April 29, 2023

Today, in the gardens.

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"I don’t think I know when life begins. I don’t think any of us know when life begins; certainly the scientists don’t."

"I don’t believe the religious scholars do. I do know the only person who knows when life begins is the mother of the life that she’s carrying."

Said LeRoy Carhart, quoted in "LeRoy Carhart, abortion doctor whose battles reached Supreme Court, dies at 81" (WaPo).

The legal way to analyze the question has been to say that because we can't know when life begins, the issue is who should decide (and to give the decision-maker role either to the individual who is pregnant or to the people acting through their legislatures).

But Carhart's quote seems to say more than someone must decide, so let the woman decide.

"She has made a living as a yoga teacher, though she doesn’t really like teaching and has a penchant for skewering the pieties of her profession..."

"... in Instagram parodies filmed by her husband. She has appeared in videos as a clueless self-care influencer, sometimes wrapped in a shearling rug, hawking tinctures with names like One Per Scent and Abundance, thanking Mercedes-Benz for ferrying her to ayahuasca ceremonies, and browbeating a pair of 'students' played by naked American Girl dolls marked up with Sharpies."

I'm reading "From "A Daughter of a Warhol Superstar Tells Her Story at Last/After an unruly childhood in the Chelsea Hotel and online fame as a yoga parodist, Alexandra Auder writes an ode to bohemian Manhattan and her singular mother, Viva" (NYT).

We're told Viva read a draft of her daughter's memoir and took to calling it "the 'Mommie Dearest' book."

"Write the story of a specific hurt you want to forgive. Then write it again as more of an observer..."

"... without emphasizing how bad the wrongdoer was or how you felt victimized. Look for at least three differences between the two versions."

That's one of the exercises in a "forgiveness workbook" given to one group in a study, reported in "The Emotional Relief of Forgiving Someone/Replacing ill will with good will has marked mental health benefits" (NYT).

"I've been having some crazy deja vu, because I'm an adult, 26, and, throughout childhood, I was called 'too feminine' and 'over the top,' and here I am now being called all those same things..."

"... but this time, it's from other adults. And if they're going to accuse me of anything, it should be that I'm a theater person, that I'm camp. But this is just my personality. And it always has been. What I'm struggling with most is that I grew up in a conservative family, and I'm extremely privileged because they still love me very much. And I grew up in the church, and I still have my faith, which I am really trying to hold onto right now. But I've always tried to love everyone — you know, people that make it really hard. I think it's okay to be frustrated with someone — confused. But what I'm struggling to understand is the need to dehumanize — to be cruel. I just think that's not great. You know, dehumanization has never fixed anything in history — ever."

Says Dylan Mulvaney, breaking a few weeks of silence and expressing a desire to continue speaking to the people who have liked and enjoyed her.

"I solved this very simple with my kids. Clean up or the toys go in jail. I swept everything in a black garbage bag..."

"... taped the top up with masking tap[e], and put a date on it with one week out. If you don't want to lose your toys for a week, clean up your mess kids!"

"It may be taken as a nonsensical remark from the person in his dotage who is not at all capable of taking the responsibility... an old man with no future, as it is too much for him to serve out two-year remainder of his office term."

"Andy Dick, Anchor-Head McGillicuddy, and Shakespeare"/"Beatnik Three Stooges"/"They are all Bob Dylan"....

Answers to a question I'd never — in all these years — thought of asking: "Who are the three men on the 'Planet Waves' album cover?"

"You see adverts on television with models who are very thin, but the mermaid is like a tribute to the great majority of women..."

"... who are curvy, especially in our country. It would have been very bad if we had represented a woman who was extremely skinny."

Said the headteacher, defending his students, who were asked to make a sea-themed statue for their town. The teacher is quoted in "'Too provocative' mermaid statue causes stir in southern Italy/Art school headteacher hails ‘tribute to the great majority of women who are curvy’ amid social media uproar" (The Guardian).

Go to the link to see the statue, which has huge globular breasts and a giant ass. I'd never even thought of a mermaid's ass before, and now I'm trying to think of how the human ass converges with the fish tail in the mermaid anatomy. 

Is the teacher trying to say that because one alternative — "extremely skinny" — is bad, anything else must be good? That's a logical fallacy.

Anyway, what is a mermaid but a sexual fantasy? They asked students for a mermaid, and they got exactly what they asked for. 

How can we shift to electric cars when we're already seeing that we are going to be told that we must give them up?

I'm reading "The underbelly of electric vehicles/What goes into making EVs, where it comes from and at what human cost" (WaPo).

The article begins with an impossible bind:
While electric vehicles are essential to reducing carbon emissions, their production can exact a significant human and environmental cost.

They are "essential" but they are evil. Let's all switch — we must! — and then, when our trusty old gas cars are gone, we will be told electric cars are hopelessly bad. The argument is visibly cued up! What are we supposed to do? Not worry about that point in the future, but just concentrate on giving up the gas cars?

April 28, 2023

Sunrise — 5:57, 6:00, 6:03.

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Talk about anything you want in the comments.

Man and Mendota — 5:49 a.m.


(Open thread.)

"The dominance of the studios has both formed and deformed the American cinema and world cinema."

"It has also warped the very relationship of filmmakers to the practice of filmmaking—even psychologically. Many filmmakers attempting to take part in the business have found themselves in a grotesque Freudian struggle with Big Cinema Daddy, unable to dissociate their creative energy and their aesthetic drive from a battle with a pseudo-mythological giant. One of the paradoxes of independent filmmaking, even at its most extreme, is that it’s essentially dependent, and not just financially—it relies on a functioning film industry for equipment and services. I’m reminded of Gertrude Stein’s psychological distinction, in 'The Making of Americans,' of 'the independent dependent having attacking more or less sometime in them' and the 'dependent independent who can have sometime resisting in them.' The overt history of cinema is that of attack mode; the alternate history is one of resistance."

"Did you have the impulse to ask anybody for permission, and were you concerned with how your ex-husband would feel?"

 A question for the memoirist, quoted in "Maggie Smith Tries to Make the Divorce Memoir Beautiful/Her new book, 'You Could Make This Place Beautiful,' is an exploration of what happened to her marriage after she became a well-known poet" (NYT).

I clicked on this because I thought I was going to read something about the 88-year-old actress, Maggie Smith, but it's about a 46-year-old writer with the same name. She's most famously the author of the "official poem of the pandemic," "Good Bones." The poem contains the line that is the title of the new book, "You Could Make This Place Beautiful." I think it's a pretty good poem, so go to the link and read it.

Anyway, having determined that this article was not about the actress Maggie Smith, I ended up wanting to blog it because of that question from the audience at one of her book-tour appearances. It's the classic ethics question for all writers who use their own life as material.

Smith answers: 

"Even as her Republican peers sought to isolate her in the wake of her impassioned comments against a proposed ban on what doctors call gender-affirming medical care for children..."

"... [Zooey] Zephyr said she would not remain idle. She spent much of the day on the bench, working with headphones in her ears to block the sound of chattering lobbyists, the hiss of a milk foamer and the voices of lawmakers ordering coffee. 'I am here working on behalf of my constituents as best I can given the undemocratic circumstances,' Ms. Zephyr said on Twitter."

From "A Transgender Lawmaker Is Exiled as Montana G.O.P. Flexes New Power/Barred by Republican lawmakers from participating in the legislative session on the House floor, Representative Zooey Zephyr reported for work on a hallway bench" (NYT). 

"He came in our store and put his hands on me with no provocation. Do I think he should have been killed for doing that? Absolutely, unequivocally, no!"

Wrote Carolyn Bryant Donham, in an unpublished memoir, quoted in "Carolyn Bryant Donham Dies at 88; Her Words Doomed Emmett Till/She accused Emmett, 14, of accosting her, and her testimony led to the acquittals of her husband and his half brother in a murder that helped galvanize the civil rights movement" (NYT).

The unpublished memoir — "More Than a Wolf Whistle: The Story of Carolyn Bryant Donham" — came to light after Duke University historian Timothy B. Tyson published "The Blood of Emmett Till" in 2017. Tyson had interviewed her, and he said "She said with respect to the physical assault on her, or anything menacing or sexual, that that part isn’t true." 

