January 21, 2023

Sunrise — 7:24.


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.


"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.




"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.



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.



Sunrise — 7:24, 7:31.



"[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.

"If diversity trainings have no impact whatsoever, that would mean that perhaps billions of dollars are being wasted annually.... But there’s a darker possibility..."

"... Some diversity initiatives might actually worsen the D.E.I. climates of the organizations that pay for them. That’s partly because any psychological intervention may turn out to do more harm than good. The late psychologist Scott Lilienfeld made this point in an influential 2007 article where he argued that certain interventions — including ones geared at fighting youth substance use, youth delinquency and PTSD — likely fell into that category. In the case of D.E.I., Dr. Dobbin and Dr. Kalev warn that diversity trainings that are mandatory, or that threaten dominant groups’ sense of belonging or make them feel blamed, may elicit negative backlash or exacerbate pre-existing biases.... The history of diversity trainings is, in a sense, a history of fads. Maybe the current crop will wither over time, new ones will sprout that are stunted by the same lack of evidence, and a decade from now someone else will write a version of this article. But it’s also possible that organizations will grow tired of throwing time and money at trainings where the upside is mostly theoretical...."

Writes Jesse Singal in "What if Diversity Trainings Are Doing More Harm Than Good?" (NYT).

No comments section over there. I'll just imagine the evisceration that would have taken place. Singal complains about the lack of science but offers no competing science other than the non-news that hearing about white supremacy hurts white people's feelings and might lead to more white supremacy. Every fix might backfire, so why try to fix anything? But how do you know that's not white supremacy talking?

"I have come to view cryptocurrencies not simply as exotic assets but as a manifestation of a magical thinking that had come to infect part of the generation..."

"... who grew up in the aftermath of the Great Recession — and American capitalism, more broadly. For these purposes, magical thinking is the assumption that favored conditions will continue on forever without regard for history. It is the minimizing of constraints and trade-offs in favor of techno-utopianism and the exclusive emphasis on positive outcomes and novelty. It is the conflation of virtue with commerce.... The fundamentals of business have not changed merely because of new technologies or low interest rates. The way to prosper is still by solving problems in new ways that sustainably deliver value to employees, capital providers and customers.... All those new investors and crypto owners may nurse a grudge against capitalism, rather than understand the perverse world they were born into.... Speculative assets without any economic function should be worth nothing...."

Writes Harvard law and business professor Mihir A. Desai, in "The Crypto Collapse and the End of the Magical Thinking That Infected Capitalism" (NYT).

"The White House on Monday said it does not keep visitors logs for President Biden’s personal residence in Wilmington, Del...."

"... where his lawyers have discovered at least six documents with classified markings. Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, sent a letter to the White House over the weekend seeking an accounting of who may have had access to the property.... Ian Sams, spokesman for the White House Counsel’s Office, said in a statement that, 'like every President across decades of modern history, his personal residence is personal. But upon taking office, President Biden restored the norm and tradition of keeping White House visitors logs, including publishing them regularly, after the previous administration ended them.'... The discovery of classified documents has created a political headache for Biden...."

WaPo reports.

Just "a political headache." And Biden is better than Trump because Trump didn't keep White House visitors logs. Actually — I'm reading the NYT article too — it is just that Trump didn't release White House visitor logs.

"In the long run, we are going to see a China the world has never seen. It will no longer be the young, vibrant, growing population... [but] an old and shrinking population."

Said sociology professor Wang Feng, an expert in China’s demographics, quoted in "China’s Population Falls, Heralding a Demographic Crisis/Deaths outnumbered births last year for the first time in six decades. Experts see major implications for China, its economy and the world" (NYT).

What happens when people don't want children?

“I can’t bear the responsibility for giving birth to a life,” said Luna Zhu, 28, who lives in Beijing with her husband. Both their parents would be willing to take care of grandchildren, and she works for a state-owned enterprise that offers a good maternity leave package. Still, Ms. Zhu is not interested in motherhood....

Beijing has offered a range of incentives to couples and small families to encourage them to have children, including cash handouts, tax cuts and even property concessions.... 

January 16, 2023

At the Sunrise Cafe...


... you can talk 'til Tuesday.

(That's a leftover photo from yesterday's nice sunrise. Today, it was raining, and I didn't go out at all. Spent the day prepping walls for painting. That and cooking and napping and watching TV. And blogging.)

Goodbye to Gina Lollobrigida.

I loved the 1956 "Hunchback of Notre Dame":


Here's the NYT obituary:

Ms. Lollobrigida was often outspoken in interviews. In 1969 she suggested that women pretended to be stupid in front of men. She claimed to have no beauty secrets and to do no exercise other than dancing, and to have no objections to being seen as a sex object and being told that she had a beautiful body. “Why should I be offended?” she said in a 1995 interview with The New York Times. “It’s not an insult.”

Ms. Lollobrigida was 95.

"I was persistent, even pushy. I said the uncomfortable things, that Covid was more like HIV than the flu, that Covid was never going away..."

"... that we shouldn’t have to keep tiptoeing around the normalcy fairytale. I referred to all the research showing that we would have to invest heavily in HEPA filtration, even upper room UVGI down the line if we wanted our daughter to stay in school. As Kraken began spreading, I put my foot down and said if our school didn’t bring masks back, we would have to homeschool her.... Finally, I told him neither one of us would ever be able to live with ourselves if she developed a chronic illness because we were too weak to stand up for her health...."

From "We Convinced Our School to Bring Back Masks/Here's how we did it," by Jessica Wildfire (OK Doomer).

Via Metafilter, where somebody says: "I believe the point the article's author is making is that a lot of information is coming out that covid has a permanent or semi-permanent affect on immune systems.... Covid seems to be an immune-affecting disease. Like HIV...."

"While grading essays for his world religions course last month, Antony Aumann... read what he said was easily 'the best paper in the class.'"

"It explored the morality of burqa bans with clean paragraphs, fitting examples and rigorous arguments. A red flag instantly went up. Mr. Aumann confronted his student over whether he had written the essay himself. The student confessed to using ChatGPT, a chatbot that delivers information, explains concepts and generates ideas in simple sentences — and, in this case, had written the paper. Alarmed by his discovery, Mr. Aumann decided to transform essay writing for his courses this semester. He plans to require students to write first drafts in the classroom, using browsers that monitor and restrict computer activity. In later drafts, students have to explain each revision...."

From "Alarmed by A.I. Chatbots, Universities Start Revamping How They Teach/With the rise of the popular new chatbot ChatGPT, colleges are restructuring some courses and taking preventive measures" (NYT).

The robot wrote the best paper in the class!

"The mainstream media... was reporting on it like it was all beautiful... But then when it came out, a little boy pointed out — 'That’s a penis!' and everyone was like, 'Yo, that’s a big old dong, man.'"

Said Seneca Scott, the 43-year-old cousin of Coretta Scott King, quoted in "'Woke' $10M MLK 'penis' statue insults black community: Coretta Scott King kin" (NY Post).

ADDED: I wonder if the sculptor thoroughly knew it looked like "a big old dong" but believed people would be so conned to believe that it's supposed to be beautiful art that it would take months or years before his true vision dawned on them.

The sculptor — Hank Willis Thomas — is referred to as a "conceptual" artist. What is conceptual about the reproduction of a photograph of MLK hugging his wife? Cutting the image down to just the arms and hands? Or designing it to look plainly — once the scales fall from your eyes — like a big old dong?

OR: Perhaps the concept is an attempted sophisticated joke on white people: They’ll see the penis, but they won’t say it out loud because they are terrified at the idea that they will be called racist.

NY mayor Eric Adams traveled to El Paso to say there's there is "no room in New York” for migrants who come across the border.

Reuters reports.

Eric Adams, a Democrat, was also critical of the administration of Democratic U.S. President Joe Biden, saying “now is the time for the national government to do its job” about the immigrant crisis at America’s southern border.

I keep promising myself that I will not read any more articles like this, but I still read "Is this by Rothko or a robot? We ask the experts to tell the difference between human and AI art."

It's in The Guardian, here.  It's nicely set up, with sets of images in different categories of painting — not just Rothko. The experts get it wrong most of the time, perhaps because the human-made paintings aren't that great. It's pretty amusing to watch experts getting things wrong and real human art getting disparaged, so that's why I'm recommending this piece even though, generally, I'm sick of articles manufactured out of bullshitting around with AI.

From one expert's discussion of 2 abstract expressionist paintings:

"The final phase of criticism’s arc began with the rise of a figure that Roger Kimball memorably described as the 'tenured radical'..."

"... and which we might think of as the Scholar-Activist. For her [sic], the proper task of criticism was to participate in social transformations occurring outside the university. The battle against exploitation, she claimed, could be waged by writing about racism, sexism, homophobia, and colonialism, using an increasingly refined language of historical context, identity, and power. Literary artifacts (poems, novels, and other playthings of the élite) could be replaced as objects of study by pop-culture ones (Taylor Swift, selfies, and other playthings of the masses)...." 

Writes Merve Emre, in "Has Academia Ruined Literary Criticism? Literature departments seem to provide a haven for studying books, but they may have painted themselves into a corner," (The New Yorker).

Does Rolling Stone portray Glenn Greenwald and Russell Brand as not just right-wing but "Far-Right"?

Here's how it looks at Rolling Stone:


Here's the article — "Far-Right Superstars Are Failing on Rumble. Who’s Winning? The outsider streaming site that just partnered up with Donald Trump Jr. is growing — but not in the way most people think." 

January 15, 2023

Sunrise — 7:22.



"Modernist furniture was burned, portraits defaced, sculptures decapitated and ceramics smashed. Carpets were found soaked with water..."

"... from the buildings’ sprinkler systems, as well as with urine. The rioters — die-hard supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro who refuse to accept his election defeat — marred the iconic marble ramp leading up the presidential palace with scratches... Into a historic wooden table at the Supreme Court they carved 'Supreme are the people'.... Among the artworks destroyed was a 17th-century clock made by Balthazar Martinot.... A 60-year-old bronze sculpture of a flautist by Bruno Giorgi was also trashed... Vandals pitched rocks through the canvas of a mural by Emiliano Di Calvalcanti. The presidential palace said in its statement that the painting, 'As Mulatas,' is valued at some $1.5 million.... 'The damage was not random, it was obviously deliberate,' Rogerio Carvalho, the presidential palace’s curator, said in an interview while sitting before the disfigured painting. The work 'was perforated in seven places using rocks taken from the square with a pickaxe. Which is to say, there is a movement of intolerance toward what this palace represents.'"

From "Brazil rioters destroyed priceless artistic treasures in assault on capital city" (NY Post).

AND: In other attack-on-art-news: "As Russians Steal Ukraine’s Art, They Attack Its Identity, Too/Russian forces have looted tens of thousands of pieces, including avant-garde oil paintings and Scythian gold. Experts say it is the biggest art heist since the Nazis in World War II, intended to strip Ukraine of its cultural heritage" (NYT).

Humans on the ice Sunday morning at 7:38 a.m. — temperature 27°, wind chill 17°.


"The biggest problem with the Joe Biden documents story is that we know only what Joe Biden's lawyers have told us."

Writes Byron York (at Washington Examiner).

"Elhacen, who force-feeds young girls for a living, takes pride in her work. 'I’m very strict…I beat the girls, or torture them...'"

"'... by squeezing a stick between their toes. I isolate them and tell them that thin women are inferior,' she says.... According to Elhacen, a woman’s job is 'to make babies and be a soft, fleshy bed for her husband to lie on.' The force feeder even enjoys additional payments for stretch marks, hailed as a crowning achievement for any Mauritanian woman trying to gain weight.... Exemplifying this relationship between obesity and attractiveness, a Moor proverb asserts that 'the woman occupies in her man’s heart the space she occupies in his bed.'... Girls as young as five are sent to 'fattening farms' to gorge on calorie-dense foods such as millet and camel milk.... Disciplined by their mothers or force-feeders, girls may be force-fed up to 16,000 calories daily, which can include up to five gallons of milk.... [T]he 'zayar' technique involves positioning a girl’s toe between two sticks and pinching it when she resists leblouh. The supervisor may also 'pull her ear, pinch her inner thigh, bend her finger backward or force her to drink her own vomit...."

I'm reading "Force-Feeding and Drug Abuse: The Steep Price of Beauty in Mauritania" (Harvard International Review).

I got there via "Buccal fat removal is a new take on an old theme: a means to keep women in their place," a columm by Martha Gill (in The Guardian)(noting that "female beauty standards vary between cultures").

Paul Auster purveys the notion that the Black Panthers originated the idea of an individual right to bear arms.

This is from a Guardian interview with Paul Auster, the novelist, who has a new, nonfiction book called "Bloodbath Nation."

In the book you say the second amendment, framing the individual’s right to bear arms, was largely ignored until just a few decades ago, when it began to be seen as a fundamental text about what it means to be an American. Why did this happen?

Because of the 1960s – the assassinations and the chaos. People were frightened. And also because of the Black Panthers, who were obviously not white conservatives, but they were the group who originally set forth the argument that gun ownership is a right and that it’s for self-defence. It is hugely ironic: the Panthers were wiped out but their ideas stuck and were adopted by the white right wing. Now, for many, the second amendment has an almost religious component to it. The right to own a gun is seen as a kind of holy grail.

Why shouldn't individual rights have "an almost religious component"? That's the way it looks in the Declaration of Independence.

Should Hunter Biden's daughter, Navy Joan Roberts, be allowed to change her name to Navy Joan Biden?

Hunter Biden — who is confirmed to be the father and pays child support — says no, reported in "Hunter Biden asks court to stop love child from taking his sullied surname" (NY Post).

The mother, Lunden Roberts, argues that the name change will be good for the child, because it is "synonymous with being well educated, successful, financially acute and politically powerful."

Hunter Biden's argument is that the name isn't good!

"She actually indicated that she loved it. Okay? She loved it until the commercial break. In fact, I think she said it was sexy, didn't she? She said it was very sexy to be raped."

Said Donald Trump, in his deposition, quoted in "Trump claimed woman who accused him of sexual assault in a luxury department store said 'rape was sexy' and 'indicated that she loved it'" (Insider). The deposition was made public on Friday.
Carroll's attorney Roberta Kaplan then asked the former president: "So, sir, I just want to confirm: It's your testimony that E. Jean Carroll said that she loved being sexually assaulted by you?"
That gave Trump the opportunity to clarify that he was just talking about something he heard her say in an interview she did on television: