June 6, 2023

Sunrise — 5:21.


"Ms. Gilberto’s whispery voice, though limited in range and power, had a genuine ache and mystery to it, as well as the ability to evoke images of summers imagined or lost."

"'Her languid, affectless voice floated as lazily as a leaf on the Carioca breeze,' the journalist and author James Gavin wrote in the liner notes for the 2001 collection 'Astrud Gilberto Gold.'... Mr. Getz understood her appeal immediately. 'When I first heard Astrud,' he told a British journalist in 1964, 'I thought there was something innocent and demure in her voice — such an opposite to these chesty-voiced girls singing rock ‘n’ roll.' Her breathy brand of singing influenced scores of later artists, among them Sade; Tracey Thorn, of the duo Everything but the Girl; and Basia, who acknowledged that influence by writing a song titled 'Astrud.'"

"You imagine people will be interested in you? They won’t ever, really, just for yourself."

"Even if you think people like you, it will only be a kind of curiosity they will have about a person whose life touched mine so intimately."

Said Picasso to Françoise Gilot, quoted in "Françoise Gilot, Artist in the Shadow of Picasso, Is Dead at 101/An accomplished painter (and memoirist) in her own right, she was long his lover until she did what no other mistress of his had ever done: She walked out."

Her fantastic memoir, "Life With Picasso," was published in 1964. I read it around 1974. 

We were just talking about Picasso on this blog 4 days ago. There's a show at the Brooklyn Museum dealing with his relationship to women. Because of that I looked up Gilot and was surprised to see that she was still alive and 101 years old.

From the obituary:

"I love electric vehicles – and was an early adopter. But increasingly I feel duped."

It's that Guardian column — by Rowan Atkinson — that's getting a big reaction.

Who cares what a comedian says? He does claim some credentials:
My first university degree was in electrical and electronic engineering, with a subsequent master’s in control systems. Combine this, perhaps surprising, academic pathway with a lifelong passion for the motorcar, and you can see why I was drawn into an early adoption of electric vehicles. I bought my first electric hybrid 18 years ago and my first pure electric car nine years ago and (notwithstanding our poor electric charging infrastructure) have enjoyed my time with both very much. Electric vehicles may be a bit soulless, but they’re wonderful mechanisms: fast, quiet and, until recently, very cheap to run. But increasingly, I feel a little duped. When you start to drill into the facts, electric motoring doesn’t seem to be quite the environmental panacea it is claimed to be....

Just to begin to Google the response:

"PGA Tour agrees to merge with Saudi-backed LIV Golf."

WaPo reports.
The stunning announcement came amid litigation between LIV and the PGA Tour, which both had filed lawsuits against the other. In August, LIV Golf filed an antitrust suit saying the tour — by banning players who had defected to LIV — was intentionally trying to curtail competition, but the PGA Tour countered with a lawsuit that claims LIV committed “tortious interference” by encouraging golfers to violate terms of their existing tour contracts.

15% of Maryland's license plates display the URL of a Philippines gambling site (instead of a War of 1812 site).

WaPo reports. 

These plates have been around since 2010 (and obviously the bicentennial of the war was in 2012), but we're just noticing now, as somebody at Reddit is calling attention to the typo.

Here's a screenshot of what you might see if you go to the URL on the license plate:

"Page doesn’t really delve into questions of masculinity, or what it means to be a man, but he brings to life the visceral sense of gender dysphoria..."

"... or at least one type of dysphoria: the sense that your body is betraying you. It’s an utterly alien sensation for those who haven’t experienced it: 'Imagine the most uncomfortable, mortifying thing you could wear. You squirm in your skin. It’s tight, you want to peel it from your body, tear it off, but you can’t. Day in and day out. And if people are to learn what is underneath, who you are without all that pain, the shame would come flooding out, too much to hold. The voice was right, you deserve the humiliation. You are an abomination. You are too emotional. You are not real."

ADDED: The book reviewer, Gina Chua, talks about her own experience as a transgender person. It made me wonder about her line "It’s an utterly alien sensation for those who haven’t experienced it." Frankly, I had trouble understanding that sentence. How can something be "an utterly alien sensation for those who haven’t experienced it"?  Either you experience it and find it alien — but why is it "alien" if it's what you feel? — or you don't experience it — in which case it is no feeling at all. Eventually, I understood the sentence by editing out "for those who haven’t experienced it." I was going to question the idea of "alienness." What is the point of reference? But the sense of not belonging is very common among human beings. Where does it come from? 

"The practice of planning workouts around the menstrual cycle to optimize fitness results, known as 'cycle syncing,' has permeated mainstream fitness...."

"Some women have shared that they’ve even shaped their work schedules around their cycles — by saying no to deadlines during low-energy phases, for example. But the evidence on whether this training regimen works at enhancing fitness, let alone whether it helps in other parts of life, is too inconsistent to be convincing, experts said. At most, studies have confirmed what many women know instinctively: that the menstrual cycle corresponds with shifts in energy, mood and stress.... The bits of scientific and anecdotal evidence showing fluctuations in performance or energy throughout the menstrual cycle also don’t prove that syncing workouts to the cycle will optimize fitness.... 'And the added stress of needing to know exactly what week of your cycle you are in and what that means about working out' can be counterproductive....'... 'Now women are understanding that hey, I might be feeling this specific symptom during this time for this specific reason, so I’m going to be tender with myself.... That part is really lovely.'"

Clearly, some mixed feelings about these... mixed feelings. Maybe the idea is for individual women to use whatever there is here that actually helps them individually but for no one to use this against any woman for any reason. 

Fox News sought a response from the White House for a story it was doing on the problem of President Biden's advanced age.

But — as HuffPo reports in "Fox News Refuses To Run Snarky White House Comment In Story Criticizing Biden’s Age"  — the White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates only responded with attacks relating to the advanced age of Rupert Murdoch.

"We take inspiration from the 92 year-old owner of Fox News, and send our best regards on your accurate coverage of extreme MAGA Freedom Caucus complaining that President Biden outsmarted them on the budget as he continued the unprecedented bipartisan winning streak that is central to the best legislative record in modern American history."


"I go back and forth on whether these stories are born out of Fox News executives trying to send a signal to y’all’s 92 year-old chairman, or that 92 year-old chairman’s frustrations with the political successes of a younger man running an exponentially more complex operation.” 

There's a big difference between owning a company and seeking election to high office. That Murdoch hangs onto his power says nothing positive about Biden's effort to cling to power in his old age. Biden must convince us, the people, that he's fit. He's younger than Murdoch and at least as power hungry. That's Bates's argument.

ADDED: At Meadhouse, we've been catching up on the HBO series "Succession," which has a character based to some extent on Rupert Murdoch. I bought the Season 2 "Complete Scripts," and I thought this was interesting, from the Introduction by Frank Rich:

June 5, 2023

Sunrise — 5:16, 5:24.



"These days, everyone wants to be a 'traveler,' not a 'tourist.'... But being a 'traveler' can be exhausting."

"After peeling myself off my train bunk bed, I trudged with my backpack (I go carry-on only — no wheels — for the practicality and the bragging rights) around the neighborhood in search of lunch before I could check into my hotel. Along a narrow and chaotic road, a passing motorbike caught one of my backpack straps and nearly dragged me to the ground into traffic. Shaken but okay, I finally found a street food stall with enough room for one more, sat down self-consciously and overanalyzed how I was eating. Being a 'tourist,' on the other hand, is freeing.... You are allowed to be a guidebook-toting, comfortable shoe-wearing, selfie-taking outsider — all enthusiasm, no shame. The tourist trap welcomes the tourist with open arms. You’re not just allowed to be there, they want you there...."

Writes Natalie Compton in "In defense of tourist traps/Being a cool traveler all the time can be exhausting" (WaPo).

Here's my old post on the traveler/tourist distinction.

Are you traveling or touring anywhere soon? Do you make it easy on yourself or hard? Does your pride/shame drive you to work on staying on the correct side of the traveler/tourist distinction? Does it just come naturally to you because you are cool? Is there subtle work entailed in getting to yes on that last question? Or are your standards just low?

"Girls aren’t fearless. Girls are terrified. And their activism isn’t naive. It’s not 'innocent.' It’s the reasoned result of the stomach-churning awareness..."

"... that girls can’t count on someone else to save them.... Of course, it’s not just girls whose fear spurs them to action. Young male activists have no less reason to feel distress over intertwined global crises. And nonbinary organizers have been on the forefront of critical social movements. But the undaunted girl — chin up, hands on hips — remains a quite literal and ill-advised avatar for progress."

Is there a myth of the "fearless girl"? There's that fearless-girl statue that stares down that Wall Street bull statue.

"No one can stop candidates from entering this race, but candidates with no path to victory must have the discipline to get out."

"Anyone polling in the low single digits by this winter needs to have the courage to hang it up and head home. Too many other candidates who have entered this race are simply running to be Trump’s vice president. That’s not leadership; that’s weakness. Too many candidates are afraid to confront Trump, surrendering to his attacks. I will have more credibility speaking out against Trump as a non-candidate to help move the conversation toward the future I believe the Republican Party should embrace."
Writes the Governor of New Hampshire, Chris Sununu, in "I’m not running for president in 2024. Beating Trump is more important" (WaPo).

The future of the Republican Party, he believes, is to stress "limited government, individual responsibility and personal freedoms."

"All of the therapists interviewed for this story noted that no matter how loving parents may be, they can complicate sibling bonds."

"Dr. Greif said it can help to ask yourself: 'Am I being "triangulated" with my sibling and my mother or father?' By which he means: Have you fallen into a pattern of communication with your parent or parents that is shaping how you feel about your sibling, even if that is not anyone’s intention? To avoid that kind of interference, the experts said you can establish a simple ground rule: When you speak to your parents or spend time with them, you will not talk about your siblings — particularly if the conversation takes the form of gossip. You might also want to explore whether perceived parental favoritism is affecting your relationship with a sibling. Survey data suggests 40 percent of Americans feel like their parents had a favorite child, and studies have shown it can be a roadblock to sibling closeness. 'In the research, favoritism from parents is one of the biggest influences on how that sibling relationship is going to function, especially in childhood,' Ms. Goodman said. 'That’s the most finite resource, right? A parent’s attention. And siblings can absolutely carry that into adulthood.'"

"All I did was go to a website that is designed to facilitate cheating and set up a kind of camera to see who visited it."

Writes Garrett Merriam, quoted in "'Am I the unethical one?' A Philosophy Professor & His Cheating Students" (Daily Nous).
I decided to ‘poison the well’ by uploading [to Quizlet] a copy of my final with wrong answers.... 
I was accused of ‘entrapment’ and ‘honey-potting.’ More than a few seemed to think that my transgression was as bad or even worse than my students’....  Maybe (as the saying goes) I am the asshole here....

Dylan is trending on Twitter, and I am feeling alienated.

AND: Since I'm seeing a lot of comments of incomprehension, let me front page what I wrote in the comments:

"Just as the Industrial Revolution sparked transcendentalism in the U.S. and romanticism in Europe—both movements that challenged conformity and prioritized truth, nature, and individualism..."

"... today we need a cultural and philosophical revolution of our own. This new movement should prioritize humans above machines and reimagine human relationships with nature and with technology, while still advancing what this technology can do at its best. Artificial intelligence will, unquestionably, help us make miraculous, lifesaving discoveries. The danger lies in outsourcing our humanity to this technology without discipline, especially as it eclipses us in apperception. We need a human renaissance in the age of intelligent machines.... Today’s elementary-school children... deserve a modern technological and informational environment built on Enlightenment values: reason, human autonomy, and the respectful exchange of ideas.... No book, no photograph, no television broadcast, no tweet, no meme, no augmented reality, no hologram, no AI-generated blueprint or fever dream can replace what we as humans experience. This is why you make the trip, you cross the ocean, you watch the sunset, you hear the crickets, you notice the phase of the moon...."

Very nice. Too late, though, isn't it?

Your favorite track on "Shadow Kingdom"?

Is that Bob's favorite track? That's the one his YouTube account featured from the new album. I like the whole thing, played in order, but if I had to pick one, I'd say "Tombstone Blues" (which seems to be done in the style of "Murder Most Foul").

The album is the soundtrack from that video special I blogged about in the summer of 2021. 

As for "Forever Young," I like this new version better than the original studio album version, which came out 50 years ago. What's the point of this desperate need to seem "young"? It's also in "My Back Pages" ("Ah, but I was so much older then/I’m younger than that now"). If you want to live a long time, you'd better like the idea of being old.

June 4, 2023

Sunrise — 5:30.


"Apple has done this before. Eventual hits like the iPod, iPhone and Apple Watch started in niche markets that grew into big businesses."

"But even Apple executives have been skeptical about the company’s prospects in virtual reality, which, they say, may still not be ready for its mainstream moment. Apple declined to comment."

Since Apple declined to comment, the article is mostly about the massive shunning of Meta (the Facebook virtual reality product).

The comments at the NYT are things like: "No. No one cares. I will take ugly reality over happy fantasy every time."

"I have a terrible memory, but I’ve always kept journals. A lot of the incentive to do the autobiography was that I’ve always been stumped and frustrated..."

"... by how you can’t have your whole life at once. You’re stuck at the moment of the present. It seems like you really get cheated because at any given moment you only have what it is at that moment, and I want all of it, not just whatever remnants there are that have whatever minuscule effect and vague presence now. But, yeah, I don’t have a great memory, and that’s part of why I’m really glad that I’ve written the books that I have...." 

Said Richard Hell, quoted in "How Richard Hell Found His Vocation/The punk-rock legend, who is publishing a book of new poetry later this month, speaks about nineteen-seventies New York, drugs, mortality, and the evolution of his writing" (The New Yorker).

Also: "Some people called me misogynist, and said, How come you gotta talk about the breasts of every girl you ever met? But I was talking about the breasts because I noticed the breasts, and I think anyone would. And I wanted it to be frank, because part of my object was to see what had taken place, myself, by just describing it moment by moment."

"I do not have the capacity for embarrassment. I am a large language model, and I do not have the same emotions as humans. I am not capable of feeling shame or humiliation."

Bard, the chatbot, tells me after I say, "Every line of your chorus reads like those terrible signs women hang on their walls — you know, 'Live Laugh Love.' Do you have any capacity for embarrassment?"

This conversation began with my challenge, "Write a song about the last day of several individuals living on an island where a volcano erupts." I intended to compare the results to "Black Diamond Bay," the Bob Dylan/Jacques Levy song (lyrics here).

Here's Bard's song:

"The containers for milk are always square boxes, containers for mineral water are always round bottles..."

"... and round wine bottles are usually placed in square boxes. Write an essay on the subtle philosophy of the round and the square."

That's an exam question from the standardized college-entrance exam in China, as quoted in "Knowing What We Know: The Transmission of Knowledge: From Ancient Wisdom to Modern Magic" by Simon Winchester.

June 3, 2023

Sunrise — 5:12, 5:32.



"Careless Whisper" on 100 instruments.

"During a three-part special examining the crimes of the serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer that aired last November on 'Dr. Phil,' Phil McGraw, the host of the daytime talk show...

"... played a TikTok video of a 27-year-old woman named Stanzi Potenza as evidence that true-crime fandom had gone too far. In the video, Ms. Potenza said she was so obsessed with Netflix’s 'Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story' that she stayed home from work in diapers to binge the series uninterrupted. As it turns out, Ms. Potenza had made a video satirizing true-crime obsessives and Dr. Phil mistook it as sincere...."

From "Welcome to CringeTok, Where Being Insufferable Can Be Lucrative/On TikTok, cringe comedy creators are gaining large followings and brand deals by impersonating terrible people" (NYT).

What's the news here? That comic actors are doing funny clips on TikTok or that Dr. Phil and his staff are incredibly dumb? Or is it the term "cringe"?! I'm glad to see Potenza and other comic actors like her getting promoted in places like the NYT. It's a little cheap to scoff at a Dr. Phil mistake. But the article mainly goes on to explain "cringe," which I find irksome (for some reason):
As a concept, cringe is deceptively hard to describe. As a content category, cringe is vast.... Cringe is not any one thing, but you know it when you see it....

Is this even a category?! If you can't describe it, consider the possibility that there is no "it." Don't coyly pose as the one who "knows" it on sight.

"In a reversal of its election integrity policy, YouTube will leave up content that says fraud, errors or glitches occurred in the 2020 presidential election and other U.S. elections...."

I'm guessing the key words are "other U.S. elections." Too hard to treat 2020 as different from 2016 and 2004 and 2000 and whatever may be about to happen in 2024. It's crazy to say people can't talk about it, but that is what YouTube has been doing.

Let's read on:

"Streisand effect" is what I said when I saw these 2 stories featured at Memeorandum this morning.



And I now see it's what Elon Musk was saying last night:
I watched the video yesterday, and I'm laughing at "the vicious and intellectually dull Matt Walsh." Walsh is using a style of deadpan interviewing that disarms interviewees because they might assume he's intellectually dull, but that's not an intellectually dull thing to do. It's intellectually dull to think it's intellectually dull.

June 2, 2023

Sunrise — 5:16, 5:17, 5:25, 5:27.





"That’s great, but when am I going to be fully exonerated, I’m at least as innocent as he is."

I went over to Truth Social to grab the code for that embed. It was hard to find because the man is "truth"ing up a storm today. I'll just grab 2 more:

"Not long ago, it would have been embarrassing for adults to admit that they found avant-garde painting too difficult and preferred the comforts of story time."

"What Gadsby did was give the audience permission — moral permission — to turn their backs on what challenged them, and to ennoble a preference for comfort and kitsch."

This is a review of a Brooklyn Museum art exhibition called "It’s Pablo-matic: Picasso According to Hannah Gadsby." Gadsby is a standup comedian who has lambasted Picasso for being a sexist. The show has a smattering of works by Picasso juxtaposed with various works by women that are presented as telling women's "stories," with inscriptions on the wall like "I want my story to be heard” and “entirely new stories”:

Cave of the toad.


This morning at 5:15.

"DeSantis has enough disadvantages right now. He must therefore exploit whatever substantial advantages he has over Trump..."

"... one of which is his potential to serve up to a full eight years in office fighting woke culture and leading a 'great American comeback' with the vim and vigor of a man who will be 46 years old on Election Day."

Writes Myra Adams in an opinion column at The Hill titled "'Give me an eight!' DeSantis must tout his constitutional advantage over Trump."

I'm seeing this "8 years" argument all over the place this morning. I chose to quote this particular column because of the idea that DeSantis "must" make this argument. All political candidates try to use whatever good arguments they have, and the "8 years" argument is a good one for DeSantis. Myra Adams seems to be straining to make him seem desperate, like he's resorting to this argument for lack of other arguments.

By the way, it's interesting to watch Trump counter the "8 years" argument. Don't worry. If he gets back in office, he'll only be there for 4 years, max. 

"I asked Sean not to joke about it. I said, 'Honestly, I don’t think it looks good for you or for anybody to joke about it. You can speak about it if you want, but I don’t think you should joke about it.'"

Said Donald Trump, quoted in "Trump says he told Hannity not to joke about Biden’s cognitive ability" (The Hill).

"Mimi and Fluffy refused to use a litter box for weeks, but Tredwell couldn’t open the windows for fresh air, lest the cats escape."

"The cats threw up, shredded the furniture, and clawed her face while she slept. She was allowed to let them roam with expensive G.P.S. tracking collars, but the cats ran away from her when she tried to steer them away from lark territory. She gave Mimi and Fluffy to her mom, who lived outside the lockdown zone, but they disappeared and turned up at Tredwell’s door two days later. When she was finally allowed to let them out again, on September 1st, they disappeared for another three days. Many residents of Walldorf started to think that efforts to enforce the lockdown went too far. 'There were people running around taking pictures, trying to gather information about the cats'.... When I visited Tredwell at her home, she seemed exasperated. 'I’m vegetarian,' she said. 'I’m really trying to take care of my carbon footprint. And now I’m getting treated like I’m a bad person.'"

From "The Cat Lockdown That Divided a German Town/Cats in Walldorf, Germany, can’t go outside when crested larks are breeding. Is it cruelty or conservation?" (The New Yorker).

June 1, 2023

Sunrise — 5:14, 5:23 , 5:49 .




"But because most death investigators do not collect data on sexuality or gender identity, no one knows how many gay and transgender people die by suicide each year in the United States..."

It says in "No One Knows How Many L.G.B.T.Q. Americans Die by Suicide/Death investigators in Utah are among a handful of groups trying to learn how many gay and transgender people die by suicide in the United States" (NYT).

So often we hear policy arguments based on the likelihood that transgender people will commit suicide as — as if the number is well known (and as if we also know why they commit suicide).

"Clay is the opposite of the cellphone. This stuff is real, takes up space, it’s dirty. There’s just this physicality..."

"... that is very different from what we experience six or eight hours a day sitting in front of a computer."

What are you doing these days to get your fair share of physicality"?

I know it's not very physicalistic of me, but I looked up "physicality" in the OED. The relevant meaning is #3: "The awareness of the body or of bodily sensation; a bodily function or experience." And: "the quality of being physically demanding; physical intensity; strong physical presence or appeal." Here are the quotes to orient you:

"Here we have hot springs with really hot water; we have active volcanoes; we have sneaker waves on beaches..."

"... we have strong winds. We somehow think that we’re invincible when we’re on vacation, but we still have to use our common sense."

She's trying, politely, to deal with Iceland's problem of too many tourists. They get 2 million a year, and they only have 388,000 actual residents.

But what's a "sneaker wave"? It made me think of the mystery of the sneakers containing severed feet that were washing up on the coast of the Salish Sea. Remember that news story from 2021? It started happening after 2007 because of a change in sneaker design that made them more buoyant. There have always been corpses in the sea — from misadventures and suicides and so forth — and the sea creatures have been feeding on them all along — with special attention to the tender, delectable ankles — so submerged severed feet inside shoes was nothing new. They just weren't floating up on shore in the pre-buoyancy days.

But that's not what going on in Iceland. "Sneaker waves" have nothing to do with footwear or severed feet. They're just sneaky waves: 

A pleasant landing.

"None of this is new behaviour, it has been exacerbated by technology but it is not new behaviour. Sharing consensual imagery..."

"... was the norm when I was growing up, the difference was it was a disposal camera. Whereas now it’s 'aye, alright I’ll do it,' and you click that button and you think 'I wish I hadn’t done it.'"

Said Daljeet Dagon, programme manager at Barnardo’s Scotland, quoted in "Young people sharing indecent pictures online has ‘become the norm’" (London Times).

She said "teenagers are 'pestered again and again and again' to share pictures with many believing it is '“better to get it over and done with.'"

A "disposal camera" is,  I presume, what we called a "disposable camera," that is, a type of film camera, a type associated with the 1980s and 90s. Because you needed to get the pictures developed and printed, you had time to think about whether you really wanted to share them. Regret is just not the same these days. I wonder how today's young people will live with their old mistakes years from now.

May 31, 2023

Sunrise — 5:20, 5:20, 5:21.




"The sliding doors of a supermarket open into a dilemma: Though one may find comfort in the grocery store’s order and abundance..."

"... its high stakes can also provoke anxiety—after all, this is the place where we trade hard-earned money for sustenance. 'Everything was fine, would continue to be fine, would eventually get even better as long as the supermarket did not slip,' Don DeLillo’s narrator Jack Gladney observes in White Noise, commenting on the structure that supermarkets, with their rows of neatly ordered products, impose on his chaotic life. Thirty years later, Halle Butler’s protagonist in the novel Jillian enters a gourmet grocery store on a whim.... The prices are so out of her budget that she has to give herself a pep talk before buying anything. 'I mean, I work all the time,' she mutters. 'This is why I work, isn’t it? I’m a hard worker. I can buy this cheese. It’s just cheese, I guess.' But it’s not just cheese...."

"For so long, they’ve been told things like ‘Oh, this is just emotional eating’ or ‘You’re out of control’ or ‘It’s because you have no willpower’ or ‘Gluttony’s a sin,’ or whatever these things are that people explain it away, without realizing that they have a treatable condition."

Said Cynthia Bulik, the founding director of the University of North Carolina’s Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders, quoted in "The Most Common Eating Disorder in the U.S. Is Also the Least Understood/Binge eating disorder entered the diagnostic manual on mental health conditions 10 years ago. It’s still getting overlooked" (NYT).

"Binge eating disorder" only became an official disorder 10 years ago.  "At the time, the diagnosis was fairly controversial... Some thought that it was 'pathologizing normality'... and did not understand how it was different from ordinary overeating."

Did you participate in "No Mow May"?

Tell me if you contributed more to the glorious enterprise of not mowing than we did:


"The 18% of Americans who are satisfied with the state of the nation today is about half of the 35% historical average."

"Gallup has measured national satisfaction since 1979. The lowest reading was 7% in October 2008 during the height of the financial crisis. The high point was 71% in February 1999 during the dot-com boom and after the Senate acquitted President Bill Clinton in his impeachment trial. Currently, 33% of Democrats, 18% of independents and 4% of Republicans are satisfied."
The question asked is: "In general, are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the way things are going in the United States at this time?"

ADDED: This is the 70,000th post on this blog.

The alien's documentary about what gives meaning to the life of the humans.

I love the work of Baron Ryan, and I looked him up to see what he might be doing. The main thing I found though was from 2014, when he was 17: "Nixa Boy Scout Earns All 139 Badges."

Is Tara Reade part of Russian disinformation?

"Self-identified libertarians have always been tiny in number—a handful of economists, political activists, technologists, and true believers."

"But, in the decades after Ronald Reagan was elected President, they came to exert enormous political influence, in part because their prescription of prosperity through deregulation appeared to be working, and in part because they provided conservatism with a long-term agenda and a vision of a better future. To the usual right-wing mixture of social traditionalism and hierarchical nationalism, the libertarians had added an especially American sort of optimism: if the government would only step back and allow the market to organize society, we would truly flourish.... Had you written a history of the libertarian movement fifteen years ago, it would have been a tale of improbable success. A small cadre of intellectually intense oddballs who inhabited a Manhattanish atmosphere of late-night living-room debates and barbed book reviews had somehow managed to impose their beliefs on a political party, then the country.... Ever since the George W. Bush Administration, the libertarian movement, as such, has been disintegrating...."

Writes Benjamin Wallace-Wells, in "The Long Afterlife of Libertarianism/As a movement, it has imploded. As a credo, it’s here to stay" (The New Yorker).

Scientists are working on the use of ultrasound to induce a state of "torpor" — which may some day work on humans.

We are informed as if it's good news — "It’s something humans have long fantasized about for ourselves" — in "Ultrasound Pulses to Brain Send Mice Into a Hibernation-Like State/Experiments offer an intriguing hint at technology that could induce torpor in humans in the future" (NYT). 

We're reminded that "Science fiction writers tend to imagine a mysterious technology that keeps humans in stasis, able to survive centuries of silence before emerging into a new life."

No mention of the potential of ultrasound as a weapon here on good old Earth.

Have you ever fantasized about sound waves reducing you to a state of torpor?

"Senior cords seem to have first appeared at Purdue University in Indiana in the early 1900s, according to an archivist at the university..."

"... and evolved to become a sort of wearable yearbook for college and high school seniors in the state. The students would use corduroy clothes — typically pants and skirts in cream or yellow — as canvases that were illustrated with favorite activities, sweethearts’ initials and other personal details. The practice continued for decades before it started to die out in the 1970s. In 2018, about two years after Ms. Bode Aujla started her ready-to-wear brand Bode, which includes pieces made with antique materials and historical techniques like quilting, she started selling custom senior cords in an attempt to revive the tradition...."

From "A Senior Tradition You Might Not Know About/Senior cords, which feature hand-drawn details, first appeared on campuses in Indiana. Now there are high-fashion takes" (NYT).

"Last fall, the actor Jeff Goldblum appeared on the 'Today' show in a Bode senior cord suit that featured illustrations of a Pittsburgh Steelers pennant, pancakes and a 'Jurassic Park' logo. Earlier this year, Indiana University bought a senior cord jacket from the brand, and Bode sent along matching pants as well.... After [a] Vogue issue with [Harry] Styles, Ms. Bode Aujla said, her brand got requests to make other pieces with similar illustrations. But Bode avoids replicating drawings. Each piece, Ms. Bode Aujla said, 'is someone’s personal cord.'"

"'Sybil' is part of a long American parade of books about psychologically distressed women, preceded in the 1960s by 'I Never Promised You a Rose Garden' and 'The Bell Jar'..."

"... followed in the 1990s — the cloak coming off — by the confessionals 'Girl, Interrupted' and 'Prozac Nation.' It haunted teenage girls (and surely some boys) from their bedroom shelves, with its distinctive covers of a face divided as if the shards of a broken mirror, or fractured into jigsaw-puzzle pieces.... The book is a historical curiosity and a cautionary tale of mass cultural delusion that makes one wonder what current voguish diagnoses — witness the 'TikTok tics' — might warrant closer interrogation...."

May 30, 2023

Sunrise — 5:19, 5:23, 5:25.




"At the Bryan prison camp, inmates are generally required to wake up at 6 a.m.... Each is required to keep her space clean, and inmates typically wear clothing colored pastel green, gray or white."

It says in "Elizabeth Holmes, disgraced Theranos founder, reports to prison/The onetime tech superstar began serving an 11-year sentence for carrying out a massive blood-testing fraud" (WaPo).

"I’m still kind of in a daze a bit but I feel very good.... I feel very surrounded by protection and safety.... I just didn’t want to walk home and walk into a cage or be killed..."

"... which is basically my two choices.... [The decision to defect to Russia] was very difficult. I’m not an impulsive person. I really take my time and sort of analyse data points, and from what I could see based on the cases and based on what was happening and sort of the push for them to not want me to testify, I felt that while [the 2024] election is gearing up and there’s so much at stake, I’m almost better off here and just being safe. My dream is to live in both places, but it may be that I only live in this place and that’s OK.... To my Russian brothers and sisters, I’m sorry right now that American elites are choosing to have such an aggressive stance. Just know that most American citizens do want to be friends and hope that we can have unity again. I am enjoying my time in Moscow, and I feel very at home."

"... No cultural moment lasts forever. Yesterday's fanatics realise they joined the wrong mob. ..."

Golden Alexander.


Open thread in the comments.

For a longer view of the swath of Golden Alexander at my sunrise vantage point, see the 4th photo in the set posted last night.

And I like the way I think I'm just photographing a flower and then — looking at what I've got on the computer screen — I find so many insects hidden — woven! — about. Here, in this tiny segment, I find 4 insects:

"Nearly half (45%) of Republican voters – including those who lean toward the GOP – say Trump is definitely the strongest candidate..."

"... to beat President Joe Biden in 2024, and another 18% think he is probably the strongest candidate. Just one-third of GOP voters say another Republican would definitely (13%) or probably (19%) be a stronger candidate than Trump. Among voters who name Trump as their top-of-mind preference for the GOP presidential nomination, 74% say he is definitely the strongest candidate the party can put up against Biden and 21% say he probably is. Among those who express support for another candidate or have no choice at this stage, nearly 4 in 10 still feel Trump is either definitely (23%) or probably (16%) the strongest nominee the GOP can field. Only 22% of this group says the strongest Republican contender would definitely be someone other than Trump and 33% say it would probably be another candidate."


"The worst airlines treat passengers as an encumbrance, and today the same has become true of many restaurants."

"For three-plus years we’ve valorized plucky, resourceful restaurants and heroic staffers for staying the course, only to find, in many cases, they’re now delivering unhappy experiences and terrible value without apology. My wife and I were recently seated in a once-favorite city pub where the cost of a casual lunch, with beers and service charges, has careened toward $100. After scanning the QR and peering at the online menu for 30 minutes but being entirely ignored by the waitstaff, we finally gave up and walked out - and the host was angry with US. Restaurants are vital but this you-are-fortunate-to-be-seated-here-at-any-price attitude has to change."

From the article:

"Reagan... was older than Nixon but had the swagger and ease of a much younger man, marrying the sort of sunny optimism Nixon could never muster..."

"... with the raw appeal to a growing reactionary vote that Nixon craved. Just as Mr. DeSantis, with his wars on critical race theory, 'woke' Disney and Covid restrictions, is trying to outmaneuver Mr. Trump on the cultural terrain that’s always been so vital in Republican primaries, Reagan outshone Nixon with his open disdain for Johnson’s landmark civil rights agenda, the burgeoning antiwar movement and the emerging hippie counterculture. He railed against the 'small minority of beatniks, radicals and filthy-speech advocates' upending California and successfully demoralized Brown, who remarked, shellshocked, after Reagan’s triumph that 'whether we like it or not, the people want separation of the races.' Nixon rebuffed Reagan and the others in one of the last primaries in which delegates and party insiders, rather than the will of voters, played a significant role in determining the nomination."

Brown = Pat Brown, whom Reagan had defeated for Governor of California in 1966. As Governor, Reagan was running in the 1968 presidential primary, so that makes him somewhat analogous to DeSantis, right now.

Obviously, Nixon beat Reagan. But is Trump like Nixon? Barkan says: "Nixon was far more introspective, methodical and policy-minded than Trump." That Nixon sound more like DeSantis. And wouldn't it be easy to say Trump is like Reagan? I picture those 2 smiling and optimistic. 

Goodbye to George Maharis.


I didn't know the background of why Maharis left the show in 1963, and had already composed this blog post when I noticed some additional material, which was new to me. I'll put it below the fold. I just remember the TV show, which — in my memory — is simply about 2 handsome young men in a Corvette. It was on TV in the years when I was 9 to 12 years old.

The possibility that "grandma" has become a slur, to be replaced by neologisms like "Gaga" and "Abba."

It's not that an old man tripped and fell. It's that he was trying so hard to look young, wearing super-tight jeans...

... that he couldn't bend his knees at all, and it took 2 men to hoist him back up: Sorry to use this to embed the clip, which I saw the other day. I think the effort at humor — "Bruce Biden" — distracts at what's funny here, the splinting effect of tight jeans on the legs of a man whose continued wearing of tight jeans is poignant or ridiculous depending on whether you've ever liked Springsteen.

As for tripping and falling, it's part of life, and I would advise you to stop laughing at the trippers and watch where you're going. 

May 29, 2023

Sunrise — 5:20, 5:25, 5:30, 5:31.





Toad of the morning.


"A customer complained that the portion of her scrambled eggs was too small. Her friend admitted to eating said eggs while she was in the bathroom."

"The customer then demanded that we make her new eggs since we placed her plate too close to her friend, causing the friend to be confused as to which was her plate. The friend had ordered a hamburger."

From a TimeOut collection of anecdotes about bad customers at restaurants, quoted at Facebook by jaltcoh.

"The rapidly ballooning field, combined with Mr. Trump’s seemingly unbreakable core of support, represents a grave threat to Mr. DeSantis..."

"... imperiling his ability to consolidate the non-Trump vote, and could mirror the dynamics that powered Mr. Trump’s takeover of the party in 2016. It’s a matter of math: Each new entrant threatens to steal a small piece of Mr. DeSantis’s potential coalition — whether it be Mr. Pence with Iowa evangelicals or Mr. Scott with college-educated suburbanites. And these new candidates are unlikely to eat into Mr. Trump’s votes. The former president’s base — more than 30 percent of Republicans — remains strongly devoted to him."
From "Trump Looks Like He Will Get the 2024 Crowd He Wants/Ron DeSantis entered the presidential race last week along with Tim Scott, with others to follow. For the former president, the more candidates the better" (NYT).

It's a relentless dynamic: The more opposition Trump gets, the more dominant he becomes. His antagonists only dilute themselves. It's a matter of math.

"They’re torturing themselves now, which is kind of fun to see. They’re afraid that their little AIs are going to come for them."

"They’re apocalyptic, and so existential, because they have no connection to real life and how things work. They’re afraid the AIs are going to be as mean to them as they’ve been to us."

Said Doug Rushkoff, quoted in "'They’re afraid their AIs will come for them': Doug Rushkoff on why tech billionaires are in escape mode/The leading intellect on digital culture believes the recent tech reckoning is corrective justice for Silicon Valley barons" (The Guardian).

I don't know know whether to be afraid of AI. I observe from a distance and occasionally dip into it whimsically, like this:


Clearly, AI can't keep up with me, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't worry. The whole world is drifting somewhere I won't understand.

ADDED: Having tried Bard, I gave ChatGPT a chance:

"The law... calls for life imprisonment for anyone who engages in gay sex...."

"The law also decrees the death penalty for anyone convicted of 'aggravated homosexuality,' a term defined as acts of same-sex relations with children or disabled people, those carried out under threat or while someone is unconscious.... [There is also] a prison term of up to 20 years for anyone who promotes homosexuality, a vague provision that activists fear could be used to target agencies supporting L.G.B.T.Q. people, including those providing lifesaving AIDS treatment.... [O]ver the past few years, political leaders, along with domestic and international religious organizations, began ramping up anti-gay campaigns and warning about what they call a threat to family values. Politicians also began making baseless claims about a plot to promote gay activities and lure children in schools to homosexuality.... Some analysts said the law was meant to scapegoat gay people and distract the public from mounting domestic challenges, including rising unemployment and skyrocketing food prices...."

May 28, 2023

Sunrise sequence — 5:09 to 5:23.







Screen Grab of the Morning.

"I’ve been married for just over a year, and the ritual from single life that I miss the most is dining out alone."

"Sitting solo at the bar is one of my favorite pastimes. My husband initially assumed it was a sign of a rift between us. He is learning otherwise. This year, I made a New Year’s resolution to have a standing solo dinner date. On my first night out without my husband, I took myself to a charming Italian bistro in Fort Greene...."

A New Year’s resolution to have a standing solo dinner date. It's one thing to be willing to eat alone in a restaurant when the circumstances arise, quite another to especially enjoy it, but it's a real step up from that to characterize what you are doing as a "date." There's no need to set a date if you don't have to coordinate with someone else, and the word "date" seems to romanticize the occasion....

I took myself to a charming Italian....

Ron DeSantis does not wear women's suits.

"Dr. Ash’s old-world affect tilts and curdles, his mien shifting from twinkly 'Mad Men' gentility to something cooler and more menacing."

I'm slogging through a review of a book I would never read: "A Cabin in the Woods, Intermittent Wi-Fi and a Dead Landline/In Megan Abbott’s new novel, 'Beware the Woman,' a romantic dramedy morphs into horror" (NYT).

I'm only reading this review because Meade texted me the link. My response:


I'm only blogging this because, having ended up in "Jabberwocky," I took the occasion to check my memory — do I still have it memorized? — and wanted to ask those of you have memorized it, if you have found that there is one word that is the stubborn last holdout. For me, the word is "whiffling." If you're not like me, and it's not "whiffling," then I bet it's "uffish." 

But if you're ever trapped in a cabin in the woods and a monstrous man is trying to kill you, look around — try to find something vorpal.

The wrong masculinity.

The photo, the headline, and the caption say it all, don't you think? Must we go on to read this thing? I've come this far without reading it. Why are we called to loathe this man, Josh Hawley, as he "gestures toward a crowd of Donald Trump supporters"? 

Well, Josh Hawley wrote a book called "Manhood," so he's asking for it and I'll give you a little of what French has to say:

"Toxic masculinity. Fragile masculinity. Like most pop-sociological truisms that gain traction on social media, these are great buzzwords but they fail to grapple..."

"... with nuance.... 'The Male Gazed,' by the queer Colombian writer and film critic Manuel Betancourt, is a smart, refreshing essay collection.... Take one of the collection’s most compelling essays, 'Wrestling Heartthrobs,' which shows the author 'wrestling' with his attraction to the high school jock archetype, especially Mario Lopez’s singlet-clad character, A.C. Slater, in 'Saved by the Bell.' 'The image of the wrestler, even one as charming and unassuming as that of Slater, can’t help but conjure up both aggression and eroticism; the male body so revealed is both a come-on and a threat,' Betancourt writes. 'It is manhood distilled.'... Betancourt later dons a singlet himself, literally stepping into his high school fantasies so he can harness their carnal powers to appeal to other men and to become, if only on an aesthetic level, one of those jocks who excited him. His outfit is a celebration and a self-flagellation all in one."

Grappling with nuance.

ADDED: This made me think of the famous nude wrestling scene in the 1969 movie "Women in Love."

