January 28, 2023

"That... section was tough not just because I didn't know WTF [that one word] was, but because it gets really tight in there..."

"... and there are only a few clues to help you out with [that word], and those are either cross-referenced or vague."

Writes Rex Parker, about today's NYT crossword, about what was the last word I got. Maybe you haven't done the puzzle yet, so I'm putting a page break before the spoilers, but what follows is of interest even if you don't do the puzzle:

"One of the sad facts about anti-Black racism is that Black people ourselves are not immune to its pernicious effects."

Writes Van Jones in "The police who killed Tyre Nichols were Black. But they might still have been driven by racism" (CNN).
Society’s message that Black people are inferior, unworthy and dangerous is pervasive. Over many decades, numerous experiments have shown that these ideas can infiltrate Black minds as well as White. Self-hatred is a real thing. That’s why a Black store owner might regard customers of his same race with suspicion, while treating his White patrons with deference. 
Black people can harbor anti-Black sentiments and can act on those feelings in harmful ways. Black cops are often socialized in police departments that view certain neighborhoods as war zones. In those departments, few officers get disciplined for dishing out “street justice” in certain precincts — often populated by Black, brown or low-income people — where there is a tacit understanding that the “rulebook” simply doesn’t apply.... 
Back in 1989, the rap group NWA highlighted the problem in a classic hip-hop anthem, in which Ice Cube rapped: “But don’t let it be a Black and White (cop)/ Coz they’ll slam ya/ Down to the street top/ Black police showing out for the White cop.”...

Some people are over-reacting to this column and seem as if they were hoping that because the 5 police officers who killed Tyre Nichols are black, we can proceed directly to color-blindness. Too soon! Too easy! Let's look straightforwardly at reality and not coddle ourselves.

"Figuring out how odor perception emerges from brain activity is a complex decoding problem, but there may be multiple ways to re-create important aspects of smell for people with anosmia."

Said Mark Richardson, director of functional neurosurgery at Massachusetts General Hospital, quoted in "'Bionic nose' may help people experiencing smell loss, researchers say/Two scientists are working on a neuroprosthetic that may help millions with anosmia, such as those who lost their sense of smell because of covid" (WaPo).

I have this problem myself and would love a cure, but there is no way I would accept an implant in my head to solve this problem. We're told this device would be analogous to the cochlear implants that give people with deafness a way to have something like hearing:
Hearing through a cochlear implant is different from normal hearing and takes time to learn or relearn. However, it allows many people to recognize warning signals, understand other sounds in the environment, and understand speech in person or over the telephone.
Why would you want something like that to replace smelling — want it enough to have something surgically implanted within your skull? The WaPo article talks about an anosmia patient who misses nostalgic smells like Christmas tree, but I doubt that kind of subtlety is coming.

If you want to help me sense dangers like fire and smellable toxins, just invent a wearable device — a wristband — that gives off an alert that I can hear/see/feel. I don't need some kind of fake smell-like sense intruding into my natural experience of the world. 

January 27, 2023

At the Deep Snow Café...

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... you can write about whatever you want.

The Louis CK argument for open borders: "It shouldn't be so great here."

"I've never seen the video. But what I’ve heard is very horrific, very horrific. And any of you who have children, please don’t let them see it."

"To the five police officers that murdered my son, you also disgraced your own families when you did this. I’m going to pray for you and your families, because at the end of the day, this shouldn’t have happened. This just shouldn’t have happened. We want justice for my son, justice for my son.” 

Said RowVaughn Wells, Tyre Nichols’s mother, quoted in "Tyre Nichols Live Updates: Memphis to Release ‘Appalling’ Police Video/People who have seen the footage say it shows five police officers, who have been fired and charged with murder, beating Mr. Nichols, who died three days later. His family and officials have called for peaceful protest" (NYT).

"What’s with all this whingeing about the raising of the retirement age? Ye gods, what a bunch of..."

"... lazy, workshy, good-for-nothing, stay-at-home, Deliveroo-scoffing, unproductive, couch potato cry-babies we have become. Well, you have become. I’m fine. Work is good! Work is fun! Work is what you were made for! What the hell else do you think you’re supposed to be doing with your time: surfing the internet for good deals on comfy tracksuits, posting your lunchtime sarnie on TikTok and nipping up to Scotland every three months to flip genders on a whim?... What do you want to do when you’re old, anyway? Work is the only thing. You want to play golf or bridge or mahjong all day or go on some awful cruise? Or sit alone in the pub staring into the bottom of one of the three pints you can afford, that you have to make last all afternoon?...  Come off it. We all know what happens when you retire: you die. Because the cessation of work famously accelerates the decline of physical and cognitive functioning...."

"Transgender rapist Isla Bryson moved to men's prison."

BBC calmly reports.
Isla Bryson was remanded to Cornton Vale women's prison in Stirling after being convicted of the rapes when she was a man called Adam Graham.... Bryson decided to transition from a man to a woman while awaiting trial... She was taken to a male wing of HMP Edinburgh on Thursday afternoon... after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that Bryson would not be allowed to serve her sentence at Cornton Vale.
The Scottish Parliament passed legislation last month aimed at making it easier for people to change their legally-recognised sex, but Ms Sturgeon has said the changes did not play any part in the Bryson case. 
J.K. Rowling reacts with fury:

Painful to see — but here is the attack on Paul Pelosi you'd been trying to visualize.

"A new sculpture has become the first female figure to adorn one of the 10 plinths atop a powerful New York appellate courthouse in Manhattan."

"The plinths have been dominated for more than a century by now weathered statues representing great lawgivers throughout the ages — all of them men. Standing among Moses, Confucius and Zoroaster is the shimmering, golden eight-foot female sculpture, emerging from a pink lotus flower and wearing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s signature lace collar. Shahzia Sikander... 53, the paradigm-busting Pakistani American artist behind the work... 'She is a fierce woman and a form of resistance in a space that has historically been dominated by patriarchal representation... The sculpture is located at the courthouse of the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court at 27 Madison Avenue."

Here's the NYT article about the sculpture: "Move Over Moses and Zoroaster: Manhattan Has a New Female Lawgiver/The artist Shahzia Sikander calls the eight-foot sculpture she has placed atop a New York courthouse an urgent form of 'resistance,'" which explains why there is an empty plinth:

These turning-the-tables arguments don't always work out the way the table-turner thinks.

Via Gail Heriot on Instapundit

Now, that's a screen shot, not a working embedded tweet, and there are lots of Twitter accounts named "Women in Power." There's no "@" line. Did someone make a screen shot, then erase the "@" part?

I suspect that "Women in Power" is copying someone else's nicely drawn, well-conceived comic. Where is the artist's name? Also erased?

Anyway, isn't Heriot right that a lot of men would get a charge out of hearing these stray, lame compliments? But what happens next?! I'm predicting a shit show. 

ADDED: I searched Google images until I found one that identified the artist. It is Kasia Babis.

What is the book Albie is reading 20 minutes into "In the Sandbox," Episode 4 of Season 2 of "The White Lotus"?

This is a key moment in the story, so I especially wanted to know what book it is...


... but I'm generally very interested in what books characters are reading in all episodes of both seasons of "The White Lotus." There's so much reading in these things, often "performative reading." The characters are on vacation, usually reading out in the sun by the pool. The writer/director, Mike White, is clearly big on reading

We see the back cover of Albie's book, and it's partly covered up, but I figured out that it said "Or, What Is the Power of Shit?," which is the second part of the title of "The Architecture of Closed Worlds: Or, What Is the Power of Shit?"

"The tale may seem like a throwback to 'Never Been Kissed' and 'Hiding Out,' PG-13-rated movies that featured the high jinks of adults impersonating high school students..."

"... to report a news story and hide from the Mafia. But students at New Brunswick High School said they were worried that [Hyejeong] Shin’s behavior suggested that her motives were far less comical.... Students told a New Brunswick Today reporter, in a video posted to YouTube, that Ms. Shin had requested to meet at least some people she met at a location outside of school. One teenage girl, who identified herself as Tatiana, said that the night before the woman’s arrest she got a text from Ms. Shin that left her feeling frightened for her safety. 'All I wanted to do was make her feel comfortable in a new school,' she said."


Here's that video. 


It's surprising this sort of thing doesn't happen more often. The school doesn't want to make a new student feel excluded. And there must be many lost and lonely young adults who wish they could regain the structure and camaraderie of teenagerhood. The person is not necessarily a predator.

Maybe some people are genuinely confused and feel that they "identify" as a teenager. I'm actually giving some thought to whether I'm being insensitive to transgender people by putting "identify" in scare quotes and by using the word "confused."

January 26, 2023

Sunrise/sunset.

Snow erased the line between the water and the sky at sunrise:

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Those are my photos from this morning. Later, Meade went out and caught the sunset:

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"If I run, there are forces within the Democratic Party who would be trying to invisibilize me."

"I think they will have an easier time invisibilizing me if I run third party. If I do run, and I run as a Democrat, I will be more inconvenient to the people who need to be inconvenienced."


I love the quote. Great repetition of 2 cool words beginning with "i" — "invisibilize" and "inconvenien- t/ced." Invisibilizing as the defense to inconveniencing. And the way to fight invisibility is to be more inconvenient. Another way to fight invisibility is to say intriguing, interesting things.

"Our exaggerated reverence for the creative impulse derives from the romantics of the early 19th century... and filtered through from intellectual bohemia..."

"... to the upper middle classes.... Now, quite banal instances of human creativity are preposterously overvalued. Witness the often conceited superiority of those in only tangentially creative professions. Why should a newspaper columnist or an advertising copywriter feel himself to be more interesting than a banker or a cleaner? I have lawyer friends who complain of the rictus countenances and slipping eye-contact they get from artistic types at parties. But I know those parties. And I know my lawyers are the most interesting people in the room. ... [Some] argue that AI cannot be creative because it lacks internal understanding, is merely a 'king of pastiche'.... But this is close to what those original artists were doing too — the artist’s great struggle, the critic Harold Bloom argues, is confronting and overcoming the influence of predecessors. And does it even matter what’s going on internally now that human audiences fail to distinguish between a composition by a robot and one by Bach...?...  AI should disillusion us of the spurious glamour of creativity. It will be good for those who have suffered the social condescension of 'creatives.'"

"Driving 100 Miles in an EV Is Now More Expensive Than in an ICE/Deadhead miles and opportunity costs make electric vehicle ownership dramatically more expensive..."

"....than just your average car powered by a gas engine.... Combustion drivers pay about $11.29 per 100 miles on the road. EV drivers who charge up at home spend about $11.60 per 100 miles. The price difference is more dramatic for those who mainly recharge at stations. Frequent charging station users pay $14.40 per 100 miles.... [given] the deadhead miles to reach stations and the opportunity cost of waiting for vehicles to charge at stations. The difference highlights the lackluster coverage for electric vehicle charging infrastructure across the United States."


ADDED:

"At first, the suggestions my lover made were just funny. Right away he told me that I should be wearing much tighter clothes, sporting necklines that showed off my boobs..."

"... and dressing in brighter colors—that I should be, essentially, more gender-conforming. I told this to a female friend, who sighed, 'I’ve run that experiment before with men: "Be my stylist! What do you like seeing me in?" And the result is always, always being sexualized.' I had hoped for high fashion (strange knits, elegant linens, statement…. vests, I don’t know!), not 'How To Be A Pretty Lady 101.'" 

 Writes Blythe Roberson, in "I Let My Boyfriend Dress Me For an Entire Year/When I asked my stylish sweetie to help me dress better, it sometimes felt like negotiating with the patriarchy in real time. But now, I have a new understanding of what it means to feel desired and understood—and a killer wardrobe, too" (Esquire).

"It’s not that I dislike the royals themselves; I don’t know them personally and really don’t think about them much."

"But I do think about race, class, power, and postcolonial inequalities quite a bit, and so I harbor an unwavering contempt for an institution that stood at the pinnacle of empire and places inherited privilege at the very heart of the British establishment. There is also, if I’m honest, a lack of understanding on my part. I have never fully comprehended the monarchy’s popular appeal. Why would hundreds of thousands of people queue for hours and miles for a glimpse of the coffin of a leader they never elected, or get excited about the wedding of two wealthy people they are never going to meet? But while I loathe the monarchy, I love the Netflix series The Crown...."

Writes Gary Younge in "Heavy Is the Head/The British Royals in the age of streaming" (The Nation).

"Successfully marketing a product so that it feels local everywhere is an art. I’ve started calling this crucial step in a product’s development 'smallwashing'..."

"... i.e., when a brand positions itself as a small business and shows up on shelves as if it were small, even though it has probably been through at least one comfy fundraise and a hotshot General Catalyst VC sits on the board.... It’s up to the actual companies to decide on their values — Will the jarred condiment be woke, aligned with a cool chef, or 'artisanal' in some way? — but regardless of the chosen messaging, Instagram then takes over, drilling its users with targeted ads that help build a company’s story (Omsom lets you cook faster, for example; Momofuku’s noodles let you cook like David Chang). By the time a customer discovers an Instagram brand in a shoppy shop for the first time, it may even feel like a mirage: This chile crisp really exists just for me — it’s not only a story on my phone!"

The term "shoppy shops" refers to shops that sell these "smallwashed" products. We're told that the packaging is often designed by this place: Gander. Should you click and take a gander at Gander? Yes, the design of the design firm's page includes big pictures of everyone on The Team, and it seems oddly humorous, like a Wes Anderson movie credits sequence.

January 25, 2023

The woods at midday.

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It was 12:36 p.m. and snowing when I took this picture today. This is a full color photograph, with absolutely no adjustments made to it. It looks so black and white, but there is a slight blue cast to the snow and some brownness to the twigs.

I laughed at this WaPo headline: "Biden’s devious plan to break the MAGA fever just might work."

That seems like more of the usual fluff. But it turns out the "devious plan" is to spend "enormous amounts" of federal money. That's not crediting Biden with cleverness — as I was expecting. 

But "devious" doesn't mean devilish. It means by way of a winding path — circuitous, rambling, deviating. The "-vi-" is key. It's the Latin "via" (that is, "way").

Here's how Robert Louis Stevenson used it:

"Late in Anna Karenina, in a period of self-imposed social exile in Italy, Anna and her lover, Vronsky, are treated to a tirade on..."

"... the destructive superficiality of the 'free-thinking' young men—proto-disrupters, if you will—who populate the era and have been steeped in 'ideas of negation.' 'In former days the free-thinker was a man who had been brought up in ideas of religion, law, and morality, and only through conflict and struggle came to free-thought,' Vronsky’s friend Golenishchev observes. 'But now there has sprung up a new type of born free-thinkers who grow up without even having heard of principles of morality or of religion, of the existence of authorities.' The problem then, as Tolstoy presents it, was that such an ambitious young man would try, 'as he’s no fool, to educate himself,' and so would turn to 'the magazines' instead of 'to the classics and theologians and tragedians and historians and philosophers, and, you know, all the intellectual work that came in his way.'"

Writes Thomas Chatterton Williams, in "The People Who Don’t Read Books/Identifying as someone who categorically rejects books suggests a much larger deficiency of character" (The Atlantic). Williams is aggrieved that Kanye West called himself "a proud non-reader of books."

"The public should be able to hear what their politicians are saying — the good, the bad and the ugly — so that they can make informed choices at the ballot box."

"But that does not mean there are no limits to what people can say on our platform. When there is a clear risk of real world harm — a deliberately high bar for Meta to intervene in public discourse — we act."

Said Nick Clegg, Meta’s president of global affairs, quoted in "Meta to Reinstate Trump’s Facebook and Instagram Accounts/Donald Trump had been barred from the social media platforms after the Jan. 6, 2021, storming of the Capitol. Twitter reinstated him last year" (NYT).

I agree that "The public should be able to hear what their politicians are saying — the good, the bad and the ugly — so that they can make informed choices at the ballot box." But why did it suddenly become true for Clegg? I've got to presume Meta recalculated its interests. 

Clegg hedges, reserving the power to kick Trump and others out again, when the calculation changes, but at least he said "clear" — "clear risk of real world harm" — and acknowledges a "high bar." 

ADDED: Here's where the exception swallows the rule: "harm." It could encompass hurt feelings and lost economic opportunities — and lost elections. The modifier "real world" doesn't keep "harm" from including the ordinary consequences of effective speech. Then, "clear risk" isn't much of a limitation. You could have a clear 5% risk. I appreciate the Clegg at least mouthed a commitment to free speech and purported to set a high bar, but there really is no assurance at all. There are words to be thrown in his face the next time Meta kicks out somebody we care about, but he'll have words to use to say they followed their commitment to the letter.

The NYT focuses on the Wisconsin Supreme Court election.

I'm reading "2023’s Biggest, Most Unusual Race Centers on Abortion and Democracy/The election for a swing seat on Wisconsin’s Supreme Court has huge policy stakes for the battleground state. Cash is pouring in, and some of the candidates have shed any pretense of judicial neutrality" by Reid J. Epstein.
The seat is nonpartisan in name only, with officials from both parties lining up behind chosen candidates. Indeed, the clash for the court is striking because of how nakedly political it is. ...

"[I]t wasn’t hard to spot Russian literature in the discourse surrounding the war—particularly in Vladimir Putin’s repeated invocations of the 'Russian World' ('Russkiy Mir')..."

"... a concept popularized by Kremlin-linked 'philosophers' since the fall of the Soviet Union. The Russian World imagines a transnational Russian civilization, one extending even beyond the 'triune Russian nation' of 'Great Russia' (Russia), 'Little Russia' (Ukraine), and 'White Russia' (Belarus); it is united by Eastern Orthodoxy, by the Russian language, by the 'culture' of Alexander Pushkin, Leo Tolstoy, and Fyodor Dostoyevsky—and, when necessary, by air strikes. In early March, I wasn’t altogether surprised to learn that a number of Ukrainian literary groups, including pen Ukraine, had signed a petition calling for 'a total boycott of books from Russia in the world!'—one that entailed not just cutting financial ties with publishers but ceasing to distribute or promote any books by Russian writers. Their rationale was similar to the one I’d encountered in 2019: 'Russian propaganda is woven into many books which indeed turns them into weapons and pretexts for the war.'..."

Writes Elif Batuman in "Rereading Russian Classics in the Shadow of the Ukraine War How to reckon with the ideology of 'Anna Karenina,' 'Eugene Onegin,' and other beloved books" (The New Yorker).

"Some fans tried to mount a 'Save Splash Mountain' campaign, even urging opponents of the switch to enlist the help of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R)."

"Others acknowledged they would miss a classic but were looking forward to a new chapter for the ride. Still others argued that it was past time for the original to go, given its source material."

Splash Mountain was based on "Song of the South," the "1946 film set in post-Civil War Georgia that has been under fire since its release" and that Disney CEO Bob Iger has said is "just not appropriate in today’s world." Is he right? Who can say? Who has seen this movie? 

I've only ever seen the "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" sequence. 

Speaker McCarthy pithily states why Schiff and Swalwell will no longer serve on the House Intel Committee.

 

The questioner tries to make it about Santos — a ridiculous distraction that McCarthy rebuffs: the lies of Schiff and Swalwell are more relevant and consequential. McCarthy doesn't get sucked into trying to minimize Santos's lies. He just maximizes Schiff and Swalwell's lies. Maximizes or right-sizes.

"By this time four years ago, the Democratic presidential campaign was in full swing, with Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg and Kirsten Gillibrand..."

"...  all having opened exploratory committees or announced runs. This go around, the Republican field is frozen in place. Those preparing to challenge Donald Trump in the GOP’s presidential primary are taking their time.... An adviser to one potential presidential candidate has discussed with members of at least two other potential candidates’ teams the advantage of multiple candidates announcing around the same time, according to one Republican strategist briefed on those talks...."

From "Frozen: Trump’s primary challengers balk at jumping into the unknown" (Politico).

That makes it sound as though they're intimidated by Trump's strength — a strategist uses the phrase "safety in numbers" — but the piece goes on to say Trump is doing a good enough job defeating himself on his own:

"When you ask Americans how they save energy at home, 'turn off the lights' has been at the top of the list since the 1980s."

"But when it comes to actual savings, it doesn’t even crack the top 10. Like most conventional wisdom about how to reduce household energy and emissions, much of what we believe about our homes and appliances is wrong."

Writes WaPo's climate advice columnist Michael J. Coren, in "We still use appliances like it’s 1970. There’s a better way."

I formed the habit, back in the 1970s, of turning off lights as I exited any room and only keeping lights on in rooms that were occupied. I grew up in the 50s and 60s, when it was the norm to have the lights on all over the house in the evening. We didn't think about the pros and cons of leaving them on, but I imagine that we'd have thought it would deprive us of a feeling of coziness and optimism if the house were not lit up at night. From the outside, our house and our neighbors' houses looked warm and happy and alive.

"If you just sit tight, sometimes that renovation you wanted becomes something you would now want to un-install."

I'm reading "Want to break up with your gas fireplace? Here’s how to convert it/With pressure growing to ban natural gas in the home, experts explain what it takes to change a gas fireplace to wood-burning or electric" (WaPo). 

We live in a house that is 100 years old, and it has the original wood-burning fireplace. It's never been fiddled with, but we'd been talking about installing one of those gas-fueled, push-button gizmos that look quite realistic.

Now, it seems, these expensive improvements are becoming something a prospective buyer is going to think about needing to pay to replace. Or will they think, great, the gas fireplace is grandfathered in?

January 24, 2023

Sunrise — 7:29.

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"It was like flipping a switch. I would look at food and it wasn’t even appealing, and I am someone who loves food!"

"I almost had to remind myself to eat. It just took away all the cravings.... I remember looking in the mirror, and it was almost like I didn’t even recognize myself,” she said. “My body looked great, but my face looked exhausted and old."


It's crazy to lose weight by making food completely unappealing. Wouldn't you want to still get pleasure from the food that you do eat while eating in a way that reduces weight? And then on top of that, it makes your face look old — older, apparently, than just the usual way too much weight loss makes you look hollowed out and haggard.

And there's an additional problem: This off-label use is creating a shortage of a medicine that people with diabetes need. At least their moral failing is causing them to look bad. I know, it's also a moral failing to enjoy seeing people get their just deserts.

And, yes, it's "just deserts," not "just desserts" (though feel free to call your cake shop Just Desserts).

Is China doomed?

"Benjamin Franklin, who is often inaccurately said to have discovered electricity, once shocked himself while trying to electrocute a turkey."

"Franklin believed that 'birds kill’d in this manner eat uncommonly tender,' although modern poultry research... appears to indicate that the flesh of birds killed by electricity might actually be tougher. Franklin’s testimony is one of the earliest accounts of what it feels like to touch the wrong wire. 'I have lately made an experiment in electricity that I desire never to repeat,' he wrote to his brother. Witnesses told him that 'the flash was very great, and the crack as loud as a pistol; yet, my senses being instantly gone, I neither saw the one nor heard the other.' Of the shock itself, he wrote that he felt 'what I know not how to describe—a universal blow through my whole body from my head to my foot, which seemed within as well as without; after which the first thing I took note of was a violent, quick shaking of my body.' As a boy I once shocked myself severely by plugging in a light for my fish tank while my hands were wet. The current that traveled up my arm seemed to make its own path. When it was over, I thought, I’m still here."

Things that must be done "within one yard of a woman."

I'm reading "'Must be within one yard of a woman': Proud Boys trial reveals group’s strict 'no wanks' rules/The group's official handbook places strict conditions on masturbation, testimony reveals" (Salon).

Here's the text of the rule: "A Proud Boy may not ejaculate alone more often than once every thirty days. That means he must abstain from pornography during that time and if he needs to ejaculate it must be within one yard of a woman with her consent. The woman may not be a prostitute."

"In academia the Soviet Jew has long been seen as an ideological suitcase ripe for stuffing."

"Whether as an idealistic but ultimately failed Communist, a Zionist in training, an eternal refugee, or a Tevye-like throwback for his nostalgic American brethren, the Soviet Jew wanders across the imagination with a counterfeit passport always in need of stamping....  The inability to conform to either traditional Jewish practice or the nascent Bolshevik state, matched with the ability to 'play them off one another' in true trickster fashion, is perhaps the central conceit of How the Soviet Jew Was Made.... " 

Writes Gary Shteyngart in "Beyond the Pale/After the Russian Revolution, Jews left behind the shtetl and had to navigate a modern identity: New Soviet Man" (NYRB)(reviewing "How the Soviet Jew Was Made" by Sasha Senderovich).

"The first time I saw Bob, I was still a folk singer and Bob was still a folk singer. He was playing at one of the big clubs in the Village...."

"I sat there and I listened to him and I said, 'Well, shit, I can sing better than that.' Then it penetrated to me what he was singing. I listened to the words. Then I thought seriously about just quitting the business and taking up another line of work. I knew I couldn’t match that...."

Wrote David Crosby, one of 80 artists quoted in the "80 Artists Pick Their Favorite Bob Dylan Song For His 80th Birthday" (Stereogum, 2021). 

Wanda Sykes, guest-hosting on "The Daily Show."

She goes after Biden and she goes after Trump.

Most interesting to me was something that wasn't a joke — before becoming a stand-up comedian, she worked for the NSA for 7 years. I had to look it up to make sure it was not a joke. Wikipedia: 

The Oscar nominees were just announced.

 Here's everything (all at once).

Ice-cycle.

 

This morning, at dawn.

By its own account, "Cubik is 'a deeply human organization' that 'seeks personalities before skills" — "you don’t just work at Cubik, you 'Be Cubik.'"

"An online quiz prompts you to discover your Cubik profile: Reflection, Action, or Relation. 'Cubik’s V.I.P. drinks have hardly begun and you’ve already talked to all the guests,' the description for the last category reads. 'You now know at which sport Jean-Yves is unbeatable, where Joëlle will spend her vacations, and that Antoine has planned to cross Slovenia on a tandem bicycle.' Whew. Jean-Yves, Joëlle, and Antoine might be having the time of their lives. Or they might be frantically texting the babysitter or wishing they were at yoga class. Cubik boasts, 'Because we are proud of our culture, we have many rituals for getting together.' These include an annual corporate retreat just before the summer holidays, 'to celebrate the past season and take a step back from working.'"


Can the capacity to have fun be made one of your professional responsibilities? It's one thing to be allowed to have fun or even encouraged to have fun or rewarded for bringing your delightful spirit of fun to the workplace. But it's quite another to fire you because you're no fun. But what is this "fun"? An employer's idea of fun can be distorted and burdensome. Isn't that what the TV show "The Office" is about? I don't know, I don't watch it, because I can't stand that sort of thing even vicariously.

January 23, 2023

The woods in early afternoon.

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Spokescandies — one more item for my list of things I'd never heard of until I heard they were going away.

What did they do wrong? I feel uneasy, because these imaginary beings embody only rejection. Rejection by whom and for what reason? It's free-floating anxiety in candy form. Yeah, the M&Ms company is "tricking" me into doing viral marketing for them.

According to The Daily Beast, Tucker Carlson is responsible for the polarization over the candy's shoes. See for yourself:

"[T]he rapid liberation of women and the labor-market shift toward brains and away from brawn have left men bereft of... 'ontological security.'..."

"Things have become so bad, so quickly, that emergency social repairs are needed. 'It is like the needles on a magnetic compass reversing their polarity,' [writes Richard V. Reeves, a British American scholar of inequality and social mobility]. 'Suddenly, working for gender equality means focusing on boys rather than girls.'... 'As far as I can tell, nobody predicted that women would overtake men so rapidly, so comprehensively, or so consistently around the world,' Reeves writes.... Reeves offers a wide menu of policies designed to foster a 'prosocial masculinity for a postfeminist world.' He would encourage more men to become nurses and teachers, expand paid leave, and create a thousand more vocational high schools. His signature idea, though, is to 'redshirt' boys and give them all, by default, an extra year of kindergarten."

"It’s estimated that some fifty million new things get classified each year, and the more than two million people with security clearances, military and civilian, can potentially add to the pile..."

"... by one route or another. Presidents do not have the power to declassify documents psychically, as Trump has suggested, but their power to do so in other ways is surprisingly broad and ill-defined, governed largely by executive orders and precedent. That reality had complicated the legal case against Trump even before Biden’s lawyers found the first documents. The President has not yet said for sure if he will run again in 2024. The affair of the documents may prove something of a stress test. Republicans would no doubt like to see all these story lines—the documents, Hunter, the Corvette, Communists—merge into a lurid fog that obscures the real line between Trump’s case and Biden’s. They are not the same, and that is something worth emphasizing. But the fact that these two very different men, for different reasons, both had classified documents in their homes should be cause for reflection about our system of secrecy, too."

"I just feel like there must’ve been a time when the world had more, you know? Like mystery or something."

"And now you come somewhere like this, and it’s beautiful, and you take a picture, and then you realize that everybody’s taking that exact same picture from that exact same spot and you’ve just made some redundant content for stupid Instagram."

Said my favorite "White Lotus/Season 2" character, Portia, quoted in "How to Redeem Social Media in One Easy Step" by Margaret Renkl (NYT). 

Renkl bemoans the bane of social-media-driven photography:
My son and daughter-in-law, who are frequent campers, have seen people queued up at least 50 deep to take phone selfies at popular national park waterfalls and rock formations.... 

"Sam Smith has expressed their disappointment that women have been snubbed from the gender-neutral category at the BRITs this year."

"No women are nominated for Artist of the Year at next month's ceremony, which has sparked fury among music fans. The BRITs changed their format last year to remove the gendered awards, which Adele issued a jibe at as she picked up its first ever non-gendered gong. While Sam welcomed the axing of the gendered awards - which came some years after they came out as non-binary - the Gloria hitmaker has branded the lack of female talent celebrated in the category 'frustrating.'"

The Mirror reports.

If Adele won last year, what's the problem? Why should music be divided into male and female?

Here's Sam Smith singing "Gloria" on "Saturday Night Live" 2 days ago: 

 

Somehow, somebody decided they needed a woman's body sprawled out in the foreground while Smith sang, and somehow that body ended up being Sharon Stone.

The hell? What's progressive? It's totally retrograde.

January 22, 2023

Sunrise — 7:33.

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"One of the biggest problems with TikTok is knowing what the biggest problem with TikTok is."

"Most TikTok hawks have focused on the surveillance of user activity that the app could conduct and the user data the company can access, or what could be called information collection.... Many experts believe that information manipulation, including censorship of user posts as well as the dissemination of propaganda and disinformation, is actually the greater threat TikTok poses.... The right way to approach TikTok is the right way to approach all foreign investment: assess a company’s susceptibility to undue influence from an adversary; gauge the likelihood that susceptibility will lead to a specific harm; and determine whether the government can reduce that likelihood through measures short of an all-out ban. The same goes for global trade generally. The United States should promote the dynamism and prosperity that result from international exchange, curtailing it only in cases of glaring need."
 
From "Don’t ban TikTok. Make it safer for the country" by the Editorial Board of The Washington Post.

I felt honored to make the first footprints in the new snow.

It was sunrise time...

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... and I walked/ran 1.6 miles — out to the vantage point and back to the gate...

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... before I encountered another human being. It was beautiful seeing — and making an imprint on — all that fresh snow.

I did see the occasional Year-of-the-Rabbit rabbit tracks along the way.

"It’s politically weird to be a very liberal Democrat and find yourself shoved in bed with, like, the governor of Texas. Am I supposed to listen to Tucker Carlson?"

Said one parent, quoted in "When Students Change Gender Identity, and Parents Don’t Know/Educators are facing wrenching new tensions over whether they should tell parents when students socially transition at school" (NYT).
[D]ozens of parents whose children have socially transitioned at school told The Times they felt villainized by educators who seemed to think that they — not the parents — knew what was best for their children.... Although some didn’t want their children to transition at all, others said they were open to it, but felt schools forced the process to move too quickly, and that they couldn’t raise concerns without being cut out completely or having their home labeled “unsafe.”... 

They made a movie out of that New Yorker story "Cat Person" — you know, the story everyone was talking about...

... the last time everyone was talking about a short story.

Remember? It was December 2017, and my first post on the subject was: "I was drawn in by the creepy close-up and started reading before 'Cat Person' became an internet phenomenon." Ha ha. I didn't want you to think I'd just follow a trend. I said:

It's getting harder and harder to speak news alerts out loud these days.

My grandfather — Pop — used to read the front section of the evening newspaper and — upon finding something interesting — would read the headline to the rest of us who were either waiting to get our hands on the front section or didn't really care about reading the news at all.

And nowadays, I still participate in spoken news alerts. Here at Meadhouse, we're both often reading the web miscellaneously, and we each like the keep the other up to date on the latest items of interest. 

But lately we're calling out nonsense like this:

"TikTok and ByteDance employees regularly engage in 'heating,' a manual push that ensures specific videos 'achieve a certain number of video views'..."

"... according to six sources and documents reviewed by Forbes," says Forbes, in "TikTok’s Secret ‘Heating’ Button Can Make Anyone Go Viral."
For years, TikTok has described its powerful For You Page as a personalized feed ranked by an algorithm that predicts your interests based on your behavior in the app. But that’s not the full story....

I'll have to give some more thought to how nefarious this is. 

Cory Doctorow seems to think it exemplifies the awfulness of all sorts of things: "Tiktok's enshittification."

"Could the governor who is battling to turn a progressive state college into a 'Hillsdale of the South' really be a tedious Establishment Republican who wants to cut the Social Security checks of righteous churchgoing Republican retirees?"

Asks Ed Kilgore in "Could Trump Run to DeSantis’s Left in 2024?" (New York Magazine).

On a host of issues, Trump and his lieutenants are itching to portray DeSantis as the “establishment” figure — the one who is preferred by the supposedly squishy party bigwigs like Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell. One of Trump’s biggest impacts on the GOP was largely shelving the budget-slashing austerity economics of former Speaker Ryan and ushering in a free-spending, debt-ballooning era that combined tax cuts for the rich, with a rhetorical cease-fire on threats to the bennies of the masses — ranging from Social Security to Medicare.

I'm interested in that phrase "bennies of the masses." It's like "opium of the masses." That's got to be intentional — using "bennies" to mean benefits when "bennies" has been slang for benzedrine — i.e., amphetamine — since the 1950s.

January 21, 2023

Sunrise — 7:24.

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Hilaria Baldwin evokes empathy — think of her 7 children.

But why is she still speaking with a Spanish accent? See "Hilaria Baldwin’s Spanish accent and suspect origin story, explained/Hilaria Baldwin, a.k.a. Hillary Hayward-Thomas Baldwin, has come under fire for allegedly fibbing a Spanish accent" (Vox, 2020). 

And, fron July 2021: "Hilaria Baldwin Now Claims She's Culturally 'Fluid' After Spanish Heritage Scandal/Alec Baldwin's wife, who was accused of pretending to be from Spain, suggested her critics are denying her right to belong'" (HuffPo)("When you are multi, it can feel hard to belong"/"We need to normalize the fact that we are all unique ― our culture, languages, sexual orientations, religions, political beliefs are ALLOWED TO BE FLUID").

"Some anti-abortion advocates say that if doctors believe the exceptions are too ambiguous, they should suggest fixes rather than criticize the laws."

"'They’re not trying to fix the problem,' said [James Bopp, the general counsel for the National Right to Life Committee, who writes model legislation for states]. 'I would be screaming from the housetops, "We better amend this law to make it clear that this can be done because this is wrong."' But abortion-rights advocates have warned for decades that exceptions would not work in practice. They point to the rare instances of patients being granted exceptions to the Hyde Amendment, which blocks federal Medicaid funding for abortion services. And those on both sides of the issue say there may be no middle ground. Mary Ziegler, a law professor at the University of California, Davis, who specializes in the history of abortion, said, 'What would seem workable to a lot of physicians or reproductive-rights supporters would look like a loophole to the pro-life movement.'"

"Just once I'd love to see 'How to become a night owl' or 'How to workout at midnight' - the incessant focus on getting up earlier and earlier..."

"... and forcing yourself into a morning routine is exhausting! I'll continue to treasure my quiet late night workouts when I naturally have the most energy."
 
Writes someone named L — from the Arabian Gulf — commenting on the NYT article "How to Become a Morning Exercise Person/Yes, it can be done."

"Unlike the common arabica and robusta varieties [of coffee], liberica can survive in hotter and drier climes, but for many years was shunned for its allegedly unpleasant flavour."

Writes Elisabeth Perlman in "I’ve tested liberica, the ‘disgusting’ coffee coming to a café near you" (London Times).

Now, as the planet warms, it is making a comeback. Nigel Motley, 31, is the owner of one of the first UK coffee shops offering the "hipster" bean.

Hipster bean?! 

"Yes, ban the office cakes. Obviously.... I have been campaigning [against obesity] for more than 20 years...."

"And all I have met is anger, abuse and accusations of 'fat-shaming.' From the right, because I seem to be after restricting people’s right to choose how they live; and from the left because, since obesity disproportionately affects the poor, I must be motivated by class hatred and snobbery.... I have moved on from any notion I might once have had about personal culpability and now hold the government and 'big sugar' (which pulled a nefarious con on the public by repositioning sugar as 'energy' when it is, in fact, sloth, weakness and depression) entirely responsible. Which is why I am with [ chairwoman of the Food Standards Agency, Professor Susan Jebb] all the way in calling on people to stop buying this poisonous shite in pretty packaging and forcing it into their ailing colleagues like corn down the diseased gullet of a Perigord goose. An unrelated story in The Times on Wednesday celebrated a new wonder-drug proven to prolong the lives of mice, inspiring the dream... that it might work on humans. But do you know what is also proven to prolong the life of mice? Severe calorie restriction. Cut their intake by a third and they live up to 40 per cent longer. Before we plough billions into yet more drugs, shouldn’t we at least give that a go?"

Writes Giles Coren in "Cake debate is no laughing matter — seriously/Snigger at comparisons with passive smoking if you must, but only if you’re blind to the scale of our obesity crisis" (London Times). 

"I couldn’t really picture that weight. It’s like five circus elephants. Or 50-something grand pianos."

"It was a beautiful tree, it really was, but I kind of have a difficult feeling about it right now."

Said Eben Burgoon, after a 65,000-pound redwood fell on his house, quoted in "Trees were a California city’s salvation. Now they’re a grave threat" (WaPo).

Sacramento was once called "the 'city of Plains' because of its treeless vistas," but it became "The City of Trees" after the humans worked to develop a lush, shady canopy. But:

January 20, 2023

Sunrise — 7:14.

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"We are rapidly becoming prototypes of a people that totalitarian monsters could only drool about in their dreams."

"All the dictators up to now have had to work hard at suppressing the truth. We, by our actions, are saying that this is no longer necessary, that we have acquired a spiritual mechanism that can denude truth of any significance. In a very fundamental way we, as a free people, have freely decided that we want to live in some post-truth world...."

 Wrote Steve Tesich in "A government of lies," published in The Nation in 1992.

"Grief reigns in the kingdom of loss. I refer to not only the loss of a loved one but also the loss of a hope, a dream, or love itself."

"It seems we don’t finish grieving, but merely finish for now; we process it in layers. One day (not today) I’m going to write a short story about a vending machine that serves up Just the Right Amount of Grief. You know, the perfect amount that you can handle in a moment to move yourself along, but not so much that you’ll be caught in an undertow."

That's item #13 on "MONICA LEWINSKY: 25 'RANDOMS' ON THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE BILL CLINTON CALAMITY/My name became public 25 years ago this week. What have I observed and learned in the quarter century since? Oh, plenty" (Vanity Fair).

Okay, let me try to write 25 "Randoms" on the text printed above:

"Just two weeks ago, Democrats were chortling over chaos in the G.O.P., convinced that far-right Republican control of the House would help them in 2024."

"Then they experienced the exquisite torture that comes with the slow release of politically damaging information, in this case the acknowledgment of classified documents found in Mr. Biden’s former offices and Wilmington home.... [I]t’s hard to exaggerate the level of Democratic exasperation with him for squandering a huge political advantage on the Mar-a-Lago story and for muddying what may have been the best chance to convict Mr. Trump on federal charges.... Republicans are ferocious attack dogs, especially when they have something to chew on.... It’s not hard to envision an ambitious primary challenger arguing, more in sorrow than in anger, that he or she supports most of the Biden record but elections are about the future and the party needs a more vigorous candidate.... Democratic leaders will be shocked and appalled by the upstart’s temerity in spoiling the party’s impressive unity. But New Hampshire is full of anti-establishment independents.... He could easily lose or be weakened there, opening the door for other Democrats.... Imagine instead that the president.... And the smiling old gentleman in the Corvette — his shortcomings forgotten and his family protected — would assume his proper place as a bridge between political generations and arguably the most accomplished one-term president in American history."

From "Don’t Kid Yourself. The Classified Documents Story Is Bad for Biden" by Jonathan Alter (NYT).

For a billionaire, didn't he get $1 million worth of gratification out of this?

 

It's only one 44,000th of what Musk paid for Twitter.

What I love is the self-esteem.

It feels like a preview of Season 3 of "The White Lotus."

"Is this blog actualizing Althouse in the way that her heart and soul are crying out to be actualized?"

Asked Ricardo, in the comments to a December 15, 2006 post of mine that asked, "What do you think is the single most important question about this blog?" — quoted in a December 16, 2006 post of mine, "How your mind looks on the web, part 2."

I found that this morning because in the context of writing the previous post — about Max Read's contention that the secret of blogging is logorrhea — I thought of the old slogan about blogging "How your mind looks on the web."  

I had thought the single most important question about this blog was "If Althouse is a liberal -- as she claims -- then why is she almost always picking on liberals and almost never on conservatives?" That's very interesting to me now, 17 years later, because it's still a live question. 

But Ricardo, the commenter, said:

"There are all kinds of things you can do to develop and retain [a blog] audience... but the single most important thing you can do is post regularly and never stop...."

"[The demand for content] is so insatiable that there is currently no real economic punishment for content overproduction. You will almost never lose money, followers, attention, or reach simply from posting too much. It’s this last part that is often most difficult for writers to accept.... Before they post, therefore, many writers mentally calculate: Is this post 'good enough,' or does it dilute the overall quality of my work, alienate my audience, etc.? But [WaPo's Matt] Yglesias profile’s very existence reminds us of an important rule of thumb for navigating the content economy in the 21st century: Under the present regime, there is no real downside risk to posting.... Even the most anodyne, mediocre writing fulfills the requirement of regularity. (What is the 'Wayne Gretzky' quote? 'You miss 100 percent of the audience conversion opportunities you don’t take'?)... What do the top text-based content-creation entrepreneurs of our time have in common? Logorrhea.... It’s easy to see why writers reared in the hothouse reputational marketplace of Twitter are desperate to avoid the shame of negative attention. But... people forget, or move on, or don’t really care.... Feeling shame that prevents you from doing or saying inappropriate things is maybe a useful way to navigate complex moral-social arrangements, but fearing shame that prevents you from adhering to the first commandment of blogging ('post frequently and regularly') is counterproductive. As Yglesias says, it's the best time there’s ever been to be somebody who can write something coherent quickly. Put things out. Let people yell at you. Write again the next day."

Writes Max Read in "Matt Yglesias and the secret of blogging/How to be a successful content entrepreneur" (Substack)(riffing on the WaPo profile of Yglesias).

Max Read doesn't mention artificial intelligence, but if his idea of successful blogging is right, then bloggers can set their blogs to automatically generate endless posts. And that's why he can't be right. But by his own terms, he doesn't need to be right. He just needs to load in more words words words. 

January 19, 2023

Snow at sunrise — 7:12, 7:19, 7:26.

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"Julian is wild and never contained by rules or boundaries. He is a Byronesque romantic and an adventurer who is drawn to the extremes of nature, relishing the freedom of mountains..."

"... which he conquers all over the world. He is deeply inspired by the Romantic poets and his performances of their work are spellbinding and come from a passionate love of literature. “He is a friend bound by Homeric qualities of loyalty and living life to the full. He takes no prisoners and yet is as gentle and generous and sensitive as the poets he so admired. His total and absolute adoration is always towards his wife the novelist and screenwriter Evgenia Citkowitz by whom he has two daughters. And his son Henry by his first wife the journalist Sarah Sands is closely bonded to him and joined the search for him in the Californian mountains where he went missing....."

Said a friend of Julian Sands's, quoted in "‘Doing what he loved best’: Last pictures actor Julian Sands sent to his grandson from snow-clad mountain peak/Picture exclusive: Poignant images show missing ‘A Room with a View’ star scaling peaks in the Alps as search enters sixth day" (Independent).

 

"It is with great sadness after a long illness, that our beloved David (Croz) Crosby has passed away."

"He was lovingly surrounded by his wife and soulmate Jan and son Django. Although he is no longer here with us, his humanity and kind soul will continue to guide and inspire us. His legacy will continue to live on through his legendary music. Peace, love, and harmony to all who knew David and those he touched...." 

A statement from David Crosby's wife, sent to Variety.

I love David Crosby. The first rock concert I ever saw was The Byrds at Newark Symphony Hall in 1966.

Here he is talking about his health and about dying — to Howard Stern — just last year:

"I am at the end of my life, Howard.... People get old and die. And I'm gonna."

 This is from 1974 — somehow the most Crosby Crosby songs that comes into my mind:

Try some of my purple berries: 

"The Supreme Court announced on Thursday that an internal investigation had failed to identify the person who leaked a draft of the opinion overturning Roe v. Wade...."

"In a 20-page report, the court’s marshal, responsible for overseeing the inquiry, said that investigators had conducted 126 formal interviews of 97 employees, all of whom had denied being the source of the leak. Investigators also found no forensic evidence by examining the court’s 'computer devices, networks, printers and available call and text logs,' the report said. Several employees of the court did admit to investigators, the report said, that they had told their spouses or partners about the draft opinion and the vote count in violation of the court’s confidentiality rules. But the investigation did not determine that any of those discussions led to a copy of the draft opinion becoming public....."

The NYT reports.

"Quit Lit gave my patients and me an easy way to talk about dependence and addiction... 'This Naked Mind,' 'The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober'... 'Quit Like a Woman'...."

"These confessionals about alcohol dependence share a common theme: explaining in vivid detail the author’s battle with the bottle, and the ways in which society has duped us into thinking that alcohol is a cool way to deal with life’s ups and downs, rather than a toxic substance with addictive properties, which increases anxiety and depressive symptoms over time.... I listened to the audio version of 'This Naked Mind' in December.... After spending some time with Quit Lit, I understood the appeal. There’s probably a reason that only 7.7 percent of people with serious drinking problems seek help — it can be humiliating to label yourself as an alcoholic. When a witty, wise woman is telling you about her journey, it seems like one you want to be on...."

Writes Lesley Alderman in "'Drinking until I passed out': Quit Lit targets women’s sobriety A new genre of storytelling focuses on alcohol dependence and is helping some women curtail drinking or quit altogether" (WaPo). 

I've never noticed the term "Quit Lit" before. Googling, I see it's a very popular term! Here's Goodreads's collection of Quit Lit.

"Growing up in Brookline, Massachusetts, [Conan] O’Brien developed two lifelong obsessions. The first was The Music Man...."

"After O’Brien heard [Robert] Preston’s showstopping song 'Ya Got Trouble' for the first time, it wormed its way into his brain. 'I always wanted to play the Robert Preston part and do the "Trouble" song,' he says. 'I just love the "Trouble" song.' O’Brien’s other fixation was the work of filmmaker Irwin Allen, who produced disaster movies like The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno. They all stuck to a specific formula, and they were all entertaining as hell. 'The beginning is always great promise,' O’Brien says. '"We built this wonderful skyscraper!" There’s a lot of talk about the skyscraper, and then there’s always a dire warning: "You should worry about the electrical system and the smoke alarms." Don’t you worry about that! Then, there always comes the moment where all the celebrities are being brought in for the big grand opening.' Then, it all goes to shit. 'Somehow, all those things are swimming around in my head,' O’Brien says. It just took a space-age train to bring them together. 'It unfolds really naturally because once you have the idea of a Music Man selling you a monorail, you know Homer’s for it, the town’s for it. … Well, who’s going to be against it? It’s either Marge or Lisa, because they’re sensible. For me, it was Marge. She’ll be the voice of reason who senses this isn’t wise. The first part is Music Man. The second act is an Irwin Allen disaster movie.'"

From "Throw Up Your Hands and Raise Your Voice! Monorail! Monorail! Monorail! Thirty years later, Conan O’Brien reflects on the making and legacy of 'Marge vs. the Monorail,' one of the best ‘Simpsons’—and sitcom—episodes of all time" (The Ringer).

"When the daughter with visibly brown roots insists that having blond hair as a child makes her a natural blonde, she is saying something I have heard countless people say."

"I have always been puzzled by it. What could be so important about a genetic trait that someone would use it to describe herself long after the trait’s phenotypic expression — light hair — no longer exists? It makes literal sense only if by blonde she is referring to something more than hair. Being a natural blonde must confer honor, esteem and power to those who can legitimately claim it. Guess how we define social status? It is as a role or identity that confers honor, esteem and power to those who legitimately hold it.... People who were born blond and now have dark hair were among the angriest. They insisted that being a 'natural blonde' should matter more than their actual hair color. When pushed on what makes that matter, they got even angrier.... That is the thing about status. We all want it, but, should we acquire it, we don’t want it to mean anything...."

Writes Tressie McMillan Cottom in "The Enduring, Invisible Power of Blond" (NYT). The author, a sociologist, is black. Here's her TikTok that made people mad:

"Alec Baldwin & ‘Rust’ Armorer To Face Criminal Charges Over 2021 Fatal Movie Shooting, Santa Fe D.A. Says."

 Deadline reports. 

In charges set to be formally filed by the end of the month, Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed will each be charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter in Hutchins’ death.

ADDED: From the NYT article on the subject:

Andrea Reeb, a special prosecutor on the case, said... “We’re trying to definitely make it clear that everybody’s equal under the law, including A-list actors like Alec Baldwin.... And we also want to make sure that the safety of the film industry is addressed and things like this don’t happen again.”

It snowed.

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Photos taken at 7:26 and 7:35 this morning.

In case you were wondering what Antony Blinken is up to these days or just want to know which Bob Dylan song title is getting played with in high-level government.

Here's "A font feud brews after State Dept. picks Calibri over Times New Roman/‘The Times (New Roman) are a-Changin,’ read the subject line of a cable from Secretary of State Antony Blinken to U.S. embassies as part of an accessibility push" (WaPo).

Must I rail about "The Times They Are A-Changin'" again? I'll just quote something I wrote back in 2018:

[T]he old song... anchors Bob Dylan in his political protest time, from which he changed. But Baby Boomer politicos have always harked back to it, and it serves them — I'm not including me — right to have that song sung in their face now that they are old and not ready to roll over for whatever advancement the young people think is due.

I don't include myself because I've never liked the forefronting of Protest Bob.

"Donald Trump mistook his sexual assault accuser E. Jean Carroll for his ex-wife Marla Maples when shown a photograph from the 1990s..."

"...  in a deposition at Mar-a-Lago last year, potentially undermining one of the common defenses he has used to deny an attack. Trump... has repeatedly said Carroll is not his 'type'.... 'That’s Marla, yeah. That’s my wife,' Trump said...."

WaPo reports.

Here's the photo:

 

That sure does look like Marla Maples! 

"We always treated it as a dumping ground for our less serious members. Republicans have long treated Oversight as the land of misfit toys."

"There’s very little evidence that members on the far right have moved on from Donald Trump. This will be a forum for his grievances and going down ridiculous rabbit holes and entertaining conspiracy theories."

Said Brendan Buck, "who served as a top adviser to the past two Republican speakers, Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and John A. Boehner of Ohio," quoted in "Right-Wing Trump Allies Win Seats on Oversight, Reflecting G.O.P. Priorities/Some of the former president’s most outspoken defenders will sit on the House’s main investigative committee, underscoring their high-profile roles in the new Republican majority" (NYT).

The Oversight Committee has long been populated by the most ideological and outspoken members of the House in both political parties, along with those who have less interest in legislating than in landing political blows that will grab the attention of the public and tarnish their opponents....

"When we calculate how many well-constructed sentences remain for AI to ingest, the numbers aren’t encouraging...."

"Ten trillion words is enough to encompass all of humanity’s digitized books, all of our digitized scientific papers, and much of the blogosphere.... You could imagine its AI successors absorbing our entire deep-time textual record across their first few months, and then topping up with a two-hour reading vacation each January, during which they could mainline every book and scientific paper published the previous year.... [W]ithin a few decades, speed-reading AIs will be powerful enough to ingest hundreds of trillions of words—including all those that human beings have so far stuffed into the web.... Perhaps in the end, big data will have diminishing returns.... My 13-year-old son has ingested orders of magnitude fewer words than ChatGPT, yet he has a much more subtle understanding of written text. If it makes sense to say that his mind runs on algorithms, they’re better algorithms than those used by today’s AIs. If, however, our data-gorging AIs do someday surpass human cognition, we will have to console ourselves with the fact that they are made in our image. AIs are not aliens.... They are of us, and they are from here.... They know our oldest stories...."

From "What Happens When AI Has Read Everything? The dream of an artificial mind may never become a reality if AI runs out of quality prose to ingest—and there isn’t much left" by Ross Andersen (The Atlantic).

January 18, 2023

Sunrise — 7:34, 7:35.

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Sunrise — 7:24, 7:31.

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"[S]ome Democrats—many of whom call themselves progressives—have in meaningful ways become anti-progress..."

"... at least where material improvement is concerned. Progress depends on a society’s ability to build what it knows. But very often, it’s progressives who stand against building what we’ve already invented, including relatively ancient technology like nuclear power or even apartment buildings."

From "WHY THE AGE OF AMERICAN PROGRESS ENDED/Invention alone can’t change the world; what matters is what happens next" By Derek Thompson (The Atlantic).

"Unfortunately, some people who discuss their detransition on social media are met with suspicion, blame, mockery, harassment, or even threats..."

"... from within the LGBTQ communities in which they previously found refuge. Some trans-rights advocates have likened detransitioners to the ex-gay movement or described them as anti-trans grifters. In fact, many detransitioners continue to live gender-nonconforming and queer lives. No one benefits from the anger and suspicion that gender-care issues currently inspire. Detransitioners who face social rejection, coupled with shame and isolation, may come to view anti-trans activists as their only allies—even when those activists portray them negatively, as damaged goods rather than as human beings who have survived medical trauma."

From "Take Detransitioners Seriously/Some people reverse their gender transition. Understanding their experience is crucial" by "trans academics" Leo Valdes and Kinnon MacKinnon (The Atlantic).

"The ‘check engine’ light came on, and I brought it to my mechanic, who popped the hood and found chicken bones, some bread and part of a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich sitting there."

From "Why So Many Cars Have Rats in Them Now/Driving in the city is on the rise, but if New Yorkers think they can avoid rats this way, they are in for quite the surprise" (NYT).

[During the pandemic, r]ats that would typically stick close to their food sources began taking more risks, like making brazen midday dashes to piles of trash bags and other potential meals and hangouts. But recently, as human behavior has returned to something approaching normalcy, the rats haven’t reverted to their old habits; they’ve simply expanded their tactic...

And then there's the "proliferation of... soy-based insulation for car wiring — basically catnip for rodents."

"It was never our intent to suggest that academic freedom is of lower concern or value than our students — care does not 'supersede' academic freedom, the two coexist."

Said a statement from Ellen Watters, the chair of the Hamline University’s board of trustees, and Fayneese S. Miller, the university's president.

"Like all organizations, sometimes we misstep. In the interest of hearing from and supporting our Muslim students, language was used that does not reflect our sentiments on academic freedom. Based on all that we have learned, we have determined that our usage of the term ‘Islamophobic’ was therefore flawed."

Quoted in "After Lecturer Sues, Hamline University Walks Back Its ‘Islamophobic’ Comments/In an about-face, the school said that using the term was 'flawed' and that respect for Muslim students should not have superseded academic freedom" (NYT).

The hawk at 7:52 a.m.

IMG_4410 2

He knows you are, but what is he?

"Look, when there’s no need for your rhetoric not to be lazy, you land on lazy rhetoric. If you can carry the day — at least with those who you’re most worried about convincing — with little effort or logical consistency, why bother putting in the effort or assembling that consistency? If your target audience hasn’t even heard the nuances that undercut your point, why bother rebutting those nuances?"

Writes Philip Bump in "The impressively weak effort to ‘whatabout’ Biden’s classified documents" (WaPo).

"I think that, especially, I realized when so many young people—especially young men—rush to defend me when this stuff first started coming out, that this type of sex-pest behavior is normalized..."

"... and a lot of people think this stuff is normal when I don't think that it is."

Said Andrew Callaghan, quoted in "Andrew Callaghan Allegations: YouTuber Apologizes for 'Sex Pest Behavior'" (Newsweek).

That's a story from 2 days ago, which I'm encountering only because I happened upon his HBO documentary, "This Place Rules."

We watched most of it last night, and I had gone looking for some reviews of it. 

Here's the trailer:

January 17, 2023

At the Tuesday Night Café...

 ... you can talk about whatever you like.

"[Michael] Crichton is brash and wrong, insisting [in 1993] that American media will literally be extinct ('Vanished, without a trace') within ten years."

"But what makes it particularly interesting is the way he is wrong. He’s convinced that broadcast media will die because people are going to demand comprehensive and factually accurate information, they’ll find it on the internet, and they’ll pay for it. The Internet has been about-to-end-journalism-as-we-know-it since before the days of Netscape Navigator. And journalism has definitely changed! The peril is real! I like Mediasaurus as a reminder that the digital news crisis is not so new."

Writes Dave Karpf in "A WIRED compendium/Dusting off a curated list of old WIRED articles" (Substack). Karpf, an internet politics professor, is dedicated to studying the archive of WIRED magazine. At the link are summaries of 68 articles — 3 from each year, from 1993 to 2017.

"The magazine’s earliest days are filled with wild, confident predictions about how digital technology is about to change the world. Much of this was too-early, but you can, at moments, pick out the shape of things to come."

I found the article through this Metafilter post, but I couldn't find a comment worth quoting. Someone wants to know why Karpf didn't find more articles written by women. They laugh, predictably, at the 1999 article predicting we'd be able to send smells through the internet.