September 10, 2022

Sunrise — 6:26, 6:33, 6:35.




Talk about whatever you like in the comments.

I've got 5 TikToks for you tonight. Some people love them.

1. The frog and the dog.

2. Minimalist hygiene for backpackers.

3. Community guidelines.

4. Everybody in the South knows the best way to drink water.

5. Son talks to his mom through the doorbell camera.

"Moscow abandoned its main bastion in northeastern Ukraine on Saturday, a sudden apparent collapse of one of the war's principal front lines after Ukrainian forces moved to encircle the area in a shock advance...."

"The announcement came hours after Ukrainian troops captured the city of Kupiansk further north, the sole railway hub supplying Russia's entire frontline across northeastern Ukraine. That left thousands of Russian troops abruptly cut off from supplies across an entire stretch of front that has seen some of the most intense battles of the war. Ukrainian forces have recaptured dozens of towns and villages held by Russia for months, since bursting through the frontline earlier this week."

Is there really much expression of "fealty to the ideal of being open to the ideas of others" these days?

I'm reading John McWhorter, in the NYT:
In our moment, we talk a lot about the dismaying degree of partisanship in our nation. We declare fealty to the ideal of being open to the ideas of others. Yet [Mitchell] Jackson exemplifies a sense that when it comes to [Clarence] Thomas, none of this interest in comity applies and that it qualifies as insight to discuss him as a horrid, pathetic figure. 

McWhorter is addressing an Esquire article by Mitchell Jackson, "Looking for Clarence Thomas/He grew up speaking a language of the enslaved on the shores of Pin Point, Georgia. He would become the most powerful Black man in America, using the astonishing power vested in a Supreme Court justice to hold back his own people. Now he sits atop an activist right-wing court poised to undo the progressivism of the past century. What happened?"

McWhorter continues: 

Once again, apparently, there is a single Black way to think, with Black conservatism valuable only as a demonstration of what Black opinion is not supposed to be. It’s worthwhile, one would think, to assume first that people’s intentions are good ones. Writing someone off as monstrous should be a matter of last resort. To go with that immediately makes for good theater, but it’s also a kind of ritualistic hostility.  

"I was raised in an Irish family baked in bitterness about British oppression. The monarchy seems like an expensive relic to me...."

"I always thought of Queen Elizabeth as an avatar of nepotism and colonialism. But as time went on, and victimhood became the fashion, I began to have a creeping admiration for her stoicism. Then, in 2011, I covered her fraught trip to Ireland, the first by a British monarch in a century. Suddenly I understood how one small movement of her head could soothe over 800 years of bloodshed and hatred. The Irish were skeptical at first, not wanting to be treated as subjects. Gerry Adams complained the visit was too soon. (Maybe wait another century.)....  How could Queen Elizabeth move past the 1979 murder by the I.R.A. of her cousin Lord Mountbatten and his 14-year-old grandson?.... And how could the Irish move past the 1972 Bloody Sunday horror, when British forces gunned down 14 innocent civilians? The queen spoke a phrase in perfect Gaelic and offered regret about how Britain had made Ireland suffer. She said both sides needed to be 'able to bow to the past but not be bound by it.'"

Writes Maureen Dowd, in "Charles in Charge" (NYT).

"There’s breaking protocol and then there’s giving the Queen Mother an unwanted kiss on the lips, which is something President Jimmy Carter inexplicably did..."

"... during his May 1977 visit to Buckingham Palace.... [T]he Queen Mother later described the incident, which she found mortifying. 'Nobody has done that since my husband died,' she said. 'I took a sharp step backwards – not quite far enough.'"

From "Queen Elizabeth’s Awkward Visits With U.S. Presidents, Ranked" (NY Magazine).

The Carter visit is ranked #12 out of 13 ranked visits. The only thing worse was the Jackie-and-Jack visit that we saw dramatized on "The Crown." We're told that Jackie said the queen was "pretty heavy going," and when Gore Vidal related Jackie's complaint to Princess Margaret, she said, "But that’s what she’s there for."

You might guess that Obama would come out at #1, but he's only #3. #1 is Eisenhower, and #2 was Harry Truman, in October 1951 and when Elizabeth was still a Princess (4 months later she would be queen):

"This is the history of the monarchy, and the queen was the head of the monarchy. Whether she was involved in day-to-day decisions or not..."

"... she existed because of those decisions. She never once opened her mouth to say sorry for the role of her government in the slaughter of 3 million civilians."

 Said the Carnegie Mellon linguistics professor Uju Anya, quoted in "I Won’t Cry Over the Death of a Violent Oppressor" (The Cut).

Anya wrote the much-discussed tweet: "I heard the chief monarch of a thieving raping genocidal empire is finally dying. May her pain be excruciating."

She's not backing down.

In my tweet, I did not wish her death. I did not tell anyone to kill her. I said nothing except wishing her the pain in death that she caused for millions of people. There’s not going to be any apology from me. I stand by what I said. As a direct recipient of her governance and as the child of colonial subjects, I reserve the right to say what this woman’s life and monarchy and the history of the British monarchy as a whole means to me. 

“Speak no ill of the dead” is a weapon that’s leveled against the oppressed to silence them, to lionize oppressors, and to sanitize their history. What respect am I supposed to have for her, for her family? “Oh, well, her family is mourning her.” My family is mourning as well.

It is as if "Animal Farm" had never been written.

How many stories about politics have been told through non-human animal characters?

I want freedom of speech and abhor the prosecution described here, but the Editorial Board of The Washington Post is writing in a ludicrously ignorant style (and this is no context for intentional humor):

What is so frightening and subversive about a children’s book series featuring a flock of sheep? That is a question for Hong Kong authorities, who on Wednesday convicted the books’ creators on charges of sedition....

The picture books in question, written for children aged 4 to 7, depict sheep trying to protect their village from a pack of wolves. The series contained indirect references to social issues.... Even this implied criticism was too much for prosecutors, who claimed the books “indoctrinated” readers and disseminated “separatist” ideas.....
If there were any questions remaining about how far authorities will go to silence dissent, Wednesday’s conviction offers an ominous clue: Not even illustrated children’s books are safe.

Not even? I would think the literature given to children would be the first thing you would want to control. (It's something we fight about in America.) And if turning the characters into non-human animals got you off the hook for criminal charges, all the criminals would turn their characters into non-human animals.

The problem is the use of criminal law against political speech, and this isn't a distinctively Chinese idea:

Now, Hong Kong authorities appear to be weaponizing British-era sedition statutes to stifle criticism.

Oh! Imagine taking a statute that just happens to be on the books and enforcing it. But here in America, elite writers are deploying the word "sedition" and eyeing the sedition laws that we have on the books.

Just to look in The Washington Post, here's one of your columnists writing last June: "The sedition didn’t stop on Jan. 6. It must be stopped." And there's this article from last May: "How My Hometown Produced a Jan. 6 Sedition Suspect/One writer discovers her small Virginia town’s underside of conspiracy, guns and anti-government belief." And this, from June, about a real "seditious conspiracy" case: "Proud Boys, Tarrio blast sedition charge as politically orchestrated."

ADDED: The author of the June column "The sedition didn’t stop on Jan. 6. It must be stopped" and the first person on the list of "Members of the Editorial Board" — found at the bottom of the editorial about the Hong Kong sedition trial — are the same person: Karen Tumulty. 

It's hard to say a racist incident never happened, but why was it so easy to say that it did?

"Brigham Young University said Friday that it had completed its investigation into accusations of racial heckling and slurs at a volleyball match against Duke University last month and found no evidence to confirm that the behavior took place."

Note the careful language — "no evidence to confirm." They don't and can't say that nothing at all happened. The language in the BYU statement is: "we have not found any evidence to corroborate" ("From our extensive review, we have not found any evidence to corroborate the allegation that fans engaged in racial heckling or uttered racial slurs at the event").

September 9, 2022

Sunrise — 6:33.


Write about whatever you want in the comments.

Glenn Greenwald is right about free speech on Twitter.

Only 3 TikToks today. I'm highly selective, you know. Some people love it.

1. A simple harmonious tribute to the Queen.

2. The baby with a gangster demeanor.

3. The story arc of the Mac startup tone

"The ’90s are infectious. The decade was so colorful with neon colors. Nothing was that serious."

"It was, 'Let’s enjoy life, let’s make friends.' We had Beavis and Butt-Head, we had block parties, we had fanny packs.... The ’90s was the last of the great decades, because after that, computers killed the world. We were excited about things like floppy disks. Now there are so many channels that divide everybody and try to control your thoughts. In the ’90s they reported the news. It wasn’t this side or that side. I have fans on every side of everything...."

Said Vanilla Ice, quoted in "Ice, Ice Baby/The 1990s rapper known as Vanilla Ice is back, performing concerts, opening a museum and hawking a namesake energy drink" (NYT).

The Times interviewer pokes him with: "You performed at Mar-a-Lago on New Year’s Eve in 2020, to a maskless crowd during a height of the pandemic. How is that not political?"

"Iced coffee is... used as an amusing identifier among L.G.B.T.Q. people, with viral videos depicting their cultural claim to the drink."

"In 2019, a tweet from the City of New York went viral with a photo of a man making his way through a snowstorm with a Starbucks iced coffee in his hand. While many wondered why he — or anyone — would weather such conditions for the beverage, others offered variations of the same joking explanation: He’s gay. Sam Stryker, a 31-year-old copywriter in Los Angeles, is firmly in the iced coffee camp.... 'It’s like sort of my gay Gatorade,' he said. A Starbucks regular, he never drinks his coffee hot, stating that he doesn’t like the taste and neither does he want to wait for his drink to cool down. 'Iced coffee tastes like jet fuel to me,' he said, quickly noting that he meant that in 'a really positive way.'... While the hashtag #hotcoffee has more than 60 million views on TikTok, #icedcoffee has about six billion on the app and is full of videos of users sharing their complicated iced coffee orders."

Maybe there's not so much #hotcoffee because people are still calling hot coffee "coffee." It's the original term and it hasn't gone through the process that leads to expressions like "snail mail" and "acoustic guitar." That is, "hot coffee" is a retronym that has yet to take hold. All my life, I've heard "iced coffee" specified if that's what you want, and "coffee" is presumed to be hot coffee. Has that changed?

"Unlike the much-maligned fax machine — frequently trotted out as evidence of Japan’s stubborn resistance to the digital age — the telegram..."

"... is a symbol of the nation’s love of propriety. (Yes, it’s possible to fax a telegram request.) For many Japanese of a certain age, the medium — extravagant, formal and nostalgic — is the message. Kaoru Matsuda, a political consultant, said he believed that telegrams had stayed in use because they made a 'more polite impression.' In business and politics, 'a fax is used very casually and feels businesslike,' he said. 'When it comes to things like condolences, telegrams are it.'...  Japan is far from the only country where telegrams still exist."

But Japan is only the third largest market for telegrams. Ahead of Japan are Russia and Italy.

The North Korean Supreme People's Assembly met to pass laws to "spruce up the country into a beautiful and civilized socialist fairyland."

Reuters reports, quoting the North Korean state news agency.

ADDED: "Fairyland" strikes us as absurd, but it must be a translation. What perhaps they didn't notice is that it doesn't simply mean a beautiful place. It means — when it's not literally the realm of the fairies — a place that is beautiful and insubstantial

By the way, there's a place in Wisconsin, in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, called Fairyland. It's an "old growth hemlock hardwood forest situated on the shore of Lake Namekagon at the foot of a prominent interlobate moraine."

"Such a large amount is certainly going to make institutions around the country take notice, and to be very careful about the difference between supporting students and being part of a cause."

"It wasn’t so much the students speaking; it’s the institution accepting that statement uncritically. Sometimes you have to take a step back."
The incident that started the dispute unfolded in November 2016, when a student tried to buy a bottle of wine with a fake ID while shoplifting two more bottles by hiding them under his coat, according to court papers.

Jodie Foster knew what it was like to be 14 and to hate your body and wish you could trade it in for somebody else's.

Those were simpler times. The year: 1976.

I'm seeing this right now because it was a clue in a game I'm already spoiling badly enough by showing you this video, but it's a game in a publication I read every day.

Mystic, part 2.

Here I am at 4 in the morning reading the OED entry for "mystic." See previous post for context. 

I have to open a new post to show you something I found that has nothing to do with the "mystical cord" [sic] that was or may have been Queen Elizabeth. 

For years now, I've run into the name Donald Trump not only in the many, many stories about him but in all sorts of articles that have nothing to do with him. Just now, I found this in the OED, under the meaning "Of or relating to mysterious or occult rites or practices":

Mystic chords/mystical cord.

I'm reading "The Not-So-Secret Weapon in the Special Relationship/Queen Elizabeth offered a mystical cord to the past that held together the U.S.-UK alliance" in Politico. 

Why would you write "mystical cord," when Abraham Lincoln famously said in his first inaugural speech, "mystic chords":
We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

Note the "of"s: bonds of affection... chords of memory... chorus of the Union... better angels of our nature.

September 8, 2022

At the 3 Mushrooms Café...




... you can write about anything you want.

All photos by Meade. 

With the death of the Queen, perhaps it's too somber a time to watch TikToks, so I cautiously offer my selection this evening. There are 8. Some people love them.

1. Two young girls encounter a landline telephone.

2. Experience an oranger orange than actually exists.

3. Is the bird oddly stoical or truly in love with the man and his piano?

4. Is morning beer a deplorable notion or something poignantly sublime?

5. When it comes to questions of politics, I wish more celebrities were like Elvis.

6. The ugliest piece of furniture or the most amusingly beautiful?

7. If this is the definition of a "toxic" person, then I am sure I know who is the most toxic person I have ever met. 

8. The Corn Kid — 25 years later.

"The contention that the world of politics tends to attract more than its share of crazy people seems self-evident."

"Politics offers fame, power, glamour, and, often, considerable amounts of money (or, at least, the ability to control considerable amounts of money. You will run into nutty candidates, nutty campaign managers and staffers, nutty volunteers, nutty donors, and nutty hangers-on. Who knows, maybe even some political correspondents can be nutty from time to time."
From "Do the Democrats Have a . . . Murder Problem?" by Jim Geraghty (National Review). 

Great title, by the way.

"Over the years, the packaging has become more and more elaborate.... There’s... a lot of hype around the packaging; many brands will spend up to a year designing their mid-autumn mooncake boxes."

Said the journalist and cookbook author Clarissa Wei, quoted in "Mooncake madness: China cracks down on extravagant versions of festival staple/Modest packaging, capped pricing and auditing of sellers form part of Xi Jinping’s war on societal excess and ‘rampant money worship'" (The Guardian).

China’s mooncake crackdown... is a sign of the CCP’s push to curb societal excesses. Other campaigns or laws have discouraged expensive wedding celebrations and “vulgar” practices that reflect “rampant money worship”, limited the number of dishes a table can buy at a restaurant, and introduced fines for the promotion of performative overeating. 

“These [high priced mooncakes] not only deviate from the origin of traditional culture, but also contribute to extravagance and waste, and have a negative impact on the social atmosphere, and may even be alienated into a carrier of corruption,” one official told China News Weekly. 

Alienated into a carrier of corruption — that seems like a bad translation. I'm guessing it should be something like "used for bribery."

""When the Queen became this country’s longest-serving monarch, the humility with which she acknowledged the passing of that historic moment reflected the same selfless dedication..."

"... with which she once promised to serve her people. Some 68 years separated the pledge she made in Cape Town on her 21st birthday and the modest speech that she made on passing Queen Victoria’s record in September 2015, but even if the empire to which she devoted herself no longer exists, the values she spoke of then were the values to which she still held true a lifetime later. 'My whole life,' she said, in that resonant passage that captured imaginations worldwide in 1947, 'whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service.'"

Here is the 1947 speech:

Scroll to 5:46 for the famous quoted passage, "My whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service."

"Earlier, I made an ironic reference to a term used by some on the left about black people who are deemed traitors to the cause through joining the Tory Party."

"After I posted it, I realised this joke might give offence and deleted it. It was unacceptable language, wide open to misinterpretation, and I am sincerely sorry for the distress I have caused.  I have repeatedly applauded the Conservatives for having the most diverse cabinet in British history. Indeed, I tweeted earlier that the Truss cabinet made the Scottish government look 'hideously white.' I have always championed racial diversity in my columns and I am dismayed that my cack-handed attempt at humour suggested otherwise."

Wrote Iain Macwhirter, quoted in "Journalist apologises for ‘coconut cabinet’ jibe" (London Times).

He used a term no one should even consider using but apparently thought it could work because he was portraying other people as having used it and he's trying to attract offense and redirect it over to them. That's way too tricky a move, plus you are still causing the offense by reminding people of the insult.

He's "dismayed that my cack-handed attempt at humour." What is "cack" anyway? It's ca-ca — excrement.  The OED says that "cack-handed" is only "perhaps" based on "cack." But "cack-handed" has always meant clumsy, going back to 1854. "Cack" is much older word, going back to the 1400s. I'll just quote you one quote from the 1500s:
a1556    T. Cranmer in J. Strype Mem. Cranmer (1694) App. 105   Because the Devil could not get out at his mouth, the man blew him, or cacked him out behind.

Queen Elizabeth has died.

 The NYT reports.


"In his final days in the White House, Donald Trump told top advisers he needed to preserve certain Russia-related documents to keep his enemies from destroying them."

"The documents related to the federal investigation into Russian election meddling and alleged collusion with Trump’s campaign. At the end of his presidency, Trump and his team pushed to declassify these so-called 'Russiagate' documents, believing they would expose a 'Deep State' plot against him.... It’s unclear if any of the materials in Trump’s document trove are related to Russia or the election interference investigation.... 'I think they thought it was something to do with the Russia, Russia, Russia hoax,' Trump said during a Sept. 1 radio interview. 'They were afraid that things were in there — part of their scam material.'"

"Khari Sanford, convicted in May of the execution-style killings of a UW Health doctor and her husband in the UW-Madison Arboretum, will never be eligible for release from prison..."

"... a judge said Wednesday, telling Sanford there was no way to know whether he would ever 'evolve into a person who cares about other human beings, will not harm or kill them.' 'I can’t know that,'  Dane County Circuit Judge Ellen Berz told Sanford, 21, of Madison, who was convicted of first-degree intentional homicide for the deaths of Dr. Beth Potter and Robin Carre on March 30, 2020, after abducting them at gunpoint from their West Side home. 'What I do know is that, currently, you have utter disregard for human life, and the public, anyone in the public, no matter how kind they are to you, no matter how generous they are to you, no matter how much they try to help you, they are at risk of being killed by you.'"

The Washington Post fact-checker checks "Hillary Clinton’s claim that ‘zero emails’ were marked classified."

Here's Glenn Kessler (who does not assign Pinocchios on this one)(the boldface is mine):
During the contest between Trump and Clinton, we wrote 16 fact checks on the email issue, frequently awarding Pinocchios to Clinton for legalistic parsing. But in light of the Trump investigation, Clinton is trying to draw a distinction between Trump’s current travails and the probe that targeted her.... 
Clinton, in her tweet, suggests none of her emails were marked classified. That’s technically correct. Whether those emails contained classified information was a major focus of the investigation, but a review of the recent investigations, including new information obtained by the Fact Checker, shows Clinton has good reason for making a distinction with Trump. 

Jordan Peterson to Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal: "I'm your monster, sir."

Thanks to farmgirl in last night's open thread for pointing to this video.

Peterson experienced a suspension and must infer it had to do with his "deadnaming" the actor Elliot Page. He seems to have violated a very specific rule about which Twitter has been clear. But he's making much more general arguments about censorship on Twitter. Notably, there's the idea that in using Twitter, we accept the company's representation that we, using the platform in good faith, will be able to keep what we have earnestly built up through hours and years of work, a community of followers.


"Your demented and presumptuous minions have their eagle eye on my account."

"In the late 1800s, archeologists in the Sumerian city of Nippur (modern-day Iraq) uncovered a 4,000-year-old tablet with what appeared to be the world's oldest documented bar joke."

"Roughly translated, the joke reads: 'A dog walks into a bar and says, "I cannot see a thing. I’ll open this one."' The meaning of the joke — if it even is a joke — has been lost. But after a Reddit thread revived the debate, the public-radio podcast Endless Thread (which usually does stories focused on Reddit) decided to look into it, and they produced a two-part series. Part I is about the joke, and Part II goes into the origins of humor...."

The top comment over there is another ancient-times bar joke: "A Roman walks into a bar, holds up 2 fingers and says '5 Beers Please,'" which is responded to with another Roman joke: "Listen, barkeep, if I'd wanted to order two or more, I would have ordered two or more!! Now bring me my martinus!"

Hillary Clinton "did everything from trying to learn to tango to making acorn soup," she says.

Touting her new TV show, "Gutsy" on that old TV show, "The View."

If I understood correctly, this show consists of her and Chelsea getting together with some other celebrity mother and daughter — e.g., Goldie Hawn and Kate Hudson — and all 4 of them getting "out of their comfort zone" by doing something they hadn't done before. How far out of your comfort zone is a particular dance when you have danced or a particular soup when you have made soup?

They do move on to the serious topic of the documents seized in the Mar-a-Lago raid. Hillary is sharp and substantive, avoiding the display of animus toward Trump. Asked if she thinks he will be indicted, she says: "I don't want to judge. I've been prejudged — wrongly — enough."

She wants to know how it was possible that these documents could have been moved to Mar-a-Lago, when they were in a category that, when she was Secretary of State, she would read in a secured room, supervised by a person who carried the document in a briefcase handcuffed to his wrist. I wrote "when they were" and not "if they were" only because that's how she spoke. 

"Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles was arrested on suspicion of murder Wednesday evening in the fatal stabbing of Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Jeff German..."

"... whose investigation of the politician contributed to his primary election loss in June.... The investigative reporter was pursuing a potential follow-up story about Telles in the weeks before he was killed.... The breakthrough in the case came after police released an image of a vehicle tied to the homicide suspect: a red or maroon GMC Yukon Denali."

"Presidents so often get airbrushed, they even take on a mythical status, especially after you’ve gone and people forget all the stuff they didn’t like about you."

"But what you realize when you’re sitting behind that desk — and what I want people to remember about Michelle and me — is that presidents and first ladies are human beings like everyone else."

These were the official portraits, not to be confused with the National Portrait Gallery portrait, which we saw unveiled in 2018, the one with the leaves. Instead of a background full of green leaves, this new portrait has a stark white background, like a photographer's paper backdrop or an Interrotron video by Errol Morris.

It seems that Obama portraits always demand that we talk about the background. All those leaves were distracting, and now nothingness — whiteness — is distracting. Obama has a tie on this time, and instead of forefronting the hands — as in the Portrait Gallery portrait — the hands are entirely hidden. The focus is on the face, and it seems very photorealistic. (I say "seems" because I'm not seeing a big enlargement.) 

Photorealism heightens the texture and the discontinuities of the skin — the little freckles and moles and wrinkles and shiny spots. I think that's what inspired Obama to say "Presidents so often get airbrushed." You expect a painted portrait to idealize, and the photographic equivalent of that is airbrushing (or, as we say these days, photoshopping). So it seems that Obama is explaining or accepting the portrait: It's good not to airbrush me.

One reason he can find it easy to say don't give me "mythical status" — I'm a "human being like everyone else" — is that people have accorded him mythical status.

And don't tell me people don't give Trump mythical status. Why, he's Satan!

September 7, 2022



Write about whatever you want in the comments.

"Though [Stacey Abrams] is beloved by Democratic voters, she has lost some ground with Black men, who provided crucial backing in her narrow loss to Mr. Kemp in 2018...."

The NYT reports in "Democrats Fret as Stacey Abrams Struggles in Georgia Governor’s Race She has been trailing her Republican rival, Gov. Brian Kemp, alarming Democrats who have celebrated her as the master strategist behind the state’s Democratic shift":
Ms. Abrams has in recent weeks focused attention on winning support from Black men, voters who have inched toward Republicans during the Trump era. Her campaign has begun a series of conversations with Black men, calling the events “Stacey and the Fellas.”...
“We wouldn’t start talking to white suburban voters just a few weeks before the election,” [said Kevin Harris, a former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus who helped lead Mr. Biden’s Georgia campaign operations in 2020].... 

"[T]he person endowed with hyperphantasia can watch a movie and later watch it in their memory and the two are indistinguishable...."

"The polar opposite is hypophantasia—the much reduced ability to form mental images. These extremes of the 'mind’s eye,' as researchers refer to them, are not so much a disorder, as they are opposite ends on a continuum. Most people—including myself—fit somewhere near the middle of the continuum. But even if you fit somewhere close to hypophantasia, you can with practice improve your mental imagery. Finally sharpening that initial image will get you started on fashioning others and will provide insight into your own personal 'mind’s eye.'"

Here's the memory exercise (which is easy for those of us with hyperphantasia and hard if we've got hypophantasia):

"When the [European Union] began subsidizing wood burning over a decade ago, it was seen as a quick boost for renewable fuel..."

"... and an incentive to move homes and power plants away from coal and gas. Chips and pellets were marketed as a way to turn sawdust waste into green power. Those subsidies gave rise to a booming market, to the point that wood is now Europe’s largest renewable energy source, far ahead of wind and solar. But today, as demand surges amid a Russian energy crunch, whole trees are being harvested for power. And evidence is mounting that Europe’s bet on wood to address climate change has not paid off. Forests in Finland and Estonia, for example, once seen as key assets for reducing carbon from the air, are now the source of so much logging that government scientists consider them carbon emitters.... The industry has become so big that researchers cannot keep track of it. E.U. official research could not identify the source of 120 million metric tons of wood used across the continent last year — a gap bigger than the size of Finland’s entire timber industry. Researchers say most of that probably was burned for heating and electricity...."

"For months, the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season was notable for one reason: a complete lack of hurricanes."

"That finally changed on Friday, when Danielle strengthened into the Atlantic's first hurricane since last October.... [I]it's been a quiet summer: 60 days elapsed from Tropical Storm Colin's demise on July 3 and Danielle's arrival on Sept. 1."

NPR reported 2 days ago. 

Now, there's a second hurricane, Earl, forming out in the Atlantic, USA Today reports, and headed away from us. 

The chimpanzee, the raincoat, and the bicycle.

In Kharkiv, Ukraine:


"A chimpanzee in caused a brief, heart-warming moment in war-torn Ukraine, when it escaped from a zoo and then was gently coaxed into surrender by its keeper and ridden home on a bicycle.... The zoo workers followed her without success until it began to rain. As the rain fell, Chichi allowed a zookeeper to wrap her in a yellow raincoat, and the two embraced...." (NY Post).

"I don’t take things very hard. Death, for example. People die, and I sidestep the moment in some way. Or if you just say something embarrassingly dumb to someone..."

"... or you think you’re talking to one person but he’s actually somebody else. I’m vaguely aware that I have a capacity not to dwell on this. I can see that there’s another way to live where you’re lying awake about it. I just think, 'Move on and to hell with it.'"

He describes how he felt when his cousin, Sarka Gauglitz, got in touch with him when he was 56, and  she "told him how his four grandparents had perished at the hands of the Nazis and how his mother’s three sisters had died in Auschwitz and another camp": 
"I was totally poleaxed. I was in my 50s. I’d had this entire life. I couldn’t change it retroactively even in my mind. So it wasn’t like some kind of new start. I just carried on being the person I was.”

 He also has this to say about politics:

"Masks can make it more challenging for some children to develop early speech and reading skills, which are learned, in part, by observing mouths in movement..."

"[P]arents often asked why their young children had to wear masks when local kindergarten students were allowed to be mask free. The contradictory government mandates have contributed to confusion and skepticism — not only about masking, but also about the efficacy of vaccines, she said, noting that only about 20 percent of her students have been vaccinated...."

What is the reason for treating these children differently from other children? Poverty? I note that there is no mention of race in the article.

"Frying pans were popular; now they’re not. No one wants toasters. Pens are good, pencils are not. Electric cables and wires go, as do electronic gadgets — even old broken laptops."

Says Vicki, "the 78-year-old woman who has been running the [Ludlow Street Free Store] for almost two decades," quoted in From "One Woman’s Quest to Rescue the Trash of the Lower East Side 'I accept the fact that I am funding my obsession'" (New York Magazine).
She starts setting up around 9 p.m. on any night it doesn’t rain, schlepping bags of salvaged goods from her small one-bedroom apartment down five flights of stairs and arranging them on the stoop..... A free store doesn’t need her to stick around and monitor what’s taken.... Around 3 a.m., she returns to pack up anything that remains.... ...Vicki spends the same energy and time saving a stack of cans of creamed corn as she does a pile of fur coats. 
Like many of her peers who came to the Lower East Side as punks and artists and squatters, Vicki is trying to live by the environmentalist and pacifist ideals she’s held since she was younger....  But she has long found antiwar work disheartening; as she says, “I have been spectacularly unsuccessful at saving the lives of my fellow human beings. But it turns out I’m somewhat better at saving things.”...

September 6, 2022

Sunrise — 6:24, 6:30, 6:34.




Talk about whatever you like in the comments.

I've curated 6 TikToks for you this afternoon. Some people love it!

1. Hydraulic press performance art.

2. The difference between your 97% and my 100% is bigger than you think.

3. Why so many toilet breaks?

4. How did women pee in the 18th century?

5. A peasant observes the execution of Anne Boleyn.

6. A heads-up if you're in Saskatchewan.

"In the past, of course, Thiel has personally expressed some attention-grabbing thoughts about both women and health technology."

"In a 2009 essay, he famously expressed the opinion that giving women the right to vote made the country less libertarian and thus worse. And as Inc. magazine reported in 2016, Thiel reportedly expressed an interest in having young people’s blood transfused into his own body as a potential fountain of youth; a year later, people connected with Thiel Capital began making the rounds to deny that story, not very convincingly. (Disclosure: Thiel also funded a lawsuit against Gawker Media, the company where I used to work, that successfully bankrupted the company.) That—and Thiel’s traditional interest in panopticon technology—makes Thiel Capital a curiously appropriate choice...." 

From "Peter Thiel’s Investment Firm Is Backing a Menstrual Cycle-Focused ‘Femtech’ Company/Evie Magazine is COVID-skeptical, transphobic, and obsessed with traditional womanhood. Now, with Thiel Capital’s help, they’re launching a 'wellness' company based on menstrual cycles" (Vice).

The sunrise selfie.


This morning, at 6:35.

"We want to prove that being nonpartisan is actually the more successful positioning."

Said Mathias Döpfner, quoted in "Politico’s new German owner has a ‘contrarian’ plan for American media/Mathias Döpfner has global ambitions for what he calls a more ‘nonpartisan’ kind of journalism — even as his own politics are hard to pin down" (Washington Post).

"Since when can we not ask questions about our elections?"

"As a journalist for many years—I was a journalist after 2016 and I distinctly remember many people just like you, asking a lot of questions about the 2016 election results and nobody tried to shut you up... Nobody tried to tell Hillary Clinton to shut up. Nobody tried to tell Kamala Harris when she was questioning the legitimacy of these electronic voting machines to stop. We have freedom of speech in this country and you of all that people should appreciate that. You’re supposedly a journalist. You should appreciate that. So I don’t see how asking questions about an election where there were many problems is ‘dividing’ a country. What I do see divided a country is shutting people down, censoring people, canceling people, trying to destroy people’s lives when they do ask questions. Last I heard we still have the Constitution. It’s hanging by a thread thanks to some of the work some people in this area have done. But we’re going to save that Constitution and we’re going to bring back freedom of speech. And maybe someday you’ll thank us for that."

Said Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, quoted at PJ Media.

Lake was responding to a reporter who said: "You feel like Joe Biden is dividing the country. Do you feel Donald Trump is doing the same by falsely telling people he won that election when he lost it?" 

"oil painting of an elephant playing a guitar smoking a cigar in a low lit bar."

I like the elephant paintings, but part of what I'm liking is badness, and I feel liberated from knowing there's no delusional artist behind it... though I am a longtime fan of the subreddit r/delusionalartists.

But, of course, I want the human artist to win. I think! The author of the NY Magazine article, Megan Paetzhold, does win in this competition that she controlled against the AI in its current form:

I'm disgusted by the burgeoning "Denier" rhetoric.

Like this, at FiveThirtyEight this morning:

It's reminiscent of the Covid maps that have beset us for the past 3 years. Now, the disease is located in human minds, and we our encouraged to view our fellow Americans as contagion. This is not a good way to do politics. It's actively evil and far more dangerous and destructive than feeling skeptical about an election that took place 2 years ago. 

The election season begins officially today, the day after Labor Day, and if this is the way it's launching, what a horrorshow! 

"Truss is a Conservative. She’s 47 years old, and has been an MP for 12 years and a Cabinet minister for eight..."

"... serving under three prime ministers. Her current gig is foreign secretary, meaning she’s also the country’s point person for post-Brexit EU relations — so if you’re reading this in Brussels, you may already be rolling your eyes at this turn of events. She starts work Tuesday as Johnson exits stage left, knife wounds still healing. Truss is married to accountant Hugh O’Leary, with whom she has two daughters. The incoming U.K. leader was born in Oxford, and grew up in Scotland and then Leeds, in the north of England, attending a school she later accused of setting 'low expectations' for its pupils. She also had a spell in Canada before belatedly settling into the tried-and-tested route to Westminster — a degree in philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford University."

"In [Putin's] eyes, Gorbachev was contemptibly weak, a heedless custodian of a great empire. He was naïve. He fetishized..."

"... foreign democratic values. He failed to see the United States and Europe as bastions of hypocrisy and aggressive intent. In the course of a seven-year reign, Gorbachev, Putin clearly believes, granted the people freedoms they did not deserve and reduced a superpower to the level of a global supplicant. Putin seems to view himself as the anti-Gorbachev, an imperial revivalist reasserting Kremlin authority over Russian institutions, Russian citizens, and former Soviet republics. He calls the collapse of the Soviet Union 'the greatest geopolitical catastrophe' of the twentieth century, and he doubtless blames the 'necessity' of invading Ukraine on Gorbachev....."

I wish President Biden would support investigating the security of the mechanisms of American elections instead of demonizing the millions of people who feel skeptical.

Why all the intensity against American citizens? It's not going to decrease skepticism. Quite the opposite! We're supposed to be so afraid of getting called "deniers" or being lumped in with the minuscule segment of Americans who breached the Capitol that we will never dream of asking what are you hiding? Why can't you check? Shouldn't you be checking all the time?

President Biden came to Milwaukee to campaign, and the Democrats' Senate candidate, Mandela Barnes, avoided the event.

The Washington Post took note: "As Biden celebrates Labor Day, Democratic candidates tread gingerly/The president attended Labor Day events in Milwaukee and Pittsburgh, as Democratic contenders like Senate candidate Mandela Barnes keep a careful distance."

What, exactly, was Barnes worried about? "Gingerly" means "With great care as to the result of a movement or act; (very) carefully, cautiously, tentatively, warily. Also: reluctantly, with distaste (as in handling some disagreeable object, etc.)" (OED).

We're told that "for days [Mandela] wouldn’t say whether he planned to appear with Biden.... [then] he didn’t show up at the president’s speech and instead participated in other Labor Day events." That's just plain shunning, isn't it?

"You should give me an award for what I have done. I built here a museum.... 48 years, never nothing fall on me."


September 5, 2022

Sunrise — 6:27, 6:29, 6:31.




Write about whatever you want in the comments.

I've got precisely 10 TikToks for you to "labor" through today. Some people love them.

1. Everyone has 4 obsessions — here are 4 weird ones.

2. Analyzing the student-loan forgiveness program with Biblical references. (Freeze the frame at 0:42 so you can read the text. The first 2 are parables that you've probably already contemplated in this context.)

3. Is it really so bad if men these days don't live for adventure?

4. Broadway Barbara's Fosse Tutorial.

5. When the sports car pulls up to the red light and blocks the crosswalk, there's one way to win.

6. You approach a woman in the park... and she turns into a bird.

7. Inspired by found poetry.

8. Won't the dog just love the new puppy?

9. Deducing that today is the day he's going to propose.

10. Six degrees of corn.

"Judge Grants Trump’s Request for Special Master to Review Mar-a-Lago Documents."

 The NYT reports.

In a 24-page ruling, the judge, Aileen M. Cannon of the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Florida, also enjoined the Justice Department from using the seized materials for any “investigative purpose” connected to its ongoing inquiry of Mr. Trump until the work of the arbiter, known as a special master, was completed.

The order would effectively bar federal prosecutors from using a key piece of evidence as they continue to investigate whether the former president illegally retained national defense documents at his estate, Mar-a-Lago, or obstructed the government’s efforts to get them back.

Cannon was appointed by Trump. 

"Russia’s gas supplies to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline will not resume in full until the 'collective west' lifts sanctions..."

"... against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine, the Kremlin has said. Dmitry Peskov, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, blamed EU, UK and Canadian sanctions for Russia’s failure to deliver gas through the key pipeline, which delivers gas to Germany from St Petersburg via the Baltic sea. 'The problems pumping gas came about because of the sanctions western countries introduced against our country and several companies,' Peskov was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency. 'There are no other reasons that could have caused this pumping problem..... Obviously life is getting worse for people, businessmen, and companies in Europe.... Of course, ordinary people in these countries will have more and more questions for their leaders.'"

The erstwhile naked baby on the Nirvana "Nevermind" album cover has lost his lawsuit.

The Guardian reports. 

But don't go looking for big ideas about parents consenting to photographs of their children or whether a photo of a naked child is necessarily "child pornography." Does everyone with that album in their home possess child pornography?!

The case was thrown out because of the statute of limitations. He had previously filed a case that was thrown out after he failed to respond in time to the defendants’ motion to dismiss. He refiled, but that turned out to be too late.

Students these days "don’t have a big relationship to their hands. I’ve had to show them how to cut a circle out of paper...."

"You keep the scissors there and you move the paper like this, and they’re like, 'What?' There’s so much dexterity that they, by and large, do not have.... [They] start keyboarding in kindergarten. Handwriting, that thing that we think is no big deal, there’s so much dexterity in it. Not just in the hand you’re writing with, but the nondominant hand is always in action, moving the paper, paying attention. I mean, there’s a reason people gesture while they talk. If somebody is trying to explain something complicated, and they have to sit on their hands, it’s much harder for them to explain it.... [With a phone] you’re no longer where you are. You’re no longer in the room. You’re no longer anywhere. The opportunities to have an interaction with the things around you are taken away. I just see the world as richer without the phone.... So something that closes you off to the world that you’re in — I mean, I could be on TikTok all night long. I keep deleting that app because I love it so much. But something that takes you out of your environment, you pay a high price...."

Says Lynda Barry, quoted in "A Genius Cartoonist Believes Child’s Play Is Anything But Frivolous" (NYT). Barry is a professor of "interdisciplinary creativity" at the University of Wisconsin—Madison.

Trump accused Fetterman of drug use!

"Fetterman supports taxpayer funded drug dens and the complete decriminalization of illegal drugs —  including heroin, cocaine, crystal meth, and ultra lethal fentanyl — and by the way, he takes them himself..."

Here's the transcript. I missed that as I blogged the very long transcript last night. It was a 2-hour speech that he gave in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday night, and I didn't read every word. This morning, I was listening to a part of it on YouTube — here's the section — and I noticed the shocking accusation thrown in so quickly and casually:

"Timothy Thibault, the FBI agent alleged to have interfered with an investigation into Hunter Biden, was assigned by the Washington Field Office as 'point man' to manage whistleblower Tony Bobulinski..."

"...  the first son’s former business partner, before the 2020 election — but he suppressed his damning revelations, sources say. Bobulinski spent over five hours secretly being interviewed by the FBI on Oct. 23, 2020, about his inside knowledge of then-presidential candidate Joe Biden’s involvement in his son’s business deals with China. The previous day he had revealed in a press conference that Joe Biden was the 'Big Guy' due to get a 10% cut of a lucrative joint venture with Chinese energy firm CEFC, according to an email found on Hunter’s abandoned laptop. Bobulinski gave the FBI the contents of three cellphones containing encrypted messages between Hunter and his business partners, along with emails and financial documents detailing the Biden family’s corrupt influence peddling operation in foreign countries during Joe’s vice presidency. But his evidence appears to have fallen into the same black hole at the FBI as Hunter’s laptop, never to be seen again...."

September 4, 2022

A very dim sunrise.


There wasn't too much to see today, but it was nice to get out in the cool — 58° — weather. The day continued cool and overcast. Perfect for me, who can't be in the sun too long.

Hope all was well with you on the first day of this holiday weekend. Or, no, it’s Sunday, isn’t it? The second day. All days are both work days and holidays to me for the past 5 years and more.

Write about whatever you like in the comments.

"Our country’s going to hell. Our country is going to hell," said Donald Trump in his 2-hour Wilkes-Barre speech.

I found a transcript. So let's see if I can find some things to quote.
Our country’s going to hell. Our country is going to hell.

What a theme! We just saw Biden speechifying from what looked like hell (what with that red light), demanding that we join him there, and now here comes Trump, with his own hell theme.

This election is a referendum on skyrocketing inflation, rampant crime, soaring murders, crushing gas prices, millions and millions of illegal aliens pouring across our border, race and gender indoctrination perverting our schools, and above all, this election is a referendum on the corruption and extremism of Joe Biden and the radical Democrat party....

Biden characterized the MAGA Republicans as extremists, and Trump is throwing the "Extremist!" accusation right back at Biden and his party.

For you edification and amusement, I've lined up 10 TikToks. Some people love them!

1. Very nice slow-motion photography.

2. This dinner makes itself.

3. AI shows "Simpsons" characters as real people.

4. You are ugly. He can help.

5. Mississippi John Hurt sings "That Lonesome Valley."

6. Buck Dancing, filmed in 1894.

7. An ocean is forming within Pakistan.

8. Teens are asked "How gay are you?"

9. An impression of a Gen Z person on their deathbed.

10. And let Ricky Gourmet help you with the overbearing heat of summer.

"In 2003, Free Staters chose New Hampshire, with its deep vein of conservatism and 'Live Free or Die' motto, as their prospective homeland..."

"... and more than 19,000 people have since signed a pledge to move to the state, organizers said.... The porcupines, so called because they portray themselves as harmless until provoked, have built a statewide support network for newcomers and member families already here. Porcupine real-estate agents help find housing for the arrivals, others steer them to jobs, and weekly meetups, from pub gatherings to knitting circles, have sprung up across the state.... Parents also have been invited to a discussion on the 'Battle Over Raising Your Child.' 'Your rulers would like to do you the "favor" of taking your children off your hands to "educate" them (with a heavy dose of learning to revere their authority),' its summary read.... Free State leaders... said the group is a big tent whose members range from radicals to pragmatists. The unifying strand... 'is the nonaggression principle, which is an ethical stance that says you cannot force people to do things against their will.'"

From "Free Staters seek to undo New Hampshire government from within" (Boston Globe).

The article relies heavily on quotes from one Free State Project board member, Jeremy Kauffman:

"We are now policing traditional gender boundaries, and stripping achievements from women, in the name of gender-blindness. The gender-woke movement is eating its own tail."

Says the top-rated comment at "At Shakespeare’s Globe, a Nonbinary Joan of Arc Causes a Stir/Even before the production debuted, it had inflamed a rancorous debate about sex and gender that plays out almost daily in Britain" (NYT). 

From the article:
[The playwright Charlie] Josephine said the decision to make Joan nonbinary came after studying Joan’s life and realizing that Joan of Arc had been willing to die at the stake rather than stop wearing men’s clothing. This was “not a casual fashion statement,” Josephine said. “It was a deep need for them.” Josephine wanted to depict what it would have been like for “a young person in a female body, who is questioning gender in a very different society than what we live in now,” they said. “My younger self really needed a protagonist like this,” they added.... 

A quote from  the Globe’s artistic director: “Everyone’s got an idea of how plays should be done and how historical figures should be treated. All 'I, Joan' was doing, [said], was asking, 'Who is Joan for now?'"

"With Trump frequently in the news, Democrats are increasingly accepting — if not enthusiastic — that the president will likely be their 2024 standard-bearer."

So says this Washington Post column by Yasmeen Abutaleb. 

How does she know what "Democrats are increasingly accepting" and that it's a consequence of Trump's frequent presence in the news? Is keeping Trump in the news a way to assist Biden in deterring a primary challenger?

"Historians advise the president. The problem? The scholars were all white."

Headline at NPR for a piece written by Sandhya Dirks

We're told that a few weeks before his blood-red "soul of America" speech, "the president met with a group of handpicked historians who told him that democracy was teetering, hanging on by a thread." And:

"[T]he CEO of a brokerage house explained that he had nearly completed building his own underground bunker system, and asked: 'How do I maintain authority over my security force after the event?'"

"The event. That was their euphemism for the environmental collapse, social unrest, nuclear explosion, solar storm, unstoppable virus, or malicious computer hack that takes everything down.... They knew armed guards would be required to protect their compounds from raiders as well as angry mobs. One had already secured a dozen Navy Seals to make their way to his compound if he gave them the right cue.... [W]hat would stop the guards from eventually choosing their own leader? The billionaires considered using special combination locks on the food supply that only they knew. Or making guards wear disciplinary collars of some kind in return for their survival. Or maybe building robots to serve as guards and workers – if that technology could be developed 'in time.'... I made pro-social arguments.... The way to get your guards to exhibit loyalty in the future was to treat them like friends right now, I explained.... They rolled their eyes at what must have sounded to them like hippy philosophy. This was probably the wealthiest, most powerful group I had ever encountered. Yet here they were, asking a Marxist media theorist for advice on where and how to configure their doomsday bunkers.... For them, the future of technology is about only one thing: escape from the rest of us....."

"... the bozo insisted."

I'm only blogging this article because I love the frank admission that this isn't journalism that is revealed by the use of the phrase "the bozo insisted."

The article, in the "Living" section of the NY Post, is "I busted my boyfriend for cheating — when he lasted too long in bed."

"It was not just my home that was raided… it was the hopes and dreams of every citizen who I've been fighting for since the moment I came down the golden escalator in 2015, wanting to represent the people."

Said Donald Trump, quoted in "Donald Trump: What we learned from his rally in Pennsylvania" (BBC).

Here's the NYT article about the speech: "Trump Lashes Out in First Rally Since F.B.I. Search/Donald J. Trump and President Biden have both made recent appearances in Pennsylvania, one of the key states in November’s midterm elections."

Who wrote Joe Biden's blood-red "soul of America" speech? Jon "Soul of America" Meacham?

I should have guessed, because I've blogged about Meacham's input into Biden rhetoric a few times, but I needed this Politico article to jog my memory: "The seeds of Biden’s democracy speech sprouted long before the Mar-a-Lago search/But the actions of Trump and his supporters, along with threats of violence, sped up Biden’s need to address the nation."

"Democracy speech"? Is that what they want it called? The speech where he demonized half of American voters?

President Joe Biden’s speech warning about an assault against American democracy — by Donald Trump and his core followers — was an election-season call to arms unlike anything in modern American history.

Ugh! Warning us about our fellow citizens. Accusing us of "assault." Claiming to represent "democracy." I hope that was "unlike anything in modern American history," because it was horrible.