At the trial of her husband and half brother, she testified that Till “put his left hand on my waist, and he put his other hand over on the other side" and that he said "What’s the matter, baby? Can’t you take it?"

April 27, 2023

Sunrise — 5:58, 6:01.



"We believe in the democratization of content."

Said Time CEO Jessica Sibley, quoted in "Time to remove digital paywall" (Axios).

"Mr. Teixeira’s lawyers described him as compliant — and said he sat on the porch reading a Bible as he waited to be arrested..."

"... but the government painted a starkly different picture. In arguing for his confinement, prosecutors described a panicked effort by Airman Teixeira to cover up his actions as law enforcement closed in.... Investigators found a small arsenal in his bedroom at the house he shared with his mother and stepfather. Inside a gun locker two feet from his bed, law enforcement officials found multiple weapons, including handguns, bolt-action rifles, shotguns, an AK-style high-capacity weapon and a gas mask. F.B.I. special agents also found ammunition, tactical pouches and what appeared to be a silencer-style accessory in his desk drawer.... Prosecutors also made public a series of social media posts from 2022 and 2023 in which Airman Teixeira expressed his desire to kill a 'ton of people' and cull the 'weak minded,' and described what he called an 'assassination van' that would cruise around killing people in a 'crowded urban or suburban environment.'"

"The cross-examination has turned to an email [E. Jean] Carroll received... [that] refers to Trump, a 'scheme,' and states 'we must do our patriotic duty.'"

"Trump’s lawyer asks what this scheme was, and Carroll says several times that she doesn’t remember anything about it."

From "Live Updates: E. Jean Carroll Is Being Cross-Examined Over Trump Rape Allegation/Defense lawyers questioned why the writer could not remember the precise day she claimed that Donald J. Trump had raped her in the 1990s. She responded, 'I wish we could give you a date'" (NYT). 

Earlier, on direct examination today: "Mike Ferrara, Carroll’s attorney, asked her at one point if there had been any conversation that 'crystallized' the idea of suing Trump. Carroll said that she decided to sue after speaking with George Conway, a lawyer and one of Trump’s fiercest critics, after a party in 2019. Carroll testified Wednesday that the suit was not motivated by politics or money."

Out at 5:42 a.m.

Of me, not by me

That's me, this morning, in a photo by Meade.

What was I thinking about? The post I wanted to write, the one alluded to in this post, and expanded on, by me, in the comments:
I want to write a post expressive of my dismay that the 2024 presidential campaign is turning into an inevitable repeat of the already awful 2020 campaign. It was bad enough to go through the 2020 campaign once and it's bad to go through any presidential campaign twice, but to go through the 2020 campaign twice is just such an outrage. Why aren't people kicking and screaming as we're dragged into this?!

I was thinking What can I do? And all I thought of was rooting for Bobby and Vivek. 

"Unless I am in unbearable pain, I should be able to live right up to the last moments."

"Here is an inspiring (although slightly gruesome) example: Under bloody Queen Mary, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, the author of the lovely Anglican prayer book, was burned at the stake for his protestant views despite signing false confessions of faith in Catholic doctrine. Even as the flames licked up around him, and his death was moments away, he was very much living (not dying) when he put his right hand into the heart of the fire to punish it for signing false confessions. I know I will die soon. But must I be miserable about it? Why not find a cause for joy in each day?... There’s nothing wrong with dying. All the best people in history have done it. Let foolish philosophers see themselves as dying every day. Thinking of death, I choose life."

"The same justices who feel harassed and exposed because reporters are combing through their undisclosed financial dealings right now could have solved this problem..."

"... with candor and honest reporting of their financial dealings on the routine occasions on which they were asked. In the midst of the crisis, they eschew a commitment to candor to instead mutter something about the nature of checks and balances, with the proviso that they are susceptible to neither. These are the ploys of emperors.... He wields a gavel, not a scepter. And the Constitution grants him no overarching right to insulate his entire court from the kind of minimal accountability without which no democracy can thrive."

But the Constitution does insulate the Court from political pressure. It's not complete insulation, but that's why this article is framed as a call for "minimal accountability." The question then is whether what Roberts's refusal to do was in fact only a request for minimal accountability. Senator Dick Durbin asked him testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the Court's ethics. Roberts, declining, wrote: 
“Testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee by the Chief Justice of the United States is exceedingly rare, as one might expect in light of separation of powers concerns and the importance of preserving judicial independence.” 

Was Durbin seeking "minimal accountability" or a theatrical occasion to smack the Chief Justice around? Roberts had good reason to suspect the latter.

And speaking of theatrical: that Lithwick and Stern piece in Slate. All this talk of emperors and wielding a scepter! 

I remember when that was the rhetoric of the right. Here's Ed Meese in 1997, railing about "The Imperial Judiciary":

"The last time the Supreme Court decided whether a work produced using a machine was eligible for copyright was in 1884."

"The case involved a photograph of Oscar Wilde taken by Napoleon Sarony. Rejecting the view that photographs were simply mechanical reproductions, the court recognized that they are 'representatives of original intellectual conceptions of the author.' That is, the author of a photograph is its originator, or the person who 'represents, creates, or gives effect to the idea, fancy, or imagination.'... Had the court excluded photography from copyright, it would not have flourished as profession or art.... This isn’t to suggest that AI-prompted works should be broadly protected. To the extent that creators use common prompts to generate similar images, the scope of copyright should be very thin, to protect against verbatim copying. But there is a big difference between a thin copyright and no copyright at all. Unfortunately, the Copyright Office’s new policy hurts American creators... [who] will bear the brunt of the office’s newfound duty to disclose AI-generated works — and to expressly exclude such works from copyright...."

Writes lawprof Edward Lee, in "A terrible decision on AI-made images hurts creators" (WaPo).

Here's that photograph of Oscar Wilde:


From the Metropolitan Museum:

I'm thinking of quoting one of the Bobs — Dole or Dylan — for the title of this post I've been trying all morning to write.

Bob Dole:

Where's the outrage?

Bob Dylan:

An’ here I sit so patiently
Waiting to find out what price
You have to pay to get out of
Going through all these things twice

"In video obtained by The Times... Mr. Carlson is shown off camera discussing his 'postmenopausal fans' and..."

"... whether they will approve of how he looks on the air. In another video, he is overheard describing a woman he finds 'yummy.' His texts could also factor in a pending defamation suit that the software company Smartmatic... as well as in a suit... alleging a hostile and discriminatory work environment. All this was in the mix when the network finally cut Mr. Carlson’s program this week, according to several people familiar with the internal discussions. And, the end of his run followed a pattern. His unceremonious departure made Mr. Carlson the latest in a list of prominent hosts and executives Fox has decided to show the door once the Murdochs concluded they were no longer worth the trouble: Glenn Beck (2011), Sarah Palin (2013), Roger Ailes, the network’s co-founder (2016) and Bill O’Reilly (2017). Despite the political clout he could exercise and the money his top-rated show brought in for the network, ultimately, Mr. Carlson learned that he served at the pleasure of the Murdochs."

With that headline, I was expecting something way more awful than "postmenopausal fan" and "yummy." What are the worst things you say in private conversations? Surely, we all say things that — if clipped out of context — are at least as bad as "postmenopausal fan" and "yummy"!

He served at the pleasure of the Murdochs makes the most sense. We really just shouldn't care about the pleasure of the Murdochs. But the Murdochs must care about somebody still wanting to watch Fox News. If they're not going to rely on the viewers who liked Tucker Carlson, who are they hoping to attract, and how do they think they can accomplish that? Or are they just focused on surviving those lawsuits?

"For all of his early promise, Nate Silver ended up swallowing, and even pushing what might be the single concept most destructive to the republic right now: bothsidesism."

"Silver long overstayed his usefulness, so if he does go? Good riddance."

Says the first commenter in a discussion at Metafilter, "The end of the road for FiveThirtyEight?" 

Second commenter:
The end of the road for FiveThirtyEight? 
With any luck! Because: Fuck that guy, and Christ, what an asshole and all that.

And someone else: 

won't disagree with anyone who says some variation of "fuck Nate Silver," but having journalistic outfits of even marginal merit get hollowed out and obliterated on a weekly basis by an increasingly thinner gamut of omnivorous corporations has been extremely grim the past few years 

April 26, 2023





"If they really think I’ve stolen the place [of a female runner], I don’t mind giving the medal back.... But I don’t want to apologize, because I didn’t do anything wrong….”

"They’re angry because they’re saying that one of 14,000 women behind me could have had my place. Really? I did [the race in] 4 hours 11 minutes. There’s lots of women that beat me. ...When I entered the London Marathon, it says, ‘female,’ ‘male’ or ‘other,' I ticked ‘female’ because I see myself as female.'"

Said transgender runner Glenique Frank, who finished in 6,159th place in the female category in the London Marathon, quoted in "Trans marathoner Glenique Frank offers to give back medal after beating 14K in female category" (NY Post).

"Given the stakes, Biden needs to make the case... why [Kamala] Harris is the best choice to succeed him, should he not be able to complete his [second] term...."

"One thing Biden might consider is putting Harris in charge of ensuring that America’s transition to the age of artificial intelligence works to strengthen communities and the middle class. It is a big theme that could take her all over the country. I wrote a column more than two years ago suggesting that Biden make Harris 'his de facto secretary of rural development, in charge of closing the opportunity gap, the connectivity gap, the learning gap, the start-up gap — and the anger and alienation gap — between rural America and the rest of the country.' It would have been a substantive challenge and would have enabled her and the administration to build bridges to rural Republicans. Never happened. I am terrified of going into this election with a Democratic ticket that gives moderate Republicans and independents — who are desperate for an alternative to Trump — any excuse to gravitate back to him...."

Writes Thomas Friedman in "Why Kamala Harris Matters So Much in 2024" (NYT).

Unlike the commenters over there, Friedman doesn't consider replacing Harris. He's just talking about giving her different assignments from the very important ones she already has. His suggested assignments are blurrily described. We are entering the "age of artificial intelligence," but she would somehow "ensure" that it "works to strengthen communities and the middle class." Somehow that vague task — what are "communities"?  — would build up her reputation. Why? Because she could travel "all over the country" with "a big theme." Friedman likens this assignment to the one he recommended 2 years ago — "rural development." Somehow he sees her as suited to pull along people who are left behind. 

That sounds hopeless, but I don't blame him for avoiding the subject of replacing her as the VP candidate. The Democrats can't humiliate her. She's the first black VP and the first woman VP, and they can’t say she didn't do well enough. Unthinkable. 

"Carroll says she has not been able to form a romantic relationship since the encounter. She said she hasn’t had sex since then, either."

"'The short answer is because Donald Trump raped me," Carroll said. 'If I meet a man who is a possibility, it’s impossible for me to even look at him and smile,' Carroll said.... The courtroom fell silent as Carroll described her encounter with Trump in great detail. The jurors, who until that point had divided their attention between Carroll and her lawyer, turned their gaze to her alone. Their eyes were fixed on her as she described the pain she felt during the sexual assault, and how she could still feel it while sitting in the courtroom."

ADDED: Carroll described how she first encountered Trump at Bergdorf's: 

"Then suddenly that bucket is not just cream and sugar, it’s something else."

Said Americus Reed, "a professor of marketing... who studies the intersection of social movements and consumer behavior," about Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, which has long maintained an image of hippies located in Burlington, Vermont.

“There’s an authenticity element to what Ben & Jerry’s does.... When you have these large corporations that have a historic brand identity, it just looks inauthentic when they’re all of a sudden getting involved in these social campaigns,” said Anson Frericks.

"Most pop songs can fit over most pop songs … You could go from Let it Be to No Woman, No Cry and switch back."

Testified Ed Sheeran, quoted in "Ed Sheeran testifies in Marvin Gaye plagiarism case: ‘Most pop songs can fit over most pop songs’/Appearing in New York court, singer-songwriter defends his ballad Thinking Out Loud against similarities with Gaye’s song Let’s Get It On" (The Guardian).
A musicologist for Sheeran has said the chord sequence is not unique, and gave numerous other examples of its use in songs by artists such as Donovan and the Seekers.... 
Sheeran has been accused of plagiarism numerous times before. In April 2022 he won a UK court battle over biggest hit, Shape of You.... In 2017, he added writers of the TLC song No Scrubs to the credits of Shape of You, after similarities had been spotted by fans, though no legal case was brought against him. Also in 2017, he settled out of court after songwriters of the Matt Cardle song Amazing claimed it had been copied by Sheeran for his song Photograph. Sheeran later said he regretted the settlement, as “the floodgates opened” to further plagiarism claims....

He made a target out of himself. Avoiding 2 fights early on, he attracted these new disputes, and he must fight or continually pay out money for the routine privilege of singing simple pop songs, which, as he testified, all sound alike. 

"She’s very liberal. I mean, I’m very liberal, but she’s another level. Which she should be, and I’m glad."

Says Molly Ringwald, about her 13-year-old daughter, with whom she would find it too uncomfortable to watch "The Breakfast Club."

At some point in this very liberal to very very liberal generational procession, you're somewhere that's not properly called "liberal." If you reach "another level," you need a new word. I've heard enough lefties use the word "liberal" as a term of scorn. But here we're talking about a mother admiring her daughter and keen on ending her statement with an affirmation that the daughter is what she "should be" and mother is "glad." 

April 25, 2023

Sunrise — 6:11.


"Nate Silver Out at ABC News... ABC News is expected to retain the FiveThirtyEight brand, with plans to streamline the data-driven site."

 Hollywood Reporter reports.

Silver founded FiveThirtyEight in 2008, eventually bringing it to The New York Times. Silver would go on to sell the site to Disney’s ESPN; it later was moved to the ABC News division. His departure will be the first time that Silver has not been involved in the site since it launched 15 years ago....

A lot of people getting fired these days.... 

April green at sunrise.



The second photo shows the scorched ground from the prescribed burn a couple weeks ago. It's interesting how some of the regrowth is coming up in circles. 

Goodbye to Harry Belafonte.

The Harlem-born singer was 96.

"Members of an 'autonomous movement' called Tyre Extinguishers said they recently 'disarmed' 43 SUVs in 'one of the wealthiest areas' of Boston by letting the air out of the tires..."

"... The point of this extremely annoying if generally harmless act, according to the website of the Tyre Extinguishers, is to get people to ditch their SUVs for transportation that’s less harmful to people and the planet, like public transit or smaller cars.... The group doesn’t claim central leadership, stating that anyone 'can create your own tyre-extinguishing group,' but the spelling of 'tyre' instead of 'tire' betrays its U.K. origins...."

"As the loons fly northward, they’re encountering atmospheric conditions that causes ice to develop on their bodies."

"The weight of the ice becomes so great that the loons are unable to stay airborne and crash land.... If you spot a crashed loon, it will need help as loons cannot walk — their feet are made for swimming and diving. Loons require large bodies of water with at least a quarter mile of water to take off, they should not be released in small ponds.... Loons can be difficult to handle. They have sharp beaks and use them for defense...."

Have you ever helped a loon — a real loon (no dumb jokes!)? Would you?

This post gets my "birds" tag. I do have a separate tag "ducks," but, like coots and grebes, loons are not ducks. Keep your "not ducks" birds straight:

Teaching in Afghanistan.

"This shouldn't be a redurburdution..."

April 24, 2023

Sunrise — 6:00, 6:07, 6:08.




"Tucker Carlson is leaving Fox News."

WaPo reports.
[I]t was Carlson’s comments about Fox management, as revealed in the Dominion case, that played a role in his departure from Fox, a person familiar with the company’s thinking told The Post.... His Fox News colleagues were stunned by the departure, which seemed out of the blue.

He's already done his last show, and there's no one cued up to take his slot, which will just be filled with "rotating Fox News personalities" for now.

The NYT article brings up a lawsuit filed by "a former Fox News producer, Abby Grossberg, who claims that he presided over a misogynistic and discriminatory workplace culture." She says "that on her first day working for Mr. Carlson, she discovered the work space was decorated with large pictures of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wearing a swimsuit."

Also at the NYT, there's a piece by Hart Seely that went up 2 days ago — "The Fearful Verses of Tucker Carlson" — consisting entirely of overheated sentences spoken by Carlson, mostly begin with the words "This is" (each linked to video): "This is chaos," "This is shocking," "This is what the collapse of civilization looks like," etc. etc.

I'm getting a "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb" vibe from this NYT headline.

"How Democrats Learned to Cast Aside Reservations and Embrace Biden 2024." 

I wish I had the skills to make a parody of this poster: 

Looking for that image, I stumbled across the wonderful Spanish and French posters for "Dr. Strangelove":

Have you stopped worrying about the bomb? I mean, have you cast aside reservations about the bomb? (And learned to love Joe Biden?)

I want to link to this NY Post article about Hunter Biden, but it begins with such a trashy first line.

Here's the link. It's written by Miranda Devine and begins:
Hunter Biden is believed to be hiding out at the White House while his baby mama goes on the warpath.

If it's true that Hunter Biden is living at the White House to avoid legal consequences in a child support suit, that's important. But we've got the passive voice on top of mere belief — "is believed" — and that's next to meaningless.

Then there's "on the warpath." Ugh! Leave Native Americans out of this. 

And then "baby mama." Ugh! It's not cute. It's not cool. It's just asinine and sad.

The article continues:

"Just as Teddy Kennedy’s challenge to Carter came at a time of national 'malaise,' now Bobby Kennedy, Jr.’s challenge to Biden comes at a time of national demoralization."

"According to an NBC News poll in January, 71 percent of Americans think the country is on the wrong track, with four in five believing that we’re either in a recession or about to be in one. So, it’s little wonder that Biden’s approval rating is a steady ten points underwater. And another poll found that 56 percent of Americans have doubts about Biden’s 'fitness' for his job. According to an April 19 poll, Kennedy already has the votes of 14 percent of those who say they voted for Biden in 2020. Just as interestingly, Biden has the backing of just 67 percent of those who voted for him; that’s soft support. In fact, primary challenges against an incumbent president are never a good sign for the incumbent—or for the party trying to hold the White House. As we have seen, Teddy Kennedy’s challenge to Carter presaged the Democrats’ loss of the White House in 1980. In 1992, pundit Pat Buchanan challenged George H.W. Bush in the Republican primaries, giving the incumbent a scare in New Hampshire. Bush was renominated, but later lost badly to Democrat Bill Clinton."

"Biden once called 'transgender equality' the 'civil-rights issue of our time'... He’s also called Florida’s anti-trans policies 'close to sinful'..."

"... and expressed broad support for future national legislation that enshrines trans rights. But trans people need more from him and the party he represents.... Courageous red-state Democrats could help forge a new consensus for their party. In doing so, they can help the party meet national voters where they seem to be.... Sixty-four percent of American adults favor laws that protect trans people from some discrimination in housing, work, and in public spaces.... [t]hough 60 percent also believe a person’s gender is determined by sex at birth.... Democrats can defend trans rights as a matter of principle, but also to win votes. They need not fear wokeness. They can tell voters the truth: The real threat to America comes not from trans people but from the right. The right meddles in private medical decisions. The right traffics in hate. And the right will crush its opponents, if it can.... Hate can rally conservatives, but those who peddle it don’t speak for most people...."

"I am not a rapist. I hate rapists, I think rapists should be raped and murdered. If I am guilty of anything, it’s bad storytelling in the style of douche."

Said David Choe, quoted in "Unpacking David Choe’s ‘Rapey’ Podcast Comments" (The Cut).

Choe is one of the actors in the popular new Netflix series "Beef." The podcast remarks are from 2014, and we're told "some viewers are calling for accountability." I'm not sure what form of "accountability" they are or should be asking for. The story he told on the podcast concerns crossing lines with a masseuse, similar to the accusations against Al Gore some years back.

ADDED: To say "I hate rapists, I think rapists should be raped and murdered" is to show that you have a narrow conception of what rape is. Of course, that's also why Choe could do what he said he did and exclude himself from the set called "rapists." But if you actually cared about sexual abuse, you wouldn't focus on restricting the category. You focus on restricting the category to protect the interests of those, including you, who engage in sexual abuse. Look at the reasoning behind "rapists should be raped and murdered." That's saying: Rapists are those who are irredeemable, utterly worthless monsters. And: That can't be me!

(And let me add that even "irredeemable, utterly worthless monsters" shouldn't be "murdered." You should recommend the death penalty, not murder. If you think the death penalty is murder, you should oppose the death penalty.)

April 23, 2023

Sunrise — 6:03, 6:06.



"In hindsight, the twenty-tens saw the emergence, growth, dominance, and incipient decay of the largest social networks...."

"[W]e can’t rely on large digital platforms that are motivated by profit above all.... Those huge, public networks are growing riskier, messier, and less enticing by the day.... The next decade of the Internet is likely to yield more cloistered digital spaces that seek to correct the ills of Big Social Media. The looming 'post-platform' era, as it is already being called, will consist of smaller online communities connecting through group texts, Reddit forums, Discord servers, and e-mail newsletters.... [V]irality may no longer be the goal. But it may at least offer a less exploitative mode of existing online. In a way, it will resemble an earlier version of the Internet, operating on a tried-and-true principle: friends are more trustworthy than strangers."

Here at Althouse, it doesn't just "resemble an earlier version of the Internet." It is that earlier version. And it has been for 7,039 days straight. You don't have to go back. You're already here. 

Suddenly, it's a problem for Miller to use its slogan "Champagne of Beers."

NPR reports: 
The Comité Champagne asked for the destruction of a shipment of 2,352 cans on the grounds that the century-old motto used by the American brewery infringes the protected designation of origin "Champagne." The consignment was intercepted in the Belgian port of Antwerp in early February....

It's suddenly a problem because normally Miller is not exported to the EU, but somebody in Germany ordered this shipment. Who knows why? The unnamed buyer "was informed and did not contest the decision" to destroy the canned beer. 

The slogan is 120 years old. Originally it was "The Champagne of Bottle Beers." 

"I don't quite understand the emphasis on relationships/friends/etc. I'm an introvert, always have been..."

"... was married to an introvert, I am now a widow. No children, no family other than the toxic in-laws long out of my/our life. I spent 40 years of my life doing well at jobs that required interaction with other employees and/or public. Enough. When I got in my car at the end of the day I felt as though a weight had been lifted off my shoulders - solitude! I LOVE the quiet of my solitary life, I grit my teeth when I have to participate in resident association meetings which are thinly disguised social gatherings - I live in a senior retirement community. I read, I stream, I read news online, I follow art classes online, I make my own art in sketchbooks, I read, I browse online, I read .... I do chat briefly, and happlily [sic], with the public library staff, the checker/bagger at the grocery store, the maintenance staff. But I love my solitary life! When I pass away perhaps no one will mourn. So what? I get tired of being advised that I'm not happy, not physically health[y], and will die sooner. Again, so what? I'm past my 'sell by' date anyway. I'm happy with myself, by myself."

I enjoyed the sentence: "I read, I stream, I read news online, I follow art classes online, I make my own art in sketchbooks, I read, I browse online, I read."

Another writer, using the same material, might argue that one is never really alone, that you have the company of the very best of humanity when you read. You can also work with the concept that you are not not alone when you yourself are your own substantial and beloved companion. And, for some people, there is God. For others, dog.

"I have never spoken to [Dylan Mulvaney], nor will I. I try to be, for the LGBT community, the adult in the room. She is not."

"She is bouncing around all over the place. I have nothing in common with her. The fringe is the worst thing that can happen to the trans community and the media only wants to report on that because of the sensationalization of it and honestly that’s got to stop."

Said Caitlyn Jenner, quoted in The NY Post.

Jenner also weighed in on Trump '24: "I think Trump is going to win this thing… He is a great man and he did tremendous things for this country.... We need an adult in the room and that adult right now is Donald Trump and that’s just kind of the way I feel right now."

She likes that word "adult." But that's a high level of generality. If you make looking for the adults your guiding principle, good luck finding your way around America.

I retreat to the OED. Here's the relevant definition, 2b: "Mature in attitude, outlook, behaviour, etc.; emotionally and mentally grown-up." There's a historical example from 1927 that I assure you I read only after writing the previous paragraph:

"It is a widely-held notion in Europe..that the American is not adult, that he remains all his life a child."