August 13, 2022

With the sky so cloudy, the yellow hoodie must stand in for the sun.


Write about whatever you want in the comments.

On this rainy Saturday evening, I've found 8 TikToks for your delectation. Let me know what you like.

1. A nice time-lapse of mural painting.

2. And our flag was still there.

3. He embodies healthy habits.

4. When you need a prosthetic eye, do you get something that matches your working eye?

5. The cool kids may belong back in the office, but for this guy, it's an anxiety hellscape.

6. Dad talks about mountain properties.

7. The joy Dad feels when he gets to tell the same joke he always tells.

8. Dressing for the occasion.

"The dust is still settling on what exactly will come of the search — such as, what type of classified information does the FBI suspect Trump to be in possession of?"

"But polling from YouGov conducted on Aug. 9 found that 62 percent of Americans thought it was either 'a very big problem' (45 percent) or 'somewhat of a problem' (17 percent) that Trump allegedly held onto classified documents after leaving office. That said, as we’ve seen with previous investigations of Trump, public opinion is split starkly along partisan lines, and Americans generally remain leery of taking action against him. That same Aug. 9 YouGov poll, for instance, found that 76 percent of Democrats — and 44 percent of independents — said they’d consider it a very big problem, compared with just 12 percent of Republicans. And an Aug. 10 poll from Politico/Morning Consult corroborates this breakdown: 81 percent of Democratic registered voters said the search was based on evidence that Trump had committed a crime, while only 16 percent of Republicans agreed."

"Religion, a medieval form of unreason, when combined with modern weaponry becomes a real threat to our freedoms."

"This religious totalitarianism has caused a deadly mutation in the heart of Islam and we see the tragic consequences.... [W]e all must... defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity. 'Respect for religion' has become a code phrase meaning 'fear of religion.' Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire, and, yes, our fearless disrespect."

Said Salman Rushdie, in 2015, after the Charlie Hebdo attack, quoted at HuffPo (and at Rushdie's Wikipedia page).

"I really don’t think there’s any need to have a discussion. He did a good job last year, kind of got off the rails this year."

Said Robin Vos, quoted in "A Top Wisconsin Republican Fires the 2020 Election Investigator He Hired/Robin Vos, the speaker of the State Assembly, said he was ending a widely criticized 14-month inquiry into the state’s 2020 results led by Michael Gableman, a former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice" (NYT).
In March, the former justice presented state legislators with a report that said they should consider decertifying the election.... As Mr. Vos resisted the decertification push, Mr. Gableman continued to promote false election claims. Last week, he endorsed Mr. Vos’s Trump-backed primary opponent, a far-right political neophyte named Adam Steen who came within a few hundred votes of toppling Mr. Vos. 

Female privilege resisted.

Presidential daughter and daytime TV personality Jenna Bush Hager must have thought she was performing her role as a playful, delightful female as she invaded the personal space of the male TV personality Justin Sylvester during a cooking segment of the "Today" show:


I had never heard of Justin Sylvester, so everything written above this sentence is my reaction to that video, which I'd watched with the sound off. My question was: Is he married? I wondered if he was the sort of man who thinks about his wife and how she would feel if she saw another woman breasting into him and squirming.

But, researching, I quickly encounter Sylvester's own reaction to the reaction to that video and, while I don't know if he's bullshitting to preserve his access to women's daytime TV, I can see that protecting this imagined wife is not what was going on:

August 12, 2022

Sunrise — 5:48, 5:50, 5:56, 5:59.





Writes about whatever you want in the comments.

I've curated 5 TikTok videos for you tonight. Let me know what you like.

1. Awaiting the first sunset since April.

2. A wasp cut of a cold cut.

3. "No, it's Baron of Bad News."

4. Baron Ryan on the age-old subject, Nothing is something.

5. "Be absolutely miserable, but change nothing...."

"Heche was charismatic and cool, with a terrific camera presence, an intriguing and sexually charged opaqueness, on the verge of disillusionment or hostility...."

"In the political satire Wag the Dog, she was the cynical presidential aide, increasingly anxious at the outrageous lies that she is helping to promote.... Heche was stylish and smart – often radiating a sophisticated refusal to be intimated, which isn’t the same as cynicism."

RIP Anne Heche.

Here she is in "Wag the Dog":

"President Barack Hussein Obama kept 33 million pages of documents, much of them classified. How many of them pertained to nuclear? Word is, lots!"

That's a statement Trump put up today on his website.

"A poor town in an empty part of Texas. A famous artist with a prominent following comes to town, buys up old buildings and cheap land..."

"... and builds museums full of crushed cans and boxes, scattered over concrete floors, inside buildings that are forever 1984 like Michael Graves in formaldehyde. Money comes in, the wealthy, the celebrities. There are pilgrimages to visit empty glass sculptures resting inside overheated warehouses surrounded by dry, hot grasslands. The artist dies, filled with resentment and anger, but somehow leaving behind a legacy, with a lot of debt, which will someday turn into hundreds of millions and enrich foundations, museums, his progeny. And the silent objects (also called ART) wither and decay, much like the state and the nation that surrounds it, a place of guns, oil, fanatic politics, speculative housing and the worship of junk as meaningful art."

Somebody else says: "I say surrender it to the elements. I would love to visit when nature has won out. It's gorgeous desolate landscape and didn't need Judd's imposition."

"There was just one attacker. He was dressed in black. He had a loose black garment on. He ran with lightning speed over to him."

Said Elisabeth Healey, 75, an audience member, quoted in "Salman Rushdie Is Attacked Onstage in Western New York/The author was set to deliver a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution when an assailant rushed at him" (NYT).

"Highly educated metropolitan elites have become something of a self-enclosed Brahmin class."

The self-enclosed Brahmin David Brooks concedes at the outset of "Did the F.B.I. Just Re-Elect Donald Trump?" (NYT).
But the Trumpian propaganda turns what is an unfortunate social chasm into venomous conspiracy theory. It simply assumes, against a lot of evidence, that the leading institutions of society are inherently corrupt, malevolent and partisan and are acting in bad faith.

If only Trump were careful and merely posited a hypothesis. 

NPR's prissy headline: "Weighing the pros and cons of Beto O'Rourke dropping an f-bomb on a heckler."


Dropped an f-bomb. Give me a break. Saying "fuck" isn't the equivalent of violence. It's not a bomb. Say "f-word" if you're somewhere — where?! — where you can't say "fuck." But in this case it wasn't the f-word. It was the M-WORD.

Beto O'Rourke called a guy in the crowd "motherfucker." "Motherfucker" is a lot worse than "fuck." It has a separate entry on George Carlin's 1972 list of "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television." As you can see at that last link, to Wikipedia, Carlin later spoke of some guy criticizing him saying "motherfucker is a duplication of the word fuck, technically, because fuck is the root form, motherfucker being derivative; therefore, it constitutes duplication. And I said, 'Hey, motherfucker, how did you get my phone number, anyway?'"

Anyway, what does NPR have to say about the pros and cons of Beto calling a guy in the crowd "motherfucker"?

"Many words we consider, at best, crude were medieval common-or-garden words of description..."

"... arse, shit, fart, bollocks, prick, piss, turd – and were not considered obscene. To say ‘I’m going to piss’ was the equivalent of saying ‘I’m going to wee’ today and was politer than the new 16th-century vulgarity, ‘I’m going to take a leak’... Sard, swive and fuck were all slightly rude words for sexual intercourse.... Frig and jape were also on the cusp of offensiveness.... For a phrase to express unfortunate circumstances that seem impossible to overcome (‘we’re fucked’), the Historical Thesaurus of English tells us that they would have proclaimed themselves to be ‘in hot water’ (first use 1537), ‘in a pickle’ (1562), ‘in straits’ (1565) or, in the most extreme predicament, at one’s ‘utter shift’ (c.1604). To ‘fuck up’ or spoil something, they’d have used ‘to bodge’ or ‘to botch’. To say something was codswallop, baloney, bollocks, they’d have gone with trumpery, baggage, rubbish or the wonderful reduplicating terms that appear in the 1570s and 80s: flim-flam, fiddle-faddle, or fible-fable."

The CDC just changed its approach to fighting the coronavirus — leaving it to individuals instead of schools, businesses, and other institutions.

WaPo reports.
“I think the question is, is the CDC finally saying, ‘Look, we’ve done what we can do to contain the most acute phases of this pandemic?’” said Jeanne Marrazzo, an infectious-diseases expert and clinician at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “So are they just finally saying that it is time for us to sort of take a step back and think about putting this back to the individual person?”... 
Social factors and not just virologic ones have shaped the CDC’s approach. The agency’s director, Rochelle Walensky, has said the agency wants to offer practical recommendations that can, and will, be followed by a broad swath of the public. That means taking equity issues into account, because people do not have equal access to tests, or the same ability to work remotely or isolate from family members....

"Written as though theft were something to be winked at. Bless this newspaper, which even in its decorating articles can't call a spade a spade."

"One has already despaired of real news being anything but understanding of perpetrators, even violent perpetrators. Except maybe the louse Donald Trump, or Ghislaine Maxwell."

Writes a commenter at the New York Times article, "The Lamp That’s Taking Over New York/A sleek newcomer, the Pina Pro, is appearing on droves of outdoor tables in the city — and sometimes disappearing, as diners fall for its mellow glow" ("At Altro Paradiso, a few lamps have mysteriously disappeared, Ms. Miller said. When the restaurant didn’t yet have one for every table, 'people would fight over them,' she added.")

And in case you're distracted by the question "Is It Racist To 'Call A Spade A Spade'?," someone answered the question on NPR back in 2013
"Rather than taking the chance of unintentionally offending someone or of being misunderstood, it is best to relinquish the old innocuous proverbial expression all together." 
That is, it's not racist. The spade in question — in the original 1542 writing by Erasmus — was the garden tool. That it is a garden tool — and not a playing card or a person of color — is clearly demonstrated by this witticism in Oscar Wilde 1895 play "The Importance of Being Earnest":
CECILY: "Do you suggest, Miss Fairfax, that I entrapped Ernest into an engagement? How dare you? This is no time for wearing the shallow mask of manners. When I see a spade I call it a spade."

GWENDOLEN: [Satirically.] "I am glad to say that I have never seen a spade. It is obvious that our social spheres have been widely different."

"Afterlife conversation - extremely booooring.... stopped watching about half-way through."

Said Whiskeybum, in the comments to the collection of TikTok videos I posted last night, here

There's an easy riposte: You think that's boring, wait 'til you see the actual afterlife, and try stopping halfway through. What's half of eternity?

But I commented earnestly over there: "My favorite might be the conversation, and not because of the particular things they say about the afterlife, but because of the interesting interior where they are sitting and the way each of them is reading a different book and has a different style mug in front of them. It's just a nicely set up, gentle contrast between the 2, who ultimately have hit it off, despite taking somewhat opposing positions on the afterlife. There's a gentleness to it that I find very appealing. Both roles played by one person, Baron Ryan. As a commenter says [at TikTok] 'Your chemistry with yourself is amazing.'"

Here's that video. Here's a collection of all of his videos. And here's a well-made video about Baron Ryan, explaining what he's doing and showing exactly how he does it:

August 11, 2022

Sunrise — 5:42 and 6:01.


Talk about anything you like in the comments.


Take a break from the political drama and watch these 9 TikToks I've curated for you. Let me know what you like.

1. A baby reacts to thunder.

2. What the long-distance runner eats in a day.

3. What to name cats and dogs in the Middle Ages.

4. How to cut your hair in North Korea.

5. Advice from the dandy.

6. A conversation about the afterlife.

7. Why can't you people of a certain age and income level understand what's so good about working at home?

8. Rufus Wainwright at home, playing piano.

9. Mountain biking in Marquette, Michigan.

"Mr. Garland’s decision to make a public appearance came at an extraordinary moment in the [Justice] department’s 152-year history..."

"... as the sprawling investigation of a former president who remains a powerful political force gains momentum, with prosecutors from an array of the department’s divisions and regional offices taking new actions, seemingly every day. Mr. Garland, a laconic former judge, had come under increasing pressure this week to provide more public information about why the Justice Department decided that a search was necessary and who approved it — or at least to offer an explanation of the legal processes undertaken by his subordinates. But he seemed, even on Thursday, to do so with considerable reluctance, and reiterated his often-stated commitment to conducting the inquiry within the confines of the legal system rather than in public.... Mr. Garland did not say how, or when, it became clear to his team that the 15 boxes of material turned over by Mr. Trump earlier this year was insufficient. But he cast his decision to approve the warrant as an exigent necessity. 'The department does not take such a decision lightly,” he said. “Where possible, it is standard practice to seek less intrusive means as an alternative to a search and to narrowly scope any search that is undertaken.'... Mr. Garland and his inner circle are eager to avoid the approach adopted by James Comey, the former F.B.I. director, whose public statements about investigations into Mr. Trump and Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign were seen as a political and legal disaster. "

"When manual transmissions were the norm... shifting gears became imbued with meaning."

"It represented the allure of the road, for all its good and ill, and stood in for the human control of a big, hot, dangerous machine screaming down the pavement. The manual transmission’s impending disappearance feels foreboding not (just) because shifting a car is fun and sensual, but also because the gearshift is—or was—a powerful cultural symbol of the human body working in unison with the engineered world.... [T]he coarse feedback that one gets while driving an all-electronic vehicle might be—or feel—too subtle for a brute human mind. Cars have, in a way, become too good. Human understanding slips off their surface, like ice off a hot hood...."

From "The End of Manual Transmission/Stick shifts are dying. When they go, something bigger than driving will be lost" by Ian Bogost (The Atlantic).

I love my 2005 Audi TT and can't imagine trading it in. For what?

Speaking of the feeling of oneness with tools... here's Meade sawing a fallen tree using a Katanaboy folding saw:

Did the water really look like that — like a 3-D photo when you're not wearing the 3-D glasses? Yes, it did.



That is Lake Mendota at 5:44 this morning. A tad garish, no? It's hard to get your head around the idea that this is just a photograph and no kind of manipulation.

I was motivated to post these pictures by reading this sentence, quoted in the previous post: "Was the wine-dark sea really the color of a fine Chateauneuf-du-Pape, or did that refer to something about luster or sheen or some other visual quality?"

If only the ancient Greeks had used cameras! Imagine needing to describe the effect in these photographs. You'd have to write poetry, and the poetry would stir up some kind of emotion but you'd abandon any hope that the reader could see what you saw.

"It’s also possible that the ancients were simply wrong about using color, and that these statues improved as the colors faded or abraded away."

"Certainly, we are under no obligation to view these statues in color, so long as we honestly acknowledge their longer history and original appearance as essential facts. And ideas of authenticity are always tricky. The one thing we can never know is whether our ideas of color have any relation to how color was perceived when these works were new. Indeed, when the ancients wrote about color, from Homer and Parmenides to Plato and Aristotle, their terminology often seems decidedly foreign. Was the wine-dark sea really the color of a fine Chateauneuf-du-Pape, or did that refer to something about luster or sheen or some other visual quality? Nietzsche was convinced that the ancient Greeks couldn’t see blue or green and lived in a world of black, white, red and yellow. It’s also possible that the original figures were meant to be shocking, and our own sense of shock is an analogue to how they were perceived thousands of years ago.... The ancient sense of surprise may have been no less vigorous...."

Writes Philip Kennicott in "What if the ancient Greeks and Romans actually had terrible taste? Antiquities reproduced in vivid color, now on view in ‘Chroma’ exhibition at the Met, may look garish to modern eyes" (WaPo)(reviewing the "Chroma: Ancient Sculpture in Color," which will be at the Metropolitan Museum of Art through March 26).

ADDED: Here's the museum's video:

I find myself in The Wall Street Journal.

Here's the entire blog post.

"Amanda L. Baden... called the emotional impact of adoption 'complex.'"

"Baden, who is a psychologist [and a professor at Montclair State University who specializes in transracial adoption, multicultural counseling competence, identity and racial and ethnic issues in adoption], says that adoptees are often told and feel 'their adoptive parents did a wonderful thing and they rescued them.' But some can still have 'really strong traumatic reactions' because of the loss of that relationship with their biological parent, she said. 'Everyone shares this common theme of loss and can feel some of the things that come with that, some of the core issues of adoption, like rejection, guilt, shame, intimacy issues,' she added.... Sarah Meadows, a 40-year-old living in London... was adopted through the Catholic Caring Society when she was about 1-year-old, after living with a foster family for a short period of time. She views adoption as a 'painful' and often corrupt process, even when everyone involved has the best intentions.... 'Many adoptees have their whole identities changed and lives hijacked by adults with their own agendas. I had my name changed — many have this and their whole cultures erased,' said Meadows, who is now a mother of two...."

"Lamont Dozier said that he wanted to write 'a journey of emotions with sustained tension...'"

"'... like a bolero. To get this across, I alternated the keys, from a minor, Russian feel in the verse to a major, gospel feel in the chorus.' He developed the lyrics with Eddie Holland, aiming for them to sound “as though they were being thrown down vocally.' Dozier said that they were strongly influenced by Bob Dylan at the time, commenting: 'We wanted Levi [Stubbs] to shout-sing the lyrics... as a shout-out to Dylan.'"

That's from the Wikipedia article for the song "Reach Out I’ll Be There," which my son John says is his "favorite H-D-H song, and one of my favorite songs by anyone." That's at John's blog post "Motown songwriter Lamont Dozier has died." Goodbye to Lamont Dozier, who was 81. 

Had I ever thought of Bob Dylan in connection with "Reach Out I’ll Be There"?


