June 18, 2022

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

The "bootstraps" metaphor.

I've already blogged about what Sonia Sotomayor said about Clarence Thomas, but here's one more thing:

I have often said to people that Justice Thomas believes that every person can pull themselves up by their bootstraps. I believe that some people can’t get to their bootstraps without help – they need someone to help them lift their foot up so that they can reach.

What are bootstraps, and could we pull ourselves up by our bootstraps if we could only reach them?


Even if you can reach your bootstraps, you don't get anywhere by pulling up on them. Your entire body weight is still in your shoes. At best, you could pull one leg up, shifting your whole weight onto one foot, but that one foot would remain firmly planted in the original position. The phrase already embodies the idea that it can't be done. To stress helping people reach their bootstraps is really offering to distract them and lure them into wasting time waiting for assistance in doing something that is doomed to fail.

But it's just a metaphor. It doesn't prove that left-wing ideas about making life better for people is delusional. I'd find a different image if only to avoid cliché, but this is one cliché that is mostly used wrongly. It should be enough to say "Justice Thomas believes that every person can pull themselves up by their bootstraps." If you must say more, say: But it's impossible to pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Go ahead. Try it!

"Members of a production team for 'The Late Show with Stephen Colbert' were arrested by US Capitol Police in a congressional office building Thursday night and charged with unlawful entry...."

"CBS confirmed in a statement to CNN that on Wednesday and Thursday 'Triumph the Insult Comic Dog was on-site at the Capitol with a production team to record interviews for a comedy segment on behalf of' the show. 'Their interviews at the Capitol were authorized and pre-arranged through Congressional aides of the members interviewed,' CBS said. 'After leaving the members’ offices on their last interview of the day, the production team stayed to film stand-ups and other final comedy elements in the halls when they were detained by Capitol Police.'... 'This is an active criminal investigation, and may result in additional criminal charges after consultation with the U.S. Attorney,' the Capitol Police statement said."

 CNN reports.

How bad is it to trespass on the Capitol Building? With the January 6th Committee working hard to horrify us about an incursion on the premises, it's an inopportune time to need to be arguing what's the big deal.

Glenn Greenwald asks why Marjorie Taylor Greene is saying this and AOC, Bernie, and their ilk are not.

"As the backlash gains steam, a lot of feminism feels enervated. There had been a desperate hope..."

"... among reproductive rights activists and Democratic strategists alike, that the end of Roe v. Wade would lead to an explosive feminist mobilization, that people committed to women’s equality would take to the streets and recommit themselves to politics.... 'I don’t know that I’ve seen a new influx of energy, [said] Samhita Mukhopadhyay, co-editor of 'Nasty Women: Feminism, Resistance, and Revolution in Trump’s America.... ... Mukhopadhyay [used to be] the executive editor of the blog Feministing, which was once part of a vital feminist publishing scene. That scene is now mostly gone. Feministing closed a couple of years ago, and one of the last holdouts, Bitch Magazine, a publication devoted to feminist pop-culture criticism, is shuttering this month.... 'That type of earnest, identity-focused feminism has also grown out of style,' she said.... It is perhaps inevitable that a movement that was the height of fashion in the last decade would start to seem passé in this one. That’s how style works; the young and innovative distinguish themselves by breaking with the conventions of their predecessors.... The left, feminism very much included, needs people to be optimistic and confident about change.... But this is a fearful, hopeless and even nihilistic time."

Writes Michelle Goldberg, in "The Future Isn’t Female Anymore" (NYT).

If you have actual principles you don't need to worry about "fashion" and "style" and what's "passé." You just stick with it, your whole life, and it doesn't matter if you're winning or losing or how many people are crowding around you and generating a feeling of energy. 

Politics is a different way of life. If you choose that path, you'll have your big highs and lows. You can feel excited about your team and your heroes and fly into a rage when things don't work out. You can gush optimism and preen, then scream and spew pessimism. The Future Isn’t Female Anymore! What over-privileged foot-stamping. Look around the world. Look at history. Get a grip. Get some real principles and stay faithful to them without expecting to look fashionable or anticipating taking over the world.

Tomorrow is Juneteenth, the newest national holiday: How should we celebrate it?

I'm not sure if "celebrate" is even the right word.

When I google my question, I also see "honor." How do we "honor Juneteenth"? People must sense that "celebrate" is wrong — too festive, too joyful and fun? — because they're not seeing that it's wrong to speak of "honoring" a holiday. It's not the holiday that is honored, the holiday honors something, and you wouldn't say you are honoring the honoring. 

At CNN, I'm seeing "Ways to celebrate and serve Juneteenth." Serve? Is the holiday our master? Juneteenth marks an escape from servitude. Why would we — how would we — serve this occasion? And yet we often speak of observing a holiday. I take a long break to research the prefix "ob-" in the Oxford English Dictionary.

But enough about language. The question is are we going to celebrate Juneteenth?

"If the government sponsored a euthanasia program for people 75 and over, would you consent to it?"

"'Most people were very positive about it,' [Chie] Hayakawa said. 'They didn’t want to be a burden on other people or their children.'... In her first feature-length film... the government of a near-future Japan promotes quiet institutionalized deaths and group burials for lonely older people, with cheerful salespeople pitching them on the idea as if hawking travel insurance. 'The mind-set is that if the government tells you to do something, you must do it,' Ms. Hayakawa, 45, said in an interview in Tokyo before the film’s opening in Japan on Friday. Following the rules and not imposing on others, she said, are cultural imperatives 'that make sure you don’t stick out in a group setting.' With a lyrical, understated touch, Ms. Hayakawa has taken on one of the biggest elephants in the room in Japan: the challenges of dealing with the world’s oldest society."

From "A Filmmaker Imagines a Japan Where the Elderly Volunteer to Die/The premise for Chie Hayakawa’s film, 'Plan 75,' is shocking: a government push to euthanize the elderly. In a rapidly aging society, some also wonder: Is the movie prescient?" (NYT).

"Stephanie Yeboah, a body image activist and the author of 'Fattily Ever After'... said spending an hour or two naked several days a week was a crucial step..."

"... early on in her own body acceptance journey. She would take off her clothes and read, watch TV or tidy her house.... Centering the senses can help you connect brain and body. Ms. Yeboah has also turned showering into a regular meditation. She buys nice lotions and oils, and takes the time to apply them slowly, carefully noting how they smell and feel on her skin. 'It was something I started doing on my self-love journey in order to kind of come to terms with — and learn how to re-love — my body'...."

From "How to Feel Better Naked/Whether you want to find joy in your body, or just greater self-acceptance, these four strategies from psychologists, activists — and, yes, nudists — might help" (NYT).

June 17, 2022

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

Here are 5 TikTok items to amuse or intrigue you. Let me know what you like.

1. I had this feeling when I was a kid: That numbers have a personality!

2. How silently does an owl fly?

3. And speaking of birds: Imitating a parrot.

4. Tones a voice actor can use in a corporate training video.

5. Steve Coogan demonstrates the difference between young Al Pacino and old Al Pacino.

"The Iowa Supreme Court on Friday overruled a 2018 decision that said the right to abortion was protected under the state constitution."

 The Des Moines Register reports. 

The composition of the court has shifted since the 2018 decision, with Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, appointing four of the seven justices....

"Although we overrule (the 2018 decision), and thus reject the proposition that there is a fundamental right to an abortion in Iowa’s Constitution subjecting abortion regulation to strict scrutiny, we do not at this time decide what constitutional standard should replace it," Justice Edward Mansfield wrote in the majority opinion.

"He is a man who cares deeply about the court as an institution.... Justice Thomas is the one justice in the building that literally knows every employee’s name, every one of them."

"And not only does he know their names, he remembers their families’ names and histories.... He’s the first one who will go up to someone when you’re walking with him and say, 'Is your son okay? How’s your daughter doing in college?' He’s the first one that, when my stepfather died, sent me flowers in Florida."

Said Sonia Sotomayor, speaking to the American Constitution Society, quoted at The Hill.

What a dismal time for American politics! Fortunately, I have a solution (for myself).

Look at the lineup of items to be clicked on at Real Clear Politics this morning:


It's that approach to balance that takes the form of alternating between being for one major party and then for the other. Neither party has my support, so I see no reason to click on any of it. How dreary for the partisans who pick through that list to find some comfort or nourishment. 

2 images of male beauty — side by side this morning on the front page of the New York Times.

I found this juxtaposition entrancing:


We see the idealized domesticated males, together, with idealized dog, on a park bench, looking simply and virtuously for a modest home. And we see the ominous male, heterosexual, standing in the dark next to an empty space where there once was a woman. Somehow his very looks have brought on madness! He — standing alone — is proof of the causal connection between male beauty and madness.


I've read both articles, but let's take a closer at the one about Johnny Depp, which is titled, when you click in "Johnny Depp Through the Looking Glass/Examining the madness that male beauty elicits." This is an opinion piece by Rhonda Garelick, School of Art and Design History and Theory at Parsons/The New School:

"Julian did nothing wrong. He has committed no crime and is not a criminal. He is a journalist and a publisher and he is being punished for doing his job."

"It was in [U.K. home secretary] Priti Patel’s power to do the right thing. Instead she will for ever be remembered as an accomplice of the United States in its agenda to turn investigative journalism into a criminal enterprise."

Says a statement from WikiLeaks, quoted in "Julian Assange’s extradition from UK to US approved by home secretary/Appeal likely after Priti Patel gives green light to extradition of WikiLeaks co-founder" (The Guardian).

The most marital answer ever to the old question "You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which three writers, dead or alive, do you invite?"

From the novelist Geraldine Brooks, interviewed by the NYT:
First, I would bring back [my late husband] Tony Horwitz, because he was more fun at a dinner party than anyone I know. Then, because I think it’s rather rude — and a little dull — to invite writers without their partners, I would have my fellow Australian Tim Winton and his wife, Denise, who is a marine scientist. I’d add Margaret Atwood and bring back her partner, Graeme Gibson, a passionate conservationist.

You could have anyone. You could have Shakespeare or Dickens. But you're going to have Margaret Atwood's husband, "a passionate conservationist." I wonder what's the conservationist position about bringing people back from the dead. But the only person she exercised her resurrection power on was her own husband.

CNN's new president Chris Licht wants staff to staff to stop saying "big lie" and just say "Trump election lie" or "election lies."

Mediate reports.
On a Tuesday conference call with management and show executive producers, Licht was asked for his thoughts on 'the big lie'.... According to a source, Licht argued that using “the big lie” makes the mistake of adopting branding used by the Democratic Party, thereby weakening the objectivity of the network....

That is, the problem is not the blithe evocation of Hitler, but the similarity to Democratic Party branding. To denounce the Hitler analogy would be to impugn the Democratic Party. Licht apparently just thinks CNN is better off looking less partisan.

"Test the limits of your abilities! No, screw the limits, are you ready to break yourself every day?"

"You’ve decided to prove something to yourself. You are trying to detect an enemy in every shadow because if there is no enemy, there is no fight, and if there is no fight, there is no victory."

Says a deep voice in a recruiting ad, quoted in "Russian army ramps up recruitment as steep casualties thin the ranks/With Moscow wary of ordering a general mobilization, the military is offering perks and applying pressure" (WaPo).

Maybe "break yourself" has more allure in Russian. 

And that last sentence is a conundrum of paranoia: "You are trying to detect an enemy in every shadow because if there is no enemy, there is no fight, and if there is no fight, there is no victory."

June 16, 2022

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk about anything you want.

Goodbye to our dear friend Zeus.


The god dog was 15 years old — 105 if you multiply by 7 — when he left us today.



I made a tag — "Zeus the Dog" — and collected all the old posts, going back to his first appearance... in 2012, when he was 5 (35):


"The Battle Over Gender Therapy/More teenagers than ever are seeking transitions, but the medical community that treats them is deeply divided about why — and what to do to help them."

This is an excellent article by Emily Bazelon in The New York Times. I'm not going to try to summarize it. If you're not a subscriber, I think it's worth one of your "free reads."

"There is something compelling in the idea that women shouldn’t have to prove their economic worth or intelligence as a way of arguing for their self-worth and independence."

"In its most interesting form, bimboism also makes a connection between the ideas of pleasure — sexual pleasure, pleasure in clothes, pleasure in simply existing as a woman in the world with a body on display — and political gains that would make it more possible, like universal health care, student loan debt cancellation and abortion rights.... For [TikTok-er Chrissy] Chlapecka, her bimbo persona is a bit, but it’s also a bit serious: She really does want us to look at her boobs. It’s performance of a version of her personality at high octane, one that she invites her audience to participate in themselves — have you considered that you, too, could be a bimbo, and that it might be fun?"

From "Meet the Self-Described ‘Bimbos’ of TikTok" by Sophie Haigney (NYT).

Quote from Chlapecka that begins the essay: "Are you a leftist who likes to have their tits out? Do you like to flick off pro-lifers?"

I don't remember seeing the word "bimboism" before, but, googling, I can see it has currency. Here's Vice from back in February — "Bimbofication Is Taking Over. What Does That Mean for You?/'Are you a hyperfeminine woman? Are you really hot?'" 

"I think on its face, the ice cream that Walmart attempted to sell at best feels performative and exploitative..."

"... in part because Juneteenth is a holiday that signals celebration of liberation, and this feels like an empty symbol rather than a meaningful gesture that companies the size of Walmart could have made to the Black community across the United States in celebration of Juneteenth.... I think that it’s really in the spirit of Juneteenth to ensure that they are doing things that are meaningful for the advancement of both their Black employees and their Black consumers and also where there are avenues for that—even investments in small Black-owned businesses. Juneteenth was once an obscure holiday... As it’s getting renewed attention and visibility, I hope that companies will find ways to mark the historic significance of the holiday and not larger performative gestures like what we are seeing here with Walmart and other companies."

Said Timothy Welbeck, an assistant professor of instruction in the Department of Africology and African American Studies and acting director of the Center for Anti-racism Research at Temple University, quoted in "Learning from Walmart’s Juneteenth marketing mistake/Timothy Welbeck, acting director of the Center for Anti-racism Research, believes companies must develop more meaningful ways to observe the occasion rather than capitalizing off the holiday commercially" (Temple Now).

"Don’t start by saying 'no' to everything... [Try] your first 'no' on someone you’re most afraid of telling 'no,' such as a parent or partner."

"Instead, try to say 'no' or voice your opinion in situations with lower stakes, and observe the results. 'We tend to, in our heads, build up these huge fears about what’s going to happen'.... By finding small ways to change how you would typically behave, perhaps you’ll see that 'you can have a disagreement with somebody or you can express your opinion and they don’t run away'...."

From "How to know if you’re a people-pleaser and what to do about it" (WaPo).

I found that interesting even though the problem under discussion is just about exactly the opposite of mine. My instinct is always to say no. I have to experiment with not saying no. If I'm worrying about "what's going to happen," it's going to be what's going to happen if I say yes. The demands will never cease! I want my freedom. I want my time.

"A sex party organizer in New York asked invitees to check themselves for lesions before showing up. And the organizers of the city’s main Pride celebrations..."

"... posted a monkeypox notice Sunday on their Instagram account... The virus, long endemic in parts of Africa, is now transmitting globally, and, while it can infect anyone, at the moment it is spreading primarily through networks of men who have sex with men, officials say.... 'Without meaning to make light of this, we have once again have been caught with our pants down by a global pandemic that we were not prepared for,' said Mark Harrington, the executive director of the Treatment Action Group and a long time AIDS activist...  The C.D.C....recently put out a sex-positive fact sheet on social gatherings and safer sex, which, rather than telling everyone to stay home, contains specific tips for avoiding monkeypox such as keeping clothes on during sex and not kissing... ... [Joseph Osmundson, a microbiologist at New York University] and other activists have also been working through their own channels to educate the L.G.B.T.Q. community about the virus — for example, by crafting messages that sex party promoters can distribute to attendees that include photos of monkeypox lesions.'When I talk to my friends in the queer community, we want intervention,' Dr. Osmundson said. 'We do not want monkeypox. The spaces where we meet for pleasure and companionship, we don’t want those to be shut down, number one. And we like going into those spaces with as little worry, and as little risk, as possible.'"

 From "As Monkeypox Spreads, a Campaign to Warn the Public Gains Urgency/Be aware but don’t panic, say health officials and advocates as cases of the disease tick upward in New York and around the country" (NYT).

Just as I'm creating a "monkeypox" tag, I'm seeing "WHO to rename monkeypox after scientists call it 'discriminatory'" (WaPo). Discriminatory against who? I haven't read the article yet, and I can't work it out in my head. They can't be worried about insulting monkeys. We have swine flu and so forth, so naming the animals is standard. Does it have something to do with insulting black people? Gay men? Okay, now I've read it. The problem is that the disease is endemic in parts of Africa, and the media therefore tends to use pictures of African patients, and the word "monkey" in photo captions is susceptible to misreading.

"Alaska kids served [floor] sealant instead of milk at school program."

AP reports. 

[Juneau, Superintendent Bridget] Weiss said the milk and the floor sealant, which is also a milky, white substance, both come in large plastic bags that are stored inside cardboard boxes. For the milk, the pouch is removed from the box and placed inside the dispenser to serve with meals instead of in cartons. 

Both the milk and sealant were stored at a district commodity storage site off campus. Weiss said that somehow, boxes with sealant in large pouches were “stored or moved on the same pallet as large pouches of milk that were also in cardboard boxes. We don’t know how that happened, but they were all put on the same pallet... That pallet was delivered, and the assumption was that it was milk because that’s what we thought was being delivered.”

"As part of this educational philosophy, [Charter Day School, a public charter school in North Carolina] has implemented a dress code to 'instill discipline and keep order' among students."

"Among other requirements, all students must wear a unisex polo shirt and closed-toe shoes; '[e]xcessive or radical haircuts and colors' are prohibited; and boys are forbidden from wearing jewelry. Female students are required to wear a 'skirt,' 'jumper,' or 'skort.' In contrast, boys must wear shorts or pants... In 2015, plaintiff Bonnie Peltier, the mother of a female kindergarten student at CDS, informed [the founder of the school, Baker A. Mitchell, Jr.] that she objected to the skirts requirement. Mitchell responded to Peltier in support of the policy, stating: 'The Trustees, parents, and other community supporters were determined to preserve chivalry and respect among young women and men in this school of choice. For example, young men were to hold the door open for the young ladies and to carry an umbrella, should it be needed. Ma’am and sir were to be the preferred forms of address. There was felt to be a need to restore, and then preserve, traditional regard for peers.' Mitchell later elaborated that chivalry is 'a code of conduct where women are treated, they’re regarded as a fragile vessel that men are supposed to take care of and honor.' Mitchell further explained that, in implementing the skirts requirement, CDS sought to 'treat[] [girls] courteously and more gently than boys.'"

Wrote the Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, in Peltier v. Charter Day School. That case is discussed in The Washington Post in "A school made girls wear skirts. A court ruled it unconstitutional."

This was an en banc decision, and there are 3 judges dissenting and 3 judges dissenting in part.

Let's just take a look at the dissenting opinion, by Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III, which begins at page 84: 

"It’s nuts. It’s something so simple. It’s the standard, in my eyes, and it’s gone everywhere."

Said a high school boy named Eric Fila, quoted in "High school catcher baffled by attention for his ‘simple’ act of sportsmanship" (WaPo).

Video of a walk-off single in the 10th inning of a Virginia state quarterfinal baseball game went viral last week — not because of the clutch hit but for the reaction of the losing team’s catcher in the wake of a season-ending defeat.

"I was terrified of becoming pregnant. I was terrified of putting my life on hold for two-plus years. I don’t want to lose opportunities. I don’t want to be resentful."

Said the actress Jamie Chung — she's in "Dexter: New Blood" — quoted in "An actor’s use of a surrogate raises radical-feminist questions," a WaPo opinion piece by Alyssa Rosenberg. 

Chung, 39, acknowledged that people might assume she was “vain”... [S]urrogacy essentially offloads the discomforts and incapacities of pregnancy onto another woman. Yet there’s something galvanizing about hearing a woman bluntly rage against the limits of biology and the costs it imposes on half the population... 

June 15, 2022

What a soft and gentle sunrise this morning.

 At 5:11:


At 5:30:


Talk about anything you want in the comments.

I've got 7 TikToks for you tonight. Let me know what you like best.

1. You know how Mom just loves to sit outside at the restaurant.

2. Vying for the title Best Ginger

3. Singing all the parts.

4. "Can we play dead yet?"

5. The difference between the South and the Midwest. 

6. That girl who just got engaged.

7. That fake Coke everyone's making.

"The Federal Reserve raised interest rates by three-quarters of a percentage point on Wednesday, its biggest move since 1994..."

"... as the central bank ramps up its efforts to tackle the fastest inflation in four decades. The big rate increase... has underlined that Fed officials are serious about crushing price increases even if it comes at a cost to the economy."

The NYT reports.

"I’m not sure how great the sexual revolution was... It made us more available, I suppose, for sex... but I don’t know. It also introduced something else..."

"... which felt to me and feels to me now when I look back on it a little bit predatory and certainly, which led I think directly, to the sort of ladette Nineties, where women were supposed to be just like men. Now for me, feminism is not about women becoming more like men. It’s not about that. It’s about finding our space, enlarging our space, and the ways in which we work in the world in order to balance things out."

Said the actress Emma Thompson, quoted in "Emma Thompson: Sexual revolution encouraged predatory behaviour" (London Times).

Had I ever noticed the word "ladette"? 

TV Tropes explains:

"In the fall of 1961, [Yoko] Ono gave a concert in Carnegie Recital Hall.... Onstage, twenty artists and musicians performed different acts—eating, breaking dishes, throwing bits of newspaper."

"At designated intervals, a toilet was flushed offstage. A man was positioned at the back of the hall to give the audience a sense of foreboding. A huddle of men with tin cans tied to their legs attempted to cross the stage without making noise. The dancers Yvonne Rainer and Trisha Brown sat down and stood up repeatedly. According to the Village Voice, the performance finished with Ono’s amplified 'sighs, breathing, gasping, retching, screaming—many tones of pain and pleasure mixed with a jibberish of foreign-sounding language that was no language at all.'... When conceptual artists hit the big time, at the end of the nineteen-sixties, her name was virtually never mentioned.... When Ono and Lennon married, she was a coterie artist and he was a popular entertainer.... She decided that condescension to popular entertainment is a highbrow prejudice. As she put it, 'I came to believe that avant-garde purity was just as stifling as just doing a rock beat over and over.' So she became a pop star.... When 'Imagine' was released, one of Ono’s instruction pieces from 'Grapefruit' was printed on the back cover: 'Imagine the clouds dripping. Dig a hole in your garden to put them in.'"

Writes Louis Menand in "Yoko Ono’s Art of Defiance Before she met John Lennon, she was a significant figure in avant-garde circles and had created a masterpiece of conceptual art. Did celebrity deprive her of her due as an artist?" (The New Yorker).

"Britt Ruggiero and Justin Giuffrida bought a 2002 Bluebird school bus in February 2021, with plans to convert it into a 30-foot home on wheels."

"At the time, diesel fuel prices in their home state of Colorado were averaging around $3 per gallon... [They] gutted their bus, which they’ve dubbed the G Wagon, created a kitchen, bathroom and bedroom, and installed plumbing and solar power. They also mapped out an ambitious yearlong, cross-country trip.... They got on the road this March, only to realize quickly that gas prices were not what they’d expected. 'We drove to Florida basically all in one weekend.... We were estimating it to cost about $200 [to fill the 60-gallon tank] and lately it’s been about $300.' With... 8 to 10 miles per gallon... [the] first trip cost them nearly $2,000 on gas alone."

From "When #Vanlife Meets the $300 Tank/Remaining in destinations longer, using gas apps and signing up for fuel cards allows nomadic travelers to stay on the road" (NYT).

ADDED: At the comments over there:

"Until the late 1990s, most researchers believed human brains were physically fixed and inflexible after early childhood."

"We were born, it was thought, with most of the brain cells we would ever have and could not make more. But... studies using specialized dyes to identify newborn cells indicated that some parts of our brains create neurons deep into adulthood, a process known as neurogenesis... [F]or the new study... [researchers]  divided the volunteers into groups, one of which began a supervised program of stretching and balance training three times a week, to serve as an active control. Another started walking together three times a week, briskly, for about 40 minutes. And the final group took up dancing, meeting three times a week to learn and practice line dances and group choreography..... The walkers and dancers were aerobically fitter, as expected. Even more important, their white matter seemed renewed. In the new scans, the nerve fibers in certain portions of their brains looked larger, and any tissue lesions had shrunk. These desirable alterations were most prevalent among the walkers, who also performed better on memory tests now. The dancers, in general, did not. Meanwhile, the members of the control group, who had not exercised aerobically, showed declining white matter health after the six months, with greater thinning and tattering of their axons and falling cognitive scores."

From "How Walking Can Build Up the Brain/Older men and women who walked for six months showed improvements in white matter and memory, while those who danced or did stretching exercises did not" (NYT).

From the top-rated comment: "One aspect not addressed by this article: While walking, one is engaged in a kind if relaxed thinking. I walk a lot and constantly think about things - important and mundane things. I make plans, solve problems, talk to myself about issues - walking provides a kind of meditative state while you’re doing it."

"The number and rate of U.S. abortions increased from 2017 to 2020 after a long decline...."

"The report from the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights, counted more than 930,000 abortions in the U.S. in 2020. That’s up from about 862,000 abortions in 2017.... About one in five pregnancies ended in abortion in 2020, according to the report, which comes as the Supreme Court appears ready to overturn that decision. The number of women obtaining abortions illustrates a need and 'underscores just how devastating a Supreme Court decision is going to be for access to an absolutely vital service,' said Sara Rosenbaum, a George Washington University health law and policy professor."

AP reports.

"Listen to poetry — in French! Poems by Charles Baudelaire or Paul Verlaine, while walking along the quays of the Seine."

"Or poems by Jacques Prévert, when night falls and you walk through the streets of Montmartre. You don’t need to understand all the words. It is like listening to music!"

From "Read Your Way Through Paris/Leïla Slimani, winner of France’s Goncourt Prize, describes her Paris and recommends books that reveal hidden facets of the city" (NYT).

What do you think of listening to poetry in a language you don't understand? If you're in that language's home country, wouldn't it be better to keep the earphones out and let the ambient sounds in?

Or maybe "along the quays of the Seine," the overheard speech is not what you want for your aesthetic experience. I could be not French at all, but whatever outside language the tourists brought in, or it could be French, but not the perfectly romantic dream of French you want for yourself.

"One of the reasons 'Secret Honor' is so affecting is that, with the distance of time, we feel sympathy for the man, especially because we are aware of how Nixon-hating..."

"... had a lot to do with a very personal reaction to the man. There was a sort of loathing that wasn't about politics, but about the way he looked and spoke and certain personality qualities of the sort that would have made him unpopular even as a child. And the truly challenging thing to think about is how he could have been politically effective if he repelled people on a deep psychic level. Bush-haters of today might try imagining themselves thirty years in the future, looking back at him as a mere man."

That's something I wrote on February 14, 2005, in a post called "Small and large falls." 

I'm reading that this morning after seeing this new piece at New York Magazine, "In Secret Honor, Philip Baker Hall Plays Nixon As a Wounded Animal." New York Magazine is writing that now because the actor who played Nixon, Philip Baker Hall, recently died. He was 90.

I was writing about "Secret Honor" in 2005 — 17 years ago — because I was teaching the Watergate Tapes case and I had a nice, new Criterion Collection CD of the Robert Altman film. 

"A 14-year-old boy who fell to his death from a Florida amusement park ride... stood more than 6 feet tall and weighed 383 pounds... The maximum passenger weight for the ride is 287 pounds..."

"Tyre’s parents have filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against ICON Park and the ride’s operator and manufacturer.... 'The autopsy report also confirms that Tyre was almost 100 pounds over the limit of passenger weight allowed.... The negligence in this case is unrebuttable.'.... The lawsuit alleges that no weight restrictions were posted at the ticket counter and that no employee advised the teen that he may have exceeded them. It states that during the ride, Tyre was 'ejected' from his seat and fell 'a hundred feet to his death.'"

WaPo reports.

"The lawsuit alleges that no weight restrictions were posted at the ticket counter" — were weight restrictions posted anywhere else? Perhaps he bought the ticket, then saw a sign. And yet, even if he did and chose to ignore it, the ride operators need something better than an honor code about weight.

[T]he Orlando Free Fall... drops nearly 400 feet at speeds of more than 75 mph and is advertised as the “world’s tallest free-standing drop tower.”

It's awkward to enforce weight limits though. See "TikTok star Remi Bader says she was mocked for her weight after being turned away from horse ranch" (NBC News).

"I apologize for saying white male writers having trouble finding work is a form of racism. I absolutely do not believe that racism is practiced against white writers."

"Please know that I strongly support a diversity of voices being heard — in literature, in Hollywood, everywhere."

Said the best-seller writer James Patterson, quoted in "James Patterson Apologizes for Saying White Writers Face a ‘Form of Racism’/The comments by Mr. Patterson, the prolific author of best-selling thrillers, had been widely criticized" (NYT).

How dumb do you have to be to make that point if you're not willing to stand by it? The criticism was utterly predictable, so the apology means just about nothing.

It only makes me wonder, why is he such a big success? And yet he wanted to try out the idea that guys like him are held back while others are promoted ahead of him.

A staple of best-seller lists, he has written children’s books and biographies as well as works of science fiction and fantasy.... Mr. Patterson has also written two books with former President Bill Clinton and one book, “Run, Rose, Run,” with Dolly Parton, published in March. He was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2019. A White House citation accompanying the honor called him “one of the most successful American authors of our time.”

Not one of the best American authors of our time, just one of the most successful! Not even the most successful, just one of the most successful. He got a medal for that — from the President of the United States! Funnily, Trump's name is left out of this article, but it was 2019 and the medal is presented by the President of the United States. So that was Trump, and right after Patterson had co-written a novel with Bill Clinton. 

Speaking of white men, did Bill Clinton deserve his position as co-author of "The President Is Missing"?

And speaking of apologies, Lizzo — who is neither white nor a man — apologized after she got criticized for using the word "spaz" in a song: "I’mma spaz; I’m about to knock somebody out." See "Fans told Lizzo a word in her song was offensive. She changed the lyrics" (WaPo).

June 14, 2022

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk all night.

"[I]f an ant in an ant farm could establish the same showing that Happy has, the ant would be entitled to a hearing."

"But at least based on present knowledge, an ant cannot possibly make such a showing. Happy is not a human, and an ant is not an elephant... [Happy] is extremely cognitively complex and comes from a highly social, empathetic species of wild animals. Those qualities of elephants make them unique in the animal kingdom, meaning the answer to the question for earthworms, domesticated pets, service animals and many animals subject to medical research, would be entirely different."

Writes Judge Rowan D. Wilson, dissenting, in In the Matter of Nonhuman Rights Project v. Breheny (New York Court of Appeals). 

Here's the NYT article about the case: "Happy the Elephant Isn’t Legally a Person, Top New York Court Rules/An animal advocacy group had argued that the elephant was being illegally detained at the Bronx Zoo, in a case involving deep ethical questions about the basic rights of highly intelligent animals."

A question asked at oral argument of the lawyer representing the Nonhuman Rights Project: "Does that mean I couldn’t keep a dog?" 

What a violent storm we had yesterday!

This morning at sunrise, I was out on the 0.8-mile-long stretch of lakeshore trail and I encountered 2 newly fallen trees:


... and then another...


... and another...


Here's a news report about the storm: "Roofs ripped off buildings, trees topple onto homes as severe storms move through Dane County" (Channel 3000).

I'm trying to read this Slate article about Greg Gutfeld, but I can't get past the performative garnering.

There's one word I've been following ever since Jeb Bush low-energied his way to defeat, and that word is "garner." There's an upstart word on my radar. I've been talking about it since last Saturday. That word is "performative."

This morning Meade sends me the link to "A Fox News Host’s Strange Backstory Shows How Liberals Lost Comedy/Conservatives now have one of the most popular shows in late night" — and I run into this:

Gutfeld has long demonstrated an obvious knack for garnering attention through what would now be described as trolling. Developing a highly performative, occasionally over-the-top style of comedic presentation....

Speaking of trolling... I don't want to be paranoid... but I feel... summoned. Who does a garner/performative one-two like that?

Anyway, here's a passage from the article, in case you're hankering for the substantive:

"Tampons, a necessity for many, are becoming harder and harder to find. People who menstruate are saying it's hard to find tampons on store shelves across the U.S. right now...."

Tweeted NPR, quoted in "NPR mocked for tweet warning tampon shortage a problem for 'people who menstruate' Twitter users blasted NPR for avoiding use of the word 'women' in the tweet" (Fox News).

NPR followed up with a tweet that leaned into the problematic concept "women":

"The January 6th Unselect Committee is disgracing everything we hold sacred about our Constitution. If they had any real evidence..."

"... they’d hold real hearings with equal representation. They don’t, so they use the illegally-constituted committee to put on a smoke and mirrors show for the American people, in a pitiful last-ditch effort to deceive the American public...again. Our Constitution protects the right to confront accusers, honors the right to fair trials, and holds the right to legal representation as paramount in our justice system. Equal representation and the opportunity to offer rebuttal evidence is fundamental in our legal process. The Committee has obliterated those rights and is making a mockery of justice. They have refused to allow their political opponents to participate in this process, and have excluded all exculpatory witnesses, and anyone who so easily points out the flaws in their story. MAGA witnesses were interrogated behind closed doors and ordered to not record their own testimony. Members of my staff, my friends, supporters, volunteers, donors, were subjected to hours upon hours of inquisition – oftentimes having nothing to do with January 6th. Their very lives were turned upside down for obvious reasons. They were told it was an ongoing investigation and any reproduction of the interrogation would be viewed as an attempt to interfere in the investigation. They were gagged, threatened, and in some cases ruined. Yet, the Unselect Pseudo-Committee has coordinated with their media puppets to broadcast their witnesses on national television without any opposition, cross-examination, or rebuttal evidence...."

Here's the whole 12-page document from Donald Trump, attacking the "Unselect Pseudo-Committee."

ADDED: Much of the document lays out factual assertions about the 2020 election. Whether he's right about any of that or not, it counters what is the Committee's crucial contention: He had to know that he'd lost. 

The document ends with what feels like his 2024 campaign statement:

"Even somebody who is sure I am deserving of all this hate and vitriol, even if you think that I’m lying, you still couldn’t look me in the eye and tell me that you think on social media there’s been a fair representation."

Said Amber Heard, quoted in "Amber Heard says social media frenzy surrounding trial was not 'fair'" (WaPo).

June 13, 2022

Sunrise — 5:24, 5:29.



Write about anything you want in the comment.

"Bieber’s health disclosure prompted a flurry of explainers across the internet, with many news outlets explaining what Ramsay Hunt Syndrome is... It also prompted anti-vaxxers to wildly speculate..."

"... based on very limited evidence, that Bieber had contracted the virus as a result of getting the Covid-19 vaccine. 'Everybody pretending Justin Bieber isn’t vaccine injured. The denial is way too deep,' reads one tweet with more than 3,400 shares.... TikTok also became a petri dish for such conspiracy-mongering content.... To be clear, there is no evidence that Bieber’s diagnosis is an adverse effect of getting the Covid vaccine, in large part because there is no evidence that he has been vaccinated to begin with... ... Ramsay Hunt is triggered by the varicella-zoster virus [the virus that causes chicken pox and shingles]... At the end of the day, Bieber’s case may be more of an argument for vaccines than against them. There are widely available vaccines for chicken pox and shingles...."

From "Anti-Vaxxers Are Flipping Out Over Justin Bieber’s Facial Paralysis/Scientists haven’t found a definitive link between Covid-19 vaccines and Ramsay Hunt Syndrome — but that’s not stopping people online from making that claim" (Rolling Stone).

I've selected 10 TikToks for you this evening. Let me know what you like best.

1. The charm of misunderstood English.

2. Teenage daughter is "literally standing outside" and needs Dad to "literally arrive."

3. Beauty is not in perfection, but flaw.

4. "No, we don't use that word."

5. "You didn't have to be so mean about it."

6. "Can you give me directions?"

7. Straight talk on what's actually recyclable

8. When shrews cross open territory.

9. Your friend with unrelatable problems.

10. "Can you stop, like stop, whatever you're doing right now?"

"For some readers today... ['Heather Has Two Mommies' is] a wholly sanitized version of same-sex coupledom, palatable to the masses...."

"Without the slightest hint of sexual or romantic attraction between the moms (not even a peck of a kiss) the book seems to say, 'Fear not, we’re just like you.'... Dr. Nathan N. Taylor, Ph.D., an assistant professor of education... said the story traffics in homonormativity.... The book 'allows some people to be a part of the American Dream — in this case, upper middle class, cis-gendered, partnered white women'... While we undoubtedly need to multiply the number and kinds of queer narratives in children’s literature, the value of 'Heather' to my daughter and family unit has been immeasurable. A little before she turned 2, Marty, the only child of queer parents at her day care, began asking after her 'father' in various iterations. 'Who’s my daddy? Where’s my daddy? I want my daddy.' It was heartbreaking because my partner and I could only counter with, 'You have two mommies.' (How else to explain the complicated series of events that resulted in the creation of our family?) That’s when I remembered we had a copy of 'Heather,' the 2015 version, sitting on our bookshelf where I’d left it a few years ago...."

Writes Stephanie Fairyington, in "'Heather Has Two Mommies' Is Still Relevant 30 Years Later/My daughter started asking for her daddy, so I turned to Lesléa Newman’s classic picture book and it changed everything" (NYT).

This article was originally published April 17, 2020, but it is featured on the home page of the NYT right now, presumably because this Sunday is Father's Day.

"Owning the ___ (conservative strategy of performatively inflaming Democratic outrage)."

That's the first clue — 1 across — at today's New Yorker crossword

I'm blogging this before filling in a single blank, and I don't know the answer to that clue, but I'm interested because the New Yorker is acting like this is a known concept — "Owning the ___ (conservative strategy of performatively inflaming Democratic outrage)" — and because "performative" is a word I've been following.

"After the leak, self-identified conservatives were... more likely to say that other people supported legal abortion..."

"... although the effect was smaller than among self-identified liberals. In other words, the news that the Supreme Court appears poised to overturn Roe may have made a higher share of panel participants think that Americans want to keep those protections, regardless of what they personally think about abortion.... [T]he perception that the court's action is out of step with public opinion could embolden people on the left to protest and talk to their neighbors about the issue — which could, in turn, reinforce the perception that the court’s action is far more conservative than many Americans want. And ultimately, that could be dangerous for the Supreme Court...."

Writes Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux in "How Overturning Roe Could Change The Way Americans Think About Abortion/And the Supreme Court" (FiveThirtyEight).

Dangerous? This piece was published today. Considering what seemed like an attempt at assassination of a Supreme Court Justice last week, I would have chosen a different word.

"Of course, nobody else’s opinion should matter, but like many women, my body has always felt like public property..."

"... subject to everyone else’s opinion except mine. I simply happen to be the person living in it. In an attempt to block out the never-ending judgment, I told myself that I was 'body-neutral' – I felt nothing about my body – and that was that. Except, feeling 'nothing' about my body led to me not caring for it in any way. As a result, I became prediabetic and developed hypertension and gout (Henry VIII would be proud). I felt that if my body was inherently 'bad,' it didn’t deserve to be cared for and that I didn’t deserve better because I was 'bad,' too. Oh, the wonderful mindfuck of fat-shaming."

From "At 34, I’m fitter than I have ever been – no thanks to the fat shamers" by Evelyn Mok (The Guardian).

"Lockdown was soul-destroying for Nora. She’s always been very gregarious so she couldn’t understand why nobody was coming around..."

"... and the few that did had to have face masks on. It was very bad. But she’s absolutely fine at the moment. My family is with her now; we’ve got a nice little unity going. The whole thing is to never let her feel lonely."

Said John Lydon (Johnny Rotten), quoted in "‘I know what it’s like to be frightened’: John Lydon on loneliness, lyrics and life as a Sex Pistol" (The Guardian). Lydon has been married to Nora Forster, since 1979, and she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2018.

Of the Danny Boyle’s Disney miniseries about the Sex Pistols, he says: "It’s dead against everything we once stood for."

The reporter, Tim Jonze says Lydon expressed political opinions that were "largely incoherent":

"Some of us have died off, of course, but the remnants of the legendary pig in a python generation are still wending our way through the snake’s entrails, tussling with each other as we pass through the intestines of the body politic."

That's a quote I'm reading at Instapundit this morning.

I must say that this is the first time in my life that I've wondered about whether snake intestines curl around like the intestines of a mammal. 

Of course, I've heard that pig/python metaphor used many times to describe my my my my my my generation, but I'd never thought about how winding the long road through the final part of the snake was supposed to be pictured.

"On Monday, June 13, we will be live blogging as the court releases orders from the June 9 conference and opinions in one or more argued cases from the current term."

 Let's hang out at SCOTUSblog.

1. "The court has denied cert in a case I was watching, T.O. v. Fort Bend Independent School District, about excessive force used by a school official on a first grader. (A chokehold.)"

2. From a commenter there: "As someone who commutes by bike around the Capitol and SCOTUS every day, I can't overstate how big the police presence was this morning compared to normal. Just scores of MPD and Capitol Police stacked up all around the neighborhood near the Court." 

3. "2 down, 27 to go"

4.  The announcements are over. Nothing big happened. You can go to the link to read about the small handful of new cases.

"The Drag Queen Story Hour website describes the program as 'just what it sounds like - drag queens reading stories to children in libraries, schools, and bookstores.'"

"'DQSH captures the imagination and play of the gender fluidity of childhood and gives kids glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models. In spaces like this, kids are able to see people who defy rigid gender restrictions and imagine a world where people can present as they wish, where dress up is real.'"

From "Proud Boys storm drag queen event for children at Bay Area library, deputies say" (ABC7 News).

"The men made homophobic and transphobic remarks against a member of the LGTBQ+ community who was hosting the event," [Alameda County Sheriff's Dept. Lt. Ray Kelly] wrote in an email. "There was no physical violence. Deputies responded to the disturbance and are conducting follow up to identify the group of men and their affiliation....We will initiate our hate crime protocol and will also address the annoying and harassing of children. More details to follow.... The men were reported to be members of the Proud Boys organization."

Remarkably sad photographs accompany the NYT editorial endorsing the current NY governor.

I'm looking at "Kathy Hochul Is the Best Choice for Democrats in the June 28 Primary." I can't copy the photographs, so I'll just copy the captions and tell you the photos all feel desolate to me:

1. "BUFFALO The sole room where abortions are performed, left, and one of several natural birthing rooms at Buffalo Women Services, which provides obstetric, gynecological and abortion services. The future of abortion access is one of the major issues on the ballot in New York State’s Democratic primary for governor on June 28." (We see the open doors to 2 side-by-side dimly lit rooms, one with a big bathtub. )

2. "BUFFALO An impromptu memorial outside Tops Friendly Market, the site of a racist mass shooting on May 14 that resulted in the death of 10 Black residents. Ms. Hochul, who once boasted an A rating from the National Rifle Association for her legislative record, now embraces gun safety regulations." (Flowers and crumpled American flags lie on the sidewalk right next to a storm sewer.)

3. "MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. A new high-density residential building near a Metro North train station, surrounded by many single-family homes" (a very intrusive high-rise apartment building painted with insultingly jolly colors) and "MOUNT VERNON Single-family homes near the end of the No. 2 subway line" (a weedy, seedy residential street with a lone figure, seen from the back, who seems selected to represent poor black people).

4. "MANHATTAN A rider exits the 34th Street-Herald Square subway station. Recent high-profile crimes on the subway and elsewhere, plus coronavirus variants, have many office workers still staying home." (Another lone figure seen from the back, disappearing around the curve in a dilapidated hallway. This one represents a woman in danger.).

5. "CAIRO, N.Y. Tattered American flags. New York, in this moment, requires a governor who is committed to fighting for our rights and freedoms, and the editorial board endorses Kathy Hochul." (Faded, frayed American flags poking out of unmowed weeds by a generic 2-lane highway.)

I haven't read the text of the editorial, only these captions, as I marveled over the crazy collection of photographs. Hochul is the current governor! You made the state look terrible. Yet voters are supposed to want more of the same. I guess change only risks making things worse. Be grateful for another serving of sadness stew, New Yorkers.

"The [Tonys] telecast was professional, smooth, well paced and bland."

"Part of the problem: the generally lugubrious choice of musical material. Another: the overly careful and inoffensively middlebrow tone. Which may be why one of the few moments that broke through the taste and torpor was Billy Crystal’s lowbrow schtick from 'Mr. Saturday Night,' the new musical based on his 1992 film. Actually, the 'Yiddish scat' he performed — nonsense guttural syllables and spitty consonants sung in the manner of an Ella Fitzgerald improvisation — has been part of his act forever, with good cause: It’s so stupidly funny you can’t help but fall for it."

From "Best and Worst Moments of the 75th Tony Awards/With Joaquina Kalukango’s high notes and Billy Crystal’s lowbrow jokes, the Tonys celebrated Broadway’s return after a tumultuous season" (NYT).

"Fish leather is here, it’s sustainable – and it’s made from invasive species..."

The Guardian reports.

Actually the full headline is "Fish leather is here, it’s sustainable – and it’s made from invasive species to boot," but I didn't like "to boot." The "and" already carries the meaning of adding one more thing, and "to boot" has nothing to do with a boot — yet boots are made of leather. That's just annoying.

The word "boot" in "to boot," going back to Old English, means "good, advantage, profit, use" (OED). It has a Germanic origin. The "boot" that is the footwear originates in French. It's a different lineage.


Lionfish... devour[] an estimated 79% of young marine life within five weeks of entering a coral reef system.... So Chavda and a team of ecologically aware fellow scuba enthusiasts decided to act by establishing Inversa, which turns lionfish into a new product: fish leather.... 

Inversa does not hunt the lionfish itself. Instead, it relies on educating and encouraging largely poor fishermen and women in often remote places to catch them....

So the ecological goal came first. Whether a commercially viable enterprise can be made out of lionfish leather is another matter. I doubt it! These are pretty small fish. How are you going to manufacture that into saleable leather goods? It's not like making a sharkskin suit.

That's a joke. A sharkskin suit is made out of wool (or silk), but it's called "sharkskin" because it looks like a shark's skin. And yet, when Herman Melville refers to sharkskin in "Moby-Dick," it seems to be real shark skin:

June 12, 2022

A very dim sunrise, brightened by wild flowers.



You can write about whatever you want.

"President Joe Biden told donors at a fundraising event in Los Angeles on Friday that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky 'didn’t want to hear it' when U.S. officials warned him of the Feb. 24 Russian invasion...."

"'I know a lot of people thought I was maybe exaggerating. But I knew we had data to sustain [Putin] was going to go in, off the border. There was no doubt, and Zelensky didn’t want to hear it,' he said. In response, Zelensky’s spokesperson Serhiy Nykyforov told Ukrainian news website LIGA.net that Zelensky spoke with Biden three or four times before the invasion, and Ukraine had called for preventive sanctions but Western allies 'didn’t want to hear us.' Zelensky adviser Mykhailo Podolyak also expressed his dislike for Biden’s phrasing, telling the news outlet it was 'absurd to blame a country that for more than 100 days has effectively been fighting in a full-scale war against a much more resourceful opponent, if the key countries weren’t able to preventatively stop the militaristic appetites of Russia, knowing them perfectly well.'"

The Daily Beast reports.


The "JFK is alive" crowd.

Here's a Daily Beast article: "QAnoners Gather for Big Announcement From JFK Jr., Who Is Dead."

"Disney has never endorsed Gay Days... Nor has it tried to rein it in. There isn’t much the company could do anyway."

"For red shirt days, attendees buy tickets like anyone else. The planning is handled by private companies like One Magical Weekend, Gay Days Inc., and the lesbian-focused Girls in Wonderland.... Would the anti-L.G.B.T.Q. vitriol that has surrounded Disney in recent months spill over to Gay Days?...  On Saturday morning... Gay Days participants streamed into Disney World. Many of them wore red shirts with the words 'SAY GAY' on the back....  [Disney's] Parks & Resorts division celebrates Pride month with a barrage of rainbow merchandise in its shops, including a button featuring Mickey Mouse and a rainbow along with the slogan 'Belong, Believe, Be Proud.' There were also rainbow-themed desserts... [and] Pride-themed photo backdrops.... There were no protesters. There were no cautionary signs. The only tension I saw came from a gay man who was cranky that a Disney manager had told him that his shirt could be viewed as inappropriate. It featured Pluto in leather gear and the phrase 'I like it wruff.'"

