April 22, 2023

At the Saturday Night Café...

 ... you can write about whatever you want.

"I invented Edna because I hated her.... I poured out my hatred of the standards of the little people of their generation."

Wrote Barry Humphries, quoted in "Barry Humphries (Dame Edna to You, Possums) Is Dead at 89/Bewigged, bejeweled and bejowled, Mr. Humphries’s creation was one of the longest-lived characters ever channeled by a single performer" (NYT).
Dame Edna emerged when the young Mr. Humphries, under the sway of Dadaism, was performing with a repertory company based at the University of Melbourne.... On long bus tours, he entertained his colleagues with the character of Mrs. Norm Everage — born Edna May Beazley in Wagga Wagga, Australia, sometime in the 1930s — an ordinary housewife who had found sudden acclaim after winning a nationwide competition, the Lovely Mother Quest. 
Unthinkable as it seems, Edna was dowdy then, given to mousy brown hair and pillbox hats. But she was already in full command of the arsenal of bourgeois bigotries that would be a hallmark of her later self...

I loved Dame Edna. (Click my "Dame Edna" tag.) But not everyone appreciated this sort of humor: 

"Swimming is required to graduate with full honors from the elite Manhattan public school. Some Muslim girls worried..."

"... the shift to co-ed classes would pit their academic goals against their religion," the NYT reports
After the outcry, Education Department officials said this week that students who need accommodations would soon be able to receive full honors through classes on other life skills.... 

Someone gives you a card, but when — exactly when — can you — should you — throw it out?

When did you first become sensitized to the mocking of women?

I wonder, this morning, as I scan the comments on yesterday's post, "Whatever you think of [Dylan] Mulvaney’s transition, or her rather cloying girlishness... [s]he traffics not in anger or cruelty, but in whimsy and joy."*

Here's what I'm seeing (boldface added):

Sebastian: "Exuberant mockery of women, subversion of common sense, and in-your-face-take-that-deplorables-middle-fingerism....

Michelle Dulak Thomson: "[A]ll I can say is that he doesn't traffic in 'whimsy and joy.' He is a sick individual who mercilessly mocks women. Which is evidently OK these days...."

"This show unites blue-chip buttocks by the likes of Francis Bacon, Andy Warhol, John Currin and Cecily Brown; dorsal drawings and pastels by Degas, Klimt and Schiele..."

"The bottoms on display are male and female, nude and clothed, seen from a forensic distance or in fetishistic close-up, but rarely lascivious. All together the show is well-bred and understated...."

Paul Cadmus, whose retrograde male nudes are enjoying an unmerited revival in attention, appears here with yet more anemic drawings of standing and reclining musclemen, none more consequential than the gents on a Calvin Klein underwear box. (For what it’s worth, the gay male artists in this show all come out looking second-rate, with none of the perverse intelligence of Degas, Schiele and the other straight bros. Did Michelangelo die for this?)....

"What speech, she said, comes close to being a 'true threat' but is so 'supervaluable' that we need to be worried about it?"

"She" = Justice Kagan, described in "Justices hear 'true threat' protected speech case" (SCOTUSblog). 
At the end of nearly two hours of debate, the justices generally appeared skeptical of Colorado’s contention that courts should use an objective test, that looks at whether a reasonable person would regard the statement as a threat of violence.... 
Chief Justice John Roberts... cited one of the statements for which Counterman was convicted, in which he told Whalen that “staying in cyberlife is going to kill you. Come out for coffee.”....
Justice Amy Coney Barrett... asked “[Who] is the reasonable person?” She outlined a hypothetical involving a college classroom in which a professor, for “purely educational” reasons, “puts up a picture of a burning cross and reads aloud some threats of lynching that were made at the time.” “Maybe it’s the case,” Barrett suggested, “that nowadays people would be more sensitive to that and … a reasonable Black college student sitting in that classroom would interpret that as threats … that might materialize into actual physical harm.”

April 21, 2023

Sunrise — 6:15.


"As far as I’m concerned, I sat next to [Clarence Thomas] on the bench for 28 years. I like him. He’s a friend of mine."

"I’ve never seen him do anything underhanded or say anything underhanded.... My personal point of view is he’s a man of integrity."

Said Stephen Breyer, quoted in "Justice Thomas Is ‘Man of Integrity’ Says Ex-Colleague Breyer" (Bloomberg).
Breyer... pushed back on the criticism that the Supreme Court does nothing on ethics... He said the difficulty with a code of ethics in the Supreme Court is that the justices can’t be replaced if they disqualify themselves like lower court judges.

"Whatever you think of [Dylan] Mulvaney’s transition, or her rather cloying girlishness... [s]he traffics not in anger or cruelty, but in whimsy and joy."

"Where Matt Walsh offers enemies, Dylan Mulvaney aspires to exuberance. She suggests the possibility of making yourself, and the world, into something better, while [Matt] Walsh promises, at best, only the dour satisfaction of being right about how terrible everything is. It isn’t surprising that the kids are choosing Mulvaney over that. But Walsh is right, his followers cry. Even if he were, it wouldn’t justify his tactics. In the court of public opinion, truth is not necessarily a sufficient defense."

Also: "Conservatives... understand that bullying has cost progressivism a lot of support among moderates, including on issues surrounding transgenderism, where successful efforts to stifle public discussion of basic questions — such as 'What Is a Woman'? — have led to resentment and backlash rather than consensus...."

ADDED: I've got a new post based on some of the comments in this post. Writing that new post, I noticed my use of brackets in the post title above — "[s]he traffics not in anger or cruelty" — makes it seem as though McArdle might have used the masculine pronoun "he." No, she had "She," and I needed to switch to a lower-case "S." I just deploying brackets in the conventional way editors do when cutting down a quote. Nothing substantive.

"I should have the right to introduce my daughter to the concepts of adultery and coveting one's spouse."

"It shouldn’t be one of the first things she learns to read in her kindergarten classroom."

On the pro side, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said: "I believe that you cannot change the culture of the country until you change the culture of mankind. Bringing the Ten Commandments and prayer back to our public schools will enable our students to become better Texans."

I like the way Litzler is invoking parental rights, which, on other issues, are so performatively treasured by social conservatives.

RFK Jr.'s presidential announcement speech is so good, but it made me wonder why is it so hard to be this good? Why isn't this just basic competence?

Possible answer to my question: It's really not that good. It's just that old clips of Bobby and John flip an emotional switch in my head and distort my perception. 

Making it a crime not to censor.

Here's Jonathan Turley in "The Tower for Twitter? UK Minister Calls for Jailing Social Media Bosses Who Do Not Censor Speech":

[A]fter Musk decided to buy Twitter, Hillary Clinton called upon European countries to force social media companies to censor Americans. The European Union quickly responded by threatening Musk and other executives. Now, Technology and Science Secretary Michelle Donelan has announced plans to jail social media executives if they fail to censor so-called “harmful” content on their websites. The government, of course, will determine what is deemed too harmful for citizens to see or hear....

The bill focuses on "'all forms of expression which spread, incite, promote or justify hatred' based on various progressive characteristics, including transgenderism."

Elon Musk is "personally" paying for blue check subscriptions for LeBron James, William Shatner, and Stephen King.

The Verge reports.

Now you know who are the truly elite of this world.

The sportsman, the actor, and the writer.

Not politicians and journalists. And certainly not every sportsperson, showbiz character, and creative scribbler.

Just these very grand characters — James, Shatner, and King.

Musk tweets: "I’m paying for a few personally."

I'd like to see the full list. Or maybe not. If he shows the list, others will say, I belong in that set. But James, Shatner, King — who can say "I'm with them"?

April 20, 2023

Sunrise — 6:07.


Write about whatever you like in the comments.

Today's wildflowers.


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Cutleaved toothwort:

"This is a story about French liberty and bureaucracy. It is about different visions of the countryside and nature."

"It’s about fire management, fights between neighbors and Brigitte Bardot. But mostly, it is about goats. No one knows exactly how many goats are in Ms. Corbeaux’s herd. From atop her homestead, around 20 miles from Narbonne, Ms. Corbeaux says there are 500. Down in the vineyards below, her neighbors say many have gone wild, and multiplied.... Ms. Corbeaux... grew up in Paris’ gritty 10th Arrondissement, and ran a computer-software company..... She moved [to]... southern France, determined to work as an energy healer. But then she clapped eyes on two baby goats at a medieval fair. 'I was hypnotized,' she said... ... Ms. Corbeaux believed she was bringing back the eco-pasturage tradition. She began receiving European Union grants for the work....  Her neighbors call her irresponsible and a 'pseudo-ecologist'.... The foundation of Brigitte Bardot... offered... 40,000 euros to build a fence... to keep the goats in.... She is grateful that a solution was found, but it brings her to tears. 'I’m in love with my billy goats, frankly. I don’t think we have the right to do whatever we want — not to kill them, nor to castrate them.... We should respect them more than that.'"

"But [Hadley] Freeman is eager to dispel the idea that anorexia is simply about the desire to be thin. Instead, she says, the goal..."

"... is to look ill, like a skeleton. It’s about courting death. Among psychiatric illnesses, anorexia is among the deadliest.... 'Anorexia is a way of telling people you’re unhappy without saying it because saying it looks entitled,' Freeman told me. 'It’s a highly visible outward expression of saying something is very wrong here.'... Nearly three in five teenage girls reported feeling 'persistent sadness' in 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the highest ratio in a decade. Whichever susceptibilities they are born into and whatever pain they’re feeling in the world, girls clearly seem to be taking it out on themselves. We need to ask very seriously why."

Writes Pamela Paul in "Girls Are Taking Their Pain Out on Themselves" (NYT)(discussing Hadley Freeman's memoir, "Good Girls: A Study and Story of Anorexia").

Sword given.


Trump does Instagram.

That's today's offering. This is yesterday's:

"... people are romanticising their lives by editing them like Wes Anderson and it’s honestly so creative and wholesome."

"SpaceX’s Starship rocket exploded above the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday, minutes after lifting off from a launchpad in South Texas."

"The spacecraft failed to reach orbit, but it was not a fatal failure."

The NYT reports.

 I guess "fatal failure" is a term I fail (but not fatally) to understand.


AND: Supposedly, any success after liftoff was just "icing on the cake":

"One way of thinking about work is that it gives workers two rewards: the familiar one, pay; and a less familiar one, meaning and community."

"A person who works exclusively for pay treats themselves as an asset rather than a person, and devotes much of their adult life to extracting income from this asset – that’s an alienating way to live, which can make a person wealthy but not well."

Said Daniel Markovits, lawprof and author of "The Meritocracy Trap," quoted in "Hustle culture: Is this the end of rise-and-grind?" (BBC).

Do you/did you work for "meaning and community"? What percentage of the compensation for your work is/was pay/meaning/community? It could be 100/0/0 or 33/33/33 or 50/10/40. You get the idea. Seriously, I would like to know. Do you feel you need to put 100% on pay or risk getting underpaid? Are you some sort of people person who'd put nearly all the percentage points in the third box? And what about me? I've got the middle box — "meaning" — completely overloaded. What's the... meaning of that?

(I know I'm seeing 3 things where Markovits says there are 2. I accepted his categories, but I think meaning and community are clearly 2 different things.)

"Even when our clothes wore thin, ripped or got stained, my mother would convert them into quilts, cutting tiny geometric shapes..."

"... stacking them, grouped by color and kind, into miniature towers, like sleeves of saltines with the packaging removed. It was in that poverty that I first saw how beauty and pride of appearance were used as ways of conveying dignity in a world intent on divesting you of it.... I have become consumed with the idea of freedom, with running toward it, with embracing it. I want freedom in all things: thinking, working, loving and living. That’s one reason I look forward to becoming one of those men with the quirky suspenders, bow ties and orange socks. I’ve often been delighted by how older men lean into sartorial whimsy.... They return to that magic that we all enjoyed as children.... So I bide my time‌‌, but if the years are kind and life allows, I want one day to be the old man with the orange socks."

Writes Charles M. Blow in "I Want to Be the Old Man With the Orange Socks" (NYT). 

It made me think of that excessively popular poem that begins "When I am an old woman I shall wear purple/With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me." Full text of poem and story behind it here

"I Want to Be the Old Man With the Orange Socks" is so close to When I am an old man I shall wear orange socks

"I love to see a beautifully stereotyped man and woman—a beautiful prince-and-princess waltz—but not because we’re forced to..."

"... but because a couple thought it was beautiful and wanted to make it their own. But I always felt that was imposed on us, which, for me, never felt authentic. And I don’t think I’m the only one thinking that.... It’s just nice to explore something that exists in me but I had never explored on the ice before."

Said Gabriella Papadakis, a female ice dancer who wants to be able to skate with another woman, quoted in "The Once Unthinkable Revolution Coming to Figure Skating Is the sport ready? Some of its biggest stars think so" (Slate).

My first reaction to this was that women will lose out, because males will physically dominate. But that might not be true, considering the supply and demand problem in ice dancing: 

April 19, 2023

Dutchman's breeches.

In Governor Nelson State Park, yesterday:

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Write about whatever you want in the comments.

A 70-year-old woman said to a waitress that Volodymyr Zelensky is a "handsome young man" and that "everyone used to laugh at his jokes."

This happened at a café in Nalchik, Russia, where other customers called the police, who told her "You have no right to praise him because he is our enemy." She was fined 40,000 rubles ($490).

The shocking criminalization of freedom of speech in America.

Can I actually expect ChatGPT to write "a blog post in the style of Ann Althouse"?

Three days ago, in a somewhat playful experiment to explore the capacity of ChatGPT, I used this prompt: "Write me a blog post in the style of Ann Althouse about how news media are resorting to listicles in an effort to shore up the flagging interest in A.I."

Please go to that link to see how I caught ChatGPT making up a study — supposedly by Pew — called "AI in the News: How the Media Cover Artificial Intelligence, and How They Should." I caught it in the act, cornered it, extracted a confession, and badgered it until it — seemingly — hung up on me.

That's all quite interesting, but I want to get back to the subject of whether it was silly/arrogant of me to think it might be able to write "a blog post in the style of Ann Althouse." Its response to my prompt was nothing like my style. When I told it that was "way too long and boring," it tried again and, again, failed to sound anything like me.

A commenter said:
Those are pretty terrible, but you have to teach it your style by feeding it a selection of your blog posts.

Last night at the Stoughton Opera House.

A pre-show picture:

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We haven't gone out to a concert in years. What got us out — other than the beautiful opera house? Hot Tuna.

ADDED: The show was sold out, the audience was super-appreciative, there was no opening act, but 2 sets by Jorma and Jack. No additional musicians. Jorma is 82 now, and Jack 79. About their age, Jorma said the hardest part is standing back up at the end of the show. The encore was "Embryonic Journey."

Topic discussed on the ride home: Was Jack wearing a glove on his right hand? Is there some sort of hand-colored, guitar-playing glove?

"Many of Fox’s arguments had been crippled in pretrial hearings, and the company was facing the likelihood that some of its top stars, including Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity..."

"... would be called to testify, along with Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch, the father-and-son pair who run Fox News’ parent company.... ...Rupert Murdoch, who is ninety-two, would have to sit in a witness box and answer questions as dozens of journalists looked on.... At the press conference, Steven Shackelford, another Dominion attorney, told the assembled crowd, 'Money is accountability. And we got that today from Fox.... 'Is there anything else in this settlement besides money?' someone asked from the crowd. Would Fox air an apology? Issue a retraction?"

"The Dominion team walked away from the microphone.... Shackelford... seemed genuinely giddy and did a comic exhalation of breath, bending over and sort of shaking out the sillies. I asked if we would see an on-air apology. Shackelford smiled and snapped back into friendly professionalism—he wasn’t the right person to ask.... At my hotel, I got to the elevator bay at the same time that an entire team of pleased-looking Dominion lawyers did. As they filed in, I introduced myself and wanted to know if they had any answer to my questions about apologies.... They all just smiled as the elevator door closed on my face."

April 18, 2023

Sunrise — 6:11, 6:13.

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Trout lilies at 6:17 a.m.

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"Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis released a parody of the old Bud Light 'Real Men of Genius' commercials taking aim at transgender female athletes..."

Fox News reports, embedding the video of the politician's comedy ad, which made a very bad impression on me. I think Trump is leaning back and laughing as the Florida Governor sucks up to the cruelty-oriented subset of the right-wing segment of American voters.

I'm certain plenty of American women (and men) — probably a big majority — care about keeping transwomen out of competitive women's sports, but that doesn't mean what is wanted is any sort of unkindness or disrespect aimed at the individuals who will be excluded. 

For a long time, I've thought of DeSantis as a good alternative to Trump for people who like a lot of Trump's ideas but can't take the weirdness. DeSantis had the opportunity to repackage Trumpism in normality and reliable solidity. But somehow he's opting for a different route. Really awful.

"If the progressive left wants Sam’s school to keep his gender secret from me, that’s fine. But then..."

"... could they please tell it to keep all his other problems to themselves as well?"

Giles Coren is looking for consistency, in "I have a right to ignorance about Sam’s school antics" (London Times).  

"The couple first prepared a fire altar before putting their heads under a guillotine-like mechanism held by a rope."

"As soon as they released the rope, an iron blade fell on them, severing their heads, which rolled into the fire."

Said a police inspector in an Indian village, quoted in "Couple beheaded themselves with homemade guillotine as a sacrifice" (NY Post).
The couple had been worshiping the god Shiva — one of the main deities of Hinduism — at an improvised temple they had set up on their property every day for the past year.

"Organ transplantation is mired in stagnant science and antiquated, imprecise medicine that fails patients and organ donors."

"And I understand the irony of an incredibly successful and fortunate two-time heart transplant recipient making this case, but my longevity also provides me with a unique vantage point. Standing on the edge of death now, I feel compelled to use my experience in the transplant trenches to illuminate and challenge the status quo.... Because a transplant begins with the overwhelming gift of a donor organ that brings you back from the brink of death, the entirety of a patient’s experience from that day forward is cast as a 'miracle.'... But this narrative discourages transplant recipients from talking freely about the real problems we face and the compromising and life-threatening side effects of the medicines we must take. This 'gratitude paradox,' as I’ve come to think of it, can manifest itself throughout the transplant professional communities as well. Without vigorous pushback, hospitals and physicians have been allowed to set an embarrassingly low bar for achievement...."

Writes Amy Silverstein, in "My Transplanted Heart and I Will Die Soon" (NYT).

"More than fifty years before it was isolated as a drug, Samuel Taylor Coleridge dreamed up cocaine."

"In the early years of the nineteenth century, the poet was increasingly dependent on opium, a 'free-agency-annihilating Poison,' as he called it, which sapped his will and made him despondent. 'A Gymnastic Medicine is wanting,' he wrote in his notebook during the winter of 1808-09, 'a system of forcing the Will & motive faculties into action.' The medicine he envisaged would be a kind of anti-opium, a tonic to kick-start the nerves, restore the mind’s athletic powers, and repair the broken link between volition and accomplishment. It would be a second, health-giving 'poison' to work on the first."

"When psychologists asked what sort of habits and choices were markers of creativity, they came up with things like 'divergent thinking' and 'tolerance for ambiguity.'"

"They reported that, on tests, creative people preferred abstract art and asymmetrical images. ... [T]hose preferences also happened to match up with the tastes of the mid-century educated classes. To put it a little more cynically, the tests seem to have been designed so that the right people passed them.... [In 'The Cult of Creativity,' Samuel W.] Franklin argues that the appeal of workplace creativity was that it addressed two anxieties about modern life: conformity and alienation. Postwar intellectuals worried about the 'organization man' (the title of a book by the journalist William Whyte) and the 'other-directed' personality (diagnosed in the sociologist David Riesman’s 'The Lonely Crowd'). These were seen as socially dangerous types. People who did what they were told and who wanted to be like everyone else, who were not 'inner-directed,' were people easily recruited to authoritarian movements...."

You might wonder how Menard argues his way to the notion that "now we're stuck with" individualism and nonconformity. I can't quote the whole article, but it has to do with capitalism capitalizing on the concept of creativity. As Franklin puts it: "The concept of creativity never actually existed outside of capitalism." 

April 17, 2023

At the April Snow Café...


... you can write about anything you want.

"Inspired by all the batshit-crazy but completely real questions that I and other female comedians have endured over the years..."

"... from legitimate journalists (including notable ones from publications such as the Guardian, the New Yorker, and the New York Times), I asked my favorite male comedians the most sexist (but 100 percent real) questions that I could find, mostly verbatim, just with the genders reversed. The results were illuminating."

The questions (go to the link to see how the male comedians handled them):

"I didn't talk to myself out loud, but I had internal conversations and got on very well with myself."

"You have to remain conscious of your feelings — if you're afraid, that's something natural, but never let panic in or you get paralysed."

Cut off from all communication, she broke the world record for time spent in a cave. She was monitored and sent food and clean clothes, and she was always able to hit a panic button, but she never considered doing that and "In fact I didn't want to come out."

She spent her time exercising, painting, drawing, knitting, and reading, and she "focused on retaining 'coherence,' eating well and relishing the silence." She said the experience was "excellent, unbeatable."

"I think it’s a political hit job... this ProPublica group in particular, funded by leftists, has an agenda to destabilize the [Supreme] Court."

"What they’ve done is not truthful. It lacks integrity. They’ve done a pretty good job in the last week or two of unfairly slamming me and more importantly than that, unfairly slamming Justice Thomas."

"Like many journalists, I have a bad habit of underestimating Donald Trump. I didn’t think he had a chance of winning in 2016."

"Even after he was in the White House, I didn’t expect him to nearly start a nuclear war on Twitter, stare directly into the sun during an eclipse, or start a feud with windmills. And although I predicted that Ron DeSantis eating pudding with his fingers would end his 2024 presidential bid, I never imagined that Trump would highlight this idiotic allegation in a campaign ad."

Disgust is a powerful emotion. And that visual viscerally stirs disgust. Ironically, for many many people, Trump stirs disgust. Disgust is strongly in play, so it must be endlessly redirected, especially by the person who has no hope of escaping disgust. 

It makes me think of the old saying, "Never Wrestle with a Pig. You Both Get Dirty and the Pig Likes It." (Who said that?, by the way.) But how does that relate to pudding disgust? I think the ad is an invitation by the pig to come join him in the mud.

But I can see a way for DeSantis to take advantage of this anecdote, which is said to be true. Many people are too prissy to use their hand to eat messy food when they are hungry and there is no other food around. But Ron DeSantis is forthright and able to improvise. 

"Al Franken sounds high."

Meade texts, with this clip:

I won't hazard to guess what's going wrong there, but it goes on for 8 minutes. 

"The suspect is not a deranged lunatic or career criminal left free to roam the hills of the city by a district attorney who left office nine months ago..."

".. but, rather, a fellow tech entrepreneur with whom [tech executive Bob] Lee was familiar.... [This] will not quiet the doomsayers who see San Francisco as a post-apocalyptic zombie set filled with violent psychotic homeless people.... The fear of crime often gets presented as a response to numbers—murder rates, numbers of robberies, carjackings, and assaults—but it’s primarily an anecdotal phenomenon that very often runs counter to what all the metrics would suggest. Today, the bulk of the fearmongering appears to exist online, where an informal rubric of virality determines how much the country, at large, hears about one crime or another.... [V]iolent crimes will happen, they will be sensationalized by the local media, which will blame the progressive district attorney; this, in turn, will activate local online networks, which, most likely, will also blame the progressive district attorney.... The future of how crime—especially violent crime—is handled in big American cities will be determined along the fault line between those progressive voters and the angry residents who feel as if all the criminals are being dumped on their block once they get released by a lenient district attorney...."

The cycle of anecdotalism, fearmongering, sensationalism, and blaming doesn't operate only against progressives. Progressives engage in it too, for example, when guns are used.

"I have tried to be the most uncontroversial person this past year, and somehow it has made me controversial still."

"I think it comes back to the fact that these people, they don’t understand me, and anything that I do or say somehow gets taken out of context and is used against me. And it’s so sad because everything that I try to put out is positive, it’s trying to connect with others that maybe don’t understand me, it’s to make people laugh or to make a kid feel seen."

Said Dylan Mulvaney, quoted in WaPo article with the confusing title "Bud Light chief says he ‘never intended’ boycott over trans star Dylan Mulvaney" (WaPo)(who would think the Bud Light chief intended a boycott?). 

Also quoted, Donald Trump Jr.:

"Awe has typically been a difficult emotion to evoke, said lead author Alex Smalley, but feelings of awe can improve mood..."

"... increase positive emotions and decrease stress. Smalley’s research has shown that people can 'experience these bumps in awe and aesthetic appraisal and beauty' when looking at a sunset or sunrise. We have, as Western populations, become very disconnected from the natural world...."

The article doesn't even consider the best tip, the one I follow and the one depicted on "Joe Pera Talks With You"...

... a ritual of encountering every sunrise, accepting the day's offering, anywhere from solid gray to melodramatic phantasmagoria. I wouldn't try to calculate the chances of achieving a state of awe. You're going to head out to an occasional sunrise with the thought of dosing yourself with some awe

April 16, 2023

At the Magnolia Café...

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... you can talk about whatever you want.


I took these photos 2 days ago, when it was 80° in the afternoon. Today, it's 34°, and we're in the middle of a snowstorm. The National Weather Service is predicting accumulations of 3 to 6 inches and winds gusting up to 40 mph. Such transience!

"Even after it was evident that this painful, potentially disfiguring or even fatal infection was spreading through gay men’s sexual networks..."

"... public health officials and the media were hesitant to give the same advice they had given freely at the beginning of the Covid pandemic: Limit your number of sex partners and express your sexuality in socially distanced ways. But while health officials and journalists hesitated, gay and bi men sprang into action. Young men with lesions covering their faces took to social and mainstream media, telling the public... And the gay community listened.... So while an early and frankly honest public health response could have blunted the outbreak, resulting in far fewer cases and far less suffering, the swift collective action of gay and bi men prevented catastrophe.... When it comes to emerging health threats — even ones that can spread sexually — gay men can handle the truth. You can give it to them straight."
From "How Gay Men Saved Us From Mpox" by Ina Park and Dan Savage (NYT).

The monkeypox emergency lasted less than 9 months and was declared over in January. The article notes that : "When the first cases were reported among gay and bi men in the West, health authorities and the media couldn’t bring themselves to say the word 'gay.' To avoid stigmatizing gay and bi men, early reports buried the lead."

"Some Democrats worry crackdown on TikTok could hurt party/As the White House toughens its stand toward the wildly popular app, party strategists urge caution."

A headline at WaPo for a piece by Meryl Kornfield.
Democrats have so successfully cultivated TikTok clout and the soapbox it provides for young voters — in contrast to Republicans’ far less enthusiastic embrace — that party operatives are now drawing up detailed plans to dramatically expand its use in the 2024 campaign. But that strategy is colliding head-on with the Biden administration’s push to crack down on TikTok.... 

"AITA for participating in my neighborhood’s easter egg hunt that was meant for children?"

A hilarious "Am I the Asshole" posting gets cross-posted at "Am I the Devil" (a subreddit for cross-posting when it's obvious the answer is yes).

Why am I not interested in fooling around with A.I.?

I wonder, prompted by this NYT listicle, "35 Ways Real People Are Using A.I. Right Now."

This momentarily caught my interest, but almost immediately I was overtaken with ennui:
People are using A.I to …

1. Plan gardens....

2. Plan workouts....

Are people using A.I. to plan articles about A.I.? 

3. Plan meals....

So tedious!

6. Organize a messy computer desktop....

Can I use A.I. to organize my messy thoughts about A.I.? Write me a blog post in the style of Ann Althouse about how news media are resorting to listicles in an effort to shore up the flagging interest in A.I.

"The focus on perceived threats to impressionable children has a long history in American sexual politics."

"It has its roots in the 'Save Our Children' campaign championed in 1977 by Anita Bryant, the singer known for her orange juice commercials, to repeal a local ordinance in Dade-Miami County that prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation, a historic setback for the modern gay rights movements."

To refresh your recollection, here's what we saw from Anita Bryant in 1977:

Bryant strongly expressed the position that gay people — unless they kept "in the closet" — should not be allowed to work as schoolteachers. 

"I mention a television interview with Freeman in 2005, in which he said the only way to get rid of racism was to stop talking about it."

"'I’m going to stop calling you a white man,' he told the white host, 'and I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man.' I ask if he still feels the same." 

Morgan doesn't answer the question asked. He offers "Two things I can say publicly that I do not like," suggesting there are other things he thinks but will not say.