September 24, 2022

An overcast sunrise today.


Talk about whatever you want in the comments.

"Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, long entwined, continue on vile parallel paths: They would rather destroy their countries than admit they have lost."

"They have each created a scrim of lies to justify lunatic personal ambition.... As our ancestors did, the Ukrainians are fighting an abusive overlord, against all odds, for democracy. It’s especially inspiring as a split screen with Trump and his MAGA forces trying to bulldoze democracy and rip away women’s rights. The Ukrainians are battling for a luminous ideal — unlike Trump and Putin, who are smashing a luminous ideal for their own benefit, driven by their dread of being called losers. Both thugs are getting boxed in, Trump by a bouquet of investigations into his chicanery and Putin by an angry public pushback against his bloody vanity war.... Both Putin and Trump are famous for accusing everyone else of their own sins.... It would be poetic justice to think the walls were closing in on Putin and Trump at the same time, because at some point, all this will become unsustainable...." 

Maureen Dowd, in "Solo Soulless Saboteurs" (NYT).

Would it be poetic justice for the walls to close in on Putin and Trump at the same time for the same reasons?

From Wikipedia:

"[T]he incident once again highlighted the increasing man-animal conflict in India."

Economic Times reports on this viral video:

"I don’t know that there should be a common Latinx identity. This identity is rooted in land and geography when it should..."

"... be rooted in understanding settler colonialism in the Americas. I would be invested in a political Latinidad that first and foremost fought for indigenous sovereignty and black liberation. If it doesn’t do that, I don’t see the purpose...."

Said Alan Pelaez Lopez, a Zapotec cultural critic, artist, and academic, one of the 6 participants in a conversation at "The Problem With Latinidad/A growing community of young, black, and indigenous people are questioning the very identity underpinning Hispanic Heritage Month" (The Nation).

"Racial preferences should now be thought of like chemotherapy, a cure that can cause side effects that should be applied judiciously."

"We’ve applied the cure long past that point, and have drifted toward an almost liturgical conception of diversity that makes less sense by the year. In a 2003 Supreme Court ruling, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, writing for the majority, said, 'we expect that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences' in the university admissions context 'will no longer be necessary.' That was considered resonantly wise at the time. But now we have only about six years to go. Folks, it’s time."

Writes John McWhorter in "Stop Making Asian Americans Pay the Price for Campus Diversity" (NYT). 

McWhorter is anticipating the Supreme Court cases Students for Fair Admissions v. President & Fellows of Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina. Oral argument in those cases is scheduled for October 31st — Halloween.

"Has anyone ever won an Oscar for showing so little expression?"

"[Nurse Ratched as played by Louise Fletcher ] was not — as Nurse Ratched was in the book — an embodiment of matriarchy and women's repression of men. She was horrible, cold, and controlling, but she also had some humanity. She was in a predicament trying to deal professionally with some very trying individuals. She made all the wrong decisions, but she was recognizably human. The actors who played those patients did a fine job portraying seriously ill men and making them dramatically effective and immensely entertaining. We felt free to laugh at them a lot without getting the nagging guilty feeling that we weren't showing enough respect for the mentally ill. There's bonus entertainment in the fact that two of them are actors we came to love in bigger roles: Danny Devito and Christopher Lloyd. 'If they made this movie today, they'd ruin it with music,' I said halfway through. There was scene after scene with no music, other than the occasional record that a character in the movie played.... There was never any of that sort of movie music that instructs us on how to think and feels our emotions before we get a chance to feel them for ourselves. When Nurse Ratched puts a syrupy, soporific version of 'Charmaine' on the record player for the ritual of dispensing the psychotropic drugs, what we feel is in counterpoint to the music...."

I wrote that on Christmas Day in 2006, the morning after the last time I watched "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." 

I'm reading that old post this morning because I see the news that Louise Fletcher has died. She was 88.

Here's the scene where Nurse Ratched keeps the men from watching the World Series game (and McMurphy is an election denier):

I understand why Biden said "We go back a long way. She was 12, I was 30."

I'm seeing the puzzlement — or feigned puzzlement and eager seizure of an opportunity to remind us, once again, of Biden's history of nuzzling young girls.

As an older person, I recognize what went on in the old President's head. It's something that used to be very common in the generation that preceded Baby Boomers. There was this deeply embedded cultural norm of acting as if older women are not actually old. There were expressions like "A lady never reveals her age" and "A woman of a certain age" and lighthearted misstatements of age. It was considered rude even to imply that a woman is old.

Within that ethic, Biden's statement "We go back a long way" created an awkwardness that prompted a joke to undo the implication that he had called a woman old. He'd suggested that they were contemporaries. They'd worked together long ago, so she must be about as old as he is. He wanted to cancel the implication, and, long ago, he was about 30, so he made her as much younger as he could — a ludicrously young age 12.

"As what one might call a celebrity emotion, empathy is often simplified and caricatured. It’s hardly an entirely positive attribute."

"Being able to feel what another person is feeling can also allow someone to manipulate or injure another person. Sadists can be as empathetic as therapists. Iago is the most empathetic figure in literature—he feels every nuance and degree of Othello’s insecurity and plays on them to destroy him. Yet in a democratic society, where individual freedom abounds at historically unique levels, empathy is indispensable. In a dictatorship, it doesn’t matter if you’re aware of another person’s inner state; the regime regulates relations between people. In a democracy, however, the people themselves regulate the relations between them.... In a democracy, [Toqueville] writes, 'each [man] may judge in a moment of the sensations of all the others; he casts a rapid glance upon himself, and that is enough....' If it is true that the essence of a functioning democracy is the ability of its people to feel empathy for one another, then the widespread reliance on antidepressants.... is like some cruel joke. Add to the pharmacological cultivation of emotional blunting the emotionally blunting effect of lives lived increasingly online, and you have a democracy resting on a fundamentally anti-democratic way of life."

"While these are beautiful objects and tell important stories that need to be known, it's disappointing to see the MET giving legitimacy to Crystal Bridges Museum."

"The museum is open-to the-public storage for the personal art collection of some the Walton heirs of Wal-Mart fame — known for paying their employees so little that as of 2022 they are reported to be the biggest recipients of food stamps and Medicaid in most states."

September 23, 2022

Sunrise — 6:38, 6:48.



The Menominee North Pier Lighthouse.



"The Menominee North Pier lighthouse is located in the harbor of Menominee, Michigan. The station was first lit in 1877. The current structure and its still operational light was lit in 1927, and automated in 1972. It is also sometimes called the 'Menominee (Marinette) North Pierhead Light."

I took those photographs on September 19th.

"I’m attracted to things like pointillism or a Jasper Johns ‘numbers’ work because they come out of breaking something down into its components, like bytes or numbers..."

Said the late Paul Allen, who co-founded Microsoft, quoted in "Opening Paul Allen’s Treasure Chest/It’s been a closely guarded secret which masterworks in the Microsoft co-founder’s collection will be auctioned at Christie’s in November. Here, highlights of a billionaire’s bounty" (NYT).

This isn't a Jasper Johns "numbers" work, but it is the Jasper Johns in the soon-to-be-auctioned collection. It's called "Map":

"Kripke challenged the notion that anyone who uses terms, especially proper names, must be able to correctly identify what the terms refer to."

"Rather, people can use terms like ‘Einstein,’ ‘springbok,’ perhaps even ‘computer,’ despite being too ignorant or wrong to provide identifying descriptions of their referents. We can use terms successfully not because we know much about the referent but because we’re linked to the referent by a great social chain of communication.” 

Similarly Errol Morris, the filmmaker, a friend of Kripke’s said: “Are we living in some subjective reality where truth is irrelevant, where truth is relative? Saul came up with this idea of ‘rigid designation.’ It sounds arcane. But he is saying our words attach to things in a way that is far more permanent than we ever thought.” 

The philosopher Richard Rorty said: “Before Kripke, there was a sort of drift in analytic philosophy in the direction of linguistic idealism — the idea that language is not tuned to the world.... Saul almost single-handedly changed that.”

"Totenberg’s confounding book, subtitled 'A memoir on the power of friendships'... always comes back to friendships...."

"[A]s the pages go by, and Totenberg and her friends become more powerful, the theme becomes increasingly uncomfortable — and increasingly revealing.... [S]he seems to accept and share her insider friends’ worldviews. In this universe, it seems, we’re all on the same team. The jurists Totenberg spent her career covering, for instance, are invariably portrayed as thoughtful stewards of the Constitution, even when they err.... One theory about Ginsburg’s decision to stay on the court was that, sharp as she was, she lived in a bubble that left her unable to appreciate how mean and extreme politics had become. If so, the convivial vibe depicted by Totenberg didn’t do much to clear things up. In fact, Totenberg became part of the RBG hype machine. As the justice became an unlikely celebrity, she and Totenberg developed a sort of stage act, conducting public interviews before ticketed audiences. Totenberg would share questions in advance. The responses were more thoughtful that way, which it seems was really what the evenings were trying to show. With its odd, priestly culture, the court is particularly susceptible to this sort of veneration."

Totenberg's book is called "Dinners With Ruth."

"Could you imagine a congressional reporter doing a book called Dinners With Harry Reid, tracing shopping excursions and intimate family moments with the late majority leader, who died the year after Ginsburg?"

"You do your best, you know, and maybe people will agree. And maybe they don’t. And maybe you’ll win. And maybe you’ll lose."

"And then what you do is you think about it for a while. Go on to the next thing, so that you can do a decent job on the next thing. And just keep going."

Said the retired Justice Breyer, quoted in "Breyer warns justices that some opinions could ‘bite you in the back’ in exclusive interview with CNN’s Chris Wallace" (CNN).

Breyer seems to have adopted the catchphrase "And there we are." He's quoted using it 3 times in this short summary of the interview. 

He used it after stating the he tried to change the outcome in Dobbs, describing the mood at the Court after the Dobbs leak, and after declining to criticize either Ginni or Clarence Thomas.

Breyer's "And there we are" made me think of Kurt Vonnegut's "So it goes." In "Slaughterhouse-Five":
[Vonnegut] uses it as a refrain when events of death, dying, and mortality occur or are mentioned; as a narrative transition to another subject; as a memento mori; as comic relief; and to explain the unexplained. The phrase appears 106 times.

Is Breyer's "And there we are" like Kurt Vonnegut's "So it goes"? "And there we are" feels lighter, more like "It is what it is" or "Whaddayagonnado."

"If I am simultaneously bankrupting and killing myself to make karate happen for one child, uptown, at 4pm, and French, downtown, for the other..."

"... I want to see results. Fun is an inadequate metric.... I want some kind of externalised measure of success. The business model for child activity centres in the city understands and exploits this intuitively.... What was this compulsion to furnish them with a suite of accomplishments like tiny Regency ladies in a Jane Austen novel? Why not needlepoint? We quit violin. (Take the feeling you get when someone cancels a dinner and quadruple it.) We opted out of taekwondo (initial enthusiasm, followed by endless weekly foot-dragging). We’re about to exit dance (loved it, then didn’t love it). I put it into Google: 'What’s the opposite of a tiger?' Google suggests jellyfish. Jellyfish parenting – boneless, diaphanous, endlessly flexible. I’m almost there...."

"This is the last dying breath of the system as it collapses, the final death throes. It’s trying to show that it’s still in control, but this is an illusion...."

"Everyone is lying to everyone about everything all the time. And these lies are getting bigger and bigger and bigger up to the point where you need huge resources for people to believe in this huge illusion.... They promised us a better life, nobody will touch you, everything will be fine. And now they are taking your children off to die."

"The equating of sex nonconformity with transgenderism arose incrementally, through a complicated regulatory process involving court decisions and bureaucratic guidelines..."

"... that were presided over by transgender interest groups. Borrowed from the women’s legal movement, the nonconformity framing was designed in the early 2000s and solidified during the Obama era to empower judges and bureaucrats at the federal Office for Civil Rights to bypass rulemaking procedures and force schools, on penalty of violating Title IX, to defer to their students’ gender self-identification. We should treat children who are different with compassion and acceptance. Transgender ideology does the opposite. When children say they’re transgender, that frequently prompts a visit to a gender clinic where a 'gender-affirming' therapist may prescribe puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and even surgery to 'fix' this perceived misalignment between 'gender identity' (i.e., social roles and stereotypes) and the child’s biological sex. As an ideological matter alone, this is regressive in the extreme. It repudiates decades of work by women’s-rights activists who rightfully gauged such notions as sexist and oppressive and fought to free nonconformists from social stigma. Subjecting children to body-altering surgery and drugs is a medical scandal of horrifying proportions."

Wright makes the treatments offered to transgenders seem analogous to conversion therapy offered to gay people. He uses the phrase "perceived misalignment," implying that the condition of feeling feminine while having a male body or masculine while having a female body is another manifestation of human diversity that ought to be celebrated and not regarded as a problem to be solved. 

"Traditionalists argue that the feminist revolution has gone too far, and we need to get more women back into the home. But I think..."

"... it makes more sense to take the opposite perspective: that the feminist revolution is only half finished. We’ve done a lot to encourage women to pursue careers in traditionally male professions. But we still don’t do enough to encourage men to do traditionally female work in our homes and communities. That’s important not only because it enables their partners to succeed at work, but also because this kind of work is important in its own right."

Lee — one of five Washington Post writers who followed Ezra Klein to Vox Media to help start in 2014 — writes from personal experience:

"Just swap your husband for your granny."

September 22, 2022

Sunrise, today, back at Lake Mendota.



Write about whatever you want in the comments. And this one's from Meade:


I have 7 TikToks selected for you tonight, and I think they kind of go together. In any event, some people love them!

1. The painted face.

2. Elizabeth Taylor on "What's My Line?"

3. The child is perhaps outraged not to be asked to join in.

4. When you, an audiobook user, order a used David Sedaris book so you'll have something for him to sign, and the book that's sent is one that David Sedaris has already signed.

5. The videos David Wain doesn't remember making but obviously did make, in the middle of a sleeping-pill-induced night's sleep.

6. It's Moby's birthday, and he's playing "Happy Birthday" in 5 genres.

7. Copying runway fashion with materials you find around the house.

"[Jia] Tolentino, a millennial essayist and New Yorker staff writer, said that she had not read Ms. Didion until her 20s, but immediately realized..."

"... that 'through the words of others, I had been reading her my entire life.' At a memorial where so many of the eulogies came from writers who have been paid a lot to complete sentences, it came as little surprise that the guests spent much time debating about who’d given the best one. But the funniest, many people said, belonged to [Susannah] Moore, who vividly recalled some of Ms. Didion’s one-liners, among them, 'Whatever you do, you’ll regret both,' and 'evil is the absence of seriousness.' That one arrived following a dinner Ms. Didion hosted. Among the guests, Ms. Moore said, was Bianca Jagger, who ignited scorn from Ms. Didion by proceeding to pick the magazines up off the coffee table and read them one after the other. The editor Joan Juliet Buck described a conversation she had with Ms. Didion, who had told her how to deal with a stalker: 'Move into the Carlyle.' Annabelle Dunne, Ms. Didion’s niece, reported that her aunt had advised: 'Don’t forget to have a baby. It’s easy to forget.' [David] Remnick started his speech with his misgivings about giving it: 'How do you speak about someone who was in her time the foremost enemy of canned cliché and falsehood?' he asked, before going on to praise her 'authority of tone' and the way she led by example."

A view from the top of Sugarloaf Mountain in Marquette, Michigan.


"Actually, Sandy [Sandra Bullock] and I did once try to develop a whole idea of a husband and wife team, who were QVC’s most successful salespeople..."

"... but we’re getting a divorce, we hate each other, and we’re taking it out on air as we sell things… That’s as far as we got."


"I know this sounds idiotic, but I’m from New Jersey. I feel like an idiot, it sounds idiotic, and it is."

What he conceded sounded idiotic was his testimony that he didn't know that the Capitol was the location of Congress. The idea was that intent to go into the building did not automatically equate with obstruction of Congress, which was the crime charged. The jury didn't believe that, and now the government wants a harsher sentence on the theory that he lied under oath. 

"It would be so humiliating for Biden if these idiots don’t pass it in Congress."

Said South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, into a hot mic, WaPo reports.

Yoon had just met with Biden at the Global Fund’s Seventh Replenishment Conference in New York City. There, Biden had pledged $6 billion from the United States to the public health campaign, which fights AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria worldwide....

Park Hong-keun, the leader of the opposition Democratic Party in South Korea, criticized Yoon’s “foul language tarnishing the US Congress” as “a major diplomatic mishap,” Agence France-Presse reported.

I wonder how that plays in South Korea, but I don't think anyone cares in America. Don't we say "these idiots in Congress" — or worse — completely casually? Please, I expect you to say "these idiots in Congress." Anything less feels insincere.

Voting for members of Congress, don't we systematically pick the greater idiot? Really. Examine the results of the elections over the last 50 years, and I think you might find that's the key to outcomes. Nobody likes a smartypants.

"When they looked at the step rate, per minute, of the highest 30 minutes of activity a day, they found that participants whose average highest pace was... between 80 and 100 steps per minute...

"... had better health outcomes compared with those who walked a similar amount each day but at a slower pace...The key is to walk at an intensity that is manageable but also slightly pushes the boundaries of what is a comfortable pace."

Playlists I downloaded after reading that and before heading out for a walk:

The advice columnist is asked about a neighbor's flag with "a message representing ideals that are abhorrent to us... divisive with hurtful implications...."

... but there isn't a word that indicates which way the flag is offensive.

"I have a time sensitive request/plea.... We need volunteers to help make this night Spooktacular for Alexandros..."

"... people willing to dress up and walk down the street for him, decorate their cars and drive through the parade! This is extremely time sensitive!"

A Facebook post, quoted in "A boy with cancer hoped to see monsters. Hundreds of strangers showed up in costume" (WaPo). The 5-year-old "had only a few weeks, or perhaps even days, to live."

As it became clear that plenty of people planned to show up.... On the day of the event — Sept. 14 — Tzouanakis Anderson expected 300 people to attend, at most. But as the evening progressed, “probably close to 1,000 people showed up,” she said. His son watched in awe as a swarm of strangers (many with their pets) paraded through the streets....

This happened in Hamilton, Ontario. 

"The protests started small, outside the Tehran hospital where a 22-year old Iranian woman named Mahsa Amini died last week after being detained by the 'morality police'..."

"... for an untold violation of the country’s harsh strictures on women’s dress. By Tuesday, the protests were racing across the country, in a burst of grief, anger and defiance. Many were led by women, who burned their headscarves, cut their hair and chanted, 'Death to the dictator.' The ferocity of the protests is fueled by outrage over many things at once: the allegations that Amini was beaten in custody before she collapsed and fell into a coma; the priorities of Iran’s government, led by ultraconservative President Ebrahim Raisi, who has strictly enforced dress codes and empowered the hated morality police at a time of widespread economic suffering... Many of the protests have been concentrated in the west, the poor, predominantly Kurdish region Amini’s family hails from. The Kurds — who speak their own language, have a distinct cultural identity and are mostly Sunni Muslims in a majority-Shiite country — have complained for decades of neglect by the central government.... In a video from Kerman, in southeastern Iran, a young woman sitting on a utility box, surrounded by a cheering crowd, is seen removing her headscarf and cutting off her own hair. 'An Iranian will die but will not accept oppression,' the crowd chants...."

"The Daddy Day Care actor was accused of making inappropriate comments to crew members, including an alleged incident in which he repeated 'vagina'..."

"... to a female crew member after she initially complained about Garlin’s use of the word. Though the stand-up comic maintained that he did nothing wrong during his time on the Goldbergs set, he offered an apology to anyone he worked with who felt 'greatly uncomfortable' or 'hurt' by his behavior...."

"The actor shared his diagnosis one day before the season 10 premiere of The Goldbergs — where it will be revealed that his character, the Goldberg family patriarch Murray, has died."

He got the Roseanne treatment — fictional death — for the fictional crime of having a mental illness and comically aggressive self-expression. 

Team Josh Hawley is getting over-aggressive about restricting the number of genders.

"Mr. Walker, I believe you when you say that you’re not smart.... You are the personification of a game being played by Georgia Republicans..."

"... a wager that any Black Republican — in your case, an empty intellectual vessel — can beat the Black Democrat, a man who is thoroughly qualified and utterly decent. Walker is Georgia Republicans’ attempt to undermine the image of Black competence, by making a mockery of Black people, by replacing a thinker with a toady. It seems clear to me that Walker will inflate or deflate his intellect to fit a function. The truth is irrelevant. This is at the heart of Trumpism."

Did Hershel Walker say he's "not that smart"? Yes. He said it in the context of managing expectations for the debate: "I’m this country boy, you know. I’m not that smart. And he’s a preacher. He’s a smart man, wears these nice suits...." 

"In reality, feminist science offers a powerful set of tools for examining the history, context, and power structures in which scientific questions are asked."

"By bringing marginalized perspectives to the table, it can generate new questions and methodologies that help scientists identify and correct for hidden bias. Think of it as a stake strapped to a growing tree: it provides scaffolding to help the tree get back on track when it starts to lean too far to one side.... In 2012, [evolutionary biologist Patricia] Gowaty performed a series of careful replication experiments with fruit flies that challenged the longstanding 'Bateman’s Principle' of sexual selection. Her findings helped show that this principle, which states that males tend to be more promiscuous than females due to the asymmetry between sperm and eggs, was more of a hypothesis — and a flawed one at that."


September 21, 2022

Sunrise over Lake Superior.

This morning at 7:34, 7:37, and 7:45 — Eastern Time. We were in Marquette, Michigan:




Here's what the surface we were walking on looked like — very striated from long-ago glaciers:


We hiked in the dark to get to this location, in Presque Isle Park.

We didn't see the Northern Lights...

... but here's proof we tried:


And we did have the cool adventure of hiking through the woods 2 and a half hours before dawn to get to the hidden beach on the shore of Lake Superior near Marquette, Michigan (2 nights ago).

I didn't think about taking photographs, so I didn't have a tripod, just my iPhone. The hump you see is not an elephant inside a boa constrictor but a small island, which, I've heard, people swim to and hike around on. How to swim and then hike? Barefoot? Swim in sandals? Float hiking shoes alongside you as you swim? I don't know. I was only doing one thing at a time and getting to that island wasn't on the agenda.

ADDED: The beach is called Granite Point, and the island is Little Presque Isle.

"But Mr. Trump and his allies are clearly hoping they can deflect whatever political fallout Ms. James’s lawsuit inspires by drawing on past legal battles..."

"... all of which, so far, the longtime real estate baron has survived with the agility of an alley cat."

Writes Blake Hounshell with the zeal of a pizza rat.

I'm reading "The Political Backdrop of Letitia James’s Lawsuit Against Trump" (NYT).

I thought the "alley cat" was silly and gratuitous, but I care about the political dimension of the civil suit brought by Letitia James, the New York attorney general. How to make us believe it's all about the rule of law?

Gender? Don't they mean sex? How could it possibly depend on gender?

WaPo reports: "The best time of day to exercise can depend on your gender and even whether you want to burn fat or get stronger, according to a helpful new study of men, women and exercise timing."

The article isn't about identifying with being a woman or man. It's about how the body responds to exercise taken at different times of day. The study showed that morning exercise is more effective for a woman and evening exercise is more effective for a man. I think The Washington Post is using "gender" confusingly, in the old-fashioned way of being shy about the word "sex." 

Yesterday, at 6:18 pm, on the rocks of Presque Isle.


Write about anything you like in the comments.

Justin Trudeau is in trouble for singing "Bohemian Rhapsody" 2 days before the Queen's funeral.

BBC reports: "Justin Trudeau's office has defended the Canadian PM, after he was filmed singing by a piano in a London hotel, two days before the Queen's funeral.... The Queen was Canada's head of state, and Mr Trudeau designated 19 September a national day of mourning in Canada.... Mr Trudeau can be seen in a T-shirt, leaning on a piano as Gregory Charles, a musician from Quebec and recipient of the Order of Canada, plays Bohemian Rhapsody.... 'Embarrassing doesn't even begin to cover it,' wrote Andrew Coyne, Globe and Mail columnist, on Twitter. 'He's the prime minister, in a public place, on the eve of the Queen's funeral. And this is how he behaves?'"

The desperate search for more Queen-is-dead stories rages on.

An argument to Wisconsin: Do we want to "become Florida"?


I'm reading the linked article, and see that DeSantis gave a speech in Green Bay "just an hour before the Packers' home opener against the Chicago Bears, predicting Wisconsin would turn into Sunshine State of the north if Tim Michels is elected governor in November."

So DeSantis is selling himself as a brand. Instead of DeSantis being another politician in the image of Trump, he's presenting himself as the image that other politicians, like Michels, can be in the image of.

""[I]n whipping up his supporters, moving closer to QAnon, and claiming that the American people wouldn’t stand for an indictment, Trump is..."

"... reminding Attorney General Merrick Garland and his colleagues that the stakes are very high. And that, even if some of the candidates he has endorsed in the midterms are lagging in the polls, and even though there reportedly were many empty seats at his Youngstown rally, he still has a mass movement that is fanatically loyal to him, and which has already demonstrated, on January 6, 2021, that it contains elements willing to resort to violence on his behalf. He doesn’t have to say all this out loud. It is self-evident. Garland has repeatedly stated that no one is above the law.... In the coming months, Trump, his desperation growing, will likely seek to test the system to the point of breakage, just as he did after November, 2020. Defenders of democracy and the rule of law, regardless of their political affiliation, had better be prepared."

Writes John Cassidy, in "Why Is Trump Openly Embracing QAnon Now? The former President is likely signalling to prosecutors that he won’t go quietly, so they had better beware" (The New Yorker).

Cassidy is responding to a recent statement by Trump about what would happen if he were indicted: "I think you’d have problems in this country the likes of which perhaps we’ve never seen before. I don’t think the people of the United States would stand for it.... I think they’d have big problems, big problems. I just don’t think they’d stand for it. They will not, they will not sit still and stand for this ultimate of hoaxes."

"His book feels somewhat hasty. Clichés tumble over one another... interwoven with over-the-top claims: that the Proud Boys turned Berkeley, Calif., 'into an almost perpetual war zone' and altogether have organized 'some of the most gruesome acts of political violence in modern American history.'..."

"The Proud Boys have four 'degree'” of membership. For the first degree, one merely takes an oath; for the fourth and highest degree, writes Campbell, 'a Proud Boy must commit a significant act of political violence or get arrested.' A more unexpected, and revealing, requirement faces second-degree hopefuls: They must swear not to masturbate more than once a month. This comes from McInnes’s belief that pornography-induced masturbation drains away the testosterone that would otherwise make men better fighters for the beleaguered white race.... Although Campbell does not explore it, far-right paranoia about pornography goes all the way back to 'The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.'... These anxieties reflect a greater fear: that what’s being lost is not just testosterone but masculinity itself.... A researcher who studied 43 McInnes videos that drew more than a million views each on YouTube found that only three had to do with race, while 26 concerned women, gender or feminism. One, entitled 'Single Moms: Stop Talking About How Brave and Cool You Are,' drew 2.1 million views....."

Writes Adam Hochschild in "The Proud Boys and the Long-Lived Anxieties of American Men," a review of the new book "WE ARE PROUD BOYS: How a Right-Wing Street Gang Ushered In a New Era of American Extremism," by Andy Campbell.

September 20, 2022






Write about whatever you want in the comments.

Is the NY Post just missing the humor?

I'm reading "Gen Zers insist on wearing sexy clubbing outfits to the office: ‘Like who’s going to stop me?’"
In a recent TikTok video, Dani Klarić, a young interior decorator/creative director, gleefully shared her workday outfit: a white miniskirt, a short-sleeve shirt worn totally unbuttoned to reveal a lacy yellow bra and a pair of sheer yellow thigh-high socks. "If I had a corporate job this is how I would go dressed to work," the TikToker says confidently in the post, which has garnered more than 200,000 likes. "Like who’s going to stop me?"

Key word: "If." She has a job: It's making TikToks that get likes. And the Post is scampering to show — what? — that it can keep up with what's in social media? But it can't! And it even said the word that exemplifies dull, trudging Jebbishness: "garner."

Now, to be fair, this article does quote somebody at Rent the Runway who has such a cool name that I almost feel like believing her: Suzanne Smallshaw:

Are the baristas trying to clear this café?

I love Frank Sinatra, but it's been Frank Sinatra since I sat down — with a brief assist from Nancy Sinatra — and not only are the songs repeating — I'm coming flying with him again and we've already been to Peru — but when "My Way" came on again, they cranked up the volume.

Have we reached the last Queen's-funeral news story?

I think at this point the scraping of the bottom of the barrel is too obvious: "Twins who starred in ‘The Shining’ wait in line to view Queen’s coffin."

That's the NY Post, where, I guess, they're defining stardom downward.



So nice to see the doggy's eyes protected!

The ants go marching quadrillion by quadrillion.

"A new estimate for the total number of ants burrowing and buzzing on Earth comes to a whopping total of nearly 20 quadrillion individuals. That staggering sum — 20,000,000,000,000,000, or 20,000 trillion — reveals ants’ astonishing ubiquity even as scientists grow concerned a possible mass die off of insects could upend ecosystems. In a paper released Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a group of scientists from the University of Hong Kong analyzed 489 studies and concluded that the total mass of ants on Earth weighs in at about 12 megatons of dry carbon, a standard way of measuring animals’ biomass. Put another way: If all the ants were plucked from the ground and put on a scale, they would outweigh all the wild birds and mammals put together. For every person, there are about 2.5 million ants."

September 19, 2022




Open thread in the comments.

Why did the NYT send a reporter to some obscure part of France to interview R. Crumb?

And why did this article published on September 15th only become apparent to me days later — when I'm always keeping an eye out for articles about R. Crumb? And why am I reading through paragraphs and paragraphs of the article — "R. Crumb Means Some Offense Even from his refuge in France, the comics artist still makes America’s pulse race" — without finding anything new or barely anything that I don't know from the 1995 documentary "Crumb"?

There's something odd here!

Here's the answer. It's way down at the end of the article. He's got a new comic, “The Crumb Family Covid Exposé” — that's reason to cover him — but it's not what people carrying the official message want us to read — even though they trekked to France find out about:

"Ememem is a self-described 'pavement surgeon' and 'pothole knight.' He calls his art, flackings..."

"... which refers to the French word, flaque, which means puddle. Not much is known about this man who focuses on the 'art of healing the street' except that his father was a tiler.... [H]e has created over 400 'plasters' over Europe—in Scotland, Norway, Germany, Italy and Spain. His artwork is not strictly legal in the sense that he never asks for permission and he works at night so he won't be disturbed, sometimes in disguise.... [He] once erected a working space by wrapping red tape around cones to fill in a hole in Guadaloupe, to give the impression that he was working officially...."

I'm interested in street art and pseudonymity, but notice also this other topic: Acting like you're doing something official and thereby getting away with doing something wrong in the plain view of others. That's more specific than my big tag "seen and unseen" — which is one of my 3 favorite tags (the others being "big and small" and "light and shade")—  but I can't immediately think of a phrase to express what's so delightful about it. And what are some other examples of that?

I thought of the Gogol play "The Inspector General," but that's really exactly the opposite phenomenon, where someone who is not the official is believed to be the incognito official they are expecting. Maybe I need a tag to cover confusion over whether something is official. And isn't it interesting how readily obeisant we are to things understood to be official? And then what is it that makes us delight in some misappropriations/misattributions of officialdom? Some. Of course, not all!

Are you watching the Queen's funeral?

It's live. I'm sure you can find it. I'm seeing video embedded at the top of the front page of the NYT. 

Is it topping other news that should be more significant, such as whatever our President may have said in his "60 Minutes" interview last night?

I'm going to say no — subject to your laughter — as I see that the top story on the right side of the front page of the NYT is "Life Is Hazardous for City Raptors. These Women Offer Hope. Injured birds of prey have a fighting chance to recover, thanks to the volunteers at Owl Moon Raptor Center in Boyds, Md."

"Boyds" — that's how you say "birds" in New York.

I'm distracted by sudden cheering and raucous applause. It's the Queen's funeral video. The throng alongside the road is jubilant as the hearse drives off. I'm going to assume that means they loved the Queen and not that it's any sort of ding-dong-the-witch-is-dead response. But when did cheering a hearse become appropriate? 

"Liz Truss, the new Conservative prime minister, announced her cabinet, and for the first time ever, not a single member of the inner circle... is a white man...."

"Were there hosannas throughout progressive Twitter heralding this racial, ethnic and gender diversity as a step forward for society? Not exactly. Instead, the change was dutifully relayed, often with caveats. 'Liz Truss’s cabinet: diverse but dogmatic,' noted The Guardian. The new team was criticized as elite.... These people aren’t working class, others pointed out. They don’t sufficiently support the rights of those seeking asylum in Britain or policies that address climate change...."

Writes Pamela Paul, in  "When Diversity Isn’t the Right Kind of Diversity" by  (NYT).
In his prescient 1991 book, 'Reflections of an Affirmative Action Baby,' the law professor Stephen Carter decried many of the assumptions around diversity nascent at that time — including the notion that racial or ethnic minorities are expected to think as a group, not as individuals. 

September 18, 2022

Sunrise — 6:45, 7:03.



Open thread in the comments.

"I want my father back."


One of our favorite experiences from TikTok last year.

♬ original sound - Mandy Patinkin and Kathryn G

"And though sex differences in sports show advantages for men, researchers today still don’t know how much of this to attribute to biological difference..."

"... versus the lack of support provided to women athletes to reach their highest potential. 'Science is increasingly showing how sex is dynamic; it has multiple aspects and also shifts; for example, social experiences can actually change levels of sex-related hormones like testosterone in our bodies in a second-to-second and month-to-month way!' Sari van Anders, the research chair in social neuroendocrinology at Queen’s University, in Ontario, told me by email."

I was surprised that the research chair in social neuroendocrinology used an exclamation point! But what is social neuroendocrinology? I don't know! Is it more like sociology?

Here's something from a clearly identified sociologist:

"While in Europe to work on his 50th film, Woody Allen told Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia that he intended to retire from making movies..."

"... and to dedicate more time to writing during his twilight years. What is now set to be his final film is set in Paris and will be shot entirely in French in a couple of weeks... Allen has been shooting more often in Europe as his support in the U.S. has plunged given the abuse accusations against him....  Amazon Studios shelved his previous film 'A Rainy Day in New York' after accusing Allen of 'sabotaging' the future of the film by his comments on the abuse accusations of his daughter Dylan Farrow. He sued them for $68 million alleging a breach of contract. The dispute was later settled out of court...."

To me, the top news is not what Russian troll farms did 5 years ago. It's that the NYT is making that its top news today.

The front page is dominated by "Russian Trolls Helped Fracture the Women's March." Yes, there's also the threat of cruise ships on Lake Superior — blogged in the previous post — and something about James Cameron and Kanye West — as if they needed some man stuff to balance the sea of pussy hats. 


Why take us back to the Women's March? Did they actually learn something new about Russian troll farms? I'm very skeptical of alarmism about Russian troll farms. If we — we individual Americans — can't handle random snark from varied unknown sources, how can we live with the internet? Who cares if some foreigners are writing crap intended to deceive us into feeling more roiled up and divided than we're able to do damned well on our own, often with the nudging of the New York Times? 

Okay, let's read this thing and see if there's anything new in it or if it's just the NYT's latest effort to get its readers fired up to vote for Democrats in the coming election: "How Russian Trolls Helped Keep the Women’s March Out of Lock Step/As American feminists came together in 2017 to protest Donald Trump, Russia’s disinformation machine set about deepening the divides among them."

"Out of Lock Step" — I don't think I've ever seen "lockstep" used in a positive way like that. Saying people are in "lockstep" is generally a putdown, as if people don't have a mind of their own, but are following along in formation, like soldiers under orders. Did the organizers want a march that looked more military and disciplined? I think the pink hats and the common cause created plenty of uniformity, and within that, in America, you want individuality — real women, each with their own story.

"It’s a marvelous lake. If you aggregate all of its assets, it’s one of the most exciting cruise destinations anywhere."

Said Stephen Burnett, executive director of the Great Lakes Cruise Association, quoted in "Lake Superior Is Cold, Sparsely Settled and Known for Bad Weather. Perfect for Cruising, Some Say. As cruising picks up, one small Wisconsin port weighs the pros and cons of more ships and their impact on the town and the environment" (NYT).
In late May, 30 m.p.h. south winds forced Viking to cancel shore excursions to Bayfield. The first three stops in Houghton, Mich., on the Keweenaw Peninsula, were also canceled because of inclement weather and winds, much to the chagrin of Marylyn and Randy Sandrik, passengers who live in Frisco, Texas.... 
So far they are enamored with both the ship and the voyage. “I like that there’s no smoking, no gambling, no casinos, no charge for drinks and no talent shows on board,” said Ms. Sandrik.... 

I love that string of "no"s with the one about drinking being "no charge."  

In Bayfield, Ted Dougherty, the chairman of the Bayfield Harbor Commission, and other local officials, including Lynne Dominy, the superintendent of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, spent a total of three years negotiating with Viking. Ms. Dominy’s concerns about the ship were the safety of park visitors in smaller vessels like sailboats and kayaks, wake damage to park shoreline and infrastructure, and the displacement of local businesses who offer ferry excursions and other boat journeys within the park....