July 23, 2022


5:20 a.m., showing the waning crescent moon:






Talk about whatever you want in the comments.

"How much political damage did Trump actually do to himself?"

Asks John Cassidy in "How Much Damage Are the January 6th Hearings Doing to Trump? Even as Republican support for another Trump Presidential bid appears to be slipping, he can’t be counted out" (The New Yorker).

As you can guess from the concession in the title — "he can't be counted out" — the answer to the question is not much:

"Bill Schutt, the author of 'Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History,' says that fictional plots about eating human flesh are as old as literature itself."

"Pointing to examples that include the man-eating Cyclops in Homer’s 'Odyssey,' he said the taboo has artistically been used to horrify for centuries. 'When you take something that is so horrible and put it through this lens of fictionalization,' he said, 'we get charged up about it, but we know we’re safe.' At least most of the time: Mr. Schutt only made it halfway through Hulu’s 'Fresh' before he had to stop the movie. 'It was almost too well done,' he said. [Photo caption: 'In 'Fresh,' a woman becomes charmed by a man she meets at a grocery store, whom she later discovers is involved in an underground human flesh trade.']"

I just found 8 TikToks for your mid-Saturday enjoyment. 2 of them made me cry. Let me know what you think.

 1. Grab a banana and dance.

2. How to go downstairs in a wheelchair

3. What exactly is your skin color?

4. The oldest car in the world.

5. Two young boys get a little puppy dog.

6. The organist at the Salisbury Cathedral hears a tourist singing and, unseen, plays in accompaniment

7. A woman describes her own life in Victorian times — brushing mud off skirts, darning socks, and hearing the drunkards singing in the streets.

8. The uncanny power of classical music.

Weeds of July.

Joe Pye weed:


Butterfly weed:


Feel free to write about anything you want in the comments. Raise your own topics. Myself, I've read a lot of news stories this morning and my rejection rate is unusually high.

Some headlines feel so stupid — "Finally, the dam is breaking against Trump" — that it puts me off all the surrounding headlines. It's like a disease.

Did you know monkeypox is an emergency? Did you know there's a movie called "Nope"? Did you know "Liz Holtzman Wants Another Crack at Congress, 50 Years Later"? Did you know "Joe Manchin Squanders an Opportunity and Ushers In Despair"? Are you interested in News of the Future: "Jan. 6 Panel After 8 Hearings: Where Will the Evidence Lead?"


Anyone else annoyed by "solfege"? That is, apparently, "solfège." Accent grave over the "e."

In music, solfège...  or solfeggio... also called sol-fa, solfa, solfeo, among many names, is a music education method used to teach aural skills, pitch and sight-reading of Western music. Solfège is a form of solmization, though the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably.

Syllables are assigned to the notes of the scale and enable the musician to audiate, or mentally hear, the pitches of a piece of music being seen for the first time and then to sing them aloud. Through the Renaissance (and much later in some shapenote publications) various interlocking 4, 5 and 6-note systems were employed to cover the octave. 

If you don't know why this is annoying me today, I have to begin with a spoiler alert: 

"I feel like women have to be more careful and more selective now in who they have intercourse with."

"If something happens with your birth control or your condom breaks, this potentially could be a partner stuck in your life forever because now you have to raise a child together."

Said Sarah Molina, 25, a "newly single" "event planner in Phoenix" who had been eager "to get back on the dating scene" until the overturning of Roe v. Wade "changed" her attitude toward sex, even though "abortion is currently legal in Arizona."

The last line of that, spoken by the bride, is: "At the end of the day, we both think life should be fun above all else. Laughter is an integral ever-presence and underscores every aspect of our relationship."

Fun above all else. Says a bride, binding her life to a partner forever. Once you have a partner who values fun above all else, you don't have to fret, like the "newly single" ladies, about sex leading to childbirth that could bind you forever to some random man, like back in the olden days. 

July 22, 2022

Sunrise — 5:28, 5:35, 5:40.




Talk about whatever you like in the comments.

Just 4 TikToks tonight. Let me know what you like.

1. Singing "Hey there, lonely girl" to a random woman in the supermarket.

4. Some nice young people harmonize singing "Landslide" quite sincerely. 

2. The Drew Barrymore Effect. (If you watched #5 on the July 19th post, you'll get this.)

3. A man dresses for summer, Regency style.

(Just talk about these videos in the comments. If you want to rag on TikTok, there's a specific post about that: here. This post is purely for the enjoyment of videos, not discussion of the platform that happens to host them.)

"This Biennale, which runs through Sept. 18, is serious. Very serious. It verges on humorless...."

"[The curator's] statement notes that today’s 'profusion of sprawling, monumental exhibitions' mirrors 'the material excesses' of global capitalism, and asks: 'So why add yet another exhibition to this?' The answer he reaches is that art — perhaps uniquely — can reclaim our attention from algorithmically enforced social control.... Mai Nguyen-Long’s 'Vomit Girl' and 'Specimen' sculpture series... grapple with the aftermath of Agent Orange bombings in Vietnam.... Even blunter are Mayuri Chari’s vulvas sculpted from cow dung... address the shaming of women’s bodies in India amid conservative Hinduism’s obsession with purity.... This Biennale is... all over the place — one must study the scatter in an attempt to understand the collision that produced it. Its contradictions, I suspect, reflect those of the 'decolonial'.... Whereas decolonization in the classic sense was a political, territorial project with no inherent grievance against modernity, today’s 'decolonial practice' is about changing systems of knowledge — a woolier, potentially endless project. This Biennale is presented as a gathering of 'decolonial strategies.' The task... is tending 'all of the wounds accumulated throughout the history of Western modernity.'... This Berlin Biennale feels... overloaded by its own conceptual apparatus...."

Bannon guilty!

The NYT reports.
The jury deliberated for less than three hours. The guilty verdict came after weeks of heated speeches by Mr. Bannon outside the federal courthouse in Washington, a lengthy jury selection process and a speedy trial that a judge had vowed to keep from becoming “a political circus.”... 
Although Mr. Bannon was found guilty of what amounted to a low-level process crime, his conviction was the first of a close aide to Mr. Trump to result from one of the chief investigations into the Capitol attack....
ADDED: Bannon spoke to the press after the verdict:

Coneflower at dawn, with insect.


"Can I use 'It/It’s' as gender pronouns?"

A Quora question.

I see 2 extra problems — extra problems beyond the usual issues surrounding pronoun preferences.

First, you're requiring other people to use a word that is dehumanizing, that portrays you as a thing and not a person.  

I noticed this problem in the context of attempting to answer the question, "What's with the weird, kinda ominous music on the Barron Trump video? Sounds like the music you'd hear on a true crime documentary about the hunt for the Sheep Ranch Killers or something."

I said, "I think it's trying to say: Look, there's a duplicate Trump, and it's bigger and stranger...." I used the word "it" to convey the thinking of someone who regarded Barron Trump as not human but a monstrous thing

Second, you're going to force other people to get the punctuation wrong? It's? Not its

"Gratefulness is where I live cuz my granny, gmama, momma, family modeled and instilled it in me. It isn’t a posture of less than or crumbs scraping..."

"... but one that acknowledges good things aren’t a guarantee and when we encounter them thankfulness, gratefulness is the least we can express."

Said Shonka Dukureh, who played Big Mama Thornton in the Baz Luhrmann movie "Elvis," quoted, unfortunately, in a report that she has died at the age of 44 (NY Post).

Here's a slice of the trailer that I clipped to show Dukureh:

The car and the crane at 6 a.m.


Here's the action version — just 4 seconds:

"We both have the same interests, but our viewpoints are different: He has the scientific viewpoint, and I have the psychological and the spiritual."

Said Ann Shulgin, quoted in "Ann Shulgin, 91, Who Explored Psychedelics With Her Husband, Dies The couple advocated the use of hallucinogens in psychotherapy and documented their experiences with hundreds of drugs in two widely read books" (NYT).
[“PiHKAL: A Chemical Love Story” (1991)] is divided into two parts: first a thinly veiled autobiography, then a do-it-yourself guide to making some 170 drugs, a feature that made this self-published volume an underground hit in the United States and Europe.... 
“Inventing new psychoactive drugs,” Ms. Shulgin told The Los Angeles Times in 1995, “is like composing new music.”... 
She took her first psychedelic trip in the early 1960s, at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. “We stopped and looked around us at the earth, the sky and each other, then I saw something forming in the air, slightly above the level of my head,” she recalled in “PiHKAL.” 
“It was a moving spiral opening, up there in the cool air, and I knew it was a doorway to the other side of existence.”

"If a tech company operates in mainland China, the Communist Party can easily gain access to its data."

"One way is through China's Data Security Law, which allows the government to regulate private companies' practices for storing and managing information in China if they collect 'core data' -- a broad term that means anything Beijing sees as a national or security concern....There is a lot the Chinese government might find valuable in the data TikTok collects about American users. According to the company's privacy policy, it collects consumers' real-time location, search history and biometric data (e.g., fingerprints or facial imprints). Such information is invaluable to create identity profiles, which hackers sell to the highest bidder in Chinese black markets to commit identity fraud.... Worse, TikTok requires the use of your device's microphone to collect voiceprints. Without access to TikTok's source code, which only the company possesses, it's hard to know what the app does with the permissions it's given.... If TikTok's access is as expansive as that implies, the Chinese government could use a smartphone as a listening device.... This opens a terrifying gap in our nation's security by giving China the ability to listen to government officials' private conversations...."

In its article about Dave Chappelle, The Washington Post changes "recent transphobic jokes" to "recent jokes about transgender people" and makes no note of the correction.

I'm just noticing this now, as I review the comments on yesterday's post, which has a title that quotes the first paragraph of the WaPo article, "Comedian Dave Chappelle’s show at a Minneapolis venue on Wednesday was canceled hours before he was set to take the stage because of backlash from staff and the community over his recent transphobic [sic] jokes...." 

I added the "sic" and reinforced my criticism by quoting one of the comments at WaPo:
... backlash from staff and the community over his recent transphobic jokes.

You've just accepted the criticism of Chappelle at face value, I see. Personally, if I'd been editing this, I would have changed it to "jokes perceived by some as transphobic." Or maybe even "jokes involving transsexuals." 
By stating it as you have, you've sided with his critics in, not an opinion column, but what is ostensibly an objective news story. Nice job, WAPO.  

I wrote, "Do I need a '[sic]' after 'transsexual'?" because I think "transgender" is the preferred term, but other than that, I think that comment said it well. 

WaPo has now changed "recent transphobic jokes" to "recent jokes about transgender people." 

I've added an update to my original post, and I'll repeat my criticism that this was an important, substantive change correcting a shameful journalistic mistake. It should be acknowledged forthrightly, with assurance that the paper will pay attention and make an effort to avoid repeating this mistake.

I want to see a "CORRECTION" notice on this article!

July 21, 2022



... with coneflower...


... and rattlesnake master....


Write about anything you want in the comments.

Just 4 TikToks tonight. Let me know what you like.

1. Barron has grown impossibly tall.

2. Kamala's reaction to Joe's getting covid.

3. All the things he had to apologize to his wife for.

4. How to drink wine in the rain.

"Comedian Dave Chappelle’s show at a Minneapolis venue on Wednesday was canceled hours before he was set to take the stage because of backlash from staff and the community over his recent transphobic [sic] jokes...."

