October 22, 2022

Sunrise — 7:22.



"After spending the summer pounding Republican opponent Lee Zeldin as an anti-abortion, Donald Trump acolyte, Hochul is finding out..."

"... what other Democrats across the nation are also learning: Crime and the economy are crowding out abortion rights and the former president’s troubles as top of mind issues for voters. The New York governor is responding with a last-minute shift in approach just weeks ahead of the election by promoting her efforts to create jobs and fight crime. 'You deserve to feel safe,' Hochul says in a new TV ad released Saturday as part of a $1 million-plus buy in New York City. 'And as your governor, I won’t stop working until you do.'"

From "Hochul pivots in New York as GOP challenger rises on crime, economic message/New polls this week showed the race tightening — maybe to low single digits, uncomfortably close for Democrats after two decades of statewide dominance in New York" (Politico).

"You deserve to feel safe... I won’t stop working until you do" — Shouldn't it be "You deserve to be safe... I won’t stop working until you are"? I know politics is just about how we feel, but if you want people to feel safe, you've got to convince them that they are safe, and giving it away that you are just going after their feelings gives the brain a bit of a chance to notice that this is nothing but an effort at emotional manipulation.

Here's that last-minute-desperate shift ad:


I made a new tag for Lee Zeldin. I will disclose that that represents a bet that he will win. I don't like tag proliferation, but I also don't like needing to go back and add tags to old posts.

"The Black women detailed fierce competition on cryobank websites for vials from Black donors, which, they say, typically sell out within minutes."

From "America has a Black sperm donor shortage. Black women are paying the price. Black men account for fewer than 2 percent of sperm donors at cryobanks. Their vials are gone in minutes" (WaPo).
The sperm banks say they have tried to recruit Black donors and want to meet their customers’ needs. “Over the years, we have spoken to African American fraternities and student organizations to try to increase our number of applicants. This has not been very successful,” California Cryobank’s Shamonki said. She added that “it’s proven to be challenging to hit the right tone and appeal to these donors rather than further alienate them.”
The Sperm Bank of California has had similar challenges. “Folks felt our ads were a little too urban. And so we really work very hard to come up with images that we feel resonated with the donors,” Campbell said.

I think they're trying to say that the black men they tried to recruit found the appeal racist. I wish there was more detail to the content of the appeal and more clarity about why it was offensive.

Cat-napping — taking advantage of the little spaces — is a super-power, not a weakness.

Here's a 2021 column in The Guardian: "From Aristotle to Einstein: a brief history of power nappers/Churchill took naps for at least an hour, Da Vinci for 20 minutes and Dalí for just a second" by Caroline Davies."
Salvador Dalí, in his 50 Secrets of Magic Craftsmanship for aspiring painters, outlined tips for the one-second micro-nap, including sitting upright, key in hand and upturned plate beneath. Once asleep, the key will drop and the ensuing clang ensures instant revival. Albert Einstein deployed a similar technique, using a spoon or pencil instead of a key.

David Brooks says, "The Trumpified G.O.P. deserves to be a marginalized and disgraced force in American life. But I’ve been watching..."

"... the campaign speeches by people like Kari Lake, the Republican candidate for governor in Arizona. G.O.P. candidates are telling a very clear class/culture/status war narrative in which common-sense Americans are being assaulted by elite progressives who let the homeless take over the streets, teach sex ed to 5-year-olds, manufacture fake news, run woke corporations, open the border and refuse to do anything about fentanyl deaths and the sorts of things that affect regular people. In other words, candidates like Lake wrap a dozen different issues into one coherent class war story. And it seems to be working. In late July she was trailing her opponent by seven points. Now she’s up by about half a point. 

From "Why Republicans Are Surging" (NYT).

"Students... performed abysmally on exams that would have seemed too easy only a few years ago...."

"Exams that should have yielded a B average dropped to C- or worse. Single digit scores became common and we even had zeros on exams, something that had never happened before. Despite those declining scores, about 60 percent of my students still got As and Bs this past semester. At the same time the bottom was dropping out under the poorly performing members of the class; the top students, while still deserving their excellent grades, were no longer being stretched. Previously, they would be getting 90s, now they were routinely getting 100. Their A grades would not change of course, but they were not being challenged and thus not learning as much as they should."

From "I was fired from NYU after students complained that the class was too hard. Who’s next?/In these times when critical thinking skills are desperately needed, it is more important than ever to dedicate ourselves to the high standards of education" by Maitland Jones Jr.

"In the most basic sense, any legal arguments seeking to get Mr. Trump off the hook would merely need to be weighty enough to produce two and a half months of litigation."

"If Republicans pick up enough seats in the midterm elections to take over the House in January, as polls suggest is likely, they are virtually certain to shut down the Jan. 6 committee, a move that would invalidate the subpoena."

From "Trump Could Harness Unresolved Legal Issues to Resist Jan. 6 Panel’s Subpoena/If the ex-president turns down the drama of testifying, his legal team could mount several constitutional and procedural arguments in court" (NYT).

The most relevant instance in history occurred in 1953, then the House Committee on Un-American Activities subpoenaed Truman. Though he "voluntarily testified before Congress on other topics, Truman refused to honor the committee’s subpoena, claiming that as a former chief executive he was immune from compelled testimony by the legislative branch." But that was that. The Committee did not litigate.

But what will Trump do? 

Aides to Mr. Trump have said that he has weighed whether to testify, but only under the condition that it be live and on television. That would deprive the committee of controlling what gets seen or from releasing only selected excerpts.

The article quotes lawprof Mark J. Rozell, author of “Executive Privilege: Presidential Power, Secrecy and Accountability”: “If Trump is going to go out there and make himself vulnerable, he’s going to do it in a public way.... It’s going to be a Trump show, and he’ll be playing to his own crowd. At that point, legal argument and nuances would be out the window.”

What would you like to see Trump do?
pollcode.com free polls

October 21, 2022

Sunrise — 7:11, 7:19, 7:22, 7:24.