"I am inordinately bored of Donald Trump. I’m bored of the man himself. I’m bored of his opponents. I’m bored of his supporters."

"I’m bored of the manner in which every last question that animates our politics is eventually plotted onto a graph that has his face at its center. You name anything Trump-related, I’m bored of it. It’s utterly inescapable. Before long, every political topic, every prominent politician, every historical trend becomes about Donald Trump in some way, shape, or form. Every piece of journalism does, too. I haven’t yet published this piece, and I’m already bored by the responses that it will engender. That’s how bad it’s gotten: I’m pre-bored — by the emails, by the analyses, by the snark, by the desire to make every last thing in American life about Trump. Nothing is safe. Bring up something almost as old as the nation itself — the Fifth Amendment, say — and within a few minutes, people will be debating whether it is functionally pro-Trump or anti-Trump. They’ll ask if it’s Trump-adjacent, or Trump-resistant, or anti-anti-Trump...."

 Charles C.W. Cooke is very bored (at The National Review). 

"I do feel that the media column had run its course.... I’m not sure it’s possible to make much of an impact...."

"So I have pointed out the all-too-ingrained practices that obstruct that common good: the horse race politics coverage; the way we too often treat unequal things as if they were equal, often from a defensive position; the too-frequent anonymity given to sources with highly politicized motives.... I often find myself in awe of the work being produced [at The Washington Post]. It’s not perfect, of course.... I’m encouraged one day, despairing the next."

I don't know why she said "I do feel that the media column had run its course." Did she mean that she's done what she could with her column or that we don't need media columns anymore? We at least need people to point out sloppy ambiguity. I'd say the media column hasn't been strong enough. Is WaPo replacing her? If so, why? To get someone nicer or someone stronger? If now, is it because it's been decided that the work is done (the work they want is done)?

August 10, 2022

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

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

1. Ohio's new slogan.

2. Confronted by bears, this worked.

3. The hellbender.

4. The self-aware narcissist.

"I am a 45-year-old who has done his fair share of air travel. Having witnessed undeniable climate change (due, in part, to airplanes), I have sworn them off..."

"... and encourage others to do the same. My dear cousin plans to send her young son to Paris by plane to participate in a summer camp. May I encourage her not to?"

This is an issue so many people — people who love to think of themselves as hawkish on climate-change — desperately seek to avoid. The letter writer has gone very far into vigilance. He's not flying at all anymore, AND he wants to pressure others to adopt his form of austerity.

"Self-proclaimed political outsider Tim Michels will face Democratic Gov. Tony Evers in November..."

"... after defeating his primary challenger Rebecca Kleefisch in Wisconsin's heated GOP gubernatorial primary Tuesday. Despite entering the race in late April, more than six months after former Lt. Gov. Kleefisch, Michels rode a surging campaign into Tuesday’s primary thanks in part to an endorsement from former President Donald Trump, who held a rally supporting Michels in Waukesha County on Friday....  While stumping for Michels in Waukesha County on Friday, Trump described Kleefisch as 'the handpicked candidate of the failed establishment, the "RINOs."'...  Evers' campaign manager Cassi Fenili [said]... 'The Republican Party has chosen the most extreme and divisive nominee possible, one that will tell Donald Trump anything just to keep his endorsement... From abortion and voting rights, to gun safety and public education — Tim Michels has staked out the most extreme positions possible, with the goal of dividing our state and pitting neighbors against one another.'"

"Trump Takes the Fifth Amendment in New York Deposition."

The NYT reports.
The former president invoked his right against self-incrimination during a deposition that the New York attorney general’s office had hoped would be a turning point in a civil investigation into his business practices.... 
Trump is no stranger to facing questions under oath, having once boasted that he has sat for “over 100″ depositions.” And until now, he rarely passes up an opportunity to answer questions — or spar with his questioners. He once told a lawyer that her questions were “very stupid.” And one of the lawyers who questioned him said Trump is, “completely fearless in a deposition.”...

Trump said:  “I have absolutely no choice because the current Administration and many prosecutors in this Country have lost all moral and ethical bounds of decency.... Under the advice of my counsel and for all of the above reasons, I declined to answer the questions under the rights and privileges afforded to every citizen under the United States Constitution.”

This old clip of Trump in 2016 is getting a lot of play on Twitter right now:

I'm not blogging this because it give me a second chance in one morning to blog about underpants (AKA "pants" in England).

I'm blogging this because it was retweeted by Second Mentions, and — as I told you last April — I am fascinated by the silly avoidance of using the same word or phrase you've already used to refer to something you're still talking about (such that the "small house" of paragraph 1 must be a "petite edifice" in paragraph 2):

"Facebook Gave Nebraska Cops A Teen's DMs So They Could Prosecute Her For Having An Abortion."

I found that after I noticed that #DeleteFacebook was trending yesterday. I assume that trend gathered momentum before this crucial update: "This story has been updated to note that the Facebook messages were obtained via search warrant." 

Oh! A search warrant! And the story went up the same day as the big search-warrant-authorized raid on Mar-a-Lago, the day Trump-haters were all saying the FBI got a search warrant, and you know what that means! That means he's guilty and hooray for the government agents getting right in there and seizing everything. 

From the annals of #DeleteFacebook:

"And if Dark Brandon transforms from parody imbued with implicit eye-rolling to enthusiastic exaggeration of the president’s capabilities..."

"... there’s no joke there at all anymore. So, the comedy has turned to tragedy, and if Dark Brandon isn’t dead yet, he probably will be soon. An additional hazard for the hipper, nihilistic early adopters of this trend, assuming everything ironic on the internet does really become genuine: If they’re not careful, maybe they’ll start liking Biden, too."

Writes Molly Roberts in "The Dark Brandon meme can’t escape death" (WaPo).

This news of the inevitable death of the "Dark Brandon" meme comes one day after I blogged "Meet Dark Brandon," which was based on an August 8th WaPo column "Brandon returns, darkly: Democrats turn an insult into a pro-Biden meme." 

