Barrett to take his narrower approach. The point of the leak, then, may have been to lock in the five-justice conservative majority. 'I would be wary of jumping to a conclusion that the leaker is necessarily someone who opposes overturning Roe v. Wade,' said Richard L. Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine. Kermit Roosevelt, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, said the source was probably trying to increase the price of switching positions.... Professor Hasen said there was another benefit to the right from the disclosure of the draft opinion. 'This kind of leak could in fact help the likely future majority overturning Roe if it deflects the conversation to the question of Supreme Court secrecy and the danger of leaks to the legitimacy of the process'...."

From "A Supreme Court in Disarray After an Extraordinary Breach/The leak of a draft majority opinion overruling Roe v. Wade raises questions about motives, methods and whether defections are still possible" by Adam Liptak (NYT).

MEANWHILE: Alan Dershowitz tells Fox News: "I think this was leaked by a liberal law clerk who is trying to change the outcome of the case – either by putting pressure on some justices to change their mind or by getting Congress to pack the court even before June, which is very unlikely."

"At least half of humanity combs their hair every day, and yet almost no one pauses to think deeply about it."

Said Harvard scientist L. Mahadevan, who studies mathematics, physics, and organismic and evolutionary biology, quoted in "Scientists Unravel Mysteries Of Brushing Tangled Hair --- Researchers at Harvard, MIT use math, lab work to develop pain-free techniques" (Wall Street Journal).

The knotty hair puzzle reached Prof. Mahadevan's lab three years ago, as he was thinking about how birds build nests. His research led to the question of tangles, which also occur at the microscopic level in DNA helixes and in magnetic flux lines crisscrossing the cosmos....

"The unlinking of the homochiral helixes during this process can be quantified in terms of the Calugareanu-Fuller-White (CFW) theorem which states that Lk=Tw+Wr, where Link (Lk) quantifies the oriented crossing number of the filaments averaged over all projection directions" and so on....

As you know, if you've combed tangled hair with any competence at all, it doesn't work to start at the top and comb down. You work up from the bottom. Mahadevan, despite being a genius, couldn't comb his 5-year-old daughter's hair. But it percolated in his head for 20 years, and he ultimately did some sophisticated research (as you can see) that explains why you're going to want to start from the bottom and work your way up. Most of us observe and guess and do trial and error, but there's a place in this world for the genius, even if he can't comb a little girl's hair intuitively. We're told he has also studied "why Cheerios clump in a bowl of milk."

"Mr. Vance’s win will likely come as a disappointment to some Republicans who have been quietly hoping that Mr. Trump’s grip on the party is slipping."

"They see the midterms as an existential moment for the party. They are acutely aware that if the candidates he endorsed do well, the feeling of inevitability that he will be the party’s nominee in 2024 increases, annihilating any hope of reconstituting a political coalition around anything other than fealty to Mr. Trump.... He has remade the Republican Party in his image.... In his endorsements, Mr. Trump appears to be hedging against any narrative failures by placing his chips all over the table. So far, in 2022, he has endorsed over 150 candidates. Generally speaking, Mr. Trump has made two kinds of endorsements. Standard incumbent endorsements are the first... On the national level, some of Mr. Trump’s marquee endorsements seem risky. Dr. Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania.... [I]n Georgia... the former football star Herschel Walker... Many people in Georgia love Mr. Walker without reservation and will forgive him any indiscretion. When I raised the issue of Russian roulette, a Georgia man responded, 'He keeps winning.'... Whether Mr. Trump’s handpicked candidates win or not, the Republican field that will emerge from these primary battles will be overwhelmingly Trumpy.... [T]o blunt Mr. Trump’s wholesale takeover of the party... scores of candidates endorsed by Mr. Trump who win their primaries will need to lose in the general election...."

Writes Sarah Longwell, "the executive director of the Republican Accountability Project and the publisher of The Bulwark," in "J.D. Vance Is More Proof That Trump Is King of the Republican Party" (NYT).

I haven't been reading enough about Herschel Walker to have seen, until now, that he's talked about playing Russian roulette more than 6 times! Is that anything but crazy? 

The oldest use of the term "Russian roulette" — according to the OED — is a 1937 short story by George Surdez. Here's a passage from that story, quoted in the Wikipedia article "Russian roulette":

Dave Chappelle attacked on stage.

Deadline reports: "Dave Chappelle Attacked Onstage While Performing During Netflix Is A Joke Festival At The Hollywood Bowl." 

In one posted clip, apparently after the incident, Chappelle is heard to quip, “It was a trans man,” a reference to his own transphobic comments in his Netflix special The Closer and the uproar, protests and anger that ensued....

Another person caught the end of the show on video where Chappelle and Jamie Foxx, who apparently rushed onstage to help apprehend the man going after Chappelle....“I thought that was part of the show,” Foxx is heard to respond.

“I grabbed the back of that N*****’s head,” said Chappelle. “His hair was spongey!”

There are also reports that "Chris Rock, who performed earlier, came on stage w/ him & joked: 'Was that Will Smith?'" 

After the Will Smith incident at the Oscars, there was a lot of talk about whether it would inspire other attacks on performers, whose vulnerability on stage had been so vividly exposed.

"Elizabeth Warren is one of the only national Democrats I've seen even come close to channeling the rage so so so so many are feeling."

"'Take to the streets and fight as one, this is how Roe was won,' they chanted throughout Downtown."

From "1,000+ people rally in Downtown Madison to protest seemingly-imminent overturn of Roe v. Wade" (Wisconsin State Journal).

ADDED: I feel a little critical of that chant, both formally and substantively. Formally, I don't like the non-rhyme of "one" and "won." Identical sounds are not rhymes. Substantively, I don't like the violence implied by "fight." There are ways to fight that are not violent, but "fight" combined with "Take to the streets" seems way too much like an endorsement of rioting. And I don't think "Roe was won" by taking to the streets in either peaceful or violent protests. 

Here's my quick rewrite of the chant: "Take to the law and fight in court/this is how we can abort."

AND: There are 2 problems with my rewriting of the chant — substantive and formal.

The substantive problem is the idea itself, that it is preferable to fight in court. The pro-abortion side has experienced a devastating loss in court — though perhaps the appearance of loss is a phantom. Maybe the Court will reject the draft. But the fighting in court over this case is over, and the street protests might still affect the Justices. All you need is one person in the draft majority to shift. Maybe a chant directed effectively at Brett Kavanaugh would be the best choice — something like "Justice Brett Kavanaugh/You can make Roe the law."

The formal problems is my assertion that "Identical sounds are not rhymes." From the Wikipedia article "Rhyme." There's a subsection on the concept "Identical rhymes":

May 3, 2022

At the Hawk's Dinner Café...

IMG_0179 2 

... you can write about whatever you want.

Colin Wright has drawn the perfect political cartoon.

And he's writing about it — here — in The Wall Street Journal:


"Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said in a statement Tuesday that the leaked draft opinion that proposes overturning Roe v. Wade is authentic but not final..."

"... and he is opening an investigation into how it became public. 'To the extent this betrayal of the confidences of the Court was intended to undermine the integrity of our operations, it will not succeed,' Roberts said. 'The work of the Court will not be affected in any way.'"

Robert Barnes reports (at WaPo).

A witty comment at WaPo: "It’s almost as if the Supreme Court believes it has a right to privacy…."

"Seriously, shout out to whoever the hero was within the Supreme Court who said 'f-ck it! Let’s burn this place down.'"

Wrote Ian Millhiser, of Vox, quoted in "Before Finally Overturning Roe, Supreme Court Must Block Yet Another Insurrection Attempt" by Mollie Hemingway (at The Federalist).

Hemingway continues: 

Brian Fallon, the former Hillary Clinton campaign spokesman who became the leader of a dark money group behind the fight against the nomination of Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, issued a pretty clear call for intimidation of the court: “Is a brave clerk taking this unpredecented [sic] step of leaking a draft opinion to warn the country what’s coming in a last-ditch Hail Mary attempt to see if the public response might cause the Court to reconsider?” 

"Democrats need — but so far lack — a consistent national message for the midterm elections.... Even the abortion rights movement has seemed distracted by semantics..."

"... moving, for example, to replace the phrase 'a woman’s right to choose' with 'a person’s right to choose.' That well-intended inclusion of transgender and nonbinary people unfortunately blurs the essential message that the coming abortion ban is a frontal assault on women’s rights. Instead of playing into the talons of the opposition, let’s make sure every voter knows what these toxic turkeys are up to as they shrug off sexual assault and push for a nationwide abortion ban: They are vitiating a half-century of progress for women."

From "The turkeys of toxic masculinity strut their stuff" by Dana Milbank (WaPo). 

1. The reference to turkeys has to do with an actual turkey that has been biting and scratching people on Anacostia Riverwalk Trail in Washington D.C. There's an analogy there. It's intended to be funny. An aggressive bird. Like the bird is a jerk. But surely the Republicans are jerks.

2. Milbank wrote "the coming abortion ban" just before the draft opinion leaked. I don't think he had any idea how soon it was coming.

3. There's a price to be paid for all the speech control that been undertaken to display superficial deference to transgender and nonbinary people. We've been suppressing awareness of the difference between male and female bodies, as if the vulnerability to pregnancy does not dramatically affect life for a woman. Life isn't just about how you feel inside about things you think of as gender. There's an outward reality that has to do with a very particular right that we fought so long to get acknowledged, struggled for 5 decades to keep, and lost just yesterday. And we're supposed to modify how we speak and not say "woman"!

"Disinformation Governance Board?... I can see how disinformation requires monitoring. I can see how it requires fact-checking and refutation. But governance? How do you govern lies?"

Writes Eugene Robinson in "The Disinformation Governance Board is a bad name and a sillier idea" (WaPo). 

I agree that "governance" is a ludicrous term here. The first word in the phrase that bothers me, however, is "disinformation." I've noticed that, lately, Democrats and others of the left have forefronted a concern for misinformation, offering it as a counterweight to the interest in freedom of speech. Misinformation is a much larger category than disinformation. Is this new board concerned narrowly with the deliberate use of bad information to manipulate or just everything than anybody is saying that's wrong? Misinformation is everywhere. We live in it and must learn to deal with it. 

The only way for the government to go about its "governance" is to be selective and to choose which wrong statements to go after. Obviously, it should concern itself with the disinformation the enemy spreads in wartime, but you wouldn't set up a "disinformation governance board" to perform that function. Setting up the board is a theatrical show of going after something... but what? Claims of election fraud? Claims of election fraud made by Republicans but not claims of election fraud made by Democrats?

Robinson writes:

"[Emily’s Law] passed in 2018... allows prosecutors to charge dog owners with felonies... [It] is in memory of Emily Colvin, who at 24 years old died after being attacked by five dogs..."

"... outside her home in northeast Alabama in December 2017.... A week before Colvin’s death, another woman, 46-year-old Tracey Patterson Cornelius, also was killed by a pack of dogs. A second woman was seriously injured in the same incident.... Similar fatal instances in the state happened in 2020 to a 36-year-old mother of four and in 2021 to a 70-year old man. [Jacqueline Summer] Beard went to the Red Bay area Friday to investigate a dog attack that occurred Thursday afternoon when a woman on a walk was mauled by the animals.... Investigators said Beard was attempting to contact the owner of the dogs when she was killed."

From "While investigating a dog attack, a state worker was killed by the pack" (WaPo).

I opened the WaPo comments with the expectation of seeing condemnation of the deplorable people who live in Alabama, but my expectation of high politicization was wrong:

What the Court's opinion draft said about the reliance factor as it analyzed whether to adhere to precedent.

As someone who has taught Planned Parenthood v. Casey many times, I turned first to the part of the draft that analyzed reliance on the right to abortion. 

The Casey Court, looking at precedent, said reliance is one of 4 factors taken into account when deciding whether to overrule a case. But then it conceptualized reliance in a new way. I've spent many hours forcing students to see this problem in Casey and to look for a way to deal with it, so it's striking to read the Court's proposed opinion forthrightly pointing at the problem (boldface added):

Traditional reliance interests arise “when advance planning of great precision is most obviously a necessity.” Casey, 505 U. S., at 856 (plurality opinion); see also Payne, 501 U.S, at 828. In Casey, the controlling opinion conceded that those traditional reliance interests were not implicated because getting an abortion is generally “unplanned activity,” and “reproductive planning could take virtually immediate account of any sudden restoration of state authority to ban abortions.” 505 U.S. at 856. For these reasons, we agree with the Casey plurality that conventional, concrete reliance interests are not present here. 

A boy and his mom.

At the Met Gala:

May 2, 2022

“Supreme Court has voted to overturn abortion rights, draft opinion shows.”

Politico reports with a link to a long draft opinion of the Court written by Justice Alito.

This is so shocking I have difficulty believing it’s real. The top of NYT is blithe coverage of the Met Gala, replete with a photo of Hillary Clinton in a shiny vivid red dress, Hillary who would have had 3 Supreme Court nominations giving the Court a 6-3 liberal majority averting this calamity… this seeming calamity.

ADDED at 8:41: The NYT is now covering the story in “Leaked Supreme Court Draft Would Overturn Roe v. Wade/A majority of the court privately voted to strike down the landmark abortion rights decision, according to the document, obtained by Politico.”

Deliberations on controversial cases have in the past been fluid. Justices can and sometimes do change their votes as draft opinions circulate and major decisions can be subject to multiple drafts and vote-trading, sometimes until just days before a decision is unveiled. The court’s holding will not be final until it is published, likely in the next two months.

The leak seems designed to create pressure on the Justices to step back from the precipice.

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can write about whatever you like.

It was an awfully dull sunrise today, so let me give you this photo of the rabbit in the rye — not ryegrass, rye, the grain —  that we planted in our front yard:


"Estranged parents often tell me that their adult child is rewriting the history of their childhood, accusing them of things they didn’t do, and/or failing to acknowledge the ways in which the parent demonstrated their love and commitment."

"Adult children frequently say the parent is gaslighting them by not acknowledging the harm they caused or are still causing, failing to respect their boundaries, and/or being unwilling to accept the adult child’s requirements for a healthy relationship. Both sides often fail to recognize how profoundly the rules of family life have changed over the past half century.... Deciding which people to keep in or out of one’s life has become an important strategy to achieve that happiness....

"But there is one thing I haven’t done. Will not do. Will never do. Will grow angry enough at you to throw spitballs at you if you ask me to do."

"And that’s move my seat on a plane to accommodate you so that you can sit with your friends or family or concubines or whoever else you’re flying with. Your grandma’s on the flight with you and you want to sit next to her? Granny should’ve taught you to plan ahead. Maybe Granny wants a break from her thoughtless progeny. You ever think about that? Of course not, because you’re thoughtless. You’re separated from your 6-year-old son? Braylin has to learn to fend for himself. Plus, this ain’t Antarctica. It’s an 80-minute, temperature-controlled trip to Albany on a flying couch. He’ll be fine next to his new Uncle D. Your grandma’s on the flight with you and you want to sit next to her? Granny should’ve taught you to plan ahead."

Writes Damon Young, author of "What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker: A Memoir in Essays," in "No, I will not switch airplane seats with you" (WaPo). He had me at "Braylin has to learn to fend for himself."

Anyway, though Young is extra generous to people in other situations, he hates flying. It's "a thoroughly uncomfortable experience" for him. It's "vaguely fascist." And he needs his window seat because he's got a big head that must lean against the wall.

"For years, Boston has allowed private groups to request use of the flagpole to raise flags of their choosing. As part of this program, Boston approved hundreds of requests..."

"... to raise dozens of different flags. The city did not deny a single request to raise a flag until, in 2017, Harold Shurtleff, the director of a group called Camp Constitution, asked to fly a Christian flag. Boston refused. At that time, Boston admits, it had no written policy limiting use of the flagpole based on the content of a flag. The parties dispute whether, on these facts, Boston reserved the pole to fly flags that communicate governmental messages, or instead opened the flagpole for citizens to express their own views. If the former, Boston is free to choose the flags it flies without the constraints of the First Amendment’s Free Speech Clause. If the latter, the Free Speech Clause prevents Boston from refusing a flag based on its viewpoint. We conclude that, on balance, Boston did not make the raising and flying of private groups’ flags a form of government speech. That means, in turn, that Boston’s refusal to let Shurtleff and Camp Constitution raise their flag based on its religious viewpoint 'abridg[ed]' their 'freedom of speech.' U. S. Const., Amdt. I." 

Writes Justice Breyer, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Sotomayor, Kagan, Kavanaugh, and Barrett, in Shurtleff v. City of Boston, issued this morning. Justice Alito has a concurring opinion, joined by Justices Thomas and Gorsuch, and Justice Gorsuch has a concurring opinion that is joined by Justices Thomas and Alito. Justice Kavanaugh also has a concurring opinion.

You might wonder whether the Establishment Clause can justify viewpoint discrimination, but that's been dealt with in the past. That's why all the Justices agree: precedent. 

The text (at the link) includes this photo of the site of the flagpoles, Boston City Hall, which is ludicrously ugly:


"What a fucking joke -- that this person is now running a so-called 'anti-disinformation' Board inside the Department of Homeland Security."

"Many students today go quickly to the position that there is such a thing as hate speech, that they know it when they see it that and it ought to be outlawed."

"For me that’s a topic to teach, not to simply honor or denounce. I’m revealing myself here as a person whose chords and arpeggios and scales are always the history of political thought: John Stuart Mill’s 'On Liberty' is the place to start. He says that the line between your freedom and its end is where it impacts on another’s freedom. That’s the question with hate speech: When does it do that? I’ll also mention Charles Murray. That’s tricky, because his science has been discredited by his peers, and his conclusions are understood by many as a form of hate speech, because he makes an argument about the racial inferiority of Black people in their capacity to learn and to succeed in this society. It feels terrible to give him a podium and a bunch of students who would sit and imbibe that as the truth. I think if Murray is invited to campus, you can picket him, you can leaflet him, but I don’t think it should be canceled. The important thing is for students to be educated and educate others about the bad science, the discrediting of his position, and then ask, Why does he survive in the academy, and why does that bad science keep getting resuscitated? Those are important questions for students to ask and then learn how to answer. That’s what’s going to equip them in this political world."

Said Wendy Brown, the UPS Foundation Professor in the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ, quoted in "Why Critics of Angry Woke College Kids Are Missing the Point" (NYT).

A "very distinguishable voice."

I'm reading "American Idol winner Laine Hardy arrested after allegedly spying on woman/Louisiana college student found hidden audio recording device and told police she feared musician planted it there" (The Guardian). 

She... confronted Hardy, who said he left a “bug” in her room that he had since thrown into a pond, police said. Allegedly, Hardy later put his confession in writing in a social media message the woman ultimately provided to investigators.... 

The woman used Google to determine the device [she found under her bed] was actually a voice-activated recorder like the one Hardy is alleged to have claimed to have thrown in a pond.... 

Police alleged that officers heard Hardy’s “very distinguishable voice”....

He won "American Idol" with that voice, and now that voice — along with his confession — identifies him to the police.

In happier days:

"He was coming from another planet. He was reporting from something no one was seeing."

"Out of a group of idiosyncratic people, he was the most idiosyncratic. He was so interior that he made comics grow up.” 

Said Art Spiegelman, quoted in "Justin Green, Who Put Himself Into His Underground Cartoons, Dies at 76/'Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary, his epic autobiographical story of Catholic guilt and neurosis, 'made comics grow up,' a colleague said" (NYT). 

The first page of Mr. Green’s book shows Binky naked, his hands bound and his feet shackled, confessing: “O, my readers, the saga of Binky Brown is not intended solely for your entertainment, but also to purge myself of the compulsive neurosis which I have serviced since I officially left Catholicism on Halloween, 1958.” 

Binky’s misadventures begin when, as a boy, he breaks a statue of the Virgin Mary while playing baseball inside his house. The book takes him through young manhood, as he deals with bullies, nuns (“fascistic penguins,” in his words), priests, fears stoked by supernatural church doctrines that are “asserted as empirical fact,” his impure thoughts and his sexuality.

It's just by chance that I've begun the day writing about the Weather Underground and underground comics. To mark this accidental theme, I'll show you this definition of "underground" from the OED:

This is a stick-up.

I'm reading "Like Marie Antoinette," a book review written by Mario Puzo in 1968 and published in the NYT. The book under review is "The Jeweler’s Eye," by William F. Buckley Jr. 

There are a lot of things I want to blog about this morning, so why am back in 1968? It's because of the first thing I wrote about this morning, the NYT obituary for Kathy Boudin. I was struck by the sentence, "During the stickup, the gunmen killed a security guard, Peter Paige." Stickup? That strikes me as gangster slang, lacking the formality I would expect from the NYT in the account of this event that took place 4 decades ago.

Does the NYT generally use "stickup" to describe serious matters? I searched its archive, and the Mario Puzo article caught my attention:

"On a March day in 1970, Ms. Boudin was showering at a townhouse on West 11th Street in Greenwich Village when an explosion collapsed the walls around her."

"She and fellow extremists had been making bombs there, the intended target believed to have been the Fort Dix Army base in New Jersey. Three of them were killed on the spot. A naked Ms. Boudin managed to scramble away with a colleague and found clothes and brief refuge at the home of a woman living down the block. She then disappeared.... 'The very status of being underground was an identity for me,' she recalled years later.... That ended in October 1981, when she teamed up with armed men from another radical group, the Black Liberation Army, to hold up a Brink’s truck in Rockland County, N.Y., making off with $1.6 million. During the stickup, the gunmen killed a security guard, Peter Paige. They transferred the cash to a U-Haul truck that was waiting roughly a mile away. Ms. Boudin was in the cab of the truck, a 38-year-old white woman serving as a decoy to confound police officers searching for Black men. The U-Haul was stopped by the police at a roadblock. Ms. Boudin, who carried no weapon, immediately surrendered, hands in the air. But gunmen jumped from the back of the truck and opened fire, killing Sgt. Edward J. O’Grady and Officer Waverly L. Brown..... At her sentencing, [she said] ... 'I was there out of my commitment to the Black liberation struggle and its underground movement. I am a white person who does not want the crimes committed against Black people to be carried in my name.'" 

From "Kathy Boudin, Radical Imprisoned in a Fatal Robbery, Dies at 78 /She had a role in the Brink’s heist by the Weather Underground that left two police officers dead. But she became a model prisoner and, after being freed, helped former inmates" (NYT).

May 1, 2022

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk all night.

Today, I have 10 selections from TikTok — all chosen to delight and amuse. Tell me what you like best.

1. Samoyed in a backpack.

2. A very old Scottish lady tells a joke.

3. Italian husband has a strong opinion about ordering a cappuccino after lunch. 

4. Nudging into other people's neighborhood Facebook group.

5. Finally, enough time has passed that young people can genuinely love a 1970s kitchen.

6. The "Dad Awards" nominees for "Worst Case of Mistaken Identity."

7. Elon Musk is not into extending the human life span.

8. Beer!!!

9. How far would you go to restore an old doorbell

10. It is impossible to know how deeply geese love the sound of a harmonica.

"Whoever thought we’d see the day in American politics when a senator could be openly bisexual but a closeted Republican?”

Quipped Trevor Noah, about Kyrsten Sinema, at the White House Correspondents' dinner, quoted in "Trevor Noah roasts lawmakers on both sides of aisle in correspondents’ dinner remarks" (The Hill).

"The world is different than it was when I was a little kid. What I always thought was funny as a little kid isn’t necessarily the same as what’s funny now."

"Things change and the times change so it’s important for me to figure it out. I think it’s a sad dog that can’t learn any more. I don’t want to be that sad dog and I have no intention of it."

Said Bill Murray, quoted in "Bill Murray admits behaviour on set towards a woman led to halt to film/Actor describes incident that took place during production of Being Mortal as a ‘difference of opinion’" (Guardian).

"This is the first time the president has attended this dinner in six years. It’s understandable. We had a horrible plague – followed by two years of Covid."

Quipped President Biden at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, quoted in "A horrible plague, then Covid’: Biden and correspondents joke in post-Trump return to normality/White House Correspondents’ Association dinner is first attended by a sitting president in six years after Donald Trump’s snubs, then pandemic" (Guardian). 

Perhaps the biggest laugh came when Biden made light of the “Let’s Go Brandon” slogan, which has become rightwing code for swearing at him. “Republicans seem to support one fella, some guy named Brandon. He’s having a really good year and I’m kind of happy for him.”