"'To staff, artists, and our community, we hear you and we are sorry,' First Avenue said in a statement, which was posted to social media less than three hours before the show was scheduled to begin. 'We know we must hold ourselves to the highest standards, and we know we let you down. We are not just a black box with people in it, and we understand that First Ave is not just a room, but meaningful beyond our walls.' The storied venue, which is best known for its appearances in Prince’s 1984 film 'Purple Rain,' added that while it believes in diverse voices and the freedom of artistic expression, 'we lost sight of the impact' booking Chappelle would have on the community.... ...First Avenue said Chappelle’s show was moved to the Varsity Theater, where all tickets for the performance would be honored. Chappelle had already been scheduled to perform at the Varsity Theater on Thursday and Friday. "

"Biden tests positive for covid-19, White House says."

WaPo reports.

Biden, 79, is fully vaccinated and boosted, and as president has access to some of the best medical care in the world. But elderly people often suffer more serious symptoms than younger individuals, and Biden’s positive test is likely to send tremors through the political world and the international community until the course of his disease is clearer.... 

Despite covid-19 having increasingly seeped into Biden’s inner circle — infecting everyone from his family members to many of his top advisers — the president had, until Thursday, managed to avoid the illness.

Know thyself?

That's a cute little BBC animation that I found after that Bret Stephens column — blogged here — made me think about the old aphorism "Know thyself." Stephens was talking about the "self-satisfied elite" who didn't understand the point of view of the non-elite. It made me think: How dare these people regard themselves as elite if they are self-satisfied? They are not educated if they haven't looked into the functioning of their own mind, especially if they satisfy themselves with contempt for others.

Here's Wikipedia on "Know thyself":

The Ancient Greek aphorism "know thyself" (Greek: γνῶθι σεαυτόν, transliterated: gnōthi seauton...) is the first of three Delphic maxims inscribed in the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi.... The two maxims that follow "know thyself" were "nothing to excess" and "certainty brings insanity." In Latin the phrase, "know thyself", is given as nosce te ipsum or temet nosce.

"Certainty brings insanity" is the least well-known of those aphorisms. It explains a lot!

Much more at that Wikipedia link, but — here — I'll just show  you this cool painting from the 1600s, inscribed with the Latin phrase:

Whatever happened to "defund the police"?

I'm reading "Biden seeking $37B for fighting crime, hiring more police." (AP).

"Inside, the church was less than half full. There were plenty of Hermès bags but few boldfaced names from the gilt-covered slice of Manhattan society the couple had inhabited..."

"... in the 1980s and 1990s.... 'In the tumultuous times of the last few years, with all the attacks we faced,' [Donald Trump Jr.] said, 'she was the first person to call and see if I perhaps wanted, or maybe needed, to move back in with her. That call was simultaneously the sweetest and most emasculating thing ever. And she could do that with the best of them, and usually it was on purpose.' When he was a small child, Mr. Trump said, he went with his family to the Hamptons. While there, he acted at Gosman’s (Montauk’s best-known seafood spot) in a way that 'exceeded the limits' of everyone’s patience. His mother, he said, took him to the bathroom and showed him 'what Eastern European discipline was really all about.' When it was over, he said, she told him, 'And if you cry, we’re going to come back in here and do this again.'... [Eric Trump] told another story about his sister Ivanka destroying a very pricey chandelier while playing in the house with a beach ball. 'Ivanka managed to quickly convince my mother that it was me,' he said. That time, the 'remedy,' as he put it, was a 'wooden spoon,' and what made his mother even more irate as she spanked him was his fervent denial of having played any role in the misbehavior. 'Not only had I broken the chandelier, but now I was also lying to her,' he said. But by the time she realized he was telling the truth, Mr. Trump said, she was 'too tired to deal with Ivanka.'"

I'll just say it was mean of the Times to say "the church was less than half full" and tag this post with "mothers," "domestic violence," and "gender difference" and move on.

"The worst line I ever wrote as a pundit... was... 'If by now you don’t find Donald Trump appalling, you’re appalling.'"

Says Bret Stephens — in "I Was Wrong About Trump Voters" (NYT) — about the first thing he ever wrote about Trump. That was in August 2015, and he went on to write "dozens of columns denouncing Trump as a unique threat to American life, democratic ideals and the world itself."

He now regrets attacking the Trump voters. Because it wasn't effective?
Telling voters they are moral ignoramuses is a bad way of getting them to change their minds.What were they seeing that I wasn’t?... What Trump’s supporters saw was a candidate whose entire being was a proudly raised middle finger at a self-satisfied elite that had produced a failing status quo. I was blind to this....

He was part of that "self-satisfied elite." Does he genuinely take responsibility for his failure to see from the viewpoint of the non-elite? Or is this a repositioning in the hope of regaining power over the deplorables?

"Doing a set at Summerfest on July 21, 1972" — 50 years ago today — "[George] Carlin went through much of the material on his latest album, 'Class Clown,' including 'Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television.'"

"... The [new HBO] documentary shows the comedian bantering about it with Johnny Carson on 'The Tonight Show' a couple of months later. 'What did they do to you in Milwaukee?' Carson asks Carlin. 'Well, what did they try to do to me … ?' Carlin replies, going into the old Blatz Beer jingle, 'I’m from Milwaukee, and I ought to know … The routine worked everywhere, really, very well … Except in Milwaukee, where they must really be bad words. One policeman took exception … apparently he hadn’t been listening in the locker room.' Carlin was arrested by a Milwaukee police officer who happened to be at Summerfest with his family.... The promoter rushed over to [Carlin's wife] Brenda, telling her that the police were going to arrest the comedian....  'My mom knows that my dad is carrying weed and coke in his pockets,' [Carlin's daughter] Kelly remembers.... 'She grabbed a glass of water and walked out on to the stage, whispering in his ear, "Cops are here, exit Stage Left."' Carlin left the stage, Kelly says, emptying his pocket as he went.... Tom Schneider, then a young assistant district attorney, had been at Carlin's show....  Schneider's boss, who knew he'd been at the show, asked him if Carlin had disturbed the peace; Schneider told him Carlin received a standing ovation. The charges were dismissed in December 1972."

From "George Carlin documentary shines a light on his breakthrough moments at Milwaukee's Summerfest and Lake Geneva's Playboy Club" (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). 

You might think "Exit stage left" was a potentially confusing way to aim Carlin toward an escape route, but "Exit stage left" was a catchphrase of the time. Popularized by this:

July 20, 2022

Sunrise — 5:18, 5:37, 5:40.




Write about whatever you want in the comments.

Tonight, I am serving up 9 TikTok videos. Let me know what you like.

1. Your brain would just like to go over a few things.

2. Prompting the AI image generator with nonsense words like "plism sprute."

3. Ricky Gourmet reveals where he got his VibeSmith certification

4. A young woman finds it hard to believe the harsh reality of adult life: You have to register your car. Every year.

5. "I'm like: What has Leon the lobster got going on?"

6. She's tried to be normal, but will now be as weird as possible.

7. The TikTok algorithm — thinking this man is a woman — has revealed to him the secret knowledge of what women want.

8. How do you explain the Upper Peninsula? Did Wisconsin lose a war?

9. Russell Brand contemplates heroic sacrifice.

"The defendant decided he was above the law, and he didn’t have to follow the government’s orders like his fellow citizens. So this whole case is about a guy who just refused to show up? Yes, it is that simple."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Vaughn argued to the jury, quoted in "Prosecutor: Steve Bannon thumbed his nose at the law/Outside court, the defendant denounced the House Jan. 6 committee and the case against him" (WaPo).
Lawyers for Bannon dismissed Vaughn’s characterization, saying their client was still negotiating with the House Jan. 6 committee when he was accused of a crime. “No one ignored the subpoena,” said defense lawyer M. Evan Corcoran. “It’s called negotiation, it’s called accommodation.”... 

"Mr. Brand uses no special technique to produce his images.... He doesn’t use filters, preferring his special effects to come from a reflection in water or a dramatic angle of light..."

"... rather than from software. He simply finds his subject and frames it, zooms in and then touches the screen to lock the focus where he wants it — and takes multiples of every subject to improve his odds of success."

Some nice photos at the link — closeups of plants, insects, dew. The key is to keep looking at details and notice when there's good light. You always have your iPhone (or whatever phone), so you're fully equipped to get the photo. You just have to be there and to see.

"[Matthew] Crawford is out to defend what he calls 'homo moto,' the human being who moves purposively through the world rather than being simply carried through it..."

"... who uses a 'car or a motorcycle as a kind of prosthetic that amplifies our embodied capacities,' who gains freedom, familiarity and mastery by navigating swiftly through a complex landscape. Driving, Crawford argues, remains an important 'form of organic civic life' and a 'realm of interaction that demands the skills of cooperation and improvisation.' Whereas its possible replacements, especially the supposed self-driving utopia, transform democratic agents into isolated passengers moving under algorithmic power, no longer 'mentally involved in our own navigation and locomotion,' ruled, scrutinized and passive...." 

Writes Ross Douthat, in  "What Driving Means for America" (NYT).

Matthew Crawford book — which Douthat read as he drove his family across the country in a minivan — is "Why We Drive: Toward a Philosophy of the Open Road."

More from Douthat:

"The vast majority of people here are pro-choice. And the very vast majority of people here think that these protesters have gotten out of control."

Said Lyric Winik, who lives "several homes down from" Brett Kavanaugh," on a "narrow street of towering trees, tightly spaced homes and families with young children" in Chevy Chase, Maryland. 

Quoted in "Brett Kavanaugh’s neighbors: For abortion rights but tired of protests/Weekly demonstrations on their street prompt increased noise complaints; police warn of possible arrests" (WaPo).
Last Wednesday, officers indicated protesters were edging closer to being arrested. Demonstrators take strong exception to the reactions, saying that to whatever extent they disrupt tranquility, it is part of a much more important message — bringing attention to how a number of justices altered the lives of millions — and a message could be even stronger with the residents’ participation. As they chanted recently: “Out of your houses and into the streets!”

"Am I the only one who liked the girl afraid to drop in?…one father-daughter dynamic 2022 in a nutshell. Plus, she can drop in."

Writes Barbara, in the comments to last night's TikTok post.

That prompted farmgirl:

Barbara- I just watched the Father/daughter.
That is what America should look like.
What a great Dad!!

I'd only written "She's scared to drop in." So I didn't let on what an immensely cool father/daughter interaction there was. It makes me want to be more obvious:

July 19, 2022

A sunrise sequence.

IMG_1694 2

IMG_1715 2

IMG_1719 2

IMG_1723 2

Write about whatever you want in the comments.

"She was outstanding. Beautiful inside and out. We began all of it, our lives together, with such a great relationship."

Said Donald Trump, about Ivana Trump. He'd called up NY Post columnist Cindy Adams, because he was "just thinking how well you knew Ivana. You knew her very well. You knew her from the first."

Adams asked what he remembered about Ivana, and he said: "That she was different. That she never gave up. Beautiful, yes, but she was also a hard worker. No matter how rough things were or how badly they looked she never fell down. She went from communism to our lives together. She took nothing for granted.”

Never fell down.

Adams asked "if he thought we were about to also lose our country," and he said: "It’s horrible. We’ve never been at such a low point. That trip to Saudi Arabia? We have more oil than they have. This man in Washington is setting us all back. Setting everybody back."

Updates on 2 recently blogged NYC stories.

1. "DA Alvin Bragg drops murder charge against bodega worker Jose Alba" (NY Post): "The DA’s office filed a motion in Manhattan Criminal Court to dismiss the case against the 61-year-old bodega worker after an investigation found it couldn’t prove the 'defendant was not justified in his use of deadly physical force.'" Blogged here on July 11th.

2. "Shack attack: NYC demolishes Manhattan Bridge hobo’s makeshift SRO" (NY Post): "The street denizen who was living rent free among the city’s most amazing river views, did not appear to be around when his makeshift shack off to the side of the historic span’s bike path was destroyed and the splintered pieces carted off, said local fruit vendor Mohammed Ali." Blogged here on July 17th.

I've assembled 10 TikToks to keep you occupied for the next 10 minutes. Let me know what you like best.

1. This is your pilot speaking.

2. The puppies are not yet ready to play.

3. She's scared to drop in.

4. If you baby-talk, will your friend baby-talk back?

5.  Drew Barrymore really wants you to go out in the rain.

6. Backstage with The Beach Boys.

7. When Sting had to endure the Jose Feliciano version of "I'll Be Watching You."

8. A "Moonstruck" visual.

9. When the Wisconsin man goes to Hawaii.

10. The deadline gave us purpose.

"How to Build a Sex Room is technically a home-makeover reality show like Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Flip or Flop, and Fixer Upper — complete with sledgehammering walls..."

"... ripping out unsightly wallpaper, and introducing spendy sofas.... But... it’s also sex-positive sex ed.... Very sexy sex isn’t aspirational enough anymore; people demand a dream home to have it in.... The show mixes it up, featuring queer couples, married couples with teenagers and toddlers, a recently engaged couple, a polycule, and a recent divorcee in her 50s....  [Designer Melanie Rose] asks about her clients’ favorite positions, their kinks, what they’re curious to explore. 'We’re clam chowder with a dab of Tabasco,' Wesley, a law-enforcement officer, says about his sex life with his wife, Hannah, a real-estate agent.... When it comes to conceiving of a pleasure-room design, Rose has a few rules: no carpet — not even a stainproof one. She recommends tile (and installing a drain 'if there’s going to be that much bodily fluid').... 'If you’re installing a sex swing, do it on a ceiling joist'.... 'I’m very much a touchy-feely person,” Rose says.... 'I like to smell the leathers, pick up the vibrators and the dildos.'"

Very sexy sex isn’t aspirational enough anymore.... Noted. I'm glad people are aiming high. And have drains to hose it all down in the end.

Polycules? you ask. What are polycules? Come on. It's a portmanteau. Don't you see it? Polyamory + molecule

ADDED: Clam chowder... and I was just doing the new New Yorker crossword where 43 Down is "______ Bucket (unappetizing-sounding rival of the Krusty Krab, on 'SpongeBob SquarePants')." I don't watch that show, and my first guess was "Clam." Spoiler alert: It's "Chum." Good thing Wesley the law-enforcement officer didn't liken his wife to that.

"As Biden eyes 2024, one person weighs heavily: Trump."

That's a headline at WaPo for a piece by Matt Viser

Subheadline: "Biden’s associates say he will feel compelled to run if Trump does. If that rematch materializes, Biden said recently, ‘I would not be disappointed.'"

That was published at 5 this morning. I read it just after seeing this new poll by the Trafalgar Group:

If the 2024 presidential election were held today and Joe Biden and Donald Trump were your choices, for whom would you vote? 

  • Donald Trump — 47.9% 
  • Joe Biden — 42.6% 
  • Undecided — 9.6%

"He talks a bit about famous customers he’s served, including Patti Smith, who shares his fondness for Robert Louis Stevenson’s essays."

"Philip Larkin would come in, looking for first editions of his own books. He sold a copy of 'Finnegans Wake' to Johnny Depp, who was 'trying incredibly hard not to be recognized and with predictably comic results.'"

From "Love the Smell of Old Books? This Bookseller Would Like You to Leave./In his grouchy, funny memoir, 'A Factotum in the Book Trade,' Marius Kociejowski writes about what a good bookstore should feel like, famous customers he’s served and more" (NYT).

The review is by Dwight Garner — note: "garner" is fine as a name! — and the reason Kociejowski would like you to leave — if you walk into his store and say "I love the smell of old books" — is that a thousand people have walked into the store and said the same damned thing.

The Robert Louis Stevenson essays Patti Smith might have bought is "An Apology for Idlers," which I've blogged about many times, including:

"We see the tradition of independent, self-governed nations as the foundation for restoring a proper public orientation toward patriotism and courage, honor and loyalty..."

"... religion and wisdom, congregation and family, man and woman, the sabbath and the sacred, and reason and justice. We are conservatives because we see such virtues as essential to sustaining our civilization. We see such a restoration as the prerequisite for recovering and maintaining our freedom, security, and prosperity. We emphasize the idea of the nation because we see a world of independent nations—each pursuing its own national interests and upholding national traditions that are its own—as the only genuine alternative to universalist ideologies now seeking to impose a homogenizing, locality-destroying imperium over the entire globe...."

I found that through "Beware of ‘national conservatives’ who dispense with American ideals" by Henry Olsen, at The Washington Post. He begins...
There’s a lot to like about the burgeoning “national conservative” movement, which stands against the increasingly stale, pre-Trump intellectual orthodoxy on the right....
... but quickly switches to criticism. Trump is, of course, awful, so hooray for the alternatives that might lure conservatives away from Trumpism, but any alternative that works will swiftly become the new target. 

"Since redheads are often more vulnerable than most to the sun’s rays, we’re giving them shelter from the sun inside our fully air conditioned cinema screens."

A British movie chain announced, quoted in "Britain’s redheads offered free movie tickets to dodge extreme heat/An Instagram post from Showcase Cinemas read ‘free tickets for redheads on the hottest days ever’" (WaPo).
Some posts on social media noted that redheads can often be bullied at school for their rarer hair coloring — and that the offer may ostracize the community further.
Worse, it discriminates against people of other colors.

Note: I have white hair now, tinted slightly blonde, but my original natural hair color is red, as described here (with old photo of me).

ADDED: I think redheads are actually in the least danger from the extreme heat. We know we need to stay out of the sunlight — either by keeping inside or by always looking for the shade or choosing twilight or nighttimes for outdoor things. I make a point of getting out before sunrise, and during the day, if I take a walk, it's in the woods. If I go downtown, I pick the shady side of the street. By avoiding the sun for the sake of my skin, I am always finding the coolest places outside. Some people are sun-lovers. They gravitate toward sunny places. They want exposure. That puts them in the hottest places.

"The Uvalde, Texas, gunman gave off so many warning signs... that teens who knew him began calling him 'school shooter.'"

"A state investigative report... lays out a long trail of missed signals prior to the massacre but notes these clues were known only to 'private individuals' and not reported to authorities.... The report traces the descent of a shy, quiet boy once thought by a teacher as a 'wonderful student' with a 'positive attitude' into a mass murderer.... A former girlfriend told the FBI that she believed [the killer, Salvador] Ramos had been sexually assaulted by one of his mother’s boyfriends at an early age, the report said, but when Ramos told his mother at the time, she didn’t believe him.... Family members told investigators how Ramos had been bullied as a fourth-grader in one of the same linked classrooms where he carried out the attack. They said he faced ridicule over his stutter, short hair and for wearing the same clothing nearly every day. At one point, the report said, a fellow student tied his shoelaces together and Ramos fell on his face, injuring himself. The report noted that Ramos was flagged by school officials as 'at risk,' but never received any special education services.... In March 2022, two months before the shooting, a student on Instagram told him that 'people at school talk (expletive) about you and call you school shooter.' The next month Ramos asked in a direct message on Instagram, 'Are you still gonna remember me in 50 something days?' After the answer — 'probably not' — Ramos replied, 'Hmm alright we’ll see in may.'"

ADDED: Here's a hypothetical to ask any schoolchild: Let's say at some point in the future — a year from now — one of the kids in your class becomes a school shooter: Which kid do you think it is? 

Don't you think the kids already know who the potential school shooters are? 

Here's some advice that we ought to convey to schoolkids, perhaps not in exactly these words: If you ever find yourself inclined to be cruel to another student, stop and think that you may be part of what turns him into the next school shooter. 

"I feel much more seen when I’m referred to as ‘they,’ but my closest friends, they will call me ‘she,’ and I don’t mind, because I know they know me."

Says Emma Corrin, quoted in Vogue, in "Emma Corrin on Fluidity, Fun, and Dressing Up to Stand Out."

I usually forget to read Vogue, but I saw that this morning because Instapundit linked to "Hairy Pits Strike Blow Against The Patriarchy" at Victory Girls, a discussion of the Emma Corrin cover photo at Vogue, which followed on a Wall Street Journal piece entitled "Armpit Hair Is Back, Whether You Like It or Not." 

The only hair the Vogue text refers to is head hair: "Emma Corrin’s... mop of short, insouciantly tousled blond hair." The armpit hair is just something to dare other people to talk about.

Is the body in its natural form unsettling to you? Must it be changed to suit your feelings of unease? Ironically, the people saying yes are (probably!) the same people who think those who feel unease about their natural genitalia should not undergo surgery.

Should we alter ourselves with sharp blades or not? 

"We have definitely taken care of the researchers. Question is, have we taken care of other people? I reject vehemently this idea..."

"... that we can't serve more than researchers. We have to. We have to democratize access to this. And it can be done well, tastefully, but not without some level of change."

Said Mark Sweeney, Principal Deputy Librarian of Congress, quoted in "Preservationists say Library of Congress makeover plan is ‘vandalism’/The library’s Main Reading Room, included in a $60 million renovation of the Thomas Jefferson Building, lands on the D.C. Preservation League’s list of endangered places" (WaPo).

A proposed change to the ornate Main Reading Room at the Library of Congress that critics say would remove the symbolic and functional heart of the 1897 Beaux-Arts masterpiece has landed the library on the D.C. Preservation League’s 2022 list of Most Endangered Places. The Library of Congress plans to remove the mahogany librarian’s desk that rises some 16 feet in the middle of this spectacular, first-floor room and replace it with a circular window in the floor that will offer a view of its decorative dome to visitors looking up from the floor below.

Sweeney touts the project as a "game changer." He's right about that. He's changing the "game" of research and architectural preservation to tourism. And it wouldn't even be good tourism. As one commenter over there puts it:

July 18, 2022

At the Sunrise Café...



... you can talk about whatever you want.

"One of his most famous installations, erected in 1976 — the bicentennial of the Declaration of Independence — is 'Clothespin,' a 45-foot-high, 10-ton black steel sculpture..."

"... of precisely what the title indicates, complete with a metal spring that appropriately evokes the number 76. The work stands in stark contrast to conventional public sculpture, which Mr. Oldenburg, impersonating a municipal official, said was supposed to involve 'bulls and Greeks and lots of nekkid broads.'... 'My intention is to make an everyday object that eludes definition.... I’ve expressed myself consistently in objects with reference to human beings rather than through human beings,' he said....While Mr. Oldenburg’s work is most often linked to the Pop Art of the 1960s, he saw his monumental versions of humble objects as more than just celebrations of the mundane. 'A catalog could be made of all such objects... which would read like a list of the deities or things on which our contemporary mythological thinking has been projected. We do invest religious emotion in our objects. Look at how beautifully objects are depicted in ads in Sunday newspapers.'"

It's a beautiful idea — that common objects can be monumental. And what monumental devotion to this idea!

This gets my "big and small" tag, which is, perhaps, my favorite tag.

"Just 16% of U.S. adults now say they have 'a great deal' or 'quite a lot' of confidence in newspapers and 11% in television news."

"Both readings are down five percentage points since last year."

Gallup reports, displaying this gruesome graph:

"Among people of color, 45% now approve of Biden’s overall performance, down from 54% in the spring."

"That decline includes a 6-point dip among Black adults and a 9-point decline among Hispanic adults. Biden’s approval ratings for handling the economy and inflation now break negative among Black adults, who have been among the President’s strongest backers (47% approve and 52% disapprove on the economy, while 34% approve and 65% disapprove on inflation)."

"An epidemic of Spanish-language right-wing disinformation that spiked around the 2020 election on social media platforms, and in some big-city AM radio stations, is revving up again..."

"... ahead of the fall midterms. Two years ago, before the 2020 presidential election, Spanish-language videos and news stories smeared Joe Biden as a communist. After the election, disinformation campaigns accused Black Lives Matter of spurring the Jan. 6 insurrection and bolstered the lie that Biden stole the election.... Conspiracy theories, easily debunked false narratives and outrageous lies spread quickly and take hold among Spanish-language users... [because] social media sites, including Facebook, do little fact-checking on foreign-language pages... [F]ake news videos often spread via large group chats among families and friends on WhatsApp, which is hugely popular among Latinos and is encrypted.... 'If your father sends you a video, you will trust your father. This is what makes us extraordinarily susceptible. We have very strong family ties.'... [W]e Latinos need to do our part. Don’t be shy about asking Abuela where she got that information she mentioned on WhatsApp...."

The found ginger beer bouquet.



Long view:


Write about anything you want in the comments.

"Statues paint an idiosyncratic portrait of American history. Consider Casimir Pulaski and Thaddeus Kosciuszko."

"The two Polish noblemen turned Revolutionary War generals are honored with more U.S. statues and monuments than all but a handful of native luminaries, according to the National Monument Audit. The audit was a year-long project to build a list of about 50,000 monuments... from mighty Mount Rushmore to a small monument in Ohio that pays homage to the man who 'brought the tuberous rooted begonia to this country from Belgium.'... Our colleague Gillian Brockell has already covered the report’s headline findings. A.) Half of the 50 most represented men owned other human beings. And B.) Women are so rarely represented that mermaids easily outnumber congresswomen. (Counts of men in statues include Pulaski, who some scholars believe may have been intersex.)"

What's that evidence that Pulaski might have been intersex? The link goes to a 2019 WaPo article about a Pulaski monument in Savannah that contained a skeleton which had DNA that matched that of relative of Pulaski's and had a pelvis bone that a forensic anthropologist thought was from a woman. 

Oddly enough, this news comes to me on the same morning that I am reading "Anthropologists Call for an End to Classifying Human Remains by Gender and Ancestry," a Jonathan Turley post"

Movies that you have to watch twice to understand.

That's a title for a list I wanted and, googling, I found 5 things. Let's see if any fit my needs. I have come to believe that the best movie-watching experience is the second (or subsequent) watch, so that first watches feel like a test to see whether this is a movie worth watching at all. These days, if I watch a movie once and think it's good, I watch it again, within a day or two. That way, I have the greatest opportunity to see the most in this thing I've discovered is worth watching. Sometimes on second watch, I feel humbled by how much I missed the first time around. I'm practically laughing at myself for thinking I had seen the movie.

So let's look at what my search turned up.

"Mr. Biden’s face-to-face meeting with MBS — preceded by a cordial, and ill-advised, televised fist bump — conferred a much-coveted legitimacy on the crown prince."

"On a visit calculated to secure increases in the Saudi oil supply, this moment crystallized the damaging appearance of trading U.S. human rights principles — indeed the Saudi people’s legitimate aspirations for greater freedom — for help curing the president’s domestic political problems caused by expensive gasoline.... ... Mr. Biden gave more than he got. He made no wider critique of Saudi Arabia’s repressive policies in public; there were no releases of political prisoners or clemency for other regime opponents — including dual U.S. citizens — who have been denied freedom to travel.... And when it was all over, MBS had made no public commitment to pump more oil.... A presidency that began with bold talk of a new, human-rights-centered approach to the Arab world has reverted to a policy not much less indulgent of dictators than those of previous administrations, including that of President Donald Trump."

Writes the Washington Post editorial board, in "In the Middle East, Biden’s policy bumps into U.S. principles."

"If you think about human biology, our bodies are built to reproduce.... You have to override what your body is saying..."

"... in order to make an adoption plan, and it takes a human being with a certain capacity to be able to do that."

"Tall and bald with the build of a swimmer, Pollan is no Timothy Leary — he isn’t asking anyone to drop out..."

"... and the medical trials described and shown in 'How to Change Your Mind' shouldn’t be confused with Ken Kesey’s freewheeling acid tests of the ’60s. Back then, when psychedelics left the laboratory and entered the counterculture, the power structure freaked out. 'Kids were going to communes, and American boys were refusing to go to war,' Pollan said. 'President Nixon certainly believed that LSD was responsible for a lot of this, and he may well have been right. It was a very disruptive force in society, and that is why I think the media after 1965 turns against it after being incredibly enthusiastic before 1965.'... Given evolving attitudes, one challenge facing the filmmakers, including the directors Alison Ellwood and Lucy Walker, was how to depict the psychedelic experience in a sophisticated way, without stumbling into the territory of a ’60s exploitation movie. 'We didn’t want to fall into the trap of using psychedelic visual tropes — wild colors, rainbow streaks, morphing images,' Ellwood wrote in an email.... 'The ego is a membrane between you and the world,' [Pollan] said. 'It’s defensive and it’s very useful. It gets a lot done, but it also stands between us and other things and gives us this subject-object duality. When the ego is gone, there is nothing between you and the world.'"

LSD without the psychedelic visuals of the 1960s, repositioned for our dismal times as something to eradicate whatever might be left of your ego. Thanks a lot, American culture. 

"More people are cancelling their video subscriptions to save money in the face of the cost of living squeeze, with under-24s most likely to walk away...."

"Now, in a reversal of previous trends, the decline is being driven by younger audiences as they turn to free alternatives such as the BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub and TikTok. Household budgets are under intense pressure, with prices rising by 9.1 per cent a year, the highest inflation rate for 40 years, and with the Bank of England warning that inflation could reach 11 per cent within months.... According to Tom Harrington, of Enders Analysis, life is only going to get tougher for the platforms because 'it isn’t just their direct competitors but every other household expense they have to worry about...."

July 17, 2022

Sunrise — 5:35, 5:44.



Write about whatever you want in the comments.

You know what?

Here's a list of headlines beginning with "What" that are currently displayed on the New York Times homepage.
  1. "What a relief that Janeane Garofalo never sold out, our critic writes"
  2. "What Will Happen if Doctors Defy the Law to Provide Abortions?"
  3. "What to Know About BA.5"
  4. "What Joe Manchin Cost Us"
  5. "What It Means to See America in Person"
  6. "What Turns a Person Into a Mass Shooter?"
  7. "What I Learned When My Sister Got Sick"
  8. "What It Would Take for Your Team to Land Juan Soto"

Just 5 TikToks made my list tonight. Let me know what you like

1. Lightning strike.

2. Parrots kiss.

3. The return of the influencer.

4. Asking people to name 3 songs by the band whose name is on their shirt.

5. The turtle sandbox is full of gender.

"[T]he slowdown of human activity... has become known as the 'anthropause.' Some species clearly benefited from our absence..."

"... [Christopher Wilmers, a wildlife ecologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz] speculated that the mountain lions were responding to changes in the urban soundscape, which might typically be filled with human chatter and the rumble of passing cars. 'But as soon as those audio stimuli are gone, then the animals are, like, "Well, might as well go see if there’s anything to eat here,"' he said. Just north, in a newly hushed San Francisco, white-crowned sparrows began singing more quietly, yet the distance across which they could communicate 'more than doubled,' researchers found. The birds also began singing at lower frequencies, a shift that is associated with better performance — and an improved ability to defend territory and woo mates. 'Their songs were much more "sexy,'" said Elizabeth Derryberry, a behavioral ecologist at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and an author of the study. 'And it was overnight,' she added. 'Which kind of gives you hope that if you reduce noise levels in an area, you can have immediate positive impact.'" 

Slow down — anthropause — and the birds will sing a sexier song.

I looked — just a little — for some information on the sexiness of birdsong. How would you know the effect on the nervous system of another bird? I did find this: "After some 20 years of theorizing, a scientist is publicly renouncing the 'beautiful hypothesis' that male birds’ sexy songs could indicate the quality of their brains."

Do you know when the bird's song is sexy? Do you know when the human's idea is beautiful?

"I don’t understand why the [Snopes] verdict is 'mostly false,' when most of this article is giving reasons why it would’ve made sense..."

"... for Lucille Ball to say 'don't gaslight me' in 1953. The word is based on the 1944 movie 'Gaslight.' The article cites a 1948 article that quotes a woman’s lawsuit as alleging that her husband gave her 'the Gaslight treatment.' That phrase was used on Lucille Ball’s TV show in the ‘60s, and in 1956 she did a parody of 'Gaslight' in a whole episode of her earlier show. She was a comedian who knew how to improv — don’t you think she would’ve been creative enough to turn a noun into a verb? People do that all the time, e.g. I probably started saying 'I’ll Facebook this' soon after I first got a Facebook account."

Snopes acknowledges that people back then knew the concept of "the Gaslight treatment" from the movie, but it blithely assumes that somehow, in the 1950s, we didn't fluidly and comically repurpose a noun into a verb:

"The globalist billionaire who funded the woke transformation of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello paid for a similar overhaul of James Madison’s house..."

"[B]lindsided tourists are hammered by high-tech exhibits about Madison’s slaves and current racial conflicts, thanks to a $10 million grant from left-leaning philanthropist David M. Rubenstein.... Visitors to Montpelier get to see just three rooms in the sprawling mansion.... Outdoors and in the house’s huge basement, dozens of interactive stations seek to draw a direct line between slavery, the Constitution, and the problems of African Americans today. 'A one hour Critical Race Theory experience disguised as a tour,' groused Mike Lapolla of Tulsa, Okla., after visiting last August. Hurricane Katrina flooding, the Ferguson riots, incarceration, and more all trace back to slavery, according to a 10-minute multi-screen video. Another exhibit damns every one of the nation’s first 18 presidents — even those, like John Adams and Abraham Lincoln, who never owned slaves — for having benefited from slavery in some way. The only in-depth material about the Constitution itself appears in a display that pushes the claim, championed by the controversial 1619 Project, that racism was the driving force behind the entire American political system.... Even the children’s section of the gift shop leans far left, with titles like 'Antiracist Baby' by Ibram X. Kendi and 'She Persisted' by Chelsea Clinton."

"An industrious vagrant has built a 16-square-foot wooden home on the Manhattan Bridge bike path...."

"The ramshackle shed was pieced together with plywood, two-by-fours and cardboard.... The front door... latches shut with a bike lock....The squatter is a Chinese man in his 50s or 60s who speaks in broken Mandarin. Approached by The Post on Thursday, he rambled on about Mao Zedong and executed acquaintances, according to a translator.... Local progressive City Councilman Christopher Marte [said]... 'We are not going to comment on this story and don’t want to bring more trouble to this man’s life. I know he has been there for over a year....'"

"I was always so upset about that staircase. I hated those stairs. They were so treacherous. We worried about her falling."

"Her townhouse was four stories high and while there was an elevator, she never used it. It’s a beautiful staircase but I wouldn’t want it. It’s so steep and deep. Friends used to say to me, 'Why don’t you stay with Ivana when you’re in New York?' But you couldn’t pay me to hang out there and go up and down those stairs.... I begged her to sell [the house] and move to the Pierre. But she said, 'No, I’m never leaving here.'"

Said Nikki Haskell, a close friend of Ivana Trump's, quoted in "Ivana Trump’s friends worried about her ‘treacherous’ staircase before death" (NY Post).