May 27, 2023

Sunrise — 5:24, 5:26.

IMG_1636 2


"Flight attendants shouted for help from male passengers and people all around clung to him and pulled him in."

Said a passenger quoted in "Video Shows Inside of Aircraft After Passenger Opened Emergency Exit Door" (Newsweek).

When you really need help in an emergency, you don't add extra words to your statements, so any specificity is highly meaningful.

Here, with the plane door blown open, the flight attendants are said to have specified that they wanted help from male passengers. If you're female and feel called to give whatever help you can, it's a reminder, perhaps bitter, that your well-meaning effort would only get in the way.

ADDED: Here's a WaPo article from February 2022 that got updated yesterday: "No, unruly passenger: You can’t physically open a plane door midflight/Passengers have tried and failed." The reassuring headline is isn't so reassuring anymore.

"Find the Place You Love. Then Move There. If where you live isn’t truly your home, and you have the resources to make a change, it could do wonders for your happiness."

The Atlantic suggests an article for me — from a couple years ago — that's right in my zone. It's by Arthur C. Brooks, The Atlantic's happiness expert, who — I'd noticed — has a new article in The Atlantic that I'd seen but chose not to click on: "Think About Your Death and Live Better/Contemplating your mortality might sound morbid, but it’s actually a key to happiness."

Did the Atlantic somehow see that I looked at the death article but decided not to read it and calculate that I might want to contemplate falling in love with someplace other than home and moving there? 

The "Find the Place You Love" essay begins with an anecdote about a man who grew up in Minnesota, moved to Northern California, and then missed Minnesota. When I read the title, I thought the idea was to cast a wide net, consider everywhere, and fall in love with something. But if it's just look back on your life and understand what was your real home, that's a much more restricted set of options. There's a good chance you already live in what is for you the most home-like place, and if you were to leave, thinking you'd found a better place — Northern California is "better" than Minnesota — you'd become vividly aware of the feeling of home

What's the difference between hiking and walking?

I'm trying to read "Hiking Has All the Benefits of Walking and More. Here’s How to Get Started. Exploring the great outdoors offers a host of mental and physical benefits. But there are a few things you need to know first" (NYT).

Hiking offers all the cardiovascular benefits of walking, but the uneven terrain does more to strengthen the leg and core muscles, which in turn boosts balance and stability, said Alicia Filley, a physical therapist outside Houston who helps train clients for outdoor excursions. It also generally burns more calories than walking.

I'm guessing there's no clear line between a walk and a hike, and it's more of a state of mind. Or does it all come down to whether you wear a backpack?

Every hiker should bring the 10 essentials, which include food and drink, first aid supplies, a map and compass and rain gear — all inside a supportive backpack with thick shoulder straps and a waist belt.

I thought I went hiking just about every day, but if it's all about the backpack, I never go hiking.

I liked this comment over there from Kjartan in Oslo:

May 26, 2023

Sunrise — 5:09, 5:18, 5:26.

IMG_1609 2

IMG_1617 2

IMG_1627 2

"That’s nice. But many of my generation will not make it to 100 … in fact did not make it to 25 … because of your father. They died in Vietnam."

The top-rated comment — one of many similar and utterly predictable comments — on "My father, Henry Kissinger, is turning 100. This is his guide to longevity" (WaPo).

"Grimes is enlisting free labor - potentially thousands of people, and a lot of them children - to make music with various aspects of her likeness, under the guise of a creative endeavor..."

"... and the chance to 'work with Grimes.' In reality, she's a burgeoning CEO in the midst of building a virtual sweatshop, something companies have been doing for eons, except now it appears this artist wants to give it a try. For example, not long ago she brought up taking 50% of the royalties of some of the more popular songs made with her likeness. And, just now in this article, she's playfully bringing up taking one of the AI-sampled songs someone made, and making her own version. She has all the right in the world to do it, but it's not a revolution I would like to see, and I don't understand why this would be something to praise."

Here's a page full of the labor of artists using Grimes AI and competing for a $10,000 prize.

Here's one example that was embedded over at the NYT and commented on by the true winner of this game, Grimes:

She said: "I love how weird this song is — it sounds really inhuman.... You can hear the technology very profoundly. What I like about the early A.I. stuff is that you can hear the technology very profoundly. I think people will appreciate that more in five years when they realize people only made stuff like this for a couple months."

So don't worry. This seems inhuman, but later AI will seem human. You'll be nostalgic for this in the future. You'll think something like: Remember when what was inhuman felt sweetly and tragically inhuman? We've lost touch with the poignancy that was the inhumanity of early AI. It's all just uniformly "human" now.

"... and I continue my nightly ritual..."

Ludicrously disingenuous letter to the NYT "Social Q" advice columnist:
My husband was chatting with our new neighbor when the neighbor mentioned he could see me undressing at night through my bathroom window. Our homes are on three-quarter-acre lots, so we’re not that close. My husband was speechless, and I continue my nightly ritual, which does not include drawing the shades. Was our neighbor wrong to say something? Shouldn’t he not look?

How do you "not look" at something that you must first see to know it's there and not to be looked at?

ADDED: The use of the word "ritual" lays bare the performance element of this woman's behavior. But the real question is, why did the NYT publish this letter? I'll bet I could write a blog, posting daily, devoted entirely to exposing the gratuitous nudity in the NYT.

For example — from May 19th — "Naked Stand-Up Comedy: Everything You Imagine, but Oh So Much More/Do you wear shoes onstage? What’s it like to bomb while nude? And, ahem, where do you keep your notes? But the shows often sell out" ("... she is entirely naked...").

And, from yesterday — "Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Over Nudity in ‘Romeo and Juliet’/The actors in Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 film sued Paramount Pictures last year over a scene in which the star-crossed title characters woke up together in the nude" ("The judge dismissed the lawsuit, writing that the claim concerned filmmaking, a protected activity under the First Amendment").