That column was written by Matt Viser, whose newest column — "Biden, trying to tout his policies, faces a familiar intruder: Trump" — I just blogged in the previous post.  

Please don't get the impression I'm suddenly a Matt Viser fan. I blogged those columns to write criticism, not to praise them. 

I'm pleased if I contributed at all to the decline of the "Dark Brandon" meme. What I said — sarcastically riffing on something Viser said — was : "Sure, why not? Tap into the zeitgeist! The zeitgeist is fascism, right?"

Now, I'm seeing my quote in light of Roberts's line: "everything ironic on the internet does really become genuine." Should I infer Don't make fun, because it will come true? One more reason to say we're living in The Era of That's Not Funny.

Ludicrous Washington Post headline uses the word "intruder" to characterize Trump — and Trump is intruding on Biden.

"Biden, trying to tout his policies, faces a familiar intruder: Trump."

Yeah, stop thinking about the shocking literal intrusion on Trump that was the raid on Mar-a-Lago. Think about how Trump, by getting attention, figuratively intrudes on Biden.

The headline sits atop a column by Matt Viser. Subheadline: "For much of his presidency, Biden has had to compete for attention with the 'former guy,' who left office a year-and-a half-ago but has never really left the public consciousness."

How can we stop thinking about Trump when his antagonists are doing such conspicuous things to him?

It's a new column. It went up at 5 this morning, after the Mar-a-Lago raid. Quite aside from that, the January 6th hearings are highly public political theater demanding that we focus on Trump and not look away. It's ridiculous to blame Trump as an "intruder"!

Let's read the column:

"We have full access to everything. We can go everywhere."

That was the repeated statement of the 3 DOJ lawyers — who were described as displaying an "arrogant" demeanor — who were present during the Mar-a-Lago raid, according to an eyewitness quoted in "FBI searched Melania’s wardrobe, spent hours in Trump’s private office during Mar-a-Lago raid" (NY Post).

I'm not surprised that a search extends into a woman's most intimate space — how could searches be effective if the woman's closet were off limits? — but I recognize that this is something that hits onlookers hard. It makes the government seem more brutal if you picture its agents rooting around in the lady's underwear drawer. 

August 9, 2022

At the Tuesday Night Café...

... you can write about whatever you want.

It was a lovely day here in Madison, Wisconsin. I got out of the house twice. First, at 10 a.m, I took a break from my morning's blogging session to walk over to the church to vote. Yes, as I've told you many times, we vote in a church. We had to wear masks and show IDs. That was an odd combination, and the woman who checked me in looked at my photo and then spent extra time earnestly examining the top half of my face. I got through voting before Meade, so I waited in the hallway. I passed the time reading a big collection of Post-It notes — prayer requests relating to the pandemic:


Back at home, I did lots more blogging — and some other things — before throwing myself out of the house at 4:30. I got in plenty of steps down by the lake — listening to David McCullough's "1776" — and I took this one photograph:


Here's a place to talk about the primary results in Wisconsin.

 I'm watching the results at the NYT (of all places). 

Here are 7 TikToks for your amusement and edification. Let me know what you like best.

1. How she worries people are going to react whenever she arrives anywhere.

2. What Elizabeth Taylor likes about Richard Burton most — his anger.

3. A granddaughter's love.

4. That walking is just too bouncy. It must be punished.

5. The International Museum of Surgical Science in Chicago.

6. "Inspirational quotes from my 11-year-old on today's hike."

7. "Mona Lisa" transformed into a photographically real-looking face.

"Deep greens and blues are not the colors you choose, but he’s painted your entire apartment in a mind-bending swirl of them anyway."

From "Why You Shouldn’t Room With James Taylor" by Jenn Knott (The New Yorker).

I love James Taylor and the referenced song, and I'm not saying the whole humor piece is great, but it's there and it might amuse you if your quirky sense of humor aligns. I'm blogging it because I can imagine feeling so bonded to James Taylor that deep greens and blues would be the colors you choose, and because I've been thinking about the trend these days to drain color out of everything. Here's a TikTok I ran into yesterday, from Interstellar Isabellar, complaining about chromophobia in interior design:

"A grand jury in Mississippi has declined to indict the white woman whose accusation set off the lynching of Black teenager Emmett Till nearly 70 years ago..."

"... After hearing more than seven hours of testimony from investigators and witnesses, a Leflore County grand jury last week determined there was insufficient evidence to indict Carolyn Bryant Donham on charges of kidnapping and manslaughter.... In an unpublished memoir obtained last month by The Associated Press, Donham said she was unaware of what would happen to the 14-year-old Till, who lived in Chicago and was visiting relatives in Mississippi when he was abducted, killed and tossed in a river. She accused him of making lewd comments and grabbing her while she worked alone at a family store in Money, Mississippi. Donham said in the manuscript that the men brought Till to her in the middle of the night for identification but that she tried to help the youth by denying it was him. Despite being abducted at gunpoint from a family home by Roy Bryant and Milam, the 14-year-old identified himself to the men, she claimed."
The incident occurred in 1955, when Donham was 21. She is now 87 (88?).

Did the memoir say that she lied or was the grand jury asked to infer that she lied? If it was the latter, what was the basis of the inference? Was it that, considering what happened to him, he would have known not to do what she said he did? There seems to have been another book that says she admitted to lying.

Speaking of "The Dark Brandon," look at the video Trump just put up...

 ... here at Truth Social. It gives Biden the darkness.

The first 3 quarters of the video is in gloomy black and white, with an audio track of a thunderstorm. We hear about the dismal state of America, Biden's America. Then — like Dorothy opening the door into Oz — it's in color, the music swells optimistically, and it's Trump telling us we're Americans and "It's time to start talking about greatness for our country again." It ends with the on-screen text — maybe the new campaign slogan — "... the best is yet to come."

Good ad? I don't know, but when I hear the words "the best is yet to come" I think of the great old song, "The Best Is Yet to Come." I happen to love Bob Dylan's version of it. Here's my curated selection:

UPDATE: The Washington Post fact checker fact checks the Trump video and finds many of the assertions don't hold up.

"Meet Dark Brandon. Over the past few weeks, Democrats have attempted to co-opt... the 'Let’s go, Brandon' meme...."

"Rob Flaherty, the White House’s director of digital strategy... tweeted an image of Biden smiling with red eyes, his hair haloed against a dark background.... 'Dark Brandon said "here’s the deal" and then there was a deal,' wrote Megan Apper, a senior adviser in the Bureau of Global Public Affairs at the State Department.... Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) posted an image of Dark Brandon after the Senate approved the sweeping Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, which includes a number of key Biden priorities.... [Deputy White House press secretary Andrew Bates] tweeted a meme that placed Biden — with facial hair and an eye patch — on the movie poster for 'The Dark Knight.' ... Conservative commentators pointed to the background of the poster, saying it included an image of an eagle that was used as a Nazi symbol.... But Tobin Stone, who says he created the meme, said... 'The eagle is not, and was never intended to be the Reichsadler'... White House officials said they wanted to tap into the zeitgeist and saw an opportunity to draw attention to the successes they had last week...."

Sure, why not? Tap into the zeitgeist! The zeitgeist is fascism, right? Look at all those comic book movies, that's what people want, you're saying — I get it! — fight crime with superpowers. The Dark Knight, the Dark Brandon... the kids'll love it. 

"One lesson of feminism, surely, is that being like other women, rather than a shining unfettered exception, isn’t such a terrible thing."

Writes Michelle Goldberg reacting to this line in a 1981 essay by Nona Willis Aronowitz: "I secretly wanted monogamy, that I was just like every other woman who wanted to tie her man down."

The Goldberg column is titled "When Sexual Liberation Is Oppressive" (NYT).

She's bringing up a 1981 essay by Nona Willis Aronowitz, because Willis Aronowitz quoted herself in her new book "Bad Sex: Truth, Pleasure and an Unfinished Revolution."

Willis Aronowitz is the daughter of Ellen Willis, who was — as Goldberg puts it — a "pro-sex feminist writer."

Don't you have to choose what to put first, sex or feminism? If you set out to put them on equal footing, what do you get? I must be a feminist and I must be pro-sex.

"Metallica Faces Being Canceled by Many Young Fans Who Just Discovered Them."

Newsweek reports.

We're told that "a new generation of music fans discovered them when Netflix's Stranger Things used their 1986 song 'Master of Puppets' during a pivotal scene."

This is another case of mainstream media reporting what's in social media. So just go straight to the social media. Here's Serena Trueblood on TikTok ticking off the sins of Metallica.

Or I'll just quote the hastily typed caption to the video: "I find it intersting that they only cared about gatekeeping in their fandom when they started getting big agaib from Stranger Things. Thy only care about what lines theor pockets."

"The Justice Department is not ready to charge Trump for the [Capitol] riot. It lacks proof that he is criminally culpable for the violence."

"As for the non-violent potential crimes it is investigating — obstruction of Congress and conspiracy to defraud the government — these are based on disputed theories that Trump and his apologists could persuasively frame as a partisan weaponization of the Justice Department against the likely 2024 GOP nominee. Consequently, the DOJ does not want to suggest that Trump is the subject of a criminal investigation related to the Capitol riot. Nor does it want to be perceived as having told a court it has probable cause tying Trump to Capitol riot crimes."

"Now, during my voyage down this strip of pavement that’s about as wide as a paper towel roll and surrounded by large vehicles driven by people who hate me for no reason..."

"... I will face many perils. I will face the towering metal rear ends of illegally parked postal trucks. I will face hundreds—nay—thousands of glass shards from shattered Miller Lite bottles. I will face potholes deep enough to turn me and my bike into something out of Picasso’s Guernica. And you will witness me conquer them all in a glorious spectacle of labored breathing and back sweat!... Cheer in rapture as I zigzag between wasp-infested construction cones, mysterious piles of sand, and joggers who think this is a special bicycle-themed running track....Yes, I may be smacked into oblivion by the side mirrors of an F1-50 that’s passing too closely...."

Hey, McSweeney's people, that's really funny, but it's F-150, not F1-50, as a hell of a lot of Americans know. I wouldn't have known it either, but these days, I actually own one — co-own, co-own something that I'd never have selected for myself and would only drive in some hair-raising emergency that, if I worked hard enough at envisioning, could be the topic of a McSweeney's humor piece.

"I have never had this feeling about any book. I do kind of feel that way about the Internet!"

I comment, in last night's post about the death of David McCullough, in response to boatbuilder's comment: 
The Great Bridge is a really wonderful book. I thought--how can a big fat book about the Brooklyn Bridge be anything but a snoozer? Couldn't put it down.

"Couldn't put it down" — really? Literally? Does that ever happen to you — literally — and if so, what was the book? 

"Secrecy is exactly what is wrong about this."

The image says: "The bottom line: These investigations are top secret. So more likely than not, we won't get the full picture any time soon."

If it was political, why was it so politically obtuse?

ADDED: Yang just posted that, and I can see the tweeters who are jumping right in to push back. These are the least subtle contributors to the national discourse, and they are getting way out in front of those  who might offer a sound, sophisticated, principled defense of what the FBI has done. 

I'm seeing:
Jesus pal do you ever shut up?/Yeah, fck National security/It’s raid worthy. You Quisling.



Mike Lee — lawyer, former federal prosecutor, and current member of the Senate Judiciary Committee — has a lot of questions about the Mar-a-Lago raid...

... so many that he lost count. I'll copy them all, and don't think I skipped one (he jumped from "Third" to "Fifth" [ADDED: and from "Tenth" to "Twelfth"]):

As a lawyer, former federal prosecutor, and current member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I have a few questions about the FBI’s raid of Mar a Lago. First, did Attorney General Garland personally sign off on this action?

Second, why break into the safe rather than seize it, take it into custody, and then seek a warrant to open it?

Third, why obtain and execute a search warrant rather than first seeking the items in question either through an informal process or with a subpoena? 

It's primary day in Wisconsin. What have the GOP candidates for Governor said about the raid on Mar-a-Lago?

Meade said he will vote for the first candidate who condemns it. Going solely by the candidates' Twitter accounts, we have this from Tim Michels, at 8:29 last night: There's this at 10:58 from Timonthy Ramthun:

August 8, 2022

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can write about whatever you want.


"After working and cooperating with the relevant Government agencies, this unannounced raid on my home was not necessary or appropriate. Such an assault could only take place in broken, Third-World Countries."

"They even broke into my safe! What is the difference between this and Watergate, where operatives broke into the Democrat National Committee? Here, in reverse, Democrats broke into the home of the 45th President of the United States.... These are dark times for our Nation, as my beautiful home, Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, is currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents... Nothing like this has ever happened to a President of the United States before."

"The combination of Ms. Newton-John’s consistently benign music — she was never a favorite of critics — and comely but squeaky-clean image caused many writers..."

"... to compare her to earlier blond ingénues like Doris Day and Sandra Dee. 'Innocent, I’m not,' Ms. Newton-John told Rolling Stone in 1978. 'People still seem to see me as the girl next door. Doris Day had four husbands,' she said, yet she was still viewed as 'the virgin.'"

From "Olivia Newton-John, Pop Singer and ‘Grease’ Star, Dies at 73/She began her career as an innocent purveyor of middle-of-the-road pop but later adopted a bad-girl persona" (NYT).

Here's a charming clip from 1968 (which I found because I saw in the obituary that she duetted with Pat Carroll and mistakenly thought that was the actress Pat Carroll who recently died at the age of 95):

"People often ask me if I’m working on a book. That’s not how I feel. I feel like I work in a book. It’s like putting myself under a spell."

"And this spell, if you will, is so real to me that if I have to leave my work for a few days, I have to work myself back into the spell when I come back. It’s almost like hypnosis."

"Although he doesn’t provide abortion care right now, laws limiting the procedure have created confusion and uncertainty over what treatments are legal for miscarriage..."

"... and keep him from even advising pregnant patients on the option of abortion, he said. Aiding and abetting an abortion in Texas also exposes doctors to civil lawsuits and criminal prosecution."

Here are 5 TikToks to amuse or challenge you. Let me know what you think.

1. "Don't ever take sides with anyone else over your spouse."

2. That woman who orders the green juice is so annoying.

3. Let Broadway Barbara help you beat the summer heat.

4. How special is a north-flowing river?

5. The 120-year-old water wheel.

"Nobody really understands Hieronymus Bosch."

So begins the essay "What's So Contemporary About Hieronymous Bosch" by Dean Kissick (at Spike), which I'm reading after blogging about an illustration about Elon Musk by Cold War Steve.

I found Cold War Steve's Twitter feed and messaged this other illustration of his to Meade:

"The question is whether Musk’s attempted jilting of Twitter is just one more sideshow on a general path to business glory or evidence that he’s immolating..."

"... like one of those Starship prototypes. So far, his 2022 has included multiple accusations of racial discrimination from employees; a resurfaced sexual-harassment allegation from a SpaceX flight attendant; the recall of nearly 600,000 Tesla vehicles; animal-cruelty complaints against Neuralink; the discovery of three publicly unacknowledged children; and a Wall Street Journal claim that [blah blah blah].... None of these scandals hung around for long enough to inflict much damage in part because he tweeted right through them, creating an endless diversion. Lately, there seems to be something purposeful about how Musk tweets the news, muscling his way into trending topics like a one-man bot farm. A tag cloud for one of his slower weeks may include climate, COVID, free speech, the 2024 election, abortion, gun control, the Russia-Ukraine war, UFOs, crypto, Elden Ring, the Johnny Depp–Amber Heard trial, and more. He has spread himself through every cultural jurisdiction so that he’s always the top story no matter which news bubble you’re in...."

From "What Is Elon Musk? And how is it possible that he could emerge from his Twitter debacle more culturally dominant than ever?" by Lane Brown (NY Magazine).

I love the illustration, by Cold War Steve. Please click through to see the whole image. I will share only a small part, less than 20% of what's there, but including some of my favorite parts, such as the word "shorts" (part of "Crypto Shorts" in the full image) and Trump in ("sexy" shorts):


"That music makes the ad sound like an SNL bit. Dude, you're Darth Vader. Pay for the rights to 'Enter Sandman.'"

Said Kate in the comments to my 8:03 post "You know that Dick Cheney ad would be better without that music in the background...."

In honor of Kate's delightful comment, I've made this playlist... because even as Dick Cheney has variations — from Darth Vader to dear old Wyoming dad — "Enter Sandman" has its many moods:

"If you, like me, had been compartmentalizing a Trump 2024 run for mental-health purposes, I’m sorry to break it to you..."

"... but he looks like a man who is definitely running for president in 2024. His CPAC speech this weekend was a rude awakening as to both his intentions and the strength he would bring to that campaign."

There was no bigger roar from the crowd during the speech than during the following section, and there was no bigger shit-eating grin on his burnt-toast face than the one that came following the roar: 

Things I found on Twitter after the sidebar told me "No. They" is trending.

I have no idea what got the algorithm to identify "No. They" as a trend, but I can see that it automatically picks out posts that has "they" separated from a "no" that is followed by a punctuation mark. This is such a common occurrence in casual English that this "trend" works to make Twitter look more random. Randomness is more amusing than most of what goes on in Twitter, so I'm up for the "No. They" trend... at least until I hear that it's actually something disturbing/depressing/annoying/agitating like just about everything else that's a Twitter trend.

"You know that Dick Cheney ad would be better without that music in the background"/"Oh, yeah? How much better?"

Overheard at Meadhouse.

I'm seeing that ad this morning, because WaPo dragged me in with a lurid headline: "That Cheney ad speaks volumes about the GOP’s rot." That's a column by Jennifer Rubin. Does she say that Dick Cheney used to be considered the GOP's rot and now he looks like the virtuous one, but it's just a matter of comparison, and that goes to show how rotten the GOP is?

Now, I've read the piece, and the answer to my question is no. Dick Cheney's reputation as the "dark lord" has evanesced. To refresh your memory, here's an Atlantic article that worked hard — back in August 2011 — to refresh the memory of the evil of Cheney: "Remembering Why Americans Loathe Dick Cheney/As the former vice-president releases his memoir, it's useful to recall the many reasons Americans disapproved of his tenure" (by Conor Friedersdorf):

"Rather than working late on a Friday evening, organising the annual team-building trip to Slough or volunteering to supervise the boss’s teenager on work experience..."

"... the quiet quitters are avoiding the above and beyond, the hustle culture mentality, or what psychologists call 'occupational citizenship behaviours.'... TikTok posts about quiet quitting may have been inspired by Chinese social media: #TangPing, or lying flat, is a now-censored hashtag apparently prompted by China’s shrinking workforce and long-hours culture.... 'The search for meaning has become far more apparent. There was a sense of our own mortality during the pandemic, something quite existential around people thinking "What should work mean for me? How can I do a role that’s more aligned to my values?"'"

From "Quiet quitting: why doing the bare minimum at work has gone global/The meaninglessness of modern work – and the pandemic – has led many to question their approach to their jobs" (The Guardian). 

I blogged about quiet quitting 2 weeks ago, here. And I blogged about tangping in June 2021, here. And click my tag "idleness" for various manifestations of my interest in this concept over the years — my blogging years. 

But I've been interested in it for as long as I remember. The Guardian article mentions "Bartleby, the Scrivener," which had a big impact on me when I was a high school student. Talk about a quiet quitter! 

Somewhat noisier examples from my high school English classes that got into my head: "Walden" and "The World Is Too Much With Us":

August 7, 2022

At the Sunday Night Café...

IMG_4938 2

... you can write about anything you want.

The photograph was taken by Meade  (on August 1st).

Here are 5 TikToks to amuse you tonight. Let me know what you liked best.

1. A short philosophy movie.

2. Passing people on hikes.

3. Elvis, without the music.

4. The amazing geography of Utah — Part 1 and Part 2.

5. Death bed.

Students at Imperial College London object to a sculpture "because of its 'obvious' interpretation as a person baring their erect penis."

The Guardian reports, in "Antony Gormley’s ‘phallic’ statue may damage our reputation, say students Imperial College/Union motion says students should have been consulted on work, due to ‘obvious’ erect penis interpretation."
[The students] note that while there is “nothing inherently wrong with phallic imagery in art”, the phallic interpretation’s preoccupation with the penis could be considered inappropriate for a grand public display. 
One of the key concerns for the union was the “exclusionary” phallic interpretation, when scientific research has been beset with issues around gender ratio and inclusion....
“College publicity regarding the statue chose an angle that avoided making the statue appear phallic,” the motion added. “This suggests that this interpretation, and backlash, was not unforeseen by some individuals within the college”....

The artist claims that he intended to represent a squatting man. But why would he choose squatting? That's suggestive of defecating. The title of the sculpture is "Alert." What's more alert — squatting or standing with an erect penis?

The artist says: "Balancing on the balls of the feet while squatting on its haunches and surveying the world around it the attitude of the sculpture is alive, alert and awake." Sorry. I'm not buying it. 

I found that via Instapundit, who writes

"We Earthlings lug around a very long and daunting list of Things We Don’t Know. The new telescope can chip away at them..."

"The fact that there are so many unknowns should not be confused with the silly notion that we don’t know anything at all. [That] is not an intellectual argument so much as a moral one, a kind of chastisement for arrogating to ourselves the belief that we can understand our physical reality. Hogwash. If you lived a few centuries ago and asked an astronomer how many light-years distant is the Andromeda Galaxy, the answer might be 'What’s a light-year?' (and also 'What’s a galaxy?')... Maybe one reason it is so hard to understand some of the fundamental features of the universe is that it’s outrageous on its face. It is packed with untold trillions of stars and galaxies and planets and moons.... If the universe were much simpler — just a lot of hydrogen and helium floating around — it wouldn’t be as inscrutable. It would be just a big, boring gasbag.... Maybe someday we’ll figure out gravity, cosmic destiny and life on other worlds, but for now let’s just remember that we’re making progress on the great unknowns...."

"Hunter Biden said his obsession with naked selfies was a result of 'body dysmorphia,' according to a rambling screed found in the notes of his hard drive."

The NY Post reports.
“I loved to be reassured that my 9-inch very big penis was actually big. It may sound funny to you but its [sic] body dysmorphia … I know my penis is almost twice the size of an average man’s penis,” the first son wrote on July 12, 2018.
He's right. It does sound funny to me.

This isn't funny:

Texted at Meadhouse.

"If the president is working so hard to free someone who is in jail in Russia for some weed, shouldn’t we free people in America?"

"There are people in jail in America for the same stuff. Shouldn’t we free them too? My opinion is that people should not be in jail for non-violent drug crimes."

Elon Musk said what many of us have been thinking. He's quoted at "Elon Musk gives scalding take on Biden’s push to free Brittney Griner" (NY Post).

In other Brittney Griner news at the NY Post:

Why is it funny to ask pro golfers what they think of the breakup of Kim Kardashian and Pete Davidson?

Last night, I linked to this TikTok video (as one of 9 TikTok videos that amused me).

The commenter Wilbur politely requested an explanation:
AA, if I may directly pose you a question: What was it about the pro golfer TikTok that you found amusing? Not criticizing your choice, just curious as to what I missed. 
I'm not a KK hater, although I've never heard of Pete Davidson. It came across as wholly mundane to Wilbur, not even sarcastic. I suspect the question would elicit the same reactions from people across most segments of the population.
Because the request was so respectful, I decided to try to spell it out what had been, for me, an instinctive reaction: