November 12, 2022

At the Gloomy Day Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

This morning was cold and 100% overcast, so I skipped my usual run. The photograph is from yesterday at 6:37 a.m.

"I know this may sound radical, but we all agree that theft is not OK...People are trying to connect our work to a pro-cop or anti-cop agenda... Most of us just want to get people’s bikes back."

Said Bryce Turner, 27, a member of a Facebook group that tracks down stolen bikes in Burlington, Vermont, where the police force was reduced by 30% after a ballot measure influenced by the George Floyd incident.

Turner is quoted in "The Bike Thieves of Burlington, Vermont/A hunt for stolen goods has put citizens and business owners in the center of a debate about policing and a growing, sometimes violent, problem with crime" (NYT).

Well, what would you wear under the circumstances?

Ann Coulter is trending on Twitter because of this tweet of hers.

"I have observed a change, or really a narrowing, in the public behavior of people who use Twitter or other social media a lot...."

"When I compare Mr. Musk, Mr. Trump and Ye, I see a convergence of personalities that were once distinct. The garish celebrity playboy, the obsessive engineer and the young artist, as different from one another as they could be, have all veered not in the direction of becoming grumpy old men, but into being bratty little boys in a schoolyard.... I believe 'Twitter poisoning' is a real thing. It is a side effect that appears when people are acting under an algorithmic system that is designed to engage them to the max. It’s a symptom of being part of a behavior-modification scheme.... Behavioral changes occur as a side effect of something called operant conditioning...."

From "Trump, Musk and Kanye Are Twitter Poisoned" by Jaron Lanier (NYT). Lanier is a computer scientist and author of “Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now.” 

"The large on-line platforms allow anonymous troll demons to rampage through society with no cost to themselves...."

"They're not even human anymore, in my estimation. They're literally a demonic force...."

Some pages of Bob Dylan's "Philosophy of Modern Song" are photos like this with a couple sentences isolated from the text.

I find that pretty amusing. You can buy the book here. I have the audiobook and the Kindle text, so I'm usually out walking around listening. I like Bob's voice, reading, and the various actors who read some of it are good too. I intersperse that reading with playing the songs. Here's a Spotify playlist of the songs. I have the Kindle so I can find quotes to blog, but in this case, I need the Kindle so I can see the illustrations, and then I also need the Kindle so I can contextualized those captions.

Here, in this case, it's:

She says look here mister lovey-dovey, you’re too extravagant, you’re high on drugs. I gave you money, but you gambled it away, now get lost. You say wait a minute now. Why are you being so combative? You’re way off target. Don’t be so small minded, you’re being goofy. I thought we had a love pact, why do you want to shun me and leave me marooned. What’s wrong with you anyway? I’m telling you, let’s be amiable, and if you’re not, I’m going to wrap this relationship up and terminate it. You’re asking her for money. She says money is the root of all evil, now take a hike. You try to appeal to her sensual side but she’s not having it. She’s got another man, which infuriates you no end. 

But no other man could step into your shoes, no other man can swap places with you. No other man would pinch-hit when it comes to her. How could it happen? I get it, she’s not in love with you anyway, she is in love with the almighty dollar. Now you’ve learnt your lesson, and you see it clear. Used to be you only associated with extraordinary people, now they’re all a dime a dozen, but you have to keep it in perspective. There’s always someone better than you, and there’s always someone better than him. You want to do things well. You know you can do things, but it’s hard to do them well. You don’t know what your problem is. The best things in life are free, but you prefer the worst. Maybe that’s your problem.

Now, what song is he talking about? 

"Democratic strategist Kurt Bardella recommends that Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) turn to pornography ..."

"... should she lose the down-to-wire Colorado House race against Adam Frisch. Bardella made the suggestion on set with MSNBC host Joy Reid, who responded with a blaring cackle. 'What’s the meaning if Lauren Boebert, the second most popular QAnon congressperson in MAGA, what if she loses?' Reid asked 'I guess there might be a gain for OnlyFans if [Boebert loses],' Bardella responded.... Bardella followed in line with frequent MSNBC guest Elie Mystal, the goofy-looking man who uses racial slurs to refer to Hershel Walker. On Wednesday, Mystal tweeted the following message before quickly deleting it: 'Is… Lauren Boebert still losing? I guess this is the lucky day of the next OnlyFans star Ted Cruz thinks should be a Congressperson.'" 

From "Joy Reid Blasts Her Cackle [When] Sexist Guest Tells Rep. Lauren Boebert to Join OnlyFans" (Outkick). (I found that via this tweet from Glenn Greenwald.)

According to Yahoo!entertainment — entertainment? — "DNC Adviser Apologizes For Suggesting Lauren Boebert's Next Job Should Be OnlyFans." But let's take a look at the text and context of that apology.

November 11, 2022

Sunrise — 6:48, 6:57.



"Have you seen how miserable and how miserable-looking a lot of the students are. They're deliberately uglifying themselves. You see them on TikTok..."

"They're out of shape. They're asexual. They're, like, rejecting the truth in beauty. They all look like rejects from a loony bin. I'd steer clear of college too."

Said Greg Gutfeld on "The Five" a few weeks ago, and it's become a much-used sound on TikTok. Videos collected here. You can scroll through them for yourself. I'll just select one to show you how young people are arguing back at Gutfeld:

Quentin Tarantino's alternative reading of the Body Snatchers movies.

From his new book, "Cinema Speculation" (boldface added):

[T]he Pod People transformation is closer to a rebirth than a murder. You’re reborn as straight intellect, with a complete possession of your past and your abilities, but unburdened by messy human emotions. You also possess a complete fidelity to your fellow beings and a total commitment to the survival of your species. Are they inhuman? Of course, they’re vegetables. But the movies try to present their lack of humanity (they don’t have a sense of humor, they’re unmoved when a dog is hit by a car) as evidence of some deep-seated sinisterness. That’s a rather species-centric point of view. As human beings it may be our emotions that make us human, but it’s a stretch to say it’s what makes us great. Along with those positive emotions—love, joy, happiness, amusement—come negative emotions—hate, selfishness, racism, depression, violence, and rage....

At least he corrected it, but the egregious mistake shows how slapdash and sloppy this takeover is. (Remember "free speech"?)

"There’s a massive negative cash flow, and bankruptcy is not out of the question. Those who are able to go hard core and play to win, Twitter is a good place. And those who are not, totally understand, but then Twitter is not for you."

Said Elon Musk to Twitter employees, quoted in "Two Weeks of Chaos: Inside Elon Musk’s Takeover of Twitter/Mr. Musk ordered immediate layoffs, fired executives by email, laid down product deadlines and has transformed the company" (NYT).

The executives warned their new boss that his plan could violate employment laws and breach contracts with workers, leading to employee lawsuits.... But Mr. Musk’s team said he was used to going to court and paying penalties, and was not worried about the risks.... Two days later, Mr. Musk learned exactly how costly those potential fines and lawsuits could be....

The 51-year-old barreled in with ideas about how the social media service should operate, but with no comprehensive plan to execute them....

"The 51-year-old" is a funny example of the "second mention" issue, previously blogged here. You know, the effortful and unnecessary avoidance of repeating a person's name. It's a writing foible.

Here's another new NYT article on the same subject — for those who are wondering about my visualization of Musk as one of 2 crashing, burning Hindenburg's — "'Economic Picture Ahead Is Dire,' Elon Musk Tells Twitter Employees/In his first communications with Twitter’s staff, the company’s new owner painted a bleak picture as more executives resigned." 

These 2 overinflated characters — Trump and Musk — are going down simultaneously.

I tried to get DALL-E to make a picture of how this looked in my head:

"Republicans fared exceptionally well in some states, including Florida and New York. In others, like Michigan or Pennsylvania, Democrats excelled."

"How can we make sense of it? The results seem unusual because of two unusual issues: democracy and abortion. Unlike in the typical midterm election, these issues were driven by the actions of the party out of power. Indeed, the party out of power achieved the most important policy success of the last two years: the overturning of Roe v. Wade.... In states where democracy and abortion were less directly at issue, the typical midterm dynamics often took hold and Republicans excelled. A comparison between New York and Pennsylvania is illustrative. The states share a border — if you drive across the state line, things look about the same. Yet their election results look as if they’re from different universes...."

Writes Nate Cohn in "Why Some States Went in Different Directions in Midterms/Abortion rights and antidemocratic stances were more relevant or pressing in some places than others" (NYT).

"Was there a prequel to this video? I feel I'm missing context."

Said Baceseras about item #4 on last night's curated list of links to delightful short videos.

The only "prequel" is some kid's letter to another kid. It's a kind of found art.

It might help to know that the artist, someone named Lubalin, has been making videos like this for a while. You can see all his videos here (on YouTube). Highly recommended. I wrote about his massively entertaining "15,000 pound horse" video here, in 2021.

You can see the artist demonstrating his method on a similar letter  — some kid's apology letter — in this YouTube video: 

"What is the guidance for tweeps with children and other dependents who need to arrange childcare etc? These are not arrangements that can realistically be changed at a moment’s notice..."

"... for example enrolling in daycare, hiring nannies, arranging managed care facilities, etc. This new policy seems designed to penalize parents, guardians, and other caregivers who may have designed their whole lives around full or partial remote work."

Asked one Twitter employee, responding to the demand that Twitter employees — "tweeps" — work in the office, after they had been told, last year, that "they could work remotely forever," quoted in "Inside the Twitter meltdown Elon is speaking. VPs are resigning. Is bankruptcy next?" (Platformer).

How many children does Elon Musk have that he needs to make arrangements for? 

November 10, 2022

Sunrise — 6:37, 6:48, 6:49.




I've curated 5 TikToks for you this evening. Some people love them.

1. "Alexa! Play Rosemary Clooney!"

2. "Don't cry if you don't want me to laugh."

3. A tribute to the "Apparently" kid.

4. Random kid drama becomes a song.

5. The amazing human capacity to run — explained, while running.

"Presumably, [TikTok] is designed to identify and promote content with a high chance of going viral — catchy music, dances, jokes and the like."

"But in the hands of ByteDance [a Chinese company], it could also be used to subtly indoctrinate American citizens.... The CCP could also use TikTok to propagate videos that support party-friendly politicians or exacerbate discord in American society. Such videos need not originate from CCP proxies — they could be created by anyone. With essentially unlimited data on user-made content at its disposal, Beijing can leverage it to fan the flames of domestic division. And thanks to the rising number of adults who get their news from TikTok, the platform has the ability to influence which issues Americans learn about, what information they consider accurate, and what conclusions they draw from world events. This places extraordinary power in the hands of company employees who could any day be overruled by the CCP."

That's from "TikTok, time’s up. The app should be banned in America" —in The Washington Post — by Marco Rubio and Mike Gallagher, who say they are introducing legislation to ban TikTok in the United States. 

Everything is always subtly indoctrinating us. Discord is always getting exacerbated. There will always be a fanning of flames of domestic division, and endless forces will forever influence what information we consider accurate. Gallagher and Rubio haven't made the argument that this one medium of free expression ought to be banned.

If they are such experts on propaganda, why can't they write better propaganda than this op-ed?

"Physically attractive female university students received lower marks when lectures moved online during the pandemic, a study has found."

 The London Times reports. 

“The pandemic provided us with a great opportunity to disentangle whether this beauty premium is due to discrimination or the result of some productive attribute,” said Adrian Mehic of Lund University in Sweden, the author of the new study....

"The German branch of KFC has apologised after inviting customers to commemorate the Kristallnacht pogrom of 1938 by ordering a fried chicken dish."

The London Times reports.

Under the subject line “Memorial day for the Reich pogrom night”, KFC Germany wrote: “Go ahead and treat yourself to more soft cheese on your crispy chicken. Now available at KFCheese.”... 

It is unclear whether the message can be attributed to a hack, an internal prank, sloppily coded software or a mortifying lapse of judgment by an employee.

"Writers, or at least most of us, are specific types of monsters. We have the hubris to think we have something to say, that someone might read our work...."

"My older sister’s reply the last time I asked her about books: 'I just read Facebook now.' Most books don’t succeed either in terms of sales or critical unanimity. Most writers don’t earn a living wage from their writing. Tenure-track appointments (I teach college writing) are rare as unicorns. But being a writer is not a sentence handed down, it’s a choice I’ve made. I love other writers and do not want to root against them (some of my closest friends, et cetera), but there’s a desperation inherent in the state of publishing that sometimes makes this difficult...."

From "The Unbearable Envy of the Published Author" by Lynn Steger Strong (NYT).

Sunrise — 6:30.


Open thread in the comments.

"Yes, Trumpy populism was halting and self-contradictory, but the variety that emerged in Republican circles after Mr. Trump left office was downright fake."

"Correctly perceiving working- and middle-class discontent with corporate power and economic insecurity, Republicans in 2022 tried to channel it into cultural grievances, ginning up outrage over 'woke' sensitivity trainings in the workplace, for instance. A much more effective way to check corporate power would actually be to empower workers — which is what unions do best. Instead, the right continued to pursue its old program of undermining the New Deal. Fake G.O.P. populism challenged 'woke capital' — companies that it believed had become overly politically correct — but didn’t dare touch the power of corporate America to coerce workers and consumers, or the power of private equity and hedge funds to hollow out the real economy, which employs workers for useful products and services — or used to, anyway." 

Writes Sohrab Ahmari in "Why the Red Wave Didn’t Materialize" (NYT).

"Trump Spreads Rumors, Threatens Allies in All-Out Attack on DeSantis/After an election night where Ron romped but Don dragged, the former president is doing his best to ratf--k a potential 2024 rival."

A Rolling Stone article (by Asawin Suebsaeng).

"This is speed metal without the embarrassment of Spandex and junior high school devil worship."

Writes Bob Dylan, in "The Philosophy of Modern Song."

What recorded performance is he talking about? This:

"May this tusk root out the lice of the hair and the beard."

That's the oldest message that we have today that is written in alphabet letters. It's inscribed on an ivory comb.

Quoted in "An Ancient People’s Oldest Message: Get Rid of Beard Lice. Archaeologists in Israel unearthed a tiny ivory comb inscribed with the oldest known sentence written in an alphabet that evolved into one we use today" (NYT).

The NYT tells us the comb is from "around 1,700 B.C., " and I'm interested to see the survival not just of the comb but of "B.C." — rather than "B.C.E." — in the NYT.

I do a little research and dig up — not quite archeologically — something from 1997 A.D. (or should it be C.E.?), and I'm telling you about it because it's written by long — but not that long — gone William Safire, "B.C./A.D. or B.C.E./C.E.?":

"It’s no secret that an enormous amount of party leadership in New York State is based on big money and old-school, calcified machine-style politics that creates a very anemic voting base that is disengaged and disenfranchised."

Said Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, calling for the resignation of Jay Jacobs, the Democratic Party chairman in NY state.

Quoted in"If Democrats Lose the House, They May Have New York to Blame/Republicans flipped four congressional seats in New York, the most of any state in the country. How did this happen in one of the nation’s most liberal states?" by Nicholas Fandos (NYT).

[M]any progressives... lamented that numerous candidates had failed to stake out a bolder agenda that would inspire the state’s 6.5 million Democrats and to invest in more durable on-the-ground organizing, rather than trying to motivate voters out of fear of [GOP candidate for governor Lee] Zeldin.

"Rather than seeing his difficult recovery and uneven debate performance as evidence of lack of fitness for office... voters said they found Mr. Fetterman relatable..."

"... even an inspiration. His personal revitalization, however incomplete, echoed a promise he campaigned on — the resurgence of Pennsylvania communities that feel left behind, a left-wing response to the appeal that Donald J. Trump made in winning Pennsylvania and other industrial states in 2016."

From "What Many Pennsylvanians Saw in Fetterman/By reinventing his Senate campaign after a stroke, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman ended up connecting with voters who responded to his saga of loss and comeback" (NYT).

The NYT quotes voters who say things like "I found it inspiring. I admired that he actually showed up for the debate" and "I didn’t think that Fetterman did great [in the debate] but I think it was great that he still went out there and did it."

You may remember what I said after the debate:

November 9, 2022

Sunrise — 6:49.


I've got 8 TikToks for you tonight. I hope something here is fun for you.

1. The bumblebee's tongue. 

2. The innocent dachshund. 

3. Jordan Peterson says: Marry young. 

4. Much more advice for guys. 

5. Cursing. Seriously, don't watch that unless you want to hear some hilarious, intense cursing.

6. The corn kid reflects on his retirement. 

7. The immigrant's point of view.

8. Vicious panda attack. 

"'Twitter gamifies communication,' the philosopher C. Thi Nguyen has argued; it’s custom-built to do things like score apologies, to drag users into a rating system..."

"... that has nothing to do with morality. An unforgiving god rules Twitter, where the modern economy of apology runs something like this: If you express what I believe to be a toxic or ignorant opinion, you must apologize according to my rules for apology. If you do, I may forgive you. If you don’t, I will punish you, and damn you unto eternity.... ... Twitter’s pious mercilessness is generating nothing so much as a new and bitter remorselessness.... Twitter is blowing its top, some very angry people very loudly demanding apologies while other very angry people demand the denunciation of the people who are demanding apologies. Dangerously, but predictably, the split seems to have become partisan, as if to apologize were progressive, to forget conservative. The fracture widens and hardens—fanatic, schismatic, idiotic. But another way of thinking about what a culture of forced, performed remorse has wrought is not, or not only, that it has elevated wrath and loathing but that it has demeaned sorrow, grief, and consolation. No apology can cover that crime, nor mend that loss."

Writes Jill Lepore, in "The Case Against the Twitter Apology/Our twenty-first-century culture of performed remorse has become a sorry spectacle" (The New Yorker).

"During his victory speech, J.D. Vance specifically named 34 people for thanks/gratitude. Trump was not one of them."

 Tweets C-SPAN Communications Howard Mortman.

"Trumpism" is trending on Twitter.

You can follow that trend here. This is just a screen grab I made a minute ago:

Trump's take: "If they win, I should get all the credit. If they lose, I should not be blamed at all"/"When they win, I don't get any credit, and if they do badly, they will blame everything on me."

"[Wisconsin] Assembly Speaker Robin Vos easily held onto his seat Tuesday after a write-in campaign was launched by a candidate endorsed by former President Donald Trump."

 The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. 

The attack on Vos symbolizes the intense discontent within the base of the Wisconsin GOP following the 2020 election, a loss for Trump that the former president and his supporters argue could have been overturned by Vos. Vos has rejected that idea, repeatedly refusing to take the illegal and impossible act of decertifying the election result, but Trump has pressed the case for more than a year — calling Vos out in statements blasted to millions of supporters and endorsing Steen in the final weeks of the primary race. Criticizing Vos became part of base Republicans' identity over the course of the last year, pushing allies of Vos who were running for statewide office to distance themselves. Two candidates for governor launched their campaigns as referendums on Vos. Dozens of county GOP officials passed resolutions calling for Vos' resignation....

This is my third post of the morning, and all 3 bear the tag "Trump lost in 2022."

WaPo headline: "Trump absorbs GOP losses, while DeSantis glows with landslide victory/Early returns suggested setbacks for the former president’s endorsed candidates, and several potential 2024 rivals appeared emboldened."

That says a lot.

The former president spent the final days of the campaign lashing out and even threatening Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose apparent interest in running against Trump has puzzled him, according to advisers who spoke on the condition of anonymity to reflect private conversations.

The Florida governor didn’t return fire, other than to hold his own campaign event on Saturday, competing with a Trump rally in Miami and further irking the former president.

Come election night, however, it was DeSantis holding the ebullient victory party, having won reelection in a 20-point landslide, almost 15 points better than Trump’s 2020 margin in their shared home state.

At the party, DeSantis’s supporters chanted “Two more years!” — encouraging the governor to seek the presidency before finishing his second term.

Last night's biggest loser: Trump.

That's my hypothesis, glancing through the news reports in the middle of the night. I'll highlight evidence — beginning with this: Kari Lake didn't win?! After all that buzz?

November 8, 2022

Let's talk about the election returns.

Sunrise — 6:45.

IMG_3809 Please talk about anything you want... except the election returns. The post above this will be for that.


This post embedded what is now a deleted tweet. James Woods (@RealJamesWoods) responded to someone who was unfollowing him because of his language.

Woods wrote:
I’m sure you’re not expecting a response, but I am willing to address your concerns. And you may be further surprised that I hear your point. Vulgarity is beneath all of us, if we truly wish to “hear” the “other side.”

Unfortunately for you, I don’t.

So blow me.

"But should representation and abstraction be regarded as ideologies? I don’t think so."

"It’s true that styles have sometimes been given an ideological spin. Hitler and Stalin were doing that when they embraced the art of the figure and banned everything else. Avant-gardists have all too often regarded abstraction as a symbol of human progress. But representation and abstraction—and their almost limitless variations—are anything but ideological absolutes, at least not when they are celebrated by a solitary artistic explorer.... 'Postmodernism' is a term we hear much less than we did twenty years ago, but the postmodern emphasis on a relaxation of artistic dispute—a sense that art history has ended and we are now enjoying a creative free-for-all—is one way of understanding the collapse of representation and abstraction as distinct value systems.... Of course, the problem with belief systems is that they can become sclerotic...." 

From "Between Abstraction and Representation/Artists today think they no longer have to choose between two opposed artistic traditions. But what is being lost in this eclecticism?" by Jed Perl (NYRB).

"Of course, the problem with belief systems is that they can become sclerotic"... and the problem with no beliefs at all is that after a short period of saying things like "postmodernism," nothing seems worth talking about at all. 


I'm reading "Hillary Clinton Accepted Her Loss, but a Lot Has Changed Since 2016" by Lynn Vavreck, a political scientist at UCLA (NYT).

With both parties nationally viable, victory is always within reach, and this has calcified our politics — making voters less likely to try out the other side and making every election critical.... There is less chance for new or dramatic events — like a global pandemic, a social justice movement or an insurrection — to change people’s minds.... [I]t’s polarization plus....

Calcification has four parts: an increasing similarity among voters within each party in terms of issue positions, ideology and characteristics; an increasing distance between the two parties on these same things; the rise of issues turning on fundamental identities — of race, ethnicity, gender and religion — to the top of voters’ priorities; and the rough partisan balance between Democrats and Republicans in the electorate.

Have you voted yet?

Any observations?

UPDATE: We voted. We were the 302nd and 303rd voters at our polling place. There was no line.

UPDATE 2: An hour after we returned from voting, I said, out of the blue: "Do you think we voted for all the same candidates or do you think we cancelled each other out a little bit?"

"Cornell University announced the temporary suspension of all fraternity parties and social events in a statement on Monday..."

"... following alerts from the school’s Police Department over the weekend that one student was sexually assaulted and at least four others were drugged at off-campus residences affiliated with fraternities registered with the school.... The Cornell police said they were made aware on Nov. 4 of at least four students who said they drank little or no alcohol at off-campus parties in recent weeks but became incapacitated. The students told the officers they had been 'exposed to Rohypnol,' the so-called date-rape drug."

The NYT reports.

"But the new flood of money — and the way many female athletes are attaining it — troubles some who have fought for equitable treatment in women’s sports..."

"... and say that it rewards traditional feminine desirability over athletic excellence. And while the female athletes I spoke to said they were consciously deciding whether to play up or down their sexuality, some observers say that the market is dictating that choice. Andrea Geurin, a researcher of sports business at Loughborough University in England, studied female athletes trying to make the Rio Olympics in 2016, many of them American collegians. 'One of the big themes that came out is the pressure that they felt to post suggestive or sexy photos of themselves' on social media, Geurin said.... Scroll through the social media posts from female college athletes across the United States and you will find that a significant through line on many of the women’s accounts is the well-trod and well-proven notion that sexiness sells."

From "New Endorsements for College Athletes Resurface an Old Concern: Sex Sells/Female college athletes are making millions thanks to their large social media followings. But some who have fought for equity in women’s sports worry that their brand building is regressive" (NYT). 

1. Is it regressive of the NYT to illustrate that article with many photos of scantily clad lovely young women?

2. Once we're following sports at all, we're staring at the bodies of people with great bodies. We're talking about spectator sports. What part of spectating is superior to other parts of spectating? 

3. When you participate in sports, isn't some part of what you are doing about trying to look good?

4. The article conflates good looks and sexiness. The only "sexiness" it's talking about is good looks. Ironically, that's retrograde. If a woman is just being seen looking great, to say she's using her sexuality is sexist.

"'Monarchy is God’s sacred mission to grace and dignify the Earth,' Queen Mary says sternly. 'To give ordinary people an ideal to strive toward.'"

"Elizabeth, inscrutable even in her younger years, gives her a long look. If it was wishful thinking in Season 1, it is a joke by Season 5. The new season, which premieres Wednesday, finds the royal family in 1991, in the thick of one of the ugliest periods of its recent history.... Conveniently for the real-life king... the show’s depiction of the dissolution of his marriage to Diana presents a challenge to the version of events that has calcified into the American collective memory over the past three decades. Season 4 reinforced that version: Diana’s struggles with depression and self-harming behaviors were portrayed as outgrowths of the royal family’s chilly demeanor and tacit approval of her husband’s infidelity. But Season 5 presents a reversal. Charles? Less evil than you think, it seems to say. Diana? Kind of a little twerp, now and again.... [B]y the time she quips her famous 'I’d like to be queen of people’s hearts' line to Bashir, it feels almost duplicitous."

From "‘The Crown,’ good as ever, may change your opinion of Charles and Diana/Season 5 of the Netflix drama finds the royals spiraling into chaos but tells compelling stories about almost all of them" by Ashley Fetters Maloy (WaPo).

By the way, I love the name Ashley Fetters Maloy. I've been noticing names that form sentences since I encountered the surname Peed — 40 years ago.

Is Elon Musk a screwup?

1. "Elon Musk’s ‘Hyperloop Prototype’ Was Always a Gimmick" (NY Magazine)("The so-called hyperloop is a theoretical pneumatic-tube transportation system that promises supersonic, emissions-free ground transportation, and people have been talking about it since the 19th century... [Musk] started tweeting about it... which led to many breathless profiles, which led to many people believing that Musk not only invented the concept of the hyperloop but was on the verge of building it").

2. "Elon Musk Is Bad at This/The Musk era of Twitter has so far been defined by unhinged tweets, fleeing advertisers, and botched layoffs" (The Atlantic)("Musk’s fans see the billionaire as a visionary, but it’s worth noting that many casual observers—people whose only real understanding of Musk is as the guy who put the fancy electric cars on their streets—have also internalized the heuristic that he is Good at Business and the type of man who spends his waking moments dreaming of how to save humanity from its existential problems. But what the past two weeks demonstrate is that Musk is, at best, a mediocre executive—and undoubtedly a terrible, distracted manager").

3. "Elon Musk has discussed putting all of Twitter behind a paywall/So far Twitter Blue is a mess and might even lose money" (The Verge)("Managers agonized over the [firing] decisions and jockeyed with their peers in an effort to preserve employment for the most vulnerable among them: pregnant women, employees who have cancer, and workers on visas among them").

4. Neuralink? "Elon Musk’s Neuralink is neuroscience theater/Elon Musk’s livestreamed brain implant event made promises that will be hard to keep" (MIT Technology)(“In a lot of ways,” Musk said, “It’s kind of like a Fitbit in your skull, with tiny wires").

5. There will never be colonies of human beings living on Mars! Some people just love this fantasy, but come on!

6. I saw a Tesla driving in my neighborhood yesterday and I said out loud: "I'll bet a lot of Tesla owners are mad that the thing they thought made them look cool now seems right wing."

"Simply, an Ivy League education can hide incompetence for a very, very long time."

"How to the watch election results live on CNN, MSNBC, and elsewhere free without cable."

 FastCompany has the links I wanted to see.

"'Low-Energy Jeb,' 'Lyin’ Ted,' and 'Liddle Marco,' might disagree about the power of Trump’s nicknames, but ... Trump has been off his nickname game for some time..."

"... and 'Ron DeSanctimonious' is certainly an improvement on recent head-scratchers like Letitia 'Peekaboo' James, Mitch 'Broken Old Crow' McConnell, and Elaine 'Coco' Chao. But 'DeSanctimonious' feels a little too workshopped … possibly because it was literally workshopped. The New York Times reports: 'Mr. Trump has been privately testing derisive nicknames for Mr. DeSantis with his friends and advisers....' Trump settled on the new nickname on Friday, according to the Times, after DeSantis’s wife tweeted a laughably over-the-top video that suggests the governor was literally sent by God to bully teens, harass migrants, and protect children from life-saving vaccines.... ... [S]anctimony generally isn’t the top term that springs to mind when one thinks of DeSantis (that’s more Pence’s vibe). Plus the moniker doesn’t feel authentically Trump; when he tweeted an attack on 'Sanctimonious James Comey' back in March 2018, it set off a Twitter debate over whether the then-president actually came up with the SAT-word insult himself."

From "Ron DeSanctimonious Is a Low-Energy Trump Nickname" by Margaret Hartmann (NY Magazine).

Here's the ad in question:


One thing Trump did was cause most people to talk about Trump. Here was this very creative, well-produced ad, released on the eve of the election and Trump diverted the attention from DeSantis to himself. And with just one word — "sanctimonious."

"We’re not just disappointed. This is the end of democracy…. Democracy died tonight…. This was it. If we didn’t win tonight, the end of the U.S.A. as we know it just happened."

It's election day today, at long last.

The post title is something a disappointed voter said, in tears, in 2012, after the failure of the effort to recall the duly elected Governor of Wisconsin.

You can see video of the desolate man here, embedded in a post of mine from 2017. I used it in one of my 6 reflections on the Washington Post's new motto "Democracy Dies in Darkness."

I'm steeling myself for the emotionalism of the day. There will be winners and losers, but how desperately mournful will the losers be?

If you actually believed in democracy, you wouldn't assert that if you don't win, democracy has died... especially if you'd spent the last 2 years denouncing those who won't acknowledge the legitimacy of their own defeat.

November 7, 2022

Sunrise — 6:43.


"Some Latino voters say the Republican Party supports their hopes for economic advancement."

"That is the case for Luiz Oliveira, 63, an immigrant from Brazil who owns three coffee shops in the Las Vegas area. 'I came here with a dream to live the American dream, and many other immigrants have the same dream,' he said. He said he is wary of Democratic policies that seem too much like socialism. 'Socialism will kill my dream, kill my business,' he said. The Journal poll, which included a large sample of Latino voters, found that views within that group differed by education level. Latino voters with a four-year college degree substantially favored a Democratic candidate over a Republican—61% to 32%—whereas Republicans led or were at parity among those with lower levels of formal education.... 'Black working-class and Hispanic working-class people have a lot more in common with white working-class people than many people have been willing to believe,' said Ruy Teixeira, a demographer at the American Enterprise Institute who writes often on the subject." 

From "GOP Gaining Support Among Black and Latino Voters, WSJ Poll Finds/Republicans appear to be in a better position with both groups heading into the midterms than they were in 2020 or 2018" (Wall Street Journal).

For more from Ruy Teixeira, here's "Hispanic Voters on the Eve of the 2022 Election/Hispanic Voters Are Normie Voters and Normie Voters Aren’t Happy." I was going to blog that a few days ago, but I got so sidetracked into the use of the term "normie"! He writes:

In short, they are normie voters. And like other normie voters, if they feel Democrats are falling short on the things normie voters care about, they are more than willing to punish the party they hold responsible.

"Readers may recall that during Donald Trump’s presidency, we established a new category, the Bottomless Pinocchio..."

"... to account for false or misleading statements repeated so often that they became a form of propaganda. A statement would get added to the list if it had earned a Three or Four Pinocchios rating and been repeated at least 20 times. By the end of the Trump presidency, 56 claims made by Trump had qualified. Now..."

Writes the Washington Post fact checker, Glenn Kessler in "A Bottomless Pinocchio for Biden — and other recent gaffes."

The 2022 elections are not until tomorrow, but already we see what's going to happen. Biden's about to get the bum's rush.

"Artist and director Em Cooper explored the space between dreaming and wakefulness, working on an animation rostrum on sheets of celluloid."

She painted every frame individually in oil-paint, a labourious process which took many months." 


I was alerted to the existence of that new video by the new Wings of Pegasus analysis of "I'm Only Sleeping" on the new "special" edition of "Revolver." Wings take a strong position against pitch correction and explains why it's not an insult to say that John was singing "flat": "Instead of saying 'flat, flat, flat,' we should be saying 'emotion, emotion, emotion'...."

"The more serious that an artist takes themselves, the easier it is to lampoon them, because it doesn’t take much to pop the bubble of pretentiousness."

"And thankfully [Nirvana had] a good sense of humor about it, too. But there are some songs that people are just, like, waiting for the Weird Al treatment: 'Oh, Al’s going to step in and, like, take this down a peg.'... [S]ometimes my parody didn’t work so well, because I was parodying something that was already perceived as not all that serious.... Most artists in pop culture are very serious.... But I always like to make sure that the artist and songwriters feel respected."

Said Weird Al, quoted in "How Weird Al Spoofed Himself/In a new bio-pic, the singer applies his talents to a surprising subject: his own rise to stardom" (The New Yorker).

Al reveals that the reason Daniel Radcliffe was chosen to play the lead in the bio-pic is that he'd done this...


"There’s no philosophy, not really, in 'The Philosophy of Modern Song.'"

Writes Dwight Garner in "Bob Dylan Breaks Down 66 Classic Tunes in His New Book/'The Philosophy of Modern Song' offers commentaries on a range of music, written in the singer’s unmistakable lyrical style" (NYT)

I'm reading the book, and I've been asking myself, as I go, where's the philosophy? My working answer is the reader has to put together the philosophy. Dylan is providing a lot of raw material, but can't you see what he's saying?

You know there's a philosophy, but you don't know what it is, do you?

Mr. Garner writes:

These riffs, which he flicks like tarot cards through a distant cactus, sound a lot like his own song lyrics....

Much of the book is Dylan paraphrasing lyrics from songs, and it's only subtly obvious that Dylan's words are better, deeper, more mysterious. What I'm seeing is that for every song — or almost every song — he heightens the inward emotional structure of the main character in the song.

But Garner gets weary (book reviewers do get weary):

Let's talk about blue checks.

Some fodder:


ALSO: I expect this to come up, so I'll include it here: "Twitter suspends Kathy Griffin’s account for impersonating Elon Musk" (NY Post).

Despite her handle showing her own @kathygriffin name, the moniker by her blue checkmark said “Elon Musk” — which goes against the company policy against impersonation....

I presume she'll be allowed back, because Musk later tweeted: 

“Going forward, any Twitter handles engaging in impersonation without clearly specifying ‘parody’ will be permanently suspended.... Previously, we issued a warning before suspension, but now that we are rolling out widespread verification, there will be no warning. This will be clearly identified as a condition for signing up to Twitter Blue.”

I'm seeing some people calling Griffin's suspension "permanent," but Musk wrote "Going forward." 

"I was so angry and just irritated at seeing man after man — you know, typically, male politicians — grandstanding about abortion."

Said Gabrielle Blair, quoted in "Gabrielle Blair Would Like a Word With Men/After 16 years of making a name for herself as a blogger and home decor expert, Design Mom has written her manifesto — about reproductive health" by Kase Wickman (NYT).

The NYT article seems to be a reaction to the fact that a book Blair created out of a 64-post-long Twitter thread has debuted at No. 2 on The New York Times’s paperback nonfiction best-seller list.

Here's the Twitter thread, and here's the book: “Ejaculate Responsibly: A Whole New Way to Think About Abortion.” 

Now, my readers may be saying tough luck for Althouse. She could have written a book called "Don't Be a Splooge Stooge," but Blair got to the best-seller list first. Of all my unwritten books, that's the one I'm least sad about not devoting a year of my life to.

November 6, 2022

Sunrise — 6:31.


I've got 5 TikToks to scare away the darkness on this first standard-time evening.

1. The nicest thing she's ever done for anyone is something she's going to do in the future.

2. You don't think — just because you're punk — I only want the cool people to like me.

3. Polar night is not depressing.

4. The kindergarten teacher tries to tell her class that she just got engaged.

5. A 1955 cake recipe calls for two 27-ounce cans of pinto beans.

Sunrise at 6:21.



"King Charles and Queen Camilla... occupy three bedrooms: one shared room and an individual private boudoir each."

"The arrangement has been hailed as a recipe for marital harmony: no recriminations about toast crumbs on the duvet or arguments over whether to invite the Jack Russell terriers aboard, and plenty of space to starfish. And it turns out that King Charles is a bedroom trendsetter. The latest YouGov sleep study reveals that one in five couples have switched to separate beds (or opted for sleep divorce, as it’s cheerily known), with women (41 per cent) more likely than men (33 per cent) to say they sleep better alone...."

From "Are you ‘sleep divorced’? Here’s why single beds are back" (London Times).

What, exactly, is a boudoir? I get it that there are 3 bedrooms, and like the idea of 3 connected rooms, which could work very well in a house to accommodate the varied sleep patterns of a married couple and also be usable as guest bedrooms, but what makes an extra bedroom into a "boudoir." That sounds exciting, but why?

"She unfurled the floral fabric wrapping to reveal a rose-scented nest of tobacco. 'You could put it in your bath and soak in it...'"

"... her friend explained. 'I did the other day and afterwards I just lay on my bed for three hours. It was intense.' Others joined in with their new-age nicotine experiences. Some had drunk tobacco juice in the Amazon jungle, which made them 'purge' (never 'projectile vomit,' please), but was worth it for the 'most incredible clarity.' Others had 'smudged' with it — ie wafted the smoke around in order to 'clear negative energy' — or had 'shamanic snuff' (powdered tobacco) blown up their noses through a special pipe ('so grounding')."

From "WHY TOBACCO IS THE NEW (LEGAL) WELLNESS INGREDIENT/Bathe in it, drink it, waft it around — but whatever you do, don’t smoke it" (London Times).

"The take of the 'feminist art historian' is that a painting of a paid model, 'a fat woman' who’s 'old' as she states, 'can only be grotesque' and is 'truly horrible.'"

"That doesn’t seem very feminist, does it? Does the self-identified feminist think Freud should only paint beautiful young models with perfect bodies instead of normal human beings? I’m so confused."

A comment on the NYT article "Lucian Freud, Stripped of Fame and Scandal/A major London exhibition asks viewers to put aside the details of the artist’s tumultuous life and concentrate on his paintings." 

"Mr. Trump’s approach, gleeful culture war combativeness atop core conservative principles, delivered both short-term policy wins..."

"... and long-sought victories for his party’s base, like tax cuts, a long procession of conservative federal judges, a Supreme Court majority that overturned Roe v. Wade, the American Embassy moved to Jerusalem. He also pleased the Republican right by giving the party a new focus on immigration and shifting its foreign policy away from wars and nation-building in the Middle East. The Republican Party’s strategy in 2022 has been to double down on the Trump approach. Its candidates for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania and Georgia, Herschel Walker and Mehmet Oz, are celebrities without political experience, as is Kari Lake, a former Phoenix area news anchor who is now the Republican nominee for governor of Arizona. Blake Masters... J.D. Vance.... The Republican Party [is]... set to elect a wave of right-wing candidates who will shape American politics in the years ahead with or without Mr. Trump. The Republicans, in short, are taking entrepreneurial risks and have the initiative....."

From "Republicans Are Doubling Down on Trumpism. It’s Going to Work," a NYT op-ed by Daniel McCarthy, the editor of Modern Age: A Conservative Review.

When a Hollywood movie shows an Arab country.

@rudyayoub Didn’t expect this lmao #guitar #middleeast #hollywood #guitarist #music #musican ♬ original sound - RudyAyoub

The bankruptcy barrel.

I was amused by these "Exclusive Emojis from Elon Musk" drawings from Barry Blitt (in The New Yorker). Please check them all out. I'm just going to focus on one (and not because it's the best in the set of 12):


I just want to talk about the image — which I've seen all my life — of a guy wearing a barrel. I understand it means you're so poor you don't have even a shred of normal clothing and your only hope of modesty is wearing this very bulky, unwieldy object, the barrel.

Did you survive the fall back?

We were up at 3.