October 8, 2022

What a difference a second makes — 7:05:36 and 7:05:37.

Sunrise this morning:

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One second later:

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I've got 11 TikToks for you this evening. Some people love them.

1. Being King is bollocks.

2. What's ironic about Jesus Christ becoming a carpenter.

3. In 1944, the NYT had to explain what pizza is

4. The chords the cat sings — so crazy!

5. Highlights of things working out for Daniel and David.

6. It's so hard to plug things in when you're not looking at the outlet, isn't it?

7. So, did anyone want to buy the Skin by Kim accessories?

8. The grandmother's diaries begin in 1931: Start here. Continue here.

9. Kanye West explains his "White Lives Matter" shirt.

10. Why is the judgmental chef asked to view a litter box?

11. That artwork of yours that you put on the wall and no one says a word about — what does it mean?

Frost, this morning.

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"Only an optimist would look around right now and feel convinced that there existed such a thing as a 'reasonable person'..."

"... let alone one who could be used as a standard in legal cases. But if you stop believing in reasonable people — even a person who is occasionally, initially fooled by something parodic — you stop believing that democracy is possible. If you don’t believe that most people are ultimately reasonable, why on Earth would you want them to be in charge of everything? Democracy, like parody, presumes that people are capable of noticing when someone is trying to dupe them. I have to think this is among the reasons autocrats distrust parody; not just because it shows them in a bad light, but because its underlying assumption is that people can see what is in front of them."

Writes Alexandra Petri, in "Parody is an act of optimism" (WaPo), after The Onion filed an amicus brief in a Supreme Court case, Novak v. Parma, about a man who was prosecuted for putting up a website that was a parody of a police department website.

Here's the brief. Excerpt:

What are the chances that in the normal course of blogging, I would encounter 2 NYU bioethics professors in a row?

After writing the last post — the one began with a quote from an NYU bioethics professor instructing us to view a violent attack in Prospect Park as "complicated" — the next article I see makes me want to blog it and begin with a quote that just happens to come from an NYU bioethics professor.

The article is "Cyborg cockroaches are coming, and they just want to help/Inspired by insects, robotic engineers are creating machines that could aid in search-and-rescue, pollinate plants and sniff out gas leaks" (WaPo).

Here's the chunk of text that I found: 

When it comes to cyborg insects, not everyone is excited. Jeff Sebo, an animal bioethics professor at New York University, said he worries how live insects might feel being controlled by humans while carrying heavy technology. It’s unclear if they feel pain or distress from it, he said, but that doesn’t mean humans should ignore that.

“We’re not even paying lip service to their welfare or rights,” he said. “We’re not even going through the motion of having laws or policies or review boards in place so that we can halfheartedly try to reduce the harms that we impose on them.”

There seems to be a theme in NYU bioethics: When you see the empathy going one way, search for other possible recipients of empathy. Challenge people to widen their scope of empathy and not to become over-attached to what has the most obvious appeal to your emotions.

"It’s complicated. It’s a conflict of values, between wanting security and social justice. Everybody has a responsibility in some ways."

"There are a bunch of issues here, a bunch of threats. We can deal with them in a compassionate way, or a not compassionate way.”

 Said NYU bioethics and public health professor S. Matthew Liao, quoted in "How a Dog’s Killing Turned Brooklyn Progressives Against One Another/After a sudden confrontation that left a golden retriever dead, neighbors came together online to support the owner of the dog. But then things changed" (NYT). 

Notice that the long headline never refers to the attacker. We have the "killing," the "progressives," a "confrontation," a "golden retriever," "neighbors," "the owner," and "things." That's a lot of nouns generated to put a cloak of invisibility over the man who attacked a woman, then attacked the dog that defended her.

But the interesting part of the story really is how people on line switched from empathizing with the woman to viewing the man — who is black — as an embodiment of manifold social problems.

Chris Christie says "sure" he's considering running for President in 2024.

That's at the very beginning of this clip: 

 

They go on to talk about whether the U.S. would be better off with "a royal family of America," a concept that causes Chris Wallace to gasp "Oh, my God." Who would be the royal family? Maher says the Kardashians.

"Players accuse the parents of enlisting their kids as combatants against the sport, urging them to launch projectiles (footballs, Nerf darts, etc.) into their courts...."

"[A] petition to stop the pickleball 'takeover' has garnered nearly 3,000 signatures. Its backers – which include the influential Greenwich Village Little League, and at least four other downtown sports leagues – see the West Village as a tipping point: if the city doesn’t step in now, the insatiable pickleball players could monopolize untold open spaces across the city. Lydia Hirt, a local pickleball organizer, described the characterization as 'unfair,' noting the group has worked to share space with other park users. 'Pickleball is a super happy, fun sport, you know, it's called pickleball,' said Hirt, who also runs a pickleball lifestyle newsletter called the 'Love At First Dink.' 'We all just want to enjoy New York’s limited outdoor space.'"

From "'Utter takeover': Pickleball invasion prompts turf war in West Village" (Gothamist).

The anti-pickleballists are hardcore. They don't just get signatures for their petition. They garner them.

That phrase: "super happy, fun." What does that remind me of?

 

No, that's just happy fun ball. So far from a whiffle ball, but let's move on, because it's not super happy fun.

I google the phrase and the top hit is "Super Happy Fun America." Oh, no! It's right wing! Wikipedia says: 

"Musk doesn’t eat lunch, possibly because an unflattering picture in a swimsuit taken on a yacht in Mykonos went viral..."

"... over the summer. Since then, he has been on a diet. At Fonda San Miguel... he... orders a frozen margarita (he calls it a slushy with alcohol).... Musk is telling me that companies are like children when the first plates land on the table: the lamb chops in a pepper sauce, and shrimp with cheese and jalapeños.... Musk is capricious, but he sees himself as a problem solver, and the problem is everything from the potential end of life on Earth to climate change and even traffic.... Recently, he has dreamt up his own (rather unhelpful) peace plan for ending Russia’s war in Ukraine.... Musk is very exercised about population decline.... Some friends, he reveals, have indeed suggested he should have 500 kids, but that would be a 'bit weird.'... [H]e predicts that 'the current trend for most countries is that civilisation will not die with a bang, it will die with a whimper in adult diapers.' But he says ageing should not be solved. 'It’s important that people die. How long would you have liked Stalin to live?'... Musk has a dystopian view of the left’s influence on America, which helps explain his wild pursuit of Twitter to liberate free speech. He blames the fact that his teenage daughter no longer wants to be associated with him on the supposed takeover of elite schools and universities by neo-Marxists. 'It’s full-on communism . . . and a general sentiment that if you’re rich, you’re evil,' says Musk. 'It [the relationship] may change, but I have very good relationships with all the others [children]. Can’t win them all.'"

From "Elon Musk: ‘Aren’t you entertained?’/The Tesla chief talks to Roula Khalaf about moving to Mars, saving free speech via Twitter — and why ageing is one ‘problem’ that should not be solved" (Financial Times).

October 7, 2022

At the Sunrise Café...

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... you can write about whatever you want.

A baby green heron.

"Sending people to jail for possessing marijuana has upended too many lives.... That’s before you address the clear racial disparities around prosecution and conviction."

"While white and Black and brown people use marijuana at similar rates, Black and brown people are arrested, prosecuted and convicted at disproportionately higher rates."

Said Joe Biden, quoted in "Biden Pardons Thousands Convicted of Marijuana Possession Under Federal Law/The move represents a fundamental change in America’s response to a drug that has been at the center of a clash between culture and policing for more than a half-century" (NYT).

Look at that quote: Did Biden say the government is guilty of illegal race discrimination? 

I don't think he did! The rate of use of marijuana could be the same among the different races, yet if the decision to bring charges is not based on use, but some other factor, then we need more information. If the people charged with possession are the ones caught with quantities of marijuana that imply drug dealing, then the question would be whether "white and Black and brown" people deal marijuana at similar rates.

There's still potential racial disparity that ought to concern us. Who chooses a career in drug dealing?

But Biden isn't talking honestly about any of that. The racial element is thrown in confusingly and for political gain. Where is the serious and effective program of reconfiguring the embedded patterns of racial disparity?

"I’m usually wary of arguments that declining conditions are a catalyst to progress — contrary to the formulation often attributed to Vladimir Lenin, 'the worse, the better'..."

"... worse is usually just worse. I’m going to make an exception for Twitter, though. The best thing it could do for society would be to implode.... Twitter hooks people in much the same way slot machines do, with what experts call an 'intermittent reinforcement schedule.'... The company’s internal research has shown that Twitter’s algorithm amplifies right-wing accounts and news sources over left-wing ones. This dynamic will probably intensify quite a bit if Musk takes over. Musk has said that Twitter has 'a strong left bias,' and that he wants to undo permanent bans, except for spam accounts and those that explicitly call for violence. That suggests figures like Alex Jones, Steve Bannon and Marjorie Taylor Greene will be welcomed back. But as one of the people who texted Musk pointed out, returning banned right-wingers to Twitter will be a 'delicate game.'... An influx of Trumpists is not going to improve the vibe. Twitter can’t be saved. Maybe, if we’re lucky, it can be destroyed."

From Michelle Goldberg's "Here’s Hoping Elon Musk Destroys Twitter" (NYT).  

I didn't quote the beginning of the column, which says that Twitter, as it currently works, is a "hellsite." If it's already awful, when there's a repressive effort to make the place safe and welcoming, then there's already a bad "vibe." Why not embrace freedom, stop trying to control people, and see what happens — freedom for the sake of freedom, without an effort to "improve the vibe"?

Freedom is valuable in and of itself. Censorship is not. If Twitter couldn't make things better with censorship, even those who accept censorship as a means to an end should embrace freedom of speech. You don't need the end — a better vibe — to justify the means. The means and the end are one: freedom.

ADDED IN ANTICIPATION OF COMMENTS MAKING THIS POINT: The end pursued by the means of censorship was not "a better vibe." It was control for the sake of control. If so, the censors also had the unification of means and end: control.

"I wish I could say that the French Alps healed me. That I basked in their beauty and found the spiritual rest and direction I was seeking."

"But Grenoble frightened me. I heard stories of midday muggings where victims were pepper sprayed. Once, I saw two cars in a parking lot engulfed in flames. Another time, a rock shattered the bus window next to my face while I rode home from work, scattering glass fragments across the seat."

What does the NYT know about me?

I was scanning the front page of the NYT, looking for headlines to click, and I noticed that the Times had picked out a set of things recommended for me. I was pleased for an instant and genuinely ready to to share Penn Jillett's love for hot baths and cold watermelon, but...

 

... I don't like the implications of the rest of it. The kiosk and the toilet are okay — lowly and functional — but don't push Jeffrey Dahmer at me, and don't juxtapose him with a person with a mysteriously drooping face.

I go to read the Penn Jillette article and the word editing slows me way down:

"In case you're wondering, as I did, how my punishment for tweeting about Toobin compares to Toobin's suspension for his offense...."

"He was off air for eight months; I was off for seven. One month was the difference between punishment for jacking off at work versus commenting on the inadvisability of jacking off at work. On one hand, the people who made this call about me are gone from the network, so maybe I could let it lie. But on the other hand, many of my colleagues no doubt knew about my banning from air, but not the reasons behind it, thereby leaving the impression I must have done something tantamount to Toobining. I did not. I was told it was Jeff Zucker, now gone, who put this order in place and a deputy, also gone, who kept it there. I was also told I wasn't informed of the network's displeasure because I had just had a baby and someone in the old leadership thought I might be a 'loose cannon.' Not as loose as Toobin's.... In the #MeToo era, I have been asked to make public comment on basically every errant penis in the media, government, sports, and entertainment worlds, sometimes to the exclusion of everything else in the news, and at the expense of some amount of professional dignity. It is ironic that in shining a light on bad behavior, which is the right thing to do, you're still a woman on TV talking about penises...."

October 6, 2022

Sunrise — 7:07.

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Talk about whatever you want in the comments.

Daytime outdoor theater in Spring Green today.

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Lots of teenagers in the audience this time, the youngest crowd I've ever seen at the American Players Theater. They'd come to see that well-known young person: Hamlet. For some, it was the first time they'd ever attended a live theater performance. I know, because the players who were introducing the kids to the experience asked for a show of hands. It brought tears to my eyes to see that there were teenagers, here in southern Wisconsin, who had never attended a play. And now: "Hamlet"! 

I greatly enjoyed the ride out to Spring Green, with a nice view of fall foliage. The colors are still more green than any of the fall colors — red, orange, and yellow — but Meade calls this "peak" color. He likes the green. Your aesthetics may vary. But keep in mind that if you accept green as one of the colors, your color peak will come at a different time from the peak of leaf-peeper traffic, so there's an advantage to going with the Meade aesthetic.

At APT, you park and walk up a hill through forest. Walking back down, I stopped to photograph this sculpture, "KB-3" by John Himmelfarb, which I liked a lot:

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About that "working class bona fides" politicians get from posing in diners.

I had to laugh, reading this NYT article, "Democrats Worry as G.O.P. Attack Ads Take a Toll in Wisconsin/Mandela Barnes, the party’s Senate candidate, is now wobbling in his race against Ron Johnson, the Republican incumbent. Democratic nominees in other states face similar challenges":
MADISON, Wis. — Politicians who visit diners know the deal: In exchange for photos establishing their working-class bona fides, they must cheerfully accept heaping portions of unsolicited advice. 
But on Tuesday at Monty’s Blue Plate Diner here in Madison, one of the first people to approach Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, the Democratic nominee for Senate in Wisconsin, took the tradition to a new level, presenting him with a typed-up list of concerns about his campaign....

Monty’s Blue Plate Diner! That's not the working-class diner an innocent reader will picture. It's a restaurant styled like a 1950s diner for the amusement of upscale, highly educated Madison people. You can get a breakfast sandwich at 3 times the price of an Egg McMuffin. You can get something called the "Heathen Vegan Shoplifter's Delight" (portobellos, fried tempeh, avocado, and grilled red onion with lemon-tahini dressing on a baguette).

The Democratic Party candidate is on super-safe territory here. The NYT reader should not be visualizing a folksy small town place like you might see in a movie.

Sunrise — 6:56.

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"“From all sour faced saints, deliver me O’ Lord. I don’t want to be with a grouch, a crab, a crocodile in a moat...."

More about the priest, Father Bill Holt, here. We're told "He’s famous for his 'Holt-isms' (little pieces of friendly priestly advice) and for sending thoughtful notes to encourage the brothers in their work."

Is it disorder if no one sees it as disorder?

Maybe the policy should be: Contribute whatever you want. Otherwise, the policy is: Pay if you feel bound by a rule that is merely illusory. It's just not fair to timid souls and to those with an especially low tolerance for disorder.

"I am the person meant to 'see myself' in 'Bros,' to be 'represented' by it, to celebrate the 'milestone' it marks."

Writes Matt Brennan, in "The real lesson of ‘Bros’: It’s OK to let gay art bomb" (L.A. Times).

I am of Eichner’s generation, or close to it; of his race, his gender, his sexuality, his industry, his city....

The freedom “Bros” extols, or tries to, is not just sexual freedom. It is the freedom to fight over, criticize, even ignore the artworks that claim to represent us — and, on the flip side, the freedom to keep making and consuming gay art whether straight people show up for it or not....

"I had some reasons I just couldn’t stay in that marriage anymore," said Melinda Gates, so vaguely you wonder why there's even an article.

It's pretty much a complete waste of your time to read "Melinda Gates on ‘unbelievably painful’ divorce: ‘I just couldn’t stay in that marriage’" in the NY Post. You won't get a clue what was so painful and why she just had to leave.

Do you care that she cried? I'm not reading the newspaper every day to find out who happened to have cried recently. A lot of people have cried, and the fact that they've cried and are billionaires isn't newsworthy. It's aggravating to be asked to empathize with this woman who walked away with billions when there's no detail about what Bill Gates did.

From the comments section over there is rife with speculation: "She also previously mentioned, his name connected to the Lolita Express also helped her in the decision making process of a divorce"/"Gates is one of the many reasons we the American people will NEVER see the Epstein madam's list of clientele. I bet 100 percent that he is on there."

"The Secret Service says it checked again and still can’t find any records that identify visitors to President Biden’s Delaware residences — where he has spent roughly one-fourth of his presidency...."

The New York Post reports on its Freedom of Information request. 

“If the Secret Service is doing its job, there has to be visitor records,” said Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch. “If there aren’t any records, the scandal is much bigger than just a lack of transparency.”

If "showing off" means inviting criticism and mockery.

October 5, 2022

Sunrise — 7:04, 7:06.

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Write about whatever you want in the comments.

I've got 10 TikToks for you on this profound evening.

1. Close out Yom Kippur with Mandy Patinkin.

2. Gordon Lightfoot, an icon of old age.

3. The handsome dog.

4. Man in shorts.

5. Survival.

6. Shopping at Erewhon is the essence of anxiety.

7. Husband loves separate bedrooms.

8. Rethink "I'm only human."

9. An especially crazy Rube Goldberg Machine.

10. The holiday film written by bots.

"Another easy prediction to make about Mr. Musk’s takeover is that it will generate enormous backlash among Twitter’s rank-and-file employees...."

"Twitter, more so than other social media platforms, has a vocally progressive work force and many employees who are deeply invested in the company’s mission of promoting 'healthy conversation.' Those employees may believe — for good reason! — that under Mr. Musk’s leadership, Twitter will abandon many of the projects they care about in areas like trust and safety.... It’s worth noting that in his texts with Mr. Musk, [Twitter CEO Parag] Agrawal claimed that a 'large silent majority' of Twitter employees supported Mr. Musk’s vision. But virtually every Twitter employee I’ve spoken to in the last six months has told me that he or she plans to leave if Mr. Musk takes over. It’s also worth noting that Mr. Musk may not mind if thousands of Twitter employees show themselves the door. He has implied that the company’s staff is bloated, and now that he needs to justify a $44 billion price tag, an exodus of unhappy employees might be the kind of savings he’s looking for."

Writes Kevin Roose in "Elon Musk’s Twitter Will Be a Wild Ride/His deal to buy the company is back on. Here are six predictions about Twitter under Musk’s control, if it happens" (NYT).

"Experts say the steady patter of bellicose talk has helped normalize the expectation of political violence."

"In late August, a poll of 1,500 adults by YouGov and The Economist found that 54 percent of respondents who identified as 'strong Republicans' believed a civil war was at least somewhat likely in the next decade. Only about a third of all respondents felt such an event was unlikely.... [The Chicago Project on Security and Threats] researchers tracked tweets mentioning civil war before and after Mr. Trump announced the search on Mar-a-Lago."

I'm reading "Talk of ‘Civil War,’ Ignited by Mar-a-Lago Search, Is Flaring Online" (NYT).

"There’s someone shining a blue light over there. We want that light taken right off. Please take it off…it gets in our face."

"To younger Americans, 23-year-old Christian Walker is likely more famous than his father. He’s a Generation Z social media phenomenon..."

"... whose own-the-libs stylings as a “Gays for Trump” conservative and Ron DeSantis fan have made him an online influencer, with hundreds of thousands of followers," writes Ed Kilgore at Intelligencer. "His right-wing street cred has given his sudden explosion of fury at his father after the abortion story came out a lot of play. It began with this tweet:"

Sunrise on the water at 7:01 and 6:56 this morning.

 

That one is purely about the light on the water. 

The earlier one has some human excitement — sculling sweeping: 

"Do you think that Donald Trump made everybody go crazy?"

The interviewer Meghan Daum asks the therapist Dea Bridge in "What a Conservative Therapist Thinks About Politics and Mental Health" (NYT).

Daum: Do you think that Donald Trump made everybody go crazy? 

Bridge: What do you mean by “made everybody go crazy”?

"Calling presidents liars, even when they’re honest, is a great American tradition."

"Trump, the greatest liar in American political history, stands no chance of upending it."

That's the last paragraph of "Opinion Trump sued CNN for defamation. Here’s where his case falls apart" by Eric Wemple, in WaPo.

I can imagine Trump suing Wemple for calling him "the greatest liar in American political history." Lawsuits like that must fail in America, and Trump should be ashamed of himself for his impingement on freedom of speech. But of course he's the most shameless of all the ex-Presidents.

Fortunately, I'm too small to be harassed in court by Donald Trump or I would have restrained myself from making a fact-like statement about him that might not be precisely true. Maybe Bill Clinton is the most shameless of all the ex-Presidents. Should we have a court case on that topic?

Sunrise — 6:51, 5:54.

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What a big color shift in 3 minutes! And I wish I'd reached my vantage point 3 minutes earlier, when it was brilliantly red. (No need to warn the sailors of a storm. There's almost a 0% chance of rain today.)

"In summer 2020, leftists used bricks, water bottles, flagpoles, fireworks, Molotov cocktails, anything but a gun as a weapon to destroy cities but the media didn’t cover them as ‘violent’ or ‘armed.’"

"When protesters during January 6 used a flagpole, all of a sudden the types of objects they’d been using all summer were now considered part of an ‘armed’ insurrection. He is in no way condoning this action. He’s commenting on the hypocrisy of the situation."

Said a spokesperson for Ron Johnson, quoted in "Ron Johnson again says Jan. 6 was not an ‘armed insurrection,’ adds ‘protesters did teach us’ how to use flagpoles as weapons" (CNN).

That was a clarication of something Johnson said in a Rotary Club Q&A yesterday:

"Chess Investigation Finds That U.S. Grandmaster ‘Likely Cheated’ More Than 100 Times."

"An internal report reviewed by The Wall Street Journal alleges a previously unknown pattern of likely widespread cheating by Hans Moke Niemann, the player whose September victory over Magnus Carlsen has rocked the chess world."

The Wall Street Journal reports. 

"In the first episode of Archetypes released since the Queen’s death, Meghan recalled her 'adolescent embarrassment' at being naked at a Korean spa with her mother as a teenager."

I'm reading "Meghan podcast hits out at films’ ‘toxic’ Asian stereotypes" (London Times).

She may have suffered "adolescent embarrassment" long ago, but she's far beyond embarrassment now. She's got a very popular podcast, and now, championing Asian women, she's citing her experience on "a trip to a Korean spa with her mother where swimwear was not allowed.

Half Human.

I love that poster. It's for a 1955 Japanese film about the Abominable Snowman.

I ran across that just now researching the phrase "half human" as I was writing the previous post

Interesting things about the poster: woman in shorts in a snowy mountain environment, man more suitably dressed in a Tyrolean hat, vaguely indicated male genitalia on the Snowman.

ADDED: Joe Dante explains "Half Human":

 

What the whole thing if you dare: here.

"I thought these migrants were DREAMers that were going to go to college to become doctors. Now, Nancy just wants them to work in the fields...."

"The illegals are viewed as servants by the Democrats. They’re opening the border for the help. These aren’t asylum seekers. These are just waiters and field hands for a party that fought a civil war to keep their slaves."

Said Jesse Watters, quoted in "Jesse Watters Says Democrats Leaving Border Open for Post-Civil War ‘Servants’, Migrants are ‘Waiters and Field Hands’Jesse Watters Says Democrats Leaving Border Open for Post-Civil War ‘Servants’, Migrants are ‘Waiters and Field Hands’" (Mediaite).

Watters was riffing on something Nancy Pelosi said the other day — which we talked about here — "We have a shortage of workers in our country, and you see even in Florida, some of the farmers and the growers saying, ‘Why are you shipping these immigrants up north? We need them to pick the crops down here.'"

Watters's rhetoric would have more power if he weren't stuck with calling the border-crossers "the illegals" —  "The illegals are viewed as servants by the Democrats."

I'm waiting for a Democrat to make the equivalently awkward remark "The servants are viewed as illegals by the Democrats."

Either humanize them or don't. But don't expect me to believe you really care about people who are human only when it suits your needs. Ironically, that's exactly Watters's point about Nancy and the Democrats.

October 4, 2022

At the Sunrise Café...

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... you can write about whatever you want.

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"Even if you’re not inclined to care much about men’s welfare, their growing anomie and resentment is everyone’s problem, fueling right-wing populist movements..."

"... around the world. People who feel unmoored and demeaned are going to be receptive to the idea that the natural order of things has been upended, the core claim of reactionary politics. Some of men’s dislocation is an inevitable product of modernization, which, by making physical brawn less economically important, blurs men and women’s social roles."

Writes Michelle Goldberg in "Boys and Men Are in Crisis Because Society Is" (NYT).

It is not just America, after all, where more women than men earn college degrees. There are also more female than male college students in Iran and, to a lesser extent, Saudi Arabia, which suggests, at least to me, that girls may be more innately disposed to academic life....

"About a decade ago... he noticed a loss of focus among the students, even as more of them enrolled in his class, hoping to pursue medical careers."

"'Students were misreading exam questions at an astonishing rate,' he wrote.... Grades fell even as he reduced the difficulty of his exams. The problem was exacerbated by the pandemic, he said. 'In the last two years, they fell off a cliff,' he wrote. 'We now see single digit scores and even zeros.' After several years of Covid learning loss, the students not only didn’t study, they didn’t seem to know how to study, Dr. Jones said. To ease pandemic stress, Dr. Jones and two other professors taped 52 organic chemistry lectures. Dr. Jones said that he personally paid more than $5,000 for the videos and that they are still used by the university.... By spring 2022, the university was returning with fewer Covid restrictions, but the anxiety continued and students seemed disengaged. 'They weren’t coming to class, that’s for sure, because I can count the house,' Dr. Jones said in an interview. 'They weren’t watching the videos, and they weren’t able to answer the questions.'... James W. Canary, chairman of the department until about a year ago, said he admired Dr. Jones’s course content and pedagogy, but felt that his communication with students was skeletal and sometimes perceived as harsh. 'He hasn’t changed his style or methods in a good many years,' Dr. Canary said. 'The students have changed, though, and they were asking for and expecting more support from the faculty when they’re struggling.'"

From "At N.Y.U., Students Were Failing Organic Chemistry. Who Was to Blame? Maitland Jones Jr., a respected professor, defended his standards. But students started a petition, and the university dismissed him" (NYT).

"Loretta Lynn, the country singer whose plucky songs and inspiring life story made her one of the most beloved American musical performers of her generation, died on Tuesday..."

"... at her home in Hurricane Mills, Tenn. She was 90. Her family, in a statement, said she died in her sleep.... Her story was carved out of Kentucky coal country, from hardscrabble beginnings in Butcher Hollow (which her songs made famous as Butcher Holler). She became a wife at 15, a mother at 16 and a grandmother in her early 30s, married to a womanizing sometime bootlegger who managed her to stardom. That story made her autobiography, 'Coal Miner’s Daughter,' a best seller and the grist for an Oscar-winning movie adaptation of the same name. Her voice was unmistakable, with its Kentucky drawl, its tensely coiled vibrato and its deep reserves of power. 'She’s louder than most, and she’s gonna sing higher than you think she will,' said John Carter Cash, who produced Ms. Lynn’s final recordings. 'With Loretta you just turn on the mic, stand back and hold on.'"

The NYT reports.

"I know two Tims, and they have opposing intuitions about their own continuities. The first Tim, my father-in-law, is sure..."

"... that he’s had the same jovially jousting personality from two to seventy-two. He’s also had the same interests—reading, the Second World War, Ireland, the Wild West, the Yankees—for most of his life. He is one of the most self-consistent people I know. The second Tim, my high-school friend, sees his life as radically discontinuous, and rightly so. When I first met him, he was so skinny that he was turned away from a blood drive for being underweight; bullied and pushed around by bigger kids.... But after high school Tim suddenly transformed into a towering man with an action-hero physique. He studied physics and philosophy in college, and then worked in a neuroscience lab before becoming an officer in the Marines and going to Iraq.... He shared a vivid memory of a conversation he had with his mother, while they sat in the car outside an auto mechanic’s: 'I was thirteen, and we were talking about how people change. And my mom, who’s a psychiatrist, told me that people tend to stop changing so much when they get into their thirties. They start to accept who they are, and to live with themselves as they are. And, maybe because I was an unhappy and angry person at the time, I found that idea offensive. And I vowed right then that I would never stop changing. And I haven’t stopped.'"

Writes Joshua Rothman in "Are You the Same Person You Used to Be?/Researchers have studied how much of our personality is set from childhood, but what you’re like isn’t who you are" (The New Yorker).

"Do the two Tims have the whole picture? I’ve known my father-in-law for only twenty of his seventy-two years, but even in that time he’s changed quite a bit, becoming more patient and compassionate.... And there’s a fundamental sense in which my high-school friend hasn’t changed. For as long as I’ve known him, he’s been committed to the idea of becoming different..... There’s a recursive quality to acts of self-narration. I tell myself a story about myself in order to synchronize myself with the tale I’m telling; then, inevitably, I revise the story as I change.... We change, and change our view of that change...."

"Gay sex was more fun when straight people were uncomfortable with it."

The kicker laugh line in the trailer for "Bros":

 

Well, good news: Apparently, straight people are still uncomfortable with gay sex, because just about nobody wants to see this film. Has there ever been a more highly praised movie that's been this big of a flop? 

Nancy Sinatra is trending on Twitter, but don't worry, she didn't die. It's trending because of this:

 

Meanwhile, in other viral DeSantis-and-the-hurricane tweets, there's this:

ADDED: Surely, there is some reason for choosing white boots. I see that white boots for men are an easily available product, and I don't think DeSantis would have chosen them without a good reason, so I'm surprised the reason isn't being used to push back those who are mocking him.

Poking around for a minute, I got the impression that there are 2 reasons why white boots are used around the water in Florida: 1. They are less hot than dark-colored boots, and 2. They don't make marks on the deck of your boat.

By the way, mocking a man for doing something that you associate with women reflects sexism and homophobia.

"Ever since our government transferred power from George Washington to John Adams in the year 1797, we have had a core custom of routine and peaceful transfer of power...."

"These defendants tried to change that history. They concocted a plan for an armed rebellion to shatter a bedrock of democracy."

Said Jeffrey S. Nestler, in the opening statement for the prosecution, quoted in "Prosecution Says Oath Keepers ‘Concocted a Plan for Armed Rebellion’ Defense lawyers said the far-right militia had assembled ahead of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol to await what they hoped would be a decision by Donald Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act" (NYT). 

If it was a plan for an armed rebellion, why weren't the protesters/revolutionaries using arms?

One answer is provided by the lawyer for the defense in his own opening statement:

October 3, 2022

At the Sunrise Café...

IMG_3168D

... you can write about whatever you want.

"Kanye West made a statement at his surprise Yeezy fashion show on Monday, wearing a black sweatshirt with the slogan 'White Lives Matter' written across it."

"Fashion models in the rapper’s show also wore clothing with the message written across it, a response to the Black Lives Matter movement that was founded in 2013 following the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman. Also posing with West, 43, was the right-wing commentator Candace Owens, who beamed while wearing a complementary version of the 'White Lives Matter' shirt, and Kanye's daughter North West, nine, was even roped into the event." 

The Daily Mail reports.

"'It was chaotic,' he said. The senators were in 'shock,' he said, and some were crying."

From "FBI agent investigating Oath Keepers guarded crying senators on Jan. 6" (WaPo).
At 7:30 p.m., [FBI special agent Michael Palian] and about 70 other FBI agents walked the senators back to the Capitol building and into the Senate chamber. 
“It looked like a bomb had gone off in there,” Palian testified. Tear gas and pepper spray were in the air; windows and doors were broken.
 Were Senators crying in sorrow or because of the tear gas?

If I were editing the headlines on the front page of The Washington Post, I'd have caught this....

 

ADDED: Given the fish in the headline on the left, the idea that Bolsonaro was a fluke is absurd:

 

"People have been after me for a long time because I’ve been speaking to disaffected young men — what a terrible thing to do, that is."

"I thought the marginalized were supposed to have a voice. It’s very difficult to understand how demoralized people are, and certainly many young men are in that category. And you get these casual insults: 'These incels.' What does that mean? Well, these men, they don’t know how to make themselves attractive to women, who are very picky. And good for them — women, be picky. That’s your gift, man. Demand high standards from your men. Fair enough. But all these men who are alienated, they’re lonesome, and they don’t want to do, and everyone piles abuse on them."

Said Jordan Peterson, quoted in "Jordan Peterson Gets Emotional After Olivia Wilde Says Chris Pine’s ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ Villain Was Based on Him/The author appeared to fight back tears when asked about Wilde calling him a 'pseudo-intellectual hero to the incel community.'" (Hollywood Reporter).

"[A]fter the flurry of hard-right rulings this June, many professors had their 'own personal grieving period.'"

"But they quickly turned toward 'grappling with how we teach our students' to understand the Supreme Court’s reactionary turn.... A professor must say what the court claims it’s doing, then explain what it is actually doing, which is often something completely different. This technique can disillusion students, leading them to ask why they’re bothering to learn rules that can change at any moment.... Students confront a legal system in a crisis of legitimacy led by an extreme and arrogant court. Still, they must slog on, most gathering substantial debt as they go, pretending that 'law' is something different from politics, a higher realm of reason and rationality where the best arguments prevail.... My father, Nat Stern, retired from a 41-year career at Florida State University College of Law in May.... When I asked him why he decided to retire, he told me that he had no desire to explain the Supreme Court’s conservative revolution as the product of law and reason rather than politics and power.... 'For the bulk of my career,' he said, 'I’ve felt I could fairly explain rulings and opinions that I don’t endorse because they rested on coherent and plausible—if to me unconvincing—grounds. In recent years, though, I’ve increasingly struggled to present new holdings as the product of dispassionate legal reasoning rather than personal agendas.'"

Writes Mark Joseph Stern in "The Supreme Court Is Blowing Up Law School, Too/Inside the growing furor among professors who have had enough" (Slate). 

I got there via David Bernstein at Instapundit, who says: "We all know that left-learning lawprofs would be dancing in the streets if SCOTUS were equally aggressive to the left. And indeed, while Stern portrays discontent with the Court as a question of professional standards rather than ideology, he does not manage to find a single right-leaning professor to quote in his article."

I remember just before the 2016 election, when I was making my decision to retire.

Like the woman who asked Bob Dylan "Is there something I can send you from across the sea?," I asked Meade...

"Is there anything I can get you from Whole Foods?"

Dylan's answer was "Spanish boots of Spanish leather." 

Meade's answer was "Spanish boots of Spanish olives." 

Here's what I got:

Speaking of the sound of American speech....

When I wrote "can" for "can't," it was a homophone typo.

You might have noticed that for a couple minutes, the previous post had a miswritten first sentence: "I was commenting in off-blog life, so I can prove to you that I'd noticed the absence of this particular thing." 

Obviously, "can" was supposed to be "can't," but I realize that it was an example of the kind of typo I find very easy to make because write by transcribing what feels like speech in my head. 

That's why I, like many people, am forever writing "to" for "too" and "your" for "you're" and "their" for "there." The only problem is that you look slightly dumb until you correct it. But no one is confused. 

"Can" for "can't" is another matter! I wrote the opposite of what I meant and forced readers to waste time puzzling over whether I was saying something counterintuitive or just making a mistake. But now I want to waste your time even more by asking you to look at something strange: We Americans — many of us — pronounce "can" and "can't" almost identically:

Just yesterday, I was observing that the topic of "tiny houses" had dropped out of present-day discourse.

I was commenting in off-blog life, so I can't prove to you that I'd noticed the absence of this particular thing. It's hard to notice all the things that are not being talked about. And sometimes you just notice if the talk resumes. 

But I did talk about it yesterday, and the topic has resumed. The NYT has: "95-Square-Foot Tokyo Apartment: ‘I Wouldn’t Live Anywhere Else’/Meet the young Japanese who have decided to live in a shoe box." 

"I’d have loved it if I were 17. The author goes all in on Bourdain’s angst, his instinctive distrust of authority, his hero-worship of talented outsiders like..."

"... Hunter S. Thompson and Iggy Pop and William S. Burroughs. The older me, the one who prefers wine to fizz, wishes [the author] had more to say about things like: a) the elite and vernacular food worlds pre- and post-Bourdain; b) how Bourdain walked a moral tightrope across the conventions of travel writing and reporting, no mean feat for a wealthy white man in skinny jeans; and c) the sense that he was at the vanguard, more so than even the most scrutinized actors, of a new type of American masculinity. Here was an outdoor, rather than an indoor, cat... "

Writes Dwight Garner in "Anthony Bourdain’s New Biography: Light on Subtlety, Heavy on Grit 'Down and Out in Paradise,' by Charles Leerhsen, is an unvarnished account of a turbulent life" (NYT). 

Garner walks a moral tightrope reviewing a book that is not the book that he would like to read. To what extent is a reviewer obliged stick to whether an author did a good job of what he decided to do?

There's also this: "Bourdain grew into his looks; his was the kind of face that inspired Talmudic levels of study among women." And: "We learn he Googled the name Asia Argento — the Italian actress with whom he had a torrid, messy affair — several hundred times in the last three days of his life, after she rattled him by appearing in public with another man. Their text messages are printed in the book. 'You were reckless with my heart,' Bourdain wrote, before he hanged himself." 

Rattled. Indeed. It sounds as though he had become an obsessive stalker.

By the way, I like the book title — "Down and Out in Paradise" — if it is a play — it must be — on the Orwell title "Down and Out in Paris and London."

"For about nine minutes, they watched a white, off-shoulder dress being sprayed onto Bella Hadid’s body."

"The substance — a patented spray-on fabric developed by a London-based company called Fabrican — looked like spider webs at first, until the fibrous layers thickened, instantly drying into a pebbled fabric and effectively mummifying the model.... The Parisian brand Coperni is named after the Renaissance mathematician and astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus. Founded in 2013, the brand is interested in fusing science, craft and fashion.... The dress could be taken off like any other tight, slightly stretchy one: a process of peeling off and shimmying out. It can be hung and washed, or put back into the bottle of its original solution to regenerate...."

Jessica Testa explains in the NYT.

The model was, reportedly, very cold, but when it was all over, she said, "I think that was the best moment of my life."

I've seen some commentary — I forget where — likening the spraying of the sticky white fibers to 2 men ejaculating. It made me wonder — is spider silk like semen? There is something called a sperm web. Britannica has this: 

October 2, 2022

At the Sunrise Café...

IMG_3127

IMG_3135X

IMG_3139D

... you can talk about whatever you want.

Here are 6 TikToks for you. Some people love them.

1. Not at all lonely, singing about loneliness.

2. Paul McCartney, busking.

3. You don't have to sing in your "Happy Birthday" voice.

4. Every particle of feminism evaporated.

5. A coat of doll heads.

6. The notion that a "non-hottie" cannot write from the point of view of a beautiful woman.

"The dominant reaction from all the threads I’m in is Everyone looks fucking dumb."

"It’s been a general Is this really how business is done? There’s no real strategic thought or analysis. It’s just emotional and done without any real care for consequence."

Said a former social-media executive, quoted anonymously in "Elon Musk’s Texts Shatter the Myth of the Tech Genius/The world’s richest man has some embarrassing friends" (The Atlantic). The court in the Twitter case released a bunch of texts to and from Musk.

"In its natural state, most of Florida was such a soggy mush of low-lying marshes that mapmakers couldn’t decide whether to draw it as land or water."

"The Spaniards who arrived in the 16th century told their king the peninsula was 'liable to overflow, and of no use,' and white people mostly stayed away until the U.S. Army chased the Seminole Indians into the Everglades in the 19th century. The soldiers forced to slog through its mosquito-infested bogs described it as a 'hideous,' 'diabolical,''repulsive,' 'pestilential,' 'God-abandoned' hellhole. The story of Florida in the 20th century is about dreamers and schemers trying to get rid of all that water and drain the swamp. Eventually, they mostly succeeded, transforming a remote wilderness into a sprawling megalopolis, replacing millions of acres of wetlands with strip malls and golf courses and sprawling subdivisions, building the Palmetto and Sawgrass Expressways where palmettos and sawgrass used to be.... Cape Coral is Florida on steroids, a comically artificial landscape featuring seven perfectly rectangular man-made islands and eight perfectly square man-made lakes. It was built by two shady brothers who made their fortunes selling scammy anti-baldness tonics, then used their talent for flimflam to sell inaccessible swampland to suckers.... 'You can even get stucco,' the land-swindler played by Groucho Marx quipped in Cocoanuts. 'Oh, how you can get stuck-oh!'"

Writes Michael Grunwald in "Why the Florida Fantasy Withstands Reality/Cape Coral is a microcosm of Florida’s worst impulse: selling dream homes in a hurricane-prone flood zone. But people still want them" (The Atlantic).

The season premiere of "SNL" seems to be about how the show is sick of itself.

I say "seems" only because I couldn't force myself more than halfway through the 7+ minutes:

 

I also skimmed the NYT review, "‘S.N.L.’ Season Premiere Weighs in on Its Own Trump Sketch." Yeah, they did a Trump sketch.

"Sorry, but no. This essay wants to sell the notion that students are to blame for rejecting a party that has..."

"... embraced election lies, rejection of science and public health, vaccine hysteria, and an attitude towards the public that is so mendacious, you cannot get most republican members of Congress to simply say that it is wrong for someone to remove classified documents from the White House and treat them as personal property. There aren't two equal parties now. repubicans [sic] have become secular creationists. There isn't a good reason to normalize their propaganda."

The top-rated comment on a WaPo op-ed by Joshua Park, "College students hate our broken politics. But we’re partly to blame." Park is "a junior studying history at Harvard University," who observes that students won't attend events presented by Republicans.

"[T]here is a feeling that the conservative Justices could make a landmark ruling out of almost any case."

"Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency, the first case of the term, may seem to address a narrow question—the definition of 'navigable waters'—but it could become a vehicle for dismantling a wide range of regulations.... The Court will also adjudicate a suit, brought by Texas and Louisiana, claiming that the Biden Administration has, in effect, broken the law by focussing its border-enforcement efforts only on certain categories of migrants, such as those deemed a 'threat to public safety.' Notably, some Republicans have raised the possibility that, if the G.O.P. takes control of the House after the midterms, they may impeach President Biden on similar grounds...."

Writes Amy Davidson Sorkin, in "The Supreme Court’s Big New Term/There is a feeling with this Court that the conservative Justices could make a landmark ruling out of almost any case" (The New Yorker). 

"On the one hand we have the blandest pap imaginable — superhero movies and Adele — and on the other we have Netflix and its mindless death porn...."

"It feels, actually, as if we’re going backwards. The playful cheesecake Marilyn of the 1950s — a confected blonde bimbo that this film clearly despises — seems infinitely preferable to the Marilyn of 70 years later: a haggard, weeping cipher and shivering perma-victim who is obsessed with the contents of her womb. In an attempt to 'explain' Marilyn, the makers have simply created another pathetic object: a woman who spends the entire film either naked or in tears, or both.... She can barely touch a drink without getting wasted; barely get in a car without crashing it.... Is this where victim culture has led us.... Schoolgirls are told that they ought to be crippled by their periods. Female celebrities scramble to be defined by menopause, the horrors of pregnancy or, even better, miscarriage. On podcasts, in interviews and in articles otherwise intelligent, capable women moan about their lives collapsing, or being unable to cope with even the tiniest sliver of adversity: they are all like Marilyn on a date with DiMaggio at a perfectly nice restaurant: 'I’m afraid of some of the people here.' Marilyn had more power when she was a plain sex object, giggling on the cover of Playboy." 

Writes Camilla Long, in "Every generation has its own Marilyn. Our one gets drugged and raped. Thanks, Netflix" (London Times).

"We tell each other on the scene where and when we would gather next time. But mostly you know where people would gather..."

"... and you do not need to arrange anything.... We will continue until they kill every single one of us.... They fired teargas directly at us the other night, my eyes were burning, I could not sleep all night, but still I went out the next night, with my tears and pain in my eyes." 

Said one woman named Nasheen, quoted in "'Women are in charge. They are leading': Iran protests continue despite crackdowns/People, determined to defy violence by security forces and online blackout, are resorting to old-fashioned methods to organise unrest" (The Guardian).

Also, from a woman named Negar: "Much of the time the men are just watching. Women organise and do everything. It’s completely different from previous times. Women are in charge. They are leading."

ADDED: Those 2 quotes seem to present a paradox — leaderless leading. Here's something in The New Yorker, "How Iran’s Hijab Protest Movement Became So Powerful," quoting the Iranian scholar Fatemeh Shams: