September 17, 2022

Sunrise — 6:57.


Open thread in the comments.

"But the Graham bill — like Democratic proposals for federal laws protecting abortion against state restrictions — is a reminder that key elements of both parties' bases..."

"... would be happy to enact a federal takeover of abortion law, if given the chance. If either party manages to get strong majorities in both houses plus control of the presidency, it could potentially happen. At that point, the courts would have to consider whether the Constitution really gives Washington such sweeping authority. The reasoning needed to uphold a federal abortion law would also allow Congress to forbid virtually any other medical procedure, and a vast range of other activities, as well."

Click over there to see the discussion of the case law, which I think clearly establishes that the Commerce Clause supports legislation restricting abortion or creating a right of access to it. Graham's bill — if it advanced — would tempt liberals to argue for the conservative position on commerce power and conservatives to argue for the liberal position.

For Saturday, take a journey through 12 TikToks, arranged meaningfully... or so some people think.

1. Maybe you'll say "I remember the old pole."

2. London women who don't like American women are not too likable themselves.

3. How you would love it if your candidate were this loved.

7. The meaning of life in eating your toast.

8. The butter board?!

12. A dog carps about the stuck traffic.

Deleted tweet preserved.

Sunrise — 6:37.


Open thread in the comments.

"He buckled his seatbelt and rested his left hand on his knee, exposing between his knuckles and wrist a tattoo of the words 'want nothing' over the outline of a desert island."

I quoted that because it's my favorite sentence in "Will Welch Leads GQ to ‘the New Masculinity’/When he got the job as top editor, a friend told him, 'Yikes.' Now, with an assist from Brad Pitt, he has remade the men’s magazine for the post-#MeToo age" (NYT). 

What more do you want? Well, he has to want you to want his magazine. And he seems to want you to buy into masculinity, but doubts you'll buy that (or doubts you need him to inform you on the subject), so he came up with "new masculinity," so he must want you to believe that GQ is in the know about what is new.

"GOP lawmaker calls witness ‘boo’ at hearing, prompts Ocasio-Cortez apology."

WaPo reports. 

Here, watch for yourself, in case you, like me, found it hard to believe:

"A writer friend shared with me the bound galley of his latest book-to-be, and I pointed out to him that his passing reference to barbecued chicken ribs at a picnic..."

"... was surely meant to be barbecued chicken wings. Not (entirely) displeased with my catch, he introduced me to his production editor — the person in a publishing house in charge of hiring copy editors and proofreaders.... In my early days, I would sulk in my office with the door closed if I found out that one of my books included a typo. A sentence referring to 'geneology' once sent me into a blue funk for hours.... I’m occasionally asked whether I can make my way through the world without shivering under the constant bombardment of typos.... [O]nce, watching the movie 'My Week With Marilyn,' I elbowed my husband sharply in the ribs over a prescription bottle, visible on a night table for approximately a second and a half, whose label read 'Tunial' instead of 'Tuinal.' 'I think it must hurt sometimes to live in your brain,' my husband has said on occasion, not unkindly. But, as he also notes, in a kind of nursery rhyme mantra, 'Your strengths are your weaknesses, your weaknesses are your strengths.'"

From "My Life in Error/A copy editor recounts his obsession with perfection" by Benjamin Dreyer, the copy chief of Random House (NYT).

I don't want to send Dreyer into a blue funk, but if I were writing an essay that had the line "passing reference to barbecued chicken ribs," I would not also have "elbowed my husband sharply in the ribs." It's a repetition of a distinctive image — ribs — for no recognizable reason. That's a language mistake. Make it your husband's arm. You're in a movie theater. It was more likely his arm that you elbowed anyway, wasn't it? You just liked "ribs," but your feeling of liking it came, I'll bet, from having seen it so recently.

And here's the Wikipedia entry for Tuinal, a Eli Lilly sleeping pill introduced in the late 1940s and now discontinued:

"Yeshiva University abruptly announced on Friday that it had placed all undergraduate club activities on hold... to keep from recognizing an L.G.B.T.Q. student group."

"The move came two days after the U.S. Supreme Court... [i]n a 5 to 4 vote... said the university would first have to make its arguments in New York State courts before returning to the Supreme Court.... A lawyer for the students, Katherine Rosenfeld, said in an email Friday that the move by the university... 'is a throwback to 50 years ago when the city of Jackson, Mississippi, closed all public swimming pools rather than comply with court orders to desegregate'.... [S]tudents seeking formal recognition for a club called Y.U. Pride Alliance.... [sued] under laws barring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation."

Is it like closing the swimming pools? Students can have clubs whether the school has some club-recognition process or not, but you can't go swimming if there is no pool. 

Perhaps the loftiest position for a school to take is to disaggregate itself from student expression. But the question whether it must do this remains, and I'll be interested to see what happens when (if?) this case gets back to the Supreme Court. The argument is that the law against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation contains various exceptions, so it's not the kind of "neutral, generally applicable" law that, under current doctrine, the federal Free Exercise Clause permits. I'm also seeing an argument that the current doctrine should be overruled, so that even "neutral, generally applicable" laws would be subjected to heightened scrutiny if they substantially burden religion. 

"He had been a high school dropout whose early higher education consisted of correspondence courses, and when he took his first teaching job.... His entree into the world of Orwell..."

"... was similarly implausible. He demonstrated his ability to accurately transcribe a barely-legible original manuscript of Orwell’s dystopian novel '1984' by disporting his skills in paleography, the study of ancient and antiquated writing systems. Earlier in his career he deciphered Elizabethan manuscripts.... As a result of his dogged research, publishers had to withdraw incomplete, incorrect or obsolete earlier editions of Orwell’s works. In 'Animal Farm,' Orwell... had originally written that pigeons bombarded Mr. Jones and his men with their 'dung' when they attacked the farm, but the text was amended to say more gracefully that the pigeons 'muted on them.'"

Muted on them? I checked the OED, and was delighted to find the bird-specific verb "mute":

"Today we reject the idea that corporations have a freewheeling First Amendment right to censor what people say."

Wrote Judge Andrew S. Oldham of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, "which is known to be conservative," quoted in "A federal court clears the way for a Texas social media law/The law, which had been blocked by a lower court, makes it possible to sue large social media platforms for taking down political viewpoints" (NYT).
The law makes it possible for individuals or the Texas attorney general’s office to sue social media platforms with more than 50 million monthly users in the United States for taking down political viewpoints. The legislation is the product of conservative anger over posts that were taken down largely because they had violated the social media platforms’ rules....

"The understanding is that the fourth plinth is being reserved for Queen Elizabeth II."

Said Ken Livingstone, the former mayor of London, back in 2013, quoted in "Queen Elizabeth II statue may ascend fourth plinth of Trafalgar Square" (London Times). 

We're told that the 4th plinth "has been deliberately kept vacant without a permanent memorial for the past 20 years." "Vacant," but filled with "a succession of temporary artwork installations."

Here's a London Times column by Jawad Iqbal — from last year — complaining about the quality of the temporary art that has occupied the plinth.

"Kurt Vonnegut and Nicholson Baker embraced good television. Vonnegut said he’d rather have written 'Cheers'..."

"... than any of his books. In Baker’s novel 'The Anthologist' (2009), the poet-narrator comments, tongue only partially in cheek, that 'any random episode of "Friends" is probably better, more uplifting for the human spirit, than 99 percent of the poetry or drama or fiction or history ever published.'"

Milch's shows include  “N.Y.P.D. Blue” and “Deadwood.”

September 16, 2022

3 sunrise photographs.

This first one is by Meade — that's me in the foreground — taken at 6:44:


This one, by me, happened at 6:51:


And this one, also by me, came at 6:54:


But you don't have to talk about the sunrise in the comments. It's an open thread.

Here are 7 TikToks for you this evening. Some people love them!

1. Overused phrases in books.

4. The top 3 tones for voice-over actors.

5. When Rosie O'Donnell visited Martha Stewart in prison.

6. Maybe when the lady seems insecure, it's not what you think.

7. It's the same old song, but with a different melody (and I'm accepting these men in shorts).

Vertical panorama — sunrise + moon.


"More and more young people are using TikTok’s powerful algorithm... to find information uncannily catered to their tastes."

"That tailoring is coupled with a sense that real people on the app are synthesizing and delivering information, rather than faceless websites.... Doing a search on TikTok is often more interactive than typing in a query on Google. Instead of just slogging through walls of text, Gen Z-ers crowdsource recommendations from TikTok videos to pinpoint what they are looking for, watching video after video to cull the content. Then they verify the veracity of a suggestion based on comments posted in response to the videos. This mode of searching is rooted in how young people are using TikTok not only to look for products and businesses, but also to ask questions about how to do things and find explanations for what things mean.... Alexandria Kinsey, 24, a communications and social media coordinator in Arlington, Va., uses TikTok for many search queries: recipes to cook, films to watch and nearby happy hours to try. She also turns to it for less typical questions, like looking up interviews with the actor Andrew Garfield and weird conspiracy theories. TikTok’s results 'don’t seem as biased' as Google’s, she said, adding that she often wants 'a different opinion' from what ads and websites optimized for Google say."

"We’re doing things that help those of us in the anti-Trump world bond with one another and that help people in the Trump world bond with one another."

"We’re locking in the political structures that benefit Trump.... We are in the middle of a cultural/economic/partisan/identity war between more progressive people in the metro areas and more conservative people everywhere else. To lead the right in this war, Trump doesn’t have to be honest, moral or competent; he just has to be seen taking the fight to the 'elites.'... Trumpists tell themselves that America is being threatened by a radical left putsch that is out to take over the government and undermine the culture. The core challenge now is to show by word and deed that this is a gross exaggeration. Can Trump win again? Absolutely. I’m a DeSantis doubter.... And then once Trump is nominated, he has some chance of winning, because nobody is executing an effective strategy against him."

David Brooks slogs along, ahead of his crowd, which is moving even more slowly, pondering the mystery, "Why Is There Still No Strategy to Defeat Donald Trump?" (NYT).

The needed "effective strategy" against Trump is "to show by word and deed" that it's "a gross exaggeration" to think that "a radical left putsch... is out to take over the government and undermine the culture." I'm not even persuaded that Brooks believes it's all that much of an exaggeration to think there's a "radical left putsch... out to take over the government and undermine the culture." He just wants Trump defeated and hopes anti-Trumpsters execute a good strategy to take him out.

"[N]ot a single dirty plate, tray or bowl tarnished the photos or videos. The sizable mess... was hidden in her back kitchen..."

"... a smaller room tucked behind the main one.... Adjacent to their main kitchen — an open-concept space with fumed oak cabinets, a Viking stove and Calacatta countertops — they built a smaller one with a set of cabinets, a sink, an induction stove, an oven, an ice-maker and a convection microwave. The back kitchen, in essence a pantry on overdrive, has become increasingly popular in recent years, according to architects, designers and homebuilders.... As the open-concept kitchen evolved into an extension of the living room... the pantry has been given an increasingly bigger role.... 'Once you start expanding and adding the dishwasher, then it’s like, "Well, what if I put a baking center back there?"... And then I can bring my beautiful warm cookies out of the oven into my serving kitchen'..."

From "‘A Kitchen for the Kitchen’/The back kitchen, in essence a pantry on overdrive, has become increasingly popular in recent years, according to architects, designers and homebuilders" (NYT).

Other names for the "back kitchen" are: the messy kitchen, the prep kitchen, the working kitchen, the scullery kitchen, and the dirty kitchen. And if you feel dirty lusting after the amenities of the rich, I'm sure there are many other articles in the NYT today designed to elicit more glamorous emotions, such as empathy for the poor. Please withdraw into the back room of your soul until you are adequately cleansed, then emerge into the spotless main kitchen of your life and smile for the people who envy you.

Mary Trump on How She Keeps Getting Away with Talking About Her Uncle.

Just kidding. The article — in Slate, by Dahlia Lithwick — is "Mary Trump on How Her Uncle Keeps Getting Away With It."

The Frank Lloyd Wright house for sale in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin.

For more views of the place, go here.

Click around and dream or talk about water leaks and how awful it would be to live in Wisconsin.

A 49-year-old man plays college football.

A WaPo piece.
[Ray Ruschel] works the midnight-to-8 a.m. shift as a mechanic at Minn-Dak Farmer’s Cooperative, a large sugar beet processor in the heart of the Red River Valley. He enrolled in online classes at North Dakota State College of Science earlier this year, he said, with the goal of earning a business management degree and becoming a supervisor at his work.... 
“On the first day of camp, we thought he was a new coach, so yeah, we were definitely surprised when he said, ‘No, I’m actually playing,’ ” said Preston Yohnke, 20. “But when we saw what he could do, we were impressed,” he added. “To be 49 and competing pretty well on the defensive line? That’s crazy. Ray earned our respect.”

"Emptying the dishwasher is my morning tai chi, bending low for the sparkling glass, then stretching into the empty shelf and filling it."

"Sweeping is a dance. Folding laundry is origami. Our king bed is a canvas for a still life of colorful pillows and blankets. As I work, I repeat one of my many low-vision mantras: In doing, I can be. And being is the sweetest remuneration."

Writes Sam Harper, a man who has been married for 40 years and on a path toward losing his eyesight for 60 years, in "Please Let Me Do More Laundry and Vacuuming! For decades, I avoided domestic tasks. My failing vision has made me cherish them" (NYT).

September 15, 2022

At the Sunrise Café...


... you can write about whatever you want.

A nice even 10 in the TikTok selection tonight. Some people love them.

1. A series of drawings with an invitation to visualize the artist.

2. Something called "manner leg" in Korea.

3. Living the barefoot life for 25 years.

4. When it's a woman's video at first, but then the edit switches to a man.

5. When white people speak to black people, they only seem to notice that you're black.

6. When you visit your parents, and it's 6 a.m.

7. When he called the little old lady "lovely." 

8. Queen Elizabeth and David Attenborough discuss a sundial.

9. What do you do with a big old baldface hornet's nest?

10. The old bun-in-the-oven metaphor.

"President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia said on Thursday that Moscow understood that China had 'questions and concerns' about the war in Ukraine — a notable, if cryptic, admission..."

"... from Mr. Putin that Beijing may not fully approve of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. And his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping — in his first face-to-face meeting with Mr. Putin since the invasion began — struck a far more subdued tone than the Russian president, and steered clear in his public comments of any mention of Ukraine at all. Taken together, the remarks were a stark sign that Russia lacks the full backing of its most powerful international partner as it tries to recover from a humiliating rout in northeastern Ukraine last week.... In contrast with Mr. Xi’s circumspect remarks, Mr. Putin railed against the 'unipolar,' American-led world order that he sees Beijing and Moscow aligned against."

The NYT reports.

"To see how population stagnation or even decline need not spell disaster, you can look at countries where it’s already occurring..."

"... as Daniel Moss... did last year. Take Japan: 'Despite the caricature of the country as an economic failure in the grip of terminal decline, life goes on,' he wrote. 'True, growth in overall G.D.P. has been fairly anemic in past few decades, but G.D.P. per capita has held up well.' What’s more, he added, Japan’s unemployment rate is very low and has remained so throughout the pandemic.... Japan’s example lends some credence to the view of Kim Stanley Robinson, a widely acclaimed science-fiction writer, who believes that an aging population with a smaller work force could actually lead to economic prosperity. 'It sounds like full employment to me,' he argued.... 'The precarity and immiseration of the unemployed would disappear as everyone had access to work that gave them an income and dignity and meaning.'"

From "U.S. Population Growth Has Nearly Flatlined. Is That So Bad?" by Spencer Bokat-Lindell (in the NYT).

"A lot of pop music does sound the same. Literally! In the past five years, the number of new songs on Billboard’s year-end 'Hot 100' chart that interpolate old songs has more than doubled."

"As the streaming money came to overshadow album-sales money, these sonic callbacks have become an increasingly popular way to make a hit song. Olivia Rodrigo, Beyoncé, Maroon 5, and Nicki Minaj — who had a recent No. 1 hit with her remake of Rick James’s 'Super Freak' — have all recently published songs that incorporate interpolations.... Publishers have spent the past few years paying hundreds of millions of dollars for legacy-artist catalogues, and one way to wring more value out of those catalogues is to pitch interpolations. Merck Mercuriadis, founder of the publicly traded music-IP investment firm Hipgnosis Songs Fund... says this strategy works because 'classic songs are already part of the fabric of our lives.... Nicki Minaj and Rick James being No. 1 has just sent 1,000 artists, producers, and songwriters searching for the next holy grail."

Is "interpolation" a technical term in music? Wikipedia says:
In popular music, interpolation (also called a replayed sample) refers to using a melody—or portions of a melody (often with modified lyrics)—from a previously recorded song but re-recording the melody instead of sampling it. 

Here's Wikipedia's list of interpolated songs, where I learn, for example, that Eminem once interpolated the Little Peggy March song "I Will Follow Him." I can't believe I listened to that. I can't hear it. The Little Peggy March song is part of the "fabric of [my] life," but if there's some echo of it somewhere in that evil Eminem song, I missed it.

"Deceptively edited videos that have been viewed hundreds of thousands of times on Twitter and TikTok exaggerate the speech issues that have plagued John Fetterman..."

"...the Democratic nominee for Pennsylvania’s open U.S. Senate seat, after he had a stroke in May. Despite policies on both platforms against political misinformation, the videos remained up for days and were shared by Fetterman’s critics. The videos include slight edits, such as cutting out the sound of the audience to make it appear as if he had abruptly stopped speaking (some of the stops occurred when he was pausing during moments of applause and crowd reaction, according to unedited videos seen by NBC News). Other edits cut Fetterman off midsentence, to create the perception that what he was saying was nonsensical.... The videos could run afoul of Twitter’s rules against political misinformation, even though they are still available.... Experts have warned that such lightly edited videos, also sometimes called 'shallow fakes,' can be particularly effective pieces of misinformation."

We have to be able to edit video, but where is the line between editing and deception? NBC tells us it has seen the edited and unedited video, but it doesn't show any of it to us. I can't take NBC's word for it, because I must assume that NBC wants the Democratic Party to control the Senate and will run interference for Fetterman.

"Florida can confirm the two planes with illegal immigrants that arrived in Martha's Vineyard today were part of the state's relocation program to transport illegal immigrants to sanctuary destinations."

"States like Massachusetts, New York, and California will better facilitate the care of these individuals who they have invited into our country by incentivizing illegal immigration through their designation as 'sanctuary states' and support for the Biden Administration's open border policies."

Florida Democratic Chair Manny Diaz reacted: "Even for Ron DeSantis, this is a new low. There is nothing that DeSantis won't do, and nobody that he won't hurt, in order to score political points."

"Nobody that he won't hurt..." — he would even dare to impose on the super-elite of Martha's Vineyard. That's the ultimate in hurting.

As for "scor[ing] political points" — wasn't scoring political points the idea of designating the state a "sanctuary state"? Because if it wasn't, where's the "hurt"? These people who have reached out — who have declared themselves a sanctuary — should say thank you to Governor DeSantis — thank you for facilitating transportation of the migrants to the welcoming shores of Martha's Vineyard. 

"I was dead set on centering my life on the patriotic ideal. I was a son of the American revolution..."

"... and there was blood on the tracks. Recent blood, and it was still drying. The whole record seemed like a real effort toward figuring out what Manifest Destiny was all about. We’d come as far as we could, as far as Horace Greeley told us to go. And so we looked back and tried to make sense of that great odyssey."
Said Van Dyke Parks, about the "Smile" album, quoted in Episode 153: “Heroes and Villains” by the Beach Boys, of "A History of Rock Music in 500 Songs."

September 14, 2022

At the Sunrise Café...


 ... you can talk about whatever you want.

"Now Mr. Durham appears to be winding down his three-year inquiry without anything close to the results Mr. Trump was seeking."

"The grand jury that Mr. Durham has recently used to hear evidence has expired, and while he could convene another, there are currently no plans to do so, three people familiar with the matter said. Mr. Durham and his team are working to complete a final report by the end of the year, they said, and one of the lead prosecutors on his team is leaving for a job with a prominent law firm. Over the course of his inquiry, Mr. Durham has developed cases against two people accused of lying to the F.B.I. in relation to outside efforts to investigate purported Trump-Russia ties, but he has not charged any conspiracy or put any high-level officials on trial. The recent developments suggest that the chances of any more indictments are remote...."

"It’s so fundamental, life. I would rather be right and lose an election than wrong."

Said Marco Rubio, quoted in "Rubio co-sponsors Graham’s federal abortion ban at 15 weeks" (Orlando Sentinel).

Great news for Val Demings, who's only been a couple points behind Rubio in the polls.

"Prosecutors in Baltimore are asking a judge to vacate Adnan Syed’s conviction for the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee, a case that riveted America..."

"... when it was turned into the hit first season of the podcast 'Serial.' The state’s attorney for Baltimore City said in a motion filed Wednesday in circuit court that a nearly yearlong investigation, conducted with the defense, found new evidence, including information concerning the possible involvement of two alternative suspects. Prosecutors are requesting Mr. Syed be given a new trial. They said they weren’t asserting that Mr. Syed is innocent. 'However, for all the reasons set forth below, the State no longer has confidence in the integrity of the conviction,' said the office of Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, which is overseeing the reinvestigation. The office is recommending Mr. Syed be released on his own recognizance pending the continuing investigation...."

The Wall Street Journal reports.

Top comment over there: "This is the same Marylin Mosby that indicted several Baltimore cops for murder and failed to get a conviction. The same person who was caught cheating on taxes or a mortgage application. Now she wants to release a convicted murderer while their retrial takes place and no definitive suspect has been identified...."

"The number of people currently enslaved in the world has grown by 10 million in the last five years..."

"... researchers from Geneva reported Monday. The U.N.'s International Organization for Migration partnered with the International Labor Organization and the Walk Free Foundation, a human rights group, to produce the latest estimates of modern slavery. That term refers to a spectrum of exploitative practices like forced labor, forced marriage and human trafficking. As of 2021, 50 million people were estimated to endure such conditions.... The report also estimated roughly 22 million people were living in forced marriages in 2021. The number of people involuntarily wedded grew by 6.6 million compared to 2016. Nearly two-thirds of all forced marriages were found to be in Asia and the Pacific, followed by Africa, the survey found. One of the drivers of forced and child marriages is poverty — oftentimes financially desperate families see marriage as a means to secure a stable future for their children, according to the report...."

"Explanations for the lack of interest in sex include the poor quality of sex education and the decline of traditional matchmakers..."

"... who used to arrange unions between young people of marriageable age. Others attribute it to the habit among young Japanese of socialising in groups, making it harder for men and women to break off as couples, and the rise of hikikomori, or social recluses, who live at home and never go out. Some research suggests that much of the problem comes down to money. While salaries among male workers have declined since the 'Bubble Economy' of the 1980s, research shows that women’s expectations of income in a potential mate remain unrealistically high."

"It is lack of individuality as a person that makes a monarch, and it is the negative virtues of not doing naughty stuff that allows a committed and orderly life to be expanded..."

"... by commentators into rare gifts and shining goodness. God helps true characters who wander into the monarchic frame. Poor Fergie, excoriated Meghan. A form of martyrdom, à la Diana, is not unlikely. The Queen lived a long life repressing herself and did it so well that now she will be buried under an avalanche of adjectives that signify, above all, her achievement was she sat on her true nature. So the encomiums fall flat and stick to our earlobes like treacle. Because they are signs of a woman being disciplined by herself to a remarkable extent. Negative virtues are then elevated to the rhapsodies of positive, godlike, saintly probity."

"In introducing the [abortion] bill, [Lindsey] Graham jerked attention away from the inflation numbers released on Tuesday."

"Why would he do this? After all, The Post reports, 'Republicans have been forced to reckon with a growing trove of data suggesting that abortion could be a decisive issue in the midterms, motivating Democratic and independent voters far more than was widely expected.' Perhaps Graham is more concerned with ingratiating himself with the far right than with helping his party regain the majority. Whatever the reason, he has certainly lent a hand to Democrats who’ve been focusing on slippery Republicans trying to deny ownership of their past radical views. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) tried to minimize the damage. 'I think most of the members of my conference prefer that this be dealt with at the state level,' he weakly told reporters. Now, the Republican leader faces a dilemma: He cannot deny Republicans’ intentions without infuriating the right-wing base, and he cannot encourage Graham without driving Democrats to vote."

The GOP position on the abortion should be to leave it to the states — good old federalism values. Leave it to the Democrats to make a uniform national law.

I see that Graham wanted to draw a line at 15 weeks, and at first glance, I'd thought it might be what I'd written about on July 11th, in "Can we — most of us — come together and agree to allow access to abortion in the first 15 weeks of pregnancy — or at least the first 10?" But I wanted a uniform federal entitlement to access to abortion in the earliest stage of pregnancy, leaving the question of later abortions to the individual states. Graham is proposing a uniform ban on abortion after 15 weeks, leaving the states to make even tighter restrictions in the period before 15 weeks. 

Maybe there's an idea of reaching a compromise, with a right of access to abortion before 15 weeks and a ban after 15 weeks, but it's hard to picture Congress compromising on this issue. 

September 13, 2022

At the Sunrise Café...


 ... finally the rain ended!

And you can talk about whatever you want.

A few TikToks for you this evening, but first...

 I need to show you this from Twitter, another example, like last night's #5 TikTok, of the irascible King:

All right then. Now here are 4 new TikToks:

2. Approving of Wisconsin (even though some of it is in Illinois).

3. Why you should eat at the Chinese restaurant that has the 3.5-star rating.

4. Little girls react to Disney's black Little Mermaid.

That's all for now!

"For those seeking insights about any remorse Ginsburg might have felt about not retiring while a Democrat was safely serving as president, Totenberg offers little..."

"... possibly because Ginsburg was not always forthcoming with her; of a meeting the justice had with Barack Obama at which the president gently tried to raise the question of her retirement, Totenberg says, 'She never told me about it.' Nor does she report how Ginsburg responded to the news of Donald Trump’s election. But she does seem to speak with authority when she explains that Ginsburg had been eager to give 'the first female president the power to nominate her successor.' And at the time of the election, Totenberg points out, Ginsburg was not in a health crisis. 'It was a gamble, and she lost,' she writes. Rather than defending Ginsburg’s choice to remain in office, she emphasizes how valiantly Ginsburg fought to stay alive and keep working once Trump was elected....  In one indelible image, Totenberg knocks on the door of a hotel room to find Ginsburg, hair down, desperate for Totenberg to leave so she can continue her frantic search for a medicine to ease her stomach troubles...."

We could have lived without that "indelible image," but books must be written. 

IN THE COMMENTS: Some people are saying it's unethical for journalists to be friends with the subjects of their writing. But I said, "Read 'The Journalist and the Murderer,' about the journalist’s method of fake-befriending the subject. Isn’t that what we’re seeing here?"

Here's an excerpt from Janet Malcolm's "The Journalist and the Murderer," the best book I ever read about journalism:

Showtime has a new documentary series about the Lincoln Project...

... which Variety calls "the fastest-growing super PAC in America made up of a veteran group of former GOP operatives and strategists, accepted the duty of 'saving democracy' in their plot to defeat their own party’s sitting president."

Variety quotes the press release: "There has never been a super PAC that has captured the imagination of the general public like the Lincoln Project. They showed us that you could use storytelling and the power of the internet to punch back, and that you could fight a bully by bringing the fight right to their doorstep."

It's an "all-American tale of redemption, power and betrayals," we're told.

I don't have Showtime, so I don't need to think about watching this. The press release is so off-putting, but I did enjoy the first few seconds of the "official teaser," which has Trump calling it "The Losers Project":

"Kimmel playing dead on the ground right next to a black woman accepting her rightful place in the future of tv is such a stinging metaphor."

Somebody tweeted, quoted in "Emmys: Jimmy Kimmel Lying Onstage During Quinta Brunson’s Speech Spurs Backlash/The late-night host pretended to be passed out throughout the 'Abbott Elementary' star's big moment, which a number of social media users found disrespectful" (Hollywood Reporter).

Are you following the latest awards-show racial brouhaha? Apparently, Jimmy Kimmel committed to a comic routine — that he would fake being dead drunk and pulled onto the stage by his foot and then, at the end of the presentation and thank-you speech, dragged off — and the award was won by a black woman. So he lay there at her feet while she had her moment, and that was deemed disrespectful by people who were looking for something to talk about. 

It's hard to do comedy when earnest honoring is the order of the day. But it was an award for best writing in a comedy series — so the subject was comedy. Yet, because a black person was honored, we're told (by some people), comedy was inappropriate. Is that what black people involved in comedy want for themselves? Jimmy Kimmel had himself dragged across the floor. He abased himself utterly. And still, it's not enough. It's wrong. He'll have to apologize now, according to the norms of the Era of That's Not Funny.

Is he saying now, because of me, you don't need to commit suicide?

Remember when plastic was wonderful?

Jean-Luc Godard has died.

The NYT obituary: "Jean-Luc Godard, Daring Director Who Shaped the French New Wave, Dies at 91/The Franco-Swiss filmmaker and provocateur radically rethought motion pictures and left a lasting influence on the medium" (NYT).
As a young critic in the 1950s, Mr. Godard was one of several iconoclastic writers who helped turn a new publication called Cahiers du Cinéma into a critical force that swept away the old guard of the European art cinema and replaced it with new heroes largely drawn from the ranks of the American commercial cinema — directors like Alfred Hitchcock and Howard Hawks. 
When his first feature-length film as a director, “Breathless” (“À Bout de Souffle”), was released in 1960, Mr. Godard joined several of his Cahiers colleagues in a movement that the French press soon labeled La Nouvelle Vague — the New Wave. 
For Mr. Godard, as well as for New Wave friends and associates like François Truffaut, Claude Chabrol, Jacques Rivette and Eric Rohmer, the “tradition of quality” represented by the established French cinema was an aesthetic dead end. To them it was strangled by literary influences and empty displays of craftsmanship that had to be vanquished to make room for a new cinema, one that sprang from the personality and predilections of the director.

"I think judges create legitimacy problems for themselves — undermine their legitimacy — when they don't act so much like courts and when they don't do things that are recognizably law."

"And when they instead stray into places where it looks like they are an extension of the political process or where they are imposing their own personal preferences."

It's traditional to critique judges for deciding cases according to their political preferences instead of strictly saying what the law is.

And it's traditional to emphasize the way it looks to people and the attendant threat to the Court's power: If we don't look as though we're doing what we're supposed to do — or what people have long believed we are supposed to do — then we'll lose "legitimacy." 

But how do people know whether judges are doing it right? They can't — and won't — read the Court's lengthy written justifications for the momentous decisions they impose on the people. Who can they trust? No one! Not even themselves. 

So judges had better be careful to look as though they doing it the "legitimate" way and not just following their own personal and political preferences. 

Kagan's point — courts need to look legitimate — stands in contrast to Chief Justice Roberts's recent comments about legitimacy: "[S]imply because people disagree with an opinion is not a basis for criticizing the legitimacy of the court." And: "You don't want public opinion to be the guide of what the appropriate decision is."

Kagan concentrates on whether the judges are deciding cases properly, and Roberts concentrates on whether people are properly assessing whether judges are deciding cases properly.

I suspect that if confronted, both Kagan and Roberts would agree that judges should decide cases properly and that people should criticize decisions based on whether judges decided them properly.

But that's agreement at a high level of abstraction. And I doubt if anyone really believes judges can drive all personal preference out of their decisions. But if they could, I'll bet people wouldn't like that either. 

September 12, 2022

At the Monday Night Café...

 ... you can talk about whatever you want.

I've selected 7 TikToks for you this evening. Some people love them.

1. Explaining the painting.

2. Taking a shower in Iceland.

3. Life in Uganda.

4. I want to rock and roll for a portion of the night...

5. The new King is a tad irascible.

6. Thumb control.

7. How could that be amore?

"The British and US governments have played down suggestions that Joe Biden could be banned from using a helicopter and obliged to travel by bus..."

"... when he and leaders from around the world congregate in London for the Queen’s funeral next week. Speculation over the travel arrangements for foreign dignitaries expected to attend the service next Monday intensified on Sunday after government documents emerged saying foreign heads of state would have to ride en masse in a bus to Westminster Abbey rather than using private cars. The guidance, seen by the Guardian and first reported by Politico, set out strict rules for the dozens of presidents, kings, queens and prime ministers expected to attend the funeral, urging them to travel by commercial flights to avoid putting too much strain on London’s airports."

From "'Biden would never ride a bus': UK and US play down strict rules for Queen’s funeral" (The Guardian).

The quote "Biden would never ride a bus" doesn't appear in the article. The closest we get, from a former Secret Service agent, is: "The bottom line is the president of the United States would never fly commercial and/or ride on a bus."

"An extended riff on abortion... starts by saying he supports a woman’s right to choose, but he notes the phrase, 'perform an abortion' sounds jarring."

"'It’s … showtime!' he cries, impersonating an abortion doctor putting on a show. And when his wife asks about his performances that day, he says, 'I f***ing killed.'"

Hollywood in Toto reports on Sam Morril's new Netflix special, "Same Time Tomorrow Night," and quotes the segment I wanted to notify you about.

"New ‘objective’ CNN appears to be making itself objectively rightwing."

That's the headline for a column in The Guardian by Arwa Mahdawi.
Earlier this year Chris Licht became the new CEO of the cable network and... met with lawmakers who had become wary of cable news and promised them that CNN was moving away from “alarmist” programming towards more neutral, objective reporting.... 
The way CNN is going I wouldn’t be surprised if they make Trump their new election integrity analyst next week.

The NYT's Nate Cohn pushes Democrats to worry about "the possibility that the apparent Democratic strength in Wisconsin and elsewhere is a mirage — an artifact of persistent and unaddressed biases in survey research."

I'm reading "Yes, the Polling Warning Signs Are Flashing Again/Democrats are polling well in exactly the places where surveys missed most in 2020."
Most pollsters haven’t made significant methodological changes since the last election....  The pattern of Democratic strength isn’t the only sign that the polls might still be off in similar ways.... 
About Wisconsin, Cohn says: "The state was ground zero for survey error in 2020, when pre-election polls proved to be too good to be true for Mr. Biden. In the end, the polls overestimated Mr. Biden by about eight percentage points. Eerily enough, [Mandela] Barnes is faring better than expected by a similar margin."

If true, she shouldn't have saved it. Is it false, or is Haberman guilty of withholding vital information for her own commercial purposes?

Or is there some gray middle ground where it only sounds important as it's used to hawk a book but isn't really substantial, just Trump being idly emotive?

This makes it sound as though Biden is attending the Queen's funeral in order to keep Trump out of it.

I'm reading "Queen’s funeral: Joe Biden caught officials off guard with plan to attend" in the London Times.

"Hunter’s pursuers say he has only himself to blame for his loss of privacy — that it was the same carelessness and disregard for the rules of conduct..."

"... that regular people follow that caused him to lose control of his digital life. Maybe it was the drugs. Maybe he was addicted to danger itself, forever in an autoerotic dance with disaster. So many of the people who have peered into the laptop seem to think that it allows them to know Hunter Biden’s mind and motivations. But maybe that level of understanding is not possible, even for the man himself. He has been doing the same thing, looking at that face in the photographs, trying to turn it into art. He still doesn’t know where that Hunter was."

About that art: "He spends his days making art in his garage.... He paints still lifes of flowers; portraits of Catholic martyrs; paintings of birds done in alcohol ink, which creates a ghostly effect. In one series, according to someone who has seen them, Biden has made a number of self-portraits, based on the photos in the tabloids, the ones that show him in the depths of his despair. The paintings are abstract, made up of colorful pixels, but you can still see the artist in there. He is planning to turn one image — a selfie that he took with a cigarette dangling from his mouth during a trip to Las Vegas, which now appears on the cover of Laptop From Hell — into a work in stained glass."

Here's that selfie he — the man who paints portraits of Catholic martyrs — is interpreting in stained glass:

Did the NYT decline to treat 9/11 as the annual commemorative occasion that it's been for the past 20 years?

I'm seeing this: I might defend the NYT and other news outlets if they chose to end the practice. I don't like terrorists squatting on the calendar, forcing us into darkness every 365 days. We must honor the dead? But if we truly ordered our life around honoring the dead, every day of the year would be a somber day of commemoration. Instead, we have a scattering of death days on the American calendar. Why those and not others? What interests are served by keeping those horrendous events fresh in our mind and not others?

So what if the NYT has maxed out on articles written in advance and highlighted on the front page of the September 11th edition of the paper? What 9/11 means 21 years later, What young people who don't remember 9/11 think about 9/11, What place does 9/11 have in the psyche of young adults who saw it on television live but couldn't understand it at the time.... There are endless pieces that could be prepared for the commemorative edition and placed prominently to establish that the newspaper has, indeed, once again, presented 9/11 with the proper depth and respect.

What the NYT actually did wasn't nothing. It was to report on what happened on September 11, 2022. That is, the news. Not the more distant past.

September 11, 2022

At the Sunday Night Café...

 ... go ahead and write about anything you want.

No photograph today, a rainy day.

Remembering 9/11 — a walk through the Flight 93 memorial.

The video is from Meade's visit to the federal Flight 93 memorial on December 15, 2021.

Below are some of Meade's still photographs. Before you arrive at the federal monument, you encounter the Flight 93 Memorial Chapel:

View recent photos

Outside there are these monuments:




Finally, this is Meade's photo of the "Tower of Voices" at the federal memorial:


"Running Rolling Stone required special skills. Mr. Wenner had to mold the copy into something readable after drug-fueled interviews..."

"... like the one he did with Jimi Hendrix. And he had to edit the work of [Hunter S.] Thompson, who loved his cocaine and whose office supplies included Wild Turkey and beer on tap, and an air horn. Mr. Thompson’s first dispatch from D.C., when he covered George McGovern’s 1972 campaign, began like this: 'I feel the fear coming on, and the only cure for that is to chew up a fat black wad of blood-opium about the size of a young meatball.'... Mr. Wenner recounts one day early in the magazine when Mick Jagger stopped by for blow and a long visit. On another, [Annie] Leibovitz dropped three large rocks of coke on his desk as 'a gift from Keith for you.' 'Cocaine had a stranglehold on the music business,' Mr. Wenner writes in the memoir. 'Drugs were the coin of the realm, enabling bad behavior, bad relationships, and lapses of judgment all around.' Dinner parties might have silver trays of neatly arranged lines of coke passed around every half-hour. When John Belushi fell off a stage doing his samurai skit and ended up in the hospital, with his leg in a cast suspended by wires, he mischievously pulled out a vial of coke hidden in the cast to show his friend Jann."

The size of young meatball. Now, that was some choice writing. I suppose it was a young meatball the size of an old meatball. But who really cares about these old meatballs these days? They took a lot of drugs. It doesn't look glamorous from this old-meatball distance. The headline highlights the LSD, but I excerpted cocaine.

"Senator Joseph R. Biden's characterization of his fellow Democratic presidential contender Senator Barack Obama as 'the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy' was so painfully clumsy..."

"... that it nearly warranted pity. There are not enough column inches on this page to parse interpretations of each of Mr. Biden’s chosen adjectives. But among his string of loaded words, one is so pervasive — and is generally used and viewed so differently by blacks and whites — that it calls out for a national chat, perhaps a national therapy session. It is amazing that this still requires clarification, but here it is. Black people get a little testy when white people call them 'articulate.'... With the ballooning size of the black middle and upper class, qualities in blacks like intelligence, eloquence — the mere ability to string sentences together with tenses intact — must at some point become as unremarkable to whites as they are to blacks."

Wrote Lynette Clemetson in "The Racial Politics of Speaking Well," published in the NYT in February 2007.

I thought everyone would have absorbed that lesson by now, but apparently the old custom of praising black people for stringing words into sentences is alarmingly healthy. Watch this clip:
I read that tweet because "Chuck Todd" is trending on Twitter right now. That's because of the clip you see there. People are outraged that he suggested that prosecuting Trump would be too "divisive," not that the Vice President can't or won't give a coherent answer to his perfectly sound question. 

"Can he manage the chief object of all his predecessors since time immemorial of passing on the crown untarnished, safely, to his heirs and successors?"

"Or will he, through his own volition, end up as Charles the Last? This would be a terrible legacy after all this time of waiting: a great humiliation for a deeply proud and self-conscious man who has had dinned into him all his life the special responsibilities he will one day bear.... At his back, King Charles will always hear time’s winged chariot hurrying near....  He may feel that it is, at long last, his turn, after all these years. But will he be an old man in a hurry? How otherwise will he make his mark on history? And what if that mark is to bring the whole house tumbling down?

Speaking of "handling," can we talk about King Charles's hands? Perhaps you've seen the closeup photos of his hands, with their very swollen "sausage fingers"...

... and perhaps you've connected it to the alarmingly dark gray-purple hands Queen Elizabeth displayed in her last photographs

In Great Britain, they say "coffin" and regard a 6-hour car "journey" as something that would challenge anyone's resolve.

All the British news reports I'm seeing about moving the Queen's body from Scotland to London are using the word "coffin."

I think it's a word we Americans tend to use when talking about horror movies or Halloween or old cemeteries.

It is also used in America to generate outrage about the stark reality of death. Let me give 2 examples from the NYT:
1. From 2004: "The Bush administration's policy of barring news photographs of the flag-covered coffins of service members killed in Iraq won the backing of the Republican-controlled Senate on Monday, when lawmakers defeated a Democratic measure to instruct the Pentagon to allow pictures."

2. From 2018: "As Senator John McCain’s coffin was being loaded onto a military plane bound for Washington on Thursday afternoon, cameras from major American TV networks beamed the coverage around the world, allowing a rapt public to witness the next leg of his four-day funeral. Back at the White House, President Trump aggressively tried to wrestle back the attention. 'Throwback Thursday!' the president exclaimed on Twitter, posting a video of celebratory Fox News clips of his unlikely route to the presidency just as Mr. McCain’s coffin was heading for Washington, where it will lie in state in the United States Capitol on Friday." (Remember when we were "rapt" at the transportation of a dead Senator's body and the President was a lout not to devote himself 100% to national mourning?)
If you attempt to research the American preference for the word "casket," you'll be swamped with funeral-industry doctrine restricting "coffin" to containers that are wider at the shoulders and narrower at the feet. ‚ so "coffins" really are those horror movie/Halloween props and what we picture buried in very old cemeteries. The modern rectangular box, we're told, is called a "casket." This is a denial that "casket" is a euphemism for "coffin."

In America, at least. In the U.K., it seems, "coffin" is the most reverent and respectful word — expressive of rectitude and rectangularity.