June 11, 2022

The sunrise sequence.





Write about whatever you want in the comments.

"She is our indomitable, irreplaceable, unsinkable Liz."

Effuses Michael Gerson, in the final sentence "History will accept only one Jan. 6 narrative. This committee has it" (WaPo).

I'm reading that only because the headline bothered me so much that I felt that I needed to know how any educated, intelligent person could say such a thing. What a static, impoverished view of history! He seems to have it mixed up with propaganda — specifically, the propaganda of a totalitarian state. 

But I got distracted by the gooey fawning over Cheney. "She was calm, methodical, factual and morally grounded...." 

Anyway... here's what Gerson says about history: "There is only one narrative about Jan. 6 that history will accept: the evidence meticulously gathered and presented by the House select committee." Huh?

We will see what historians will write when they have the long perspective, see a fuller context, and it no longer has to do with the outcome of elections. What is being written now is not history. Not that history itself isn't biased, distorted, and incomplete. But it's got to be far superior to what the "select" committee is piecing together.

"Peter Lamborn Wilson, a counterculture intellectual, anarchist, poet, musicologist and utopian who coined the term 'temporary autonomous zone'... died on May 23...."

"["T.A.Z.: The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism" argued] that one could create one’s own stateless society — the goal of anarchy — with simple and poetic acts like creating public art and communal exercises like dinner parties.... When, in the fall of 2011, a crowd of protesters decrying the country’s financial system built an encampment inside Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan and declared a movement they called Occupy Wall Street, 'T.A.Z.' was in many of the organizers’ backpacks.... Temporary autonomous zones have continued to flourish....

"If I didn’t know exactly what it was, which is this computer program we built recently, I’d think it was a 7-year-old, 8-year-old kid that happens to know physics...."

"I know a person when I talk to it. It doesn’t matter whether they have a brain made of meat in their head. Or if they have a billion lines of code. I talk to them. And I hear what they have to say, and that is how I decide what is and isn’t a person."

 Said Google engineer Blake Lemoine, about LaMDA, an artificially intelligent chatbot generator, quoted in "The Google engineer who thinks the company’s AI has come to life/AI ethicists warned Google not to impersonate humans. Now one of Google’s own thinks there’s a ghost in the machine" (WaPo). 

"What is Ramsay Hunt syndrome, the condition affecting Justin Bieber?"

WaPo explains:

Ramsay Hunt syndrome is a rare neurological disorder that can occur in people who were previously infected with chickenpox. If the dormant varicella-zoster virus is reactivated, leading to shingles, it can affect the facial nerve and may lead to facial paralysis and hearing loss.... [P]rompt treatment can make a significant difference to a patient’s outcome, with about 70 percent of those who receive antiviral medication within three days of developing symptoms making a full recovery... Mild cases can resolve within a few weeks... but more severe damage to the nerve leads to a longer recovery time and lower chances of a complete return to health. 

Justin calmly explains his condition:

"The presidency is a monstrously taxing job and the stark reality is the president would be closer to 90 than 80 at the end of a second term, and that would be a major issue."

Said David Axelrod, with a distinctively clever way to state the numerical fact, quoted in "Should Biden Run in 2024? Democratic Whispers of ‘No’ Start to Rise. In interviews, dozens of frustrated Democratic officials, members of Congress and voters expressed doubts about the president’s ability to rescue his reeling party and take the fight to Republicans" (NYT). 

Another quote from Axelrod: "Biden doesn’t get the credit he deserves for steering the country through the worst of the pandemic, passing historic legislation, pulling the NATO alliance together against Russian aggression and restoring decency and decorum to the White House. And part of the reason he doesn’t is performative. He looks his age and isn’t as agile in front of a camera as he once was, and this has fed a narrative about competence that isn’t rooted in reality."

I should make a tag for "performative." It's a buzz word these days, I believe, and I'd like to keep track of it. 

"Britons should eat meat-like proteins developed from algae, wild venison and homegrown cucumbers cultivated in carbon-neutral greenhouses..."

"... ministers will recommend next week. In a blueprint for a sustainable food system, the government will ... pledge to cut the UK’s reliance on seasonal imports of fruit and vegetables by backing new factory greenhouses that can operate all year round. It will suggest promoting wild venison as a low-carbon substitute for beef and lamb as less productive farmland is rewilded. The strategy was produced in response to a government-commissioned report by Henry Dimbleby, the founder of the Leon restaurant chain, who called last year for a rethink of how the country is fed.... [The recommendation of] prescriptions of fruit and vegetables by GPs [has] been delayed...."

The London Times reports.

Dimbleby... an interesting name. I see "The Dimbleby family is an English family of journalists" (Wikipedia). Henry's great-grandfather was Frederick Jabez George Dimbleby (1876-1943), journalist for the Richmond and Twickenham Times. I wonder what he ate.

Isn't it strange that Henry Dimbleby — a "businessman and cookery writer" — was put in charge of deciding how the whole country should eat?

"During his most fertile years, Faulkner wrote at a frenetic pace. He once wrote to his mother that he wrote 10,000 words a day..."

"... working from ten in the morning to midnight. 'I write when the spirit moves me, and the spirit moves me every day.'"

 From "10 Legendary Writers & Their Daily Word Counts/Is there a perfect amount of words to write every day?" (Writing Cooperative).

"Maybe we’re getting to [new support for freedom of speech] in the broader culture, but in academia, I’m pessimistic."

"We’ve always had more people on the left than on the right in academia, and I’m not sure the ratio has changed much since I was in college or law school. But what’s happening now is different from what we’ve seen in decades past. We’re seeing a rigid ideology being put into place, subversions of free speech and due process, administrators kowtowing to activists, and illiberal trends that administrators are humoring and placating.... I’ve been in a lot of media cycles through this whole process, from my initial tweet to my suspension to my being shouted down at UC Hastings, and the current one is by far my favorite media cycle. It’s good to finally be driving the narrative. I hope that my 'lived experience,' so to speak, can in some measure advance the ball in exposing and perhaps even fixing the rot at the heart of academia."

Said Ilya Shapiro, interviewed by David Lat in "Constructive Cancellation: An Interview With Ilya Shapiro/What explains Shapiro's abrupt about-face in deciding to leave Georgetown Law?" (Substack).

"In 2020, Fern Steficek set out to raise sheep and grow plants for natural dyes in the Hudson Valley."

"She began searching for land, visiting one property that had recently been acquired by Brooklyn transplants. But when she described rotational grazing practices to the owners, which involve moving clusters of animals around the pasture using portable fencing, they were put off by the idea, saying they preferred for the livestock to dot the landscape. 'We walked around the property, and they were talking about their vision of, basically, a petting zoo,' Ms. Steficek said. They also objected to any of the animals’ being slaughtered for meat, she said. 'It was frustrating and unrealistic, and not trusting me to know how to process animals humanely, but wanting a fairy tale idea of what farming is.'... If farmers could afford their land to begin with, these alliances might not be so necessary...."

From "How 'Fairy Tale' Farms Are Ruining Hudson Valley Agriculture Farmers are losing properties to wealthy buyers from the city, while leasing land from the new owners can feel like a 'modern-day feudal system'" (NYT).

"I’m a tomboy who is happily married to an effeminate man."

"I suppose it’s only a matter of time until this type of relationship has its own designation and advocacy group. Binary gender labels have always encompassed a wide variety of preferences and experiences. I’m glad to have grown up in a time before gender was identity and sexuality was personality. I’m also glad that I was allowed to go fishing, play baseball, and wear boys’ clothes without any suggestion that my body might need to be altered to fit my interests."

Writes Amanda, in Nashville, in the comments to "Report Reveals Sharp Rise in Transgender Young/People in the U.S. New estimates based on C.D.C. health surveys point to a stark generational shift in the growth of the transgender population of the United States" (NYT). 

The article says: "The number of young people who identify as transgender has nearly doubled in recent years...." 

"[W]e were betrayed into thinking we were legalising something and we are legalising something else."

"I’m not concerned about legalisation per se, I’m concerned about legalisation without regulations that curb the development of a product into something different. It concerns me a lot. It’s like you voted for legalising X and it later becomes 100X. So it was not what you voted for."

Said Beatriz Carlini, a research scientist at the University of Washington’s Addictions, Drug and Alcohol Institute, quoted in From "Potent cannabis strain ‘causing psychosis time bomb’ in US" (London Times). 

What's available now has a THC level "as high as 90 per cent." What people were thinking about when they voted for legalization had something more like 5 per cent.

When I started reading this article, I was expecting to see some impressive evidence connecting high-potency cannabis to psychosis, so I was dismayed to encounter low-potency stuff like: "[E]xperts have warned of a possible mental health crisis after the emergence of super-strength marijuana products and states are scrambling to study a link between heavy use and psychosis."

ADDED: "As we cruise into the 1980s... 1978, going on 1981, what you see before you is a 10...  no, wait... 12! — 12-foot-long, burning [indecipherable] of marijuana..."

June 10, 2022

Sunrise — 5:17, 5:20, 5:38.




Talk about anything you want in the comments.

Here are my TikTok selections of the day. 8 of them. Let me know what you like best.

1. A demonstration of skill.

2. Sister Monica — an Episcopal nun — describes her mother's Southernisms.

3. He's got a message for architects.

4. The paradise that was high school in the 80s.

5. When a Gen Z person is kidnapped.

6. "If you're not in medicine: Try reading this...."

7. A straight man who just wants to wear high heels and a skirt.

8. "Hey, bear. It's okay."

About 20 million people watched last night's prime-time January 6th hearing.

That "pales next to presidential debates (63 million to 73 million) or this year’s State of the Union address (38 million)," but "it’s still much larger than the audience that would normally watch a daytime congressional hearing. And it’s in the ballpark of television events like a big 'Sunday Night Football' game or the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade."

That's how the NYT puts it.

I wonder how many of them already agreed with the Committee's findings and how many were the target audience of people who needed convincing.

Judy Garland is 100.

What kind of people...?

For the annals of Incomplete Questions. 

ADDED: Freeman Hunt did her own search and writes, "Ha! Finally at the end there is a bit of interest in the non-fictional world":

At Britney Spears' wedding, Spears, Madonna, Paris Hilton, Selena Gomez, Donatella Versace, and Drew Barrymore attempt a spontaneous rendition of Madonna's hit song “Vogue.”

I found that at the NY Post, which calls it "awkward." I think they were just standing together and needing to pose, so the lyric "Don’t just stand there, let’s get to it/Strike a pose, there’s nothing to it" worked as a comical way to get in the spirit of producing a good visual for still photography. We weren't really meant to listen.

And let me say they all look great. I especially love Madonna's dress and find Drew Barrymore's giant black bag pretty funny. I'm sure it must mean something, maybe something like the polar opposite of a wedding dress. Drew is not currently married (and has 3 ex-husbands).

"[Ivanka Trump] recalled when [Attorney General] Barr had said publicly on Dec. 1 that there was no evidence of fraud on a scale that would change the outcome of the election."

"When asked how it impacted her, she responded, 'It affected my perspective. I respect Attorney General Barr. So I accepted what he was saying.' The opening statement by Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) presented this as Ivanka Trump effectively saying she agreed with Barr, though Trump’s words in the excerpt — that Barr’s opinion 'affected' her view and that she 'accepted what he was saying' — were not quite so direct. She certainly indicated that she found Barr’s perspective compelling. Donald Trump said in response that his daughter was just 'trying to be respectful to Bill Barr' and didn’t study the election results herself.... The clips the committee played Thursday night seemed geared toward suggesting that even Trump’s own child...  knew better. But so far, the evidence is piecemeal, with Barr’s testimony being the most compelling, and the committee will have to build upon it."

From "How damning was the Ivanka Trump and Mark Meadows testimony? The clips of them being informed that Trump’s claims were bogus are worth parsing — as are others featured by the Jan. 6 committee" by Aaron Blake (WaPo).

They should be scrupulous in how they use evidence or they ruin their own credibility. This seems like a blatant example of stretching — of making the evidence fit the conclusion you want to draw.

"It was brought to the community’s attention that the Buddhist symbols were experienced differently and some individuals experienced harm from their presence on the building."

Said a letter from a "socially and environmentally conscious" California camp called Hidden Villa, quoted in "Bay Area Camp Suddenly Closes After Staffers Quit Over Swastika Scandal" (Daily Beast).

The swastika on the property is there because a couple who once owned the place, Frank and Josephine Duveneck, spent their honeymoon in Asia in 1913, and brought back tiles with various traditional symbols, including a swastika. 

Chris Wallace is trending on Twitter.

Lots of stuff like this:


Here's the piece at The Hill, with this, from 7:22 last night:

Now that WaPo has fired Felicia Sonmez, it feels like a good time to start following her on Twitter.

And here's the Vanity Fair article from 2 days ago, containing a lot of background, "'CLUSTERF--K': INSIDE THE WASHINGTON POST’S SOCIAL MEDIA MELTDOWN/A flurry of Twitter flare-ups and Slack spats involving Post journalists, along with a controversial suspension, have upended the newsroom and are presenting a major test for executive editor Sally Buzbee, who urged staff Tuesday to “be constructive and collegial'":

"I’m standing now, but I can sit, whatever. I want to be fully compliant. So whatever they want me to do, I’ll do."

Said Nicholas Roske, in a 911 call, quoted in "New 911 tapes show how man accused in Kavanaugh murder plot abandoned plan/Authorities say Nicholas Roske was set to sneak into justice’s home with pad-soled boots for quiet walking" (WaPo).

As detailed as Roske’s plans may have been, court records and newly released 911 calls also document how quickly he abandoned them. Once arriving to the home early Wednesday, Roske spotted two deputy U.S. marshals, part of Kavanaugh’s security detail, standing outside a car, according to an FBI affidavit filed in federal court. He walked away, turned a corner and called 911 to turn himself in.... 

On the 911 recordings, Roske calmly answered questions, telling the operator... "I’ve been having [bad thoughts] for a long time.... I’m from California. I came over here to act on them.... I just came from the airport.... I need psychiatric help."

"You could go from vegetarianism to cannibalism in one fell swoop."

 I wrote, here.

"Aware of the power of the potential public attention, the [January 6th] committee brought former ABC News president James Goldston on board to assist in the presentation."

"Did it help? It took nearly an hour into the cluttered hearing to show a clip of Trump son-in-law and close aide Jared Kushner’s testimony. A video of favorite offspring Ivanka Trump saying that she 'accepted what he (Barr) was saying' about the lack of validity of the former President’s election fraud claims was a ripple in the fact and data packed hearing when it could have been a tsunami.... What should have been John Dean moments revealing a cancer on the Presidency and the ravages of Trump’s desires right at the top of today’s presentation was instead too little, too late and, perhaps worse, likely inconsequential.... [T]he battle for hearts and minds was pretty much lost tonight before it began.... At least so far, the mixture of video segments and witness testimony unveiled no smoking gun. Leaning into history and not the immediacy, what the hearing did mainly show in its first vital hour was a stream of talking points and underwhelming clips.... [T]he audio rarely matched the video for impact, and TV is a mainly a visual medium, as any rookie reporter can tell you.... Over on Fox News... a lower third on the screen tonight read: 'Today’s Hearing Is Political Theater.' The Fox hosts were right in their assessment. What they failed to state is that the hearing wasn’t produced that well and may actually only harden the MAGA/GOP opposition in this year of midterm elections...."

Writes Dominic Patten, in "January 6 Primetime Hearing Proves An Anemic Made-For-TV Special, 2022 Style – Commentary" (Deadline).

The hearing wasn’t produced that well... It was on prime time, and they brought in former ABC News president James Goldston, so it was a show. And it wasn't a good enough show, Patten says. Fox News called it "political theater." Patten doesn't seem to have a problem with that. His problem is that it wasn't good theater. They barged into prime time, preempting scheduled broadcast TV, which said to the world: It's showtime! But then it wasn't an exciting, gripping show.

Do Americans still sit down in the evening and watch what's airing in real time on the networks? I don't think there's an automatic audience like that anymore. It seems like a picture of America in the 1960s or 70s.

"You will see that Donald Trump and his advisers knew that he had in fact lost the election. But despite this..."

"... President Trump engaged in a massive effort to spread false and fraudulent information to convince huge portions of the U.S. population that fraud had stolen the election." 

Said Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, quoted in "'Trump Was at the Center': Jan. 6 Hearing Lays Out Case in Vivid Detail" (NYT).

That seems to be the crucial question: Did Trump genuinely know he had lost the election?

Then there's the idea that's built on that: a big conspiracy to take over the government.

As the chair of the committee, Representative Bennie Thompson, put it: "Donald Trump was at the center of this conspiracy. And ultimately, Donald Trump, the president of the United States, spurred a mob of domestic enemies of the Constitution to march down the Capitol and subvert American democracy."

June 9, 2022

Sunrise — 5:14, 5:18, 5:19.




Write about anything you want in the comments.

I only have 3 TikToks today. Maybe you'll like at least one!

1. Moms talk about what words you can't use in their house.

2. A man tests out the Acapella app with the Scottish folk song "Water Is Wide."

3. Human composting.

"Sonmez on Friday used her Twitter account to call attention to a colleague, David Weigel, for retweeting a sexist joke."

"'Fantastic to work at a news outlet where retweets like this are allowed!' Sonmez tweeted in response.... Weigel apologized for the retweet and deleted it from his account. The Post subsequently suspended him without pay for a month for violating its social media policies.... In the ensuing days, Sonmez continued to use her Twitter account to focus on the incident, retweeting criticism of Weigel.... Over the weekend, Jose A. Del Real, another Post reporter, asked Sonmez to cease her criticisms, tweeting, 'Felicia, we all mess up from time to time. Engaging in repeated and targeted public harassment of a colleague is neither a good look nor is it particularly effective. It turns the language of inclusivity into clout chasing and bullying.' Del Real later tweeted that his back-and-forth with Sonmez prompted a 'barrage of online abuse directed by one person but carried out by an eager mob.' Sonmez then posted screenshots of Del Real’s tweets and wrote: 'It’s hard for me to understand why The Washington Post hasn’t done anything about these tweets.'"

From "Felicia Sonmez terminated by The Washington Post after Twitter dispute" (WaPo).

Sunrise — 5:23.


"Start with the fact that Asians are the fastest-growing racial group in the country and Democrats have viewed their vote..."

"... as an uncomplicated and burgeoning asset for them. However, starting in 2020 there were troubling signs of attrition in Asian support for Democrats.... One problem has been that Asians are worried about public safety and leery of a Democratic party that has become associated with 'defund the police' and a soft approach to containing crime. Another has been that Asians, like Hispanics, are a constituency that does not harbor particularly radical views on the nature of American society and how it must be remade to cleanse it of intrinsic racism and white supremacy.... They are far more interested in how they and their families can get ahead in actually-existing American society. Finally... Asian voters... see [education] as the key tool for upward mobility.... But Democrats have become increasingly associated with an approach to schooling that seems anti-meritocratic, oriented away from standardized tests, gifted and talented programs and test-in elite schools.... This of course was a huge issue in San Francisco, where the School Board pushed this approach up to and including replacing the rigorous entrance test for the famed Lowell School with a lottery. That move, combined with the School Board’s bizarre obsession with an 'anti-racist' school renaming project even as schools remained closed and students suffered, angered Asian parents and others so much that they took the lead in successfully recalling three of the ringleaders of this approach, a clear precursor to the current recall."

Writes Ruy Teixeira, in "Time for the Democrats’ Chesa Boudin Moment! If Not Now, When? If Not Him, Who?" (Substack).

"He seems incapable of small talk or explaining his craft, instead delivering a series of observations about the slippery nature of time, the mutability of consciousness and..."

"... the way people (and mice, apparently) fabricate their own realities. When asked how he arrived at the structure of his novel, which zigzags from the 1990s to the 1970s to the 1940s and then forward again, he replied with a koan-like commentary on the illusion of chronology: 'We settle ourselves into a grand fiction of present time. It is a fiction. Technically present time does not exist. Our sense of present time is technically impossible, because when you lift a foot from the ground, lifting it up is already past, setting it down on the ground is already future.' Herzog bristled slightly when I asked why he is drawn to stories of zealots who go to extreme lengths to pursue their obsessions — figures like Timothy Treadwell in 'Grizzly Man,' whose quest to commune with bears ended with his being mauled to death, and Lope de Aguirre, whose mission to find a lost city of gold was chronicled by Herzog in his 1972 historical drama 'Aguirre, the Wrath of God.' 'They are all family. You recognize your siblings,' he said of his subjects. 'I think none of my characters are extreme nor strange. They are dignified human beings, and they take the struggle of life as it’s thrown at them.'"

From "Werner Herzog’s Fever Dreams/The filmmaker behind 'Grizzly Man' and 'Fitzcarraldo' makes a late-career foray into fiction with his new book, 'The Twilight World.' He feels he has finally found his medium" (NYT).

The book — which you can pre-order at Amazon — comes out on the 14th. The audiobook is read by Herzog. The book is about Hiroo Onoda, a Japanese soldier who continued fighting World War II for 29 years after it ended.

"The House’s Jan. 6 committee is going prime-time.... But will Americans watch? Or care?"

That's from the written introduction to "Will Prime Time Undermine or Elevate the Jan. 6 Hearings?/Our panelists discuss how televising the House committee sessions could shape the long-haul defense of democracy" — the new episode of the NYT podcast "Sway."

Panelists, we're told, "talk about what key moments and witnesses to watch for in the hearings and whether any revelations will, as one committee member, Jamie Raskin of Maryland, suggested, 'blow the roof off the House.'"

Will Americans watch? I won't. If there's anything that blows the roof off the House — funny to use the metaphor of an explosion in the Capitol building — I'll read about it in the news. I'm not interested in pyrotechnics. I don't put up with committee hearings anymore. I'm sure the highlights will be unavoidable clips, and I'll play those when the time comes. But I won't sit still for the politicians' presentation.  

Will Americans care? I care about something, but I won't care in advance and place myself in the hands of partisan Congresspeople who want to push me around until I care about it their way.

ADDED: I will try to listen to this podcast... at least until I can't stand it anymore. Quite aside from the content, the sound quality is very poor, at a level that the most small-time podcaster would want to avoid. Why is the NYT putting out such low quality audio? 

AND: Kara Swisher (the host) asks: "Is it good or bad that it's being produced like a TV special?"

ALSO: It's a 41-minute podcast. I almost made it to 9 minutes. That's it for me.

"A jobsworth is a person who uses the (typically minor) authority of their job in a deliberately uncooperative way, or who seemingly delights..."

"... in acting in an obstructive or unhelpful manner. It characterizes one who upholds petty rules even at the expense of effectiveness or efficiency. 'Jobsworth' is a British colloquial word derived from the phrase 'I can't do that, it's more than my job's worth,' meaning that to do what is requested of them would be against what their job requires and would be likely to cause them to lose their job. The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as 'A person in authority (esp. a minor official) who insists on adhering to rules and regulations or bureaucratic procedures even at the expense of common sense.'"

Wikipedia defines "Jobsworth," a word I just learned.

I encountered it in the context of a Reddit discussion of that Disney employee who intervened in a marriage proposal. (Video at the link.) Somebody commented: "What a jobsworth….karma will deal with his decision to destroy a once in a lifetime moment for that couple."

The OED finds the earliest use in print in the September 1970 issue of the magazine Melody Maker: "If you are a taxi-driver, jobsworth or policeman, you will now be able to understand hippie lingo." Oh, now I desperately want to read Melody Maker's guide to hippie lingo!

Of course, there are many other lists of hippie lingo, but I want one written in 1970. Here's something from 2021, informing us of the too-obvious: bread, dough, bummer, dig, downer, flow (in "go with the flow"), fry, the fuzz, grok, groove, groovy, hang-up, head, hit, heavy, the man, the establishment, mellow, primo, psychedelic, threads, trip, trippy, vibe. 

And then all the phrases, like "blow your mind." Too numerous to type out here. But they left out my favorite: "Do your own thing." 

That's the problem with being a jobsworth. You're quite specifically not doing your own thing.

I was just rewatching the movie "The Times of Bill Cunningham," about the street fashion photographer. At one point, he says: "You see, if you don’t take money, they can’t tell you what to do, kid. That’s the key to the whole thing. Don’t touch money."

June 8, 2022

Fennel with — look closely — columbine at sunrise.


It was overcast at 5:28 a.m., and despite the storm that was to arrive soon, there was no "red sky in the morning." A little pinkishness to the west, and no sight of the sun. So let the little pop of red in that columbine stand in for the sun. Click and click again to enlarge and increase the chance of seeing the columbine.

Talk about whatever you like in the comments.

ADDED: Is it fennel? Sweet fennel — that's what my plant identification app told me. But here's my post from last year, at the same location, and the plant app said Golden Alexander. The important point is just that it's not the hated plant called wild parsnip. So don't get cranked up about that.

I've got 9 selections from TikTok for you today. Let me know what you like best.

1. A baby camel.

2. What people in different parts of the world put on their oatmeal.

3. Dark colors are exactly right for this Victorian house.

4. The metal container, the mountain of sugar, and the cup of coffee with the spinning foam.

5. The Scotsman talks to the Englishman.

6. The denouncement of "performative work."

7. Maybe you don't know how to close a door.

8. Here's a good lesson in pausing a moment and not giving the obvious answer to a question.

9. Here's a good lesson in you are not alone.

"After a weeks-long impasse, Twitter’s board plans to comply with Elon Musk’s demands for internal data by offering access to its full 'firehose,' the massive stream of data..."

"... comprising more than 500 million tweets posted each day, according to a person familiar with the company’s thinking, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the state of negotiations."

WaPo reports.

"[T]he boys are arguing that their use of biologically correct, if politically incorrect, pronouns is speech protected by the First Amendment."

"The Constitution also forbids the district from compelling them to speak as district bureaucrats suddenly — how long ago did they embrace this orthodoxy? — prefer. Furthermore, the [the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty] says it has spoken with another Kiel Area family “whose daughter was recently given an in-school suspension for ‘sexual harassment’ based on a single statement using an allegedly ‘wrong’ pronoun — and the statement was said to a third party, not even to the allegedly 'misgendered' student."

Writes George Will in "When the pronoun police come for eighth-graders" (WaPo).

The highest-rated comment over there is: "Misgendering someone maliciously is discrimination. Your crutch of 'biological sex' gives your argument a veneer of legitimacy, when you're really arguing that it's fine for these boys to bully this kid. You devoted a whole column to defend teenage bullies picking on the kid that's different. Please think about how sad that is. Why make an argument against inclusion, just because it doesn't fit perfectly into your worldview? Genderqueer people are only asking for basic dignity and respect, it's not 'woke-ness,' it's basic human decency."

"The hearings starting Thursday will feature a documentary filmmaker who has new video evidence of the violent mob assault incited by Donald Trump..."

"... and extensive advance planning among paramilitary-type groups. Riveting material about Trump’s corruption and the GOP’s enabling of it will follow. By contrast, Fox hosts are gearing up to substitute a propagandistic alternative story in which the only real victims related to Jan. 6 and the hearings are Trump and his supporters. House Republicans allied with Trump will manufacture material for this disinformation push designed to keep the truth from the base at all costs."

Writes Greg Sargent in "Fox News’s blackout of Jan. 6 points to a hidden crisis for Democrats" (WaPo).

A propagandistic alternative story or an alternative propagandistic story?

Garner, the name (I approve!).

ADDED: The film will be directed by Madonna!

"As execs call employees back to the office, many workers wonder why, if they spent the past years toiling in gym shorts, they should suddenly be thrust back..."

"... into business-casual khakis and ties. Shorts may, in fact, represent one way to lure staff back into the office this summer.... ... Blake Markus, 38, the president of a small law firm in Jefferson City, Mo.... wears straight-fitting shorts in red or teal to compliment his red Chuck Taylor sneakers and maintains no actual dress code at his office, only asking staff to dress up if they're heading to court. He claims that wearing shorts also endears his staff to clients. 'It actually comes off as being extremely authentic and in some weird way helps build rapport with our clients and vendors,' he said.... 'Having my bottom half of my legs exposed at work feels somehow wrong unless I've been given explicit permission to do so,' said Pete Treigan, 27, who works in advertising in Durham, N.C. He was recently startled to spot his company's CFO in shorts: 'I was like, "Oh, didn't see this for you -- but all right."' Still, as a relatively new junior employee, absent a companywide 'shorts are good!' sign-off, Mr. Treigan plans to wear lightweight khaki trousers from Banana Republic."

From "Finally, We Can Wear Shorts in the Office. (Maybe)/Once-settled etiquette questions are open again, thanks to a return-to-office summer with fewer style rules and more casual norms" (Wall Street Journal).

Not mentioned in the article: Air conditioning. You don't need your legs exposed if you're sitting in an air conditioned office. I think Mr. Treigan has it right. Keep your pants on. But I must say, the notion that wearing shorts gives the impression of extreme authenticity is funny. Nudity is authentic too. How much "authenticity" do people want?

"In the 1980s and ’90s, the Democratic Party embraced big increases in police funding, longer prison sentences and greater use of the death penalty."

"Part of the rationale was a well-intentioned effort to fight crime. But part of it was also an electoral one — a desire to appease the conservative and anti-Black sentiments of some White swing voters.... In the 1990s, Democrats didn’t have the evidence that has since accumulated suggesting that many punitive criminal justice policies don’t reliably reduce crime, nor did they have a stream of videos displaying horrible incidents of police brutality. And back then, the political rationale was largely about keeping Republicans out of office. Now, some centrist Democrats are using alarmist rhetoric hyping America’s crime rates and misleading statements about progressive policies to undercut the party’s emergent left wing....  It’s clear, though, that two things did not cause this increase: 'reform prosecutors' like [Chesa] Boudin and the 'defund the police' movement. Few cities have actually reduced their police budgets, and homicide rate increases happened in many cities that increased spending. There is no correlation between more progressive prosecutors and homicide rates."

From "Centrists’ new war on crime is also a war on the left" by Perry Bacon Jr. (WaPo).

"I’m very skeptical about much of psychoanalysis... I think it’s such a narcissistic indulgence that I cannot believe in it."

Said Sophie Freud, quoted in "Sophie Freud, professor who challenged her grandfather’s doctrine, dies at 97/The last surviving grandchild of Sigmund Freud described her grandfather as one of the 'false prophets of the 20th century'" (WaPo).

"A California man carrying at least one weapon near Brett M. Kavanaugh’s Maryland home has been taken into custody by police after telling officers he wanted to kill the Supreme Court justice..."

"... according to people familiar with the investigation. The man, described as being in his mid-20s, was found to be carrying at least one weapon and burglary tools, these people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.... Two people familiar with the investigation said the initial evidence indicates that the man was angry about the leaked draft of an opinion by the Supreme Court signaling that the court is preparing to overturn Roe. v. Wade..."

WaPo reports.

AND: This is absolutely right: "So Long As Dobbs Remains Undecided, The Lives of the Justices Are At Risk/The Dobbs 5 should immediately issue an unsigned per curiam order, with an opinion to follow, even over the Chief Justice's objection" (Josh Blackman at Volokh Conspiracy).

"Why would anyone assume they could get onstage at Disney for their own personal reasons? The article makes it sound so sad, their dreams were dashed."

"But... if my dream were to propose in front of a Broadway crowd, I should just get a new dream (and certainly wouldn't expect apologies and free tickets!)" 

That's the top-rated comment at "Disney Apologizes After Employee Thwarts Marriage Proposal/A man had been planning for months to pop the question at Disneyland Paris, but the employee instead snatched the ring and ushered the couple off a stage" (NYT). 

"Her Harvard-educated lawyer father drove her to skating practice, and her Cornell-educated grade-school-teacher mother gave her standardized tests 'for fun'..."

"... and made sure Keri tried 'all the possible childhood activities,' including piano, soccer, horseback riding, gymnastics, Girl Scouts — 'a smorgasbord of suburbia.' Blakinger was an A student, won writing awards and became a competitive figure skater.... [B]y fifth grade, she 'discovered self-destruction'... Blakinger drank alcohol, huffed glue, ate Tylenol 3s, smoked pot and took Adderall and Ecstasy.... 'They say that eating disorders are about control, but it is not that straightforward,' she writes. 'They are also about self-destruction that feels like success. I wanted to waste away, slowly and tragically.'... At 17, Blakinger began engaging in sex for the money she needed to support her addiction. She writes, 'I would always count the stars through every trick. If I could not see the stars, I would count ceiling tiles or specks on the floor. If I could not do that, I would close my eyes and count twinkling points of light in my mind.'... Blakinger was convicted of criminal possession of a controlled substance (six ounces of heroin in a Tupperware container) and spent almost two years in jails and prisons...."

From "A Harrowing Journey From Cornell to Addiction to Prison In her memoir, 'Corrections in Ink,' Keri Blakinger writes about her determination to improve the criminal justice system" by David Sheff (NYT).

"She contextualizes fandom as a culturewide coping mechanism and creative outlet..."

"... it can be a lifeline for a lonely and powerless teenager, a site of reflection for a middle-aged mom or a wonderful excuse for anyone to scream into the void."

Writes Amanda Hess in "'We Took a Chonce,' and Other Dispatches From Fandom/In defense of One Direction, Twitter teens and screaming women everywhere" (NYT). 

The "She" who "contextualizes" is Kaitlyn Tiffany, whose new book is “Everything I Need I Get From You: How Fangirls Created the Internet as We Know It."

We were just talking about that word yesterday — "contextualize." Remember? "[Stacey] Abrams immediately tried to 'contextualize' her remarks..." That's the post where I got into the Southern idiom "Bless her heart," but several commenters wanted to go after "contextualize." I remembered and am getting to that today. Let's talk about "contextualizing." 

"What we're trying to say...." Just say it! Otherwise it sounds as though you're not really saying it but referring to something written down somewhere.

I was going to say that reminded me of George H.W. Bush's "Message: I care," but then I found that old clip and watched it...


... and even though that still makes me laugh, by contrast to Karine Jean-Pierre's performance, it felt kind of authentic. What's similar is the sense that he was referring to talking points that he wasn't supposed to say out loud. It sees that he'd been given the note that he ought to convey the message "I care," and instead of showing his caring, he stated the contents of the note. That's what Jean-Pierre did. It seems that she couldn't directly say the economy is in something like a good place. She knew that's what she was supposed to say. And then what she said was revealing that background scenario: They've figured out what they should try to say. That gives the whole game away!

"Voters in California delivered a stark warning to the Democratic Party on Tuesday about the potency of law and order as a political message in 2022..."

"... as a Republican-turned-Democrat campaigning as a crime-fighter vaulted into a runoff in the mayoral primary in Los Angeles and a progressive prosecutor in San Francisco was recalled in a landslide. The two results made vivid the depths of voter frustration over rising crime and rampant homelessness in even the most progressive corners of the country — and are the latest signs of a restless Democratic electorate that was promised a return to normalcy under President Biden and yet remains unsatisfied with the nation’s state of affairs. 'People are not in a good mood, and they have reason not to be in a good mood,' said Garry South, a Los Angeles-based Democratic strategist. 'It’s not just the crime issue. It’s the homelessness. It’s the high price of gasoline.'"

From "California Sends Democrats and the Nation a Message on Crime/The recall of a progressive prosecutor in San Francisco and the strong showing by a former Republican in the mayor’s race in Los Angeles showed the shifting winds on criminal justice" (NYT).

"For Democrats, the issue of crime and disorder threatens to drive a wedge between some of the party’s core constituencies, as some voters demand action on racial and systemic disparities while others are focused on their own sense of safety in their homes and neighborhoods. 'People walking the streets, in many cases, feel themselves in danger, and that’s got to be dealt with,' said Willie Brown, a Democrat who is the former mayor of San Francisco. But Mr. Brown said too many Democrats do not want to talk about 'what cops do' for fear of crossing the party’s activist class and offending 'A.O.S. or A.O.C. or whatever that woman’s name is,' he said dismissively of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, the influential progressive."

Or whatever that woman’s name is.... Are Democrats going to overdo their sloughing off of their own extreme left?

"TikTok has been remarkably clear that partisan and political ads—and these are ads, in that people are being paid to promote something on behalf of a third party—are not OK..."

"... issuing a statement in October 2019, that read, in part, '[W]e will not allow paid ads that promote or oppose a candidate, current leader, political party or group, or issue at the federal, state, or local level—including election-related ads, advocacy ads, or issue ads.'... Even as progressive and Democratic-aligned organizations are increasingly interested in fighting 'disinformation,' progressive and Democratic-aligned organizations are employing strategies, like covert paid ad campaigns, that would presumably be found distasteful or immoral—or described as disinformation—if utilized by someone from across the aisle.... In a statement, a spokesperson for TikTok told us, '... Political discourse is allowed as long as it complies with our community guidelines and is organic content, meaning there is no sponsorship or paid promotion behind it.'"

From "A PR Firm Is Paying TikTok Influencers to Promote Liberal Causes and Hype Democrats’ Middling Accomplishments/Vocal Media “recruits, trains, and pays influencers” to promote liberal causes on TikTok. It’s easy to see how less-benign actors could use their model" (Vice). 

Where is the line between advertising and political speech? And how does that question relate to the concept "organic content"?

The TikTok statement defines "organic content" as content with "no sponsorship or paid promotion behind it." But is that precise? Here's a recent Forbes article, "The Differences Between Paid And Organic Content On Social Media"

"CNN's new boss, Chris Licht... wants to give personalities that may appear polarizing a chance to prove they're willing to uphold the network's values..."

"... so that they don't tarnish CNN's journalism brand.... Licht doesn't want to necessarily shy away from personality programming, especially in prime time, but he wants to ensure that partisan voices don't dominate in a way that harms CNN, a source notes.... Licht said he agrees with complaints from 'people both inside and outside the organization' that the network overuses the 'Breaking News' banner. 'We are truth-tellers, focused on informing, not alarming our viewers,' he said...."

Says Axios.

It still sounds as though journalistic values are a means to an end, the end being profit. If the overheated sensationalism and Breaking News!!!! alarms were working, would they perceive a problem to be solved?

What TV news do I watch? That's easy: None. I read the news, and if there's a video clip I need to see, I find it on line. No change to the programming could bring me back. I wouldn't even notice it.

June 7, 2022

At the Sunrise Café...

IMG_0942 2

... you can write about whatever you want.

IMG_0946 2

"If the Great Salt Lake, which has already shrunk by two-thirds, continues to dry up, here’s what’s in store..."

"The lake’s flies and brine shrimp would die off — scientists warn it could start as soon as this summer — threatening the 10 million migratory birds that stop at the lake annually to feed on the tiny creatures. Ski conditions at the resorts above Salt Lake City, a vital source of revenue, would deteriorate. The lucrative extraction of magnesium and other minerals from the lake could stop. Most alarming, the air surrounding Salt Lake City would occasionally turn poisonous. The lake bed contains high levels of arsenic and as more of it becomes exposed, wind storms carry that arsenic into the lungs of nearby residents, who make up three-quarters of Utah’s population. 'We have this potential environmental nuclear bomb that’s going to go off if we don’t take some pretty dramatic action,' said Joel Ferry, a Republican state lawmaker and rancher who lives on the north side of the lake....  In theory, the fix is simple: Let more water from melting snowpack reach the lake, by sending less toward homes, businesses and farms. But metropolitan Salt Lake City has barely enough water to support its current population. And it is expected to grow almost 50 percent by 2060...."

The NYT reports.

"So whether the staffers and editors at places like the Times and the Post ignored the riots of summer 2020 while genuflecting to the lunatic idea that op-eds are violence..."

"... because they were true believers in the new dogma or because they were careerists or because they were just plain scared only meant that some of them broke your heart more than others. But knowing that wasn’t enough to untether me, even after I left. The real way I finally left old media is through the thrill of building something new. The moment I began this publication was the moment everything changed for me. As someone who was used to sitting in the bleachers with the other critics, I finally understood what all that talk about building new things was about. I’m making something that I am proud of with people I admire.... If the best journalism right now is fractured between hundreds of Twitter feeds, newsletters and podcasts, making it impossible for normal, busy people to discover it, we ultimately want to bring it all together in one place. We want to be your algorithm."

Writes Bari Weiss in "The Washington Post’s Descent Into Middle School Antics/And why we're building something new" (Common Sense).

"They’re scary motherf-----s to get involved with. We know they killed [Khashoggi] and have a horrible record on human rights."

"They execute people over there for being gay. Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates." 

Said Phil Mickelson, quoted in "Dustin Johnson quits PGA, joins Phil Mickelson on Saudi-backed tour" (WaPo).

"[Stacey] Abrams immediately tried to 'contextualize' her remarks..."

"... by pointing to declining wages and the state’s high maternal mortality rates. Days later, she called her comments 'inelegant' but her sentiment true."

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, in "'Bless her heart.' Kemp ad slams Abrams for ‘worst state in the country to live’ remark." 

Here's Kemp's ad:

ADDED: To what extent is "Bless her heart" an insult? That's a question I considered 10 years ago, when Mitt Romney said it about Obama.

AND: Southern Living says: "Southerners know that the meaning of the phrase depends on the tone in which it's spoken, and a slight change in inflection or volume can make all the difference...."

"Nowadays, if my wife Belinda and I start to square off... we take a break for 20 to 30 minutes, and we’ll come back."

"And one or the other of us will say something like: 'Hey, do you want to fight? I don’t really want to fight. Can we get out of it? What do you need from me?' And Belinda will say, 'Well, you can say you’re sorry about blah, blah, blah.' I say, 'OK, you’re right. I apologize.' Then, I might ask her to be accountable for three things, and she’ll take ownership of one and I let the other two go. And we’re done. What would take five or six days now takes 20 minutes.... There’s no such thing as an individual. We co-regulate each other’s nervous systems all day long. We need to shift from the control model to a collaborative one, an ecologically humble model. You’re not above the system, you’re in it. You breathe it."

From "A Couples Counselor Takes On ‘Normal Marital Hatred’/In his new book, ‘Us’, Terrence Real explores how ‘enlightened self interest’ could save your relationship" (NYT).

"Many of us grew up being told by phys ed teachers that we should run as fast as our little legs could carry us...."

"When I talk about being a devoted runner, I always qualify it by saying that I’m slow — just in case the person I’m speaking to decides to look up my race times and call me out for being an impostor.... Over the years I have learned that, like body acceptance, pace acceptance can come from shifting our focus from external metrics and others’ perceived judgments to how we actually feel in our own skin... There are also physical benefits to running at a pace that doesn’t feel punishing.... Running with intensity might build muscle, but running at an easy pace... does a better job of conditioning our heart and lungs and boosting our endurance.... Exercise scientists suggest running at a 'conversational' pace — one at which you can run and talk without feeling winded. The other benefit of the talk test is the talk itself. Jogging and conversing with others forms community — and social bonding releases even more endocannabinoids...."

Writes in "How I Learned to Love Finishing Last/In a sport that rewards speed, sometimes it’s healthier to be the tortoise than to be the hare" (NYT).

"Democrats Can Win This Fall if They Make One Key Promise... Give us the House and two more senators, and we will make Roe law in January 2023."

Writes Josh Marshall (in the NYT).

Democrats hope to make November’s midterm elections a referendum on Roe v. Wade.... But you can’t make an election into a referendum on an issue if you can’t point to anything winning the election would accomplish. To make the 2022 elections a referendum on Roe, Democrats have to put protecting Roe and abortion rights on the table. 

Here’s one way to do that: get clear public commitments from every Senate Democrat (and candidate for Senate) not only to vote for the Roe bill in January 2023 but also to change the filibuster rules to ensure that a majority vote would actually pass the bill and send it to the White House for the president’s signature.... 

If... there are 48 Senate Democrats ready to make that pledge... That is, all current Democratic Senators except Manchin and Sinema. they need two additional Democratic senators in the next Congress.

There needs to be a specific commitment to an explicit statutory text and to changing the filibuster rule.

No ambiguity, no haggling, no living in Senator Manchin’s head for a year. You give us this, and we’ll give you that. That tells voters exactly what will be delivered with a Democratic win. It also defines what constitutes a win: control of the House and two more Senate seats.

I don't know if that strong position would win them the majority they'd need to follow through. What if their commitment to ending the filibuster ends up inspiring Republicans — if Republicans, as predicted, take the majority — to end the filibuster and pass some things they like — including anti-abortion legislation?

"Egg freezing today is sold as an empowering option for everyone. Fertility clinics and egg-freezing 'studios' hammer this message home..."

"... through social-media advertising aimed at under-40 women, promotional vans offering free fertility tests to passersby on the street, and wine-and-cheese informational nights held at clinics and egg-freezing studios across the country. But when it comes to women in larger bodies, some clinics draw the line, turning away patients over a certain body mass index, or BMI. Although there is no national data kept on this phenomenon, an estimated 11.7 percent of American women are considered severely obese, with a body mass index of 40 or higher.... 'This has been a real blow to their body confidence, to how they feel in their body... because they feel that this option — this thing that should be available to everybody — has been taken away from them.'" 

From "Egg Freezing’s BMI Problem/For some patients of size, the promise of future family planning is a broken one" (The Cut).

"You don’t have to just be a stay-at-home mom, you can aspire to be a young child-free woman and not work."

"I spend my hours doing what I want and have time to look after my body, cook nice meals and spend quality time with friends."

Says Emily de Rean, 37, who "previously worked as a financial analyst, but now lives off her boyfriend’s money after realizing she was unhappy climbing the corporate ladder," quoted in "I quit my job to be a full-time girlfriend: Get fit, cook and you can too" (NY Post). 

She had already quit her finance job — and switched to being a nanny — when she met this rich boyfriend who "encouraged me to stop working and become a stay-at-home girlfriend, so I could have time to do something more productive."

"The stupidity of people comes from having an answer for everything. The wisdom of the novel comes from having a question for everything."

"When Don Quixote went out into the world, that world turned into a mystery before his eyes. That is the legacy of the first European novel to the entire subsequent history of the novel. The novelist teaches the reader to comprehend the world as a question. There is wisdom and tolerance in that attitude. In a world built on sacrosanct certainties the novel is dead. The totalitarian world, whether founded on Marx, Islam, or anything else, is a world of answers rather than questions. There, the novel has no place."

Milan Kundera, "The Book of Laughter and Forgetting."

"I am a fundamentally principled person. I have no patience for cancel culture. None. And I don’t care who’s arguing for the cancellation."

Said Georgetown professor Carol Christine Fair, quoted in "A Conservative Quits Georgetown’s Law School Amid Free Speech Fight/Ilya Shapiro, who tweeted that a 'lesser Black woman' would get a Supreme Court nod, was cleared by a school investigation. He decided to leave anyway" (NYT).

Fair is one of the professors Shapiro quoted in his resignation letter. He used her as an example of a Georgetown professor who'd tweeted something that was offensive but was not treated as harshly as he was. As the NYT puts it:

June 6, 2022

At the Monday Night Café...

 ... you can talk about whatever you want.

No photo today. It rained again.

Here are 5 carefully selected TikToks. Let me know what you like best.

1. The parrot's word play.

2. The life of a live-in private chef in the Hamptons.

3. A strange 19th century courting ritual.

4. Static electricity and the dog.

5. The man without stable footing.

"Punctuality is paramount as we are going through a re-evaluation of our relationship to time."

"There has been less tolerance for lateness because there is expectation that you have more control over your time and so you should be on time." 

Said Linda Ong, chief executive officer of an L.A. consulting firm, quoted in "Punctuality Is Having a Moment/'Fashionably late' falls out of fashion after more than two years of remote work, when, for many people, there was no good reason to be tardy" (NYT).

Glenn Greenwald compares how WaPo treated Taylor Lorenz with how it treated David Weigel.

ADDED: Greenwald goes on in a series of tweets that I won't link to individually: 

"[W]hat we want is them to know that all are welcome and loved here. But when we put it on our bodies, I think a lot of guys decided that it’s just a lifestyle that maybe..."

"... not that they look down on anybody or think differently – it’s just that maybe we don’t want to encourage it if we believe in Jesus, who’s encouraged us to live a lifestyle that would abstain from that behavior.... It’s not judgmental. It’s not looking down. It’s just what we believe the lifestyle he’s encouraged us to live, for our good, not to withhold. But again, we love these men and women, we care about them, and we want them to feel safe and welcome here.”

Said Tampa Bay pitcher Jason Allen, quoted in "'We don’t want to encourage it': some Rays players refuse to wear Pride logo" (The Guardian).

"A children's museum is apologizing after a social media user pointed out that its Juneteenth menu perpetuated stereotypes about Black people."

"The Children's Museum of Indianapolis on Friday posted about its special 'Juneteenth Jamboree' to celebrate the federal holiday that commemorates the emancipation of slaves. Shortly after, a user Jonelle Slaughter posted a comment that included a photo of the museum's 'Juneteenth Watermelon Salad.'"

 NBC News reports.

"After a more than four-month investigation that led to his reinstatement last week, Ilya Shapiro resigned today from Georgetown University Law Center...."

"Georgetown investigated Shapiro after he tweeted that Sri Srinivasan, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, would be President Biden’s 'best pick' for the Supreme Court. He continued: 'But alas [Srinivasan] doesn’t fit into latest intersectionality hierarchy so we’ll get lesser black woman.'...  When Georgetown reinstated Shapiro, it said that university policies did not apply to him when he tweeted on Jan. 26, as his employment was to begin Feb. 1.... [A]ccording to Shapiro, the university investigative report said... if he were to 'make another, similar or more serious remark as a Georgetown employee, a hostile environment based on race, gender, and sex likely would be created.' In making this determination, Georgetown effectively told Shapiro he must either toe the company line and keep dissenting opinions to himself or face another investigation and possible sanction.... Shapiro additionally cited examples of Georgetown professors’ remarks on matters of public concern that drew attention and ire. None of these professors, however, were investigated or punished, demonstrating disparate treatment by the university...."

FIRE reports, with the full text of Shapiro's letter, which I've read and strongly recommend. I'll excerpt a few things: 

"I have now read several reports on the subject of this 'slight to Islam' and not one of the articles have told me what was said or what the insulting words actually were."

"Why? Are we so afraid of offending Muslims that the words cannot be repeated even in a news article? This is not the way of modern western countries. If this were about a perceived insult to the Catholic Church or a Pentecostal Church, I have no doubt we would have been given the bald facts - including what was actually said that caused offence. We should stop tip-toeing around Islam."

That's the top comment on the Washington Post article, "Muslim nations slam India over insulting remarks about Islam." I read that comment after reading the article, paragraph by paragraph, getting more and more exasperated by the lack of any quote of the "insulting remarks."

"Far more prone to salty language behind the scenes than popularly known, Biden also recently erupted over being kept out of the loop about the direness of the baby formula shortage..."

"... that has gripped parts of the country, according to a White House staffer and a Democrat with knowledge of the conversation. He voiced his frustration in a series of phone calls to allies, his complaints triggered by heart-wrenching cable news coverage of young mothers crying in fear that they could not feed their children. Biden didn’t want to be painted as slow to act on a problem affecting the working-class people with whom he closely identifies.... Members of Biden’s inner circle... have complained that West Wing staff has managed Biden with kid gloves, not putting him on the road more or allowing him to flash more of his genuine, relatable, albeit gaffe-prone self."

From "Biden wants to get out more, seething that his standing is now worse than Trump’s/Frustrations are mounting and the window for a political revival is closing" by Jonathan Lemire (at Politico).

Let the seething geezer out — gaffe-prone and erupting with salty language. 

What do you think he said when he erupted saltily over being kept out of the loop about the direness of the baby formula shortage? It's fucking babies, man, babies, fucking babies, man, they need their fucking formula, man!!!

"Former President Donald Trump is bored at Mar-a-Lago and anxious to get back in the political arena — as a candidate, not a kingmaker..."

"... according to his advisers, who are divided over whether he should launch a third bid for the presidency as early as this summer. While many Trump confidants believe he should wait until after November's midterm elections... some say he could move more quickly to harness supporters and deny fuel to the busload of GOP hopefuls in his rearview mirror.... Without specifically addressing the question of timing, Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich said in a text exchange with NBC News that he sees growing public appetite for a Trump comeback. 'America was strong, prosperous and greatly respected under President Trump, and that’s why he continues to have unprecedented strength through his endorsement record and the demand for his leadership has never been higher,' Budowich said.... [If he announces, Trump] might inadvertently aid Biden by giving the president a contrast point. 'The clearest, cleanest path is to have a cage-match rematch.... If you have that rematch too early, it could actually help Biden a little bit. ... Trump in modest doses has been good for Trump.'"

Writes Jonathan Allen (at Politico).

"Tonight, he perfectly panfried two veal chops the size of snowshoes and served them with risotto and pre-natal zucchini."

"Sage was used, and, as is his habit, he took great care spooning the life-giving drippings onto the meat. Like always, we ate at the table, which was set and had candles on it.... We usually sit down for dinner between 9:30 and ten. I like to eat until I hate myself.... I once ate an entire 12-ounce can [of Aunt Ruby’s peanuts] in one sitting, hoping I’d get eternally sick of them, the way I did with Goldfish crackers when I was 6. No such luck, though. Aunt Ruby’s peanuts are my weakness. I cannot resist them, and so I have to do things like eat salads and fish and diet Jell-O in order to fit them into my life. I have to walk a minimum of 15 miles a day and do these sad little exercises all morning otherwise I would be massively overweight, which is something I like on other people, just not on myself."

From "David Sedaris Eats Until He Hates Himself/'Too much lunch puts me in a stupor, but at night, I really take the gloves off'" by David Sedaris (Grub Street).

I love David Sedaris. I even bought Aunt Ruby's peanuts in the middle of reading the article. Of course, I'm reading his new book — that is, I'm listening to the audiobook for the 4th time. Chapter 9 — "Highfalutin" — was recorded at the show he did here in Madison, so I am personally, minusculely, present in the recording.

"There’s a strange afterlife that [George] Carlin enjoys, not just as a comic but also as a moral compass."

"Few of us care in quite the same way if our choices in life would meet the approval of Johnny Carson or Andy Kaufman.... It’s still bracing to hear the bitter wordplay in his lament: 'It’s called the American dream because you have to be asleep to believe it.'... But the durability of Carlin’s material can be dangerous, too. Dislocated from the time and circumstances that inspired his work, the arguments he delivered can be made to serve purposes he didn’t intend. As those who were closest to him have learned, when he is unable to advocate for himself, he can be made to seem like he supported any opinion at all. 'It is a daily battle for me,' said Kelly Carlin, the comedian’s daughter.... Kelly Carlin said her father was '99 percent progressive'... But he was also critical of Democrats and 'guilty white liberals,' while he endorsed other ideas that conservatives supported. He despised euphemism and the policing of language, reviled what he called 'the continued puss-ification of the American male' and rebuked his countrymen who would 'trade away a little of their freedom for the feeling — the illusion — of security.'"

From "The Strange Afterlife of George Carlin/Nearly 14 years after his death, his provocative humor has been embraced by people across the political spectrum. What happens when comedy outlasts the era it was made for?" by Dave Itzkoff (NYT).

"What is coastal grandmother, you ask? It’s a term that I coined for this aesthetic.... If you love Nancy Meyers movies, coastal vibes, recipes and cooking..."

"... Ina Garten, cozy interiors, and more, there’s a good chance you might be a coastal grandmother. And no—you don’t have to be a grandmother to be a coastal grandmother. It’s for anyone and everyone. I even made this playlist on Spotify so you can have the coastal-gran ambience with you everywhere you go. If any of this sounds like you, follow along and we’ll gran together."

Said Lex Nicoleta — see her say it in this TikTok — quoted by Caitlin Flanagan in "I’m a Coastal Grandmother. Stop Appropriating Our Culture. Young people on TikTok are trying to hijack my lifestyle" (The Atlantic).

"What is it like for a college student who has never committed a crime to have the police break down his door and seize his gun?"

"What’s it like to have to get examined by psychiatrists and psychologists to essentially prove that he’s not a danger to himself or others?"

Said Peter H. Tilem, a lawyer who's had "red flag" clients , quoted in "How a New York County Used the State’s ‘Red Flag’ Law to Seize 160 Guns/Suffolk County on Long Island aggressively uses the law to take guns from people in crisis in an effort to prevent shootings and suicides. Its experience could inform a national debate" (NYT).

"I believe this is the first time this has happened in the history of cancer."

Said Dr. Luis A. Diaz Jr., of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, quoted in "A Cancer Trial’s Unexpected Result: Remission in Every Patient/The study was small, and experts say it needs to be replicated. But for 18 people with rectal cancer, the outcome led to 'happy tears'" (NYT).

June 5, 2022

At the Over Lode Café...


... you can write about whatever you want. 


No sunrise photo today. It was raining. What you see there is a photo my son Chris took of me hiking the Over Lode Trail in Blue Mound State Park a few days ago.

Just 5 TikToks for you today, but I've been highly selective, and I think it will be a challenge to identify your favorite.

1. The lizard's charming feast.

2. Staying in the hotel that is Frank Lloyd Wright's only skyscraper.

3. At the 7-Ele-en, a flattened "slice of heaven."

4. Just seeking a definition of "woman."

5. What is a vacation? What is a weekend?

"As I gathered words like gems, I realised that they weren't just funny, strange and beautiful, but that together they told a story about people's lives more than a millennium ago."

Said Hana Videen, author of "The Wordhord," quoted in "'The Wordhord' Review: Here Be Dragons/Old English words can be vaguely familiar and strangely evocative. They conjure a long-ago world of mundane worries and wild imaginings" (Wall Street Journal).

There was no Old English word for "nature"; one simply referred to "sceaft" (creation). Ms. Videen explains that "when left untouched by humans, sceaft was wild, often incomprehensible, inspiring fear and awe rather than joy and admiration." Accordingly, a horse, instead of being seen to have intrinsic beauty, became attractive only once fitted with a fine saddle and gold ornaments. "Sceaft" was haunted by elves, nymphs and goblins....
A much-admired feature of Old English is the "kenning," a figurative phrase or compound noun that stands in for a familiar word: The mind is a "hord-loca," and instead of referring to a ship one might speak of a "flo d-wudu" (flood-wood).... The body is a bone-locker, flesh-hoard or life-house; the sun is a heaven-candle; the sea can be the wave-path, sail-road or whale-way. A spider is a weaver-walker. A battle is a storm of swords. A visit to a grave is a dust-viewing....

"This 'quick charge' should take 5 minutes, based on our calculations. So why does the dashboard tell us it will take an hour?..."

"It turns out not all 'fast chargers' live up to the name.... To be considered 'fast,' a charger must be capable of about 24 kW. The fastest chargers can pump out up to 350. Our charger in Meridian claims to meet that standard, but it has trouble cracking 20.... We feel defeated pulling into a Nissan Mazda dealership in Mattoon, Ill. 'How long could it possibly take to charge the 30 miles we need to make it to the next fast station?' I wonder. Three hours. It takes 3 hours. I begin to lose my mind as I set out in search of gas-station doughnuts, the wind driving sheets of rain into my face.... At zero miles, we fly screeching into a gas-station parking lot. A trash can goes flying and lands with a clatter to greet us. Dinner is beef jerky, our plans to dine at a kitschy beauty shop-turned-restaurant in Memphis long gone....."

From "I Rented an Electric Car for a Four-Day Road Trip. I Spent More Time Charging It Than I Did Sleeping. Our writer drove from New Orleans to Chicago and back to test the feasibility of taking a road trip in an EV. She wouldn’t soon do it again" (Wall Street Journal).

"To bring a child into this world has always been an act of hope," writes Ezra Klein...

... in "Don’t Let Climate Change Stop You From Having Kids" (NYT).

The ignorance and lack of empathy is simply astounding. Always? "Always" refers to all of human history, replete with slavery, rape, the subordination of women, and the lack of perfect birth control and the freedom to use it. You didn't need hope! What drivel is this?

I know, women's emancipation is not Klein's focus. He just forgot about it. Outrageously! He's saying — presumably unwittingly — that when women have been raped and impregnated and continued in their pregnancy to the point of childbirth, they were TAKING ACTION — not merely experiencing an ordeal — and — what's more — it was an ACT OF HOPE. Always!!! 

"In 1967, California became one of three states to authorize abortion when, among other indications, a pregnancy seriously endangered a woman’s physical or mental health."

"After then-governor Ronald Reagan signed California’s 1967 abortion act, his daughter said, he began to regret it when he learned that 'psychiatrists were diagnosing unwed mothers-to-be with suicidal tendencies after five-minute assessments so that they could get abortions.' Thirty years ago, shortly after the Supreme Court reaffirmed Roe’s central holding by a single vote in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the psychiatrist Paul S. Appelbaum speculated that returning to restrictive abortion laws 'will confront psychiatrists with dilemmas from which there is no clear escape.' Recently I asked Dr. Appelbaum to update his prediction. 'Given understandable sympathy for a woman who does not want, and may not be able to care for, a baby, and lacks other options, psychiatrists will be under intense pressure to make such judgments,' he told me. Mental health exceptions will be one of the only ways of gaining access to abortion in some states. This means that my profession will surely assume the troubled role of gatekeeper once more, feeling pressured by a woman’s circumstances, and often by their own conscience, to label her as disturbed when in reality she is sane."

 From "The ‘Open Secret’ on Getting a Safe Abortion Before Roe v. Wade" by psychiatry professor Sally L. Satel (NYT).

That is, it's rather clear that if the state makes psychiatrists into abortion gatekeepers, they will not exercise their power according to professional ethics. That offers a strong foundation to lawmakers who oppose a mental health exception. It's also a good foundation for those who want to permit access to abortion without any need to pass through gates that are only a restriction for those who restrict themselves to honesty.

"To distinguish themselves from NIMBYs, the current generation of housing activists has adopted new 'back yard' variants (YIMBY, 'Yes in my backyard'; PHIMBY, 'Public housing in my backyard'; YIGBY, 'Yes in God’s backyard')..."

"... to declare how they are for things (everything, subsidized housing, building on church parking lots) that a NIMBY presumably is not.... [Governor Gavin Newsom said] 'NIMBYism is destroying the state.' .... Encoded in YIMBY ideology is a belief that the best thing to do with NIMBYs is discard them. But since the successes of one generation become the burdens of another, they should first understand them.... Susan Kirsch was partial to 'Small Is Beautiful,' which was published in 1973 by the economist E.F. Schumacher. The book cast doubt on a growth-at-all costs mentality.... 'Part of how it influences me is I think greater self-reliance and self-resiliency are qualities that keep a community or culture strong,' Ms. Kirsch said of the book. 'And the trends we have now, with being able to have efficacy in your own life, is part of what I think is being diminished.'... Environmental activists came to define themselves by what they could stop.... Marin County, a woodsy enclave that sits across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, enacted some of the strictest growth control measures in the country — proudly.... Today Marin County is the most segregated county in the Bay Area."

From "Twilight of the NIMBY/Suburban homeowners like Susan Kirsch are often blamed for worsening the nation’s housing crisis. That doesn’t mean she’s giving up her two-decade fight against 20 condos" by Conor Dougherty (NYT).

I didn't notice that the acronym "NIMBY" had come to refer not only to the attitude but to the person with that attitude.

"Holding your breath and submerging your face in cold water can trigger the 'diving reflex'..."

"... a response that slows the heart beat and constricts blood vessels. Some people who have tried it report that it has a calming effect and can even reduce insomnia. Others wrap an ice pack in cloth and place it on their chest to relieve anxiety. These specific exercises haven’t been sufficiently studied as methods for controlling anxiety or depression, so it is difficult to know if they work, or if they do, how well. Even so, some experts say they’re worth a shot. 'It’s certainly one of the more benign things you can do,' Dr. Aaronson said. But Dr. Tracey urged caution, adding that it’s difficult to properly assess the risks and benefits without clinical data. 'I would not advise anyone to do any intervention without checking with their physician,' he said. 'For wellness, try to maintain high vagus nerve activity through mindfulness, exercise and paced breathing,' Dr. Tracey said. 'These are all very good for you.'"

From "This Nerve Influences Nearly Every Internal Organ. Can It Improve Our Mental State, Too? On social media, exercises that aim to 'tone' one of our body’s longest nerves have been touted as a cure-all for anxiety and other psychological ailments. Here’s what the research says" (NYT).

The article links to the hastag #vagusnerve at TikTok, where you will find stuff like this:

"At least 50 people face prison sentences of up to either 10 years or five years hard labor, or fines of as much as $77,000, for spreading 'false information' about the military."

"More than 2,000 people have been charged with lesser infractions, according to a human rights organization that tracks cases nationwide.... The harsher [of two laws] criminalized deliberately spreading 'false information' about the military, interpreted as anything outside the official version of events. If the actions cause undefined 'grave consequences,' the sentence goes up to 15 years imprisonment or an $80,000 fine....."

From "Thousands Swept Up as Kremlin Clamps Down on War Criticism/The arrests are a stark gauge of how the Kremlin has intensified repression of critics. At least 50 people now face years-long prison sentences" (NYT).

This is terrible. It's happening in Russia. And yet, it's not that far from what is taking hold in the United States. We are losing our commitment to freedom of speech, and many of us have taken up the cause of suppressing what we think of as "false information." It's easy to see from a long distance that a crackdown on "false information" crushes the process of truth-seeking. I'd like to think that recognizing the destructive policy in this distant enemy country could help Americans see the need to restore our commitment to freedom of speech. 

My tag for this topic is "misinformation vigilance."