March 25, 2023

At the Saturday Night Café...

 ... you can talk about whatever you want.

Trump's Waco rally.

 I'm watching on YouTube, here.

"William Wordsworth swore by walking, as did Virginia Woolf. So did William Blake."

"Thomas Mann assured us, 'Thoughts come clearly while one walks.' J.K. Rowling observed that there is 'nothing like a nighttime stroll to give you ideas,' while the turn-of-the-20th-century novelist Elizabeth von Arnim concluded that walking 'is the perfect way of moving if you want to see into the life of things.' And ask any deep thinker about the benefits of what Bill Bryson calls the 'tranquil tedium' walking elicits. Jean-Jacques Rousseau admitted, 'There is something about walking that animates and activates my ideas.' Even the resolutely pessimistic Friedrich Nietzsche had to give it up for a good saunter when he allowed, 'All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.'"

From "Whatever the Problem, It’s Probably Solved by Walking" by the writer Andrew McCarthy (NYT).

"Decisions are always difficult when they involve conflicting needs and rights between different groups, but we continue to take the view that we must maintain fairness for female athletes above all other considerations."

Said Sebastian Coe, president of the World Athletics Council, quoted in "Transgender track and field athletes can't compete in women's international events" (NPR).

Fairness for female athletes above all other considerations — those are strong words.

"But of all the backward ass campaign cliches to be visited upon the American public, none is more pernicious than 'beer track/wine track.'"

"What an utter abuse of metaphor. Look, I'm a liberal who lives in Manhattan. In my fridge-right now---you can find a six of Red Hook. I love beer, and instantly distrust anyone who doesn't. In fact, in college, I refused to date any girl who didn't drink beer. None of that Midori Melon and a salad bullshit for me; Nothing says sexy like a Sam Adams and chicken wings. I don't think I have a single friend (who isn't a recovering alcoholic) who doesn't like beer. Most of them drink wine too, but the official drink of young Manhattan liberals is beer, no question. Moreover, I detect a hint of racism here. This false analogy leaves no place for the many tribes of black voters--'The Hennessey Track,' 'The Curvosier [sic] Track,' 'The MGD Track.' Once again the media conspires to keep black folks out...."

Wrote Ta-Nehisi Coates in 2008 (in The Atlantic). 

I ended up there after reading this new article at Politico, "Trump’s beer track advantage over Ron DeSantis":

"The Supreme Court and lower courts have held repeatedly that the mere invocation of national security is insufficient to justify the suppression of First Amendment rights."

Writes Jameel Jaffer, the executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia, in "There’s a Problem With Banning TikTok. It’s Called the First Amendment" by  (NYT).

Forced into acting by a steady diet of chicken patties and canned peas.

I'm reading this obituary of a character actor:


That's from 1946. I was interested in Charles Butterworth because I just watched the 1932 movie "Love Me Tonight." I was going on about that movie in the comments to yesterday's post about 3 movies from the 1930s. The other 2 were "The Smiling Lieutenant" and "One Hour With You." 

"I Went on a Package Trip for Millennials Who Travel Alone... visiting Morocco with a group-travel company that promised to build 'meaningful friendships' among its youngish clientele."

Another NYT article about businesses that offer to sell you relationships. Go 2 posts down for the one about expensive gyms that select members who are beautiful/cool and see "the value of mingling with like-minded people."

But this one, about packaged travel that promises to connect you to new friends, is a much better article. It doesn't read like a promo for the industry. It's written by someone — Caity Weaver — who went on one trip and tells us a lot of details. And she has a distinct comic voice and, importantly, distance from the mindset of the tour business... distance and — something I like — sensitivity to language:

"[Jay] Kraemer completed the equivalent of walking around the world on March 2nd, tackling the 24,901 miles by traversing the Madison area..."

"... or going on hikes while visiting his son in Utah.... The 72-year-old tracked his walks meticulously via his FitBit, saying the journey took nearly 50 million steps to complete.... After eight years, and 10 months, Kraemer made it around the world while listening to 148 books, burning through an average of two pairs of shoes each year."

This post is intended as a palate cleanser after that last post on luxury gyms in L.A. and NYC, where only "cool" people can join. Kraemer epitomizes uncoolness — walking outside in a midsize city in the Midwest, paying only for a Fitbit, shoes, and (maybe) audiobooks — but coolness is always a matter of interpretation, and I was never willing to accept that the luxury gyms are cool. Your mileage may vary, and as you journey on your way through the world, it's up to you to decide what counts as cool and what constitutes walking around the world.

Makes me think of this song, which will always be cool to me.

"For those that look at a gym as a selfie opportunity, a place solely dedicated to performance-oriented training or a workout that needs to be done, you can probably find a gym that’s more affordable..."

"... that can deliver those things. We are not looking to bring in people who keep to themselves and don’t see the value of mingling with like-minded people."

Said Sebastian Schoepe, an executive at a fitness outfit called Heimat, quoted in "Think Getting Into College Is Hard? Try Applying for These Gyms. A new crop of luxury gyms requires referrals, interviews and even, in some cases, medical evaluations. And that’s before paying a monthly fee of up to $2,750" (NYT). 

So... they discriminate fiercely, but against whom? Is it too subtle to puzzle out — too hard to identify as something known to be wrong, like the admissions process at an elite law school? 

I thought maybe the name was a signal. What's "heimat"? Sounds German. Oh! It's the German word for "homeland"! Here's the Wikipedia page, "Heimat":

To those of you who are comparing Roseanne and Madonna.

I've seen this now in several places:

What I wrote when I saw it again, just now, at Facebook:

Just now — the spring snow at sunrise.


"The land was so steep, he said, 'it was just a guardrail and a cliff.' But the view over the city was breathtaking."

"And when [he] crept up to the edge of the 0.15-acre lot, he could see that it wasn’t actually a cliff. There was land below, but the hillside fell away like a black-diamond ski run.... 'Obviously, it’s incredibly steep,' [said the architect]. 'But steepness doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not buildable. What makes it buildable is the geology. And we’re pretty fortunate in L.A. to have really steep lots that are actually pretty healthy below the surface.'"

Very interesting design making a lot out of what was so close to nothing that it only cost $45,000 to buy the lot. There's even a swimming pool, tucked in behind the house, with an underwater window that looks into the kitchen. And the shower has a transparent glass wall looking out over the city. The caption reads:
Because no neighbors have views into the house, the shower has a wall of clear glass that allows Mr. Arnold to take in the view.... “It’s like showering outside,” he said.

No neighbors. But there's a whole city out there. Yes, the buildings are pretty far off, but people have telescopic lenses, a subject I wrote about in 2014, in "Speaking of naked...":

Trending on Twitter.

I can attest to that. I looked at Twitter, saw "Blacks" was trending, clicked on it, and saw contextless videos of black-on-white violence.

March 24, 2023

Backyard snowdrops.


Open thread in the comments.

"The number of people with the security clearances to view classified material has expanded, perhaps exponentially, since the leak of the Pentagon Papers..."

"... and I wonder, aside from a few people like Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning, why haven’t there been more Dan Ellsbergs? Why aren’t there more people who, when presented with evidence of something that they find morally objectionable, disclose it?" 

The NYT asks Daniel Ellsberg (who is 91 and dying of pancreatic cancer). 

He answers: 

"Even the name of the place Corey Brooks frequented for routine medical care — Magee-Womens Hospital — felt alienating."

"Patients donned pink gowns. Cutouts of pink bras were plastered on the walls. A sign urged patients to 'fight like a girl.' 'Things like that are just incredibly disorienting for someone going into those spaces who is always being reminded, hey, this wasn’t designed for you,' Brooks said. 'You’re not really sure if you should disclose to these people that you’re trans or not.' Brooks identifies as nonbinary and transgender, but as someone who was assigned female at birth, they share similar health needs as cisgender women for gynecologic care and screenings for chest health as they age...."

Is everything woman-specific now going to be characterized as unfriendly or even wrong and toxic?!

The Stanford DEI dean, Tieren Steinbach, explains that expression she used, "Is the juice worth the squeeze?"

I'm reading "Diversity and Free Speech Can Coexist at Stanford" (in the Wall Street Journal), in which Dean Steinbach defends herself, saying things that feel familiar and reasonable to me: 
My role was to observe and, if needed, de-escalate....  I stepped up to the podium to deploy the de-escalation techniques in which I have been trained, which include getting the parties to look past conflict and see each other as people.... To defuse the situation I acknowledged the protesters' concerns; I addressed the Federalist Society's purpose for inviting Judge Duncan and the law school's desire to uphold its right to do so; I reminded students that there would a Q&A session at which they could answer Judge Duncan's speech with their own speech, as long as they were following university rules; and I pointed out that while free speech isn't easy or comfortable, it's necessary for democracy, and I was glad it was happening at our law school....

Okay. I've said much the same thing myself, defending Steinbach, as you can see in my earlier posts tagged with her name. But I'm stunned to read her explanation of the metaphor she used:

"The right to be rude to people in public has been upheld as a fundamental legal one by a supreme court in the United States."

"Not the Supreme Court of the United States, admittedly — it really would be astounding if those pompous geriatric arseholes could take a break from sending women’s reproductive rights back to the Stone Age and legislate on something useful — just the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. But it’s still a thing. Even if the court itself is barely more than a provincial Portakabin of self-important windbags I would hesitate to characterise as bog-trotting, gin-soaked hayseeds had they not just loudly decreed that my right to do so is mandated by their constitution.... Rudeness is funny and useful and democratising and classless and easy and brilliant and sexy.... [Rudeness] is letting your mouth and brain go full tilt when you’re pissed off with someone, deliberately eschewing the rules of politeness and gentility to make absolutely clear what you think of them."

A slight qualification emerges: You're "free to say absolutely whatever you like to anyone, as long as he is a rich, white, able-bodied, educationally normal straight bloke of about 53. But don’t worry, I can take it."

Have you seen the Northern Lights?

More here: "Stunning auroras dazzle as far south as Virginia, North Carolina and Arizona/A ‘severe’ geomagnetic storm spawned brilliant northern lights over large portions of the United States, Canada and Europe" (WaPo).

"Maybe not since Prohibition has there been a possible national ban involving a product used by so many Americans."

So begins "Americans deserve a better message than ‘Trust us, TikTok is bad.’ “If you’re going to take something from the American public, we need to tell them why,” a former White House official said," a WaPo column by Shira Ovide.
[The former White House adviser on technology and competition, Tim] Wu told me that it isn’t easy for the U.S. government to move beyond the vague message of trust us, TikTok is bad. Members of Congress, White House officials and other people in Washington have classified information on the threat of Chinese technology that they can’t talk about, Wu said. They can’t even discuss the existence of this kind of classified information. 
“The case is being made in a little bit of a bubble,” Wu said. 
But American officials know how to talk to Americans about sensitive, classified information and help us distinguish legitimate risks from hyperbole....

Really? How to talk... truthfully

In the last week, I've watched 3 movies from the 1930s, all with the same great old movie star.

I'll let you guess for a while and will reveal the answer soon. It's surprising!

What's the deep meaning of Trump's kicking off his 2024 campaign in Waco?

I'm reading "A Trump Rally, a Right-Wing Cause and the Enduring Legacy of Waco/Thirty years ago, a fiery federal raid on a doomsday sect turned the city into a symbol of government overreach. Donald Trump will speak there on Saturday, and some supporters — and critics — say it’s no accident" by Charles Homans (NYT).

[Waco] has remained a cause for contemporary far-right groups like the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys.... Alex Jones, the conspiracy-theorist broadcaster who helped draw crowds of Trump loyalists to Washington on Jan. 6, 2021, rose to prominence promoting wild claims about the Waco standoff. The longtime Trump associate and former campaign adviser Roger Stone dedicated his 2015 book, “The Clintons’ War on Women,” to the Branch Davidians who died at Mount Carmel.

By the way, that book title contains the only appearance of the name Clinton in the entire long article. (There's also one muted reference to Clinton: "the administration of a Democratic president.")

"The thing about writing a good song is that it tells you something about yourself you didn’t already know.... The good song is always rushing forward. It annihilates..."

"... to some degree, the songs that you’d previously written, because you are moving forward all the time. That’s what the creative impulse is—it’s both creative and destructive and is always one step ahead of you. These impulses can’t be replicated by a machine. Maybe A.I. can make a song that’s indistinguishable from what I can do.... But... that’s not what art is. Art has to do with our limitations, our frailties, and our faults as human beings. It’s the distance we can travel away from our own frailties."

"That’s what is so awesome about art: that we deeply flawed creatures can sometimes do extraordinary things. A.I. just doesn’t have any of that stuff going on. Ultimately, it has no limitations, so therefore can’t inhabit the true transcendent artistic experience. It has nothing to transcend! It feels like such a mockery of what it is to be human. A.I. may very well save the world, but it can’t save our souls. That’s what true art is for. That’s the difference. So, I don’t know, in my humble opinion ChatGPT should just fuck off and leave songwriting alone."

Everything must be Trump's fault — even the Manhattan D.A.'s botching of a hare-brained indictment.

I'm trying to read "Trolled by Trump, Again/Thoughts after a week of waiting and waiting for the indictment that the former President promised" by Susan B. Glasser (in The New Yorker).

You’d think that we would know better by now, but here we are, being trolled again by Donald Trump. Whatever else the disgraced, defeated, and possibly soon-to-be-indicted former President is, he is a master when it comes to setting the terms of a media frenzy. Trump knows not only how to get our collective attention but also how to keep it. He flourishes in the absence of hard information to contradict his claims, and he has years of experience using the silence of the legal authorities to focus the debate on their actions rather than his own.


I tested my headline on Meade before publishing and he raised the question whether you can botch something that's already hare-brained. I mean if it's hare-brained and you've botched it, you've kind of fixed it. In which case, huzzah for the Alvin Bragg!

ADDED: I wrote that before seeing Trump's latest social media posting, reported at "Trump, Turning Up Heat, Raises Specter of Violence if He Is Charged/In an overnight post, the former president escalated his attacks on the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, and warned of 'potential death and destruction' if he is indicted" (NYT).

“What kind of person,” Mr. Trump wrote of Mr. Bragg, “can charge another person, in this case a former president of the United States, who got more votes than any sitting president in history, and leading candidate (by far!) for the Republican Party nomination, with a crime, when it is known by all that NO crime has been committed, & also that potential death & destruction in such a false charge could be catastrophic for our country?”

“Why & who would do such a thing? Only a degenerate psychopath that truely hates the USA!” 

March 23, 2023

Spring snow.



"Funnily enough, I don’t actually have dinner any more. I stop eating at four, and I learned that from having lunch with Bruce Springsteen."

Said Chris Martin, quoted in "Chris Martin’s one-meal-a-day diet inspired by Bruce Springsteen/Coldplay frontman says he now eats nothing after 4pm" (London Times).

That's more or less what we do at Meadhouse... but we're 70ish. You really do need to eat less when you are old. But Martin is only 46!

"A federal official wrote a parody of Harvard’s attitude toward Asian Americans and shared it with the dean of admissions. Why did a judge try to hide that from the public?"

Asks Jeannie Suk Gersen, in "The Secret Joke at the Heart of the Harvard Affirmative-Action Case" (The New Yorker). The case, pending before the Supreme Court, it Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard.

"Well, I went to a law school where I didn't learn any law," said Justice Alito, who went to Yale.

He was responding to Lisa S. Blatt, the lawyer for Jack Daniel's, who'd just said — transcript here — "Justice Alito, I don't know how old you are, but you went to law school, you're very smart, you're analytical, you have hindsight bias, and maybe you know something...."

It was a gratuitous shot at Yale Law School, because Blatt wasn't arguing about Alito's knowledge of law compared to that of ordinary people, but reacting to his assertion that no reasonable person would think Jack Daniel's had authorized a dog toy shaped like a bottle of Jack Daniel's but bearing references to dog urine and feces. He'd said:

"Meet the Lonely New York Progressive Defending TikTok/Representative Jamaal Bowman of New York says the drive to ban TikTok stems from anti-China 'hysteria.'"

NYT reports.

"A Journalist Believes He Was Banned From [AI image generator] Midjourney After His AI Images Of Donald Trump Getting Arrested Went Viral."

Buzzfeed reports.
[Eliot Higgins, best known as the founder of open-source investigative journalism website Bellingcat]... told BuzzFeed News that he’s “been playing around with various prompts to see what's possible and how complex you can make it." He prompted Midjourney to capture what it would look like if Trump were swept up by police on the streets of New York outside of a building that looks eerily like Trump Tower, how his children would react, and what his life would be like in jail.

“They kind of formed a narrative and I thought it was really amusing,” said Higgins, who is based in the UK. “I put it out there. I didn't intend to do any clever criticism or anything like that. But then it kind of took on a life of its own.” 

Sunrise — 7:16.

IMG_0636 2

"Those lunches were ridiculous.... I’m not caucusing with the Democrats.... Old dudes are eating Jell-O, everyone is talking about how great they are..."

"I don’t really need to be there for that. That’s an hour and a half twice a week that I can get back.... The Northerners and the Westerners put cool whip on their Jell-O and the Southerners put cottage cheese.... I spend my days doing productive work, which is why I’ve been able to lead every bipartisan vote that’s happened the last two years."

New frontiers of Russian influence.

I'm trying to read "Blackhawks will not wear Pride-themed jerseys due to a Russian law " (AP).

The Blackhawks are the Chicago NHL team, I'm just now learning. And the "Pride-themed jerseys"...


... seem objectionable for some American reasons — Native American mascot, political brand stamped on a Native American brand, LGBTQ support imposed on players — but the Russians got the NHL organization to silence the political speech. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law in December that significantly expands restrictions on activities seen as promoting LGBTQ rights in the country.

Which country?  I believe the law relates to Russia, not the U.S., but the extraterritorial reach occurs because people in the U.S. are choosing to impose Russia's repression here. The NHL characterizes its behavior as motivated by "security" concerns, presumably relating to persons who do live in Russia. We're told: "Chicago defenseman Nikita Zaitsev is a Moscow native, and there are other players with family in Russia or other connections to the country." 

"Fifteen percent of high school students in the U.S. are Black, but they are only 9% of students enrolled in AP courses...."

"In a 2020 survey, 40% of Black students said they were interested in pursuing science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, fields in college, but no more than 2% of Blacks students were enrolled in AP biology, chemistry or physics.... 'Why do we think that white kids are so much further ahead than Black kids when they go to college?' [said Daarel Burnette, a senior editor for the Chronicle of Higher Education]. 'Because they had access to AP courses. Why are their GPAs so much higher when it comes to admissions? Because they had access to AP courses. It’s all interconnected, and it’s just so unfortunate.' Sasha Rabkin, the president of Equal Opportunity Schools, which works with schools to break down barriers to advanced classes, said the disparity is not due to the 'question of lacking talent or genius.' 'It’s really a fundamental question of segregated access, as we think about the barriers that are placed, visible and invisible, in front of young people, particularly Black students as they try to navigate the upper echelons of public education,' Rabkin said."

The way the article is written, it glosses over the interest in bringing more black students into the STEM fields and shifts to the subject of a non-STEM AP course that seems designed to be especially appealing to black students. I have no idea if it is more appealing or if it's perceived as pandering or channeling them away from STEM courses. 

"Madison, Wis., led the way for U.S. cities, with 35 per 100,000."

From "Why Are Public Restrooms Still So Rare?/Cities in the U.S. and elsewhere have made strides, but challenges remain" (NYT). 

Interesting factoid: "The temperance movement to limit alcohol consumption led cities to build public restrooms in the late 1800s and early 1900s: The thinking went that men wouldn’t need to enter a bar to use the bathroom."

But these days, we don't think of public bathrooms as bulwarks against vice. Quite the opposite: We're picturing sex and drugs. 

"The young ones tend to never wear a bra.... What is with the hate on bras?... I am very happy to wear a comfortable bra every day..."

"... and I am uncomfortable not wearing one. I find this new generation of braless ladies rude and unprofessional. These young ladies do not seem to mind the stares from others and more so when the office gets a little chilly. I have nothing against 'free the nipple' but why impose this on others in a professional environment?"

Asks an anonymous letter-writer of Roxane Gay, the NYT "work friend" advice columnist.

Hey, you know what's "unprofessional"? Staring at nipples!

As Gay puts it: "Women are not imposing their nipples on you by existing, braless, in public spaces. You are imposing your judgment on their bodies." She advises Anonymous to "interrogate the judgments you place on other people’s bodies." Ha ha ha. "Interrogate." Academic jargon is hilarious encountered in the raw on a chilly morning. I picture a crime suspect grilled in a harshly lit, windowless room. But it makes perfect sense to say: question your own judgments. That's something we should do more often.

"[W]hether children should work more hours in dangerous jobs appears to be settling in as a partisan issue."

Writes Helaine Olen, in "Expanding child labor is exactly what America’s kids don’t need" (WaPo).

The words "appears to be settling in" make me wary. And what are "dangerous jobs"? 
Republicans in statehouses nationwide are racing to make it easier for companies to hire youngsters.... In Arkansas, Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders has signed legislation doing away with regulations demanding 14- and 15-year-old teens receive a work permit before taking on paid employment. A bill in Ohio seeks to allow 14- and 15-year-olds to work until 9 p.m. during the school year, in defiance of federal law.

March 22, 2023

7:12 a.m. — but the red dot is not the sun.


100% cloud cover today at sunrise.

Write about whatever you want in the comments.


"But for falsifying business records to be a felony, not a misdemeanor, Mr. Bragg’s prosecutors must show that Mr. Trump’s 'intent to defraud' included an intent to commit or conceal a second crime."

"That crime could be a violation of election law, under the theory that the payout served as a donation to Mr. Trump’s campaign, because it silenced Ms. Daniels and shut down a potential sex scandal in the final stretch of the campaign. Although the district attorney’s office need not obtain a conviction on the election law violation, or even include it in the indictment, that second crime might be the aspect of the legal theory that is most vulnerable to attack.... 

"[I]n 2018, when [Michael D.] Cohen pleaded guilty to federal charges involving the hush money. Because he pleaded guilty, the issue was never tested in the courts, but some campaign finance experts and conservative legal scholars have argued that the case was bogus. 'Michael Cohen Pled Guilty to Something That Is Not a Crime,' was the headline in a National Review article at the time.... 

"... Mr. Trump’s lawyers could argue that federal law has no place in state court. And if he uses a New York election law violation, the defense could claim that a violation of state law does not apply to a federal election — in this case, the 2016 presidential campaign.... ... Federal campaign finance law explicitly states that it overrides — pre-empts, in legal terminology — state election law when it comes to campaign donation limits.... But there are exceptions to federal pre-emption contained in regulations from the Federal Election Commission.... 

"[Also], the felony falsifying business records charge expires after five years.... And there are a few additional advantages for the district attorney: His case will play out in state court, with a state judge... and a jury in deep blue Manhattan."

"Legal Intricacies," indeed! These are obvious and terrible problems with the prosecution. It's not subtle! Alvin Bragg, please don't inflict this on us. 

And it's so repulsive for the NYT to end this article by bucking up readers with the hope that the state judge will be biased.

ADDED: A perfectly concise comment over at the NYT: "Novel legal theory in a political prosecution destroys trust in rule of law."

"Stanford Law School is requiring all students to attend educational programming on free speech after protesters interrupted a speech..."

"... by a conservative federal judge earlier this month. The law school will hold 'a mandatory half-day session in spring quarter for all students on the topic of freedom of speech and the norms of the legal profession,' Stanford Law School Dean Jenny Martinez said in a public letter to students Wednesday. Associate Dean Tirien Steinbach, who spoke at the March 9 event with US Judge Kyle Duncan, 'is currently on leave,' Martinez said."

"But what if breasts aren’t the problem, and are not, therefore, the issue in need of a remedy?"

"The solution, as the city of Berlin so neatly demonstrated, would be simple. In order for all bodies to be equal, we have to treat them so."

Said CNN commentator Holly Thomas, quoted in "Allowing Topless Women In Germany’s Pools Is About Stopping Discrimination" (Forbes).

"When she was 9 months old, surgeons removed the left side of her brain. Yet at 15, Mora plays soccer, tells jokes, gets her nails done..."

"... and, in many ways, lives the life of a typical teenager. 'I can be described as a glass-half-full girl,' she says, pronouncing each word carefully and without inflection. Her slow, cadence-free speech is one sign of a brain that has had to reorganize its language circuits. Brain plasticity is thought to underlie learning, memory, and early childhood development. It's also how the brain revises its circuitry to help recover from a brain injury — or, in Mora's case, the loss of an entire hemisphere."

Trademark infringement?


Oral argument today.

"A candidate for the Madison School Board... said schools are the product of 'white supremacy' and accused her opponent of favoring competition in the classroom..."

"... a characterization her opponent embraced. 'Our schools are products of white supremacy,' said Blair Mosner Feltham.... 'They reinforce white supremacy and if we want to talk about how we make sure all students are thriving in our schools, we need to fundamentally change both the structure of our schools and the purposes of them,' she said. Badri Lankella, though, said 'we need to have competitive students. Yes, I am for competitive schools.... if you’re not competing in school, eventually we’ll be competing outside in the world.'"

"Ever since Trump perfected the template (grandiose, manipulative, easily wounded, unable to tolerate even minor scenarios in which he isn’t deemed central or special)..."

"... the label ['narcissist'] has been steadily spreading to celebrities, shitty boyfriends, and sometimes mothers. #narctokadvice is flooded with pictures of terrible exes whose faces are rubbed out and replaced with Johnny Depp’s. Infinite listicles describe life with a narcissist as a psychological war zone and explain how to spot the signs and fight back: 'How to Argue With a Narcissist' or '5 Ways to Weaken a Narcissist' or 'The 7 Lies We Learn From Our Narcissistic Parents.' On #narctok, the final stage of enlightenment is 'no contact,' meaning forever cutting the narcissist out of your life. Elon Musk is a 'narcissist' or sometimes a 'narcissistic sociopath' or a 'toddler.'... When sociologist Jean Twenge wrote in The Narcissism Epidemic about the epidemic of misery among post-millenials [sic], she mostly blamed cell phones, social media, and the 'culture of selfies' for the shift. Fifteen years later, the teens are still drowning in hopelessness. But calling them narcissists is about as helpful as calling them obese."

Writes Hanna Rosin, in "Narcissist and Proud" (NY Magazine).

Some like what hot?

I'm trying to read "Who Is the Broadway Pooper?" (NY Magazine).

Imagine: You buy tickets to a Broadway show... and what you actually wind up getting is a smelly, real-life mystery about human feces. This is apparently what happened to Hillary and Chelsea Clinton during a recent performance of Some Like It Hot at Shubert Theater... “Last week when Hillary and Chelsea Clinton were in the audience,” a source told [Page Six], “the lights came up for intermission and there were two human turds in the aisle just near the famous political duo.”...

One source said it was a "rather sad" occurrence involving "an elderly person." We're urged to think it had nothing to do with Hillary and Chelsea. Someone else is saying this is the 4th incident of its kind at that show. Maybe it's happening all the time at all sorts of shows and the only reason we're hearing about this one incident is that it happened near Hillary.

I thought the phrase "human turds" was funny. Is the turd human? Looking it up, I ran across an article from last year about fossilized excrement on display in a museum: "[T]he 20 cm long and five cm wide human turd dates back to the ninth century and is attributed to a Viking man in Jorvik which is now called York."

Trump has caused the New York Times to write a front page article about his purported positivity about performing a perp walk!

I'm laughing while trying to force myself to read "Trump at Mar-a-Lago: Magical Thinking and a Perp-Walk Fixation/Those who have spent time with Donald Trump in recent days say he has often appeared significantly disconnected from the severity of his potential legal woes."

See? Their idea is that he's crazy and delusional and out of touch with reality. Do they even consider that he's playing them and just doing what he always does and making the best of whatever misfortune comes his way? It's just media judo. Can't they recognize it by now?

Oh, I'll give them credit. They recognize it, they just also keep doing what they do, characterizing Trump's genius/"genius" moves as craziness.

And I say that even as I do what I always do: read the NYT in the morning. But I'm going to give myself credit for not reading this article. Not yet, anyway. Am I missing something?

The greatest vegetable.

A man who has sampled 1,000 vegetables has chosed the very best one. Below the fold, because it's TikTok.

"We tend to overstate the poverty of the style that precedes a style we admire..."

"... histories of rock and roll treat what accompanied it on the airwaves of the fifties as if the music were all 'Sing Along with Mitch' and 'How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?,' when it was also Sinatra’s concept albums, Sarah Vaughan’s collaborations with George Treadwell, and Dave Brubeck’s million-selling recording of a jazz instrumental in five-four time. And so we remember paperback books, pre-Push Pin, as either clinically bare, as with Modern Library editions, or outlandishly lurid, as with an edition of 'Madame Bovary' featuring an Ava Gardner-style femme fatale, complete with slipping negligee....There was, in truth, much ambitious 'art' illustration in those years, including Ben Shahn’s covers for S. J. Perelman and Kauffer’s cover for Ralph Ellison’s 'Invisible Man.'"

Here are those Ben Shahn covers.

Here's that Kauffer cover.

And I think this might be the referenced "outlandishly lurid" "Madame Bovary" cover:

Or... this fits the description better (but it's a British edition):

March 21, 2023

Sunrise — 6:54, 6:56, 7:02, 7:05.





Saw an owl yesterday.


"It’s that dream a lot of artists have. You want to find a raw space, and something you can build into a live-work space where you can make art."

From "What’s It Like to Live in a Grocery Store? Surprisingly Comfortable. When two artists bought the vacant building, it was ‘grim and creepy.’ Now it’s not only a home — it’s a communal arts space" (NYT).

"New York district attorney offices have often charged a crime of filing a false business record, both as a felony and as a misdemeanor."

"The crime is a clear felony if it is done with intent to aid or cover up another crime and otherwise is a misdemeanor. This charge focuses on the means that Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen apparently devised to carry out the alleged scheme: Mr. Cohen would arrange for the payments to Ms. Daniels; Mr. Trump would reimburse Mr. Cohen; and Mr. Cohen and Mr. Trump would cover up the true nature of the payments by recording the reimbursement as legal fees pursuant to a 'retainer agreement' that the Justice Department said never existed. Because such 'fees' would need to be reported by Mr. Cohen on his taxes, the Trump Organization paid Mr. Cohen substantial additional sums to pay for these taxes. Similarly, to keep the Daniels payments secret, neither Mr. Trump nor his campaign would report the payments as a campaign contribution by either Mr. Cohen or Mr. Trump."
Write NYU lawprofs Ryan Goodman and Andrew Weissmann, in "Make No Mistake, the Investigation of Donald Trump and the Stormy Daniels Scheme Is Serious" (NYT).

"Asian, Black and Latino voters have flipped to the Republicans in such large numbers that the Democrats are in huge trouble, the story goes."

"The GOP could become the party of a 'multiracial working class.'... At the same time, voters of color have favored Democrats by more than 35 percentage points in every recent election. The news media and others who analyze politics shouldn’t emphasize the rightward shift so much that they obscure that these voting blocs remain very Democratic-leaning...."

"I know people want to get their kids and travel. I get that. However, I never flew until I was 19+ yrs."

" parents could not afford to fly. Even tho we had a decent middle class lifestyle we never flew any where on a vacation when I was a kid. Now. I HATE people who drag their infants/toddlers on a plane. Put your kid in the seat, like a car seat, and they'll fall asleep. On your lap they are squirming, screaming little terrors and possibly a 20-30lb projectile. If you INSIST on flying with small children, secure them in their OWN SEAT !!!! If you can't afford the extra ticket then DON"T FLY to your destination!"

That's putting it brutally — in the comments to the WaPo article "Flight attendants want to ban lap-babies on planes/Experts agree that flying with a baby in your lap is a safety risk, but regulators still allow it." 

This isn't really about safety, is it? Safety is the leverage. The truth is people don't like babies and toddlers on planes and requiring them to have a paid-for seat will lower the number of these deprecated humans. 

"There was no emotion. While we were getting things done, we all had that feeling, ‘I can’t believe this is happening,’ but it didn’t keep us from doing what we needed to do and prepare ourselves to abandon ship."

From "Sailboat crew rescued in Pacific after abandoning ship sunk by whale/ Four people aboard the Raindancer were stranded in the Pacific Ocean for 10 hours" (WaPo).

The man's lament: "I want to comfort her within reason, and now she won't let me."

From "AITA for not taking my wife's possible [miscarriage] seriously?" (Reddit).

"Many demonstrators were trapped up against a fence, unable to breathe from the gas, while police dragged others down the hill...."

"During the melee, three plaintiffs were pepper-sprayed in the face at close range by former Philadelphia SWAT officer Richard Nicoletti, who was later fired, arrested, and charged with assault. Some demonstrators said the response still haunts them, physically and psychologically. Gwen Snyder, a West Philadelphia-based organizer and one of the plaintiffs, was detained on the highway, and said her wrists were zip-tied behind her back so tightly, she lost feeling in her hands. One of her arms still periodically goes numb as she breastfeeds her daughter or pushes her stroller, she said.... Ed Parker, who was similarly detained and zip-tied, said he has had three surgeries to correct the wrist damage. He said the sounds of people screaming and weeping still haunt him."

"'An indictment would help Trump!' is wholly premature."

Says Jennifer Rubin. 

But once it happens, it's too late to worry about what effect it will have. At that point, everyone against Trump will fight to make it hurt him and everyone for Trump will fight to make it help him. Rubin's column is an early — premature? — effort in the fight to make it hurt him. 

Rubin's first point is that Trump hasn't yet received much support from Republican politicians.

"Al Franken spends his first night as 'Daily Show' host making nice with Lindsey Graham."

The Star Tribune reports.
Their fondness for each other may have robbed viewers of any meaningful debate. The two each squeezed in their differing talking points on Donald Trump, but the chat felt a lot like a photo opportunity with both holding back any serious jabs. Franken even reiterated his belief that Graham was the funniest person he had met in Washington. The extended version of their conversation, available only online, had slightly more meat, but no fireworks.

March 20, 2023

Sunrise — 7:06.


"Graphic videos show a police SUV ramming a crowd and running over at least one person in Tacoma, Washington, on Saturday."

"In videos from the scene, the police SUV revs its engine while a group of people surrounds it in the street. The SUV briefly backs up and then charges forward as people in the crowd scream. One person can be seen on the ground as the front and rear wheels of the vehicle roll over them."

BuzzFeed News reports (with video if you choose to see it).

"Trump Calls for Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg to Be Criminally Charged for 'Interference in a Presidential Election.'"

Mediaite reports.

“It is the District Attorney of Manhattan who is breaking the law by using the fake and fully discredited testimony (even by the [Southern District of New York]!) of a convicted liar, felon, and jailbird, Michael Cohen, to incredibly persecute, prosecute, and indict a former president, and now leading (by far!) presidential candidate, for a crime that doesn’t exist,” the ex-president seethed [on Truth Social]. “Alvin Bragg should be held accountable for the crime of ‘interference in a presidential election.”


"An essay published in Harper’s Bazaar in 1897 refers to fatness as a 'crime' and a 'deformity'..."

"... and argues that a fat woman 'will not be a social success unless she burnt-cork herself, don beads, and then go to that burning clime where women, like pigs, are valued at so much a pound.' People have been pushing back against fat stigma since at least the nineteen-sixties, when activists staged a 'fat-in' at the Sheep Meadow in Central Park. But the desire to achieve thinness by any means necessary—amphetamines, grapefruit diets, SlimFast—remains an almost foundational tenet of female socialization. When I was a preteen, in the heroin-chic nineties, pro-anorexia Web sites proliferated on the Internet; in the early two-thousands, teen girls puked or did obsessive sit-ups or took Hydroxycut in pursuit of abs like Britney Spears’s. In the twenty-tens, even as the Kardashians ostentatiously displayed their curves, they sold Flat Tummy Co. teas—laxatives—and waist trainers...."

Sunrise — 6:53.

IMG_0560 2

"I sort of keep thinking it’s all gonna end, but it doesn’t. It’s so impressive that it doesn’t end."

Said Michael Delacour, quoted in "Michael Delacour, People’s Park co-founder, dies at 85 Delacour hosted the first meetings to organize and build People’s Park at his Berkeley home in the 1960s" (Berkeleyside). 

"'Many years ago I realized that a book, a novel, is a dream that asks itself to be written' is how his new novel, The Shards, his first in thirteen years, begins."

"It is narrated by Ellis’s alter ego, a fifty-six-year-old writer named Bret.... Bret listens to bands such as Icehouse and Ultravox (he especially likes the song 'Vienna,' with its soaring, mournful refrain, 'This means nothing to me') and spends weekends at parties or the movies, or in his room working on the book that will one day become Ellis’s first novel, Less Than Zero (1985).... Ellis published Less Than Zero when he was a twenty-one-year-old student at Bennington College. Its cultural impact is hard to overstate. The book is narrated by Clay.... Clay drives around, does drugs, goes to parties, and remembers his dead grandparents.... ... Ellis’s desire to see the worst is so all-consuming that it blinds him to anything else. He has a once-in-a-generation talent for conjuring dread and disgust and exposing them as the consequences of a sick, hollow, and narcissistic culture; he’s also funny. But the truth that lies beneath the surface of the world is not that we are depraved authors of Boschian nightmares; it’s that our Boschian nightmares exist alongside acts of love, compassion, faithfulness. Ellis’s stark and unsentimental moral vision is blind to half of human truth, and in this way has remained as childlike as the innocence it wants to dispel...."

Writes the novelist Christine Smallwood, in "The Exorcist/Bret Easton Ellis’s novels are filled with beautiful actors in nightmarish dreamscapes who seem innocent but are revealed to be guilty" (NYRB).

You can buy "The Shards" here. I've never read a Bret Easton Ellis book. Have you? I've never seen a movie based on one of his books either. I'm not recommending the new book, just observing its publication and trying to understand what Christine Smallwood is saying about it. Maybe read her novel: "The Life of the Mind."

"Is the United States Creating a ‘Legion of Doom’?/The emerging China-Russia-Iran axis may force the United States to choose between some unappealing options."

 Asks Daniel Drezner (at Politico).

"Circular, and dark blue, with a Tupperware-style lid, it is precisely the kind of vessel you’d transport a soup or salad in."

"I’ve even sealed it inside a freezer bag, to contain any leaks. Or smells. I walk slowly and with care across Westminster Bridge, because any trip could prove disastrous. As I enter St Thomas’ Hospital and head for the infection department on the fifth floor, I realise the object I’m carrying is still warm, and, despite my preparations, I’m sure I can detect a faint whiff of something ripe, like camembert. It is, in a word, a turd. Freshly laid, and brimming with bacteria, the doctors I’m delivering it to believe such faeces could be the future of medicine. I’ve carried mine across London to be made into capsules – that someone else will ultimately eat...."

March 19, 2023

"The total weight of Earth’s wild land mammals – from elephants to bisons and from deer to tigers – is now less than 10% of the combined tonnage of men, women and children..."

"... living on the planet. A study by scientists at Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science, published this month, concludes that wild land mammals alive today have a total mass of 22m tonnes. By comparison, humanity now weighs in at a total of around 390m tonnes. At the same time, the species we have domesticated, such as sheep and cattle, in addition to other hangers-on such as urban rodents, add a further 630m tonnes to the total mass of creatures that are now competing with wild mammals for Earth’s resources. The biomass of pigs alone is nearly double that of all wild land mammals...."

 Hard to believe, but that's what it says here in The Guardian.

"The fact that Trump is doing considerably better among Republican voters of color than White Republicans flies in the face of the fact that many Americans view Trump as racist...."

Writes Harry Enten, in "Voters of color are a big reason Trump leads the GOP primary" (CNN).

"The Trees, The Track and The Carvings - a walk up ancient Hell Lane, Symondsbury, Dorset."

Hell Lane, "the infamous smugglers pathway," is a famous "holloway," it says at Cool Places Britain: "These sunken roads date from at least 300 years ago, many going back as far as the iron age. They would have started as drovers’ roads or pilgrims’ paths, worn down by human feet, hooves of horses and cattle, and wheels of carts...."

Sunrise — 7:04, 7:07.

IMG_0547 2

IMG_0551 2

IMG_0553 2

A perfectly good question asked by Jen Psaki, who has a TV show and a written column at MSNBC.

"Could a Trump indictment actually help him politically?"

The headline is good for attracting clicks. It got mine, and I know I'm exacerbating the unwholesome skewing of traffic by linking, but I want to complain that there isn't even an effort to answer the question asked. I guess Psaki brings her presidential press secretary frame of mind to her new job.

The column begins "Don’t freak out" and ends "don’t freak out quite yet."

In between, we're told that Trump can be expected to "weaponize" the indictment for political gain, which just restates the question in the headline. Will the political weaponization of the indictment (if there is one) work

There's really nothing more on the topic. A sentence about Trump's poll numbers. A mild quote from Mike Pence referring not to the substance of the indictment but to January 6th — "history will hold Donald Trump accountable." A quote from Chris Sununu:"We’re moving on." As for the effect of criminal charges: "We just don’t know yet." Well, yeah, but where's the analysis? Just "don't freak out" and "Rest assured that I will be following this closely." It doesn't seem like you are.

ADDED: What's really going on here? To say pay no attention to this now means don't talk about it while there's still some time to cry out before it happens. Will the Sunday shows this morning be full of Democrats warning that criminal prosecution is a horrible mistake that will backfire on Democrats (and on everyone else who's keen on stopping Trump)? Or will they all have gotten the memo that we read in Psaki's column: Nothing to see here; the prosecution of Trump is not political, but Trump, if indicted, will politicize it, and we'll just have to wait and see how far that takes him.