From "After a Political Storm, Gay Days Return to Disney/An L.G.B.T.Q. tradition at Disney World took on new significance this year, when Disney was ensnared in a heated cultural debate" (NYT).

"The greatest loss [in 'hardening' the infrastructure] is to the ideal of public space as a meeting place free of authoritarian intrusion or oversight..."

"... a locus for the free flow of ideas and a leveling ground where some distant memory of 'all men are created equal' is felt and enjoyed by citizens of an increasingly unequal polity.... No matter how robust the fortification, mass murderers will find the gaps, reducing the entire public realm to an ungovernable Hobbesian hellscape of perpetual violence. Individual buildings will no longer be stitched together in an urban unity but isolated in a sea of mayhem. This is how ancient empires collapsed — with myriad small-scale efforts to fortify and defend public spaces that were no longer governable by larger entities.... Good buildings, especially schools, libraries, houses of worship and places of entertainment, used to greet us with a promise.... Now, they will greet us just as we greet our fellow citizens, with wariness and suspicion."

Writes architecture critic Philip Kennicott, in "When we reimagine American public space as a fortress, we lose/‘Hardening’ the built environment won’t defeat mass murderers anyway" (WaPo).

"From the beginning... the Russians saw disinformation as an attack against open societies, 'against a liberal epistemic order.'"

"It was meant to erode the foundations of democracy by undermining trust and calling into question what was a fact and what was not. The brilliant insight of Russian disinformation is that it needn’t be false — the most effective disinformation usually contains more than a kernel of truth. Sometimes it can be a single bogus paragraph inserted into an otherwise genuine document. In the 1980s, the Russians popularized the false claim that H.I.V. was created in a U.S. lab in Ft. Detrick, Md. But that canard required bribing obscure journalists in remote countries and took decades to reach a wide audience. Now, a young Russian troll in St. Petersburg can create a false persona and push out dozens of tweets in an hour at almost no cost with almost no consequence — and reach millions of people in an hour. The internet... was optimized for mass disinformation."

From "Misdirection, Fake News and Lies: The Best Books to Read on Disinformation/The phenomenon has undermined our trust in electoral systems, in vaccines — and in what happened at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Here are books on its history, techniques and effects" (NYT).

I quoted from the section of the review that is about "Active Measures: The Secret History of Disinformation and Political Warfare" by Thomas Rid.

The review is by Richard Stengel, who was the under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs from 2013 to 2016 and who himself has written a book about disinformation, "Information Wars: How we Lost the Global Battle Against Disinformation and What We Can Do About It."

But who is "wiser" than Elon Musk? If the answer is no one, he's nailed down his position while performing open-mindedness. That's wisdom for you.

"Many Venezuelans seeking a better existence have taken a difficult route over land, including traversing on foot the Darién Gap, a treacherous, roadless stretch of jungle..."

"... in eastern Panama and northwestern Colombia. In the first five months of the year, more than 32,000 migrants, including over 16,000 Venezuelans, have made the crossing, according to Panama’s National Migration Service...."

From "A Caravan of Migrants Is Heading Toward the U.S. Border/Some 6,000 migrants, many of them from Venezuela, set off from southern Mexico last week as leaders from across the Americas met in Los Angeles to discuss issues including migration" (NYT).

Young men make up a large number of those in the caravan.... Most of those in the caravan are poor and hoping for better opportunities in the United States. But some are also fleeing violence and persecution, including a group of L.G.B.T.Q. migrants who described the discrimination they faced in Venezuela and on the road....

"In Venezuela, and in the neighborhoods of Caracas, we’re not accepted," said [Yeider] Rodríguez... We have to repress ourselves, to pretend to be something we’re not."

ADDED: There's an implication that the U.S. should give asylum to people who are saying what many U.S. citizens say about their own experience in the U.S.

"Counterpoint: If they're that afraid, they can resign for their safety. Since when is the safety of Brett Kavanaugh more important than..."

"... the lives of teachers and their students? The lives of women? People in Buffalo who simply went to the grocery store? People who go to church? How many people feel unsafe because of transphobic laws? Why should the Supreme Court feel safer than the general public? Why has the Editorial Board decided the justices are entitled to some sort of elitist protection? They can live the same way they have decided the rest of us should live."

Says a highly rated comment on the Washington Post editorial "Supreme Court justices should be able to feel safe at home." The Editorial Board comes out in favor of a Senate bill that would authorize protection of the Supreme Court Justice's family.

A strange image on the front page of the Washington Post — a woman called "Burnitdown" — who's accelerating a fire — is said to "portend" "what the Trump movement is becoming."


The caption under the picture — the tiny print — says: "Angela Rubino squirts fuel into a fire in her yard in Rome, Ga., so that participants in a Republican meeting on a chilly morning can warm themselves."

So we're told she's called "Burnitdown" and she "portends what the Trump movement is becoming," and we're inflamed at first glance, but if we take the trouble to read the fine print, she's just warming Republicans on a chilly morning.

Buried in a strange WaPo article, there is the assertion that, at Google, you're an outlier if you see psychology as a respectable science.

Last night, I blogged a Washington Post article, "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." 

That raises many interesting questions, and I urge you to go back to that blog post if you want to talk about anything other than this one side issue, which is raised by a single phrase in the article:

Inside Google’s anything-goes engineering culture, [Blake] Lemoine is more of an outlier for being religious, from the South, and standing up for psychology as a respectable science.

I'd like to know more about the culture at Google, which, I presume has a big impact on the larger culture. What is this rejection of psychology as a science?

Googling, I found this piece from 2012: "Why psychology isn’t science" by Alex Berezow (L.A. Times).

"Thirty-one people affiliated with the white nationalist group Patriot Front were arrested near an annual LGBTQ+ event Saturday in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho..."

"The suspects were booked on suspicion of conspiracy to riot, Coeur d'Alene Police Chief Lee White said at an afternoon news conference.... White said police were made aware in recent days that a number of groups planned to disrupt Pride in the Park, an annual event highlighting civil rights struggles for the LGBTQ+ communities. Staffing was increased and awareness was heightened by the time dispatchers fielded a report of 20 people in a U-Haul vehicle Saturday afternoon, he said. The suspects wore masks, had shields, and 'looked like a little army,' the chief said, quoting the caller who reported the suspicious activity. Ten minutes after that 1:38 p.m. U-Haul report, police stopped the vehicle and a total of 31 people in 'similar attire' were arrested, White said.... One smoke grenade was found among the suspects' belongings...."

From "31 linked to white nationalist group arrested near Pride event in Idaho/The suspects, who were dressed similarly and allegedly had riot shields, were booked on suspicion of conspiring to riot, Coeur d'Alene police said" (NBC News).

Here's the Wikipedia article for Patriot Front: