January 14, 2023

Sunrise — 7:38.


"Biden’s Document Blunder Is Nothing Like Trump’s Crime."

 That's not sarcastic. It's sincere. It's Jonathan Chait (at New York Magazine).

"Before the legalization of marijuana, [Josepha] Ippolito-Shepherd could have called 911 and police would have criminally charged her neighbor..."

"... but now officers told her nothing could be done. She wrote to D.C. Council chair Phil Mendelson, who said the only way to rectify her problem would be to undo the legalization of marijuana. So she took the dispute to court, claiming the smell is a public nuisance, and the trial, which began this week, is the first of its kind to make it this far in the District court...."

From "Sick of smelling her neighbor’s legal pot, this woman sued" (WaPo).

Honoring Martin Luther King Jr. with a hilariously/tragically bad monumental sculpture

ADDED: This angle is supposed to explain the conception of the sculpture:

"Induction stove cooks are in the vanguard, as they are wont to tell you, the Tesla owners of the kitchen. They are free from the guilt and worry that gas stoves now emit."

"'It’s spectacular,' says kitchen designer Joanne Hudson, who installed two Gaggenaus in her Radnor, Pa., home. 'It’s faster than gas. It’s easier to clean up.' These are not your old-fashioned coil burners, the ones on which many of us burned a hand or two. Repeatedly. Tops tend to be shiny, black, sleek, sexy. Induction stoves use magnetic fields, which heat quickly and cool down fast. Hudson’s clients who like contemporary design favor induction; those who prefer traditional design, often dwelling in older homes, want gas ranges like the models from La Cornue that can clock in at nearly $80,000. Hudson says the love for big, metallic fortresses of fire 'is male-driven. They look like locomotives.' Consider the brand names: Viking, Wolf."

From "The heated debate over gas vs. electric stoves: ‘Man cooked on fire first’/Passionate gas stove lovers are rallying around their flames while induction owners preach that electric is the smart, safe choice" (WaPo).

I don't need an $80,000 male-driven locomotive in the kitchen.

Why the insane fire? Distraction? Symbolism? Ineptitude?

ADDED: I thought maybe the name "Fumio" means "raging fire," but I looked it up, and as a Japanese name, it means "history." From a European perspective, it suggests "fuming." In Italian, "fumio" means "smoking."


"Brett Vogelsinger, who teaches 9th grade English in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, invited his students to use ChatGPT as an aid — not a substitute — for writing an essay about 'To Kill a Mockingbird.'"

"Only four took him up on it, and two dropped out, saying ChatGPT's responses weren't 'long enough or deep enough or interesting enough,' Vogelsinger said. For the others, it did 'a good job of pointing out what parts of the text they should be thinking of.' With ChatGPT, students have 'this little AI friend who is going to bat around ideas with them — that's how I look at it,' Vogelsinger told Axios."

From "Friend or foe? Teachers debate ChatGPT" (Axios).

The teachers are going to have to find a way to make AI a "friend," because it can't go away. I'm afraid young people will stop learning to write. They will only learn to interact with machines. There's no way to keep the machine in the position of "little friend" who is going to bat around ideas with me. But the teachers — some of them — are going to try to keep AI in the the "little friend" position.

It's the 19th anniversary of the day this blog began.

I'll say it again: I have blogged every single day since Day 1. At this point, how can I not?

Next year is a big milestone: 20. But I have no plan to stop. As long as Blogger keeps letting me balance one more post on top of the giant pile of posts and I can do it and it feels intrinsically valuable to me, I'm doing it.

Thanks to everyone who reads this. It has felt very cool for a long time to write knowing I have readers, and I hope the experience is intrinsically valuable to you. And thanks, as always, to Meade for his ineffable companionship.

January 13, 2023

A gloomy sunrise — 7:38.


"[The Twitter] files have been at once among the most interesting and the most complicated journalistic documents of the Trump era..."

"... complicated in that their tone is often propagandistic and their evidence frustratingly partial but interesting in that they show how various political actors sought to influence a period in global politics....  After a careful read of the Twitter Files, I don’t think that the evidence suggests a coherent political agenda. It is certainly true that Twitter executives donated, overwhelmingly, to Democratic candidates for public office, and it seems equally true that they expressed mostly progressive views on social media.... Even if you believe—and I don’t—that Musk took a progressive thumb off the scale when he acquired the company, all he has done since is stick his own thumb—bigger and clumsier—on it. Musk could have made different choices. He could have opened the files to more journalists, with broader perspectives, rather than a group that largely shared his view.... The choices Musk did make suggest another aim—not neutrality, but counterbalance. If progressive ideas had been too amplified, he would now amplify conservative ones. Everything in the Twitter Files has had this see-saw quality...In this way, the Twitter Files have been trapped in the style of Twitter itself."

From "What the Twitter Files Reveal About Free Speech and Social Media/The company’s internal documents were supposed to prove a progressive agenda—mostly, they have exposed the limitations of the platform and its new owner" by Benjamin Wallace-Wells (The New Yorker).

"Supreme Court investigators probing the May leak of Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion overruling Roe v. Wade have narrowed their inquiry to a small number of suspects..."

"... including law clerks, but officials have yet to conclusively identify the alleged culprit, people familiar with the matter said...."

The Wall Street Journal reports.

A leak about the leak. Great.

"The Queen Mother liked to mimic Ali G, Sacha Baron Cohen’s character, with Harry."

The London Times reports on Prince Harry's book, which it quotes:
“I taught her to say Booyakasha, showing her how to flick her fingers the way Sacha did. She couldn’t grasp it, she had no idea what I was talking about, but she had such fun trying to flick and say the word. With every repetition of that word, Booyakasha, she’d shriek.”

"Monks are famously celibate, but celibacy doesn’t just mean you’re not having sex. It means you’re not interacting with other people..."

"... in a way that could be considered romantic. The Sanskrit word for monk, brahmacharyi, means 'the right use of energy.' It’s not that romance and sexual energy are wrong. But my practice teaches that we all have a limited amount of energy, which can be directed in multiple directions or one. When energy is scattered, it’s difficult to create momentum or impact. As monks, we were trained to direct our energy toward understanding our psyches, how we see the world and interact with it.... During college in London, I had devoted so much time to a long-distance girlfriend that I missed most of my classes. Celibacy allowed me to use that time and space to understand myself and develop the ability to still my mind.... When I left the ashram for good, I hadn’t watched TV, seen a movie, or listened to music in three years.... Being a monk may have closed me off to certain things... but... I learned to see the essence of a monk in everyone I met.... I saw that essence in Radhi the moment we met...."

Writes Jay Shetty, in "Date Like a Monk/'We’re not here to impress each other. We’re here to connect'" (NYT).

Miss Ukraine.

The competition:

Breaking into an old man’s garage.

That made me think about the episode of "Joe Pera Talks With You," "Joe Pera Shows You His Second Fridge" — which you can buy on YouTube (here) or watch on HBO. Here's a short clip where he talks about kids breaking into garages to get beer from the second fridge. And here's an embeddable clip with Joe talking soothingly about the institution known as the second fridge:

If someone dies and I see fit to blog about it and you might be the first commenter, don't just write something showing you don't know or care much at all...

... about this person. That's really rude. I just deleted a comment but I wanted to state the general principle on the front page so everyone can see it. Stop doing this please. You don't have to comment. Plus, there's always a link to something you can read. This is a special subcategory of my general rule for the first comment — or first few comments — on a post. Here's how I word it to myself: Don't shit on the post.

"No rule says that written English has to use the same word order as spoken English, or that writers can’t play around. But a writer who introduces awkwardness should have a reason."

Says David Owen, in "The Objectively Objectionable Grammatical Pet Peeve/A semi-attentive investigation into a confounding sentence type" (The New Yorker).

He actually is stating a rule. It's just a very general rule and it has a very general exception. He just can't force writers to follow that rule, and he's written a long article railing against one very particular type of variation from natural spoken-English word order:

"It honestly seems like it was written by a teenage Tumblr user who, having come into contact with some new and exciting ideas about social justice, seeks to impose them widely and lecture perceived wrongdoers gleefully."

Writes Jill Filipovic, in "Hamline University’s Controversial Firing Is a Warning/Insistence that others follow one’s strict religion is authoritarian and illiberal no matter what the religion is" (Slate). She's talking about a statement written by Hamlin University President Dr. Fayneese S. Miller. 

Filipovic continues:

"Hamline administrators have labeled this corpus of Islamic depictions of Muhammad, along with their teaching, as hateful, intolerant and Islamophobic."

"And yet the visual evidence proves contrary: The images were made, almost without exception, by Muslim artists for Muslim patrons in respect for, and in exaltation of, Muhammad and the Quran. They are, by definition, Islamophilic from their inception to their reception. How did Hamline arrive at such a flawed conclusion, what are its implications, and where do we go from here?... ... Islam has been largely defined, in contrast with Christianity, as a religious tradition that is largely aniconic, or lacking in figural images. The administrators at Hamline reiterated this inaccuracy with zeal, believing that such historical Islamic images were equivalent to offensive Euro-American cartoons and hence caused 'harm' to the Muslims in their midst. Through conflation or confusion, Hamline has privileged an ultraconservative Muslim view on the subject that happens to coincide with the age-old Western cliche that Muslims are banned from viewing images of the prophet. This Muslim traditionalist and American Orientalist 'echo chamber; is not just simplistic and counterfactual; it also muzzles all other voices while potentially endangering rare and precious works of Islamic art."

Writes Christiane Gruber, a professor of Islamic art in the History of Art Department at the University of Michigan, in "An Academic Is Fired Over a Medieval Painting of the Prophet Muhammad/The dismissal of an instructor at Hamline University on baseless charges of 'Islamophobia' raises concerns about freedom on campus" (New Lines Magazine)(via Arts & Letters Daily).

Professor Gruber doesn't seem to notice the problem of viewpoint discrimination. She seems to want historical, high-art images treated differently from modern-day satirical cartoons. That too is "privileging" — privileging elite art. Indeed, she goes on to support present-day high art: 

January 12, 2023

Goodbye to Lisa Marie Presley.

AP reports: "Lisa Marie Presley — the only child of Elvis Presley — died Thursday after being hospitalized earlier that day, her mother said in a statement. The singer was 54. 'It is with a heavy heart that I must share the devastating news that my beautiful daughter Lisa Marie has left us,' Priscilla Presley said in a statement Thursday evening. 'She was the most passionate, strong and loving woman I have ever known.'"

At the Room Temperature Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

"The second set of classified documents from President Biden’s time as vice president were discovered at a storage space in the garage of his home in Wilmington, Del., a top White House lawyer said on Thursday."

That's the ungrammatical first sentence of the breaking news "Second Set of Classified Documents Were Found at Biden’s Wilmington Home, White House Says/A statement by the president’s special counsel confirmed reports that more documents had been uncovered after a previous batch was found at a think tank" (NYT).

ADDED: "Attorney General Merrick B. Garland on Thursday appointed Robert K. Hur, a veteran prosecutor who worked in the Trump administration, to handle the investigation into how classified documents from President Biden’s time as vice president ended up at his private office and home" (NYT).

"Descriptions of 'Spare' as 'pure chaos,' TMI or the lament of a privileged White man oversimplify the book...."

"Harry’s memoir sweeps in: one man’s singular journey from schoolboy to soldier to married father; a love letter to a lost mother, cast in the grief of a 12-year-old boy; an indictment of a family with resources to care for two wounded children — but no apparent will or concern to do so; a love-struck man’s celebration of his wife. 'Spare' is no literary masterpiece (for your own sake, skip the multi-chapter talk of his frostbitten todger). In time, Harry might regret sharing so much.... Harry accuses his stepmother, Camilla, soon to be crowned queen, of spreading negative reports about him amid efforts to improve her public image. He recounts speaking to his brother about their father’s efforts to promote himself at their expense. Think about that. A lot of Americans who were tiring of Harry and Meghan will likely find elements of Harry’s story to respect or even lament....."

Writes Autumn Brewington, in "Post Elizabeth: To understand Prince Harry’s book, you need to know 5 things" (WaPo). 

About that todger (don't tell me what to skip!):

"The National Park Service is moving to prohibit hunters on some public lands in Alaska from baiting black bears with doughnuts and using spotlights..."

"... to shoot hibernating bears and cubs in their dens, techniques allowed by the Trump administration but considered inhumane by conservationists. A rule proposed by the National Park Service on Friday would essentially restore restrictions that existed during the Obama administration but were gutted under President Donald J. Trump. Under the new policy, hunters on Alaska wildlife preserves would also no longer be able to kill adult wolves and pups in their dens, or use motorboats to shoot swimming caribou.... Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, issued a statement calling the new rule 'a victory for Alaska’s iconic wildlife species. Baiting bears just to blast them over a pile of doughnuts is just wrong'...."

From "Biden Moves to End Doughnut Lures and Other Bear Hunting Tactics in Alaska/A new rule proposed by the administration would also bar hunters from invading wolf dens to kill pups" (NYT).

"A study published in December estimated that gas-burning stoves are responsible for 12.7 percent of childhood asthma in the United States."

"Gas stoves emit nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and fine particulate matter when they are turned on.... They also release other harmful air pollutants that are known or suspected to cause cancer, and can even leak those chemicals when they are turned off... When it comes to gas bans, Republicans have been the loudest critics and 20 Republican-controlled state legislatures have passed laws prohibiting such bans. But in most households in those red states cook with electric stoves, not gas.... States with the highest percentage of households that use gas for cooking are controlled by Democrats and include California, Nevada, Illinois, New York and New Jersey, according to the analysis...."

From "Ban Gas Stoves? Just the Idea Gets Some in Washington Boiling. The nation’s top consumer watchdog agency raised concerns about indoor air pollution from gas stoves. A political firestorm ensued" (NYT).

Obviously, banning gas stoves is terrible politics. Republicans are opposed in principle and Democrats are the people who have gas stoves and feel deeply emotionally attached to them. This NYT article seems designed to get Biden out of a jam.

I came here from Memeorandum, which presents the headline as "No, Biden Is Not Trying to Ban Gas Stoves." Google confirms that was the original headline:


Too obvious that they're running interference, I presume.

Just trying to get in the elevator...

"... I spend a lot of time thoughtless, just living life. At the same time, whenever I speak, ideas condense out of the mental cloud...."

"My head isn’t entirely word-free; like many people, I occasionally talk to myself in an inner monologue. (Remember the milk! Ten more reps!) On the whole, though, silence reigns. Blankness, too: I see hardly any visual images, rarely picturing things, people, or places. Thinking happens as a kind of pressure behind my eyes, but I need to talk out loud in order to complete most of my thoughts. My wife, consequently, is the other half of my brain. If no interlocutor is available, I write. When that fails, I pace my empty house, muttering.... My minimalist mental theatre has shaped my life.... I’m scarcely alone in having a mental 'style,' or believing I do. Ask someone how she thinks and you might learn that she talks to herself silently, or cogitates visually, or moves through mental space by traversing physical space...."

Writes Joshua Rothman, in "How Should We Think About Our Different Styles of Thinking?Some people say their thought takes place in images, some in words. But our mental processes are more mysterious than we realize" (The New Yorker).

Rothman quotes questions — from psychologist Linda Silverman — that test whether you're a visual thinker (but don't seem to test whether you are a verbal thinker):

"You know it’s going to stink in the future just as much as it’s going to stink doing it now, but internally you just can’t help yourself."

"It’s a fascinating phenomenon — that myopia you can’t escape — even though if you just stop and think about it, it’s ludicrous."

Said cognitive neuroscientist Samuel McClure, quoted in "What causes your brain to procrastinate and how to face it/A study shows that there are two ways that may help in tackling procrastination — setting reminders and envisioning your future self" (WaPo).

Express yourself/Don't repress yourself.

"For decades, In-N-Out was an avatar of California cred. Transplants to the East Coast who had grown up devouring its burgers and 'animal style' fries spoke wistfully..."

"... of the fast-food chain back home, and visits to a drive-through were often the first order of business after their planes touched down at LAX...."

So begins WaPo's puff piece, "In-N-Out’s eastern expansion gets farther from its California roots." It's such a wonderful place; the only question is whether it might lose some luster by becoming more available.

But commenters over there are not taking the cue to drool over these hamburgers:

January 11, 2023

Sunrise — eastern view, western view.



"Jeff Beck, one of the most skilled, admired and influential guitarists in rock history, died on Tuesday in a hospital near his home at Riverhall..."

"... a rural estate in southern England. He was 78. The cause was bacterial meningitis... During the 1960s and ’70s, as either a member of the Yardbirds or as leader of his own bands, Mr. Beck brought a sense of adventure to his playing that helped make the recordings by those groups groundbreaking. In 1965, when he joined the Yardbirds to replace another guitar hero, Eric Clapton, the group was already one of the defining acts in Britain’s growing electric blues movement. But his stinging licks and darting leads on songs like 'Shapes of Things' and 'Over Under Sideways Down' added an expansive element to the music that helped signal the emerging psychedelic rock revolution...."

From the NYT obituary.

My son John, on his blog Music Is Happiness, goes into detail about Beck's musicianship.

"Shapes of Things” and “Over Under Sideways Down” — I had these as 45s when I was 15.  And this album... I played it endlessly when I was 14:

"If Kondo-ing puts the emphasis on purging, then knolling emphasizes keeping and organizing...."

"[I]t was contemporary artist and provocateur Tom Sachs who popularized Knoll’s last name as a shorthand for the method of 'arrang[ing] like objects in parallel or ninety-degree angles as a method of organization.'... The style boomed in marketing and advertising, known as 'flat-lay' photography.... [Knolling] feels more significant than just organizing tools in a workshop. Think of it as a picturesque and deliberate way of arranging that can be applied to our homes: Curate a vignette of sharply stacked novellas next to like-minded trinkets on your bedside table or hang your ceramic mugs and coffee gadgetry together like it belongs in an art gallery. Perhaps now is the year when knolling and Kondo-ing can meet somewhere in the middle. Get rid of the things you dislike, yes, but otherwise, embrace your tchotchkes and ephemera. Keep them and organize them with newfound order and purpose."

From "The Life-Changing Magic of 'Knolling'/Before purging your belongings to tidy up à la Marie Kondo, consider this organizational tactic championed by two artists with ties to the American furniture manufacturing company" (Dwell).

Curate a vignette of sharply stacked novellas next to like-minded trinkets on your bedside table.... Who would do that? A character in a novella? And what are "like-minded trinkets" — I didn't know trinkets had minds — and wouldn't elaborately stacked and arranged items on a bedside table scream that you're never going to do anything that would knock them over? 

"People moved to coastal cities because that’s where the good jobs were.... This went on so long that the appeal of central cities..."

"... came to seem almost a law of nature, effortless and eternal. Unfortunately, the pandemic broke the virtuous cycle.... I suspect cities have fallen prey to the same delusion as those people who carefully pack up their laptops while the plane fills with smoke: They are looking around at other people, most of whom seem to be acting pretty normally.... Yes, crime might have risen, and residents might be darkly muttering about moving to the suburbs. But when haven’t city-dwellers threatened to move to the suburbs if the mayor didn’t fix their pet problems right away?... It would be understandable for mayors to look at all the people who have stayed and thought, 'Well, that’s not so bad.'"

Writes Megan McArdle in "Mayors are missing a window to address the remote-work revolution" (WaPo).

Accidental abstract expressionism — phase 1 and 2.



Make migration great again.

"President Biden on Tuesday defended his handling of the border and thanked his Mexican counterpart for a willingness to accept asylum seekers rejected by the United States during a period of what he called 'the greatest migration in human history' across the region." (NYT)

What is the greatest migration in human history? Biden said "across the region," so I assume he means the greatest migration over the southern border of the United States. Is the greatness of migration determined by numbers or by the grandeur of the purpose or achievement?

The greatest migration in human history must be the original migration of our species out of the continent of Africa. There were no borders then, and the numbers would need to be converted to percentages to compare. And, technically, it was pre-history — 80,000 years ago:

"And then there were this people who were sort of giving me these cute little jobs..."


The accidental abstract expressionism of an unfinished paint job.


Aesthetically pleasing incompleteness.

"Martin Heidegger was recorded to have laughed only once.... It happened at a picnic in the Harz Mountains with Ernst Jünger, who 'leaned over...'"

"... to pick up a sauerkraut and sausage roll, and his lederhosen split with a tremendous crack.' Like Heidegger, Franz Kafka (1883-1924) was not known for his lightness of spirit.... In the spirit of [that] anecdote about Heidegger, I’ve often recalled that, in his diaries, Kafka reports sitting in a bar in Prague with his friend Max Brod after they’d left an opera. Brod accidentally sprayed soda water all over Kafka, who laughed so hard that seltzer and grenadine shot out of his nose."

Writes Dwight Garner in "The Kafka You Never Knew/An unabridged volume of Franz Kafka’s diaries restores the rough edges and impulses that were buffed out of past editions" (NYT).

If that — or anything else — makes you want to read Kafka's diaries, here's the new edition (at Amazon). I bought it.

Is there a category of intellect that only gets humor in slapstick form? Is their world so dark because they're waiting to see 3-Stooges-level high jinks in real life? 

Aggravating factors.

"Donald Trump’s retention of documents marked classified at his Mar-a-Lago resort has aggravating factors that might support his criminal prosecution unlike the discovery of some documents also marked classified stored at Joe Biden’s former institute from his time as vice-president, legal experts said."

I'm reading "In the case of the classified documents, it’s more serious for Trump than Biden" — in The Guardian —  and laughing.

The aggravating factor in the case of Donald Trump is that he's Donald Trump. 

January 10, 2023

Foggy sunrise — 7:28.


"A divided House voted on Tuesday to launch a wide-ranging investigation into federal law enforcement and national security agencies..."

"... as Republicans promised to use their new power in Congress to scrutinize what they said was a concerted effort by the government to silence and punish conservatives at all levels, from protesters at school board meetings to former President Donald J. Trump. On a party-line vote of 221-211 with all Democrats opposed, the House approved the formation of the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, which is to be chaired by Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, the incoming chairman of the Judiciary Committee and a staunch ally of Mr. Trump.... In a floor speech, Mr. Jordan... said his interest was merely in 'protecting the First Amendment' at a time when he said the right was being unfairly targeted.... 'We don’t want to go after anyone,' he said. 'We just want it to stop.'"

The NYT reports.

"And the pool view of the Congress is antiquated and a little boomer-fied."

I'm reading "Gaetz introduces amendment to bring C-SPAN cameras back to House floor" (Fox News).

"I've received a lot of feedback from constituents about how interesting it was [during the Speaker voting], and that you were able to see in real time how our government is functioning, what alliances are being created, what discussions are being had, what animated moments drive the action," Gaetz told Fox News Digital in an interview. "And the pool view of the Congress is antiquated and a little boomer-fied."

"I think people treat me with more dignity when I dress more masculinely, but people are way nicer to me when I dress more femininely."

"I just feel like there’s a manual or rule book that people receive and that my copy got lost in the mail."

Said El Layla Johnson, 33, "a former restaurant server who is now a therapist," quoted in "Defining Nonbinary Work Wear/How nonbinary professionals thread the needle of getting dressed for the office" (NYT).

"Despite my accomplishments, if I were a young person today, I would have difficulty graduating from high school because I could not pass algebra."

"It was too abstract, with no visual correlations. This is true for many of today’s students who get labeled as bad at math, students who might otherwise pass alternative math courses such as statistics that would also apply to real-life work situations. There is too much emphasis in school on testing and not enough on career outcomes. The fact that I failed the SAT in math prohibited me from getting into veterinary school, but today I am a university professor in animal sciences and I am invited to speak to groups of veterinarians to advise them on their work.... [W]e need a neurodiverse work force. Complementary skills are the key to successful teams.... In Italy and the Netherlands, for instance, a student at about age 14 decides whether to go the university route or the vocational route. The vocational route is not looked down on or regarded as a lesser form of intelligence. And that’s how it should be everywhere...."

Writes Temple Grandin in "Society Is Failing Visual Thinkers, and That Hurts Us All" (NYT).

"Our beautiful Diamond, of Diamond and Silk, has just passed away at her home in the State she loved so much, North Carolina."

"Silk was with her all the way, and at her passing. There was no better TEAM anywhere, or at any time! Diamond’s death was totally unexpected, probably her big and precious HEART just plain gave out. Rest In Peace our Magnificent Diamond, you will be greatly missed!"

Writes Donald Trump, on Truth.

ADDED: From my blog archive, dated April 15, 2018, "The NYT explains Diamond and Silk to its readers as 'a modern-day minstrel show' aimed at 'white conservatives'..."

"I had to say something/To strike him very weird/So I yelled out/'I like Fidel Castro and his beard'..."

Sings Bob Dylan in "Motorpsycho Nightmare." 

That was just my first thought on reading a headline this morning: "Prince Harry is upset his brother didn’t like his beard." 

That's a Guardian piece by Bridie Jabour. She muses about sibling strife within her own family, with her younger sister and then as a mother:

[H]aving my own children has only transported me right back to the intense outrage that dogged me whenever I perceived a sibling to be getting different treatment to me. Never mind that you have to treat your children differently, from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.

Oh! As they say on Reddit: unexpected communism.  Embarking on this blog post, I wasn't expecting a double dose of unexpected communism.

Here's a tab I didn't get to yesterday that has taken on new meaning in light of the first tab I opened this morning.

Yesterday's tab: "Joe Biden is gaining ground. But Democrats want someone else in 2024" (WaPo).

First tab opened this morning: "Justice Dept. reviewing classified documents found in Biden’s post-VP office/The case echoes the investigation into Trump’s Mar-a-Lago documents, but details provided by Biden’s lawyer suggest key differences" (WaPo).

You see my point. I needn't ploddingly spell it out. Too obvious.

"Drivers reported for work and those with early runs had their trucks loaded with cement. At the appointed hour for the onset of the strike..."

"... the drivers drove their trucks back to the company’s headquarters and walked off the job. For those whose trucks had already been loaded with cement but who had not yet made deliveries, they left their trucks running so the cement wouldn’t instantly harden inside the trucks’ drums. The company, however, was unable to deliver the cement and some of it hardened, requiring it be destroyed and carted away. The strike lasted one week before the parties reached agreement on a new contract."

From "Cement-truck drivers went on strike/A lawsuit by their company may pave the way for restricting workers’ rights," the SCOTUSblog write-up of Glacier Northwest v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local Union 174. Oral argument is this morning.

"Bolsonaro grew up in Eldorado, a town of some 15,000 people in Brazil’s Atlantic rainforest, where his father practiced dentistry without a degree until the arrival of certified dentists prompted him to shift to work on prosthetics."

I'm reading the Encyclopedia Britannica entry on Jair Bolsonaro.

I don't really know where to jump in on this Bolsonaro uprising, but that sentence enchanted me — Eldorado, the rainforest, the intrusion of government (in the form of the licensing of dentists, displacing the father), prosthetics. I got distracted.

Now that I've got a post open though, I'll just pose the question that occurred to me. I'm not going to plod through the set up for this question, which I trust you'll get:

Do you think Donald "January 6th" Trump is envious of Jair "January 8th" Bolsonaro?

Adrian Bliss compiled his body videos in one glorious set.

January 9, 2023

Sunrise — 7:36.


"At a personal level, every morning, I get up at such a time that I can spend an hour in prayer, followed by an hour of reading before I let myself look at my phone."

"At a more family level, we practice Sabbath together. The whole 24-hour period, we put all of our phones away. We gather around the table with close friends. We celebrate a huge meal. We practice gratitude, rest; we sleep, we play. And that is a major part of our rule of life that we kind of anchor our weekly rhythm as a family around...."

Writes Tish Harrison Warren, in "This Year, Try Organizing Your Life Like a Monk" (NYT). 

"'It’s unsustainable,' [René Redzepi] said of the modern fine-dining model that he helped create."

"'Financially and emotionally, as an employer and as a human being, it just doesn’t work.' A newly empowered generation of workers has begun pushing back against that model, often using social media to call out employers.... Recent films and TV series like 'The Menu,' 'Boiling Point' and 'The Bear' have brought the image of armies of harried young chefs, silently wielding tweezers in service to a chef-auteur, into popular culture. In a 2015 essay, Mr. Redzepi admitted to bullying his staff verbally and physically.... Namrata Hegde, 26, had just graduated from culinary school in Hyderabad, India, when she was chosen as an intern in 2017... [S]he flew to Copenhagen to live and work at her own expense for three months. For most of that time, Ms. Hegde said, her sole job was to produce fruit-leather beetles, starting with a thick jam of black fruit and silicone stencils with insect parts carved out. Another intern taught her how to spread the jam evenly, monitor the drying process, then use tweezers to assemble the head, thorax, abdomen and wings. Ms. Hegde repeated the process until she had 120 perfect specimens; each diner was served a single beetle in a wooden box.... Ms. Hegde said she was required to work in silence... and was specifically forbidden to laugh."

Writes Julia Moskin in "Noma, Rated the World’s Best Restaurant, Is Closing Its Doors/The Copenhagen chef René Redzepi says fine dining at the highest level, with its grueling hours and intense workplace culture, has hit a breaking point: 'It’s unsustainable'" (NYT).

As for what all is in Noma's model, I don't know but it includes "grilled reindeer heart on a bed of fresh pine, and saffron ice cream in a beeswax bowl." Maybe I need to watch "The Menu," which HBOmax has been pushing lately:

"The brothers estimate that the $22 million wall of remembrance... contains 1,015 spelling errors."

"It also incorrectly includes 245 names of service members who died in circumstances totally unrelated to the war, they say, including a man killed in a motorcycle accident in Hawaii and another who drank antifreeze thinking it was alcohol. And it includes one Marine who lived for 60 years after the war and had eight grandchildren. Beyond that, there are about 500 names that should be listed but are not, according to the Barkers. They say that the official roster used for the wall was so slapdash that they cannot find much rhyme or reason to who was included and who was left out."

From "A Korean War Wall of Remembrance Set Hundreds of Errors in Stone/Many names of American service members who died in the conflict are misspelled or missing from the new memorial wall in Washington, relatives and researchers say" (NYT).

"My impression of Christmas—now that I actually celebrate it with my non-Jewish partner—is that the entire affective structure of the holiday..."

"... is one of high expectations that are inevitably disappointed. It’s a day that promises to grant you access to the ideal version of your family—which of course is always out of reach. When I was on the outside of Christmas, I got to just enjoy the manic optimism that radiated off of other people in the lead-up. I didn’t have anything at stake."

A Metafilter discussion (linking to "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year/The Jewish Currents staff takes on Christmas" (Jewish Currents)).

It’s a day that promises to grant you access to the ideal version of your family... The day can't promise. The promise was always coming from inside your head... or inside the head of some other adult who was making Christmas happen within your family. 

I got to just enjoy the manic optimism that radiated off of other people... That gestures at the emotional work that other people do... for you or in spite of you. 

But consider whether what looks like "manic optimism" is actually religion. That can happen.

January 8, 2023

At the Sunday Night Café...

 ... you can write about whatever you want.

"During the early stages of my father’s Alzheimer’s, when he still had lucid moments, I apologized to him for writing an autobiography many years earlier..."

"... in which I flung open the gates of our troubled family life. He was already talking less at that point, but his eyes told me he understood. I thought of that moment when I read that Prince Harry, in his new memoir, wrote about his father, King Charles, getting between his battling sons and saying, 'Please, boys, don’t make my final years a misery.'... My justification in writing a book I now wish I hadn’t written... was very similar to what I understand to be Harry’s reasoning. I wanted to tell the truth, I wanted to set the record straight. Naïvely, I thought if I put my own feelings and my own truth out there for the world to read, my family might also come to understand me better.... There isn’t just one truth, our truth — the other people who inhabit our story have their truths as well.... Years ago, someone asked me what I would say to my younger self if I could. Without hesitating I answered: 'That’s easy. I’d have said, "Be quiet."'"

Writes President Reagan's daughter Patti Davis, in "Prince Harry and the Value of Silence" (NYT).

"Five years ago, the New York State Thruway Authority conducted a survey of more than 2,600 drivers to take measure of the customer experience at the service areas..."

"... lining the 570 miles of road that make up one of the largest toll highways in the country, stretching from the edge of the Bronx up past Buffalo. Whether participants were traveling for work or for pleasure, they had needs that apparently were going unfulfilled. Among those who identified as occasional users of the Thruway, more than half said they would like food halls with 'local artisan' offerings. Some commuters wanted Blue Apron meal kits. The resulting report listed as chief takeaways that leisure travelers complained about unappealing interiors and the lack of 'Instagrammable moments.'"

From "Must We Gentrify the Rest Stop? McDonald’s is gone, and the Manhattanization of the New York State Thruway has begun. Prepare to Instagram your pit stop" by Ginia Bellafante (NYT).

Black American Sign Language, or BASL... "relies in a unique way on body language and rhythm." The "signing became almost sensual."

"'It was totally different from everyday conversational ASL. It became a lot more emotive... There was a lot more feeling in that.'"

From "How These Sign Language Experts Are Bringing More Diversity to Theater/As productions increasingly include characters and perspectives from a variety of backgrounds, deaf and hearing people who translate the shows for deaf audiences are trying to keep up" (NYT).

"The 6-year-old, a first grader at Richneck Elementary in Newport News, Va., shot a teacher with a handgun on Friday afternoon...."

"The boy and the teacher had been involved in an altercation in a classroom before the boy shot the teacher once, the police said.... The boy was in police custody Friday evening, the authorities said, but the unusual nature of the situation leaves the path forward far from clear.... Under Virginia law, a 6-year-old cannot be charged as an adult. And while it is possible the child could be charged criminally in juvenile court, the minimum age to be sentenced to a juvenile prison in Virginia is 11. 'The juvenile justice system is not really equipped to deal with really young kids who commit criminal offenses and is probably the wrong place to deal with a situation like this,' said Andrew Block, a professor at the University of Virginia School of Law...."

From "After 6-Year-Old Is Accused in School Shooting, Many Questions and a Murky Legal Path/The teacher who was shot was in stable condition on Saturday, the police said, but details surrounding the gun remained unknown" (NYT).

The question cannot be what to do to a 6-year-old child. What has already been done to him that he is so ruined at the age of 6?

"In a handwritten letter dated Thursday, April 14th, (1955), [J.D.] Salinger announces, in the most diffident way possible, as if to come right out and say it would be to jinx it..."

"... that he got married. 'The fact is, there was a sort of elopement around here recently, and I was one of the principals.' The bride was Claire Douglas, Salinger’s second wife and the mother of his children. He adds, 'I can give out the worst kind of information about myself, not only without flinching, but, usually, grinning like a fool. But I can’t touch happy news. It leaves me non-plussed. It drives me underground.'"

From "The Editor Who Edited Salinger/The personal archive of Gus Lobrano, a longtime editor at The New Yorker, provides a glimpse of a vanished literary past" by Mary Norris (The New Yorker).

I didn't watch any of the 15-episode HBO documentary "The Vow," and the only "mystery" I see is how you could spend that much time on that "mystery."

But Ross Douthat watched the whole thing — with his wife — and says he still can't understand the "mystery." This is the one about the the "sex slave cult" Nxivm.

According to Douthat, in "'The Vow' Is Gripping TV That Doesn’t Solve Its Central Mysteries"

[Y]ou get an intimate familiarity with the kind of people... who ended up deep inside Nxivm’s therapeutic world: unhappy artistic personalities, self-conscious seekers, people who wanted to change the world... And you get a clear-enough sense of [Keith] Raniere’s style and substance... But even after so many hours, the documentary fails to resolve the biggest questions that hover around the cult experience.

It sounds as though Douthat could completely understand the "mystery" the filmmaker chose to solve, but Douthat wants to present larger — or seemingly larger — mysteries that one could go on to ponder. And why not?

"Along the walls of the little clinic sat disheveled-looking men, their feet in plastic buckets, while nurses bent over them, speaking softly...."

"[Dr. Jim] O’Connell recognized many of these homeless men.... [H]e’d seen them in the Mass General emergency room, sullen, angry, snarling, resisting all treatment. Here they seemed so docile that they might have been drugged, via foot soaking.... You filled a plastic tub halfway up with Betadine and put the patient’s feet in it.... [Y]ou always addressed the patient by his surname and an honorific — 'Mr. Jones.'... [O'Connell] spent three afternoons and evenings there each week, soaking feet and not doing much else for more than a month. Among the regulars was a very large elderly man usually dressed in three layers of coats, with wary eyes and a salt-and-pepper beard and a great wave of white-and-gray hair that seemed to be in flight.... He was classified as a paranoid schizophrenic, and his chart was thick... [and he] had always refused to take medications or to be admitted to the hospital.... [His feet] were so huge and swollen that O’Connell had to prepare a separate tub for each...."

Writes Tracy Kidder, in "'You Have to Learn to Listen': How a Doctor Cares for Boston’s Homeless/Lessons from Dr. Jim O’Connell’s long crusade to treat the city’s 'rough sleepers'" (NYT).

"[O]ne evening, as O’Connell knelt on the floor filling the tubs, he heard the old man say, 'Hey, I thought you were supposed to be a doctor.... So what the hell you doin’ soakin’ feet?'... About a week later, he put his feet in the buckets and said to O’Connell: 'Hey, Doc. Can you give me something to help me sleep?' He never slept for more than an hour, he said. Within about a month, O’Connell had him taking a variety of medicines for his many ailments. Foot-soaking in a homeless shelter — the biblical connotations were obvious. But for O’Connell, what counted most were the practical lessons...."

Are the "biblical connotations" not "practical"?

"In 2020, House Progressives and the incredibly radical Squad had exactly the same opportunity as House conservatives had."

"House conservatives defied Leadership to get major concessions to empower them and their agenda. House progressives did what they were told and got nothing.... The reason the Squad and House Progressives never defy Pelosi or anyone else is because they have a pathetic partisan media... who defend their harmlessness and venerate partisan subservience....  If these Dem Party loyalists who pretend to be leftists or whatever had even the slightest integrity, they'd apologize to @jimmy_dore , @briebriejoy , etc., because Gaetz & Co. just proved how politics works when you care more about your constituents than head-pats from the DNC."

Tweeted Glenn Greenwald, just now.

"'It would be difficult to have two emeritus popes,' a French bishop, Jean-Yves Riocreux, said... adding that the major difference for Francis after Benedict’s death was 'now he can resign.'"

From "Benedict’s Burial Leaves Francis Alone, and Unbound/Liberal supporters of Francis, a pope never shy about exercising power, now anticipate a late-breaking season of change" (NYT).