"'Others must be deterred from committing similar crimes,' said Judge Nichols, a Trump appointee...."

From "Bannon Sentenced to 4 Months in Prison for Contempt of Congress/Stephen Bannon was found guilty of two counts of contempt of Congress this summer for defying a subpoena from the House Jan. 6 committee" (NYT).

Mr. Bannon, a rapid-talking provocateur who has used his daily internet radio show to skewer the government for prosecuting him, approached his sentencing with the same defiance that has characterized his attitude toward the congressional summons that prompted the case. He told reporters that he viewed President Biden as “illegitimate” as he entered Federal District Court in Washington, flanked by his lawyers. After thanking reporters for showing up, he went on to claim that Democrats would face their “judgment day” in the coming midterm elections and urged all within earshot to oppose the Chinese Communist Party.

He sat impassively in a dark military-style jacket and an untucked blue shirt as the sentence was issued.

Boldface added.

Nate Silver: "Why I'm Telling My Friends That The Senate Is A Toss-Up."

And we're all his friends at FiveThirtyEight, here.

The FiveThirtyEight Senate forecast gives Democrats a 58 percent chance of keeping control of the Senate, down from a peak of 71 percent last month.... If a friend asked me to characterize the Senate race, I’d say “it’s pretty fucking close”...

"Buckminster Fuller... was an American type—self-invented, overflowing with ideas and theories, eager to see the universe whole, and born to evangelize...."

"On his lecture tours he could speak for hours without stopping, and he mesmerized his audiences even as he baffled them. 'Students find themselves tuned in to the unique Fuller wave length, with its oddly necessary word coinings and its synergetic constructions,' Calvin Tomkins wrote in an adulatory 1966 profile in The New Yorker. In print—and Fuller’s books are mainly edited versions of his lectures—his prose is a word salad, the same phrases and catchwords combined and recombined until the mind reels. 'Physical points are energy-event aggregations,' he would say. 'When they converge beyond the critical fall-in proximity threshold, they orbit coordinatedly, as a Universe-precessed aggregate, as loose pebbles on our Earth orbit the Sun in unison, and as chips ride around on men’s shoulders.'..."

From "Space-Age Magus/From beginning to end, experts saw through Buckminster Fuller’s ideas and theories. Why did so many people come under his spell?" by James Gleick (NYRB).

"He believed in a coming utopia. He thought no one should have to work merely to earn a living. He had a gift for slogans: 'God is a verb.' 'Nature never fails.' 'Either war is obsolete, or men are.' 'Universe is eternally regenerative.' One young listener said, 'When I listen to Bucky talk, I feel I’ve got to go out and save the world. Then when I go outside, I realize I don’t know how.'...  Even Stewart Brand has come to regret touting Fuller in the Whole Earth Catalog. 'Domes couldn’t grow or adapt,' he says. 'When my generation outgrew the domes, we simply left them empty, like hatchlings leaving their eggshells.'”

Pro se.

"Her brief tenure should be remembered as the hyphenate premiership: all-in on supply-side, laissez-faire, trickle-down economics."

Writes Eugene Robinson, in "Liz Truss’s fall is a warning to populists everywhere" (WaPo).

Is supply-side, laissez-faire, trickle-down economics populist?

Robinson ends with this warning:

When you hear Republicans in this country say “secure the border” or “crack down on crime” or “America first,” keep in mind how easy it is to write a bumper sticker and how hard it is to actually govern in a complex, interconnected world. GOP leaders, pay attention: Britain’s Conservatives have pandered their way into ruin.

Well, “secure the border” or “crack down on crime” and “America first” sound populist, but every single one of those things is not supply-side, laissez-faire, trickle-down economics.

Seems like Robinson is mixing up the categories of right-wingers. You could easily blend left-wing economics with securing the border, cracking down on crime, and putting America first.

"TikTok has made it very clear they want their platform to be this joyous, silly, content app, but they outgrew that so long ago."

"There’s a lot of reporting on TikTok: newsworthy content, activists speaking up about movements. And yet they’re worried they can’t even use the correct language … or they’ll get taken down."

Said When Belle Ives, "a freelance photographer in Los Angeles who uses they and them pronouns," quoted in "Sorry you went viral TikTok’s explosive stardom has created a new kind of celebrity. But nothing goes viral like rage" (WaPo). 

Ives had videos taken down by TikTok. One showed 2 women kissing, which supposedly broke a rule against "predatory or grooming behavior." Another called a Pride Month cake "gayke," which TikTok deemed "hate speech." 

Look here, Elon, wouldn't this nucleus of survivors be so grief stricken and anguished that they'd... well, envy the fired and not want to go on working?

I've got to ask, reading "Documents detail plans to gut Twitter’s workforce" in The Washington Post.
Elon Musk told prospective investors in his deal to buy the company that he planned to get rid of nearly 75 percent of Twitter’s 7,500 workers, whittling the company down to a skeleton staff of just over 2,000....
Edwin Chen, a data scientist formerly in charge of Twitter’s spam and health metrics and now CEO of the content-moderation start-up Surge AI... said.... "It would be a cascading effect... where you’d have services going down and the people remaining not having the institutional knowledge to get them back up, and being completely demoralized and wanting to leave themselves.”...

"Anthony sitting here looking like he's dressed up as Anthony for Halloween."

The most up-voted comment for this:

"We could never talk negatively about America in front of my father... He did not have much but he really, really loved America. Isn’t that funny?"

Said Daniel Smith, quoted in "Daniel Smith, one of the last children of enslaved Americans, dies at 90/He grew up hearing stories from his father, who was born into bondage during the Civil War. Decades later, he marched in Washington and Selma with fellow civil rights activists" (WaPo).

October 20, 2022

Sunrise — 7:05.


A sad, elegant caption.

"A federal jury in Manhattan found Kevin Spacey not liable for battery... after the actor Anthony Rapp filed a lawsuit accusing Mr. Spacey of climbing on top of him and making a sexual advance when Mr. Rapp was 14."

The NYT reports. 

"Warnock had called democracy a 'political enactment of a spiritual idea, that we are all children of God, and therefore we all ought to have a voice in the direction of our country and our destiny within it.'"

"What captured [Cory] Booker’s attention was Warnock’s straightforward invocation of faith, which can sound different than the modes of political speech that have dominated the Democratic Party since the ascent of Barack Obama. 'Obama was this gifted intellectual, like your favorite professor, who could speak to your aspirations, to your hopes for this country,' Booker said. 'But the difference I think with Warnock is—you feel his soul first. He is unapologetic in his rooting in faith.'... Warnock, a pastor for a working-class congregation, is making a case that Democrats have long wanted to make: that the Christian tradition worth upholding in politics—to find Jesus in 'the dark corners, in the alleys, in the gutter,' as Booker put it—is the one associated with King. But it is a complicated bargain to strike, one that blurs the lines of a church, a moral movement, and a power-seeking political party. 'The Democratic Party, in an effort to be inclusive, has sanitized their faithfulness, and left that purview to be claimed by the Republican Party,' Booker said. 'I’m hoping the Democratic Party can move more towards Warnock.' He added, 'We need more poets in politics.'"

From "The Political Gospel of Raphael Warnock/With his opponent, Herschel Walker, weathering a series of scandals, can the Democratic senator from Georgia find a way to retain his seat?" by Benjamin Wallace-Wells (The New Yorker).

"AI bias is a notoriously difficult problem. Left unchecked, algorithms can perpetuate racist and sexist biases..."

"... and that bias extends to AI art as well.... If DALL-E manages to depict a world free of racist and sexist stereotypes, it would still do so in the image of the West. 'You can’t fine-tune a model to be less Western if your dataset is mostly Western,' Yilun Du, a PhD student and AI researcher at MIT, told Recode. AI models are trained by scraping the internet for images, and Du thinks models made by groups based in the United States or Europe are likely predisposed to Western media.... Because AI is backward-looking, it’s only able to make variations of images it has seen before. That, Du says, is why an AI model is unable to create an image of a plate sitting on top of a fork, even though it should conceivably understand each aspect of the request. The model has simply never seen an image of a plate on top of a fork, so it spits out images of forks on top of plates instead."

From "AI art looks way too European/DALL-E and other models keep making art that ignores traditions from the rest of the world" by Neel Dhaneshaneel (Vox).

There's a lot of "male gaze" in this documentary about the "male gaze."


I'm reading about that movie today in "‘Brainwashed: Sex-Camera-Power’ Review: Demystifying the Male Gaze/Directed by Nina Menkes, the film is a distressingly prescriptive documentary aimed at unpacking the patriarchal ways of seeing that have dominated the history of cinema" (NYT). 

Distressingly prescriptive?

A Bernard Herrmann-esque score... pulses conspiratorially throughout the documentary, giving the sense that Menkes’s narration is revealing secret and sinister facts about the way cinema caters to male fantasy. It uses examples from beloved and acclaimed films like “Apocalypse Now,” “Do the Right Thing” and “Phantom Thread,” and, toward the end, it presents the apparently rare films in which women do have agency, namely ones directed by Menkes.

"I might have been 7 or 8, and I dreamed of a pair of white majorette boots and outfits that matched... Now I have 100 pairs of snow white shoes."

Said Linda Rodin, quoted in "You’re Never Too Old for a Miniskirt/Linda Rodin, founder of the cult favorite Olio Lusso face oil, has returned to her first love with a quirky, age-defying denim collection" (NYT). 

Have you ever dreamed of clothing/accessories and then adopted what you saw in the dream as your new style? I might do that but I can only think of one instance in my entire life when I have dreamed of clothes. If I did have a vivid dream about clothing, I think I would make an effort to find clothing like that and wear it — sport it.

 Maybe I'll wake up one morning and find I've turned into someone like this:

Walking the Ice Age Trail.


"Prime Minister Liz Truss of Britain said on Thursday that she would resign... Her departure after only six weeks in office — the shortest tenure ever for a British prime minister..."

"... was a rapid fall from power that throws her Conservative Party into further disarray, following the messy departure of Boris Johnson over the summer.... Ms. Truss’s political viability became tenuous after her proposals for broad unfunded tax cuts roiled markets and sent the pound’s value plunging.... [It was] one of the most dramatic reversals in modern British political history, and a humiliating repudiation of Ms. Truss’s leadership.... 'I cannot deliver the mandate on which I was elected.'"

The NYT reports.

"There are also valid reasons candidates might decline to debate...."

"By the time debates are held, many voters have made up their minds about who to vote for, and most of those who haven’t aren’t very swayed by the debates. The events can hurt candidates, though, making them high risk and low reward.... [O]ne debate misstep... can live on in viral social media.... In some states, Democrats running for statewide office are refusing to debate their election-denying opponents. But the bigger trend seems to be that Republican candidates around the country are declining debate opportunities, driven by skepticism of and hostility toward the media outlets that often host, moderate and air the debates.... In midterm years.... the debates themselves might remind voters there’s an election in their state at all and inspire them to make it to the polls. And there are arguments that regular debates in which candidates spontaneously answer questions on important issues in front of voters are good for democracy as a whole. Still, the trendline is clear. The number of debates have declined so far this year. The question is whether one day they disappear for good."

From "Why Candidates Are Debating Less Often This Election Cycle" (FiveThirtyEight).

Every time a candidate gets away with ducking debates, it encourages others. They can always claim they don't trust the moderators to be fair. The moderators are not fair. 

But I think there need to be debates. The candidates must prove that they are lucid and informed enough to speak on their own, spontaneously, without notes for a decent chunk of time. It's a low standard.

"Season 9 was the year that I was sober the whole way through. And guess which season I got nominated for best actor?"

"I was like, ‘That should tell me something.'... I didn't know how to stop.... If the police came over to my house and said, 'If you drink tonight, we're going to take you to jail,' I'd start packing. I couldn't stop because the disease and the addiction is progressive. So it gets worse and worse as you grow older."

Said Matthew Perry, quoted in "Matthew Perry 'Nearly Died' When His Colon Burst Due to Opioid Addiction 'The doctors told my family that I had a 2 percent chance to live,' the Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing author says."

The other "Friends" actors were, he says, "like penguins. Penguins, in nature, when one is sick, or when one is very injured, the other penguins surround it and prop it up. They walk around it until that penguin can walk on its own. That's kind of what the cast did for me." That sounds like something a character on the show would say.

"No one is a greater believer in artistic freedom than I, but this cannot go unchallenged."

"Despite this week stating publicly that The Crown has always been a ‘fictionalized drama,’ the program makers have resisted all calls for them to carry a disclaimer at the start of each episode.... Given some of the wounding suggestions apparently contained in the new series—that King Charles plotted for his mother to abdicate, for example, or once suggested his mother’s parenting was so deficient that she might have deserved a jail sentence—this is both cruelly unjust to the individuals and damaging to the institution they represent."

Said Judi Dench, quoted in "Dame Judi Dench Accuses The Crown of 'Crude Sensationalism'/The friend of Queen Consort Camilla and frequent royal portrayer says the Netflix series 'cannot go unchallenged'" (Vanity Fair).

Dame Judi Dench.

She has played the role of Elizabeth I once and Victoria twice — in movies that contained any amount of fictionalization — and she is personal friends with Queen Camilla — whose implication in the demise of Diana will come up in the new season of "The Crown."

Here are Judi and Camilla delighting themselves with the favorite dessert of oppressors and villains the world over:


Art — unlike ice cream — is not about making people comfortable.

All these complaints about "The Crown" are only reminding me that the new season is about to begin. Having recently watched every episode of "How to with John Wilson" and "Joe Pera Talks with You" twice (almost), I am ready to get back to this old favorite show.

"In the twenty-tens, when I reported on the online subcultures that were then known as the alt-right, I met dozens of atomized young men..."

"... who had stumbled onto the trail that led from libertarian anarcho-capitalism to just-asking-questions hypernationalism to full-blown white separatism, male supremacy, and anti-Semitism; they didn’t all travel the whole distance, but the path in front of them was clear and well worn. A few years ago, whatever else could be said about Kanye West’s search history, at least it was idiosyncratic. These days, his serial fixations might as well be scripted by a mediocre satirist or an unsophisticated A.I. A decade or two ago, an ascendant Kanye West would have been too proud, too self-conscious, to be caught wearing a mid-tier outfit or using a played-out sample. The newly stagnant West, both as an artist and as a propagandist, keeps reaching for clichés."

From "Kanye West’s Parler Games/A stream of offensive statements from Ye and the announcement that he will buy a fringe social network have reignited debates about free speech. But maybe that’s not the best place to start" by Andrew Marantz (The New Yorker).

"The Ant-Man and Clueless actor, who will appear alongside Fetterman at a Wednesday night fundraiser, initially reached out to the candidate last summer..."

"... just after Fetterman inserted Rudd into a tweet mocking Republican state lawmaker Doug Mastriano for issuing an official letter requesting an audit of the 2020 presidential election. 'In light of recent bizarre, unhinged requests on official letterhead from Pennsylvania electeds, my office formally requested Paul Rudd to re-enact scenes from "I Love You, Man" with me,' wrote Fetterman, who used his own office’s letterhead to issue the request. (While his campaign operations have grown significantly this year, the post that prompted their relationship came at a time when Fetterman, a bona fide Rudd Head, was personally writing all of his tweets.)"

From "THE JOHN FETTERMAN, PAUL RUDD BROMANCE YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT IS HERE/The duo will reenact scenes from I love You, Man at a Wednesday fundraiser for the Senate nominee’s campaign, finally turning the candidate’s year-old wish into a reality. 'Never in a million years did I imagine that it would actually end up happening,' Fetterman tells Vanity Fair" (Vanity Fair).

It's a fundraiser now, but was it, implicitly, part of fundraising at the time the letterhead was used, a time  Vanity Fair calls "last summer"*? The tweeting and letter-writing happened in July 2021. Still, Fetterman was a candidate back then too. He'd announced in February 2021.

The idea of using stars to read an old movie script as a fundraiser originated in 2020 — a year before Fetterman's letter — when the Democratic Party of Wisconsin got the cast of "The Princess Bride" to do a virtual table read of the script. This got a lot of press and was roundly praised as delightful and innovative, and, remembering that, you see Fetterman's idea as less weird and wacky and more clearly about fundraising.

I don't think it was the right place to use official letterhead, especially when you want to be critical of other people's misuse of letterhead.


* When people say things like "the things we did last summer" and it's October, don't you think they mean the most recent summer?

October 19, 2022

Sunrise — 7:04.


"Justice Clarence Thomas let it be known from the bench—to ribbing from Justice Elena Kagan and laughter from the audience—that he was a Prince fan in the nineteen-eighties."

"Chief Justice John Roberts name-dropped the artists Piet Mondrian and Josef Albers. But the contrast between the case, in which Warhol is accused of changing too little of Goldsmith’s [photograph of Prince], and the Court itself, which is lately accused of changing far too much, created a tense sort of levity.... The Warhol Foundation wants the Court to stick closely to those words. It asserts that Goldsmith’s naturalistic black-and-white photo depicts Prince as 'fragile and vulnerable,' and seeks to 'humanize' him. By contrast, the Foundation argues, Warhol’s silkscreen process created 'a flat, impersonal, disembodied, mask-like appearance' that comments on the dehumanizing nature of celebrity. In other words, Goldsmith depicts Prince intimately but Warhol conveys an image of an icon.... The legal narrative... is an unwitting commentary on what happens when courts decide what things mean: a flattening of human reality and experience.... Alito mused that 'maybe it’s not so simple' to determine the meaning of a work—months after eliminating abortion rights.... The question hanging over this term is how the Court, which wants to appear as unoriginal as possible, will be affected by enacting so many transformations."

From "The Supreme Court’s Self-Conscious Take on Andy Warhol/In a copyright case, the Justices revealed their own anxieties about interpreting precedents" by Jeannie Suk Gersen (The New Yorker). 

Justice Thomas wasn't randomly showing off his pop culture savvy. He had a good question. 

From the transcript:

"We’re just putting out the information... [t]o say: this is not something that’s scary, or dangerous, or violent. It’s just a picture of something that’s in your body."

Said a doctor involved in an effort to produce and publicize photographs of what is removed from the uterus when there is an abortion in the early weeks of pregnancy.

Quoted in "What a pregnancy actually looks like before 10 weeks – in pictures/In 13 US states, abortion is banned even in the earliest stages of pregnancy. But we rarely see what such tissue really looks like" (The Guardian).

I'd like to see the more moderate politicians of both major parties in the United States get together and pass a law that would guarantee access to abortion up to a specified week early in pregnancy. Looking at pictures like this could help people think honestly about where that line should be.

Here is a photograph that shows the stages from 5 weeks to 9 weeks. I know it will not change the mind of anyone who believes there is a human soul in this tissue from the point of conception and that you may think it's disrespectful of me to display a photo of 5 dead human beings. I'm putting it after the jump out of deference to that opinion, but I think this picture is important to confront for those who want to participate in reaching a consensus about the kind of law that ought to be passed now.

"Nothing provokes hysteria and panic in servants of establishment power more than the possibility of spaces on the internet they can't control and censor."

"Then I went on musing about why it was thought better and higher to love one's country than one's county, or town, or village, or house."

"Perhaps because it was larger. But then it would be still better to love one's continent, and best of all to love one's planet."

Wrote Rose Macaulay, in "The Towers of Trebizond" (1958).

I ran into that quote because — as you see in the previous post — I looked up "muse" in the OED. 

"While Trump’s Twitter feed provided near-hourly windows into the presidential id, Biden’s comments are projected to the public less often, but just as revealingly, through the donor gatherings..."

"... among the few events where he does not use a teleprompter. At a fundraiser Thursday in Brentwood, Calif.,... Biden veered into an unprompted discussion of technological changes that have fractured society and made discerning the truth all the more difficult. 'There are no editors anymore,' he said. 'The ability of newspapers to have much impact is de minimis.'"

From "Party gatherings give a window into Biden’s mind, from nukes to Pelosi/Democratic fundraisers provide rare unscripted moments when the president seems to muse aloud" by Matt Vise.

That's in The Washington Post, a newspaper, which would like to have an impact that is more than de minimis.

But it's always so transparent that its trying to help Biden, like here. It's presumed that "Biden's mind" is a place of substance, into which we are honored to peer. And his speech is not a muddled mess, but a clear representation of what's in that mind. We have "a window" as he "muses aloud." 

Is that ludicrous or horrible or am I being unfair to the old statesman? I'll turn away and amuse you with the etymology of the verb "muse." From the OED:

Etymology: < Anglo-Norman and Old French, Middle French muser (12th cent.) probably < an unattested Old French noun *mus face (see muzzle n.1). Compare Old Occitan muzar to gape (12th cent.; Occitan musar), Catalan musar to dream away the time, Italian (archaic) musare to idle, loaf around (13th cent.), to gape, wonder (c1300), (of an animal) to hold the snout up, sniff about (15th cent.), post-classical Latin musare to stare, waste time (1311 in a British source). 
The widely divergent sense development in Old French apparently has its origin in the description of different facial expressions: the sense ‘to ponder, reflect’ (c1170; compare senses 1, 2) is perhaps originally descriptive of the contemplative look of a person deep in thought; the sense ‘to waste time, idle, loaf around’ (c1170, but probably earlier: compare musart absent-minded, foolish (1086)) is perhaps originally descriptive of a gaping, staring look; likewise the Anglo-Norman sense ‘to gape, stare, wonder, marvel’ (c1180; compare sense 3); and the spec. sense ‘to play the bagpipe’ (c1120; compare muse n.2) is perhaps originally descriptive of the puffed-up cheeks of the bagpiper.

I bet you weren't expecting bagpipes.

I'm agnostic on whether God is toying with Jordan Peterson.

It's not just Jonah Goldberg. Peterson is trending on Twitter and it's mostly about this clip. We're living in a time when your worst few seconds will be ripped out of context and held up to discredit you. Better never to speak on camera at all than to risk creating one of these horrible clips to be used against you. 

We're created a mediascape where only the cocky and reckless will speak freely. Ironically, Peterson will be one of those people. Everyone else will shrink out of public view.

October 18, 2022

Sunrise — 7:01, 7:17.



"We take a human-centered approach to design a future massively better for everyone."

I love this phrase, painted on the window of a design firm in Munich, Germany:


Massively better.

The photo was taken by my son Chris, who also made this video walking around the Marienplatz ("Mary's Square"):

"Police cameras show confusion, anger over DeSantis’ voter fraud arrests/Local police carrying out the arrests were patient, understanding — almost apologetic."

The Tampa Bay Times reports. 

Here's the video: 

There really is some unfortunate confusion with a 2018 statute permitting voting even if you've been convicted of a felony but not if the felony was murder or a sex offense.

I want to see voting laws enforced, but the laws shouldn't be a trap for the unwary. I feel sorry for these people and you can see that the police officers feel sorry for them too.

It's not early spring but mid-fall, and I have no idea why Spotify decided I ought to listen to a reading of "Lines Written in Early Spring"...

I'd just finished listening to my old favorite radio show, Jean Shepherd — a great episode, "Prison Life" — and I was out running in the woods at sunrise and had not even touched my iPhone, when I heard a sonorous voice launch into what I now know is Wordsworth:

If Facebook is trying to tempt me away from TikTok with its "Reels" teasers, it's doing the opposite.

It seems to think my only interest is hair styling and isn't even remotely aware of what hair treatments might have something to do with me (as opposed to make me gag).

This came up in my Facebook feed this morning, and it is typical of what Facebook tries to feed me: 


In real life, I keep hair out of my feed.

"[A]typical anorexia nervosa, an increasingly common yet little known eating disorder... shares all the same symptoms as anorexia nervosa, except for extreme thinness...."

"Those with atypical anorexia, doctors observed, suffer the same mental and physical symptoms as people with anorexia nervosa, even life-threatening heart issues and electrolyte imbalances. They restrict calories intensively; obsess about food, eating and body image; and view their weight as inextricably linked to their value. They often skip meals, eat in secret, adhere to intricate rules about what foods they allow themselves to consume and create unusual habits like chewing and spitting out food. Others exercise to the point of exhaustion, abuse laxatives or purge their meals. But unlike those diagnosed with anorexia, people with atypical anorexia can lose significant amounts of weight but still have a medium or large body size.... To the outside world, they appear 'overweight.'... Many people with anorexia describe the illness as a battle between two selves. One is a maniacal superego, hellbent on control at all costs in a misguided attempt to find safety....The second is... no longer concerned with being quiet and obedient or apologizing for her existence. And, perhaps most important, she has no interest in making herself small."

"'You Don’t Look Anorexic’/New research shows that our assumptions about eating disorders are often wrong — and that many larger-bodied people are starving themselves" (NYT).

"King Charles... is shown lobbying Prime Minister John Major in a bizarre attempt to force his mother’s abdication."

"It also depicts Charles bitterly arguing with Diana as their divorce looms, and romancing Camilla, now Queen Consort, including a dramatisation of the notorious ‘tampongate’ phone call. A production source said that media outrage over inaccuracies – and the lack of sensitivity in airing the series so close to the death of the Queen – is ‘spooking’ the broadcaster..... An entire plotline is, to this end, devoted to suggesting that [Prince Philip] pursued a scandalous extra-marital affair with Penelope Knatchbull, the Countess Mountbatten of Burma... Needless to say, there’s no credible evidence that such an exchange took place, or that Philip was anything other than a devoted husband to Her Majesty. Suggesting otherwise, so soon after both of their deaths, is at best distasteful and at worst downright cruel. Then there are episodes which appear to lend credibility to the barmy conspiracy theory that Princess Diana was murdered.... [Peter Morgan, the show's creator, has said] that Queen Elizabeth II was ‘of limited intelligence'... [and]  the Royal Family ‘survival organisms, like a mutating virus,’ [and] the Queen’s belief in Christianity was ‘deranged’ and the monarchy itself is ‘insane.’"

From "Netflix bosses 'are spooked by backlash over The Crown'/Show's creator Peter Morgan is 'increasingly uncomfortable' as producers are slammed over 'malicious' storylines in new series covering royal family's turbulent 1990s" (Daily Mail).

Judging from that article and the comments over there, I'd say people in Britain are disgusted by the prospect of a new season of "The Crown." Here in America, though, we love it. We understand fictionalization, and too bad if the people depicted are still alive. If they're rich enough, powerful enough, or evil enough, we're fine with using them in whatever interesting stories filmmakers want to spin out. 

We've seen movies about Dick Cheney and Mark Zuckerberg, for example. We watch these things and maybe discuss the truth/fiction ratio on the side if that's also entertaining. And quite aside from the art of film, the news itself is also something with a variable truth/fiction ratio. We've oriented ourselves to that mystery of human communication.

Freedom of speech breathes a murky atmosphere.

"On a shelf behind Reed’s desk, amid Velvet Underground-­related books and music... was a notarized, self-addressed package, to and from Lewis Reed at his parents’ address on Long Island."

"It appeared to contain a tape, and was postmarked May, 1965, when Reed was twenty-three, working as a songwriter at Pickwick Records, living with his parents, and busking on street corners with his new friend John Cale. 'The Velvet Underground & Nico' would come out two years later. Should they open it? They spent years deciding. 'We were treating it like a relic,' Anderson said. They finally did, and the results, an album called 'Words & Music: May 1965,' came out [last] month."

From "Unboxing Lou Reed’s Posthumous Parcel to Himself/After the death of the Velvet Underground front man, two archivists and his widow, Laurie Anderson, discovered a mysterious sealed package from 1965. Inside was treasure: never-before-heard, folky versions of 'Heroin' and other classics" (The New Yorker). 

"[S]o nauseatingly into this project is Terence that he has got ahead of himself and started incorporating Thursday’s behaviours (give compliments) and Saturday’s (the non-sexual mini-touch) into his repertoire."

"Translation: a day spent with him insisting that I am a 'very special lady' while attempting foot frottage with his gnarled extremities. There are few things that repulse me more than a man playing footsie, not least a man whose toenails could be classed as offensive weapons. The dog howls, whipped into a green-eyed frenzy. I feel utterly claustrophobic, stalked in my own home by a life partner turned dodgy uncle. Unable to take any more, I flash forward to Friday and 'ask for what I need,' since, 'We all have valid desires. But we don’t say them. We drop hints. We suggest. We hope our partners will "just know."' 'Terence,' I announce, 'I need us to stop doing this anti-divorce course. It is destroying me, and thus, us.'"

From "I tried to reboot my relationship in 7 days. Here’s what happened/Marriage experts John and Julie Gottman say a couple can reset their relationship in just a week. Hannah Betts and her partner, Terence, try out the ‘love prescription’" (London Times).

Reading this column, I was able to figure out that John Gottman was the man in TikTok video #5 that I recommended in a post on October 15th. I titled it "When your partner makes a bid for your attention." 

October 17, 2022

At the Monday Night Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.


The photo is from yesterday's sunrise run. It was very windy today — too windy for it to be safe out around the trees.

"I have a dear friend who has been exploring and expanding her style. She will show up to dinner wearing a suit with a bow but without a shirt..."

"... and with a huge hat, which gets in other diners’ way. She also loves to wear things that make a lot of noise while walking. Everyone I know is uncomfortable with these new choices. Am I wrong to feel this way in 2022? How can we address this and also be sensitive to style and individuality? "

That's a question addressed to the NYT fashion writer Vanessa Friedman.

I don't care what the answer is. I just want to see a movie based on this question.

I especially love "things that make a lot of noise while walking." I feel as though I've seen many movie/TV bits about a huge hat that gets in someone's way, so this movie will have to create some other fashion aggression.

I love the theme of a lady deciding it's time for her to explore and expand. You know it's traditionally a problem for women that we've been socialized to make ourselves small and to always account for the needs of others and rein in our own urge to express. So I'd love to see a character go big with fashion — wild, invasive, annoying fashion. It's a comedy. With a serious message.

"Instead of trying to legislate within the lines of Supreme Court case law — lines that might be redrawn tomorrow — liberal lawmakers should view the court primarily as a hostile political actor..."

"... with its own distinctive political incentives, internal divisions and weaknesses.... To confront a hostile Supreme Court, the people and their elected leaders need to be confident that they, too, have the power and the obligation to interpret the Constitution.... To persuade Americans that stern court-curbing measures are necessary, progressives must first convince enough Americans that the court is dead wrong about the Constitution.... This term, this court will decide how far to go in shutting down both affirmative action and race-conscious protections for equal opportunity in the voting arena.... [T]he right-wing court has decided that these amendments prohibit race-conscious efforts to redistribute some political and economic power and opportunity to Black Americans. Progressives today should do more than argue that such efforts are something the Constitution permits. They should explain instead — as Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson did on her first day on the bench — that the Constitution here means just the opposite of what the Supreme Court majority says. Measures like the Voting Rights Act, which the court has been gutting, are what the Constitution demands.... The rights this court denies and the laws it strikes down are often ones the Constitution demands...."

From "How Liberals Should Confront a Right-Wing Supreme Court" by lawprofs Joseph Fishkin and William E. Forbath in the NYT.

Presented for discussion, not in agreement, though I don't disagree with every word of it.

The reference to Justice Jackson is to the oral argument in Merrill v. Milligan (beginning at page 57 in the transcript):

"The Biden Administration has also announced a military-aid package worth more than a billion dollars, bringing the total amount the U.S. has spent on arming Ukraine over the past year to sixteen billion...."

"Ukrainian officials are now eying a number of items that, they argue, would allow even more aggressive counter-offensives: modern nato-standard battle tanks, fighter jets such as F-16s, and the long-range atacms for striking logistics and ammunition hubs in Crimea. [Oleksii Reznikov, Ukraine’s defense minister] is certain that such deliveries are inevitable. 'When I was in D.C. in November, before the invasion, and asked for Stingers, they told me it was impossible,' he said. 'Now it’s possible. When I asked for 155-millimetre guns, the answer was no. himars, no. harm, no. Now all of that is a yes.' He added, 'Therefore, I’m certain that tomorrow there will be tanks and atacms and F-16s.' With the help of the U.S. and nato, he went on, Ukraine’s military has shown that Russia can be confronted. 'We are not afraid of Russia,' he said. 'And we are asking our partners in the West to also no longer be afraid.'"

From "Inside the U.S. Effort to Arm Ukraine/Since the start of the Russian invasion, the Biden Administration has provided valuable intelligence and increasingly powerful weaponry—a risky choice that has paid off in the battle against Putin" by Joshua Yaffa

Independent women now favor the Republicans by 18 percentage points, when last month they favored Democrats by 14 points.

That's a 32-point turnaround. How the hell could that happen?!

That's from the new Times/Siena poll, discussed in the NYT article "Republicans Gain Edge as Voters Worry About Economy, Times/Siena Poll Finds/With elections next month, independents, especially women, are swinging to the G.O.P. despite Democrats’ focus on abortion rights. Disapproval of President Biden seems to be hurting his party." 

The NYT says that's "a striking swing given... how intensely Democrats have focused on that group and on the threat Republicans pose to abortion rights."

Obviously, one explanation is that the polls are massaged and the direction of the massage changes as we get closer to the election. That would mean the earlier poll was more about shaping opinion, and the new poll, so close to the election, needs to approximate what will actually happen in the election, so the pollsters won't lose credibility. We've all heard that explanation.

But a 32-point turnaround in one month — that's so huge!

2 things about Jill Biden — seen this morning in a casual scanning of the headlines.

1. "Jill Biden Gets Mercilessly Booed at Eagles Game During Coin Toss" (RedState): "Biden was designated the honorary captain for the night and was standing at midfield during the coin toss when they flashed her picture on the big screen. That’s when the booing erupted and let her have it. It must have been pretty substantial from what the people were saying...."

2. "Democrats in Tight Races Turn to Jill Biden on the Campaign Trail/Requests for the first lady, who is also the president’s most popular surrogate, are piling up ahead of the midterm elections. Her visits can deliver a morale boost and a fund-raising opportunity" — that's a NYT headline that showed up (with slightly different wording) at the top of the NYT home page. They must really think that's an important message... or the best mood-booster they've got at the moment, chosen, perhaps, before the Eagles game booing.

I've seen so many articles in the NYT that seem designed to enthuse Democrats. I'm heartily sick of them, and the efforts are ludicrous. They're not even effective at doing this thing I don't think the NYT should be doing. I mean, look:

"Maybe [Evan Peters] decided to watch my show to counterbalance the heaviness of playing Jeffrey Dahmer, and something stuck."

Said Joe Pera, quoted in "A BRIEF INTERVIEW WITH JOE PERA ABOUT NETFLIX’S ‘DAHMER’/What does the mild-mannered comedian think about being compared with the Evan Peters version of the serial killer?" (Gawker).

That was published last month. I ran across it because I was looking for things about Joe Pera, whose show we've been catching up on, watching and rewatching, these last couple weeks. I was not looking for anything about Jeffrey Dahmer, and I'm not watching that series, even if it's supposed to be good.

Joe doesn't want to watch it either:

October 16, 2022

Sunrise — 7:09.


"Rather than Warnock trying to make Walker answer for his alliance with the former president, Walker insisted that Warnock defend his with the current one..."

"... a dynamic that doesn’t exactly track with media coverage of the midterms. We keep wondering how much Trump will wound Republican candidates. Warnock seemed plenty worried about how much Biden would wound him. So when he was asked whether Biden should run again in 2024, Warnock conspicuously dodged the question. 'I think that part of the problem with our politics right now is that it’s become too much about the politicians,' he said. 'You’re asking me who’s going to run in ’24? The people of Georgia get to decide who’s going to be their senator in three days — Monday.'"

Writes Frank Bruni in "Why Herschel Walker May Win" (NYT).

It's funny that Bruni expects the "dynamic" to "track with media coverage of the midterms." The media don't have that kind of control anymore. But they try so hard. 

"Years ago, a great friend, the poet Galway Kinnell, caused a brief crisis in her life when he denounced similes in favor of metaphors."

"Nothing, he insisted, is really like anything else. 'Oh, my God, he’s right!' Olds thought. 'He’s so smart! I’m so dumb! Oh, my God!' But then she realized something: The two friends just had different brains. A little space existed between the two of them.... That’s exactly how a simile works. Olds has never been comfortable saying definitively, as metaphors do, that something is something else. She ascribes this to her terrifying childhood experience of religion, the idea that blood was wine, that body was bread. To this day, she clings to the comforting distance of that 'like.' Blood is like wine, yes; body is like bread, sure — in the same way that a poem is like a real experience but not the thing itself.... [N]othing stands alone, nothing is ever only itself. And yet everything, in that vast network of mutual meanings, is allowed to remain exactly itself."

Writes Sam Anderson in "Sex, Death, Family: Sharon Olds Is Still Shockingly Intimate/'No one should read more than one poem at a time from this book'" (NYT).

" Police and military officers swooped down on a Moscow business center... looking for men to fight in Ukraine — and they seized nearly every one they saw."

"Some musicians, rehearsing. A courier there to deliver a parcel. A man from a Moscow service agency, very drunk, in his mid-50s, with a walking disability. 'I have no idea why they took him,' said Alexei, who, like dozens of others in the office complex, was rounded up and taken to the nearest military enlistment office, part of a harsh new phase in the Russian drive. In cities and towns across Russia, men of fighting age are going into hiding to avoid the officials who are seizing them and sending them to fight in Ukraine. Police and military press-gangs in recent days have snatched men off the streets and outside Metro stations. They’ve lurked in apartment building lobbies to hand out military summonses. They’ve raided office blocks and hostels. They’ve invaded cafes and restaurants, blocking the exits.... It is terrifying — and, at times, comically haphazard.... As the backlash intensifies, some Russians are confronting authorities and recording videos.... A Russian truck driver posted video of himself confronting a police officer and a military enlistment official who tried to take him to the enlistment office. 'I don’t give a s--- about your mobilization. You’re the one who is eligible, not me. You’ve got a gun after all, not me. Why don’t you go mobilize yourself?' "

From "Russia is grabbing men off the street to fight in Ukraine" (WaPo).

"Democratic candidates in competitive Senate races this fall have spent little time... touting... their party’s $1.9 trillion economic rescue package..."

"... which party leaders had hoped would help stave off losses in the House and Senate in midterm elections. In part, that is because the rescue plan has become fodder for Republicans to attack Democrats over rapidly rising prices, accusing them of overstimulating the economy with too much cash.... It was initially seen as Mr. Biden’s signature economic policy achievement.... Some Democrats worry that voters have been swayed by the persistent Republican argument that the aid was the driving factor behind rapidly rising prices of food, rent and other daily staples...."

From "Democrats Spent $2 Trillion to Save the Economy. They Don’t Want to Talk About It. Polls show voters liked direct payments from President Biden’s 2021 economic rescue bill. But they have become fodder for Republican inflation attacks" (NYT).

A lot of this article — by Jim Tankersley — is focused on Senator Warnock. It begins:

What is the best use of one's time? Are you always maximizing your time and doing high-quality time? Are you annoyed at other people's pastimes in proportion to how low they really are?

These are questions that occurred to me as I was participating in the comments to the last post, the one about TikTok.

Somebody compared TikTok to television and to slot machines. Then I compared it to playing video games and to "exploring" the "worlds" of Meta.

How meticulous are you about how you spend your time? How critical of others are you? And what do you think people should do with their time? What is your hierarchy of how to spend time? I'm not asking how do you spend your time. I'm asking — because I want to understand criticisms of how people spend their time — for a list — from high to low — of how people ought to spend their time.

What is the #1 best use of your time? You can make a subjective or an objective list — your time in particular or just any person's time. Categorize it any way you want — on whatever level of generality works for you. I'm assuming that making this list will be a good use of your time (and mine). The list of valuably spent time can be short or long (depending on your cleverness with the categories and your notions about the importance of length in contrast to concision).

"The average American viewer watches TikTok for 80 minutes a day — more than the time spent on Facebook and Instagram, combined."

WaPo reports in "How TikTok ate the internet/The world’s most popular app has pioneered a new age of instant attention. Can we trust it?" 

That's worded confusingly. It's not saying the average American watches TikTok for 80 minutes a day. It's the average within the set of Americans who watch TikTok. So... how many is that? Based on estimates by Cloudflare, Data.ai and Sensor Tower, WaPo says there are more 100 million TikTok viewers in the United States. And:

Two-thirds of American teens use the app, and 1 in 6 say they watch it “almost constantly,” a Pew Research Center survey in August found; usage of Facebook among the same group has been cut in half since 2015....

People are watching because it works so well and so much better than Facebook and Instagram: