December 6, 2023

"'I decided that I didn’t want to be a woman before I had ever experienced being a woman. I had no idea what being a woman was like because I was a child.'"

"'Now I feel like I will never entirely know,' [Prisha Mosley] said in the first of a series of YouTube video diaries that drew more than 1,750 subscribers. She started to cry. 'I just took the cure that was handed to me,' she said through sobs. '… I just don’t want anyone else to feel this way. I lost my voice. I lost my chest. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to have kids. I feel like no one wants to date me or love me because I’m ruined.'... In July, she sued the North Carolina doctors, therapists and clinics who provided her with surgery, hormones and other gender-affirming care, alleging fraud and malpractice.... Mosley told The Post that she supports government efforts to expand mental health care instead of gender-affirming care, 'so that individuals suffering from gender dysphoria can have something to reach toward that doesn’t make their condition worse. Whatever the child is experiencing is real — such as mental illness, gender dysphoria, thoughts of suicide. Those feelings should be validated,' Mosley said. 'The trans delusion, however, is not true....'"

Writes Molly Hennessey-Fiske, in "'Detransitioners' wield influence in shaping conservative transgender laws" (WaPo).

"The latest version of the College Board’s A.P. African American studies framework... leaves out critical race theory and structural racism...."

"L.G.B.T.Q. issues continue to be mostly absent, except to mention that the civil rights leader Bayard Rustin was gay. And despite the course’s origins around the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, study of the movement is optional. The curriculum does mention 'systemic oppression' and 'systemic marginalization,' ideas closely related to critical race theory and structural racism — terms that have been banned from classrooms in many states. Those concepts have origins in legal theory, and refer to the idea that racism is embedded in the legal system, education system and other institutions..... The course has been subjected to repeated revisions, tense political negotiations and scrutiny from scholars.... Traditionally, A.P. courses culminate in timed tests, graded 1 to 5, in which students have had to earn 3 or better to qualify for college credit, regardless of their class performance. But given deep disparities in how low-income, Black and Hispanic students perform on those tests, the Board is increasingly experimenting with classes that culminate in projects or presentations...."

"A dearth of charging infrastructure is one of the top reasons Americans say they won’t buy an electric car."

Woefully bland caption under a photograph at the Politico article "Congress provided $7.5B for electric vehicle chargers. Built so far: Zero. The sluggish rollout could undermine President Joe Biden’s reelection messaging promoting electric vehicles."

They've taken us so insanely deeply into debt, but what if we had a brilliant, beautiful, well-functioning, modernized national infrastructure to show for it? 

Did we get anything?!

And look how quickly that headline shifts to the infuriatingly banal question what does it mean for Joe Biden's reelection potential.

Goodbye to Norman Lear.

"Norman Lear, Whose Comedies Changed the Face of TV, Is Dead at 101/As the producer of 'All in the Family' and many other shows, Mr. Lear showed that it was possible to be topical, funny and immensely popular" (NYT).
“You looked around television in those years,” Mr. Lear said in a 2012 New York Times interview, referring to the middle and late 1960s, “and the biggest problem any family faced was ‘Mother dented the car, and how do you keep Dad from finding out’; ‘the boss is coming to dinner, and the roast’s ruined.’ The message that was sending out was that we didn’t have any problems.”

ADDED: I've written about Norman Lear on this blog a few times:

July 27, 2022: I blogged Norman Lear's NYT piece — "On My 100th Birthday, Reflections on Archie Bunker and Donald Trump" — and said: "Lear says Archie, if he were around today, would probably watch Fox News and vote for Trump. Probably?! He also imagines that Archie would have disapproved of the January 6th incursion on the Capitol. But why? Seems to me he'd approve, but Lear doesn't want him to, so okay. "

2 from Glenn Greenwald.

"Even though he has opponents in the primary, the party leadership has ordered that only Biden will appear on the primary ballot."

"And if you want to register your discontent with Biden with a write-in vote, forget about it. Under Florida law, if the party approves only one name, there will be no primary ballots at all. The party just called the election for Biden before a single vote has been cast.... In other states, Democratic politicians and lawyers.... are seeking to bar Trump from ballots under a novel theory... that Trump must be taken off the ballots because he gave 'aid and comfort' to an 'insurrection or rebellion.'...  In a recent filing supporting this effort, figures as prominent as media lawyer Floyd Abrams and Berkeley Dean Erwin Chemerinsky have told the Colorado Supreme Court that preventing voters from being able to cast their votes for Trump is just a way of 'fostering democracy.'... Some national polls show Trump as the most popular candidate for the 2024 election... Yet, despite 74 million voters supporting Trump in the last election, these Democrats are insisting that voters should not be allowed to vote for him, in the name of democracy...."

"George Floyd was saying 'I can't breathe' when he was standing up straight and just being coaxed to get into the car."

"What they were trying to do was take him somewhere to get treatment, because the drugs were severely addling his mind and he wouldn't get in the car. And he starts saying, breathing air, standing up, 'I can't breathe, I can't breathe,' when nobody is anywhere near his neck or anything else. George Floyd was extremely high on fentanyl and meth to an extent that could have killed him sitting in a chair. If you're on fentanyl in particular, you get something called 'wooden chest,' where you can't breathe if you've got that much in you. That's how high he was."

Said John McWhorter, in a discussion with with Glenn Loury, quoted at Loury's Substack, under the provocative title, "Derek Chauvin Did Not Murder George Floyd."

"Trump and the Republicans held leads on... being for working people (a 7-point advantage), standing up to elites (8 points)..."

"... being able to get things done for the American people (12 points), feeling safe (12 points) and keeping wages and salaries up with the cost of living (17 points)... [and] patriotism (11 points), crime (17 points), immigration (20 points) and border security (22 points)... [and] opposing extremism (3 points), getting beyond the chaos (6 points) and protecting the Constitution (8 points)."
Writes Thomas Edsall, in "'This Is Grim,' One Democratic Pollster Says" (NYT), reporting the results of a poll of voters in battleground states and competitive House Districts. The poll was done by James Carville's group, Democracy Corps.

Biden and the Democrats only came out ahead on "women’s rights (ahead by 17 points), climate change (15 points), addressing racial inequality (10 points), health care (3 points), the president will not be an autocrat (plus 2) and protecting Democracy (plus 1)." 

Edsall quotes various pundits, but let me highlight one, Will Marshall, "president and founder of the center-left Public Policy Institute think tank":

December 5, 2023

Snow on the trees at dawn, this morning.

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Write about whatever you like in the comments, and, please, support this blog by going into Amazon through the Althouse portal when you have some shopping to do.

"He was the antidote to the Marvel-led glut of synthetic, bulging muscles that looked like CGI but were real and the brute brand of masculinity associated with that type of body."

"Blended with Chalamet’s otherwise standard-issue heartthrob characteristics (white, cis, floppy ’90s hair, pouty lips), all this led to an explosion of heartthrob idolatry.... But does a horde of die-hard stans anointing someone an Internet Boyfriend make him an actual sex symbol with all the onscreen heat, eye-fucking, and innate ability to seduce an entire audience that comes with it? Now, Chalamet is poised to star as Willy Wonka, perhaps one of the most sexless characters ever put to screen. Any actor who dares to don the chocolate-maker’s top hat knows there is no way to make the character fuckable; the role becomes a stress test of their sexiness.... [Wonka] might just be Chalamet’s sledgehammer to the whole Internet Boyfriend enterprise. If so, I say go forth, Chalamet, and leave your heartthrob days behind."

Writes in Allison P. Davis, in "The End of His Heartthrob Era/An assessment of Chalamet’s sex appeal as he steps into the role of Willy Wonka" (Vulture).

What do we really want from a male movie star... and the female writers who write about them? 

"I've thought a lot about what will happen to Tyler. It seems inevitable that less scrupulous people than the 'This American Life' team will find him..."

"... and want to use him for purposes that he may not competently evaluate. He's a young man and — you won't learn this listening to the podcast — unusually good looking. I can't believe there won't be offers to participate in filming a reality show. Wouldn't people love to see that house he's built out of scraps and wisteria vines and a horse trough? Wouldn't people love to hear him talk with Uncle Jimmy shouting 'Goddam right!' and 'Yes suh!' in the background? What is 'This American Life' doing to protect him? What can they do? What should they do?"

I wrote on April 1, 2017, in a post about the brilliant podcast "S-Town" ("Shit-town").

I'm reading that this afternoon because I see the NYT headline "Tyler Goodson of ‘S-Town’ Podcast Is Shot Dead in Police Standoff/Mr. Goodson, who had been featured in the investigative podcast set in the town of Woodstock, Ala., 'brandished a gun at officers' before he was fatally shot, the authorities said."

Go now.

"Denny Laine has died...," my son John lets me know.

Are you joining me in Burlington, Vermont?

If you're on Spotify, you, like me, got its "Wrapped 2023," summarizing our taste in music based on what we actually listened to. It tells each of us that "one place listened just like you," as an image of the globe rotates and homes in on one place.

I got Burlington, Vermont:

Turns out Meade too got Burlington, Vermont — or "Burlington, USA" as Spotify puts it — even though he didn't have those same 3. 

Then I was watching TikTok and...

In the realm of law school rankings and affirmative action: "There is no subterfuge here."

I'm reading "Law schools love to hate U.S. News rankings. But some can’t let go. Yale law’s decision to stop cooperating with the publication landed like a thunderclap. Records show what other schools thought about the 'revolution.'"

Let me drag this key passage out of the middle:
As schools weighed their decisions, some questioned the purity of the boycotters’ motives. One theory: Some schools, correctly anticipating that the Supreme Court would soon strike down race-based affirmative action, could be planning admissions changes that would hurt them in the rankings but preserve diversity. The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board surmised as much, saying, “The Yale and Harvard announcements look like attempts to adapt in advance.”

When the University of Michigan’s law dean heard this theory from an alumnus, he dismissed it, saying in an email shortly after Yale’s announcement that his school’s decision to withdraw was “100% not connected to any Supreme Court ruling.”

“There is no subterfuge here,” wrote Mark West, dean at Michigan, which ranked 10th at the time.

Why have anti-Trump Republicans chosen Nikki Haley as the one who should beat Trump?

I see, in the NYT, "Some Republicans Have a Blunt Message for Chris Christie: Drop Out/Several anti-Trump Republican donors and strategists are pushing Mr. Christie to end his presidential campaign and back Nikki Haley."

Obviously, it's getting late, and it doesn't seem as though anyone (other than Trump himself) can stop Trump from getting the nomination, but why this convergence on Haley? When I click on my "Nikki Haley" tag to see what I've found notable about her over the course of the campaign, I see nothing I like. She wanted to require everyone on social media to post under their real names. Her idea for the war against Hamas was, bluntly, "Finish them. Finish them." She called Vivek Ramaswamy "scum." He called her "Dick Cheney in 3-inch heels." And she's talked about her heels repeatedly. (She announced her candidacy with the statement: "I don’t put up with bullies. And when you kick back, it hurts them more if you’re wearing heels.")

Googling "Why is Nikki Haley the best choice to beat Trump," I got: "Senate anti-Trump GOP see Haley as best hope to avoid disaster." That was published yesterday in The Hill. The idea there is:

December 4, 2023

Sunrise — 7:11.

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Oh! He's getting credit for sophistication now.

Trump is no longer a wild crazy idiot. Pay attention to the reframing.

I'm reading "Why a Second Trump Presidency May Be More Radical Than His First/Donald Trump has long exhibited authoritarian impulses, but his policy operation is now more sophisticated, and the buffers to check him are weaker" in The New York Times.

"Holy smokes. We've reached a new low. First people wanted to stop interacting in person. Now they don't want to be seen on screen."

"You can't put on 'work clothes' (whatever those are today)? You can't put yourself together the way you would if you went to an actual office? It's pretty simple. Put yourself on camera and don't eat during the meeting unless that's part of agenda (i.e., it's a working lunch). Sure, turn the camera and mic off then. But jump back on as soon as it's appropriate (if you need to check your teeth after you've eaten, go ahead and do that off-camera, too)."

Jump back on... that lingo disturbs me, and I'm retired. Nobody can nudge me about "jumping" on camera. But I understand the problem well enough to find TikTok's #CorporateErin endlessly hilarious.

"Biden was initially ambivalent about the term, then embraced it — but 'Bidenomics' has recently disappeared from his prepared speeches...."

Explains Axios, in "House Democrats ditch 'Bidenomics' messaging."
• The term was seen as tone-deaf to voters still struggling economically and also invoked a president with lackluster polling numbers. 
• One Democratic strategist said the biggest problem wasn't using "Biden," but that the term was too philosophical and required too much explanation.

"Biden is also known to swim naked."

Said the commenter Kevin, at my post about President Theodore Roosevelt wading, naked, in winter, in Rock Creek Park, where passersby might look on.

That made me want to look back at my post on the subject — here it is, February 17, 2021 — because I seem to remember thinking — while others evinced outrage — that it's fine and not sexual behavior to swim naked in your own pool, and if you're stuck with Secret Service protection, it's their job to endure it stoically. I'd quoted Biden:
"[L]iving in the White House.... it's a little like a gilded cage.... The vice president's residence is totally different. You're on 80 acres overlooking the rest of the city. And you can walk out. There's a swimming pool. You can walk off the porch in the summer and jump in a pool and go into work...."

I said: 

The Oxford "Word of the Year" is one of those Gen Z slang words that is just an abbreviated version of a regular word.

It's "rizz" — short for "charisma."

Reported here in the NYT, which offers some detail on the procedure, because you want assurance that the selection is not rigged:

"Cher joins the Rolling Stones with at least one new No. 1 on a Billboard songs chart in each of the seven decades from the 1960s through the 2020s...."

Billboard reports.

Go to the link if you want to see the names of all those #1s in all the relevant decades.

I've always loved Cher, but for me that means the Cher of 1965 (and the Cher of "Moonstruck"). But if she wants to do a Christmas recording, it's pretty much the way I feel about Bob Dylan doing a Christmas album. Go ahead. Do what you want. You've earned it. And I will continue to avoid the annual avalanche of Christmas music.

Anyway, click if you like. It's Cher's #1 Christmas song:

Having created a new tag and added it to 7 posts in this blog's archive, I list the 7 posts in an order other than chronological.

The new tag is "Edmund Morris."

The list:

1. September 4, 2004 — Studying the recent spike in the phrase "barking mad," I quote Edmund Morris's reaction to Maureen Dowd's calling him "barking mad" — "Like all barking mad people, I feel perfectly normal."

2. November 28, 2010 — That time Edmund Morris reamed Bob Shieffer on "Face the Nation," and I compared him to Peter Finch in "Network" and Marisa Tomei in "My Cousin Vinny."

3. December 4, 2023 — President Theodore Roosevelt waded naked in Rock Creek in full view of onlookers, described by Edmund Morris.

4. November 16, 2023 — TR's smelling of arsenic, as described by Edmund Morris

5. June 24, 2004 — Edmund Morris has a theory about how Ronald Reagan came to think the way he did: "Not until he put on his mother’s spectacles, around the age of thirteen, did he perceive the world in all its sharp-edged intricacy."

6. December 1, 2023 — TR's "cyclonic" personality, as described by Edmund Morris.

7. April 25, 2004 — "Edmund Morris gives a pretty bad review to the brilliantly titled book about punctuation, 'Eats, Shoots & Leaves.'"

"On winter evenings in Rock Creek Park, strollers may observe the President of the United States wading pale and naked into the ice-clogged stream, followed by shivering members of his Cabinet."

From "The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt" by Edmund Morris (Amazon commission earned).

I finished reading this 1,162-page book yesterday. The last 2 sentences are fantastic: "As he ate his sandwiches he saw below him in the trees a ranger approaching, running, clutching the yellow slip of a telegram. Instinctively, he knew what message the man was bringing." Teddy, with sandwiches, ranger with telegram.

I was going to say "The last 2 sentences are perfect," but the "As" suggests a precise moment in time and so "sandwiches" — in the plural — is hard to picture/believe, even if Teddy did have multiple sandwiches for lunch. "Below him in the trees" is understood. He's in the mountains. (Here's the drop pin on Google maps).

The natural thing for me to do at that point was to go back to the beginning of the book. Is it wonderful or dismaying to see how many things surprise you when you reread a book you've just read? But there's the President, wading naked into Rock Creek — in winter, to be seen by casual passersby — on page 24. (Here's the drop pin for Rock Creek Park.)

Bob Dylan sang "But even the President of the United States/Sometimes must have to stand naked." But I've always thought of as meaning that the President must, like anyone else, need to get naked to take a shower. Or it's all metaphor, expressing an imperative that the President be fully exposed. But it will never be required that the President strip naked for winter river wading in full view of onlookers. 

December 3, 2023

At the Sunday Night Café...

 ... you can talk about whatever you want.

The NYT headline about Trump's Cedar Rapids speech is so close to WaPo's headline that I was afraid for a moment that I'd mistakenly attributed the NYT headline to WaPo...

... when I put up this post an hour ago.

The WaPo headline you see at that post is: "Trump attempts to spin anti-democracy, authoritarian criticism against Biden."

Will the history of Napoleon's return repeat itself?

I don't know, but let's compare 2 political cartoons on the subject.

First, here is what we get from The Washington Post today:

Second, here is what we got from Puck in 1912:

"Trump attempts to spin anti-democracy, authoritarian criticism against Biden/The former president declared his 2024 campaign as a 'righteous crusade' against 'tyrants and villains.'"

That's the headline at The Washington Post.

Form your own impression. Here's the entire tirade (yesterday, in Cedar Rapids):

I listened to the speech yesterday, a bit inattentively, because it struck me as a typical Trump speech, not any new concept. 

But the Post's idea is that he's responding to recent criticism:

"The leaders of the world have failed. They have failed to master the overriding concepts, the fundamentals and the day-to-day tactics."

"Societies have to find a way to solve their problems without continuously having a series of conflicts. That is the challenge. We have been facing a period of constant conflict resulting in a major wars destroying much of the civilization that has been built."

"We’re looking into finding ways to build a mechanism of coordination between all the swing states so that... Muslim Americans will come out in all of these states, and that Mr. Biden will lose each and every one of them."

Said Hassan Abdel Salam, "a professor at the University of Minnesota and a member of the #AbandonBiden National Coalition," quoted in "Swing-state Muslim leaders launch campaign to ‘abandon’ Biden in 2024/The bubbling anger among Arab and Muslim Americans over the president’s handling of the Israel-Hamas conflict could threaten his chances of reelection" (Politico).

December 2, 2023

Sunrise — 7:00.


Open thread in the comments... and please support this blog by using the Althouse Portal to Amazon to do your shopping (and thus sending me a commission).

"I used to always hear Democrats saying, 'The election was all just Trump’s racist appeals,' but I actually went to the rallies in 2015."

"He would talk about bad trade deals. He promised to bring back Glass-Steagall, which is the bill regulating finance. He talked about health insurance. He was going to do a plan that actually would cover all Americans and wasn’t going to be like a rat’s maze. And if you compare the ads, his ads were overwhelmingly more policy-oriented than Clinton’s. She was really just attacking him as a bad guy and it didn’t work.

Said John Judis, quoted in "Where Have All the Democrats Gone? John Judis and Ruy Teixeira explain how liberals lost their way" (The Free Press)(transcript and audio)(Judis and Teixeira are political analysts). 

The "Honestly" podcast host asks: "So, you didn’t anticipate that the party that said, 'We are the party of Paul Ryan, we’re the party of tax cuts, we’re the party of Milton Friedman,' would actually start to sound more liberal on economic policy?"

"This phrasing was a terrible mistake, as it implies that until recently Jews have been strangers to persecution...."

We were kicking him, and he moved his ass.

"Pelosi calls Santos a ‘coward’ for leaving chamber before expulsion vote closed" (The Hill).
“This is not a casual vote for us. It’s something you take very seriously and and he should have taken it seriously,” Pelosi told reporters following the vote, adding that he “should have been man about it.”
Be a man — I hadn't heard that in a while.

Was that a one-time pot shot, just for Santos? He's gay, right? On any other day, you'd be canceled for advising the gay man... or any man... to "be a man." But on very special days, there's one person who liberates everyone to say what they really think.

"Is it embarrassing that Santos was elected in the first place? Yes. But that’s democracy. Sometimes voters make mistakes."

"The role of members of Congress is to represent their constituents, not to overturn the will of the voters just because they believe those voters have acted unwisely."

I agree. The man was elected by the people of a small geographic area who have a chance every 2 years to pick some human being to represent them. If they picked a big clown, that's democracy for you. Deal with it. Hope that the other clowns are lesser clowns and can balance things out. Santos wasn't important, and fussing over him was always, as I see it, distraction. Distraction, too, is democracy. I get that.

December 1, 2023

View of the Wisconsin Capitol — with coots — at 7:04 a.m.


Open thread in the comments... and please support this blog by using the Althouse Portal to Amazon to do your shopping. That will send me a commission, encouragingly. 

"We are on Day Five of journalistic insistence on canceling an elementary school student by any means necessary."

"The man’s personality was cyclonic, in that he tended to become unstable in times of low pressure."

"The slightest rise in the barometer outside, and his turbulence smoothed into a whirl of coordinated activity, while a core of stillness developed within. Under maximum pressure Roosevelt was sunny, calm, and unnaturally clear.”

I'm reading "The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt" by Edmund Morris (Amazon Associates link/commission earned).

That passage jumped out at me, because I'd just heard Elon Musk say about himself "My mind often feels like a very wild storm."

"Music, I regret to say, affects me merely as an arbitrary succes­sion of more or less irritating sounds."

Wrote Vladimir Nabokov, quoted in "Who Doesn’t Like Music? Nabokov, For Starters On the Odd Case of the Musical Anhedonic" (via Metafilter).

The article is by Michel Faber, who says:
Musical anhedonics are thought to account for up to 5 percent of the world’s population....  The syndrome is often discussed in the same articles that pon­der the mysteries of autism.

"House Expels George Santos From Congress... 'To hell with this place,' he said after his colleagues ousted him."

The NYT reports.
Representative George Santos, the New York Republican... the subject of a 23-count federal indictment, was expelled from Congress on Friday after a bipartisan vote by his peers. The move consigned Mr. Santos, who over the course of his short political career invented ties to the Holocaust, Sept. 11 and the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, to a genuine place in history: He is the first person to be expelled from the House without first being convicted of a federal crime or supporting the Confederacy....

Who's next? Or is this a one-of-a-kind thing?

[H]e became a Republican Party liability....

"Since college, I have had an 'obese' to 'morbidly obese' body mass index — a measure that is at best inaccurate and at worst racist."

"Created by a Belgian mathematician, its average is based on the height and weight of white European men. I was what some in the body positivity movement would call a 'mid fat.' For a woman, that’s a size 20 to 24. There are differing opinions on how many 'fategories' there are, but they go up to 'infinifat' or 'Death Fat,' which is writer Lesley Kinzel’s term, mocking the also-very-suspect concept of 'morbid obesity.'... I still haven’t escaped my own fat shame.... Nearly everyone, except maybe sociopaths and Peloton instructors, goes through this world with some self-loathing...."

Here's a Fluffy Kitten Party post from 2019: "Fategories – Understanding the Fat Spectrum" (updated in 2021 to "remove[] the 'White Fragility' framework because WOW that did not age well)(original version here).

Sandra Day O'Connor has died.

"Sandra Day O’Connor, pathbreaking woman on Supreme Court, dies at 93/The court’s first female justice was known for her independence on the bench" (WaPo).

"Sandra Day O’Connor, First Woman on the Supreme Court, Is Dead at 93/During a crucial period in American law — when abortion, affirmative action, sex discrimination and voting rights were on the docket — she was the most powerful woman in the country" (NYT).

The NYT obituary is by Linda Greenhouse. Excerpt:
Fifty-one years old at the time of her nomination, she served for 24 years, retiring in January 2006 to care for her ailing husband. As the court moved to the right during that period, her moderate conservatism made her look in the end like a relative liberal.
From the WaPo obituary, by Fred Barbash:
She never went far enough in any area of the law to fully satisfy either conservatives or liberals of the day, Republicans or Democrats....

"A city cannot do 'good works' if it is financially challenged and if property taxes make housing unaffordable for homeowners and renters alike. Sadly, we are already there."

Writes Paul Soglin, the former mayor, in "Soglin: Madison faces ‘unprecedented fiscal crisis’/The former three-time mayor blames the mess on five years of bad decisions" (Isthmus).

Did Elon Musk use the word "blackmail" incorrectly? Jonathan Chait thinks so...

... and makes much of it, in "Elon Musk Doesn’t Understand What ‘Blackmail’ Means/Companies refusing to pay for your ads is not blackmail" (NY Magazine).

We were just talking about the Elon Musk statement — "If somebody's going to try to blackmail me with advertising — blackmail me with money — go fuck yourself" — and I, a law professor, didn't think of going technical on the word "blackmail." Musk wasn't purporting to make a legal argument, and he was speaking spontaneously, and it was easy to grasp what he was saying: You can't use money to control what I do. He wasn't using the word "fuck" literally either. 

Chait writes:
Blackmail is a specific crime in which the perpetrator threatens to release public information unless the victim pays them or performs some service.
But Chait isn't really about what legal terms technically mean. 

At the Newsom/DeSantis debate: feces thrown.

November 30, 2023

Sunrise — 7:07, 7:16.

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Talk about whatever you want in the comments, and please support this blog by using the Althouse Portal to Amazon to do your shopping, thus sending me a commission. I can recommend these Carhartt mittens for women, which I just bought for myself.

"If somebody's going to try to blackmail me with advertising — blackmail me with money? Go fuck yourself. Go fuck yourself. Is that clear? I hope it is. Hey, Bob, if you're in the audience."

Said Elon Musk, video at "Elon Musk to Advertisers Leaving X, Disney's Bob Iger: Don't Advertise, Go F*ck Yourself" (Real Clear Politics).

That's the way he says it: "If somebody's going to try to blackmail me with advertising — blackmail me with money...."

An alternative line reading would be "If somebody's going to try to blackmail me with advertising — blackmail me with money...."

An idea that is always there but I don't think he ever stresses is: Don't you understand how rich I am and what it means to me to be this rich?

Makes me think of "Citizen Kane" (who laughs off losing money and can publish his newspaper at a big loss for 60 years):

ADDED: I'm seeing a lot of clips of that Elon Musk interview. Here's the whole thing:

Meade takes a photo at 7:05 a.m.

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"[U]nlike everyone else, [Melania] was not wearing black...."

"[She wore a] gray tweed coat with a voluminous skirt, structured and tightly belted. It was reminiscent of the protective clothing, as well as the luxury labels, that became her signature during the Trump administration. The color and the style made her stand out, made her look a part of the pageantry but not of it. And they made the choice seem like a symbol — a sign, perhaps, of Mrs. Trump’s historic ambivalence toward the role of first lady and her reluctance to play to the expectations that surround it, as well as her husband’s norm-trampling tendencies...."

Writes Vanessa Friedman, in "Rare Gathering of Former First Ladies Shows Style, and Subtle/Differences United (mostly) in black, their differences were in the details" (NYT).

Notice that Friedman's description is not a criticism of Melania. It's respectful.

"How Did San Francisco Become the City in a ‘Doom Loop’?"

A NYT article by Soumya Karlamangla. Subheadline: "A conversation with Jesse Barron, who wrote about a high-profile attack in San Francisco and about worries over the city’s future." 

Karlamangla asks Barron:

You write about the “doom loop” idea — that San Francisco will spiral downward because all its problems are interwoven. But downtowns across the country have struggled after pandemic lockdowns. Why do you think that narrative has persisted so strongly in San Francisco?

The narrative? Barron answers:

The most obvious answer is that things are actually going wrong.

"In a matchup for the White House, President Joe Biden is virtually tied with former President Donald Trump among Minnesota voters...."

MinnPost reports.

There's a big gender gap: "Fifty-six percent of women polled, and just 35% of men, said they favor Biden. Meanwhile, just 32% of Minnesota women polled, and 53% of men, said they support Trump."

You have to go back to 1972 to find the last presidential election where Minnesota voted for the Republican:

"He advised 12 presidents — more than a quarter of those who have held the office — from John F. Kennedy to Joseph R. Biden Jr."

With a scholar’s understanding of diplomatic history, a German-Jewish refugee’s drive to succeed in his adopted land, a deep well of insecurity and a lifelong Bavarian accent that sometimes added an indecipherable element to his pronouncements, he transformed almost every global relationship he touched.... He was the only American to deal with every Chinese leader from Mao to Xi Jinping. In July, at age 100, he met Mr. Xi and other Chinese leaders in Beijing, where he was treated like visiting royalty even as relations with Washington had turned adversarial. He drew the Soviet Union into a dialogue that became known as détente, leading to the first major nuclear arms control treaties between the two nations. With his shuttle diplomacy, he edged Moscow out of its standing as a major power in the Middle East, but failed to broker a broader peace in that region. Over years of meetings in Paris, he negotiated the peace accords that ended the American involvement in the Vietnam War, an achievement for which he shared the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize...."

Writes David Sanger, in "Henry Kissinger Is Dead at 100; Shaped Nation’s Cold War History/The most powerful secretary of state of the postwar era, he was both celebrated and reviled. His complicated legacy still resonates in relations with China, Russia and the Middle East" (NYT).

With an eye fixed on the great power rivalry, he was often willing to be crudely Machiavellian, especially when dealing with smaller nations that he often regarded as pawns in the greater battle. 

November 29, 2023

Sunrise — 7:05, 7:14.

IMG_4406 3


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"The contradictions of a gay man falling in genuine love with a woman — while retaining his attraction to men — are captured..."

"... in a lovely passage using Bernstein’s score for the ballet 'Fancy Free' (which would morph into the Broadway musical 'On the Town'), turning the dance into a metaphorical pas de deux. (Or is it trois?).... Lenny is the free-spirited, wildly charismatic star of his and Felicia’s lives, but it’s Felicia who grounds him.... When tensions in their relationship reach their apotheosis, [Bradley] Cooper stages the showdown in their bedroom at the Dakota apartment building while the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade tootles by outside. Just as Felicia is hurling the most hurtful, damaging things she can say — warning her husband that if he isn’t careful, he’ll end up 'a lonely old queen' — a giant inflatable Snoopy floats by the window, a sad, whimsically surreal rebuke."

Okay. I'm all for such tootling. But is there any of "Radical Chic" in this new movie? (Read Tom Wolfe's great essay here, where it belongs, at New York Magazine.)

Trump's op-ed in Newsweek: "I Will Make America Great Again for Young People."

Link. Excerpt:
Under Joe Biden, we are a nation in decline and rapidly losing the American Dream. But Biden's destruction of the American economy is just the beginning of his war on young people. The Radical Left has also unleashed shocking waves of violent crime and bloodshed...

If I needed to follow John McWhorter's new rule, I would think of "they" as a nickname for the person, rather than a pronoun.

As we discussed here, yesterday, John McWhorter has proposed using the singular form of the verb with the pronoun "they" when it is used to refer to only one person. 

I'm writing a new post, not to repeat the discussion about whether that's a good idea, but because it seems as though it would be quite difficult to force yourself to use "bad" English, and I realized what I would do to make it easier. This is all assuming that I wanted or needed to use "is" and "has" and "wants" with "they." For that person — the singular "they" — I would visualize "they" as a name — a noun.

I once listened to the audio version of a novel in which one of the main characters was named Yuu — "Earthlings," blogged here and here. (Buy it here, and you'll be sending me a commission.) The narrator pronounced Yuu, "you." I got used to hearing things like: "Yuu was the same age as me.... Yuu has been my boyfriend.... Yuu always sticks close to Natsuki...." 

"Elon Musk voiced support Tuesday for Pizzagate, the long-debunked conspiracy theory that... the Clintons and Democratic Party leaders ran a secret satanic child sex ring..."

" a D.C. pizzeria known as Comet Ping Pong. The theory, a mainstay of fringe Donald Trump supporters during the 2016 presidential campaign, was labeled 'fictitious' by D.C. police investigators. Musk’s post was the latest in what has become a string of tweets in which Musk boosted debunked theories and comes just one day after he visited Israel to try to tamp down anger over an explosion of antisemitism on X that has caused a growing number of advertisers to flee."

Writes Drew Harwell, in "Elon Musk boosts Pizzagate conspiracy theory that led to D.C. gunfire/The far-right theory motivated a gunman to fire multiple rounds inside the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Northwest Washington in 2016. Musk boosted the theory to his 164 million followers anyway" (WaPo).

Musk wants action and gets it. WaPo feeds the... I don't want to call Musk a troll, but he's seeking to be fed and WaPo is feeding him. I like to quote my mother: You'll only encourage him.

Meanwhile, I wish these WaPo articles would put the precise text of the tweet in question much closer to vague characterizations like "voiced support." He's not absolved from all blame if he sticks to merely referring to things and expressing wonderment, but I need to know how close he came to saying something false or evil. The harder it is to find the actual text of the tweet, the more likely it seems that the characterization is slanted and inflammatory.

Ah. Here it is. The 7th paragraph:

"Zappa prods at a ludicrous cast of early-’70s hipsters, suggesting that their sense of authenticity is based on thin visions of consumerism."

"'Is that a real poncho?' he asks in a sultry baritone.... During so many of his ad-libs, Zappa sounds like a parody of sleazy TV presenters. Here, we can’t tell whether he’s playing himself or someone trying to gatekeep participation in the counterculture: 'I mean, is that a Mexican poncho, or a Sears poncho?'"

November 28, 2023

At the Tuesday Night Café...

 ... please talk about whatever you want.

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"Might it make the new 'they' a little easier to handle if it were used with singular tense marking?"

Proposes John McWhorter, in "Knowing When ‘They’ Means One" (NYT).
I have often been asked by people over 35 or so, “Are we supposed to say ‘they want’ or ‘they wants’?” I always answer that the proper form is “they want,” but must it be?...

Under the current dispensation, “they want to trim the cat’s claws” can refer to an individual or more than one person. Context usually makes the meaning known, but surely it would make things a little clearer if we could use “they wants to trim the cat’s claws” when referring to just one person.... 

"Why are they debating? Presidential candidates typically do not debate people who are not themselves running for president."

"Mr. Newsom had challenged Mr. DeSantis to a debate more than a year ago, when the Florida governor had not officially begun his campaign but had long been seen to be preparing a run for the presidency. Mr. Newsom’s participation is likely to further fuel speculation that he has his eye on the White House. But the unusual spectacle reflects the current state of the presidential campaign.... Mr. Newsom has also been eager to further raise his national profile, and Mr. Biden needs powerful surrogates who can help make the case for a second term...."

Is there some possibility that Newsom will perform so brilliantly that there will be a resounding acclamation and the Democrats will turn, en masse, toward him as their 2024 candidate? I don't think he's got it in him. As for DeSantis, I think we know he's dull in debate. But perhaps Hannity is the secret ingredient. What if Hannity works some magic and Newsom and DeSantis are both launched into becoming their party's candidate in 2024?

The best etiquette would be to refrain from questioning the etiquette of Melania Trump's attending the funeral for Rosalynn Carter.

I'm reading "Melania Trump Adds Awkward Touch to Rosalynn Carter Funeral" in New York Magazine:
Some argued that in light of the disrespect Trump has repeatedly shown the Carters, the Trumps had no business attending Rosalynn’s funeral. Others felt Melania was gracious for showing up. And sending Melania alone may have been the least offensive option.... There’s no clear answer here; it seems we’re going to debate whether the Trumps should be included every time there’s a high-profile political event.... Unfortunately, Emily Post doesn’t cover what to do when the former president is a boorish insurrectionist.

You say "it seems we’re going to debate" as if you're some idle onlooker. You're choosing to debate. You could have skipped the debate when the "high-profile political event" is a funeral for a First Lady. 

CORRECTION: The line "Unfortunately, Emily Post doesn’t cover what to do when the former president is a boorish insurrectionist" is from the article and was supposed to appear at the end of the block quote. Unfortunately, I inserted it outside of the quote and everyone thought it was something I wrote! I couldn't understand why the comments were so hostile to me. Sorry for the confusion.

"I have that disorder where when people make noises it hurts me. Like at the movies? That loud popcorn chewing..."

"... or the rustling of the wrappers. I don’t go to the movies for that reason.... Not interested [in men]. I don’t want to sleep with anybody any more. I don’t want to hear somebody breathing."

There are plenty of reasons to avoid relationships. One is that they make noise, even if it's only the breathing.

ADDED: The condition, I've read elsewhere, is called "misophonia," and I blogged about it here, in 2011, and here, in 2015. There's an excellent Reddit group, r/misophonia, here.

"With political sexual fetishes, Republicans and Democrats are reduced to caricatured sexual imagery: the macho posturing of Republican politicians..."

"... is flattened into pure toxic masculinity; bleeding-heart liberal Democratic men become ineffectual doormats. On FetLife, a social-networking site for people with fetishes, there are at least a dozen subcategories of the kink that users can tag in their profiles, such as 'hot conservative girls who make liberals cry.' At least four political humiliation groups, including MAGA Doms/Dommes and Libtard Subs, are also active. Outside of FetLife, BDSM (bondage, discipline, dominance, submission and sadomasochism) sites cater to the taboo turn-on with names such as Triggered Liberal Snowflake. According to those who are active in the world of kink, an appetite for this type of political role-play grew during the Trump administration...."

"So, if you want to be real, tell us what privileges you have received being Jewish?"

 Stuart Rojstaczer gives a brilliant answer (TikTok video):

"I was quite sheltered culturally. My parents listened to almost only classical music, there was no TV, we almost never went to see movies."

"Even restaurants, I realize, we didn’t go to. My stepdad, who raised me, was an economist. He had a schedule that was all about control, and my mom, who was a homemaker, went along with it. He ate the same thing every day. Every night, he would put half a dry fig and a small piece of bread under a glass, and that was his breakfast. And he went to eat lunch at the same spot every day and had the same thing. So it was very self-denying. I wasn’t exposed to popular culture at all, so I drew and read all the time, because that was the only entertainment I had. We lived in the suburbs, so you couldn’t even go out and walk around and see people. It was pretty isolating and very boring."

That is one kind of deprived childhood, but it actually sounds excellent. Anyone else have an economist for a father and, if so, did it involve anything akin to putting a half a dry fig and small piece of bread under a glass every night?

"The detour took Easler and her family onto a gravel road that eventually disappeared into a bumpy dirt trail."

"They quickly realized something was wrong as they looked at the line of cars in front of them. 'They’re all going directly into the desert,' Easler recalled. The Google Maps route created a day-long ordeal.... SFGate reported on the incident after Easler posted a TikTok video that garnered more than a million views.... Even as the route got bumpier as it proceeded off-road... they trusted that the large number of cars accompanying them meant they were still on the right track, Easler said. 'Nobody was turning around. So we figured that it led somewhere,' Easler said...."

So did they "quickly realize[] something was wrong" or did they keep "trust[ing] that the large number of cars... meant they were still on the right track"? The article doesn't bother to make sense, even as it shows a vivid example of humans proceeding blindly into the unknown.

Here's the TikTok that garnered:

"The antagonisms between red states and blue cities are all the more notable because the urban areas in the crosshairs are mostly majority-minority..."

"... with many mayors and district attorneys of color. These actions go 'squarely against the Republican philosophy of small government and more freedom,' said Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb, a Black Democrat who has struggled to pass local tobacco and gun control ordinances because of constraints enacted by Ohio’s Republican-controlled legislature.... Columbia University law professor Richard Briffault faults states for hypocrisy: 'They’re in favor of home rule when it’s the feds, but not when it’s states versus locals.' The U.S. Conference of Mayors passed a resolution at its annual gathering this summer 'to undertake an all-out campaign' against state preemption, which it identified as racist and punitive...."

The institutionalized civility of "community notes."

"I love that they became friends because they both played Vegas and neither wanted to cheat on their wives."

Said Judd Apatow, quoted in "Judd Apatow’s 'Bob and Don: A Love Story'/Watch a short film about the lifelong friendship between Bob Newhart and Don Rickles, who were not an obvious match" (The New Yorker).
“What’s so different about them is Bob was a real writer. He wrote those routines, which were, like, one-man sketches. . . . Don came from working really hard playing lounges and strip clubs, figuring out how to do crowd work, doing multiple shows a night into the wee hours in Vegas. Bob just got huge immediately..... [Don] came from a time when his theory was, It’s O.K. to make fun of people as long as you make fun of all of them,” Apatow explained....

The New Yorker writer, Bruce Handy, quips: "Think of it as a very old-school version of D.E.I."

ADDED: I've given the impression that I think "very old-school version of D.E.I." is quite clever, but I don't. It's a variation on the cliché wisecrack: "I'm an equal opportunity offender."

Urban Dictionary has an entry for "equal opportunity offender": "One who bashes and trashes any and every different type of person known to earth; including the basher's own race. Don't call me racist, I am an Equal Opportunity Offender."

"Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year for 2023 is authentic.... A high-volume lookup most years, authentic saw a substantial increase in 2023..."

"... driven by stories and conversations about AI, celebrity culture, identity, and social media.... Although clearly a desirable quality, authentic is hard to define and subject to debate—two reasons it sends many people to the dictionary."

Announces Merriam-Webster.

They call attention to a headline I hadn't noticed and don't feel I even need to understand: "Three Ways To Tap Into Taylor Swift’s Authenticity And Build An Eras-Like Workplace."

That article came out a month ago in Forbes, which tells us: "Swift’s events brim with energy, carried by the thunderous voices – some melodious, others less in tune – of thousands: the opposite of how work feels today. According to recent data, 60% of employees are emotionally detached, and one in five is miserable."

Why would anyone want the workplace to feel like a pop concert? Why would the answer involve the concept of "authenticity"?
Take Hannah Shirley, a 23-year-old tech worker who recently went viral for pointing out that her job was “like a full-time acting gig.” She tik-toked one consequence of this: feeling “drained — especially mentally, sometimes even physically — from the character that …we play at work.”...

A Taylor Swift lyric is quoted: “Did you hear my covert narcissism I disguise as altruism? Like some kind of congressman?”

November 27, 2023

At the Monday Night Café...

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"TikTok Live is an especially chaotic section of the app, where people work nonstop to keep the audience’s attention."

"Livestreams that feature recurring actions done over and over seem to do particularly well. They’re simple and easy to understand.... In some cases, the videos seem to deepen people’s appreciation of the skills and dedication that can go into these jobs. When a user on Reddit posted a TikTok Live recording of an Amazon factory worker grabbing various items to ship, they noted that the video made them more appreciative of that labor...."

"This is the uncomfortable equilibrium the market finds itself in today. Nobody’s selling because nobody’s buying."

"Nobody’s buying because nobody’s selling. Nobody can afford to sell. Nobody can afford to buy. Prices are high; mortgage costs are high. Rents are high, too, and there’s not a huge amount of rental inventory. Everyone’s stuck and paying more than they want to...."

Where is the courage? Where is the leadership?

"President Biden will not attend a major United Nations climate summit that begins Thursday in Dubai, skipping an event expected to be attended by King Charles III, Pope Francis and leaders from nearly 200 countries, a White House official said Sunday. The official, who asked to remain anonymous to discuss the president’s schedule, did not give a reason...."

I'm seeing this immediately after blogging a NYT article about how young people are not supporting Biden. That article didn't even mention climate change. It guessed that maybe young people are more likely to worry about Biden's advanced age or disapprove of his support for Israel. But what about climate change? Don't young people (and other people) want to see Biden take a strong stand on climate? And here he is opting out of an event with Pope Francis and King Charles and many other leaders. 

And he's not even saying why. Is he afraid of looking frail and confused within that group or is worried — are his people worried — about needing to commit to anything at all?

"Could President Biden and Donald J. Trump really be locked in a close race among young voters — a group Democrats typically carry by double digits...?"

Asks Nate Cohn (at the NYT).

There are "dozens" of recent polls, but people are still skeptical, Cohn says, and I find it funny, because it corresponds to the way Trump supporters find it hard to believe the results of the 2020 election. It can't be!

Cohn offers the solace that, though "the polling is mostly right... things might change." I'd say you need to shake yourself out of denial and think about why the polls are the way they are. Cohn says:

"Try 'racial justice.'"

I wanted to search for an article at Vanity Fair, and the search box looked like this:

See the faint print in the box?

I thought it was funny, this idea to just "try" racial justice. The commitment to racial justice is obligatory, not something merely to "try."

This is the same problem I have with the song "Try a Little Tenderness." Just try... and if it doesn't work out for you, try something else? As Otis Redding sang the song — the one where the dress is "shaggy," rather than "shabby" — the tenderness you were supposed to try was "to rub her gentle" and "don't bruise her." And after you've tried that, what? 

In the old days of prominent Alka-Seltzer ads, the catchphrase was "Try it, you'll like it":

"For some strange reason, I always feel incredibly sleepy when I'm dreaming."

"Basically, I would have to struggle to keep my dream eyelids open, and would generally pass out randomly etc. The sleepiness is very extreme, far more sleepy than I've ever experienced in waking life. It's so bad that it's basically my reality check: if you're super sleepy, you're probably dreaming. This is affecting my lucid dreaming. The sleepiness generally becomes worse when I'm lucid, so I'll easily 'fall asleep' into non-dreaming sleep. Even if this doesn't happen, the sleepiness is extremely distracting.... I tried to do things like drink imaginary coffee, but it doesn't really work...."

A Reddit post from 8 years ago, read this morning because I had one of those dreams within which I'm incredibly sleepy. Within the dream I am trying to stay awake, but in reality, I'm trying to stay asleep (to continue the dream). Or is falling asleep in a dream the real-world experience of waking up?

An ambiguous "ought" in The New Yorker's "Why Trump’s Trials Should Be on TV."

This is an opinion column — subtitled "The conduct of the trials, their fairness, and their possibly damning verdicts will be at the center of the 2024 election. Transparency is crucial" — by Amy Davidson Sorkin.

I agree that the trials should be televised, as I wrote in "The ACLU sides with Trump: The gag order is unconstitutional" (October 26, 2023) and — quoting Trump's lawyers — "The prosecution wishes to continue this travesty in darkness. President Trump calls for sunlight" (November 11, 2023).

Here are the last few sentences of the column:
There is apprehension about what [Trump] might say, and what his supporters might then do if they heed him.... Yet to believe that allowing the country to watch as Trump takes the stand would be more of a threat to the Republic than it would be to his defense is to accept his own myths about himself. The evidence against Trump ought to stand up to scrutiny far better than he will. Everybody should see that. Trump isn’t camera-shy; prosecutors have no reason to be, either.

Now, I know very well which of 2 possible meanings of "ought" Sorkin intended.

November 26, 2023

Sunrise — 7:03.

IMG_4400 2

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"We love what we take care of, and we take care of what we love. Instead of groaning at the task of treating my cast-iron skillet..."

"... I now treat it as a fulfilling act of service; I know that my time seasoning it with salt and oil will affect its life span and the palate of future generations. I scrub away at the hand-me-down dinnerware from my father-in-law, and I’m connected to him. In an unexpected way, pride has seeped into my kitchen work. Cleanliness is a matter of principle.... Carl Jung once said, 'Modern man can’t see god because he doesn’t look low enough.' Will you find God in your kitchen sink?"

A sense of profundity attaches to one of my cast-iron pans — the one that I grew up hearing called the "spider." It is, I believe, older than I am. I use it all the time and can't imagine what one might do to it that would make it need any more seasoning. Is that low enough?

Before sunrise, I had the honor of making the first footprints in the snow.

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"What would life beyond Earth mean for Christians?"

A question explored by BioLogos President Deb Haarsma.

There are 5 subquestions, but let me focus on one: "Would meeting aliens change our understanding of the cross?" ("At the core of Christianity is the death of the incarnate Christ on a Roman cross, bringing redemption for humans. Is redemption unique to Earth?")

Haarsma identifies 4 theories:

"For SETI experts, two arguments grounded in science bolster the conjecture that aliens are surely out there somewhere: Big Numbers and the Copernican principle."

"The Big Numbers argument notes that our galaxy, the Milky Way, has something like 400 billion stars, and it’s just one of untold billions of galaxies in a universe that might be infinite.... With so much turf out there, even the most frowny-faced skeptic must admit it’s hard to run the numbers in a 13.8 billion-year-old universe like ours and wind up with just one self-aware, technological, telescope-constructing species. The Copernican principle... suggests that, in the same way that Earth is not in a privileged place in the universe, humanity should not presume itself special, or unique. The universe is not about us...."

"Going to watch that movie 'The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming' in 1966 diverted my entire life in a wrong direction."

Writes Mike Sylwester, in last night's "Sunrise — 6:50" open comments on this blog. (Life story at the link.)

How about you? Did any movie divert your entire life in a wrong direction? Did any movie divert part of your life in an unfortunate direction?

"The world is in a permacrisis currently with the COVID-19 aftermath, the war in Ukraine, climate change issues, political instability, the energy crisis in Europe, recession and the cost-of-living crisis."

That's a quote that appeared in the Millennium Post Newspaper (Nexis) on 18 December 18, 2022 and that is one of 3 quotes the OED chose to exemplify the word "permacrisis," which, it announces today, it has just added to its dictionary.

The definition is obvious: "A situation characterized by constant and significant turmoil or instability; (now) spec. one that is widespread across a society and caused by an ongoing series of events such as war, economic recession, a pandemic disease, etc."

I think of "permacrisis" as as a political strategy to make people feel that we are always in special dire circumstances, justifying unusual emergency measures, and warranting the sacrifice of our personal pleasure and freedom.

November 25, 2023

Sunrise — 6:50.

IMG_4389 2

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"For Israeli leaders, the war is 'all about eradicating and destroying Hamas... So anything less than that is not a win...'"

"'If Hamas maintains and retains residual political power, then Hamas can claim they won.' After the initial elation of the hostage releases wears off, the Israeli public may still overwhelmingly back resuming the invasion, even if it prevents the immediate liberation of more Israeli captives. As more hostages are released, Israelis will hear more accounts of how they were treated during their abduction and captivity — accounts that could well amplify calls for Hamas’s destruction...."

From "Israel has vowed to continue its invasion after the truce ends. Could that change?" (NYT)(the quote within the quote is from Alon Pinkas, an Israeli political commentator).

"He is up to his wattle in criminal indictments, and even if none land him in prison, the grinding stress and his advanced age look to be taking a toll on his mental acuity."

"Watching his increasingly disjointed rants, one cannot help but think, 'Something ain’t right.' He seems as likely as President Biden to suffer a serious health event — maybe more if you factor in all those burgers. As the primaries grind on, any number of developments could convince soft Trump voters that the MAGA king is a bad bet. All of which is to say that the Republican primary fight remains vital. And as we head into this crucial stretch, it is time for the most promising Trump challengers — who at this point appear to be Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley — to hunker down and show us what they are made of...."

Are Trump's rants increasingly disjointed? I had not noticed, and I am able to help thinking "Something ain’t right." For one thing, I don't use "ain't," especially in my thoughts. For another, I think the question about his "disjointed rants" has always only been do you want a President who speaks in that style? Can you understand him? To my ear, it's conversational, and I enjoy the lively spontaneity. It doesn't feel like mental derangement to me. It feels like a strength. Other politicians don't speak like that because they're more scripted and risk averse.

And what of this "up to his wattle"? Is Cottle — whose name rhymes with "wattle" — going to use words of contempt to mock the physical appearance of all the candidates? I think not. That would be bullying. But that doesn't apply to Trump, and if you believe that, you are attesting to his strength.

The rhymes for "wattle" and "Cottle" — in case you're working on a limerick — are "bottle," "throttle," and "glottal." All — like "wattle" — oddly neck related. 

"The [2] pooches alone ravaged five cars, with damages estimated to cost $100,000 to $350,000...."

"The dogs can be seen walking on top of cars and seemingly working together to pull off parts of the car with their teeth.... The dealership has filed a report with the Houston Police Department, but they’ve been told there is nothing the police can do as it is a civil matter unless the dogs have attacked a human."

"Dogs destroy cars at Texas dealership, cause up to $350K in damages: video" (NY Post).

This is happening in Texas. I would have thought that in Texas, they'd just shoot the.... Oh, no. I'm afraid of offending you even by writing the phrase. They're dogs. You have to hang back and let them wreck an entire lot of cars. What is $350K in damage when Ranger and Scrappy are out there doing what they were born to do?

Note: I do not mean to intimate that it would be legal — in Texas or anywhere — to kill a dog that is damaging property.

ADDED: This story gives an answer to the old question what a dog that chases cars would do if it ever caught the car.