May 20, 2023

Sunrise — 5:51.


How I came to read "They shut me up in prose" (and talk about it with ChatGPT).

1. The Supreme Court, in a new opinion, used the word "who" to refer to Twitter (as if Twitter were a person (Elon Musk?)).

2. I studied the OED entry for "who" to see if there might be some justification for using "who" like that. Couldn't find any.

3. I became entranced by the "archaic or literary" use of "who" without an antecedent as in Shakespeare's "Who steales my purse, steals trash" and A.A. Milne's "Hush! Hush! whisper who dares, Christopher Robin is saying his prayers." We'd normally say "whoever" in that situation, but why is that? However did "ever" come to clutter our speech?

"If I do my job well, you come away listening to 'Blue Suede Shoes' the way people heard it in 1956, or 'Good Vibrations' the way people heard it in 1966..."

"... and understanding why people were so impressed by those records. That is simply *not possible* for the Grateful Dead. I can present a case for them as musicians.... I can explain the appeal as best I understand it.... But what I can’t do is present their recordings the way they were received in the sixties and explain why they were popular. Because every other act I have covered or will cover in this podcast has been a *recording* act, and their success was based on records. They may also have been exceptional live performers, but James Brown or Ike and Tina Turner are remembered for great *records*.... That is not the case for the Grateful Dead, and what is worse *they explicitly said, publicly, on multiple occasions* that it is not possible for me to understand their art, and thus that it is not possible for me to explain it.... [T]hey always said, consistently, over a thirty year period, that their records didn’t capture what they did, and that the only way — the *only* way, they were very clear about this — that one could actually understand and appreciate their music, was to see them live, and furthermore to see them live while on psychedelic drugs."

Says Andrew Hickey, beginning the long-awaited Episode 165 of his phenomenal podcast "A History of Rock Music in 500 Songs": "'Dark Star' by the Grateful Dead." 

Listen to the whole thing, but tell me, did you see The Grateful Dead live and while on psychedelic drugs? Having seen The Grateful Dead live and used psychedelic drugs but not at the same time is not enough.

"Did you send this because it's like DeSantis with Trump's head?"

I ask — it's my second question — after Meade texts me this:


"DeSantis with Trump's head" refers to the first post of the day, "Why is DeSantis peeling an orange?"

Was Virginia Heffernan's Wired article about Pete Buttigieg badly written?

I saw Wired's promotion of the article on Twitter 2 days ago (2 members of my family independently shared this with me, so it must be my kind of raw material): I read the first few paragraphs of the article and felt stirred up to make fun of it, but then I stopped myself. This morning, I'm seeing a Legal Insurrection article by Mike LaChance that reflects the sort of mockery I nearly fell into: "Wired Magazine Gets Roasted for Cringeworthy Puff Piece on Pete Buttigieg/'he was willing to devote yet another apse in his cathedral mind to making his ideas about three mighty themes—neoliberalism, masculinity, and Christianity—intelligible to me.'"

Did I miss my chance to get in on the early mockery action or was I right to stop myself — because this thing might be brilliant writing? Is this something in the Hunter S. Thompson/Tom Wolfe tradition?

Legal Insurrection quotes the first, second, and fifth paragraphs and comments "It's so over the top." Yeah? And did the writer go over the top for a reason and with exciting, interesting words? Let's read the first 2 paragraphs and keep in mind that this might be great writing:

Why is DeSantis peeling an orange?


I haven't read the Time article, and I don't know why I should. I got the image from a Daily Mail article about it, "'Trump is NOT going to be happy!' Ron DeSantis' first Time cover depicts him eating an ORANGE in apparent dig at his GOP arch-rival - who's graced magazine's cover 35 times," and I haven't read that article, only the title.

The title is ridiculous. Why would this absurd image make Trump unhappy? If DeSantis has Time on his side (to coin a phrase), it's not going to help him with conservatives. 

And "eating an ORANGE"... he's not eating an orange. He's peeling an orange.

But I've got to admit that idiotic headline helped me understand why he's peeling an orange. I was puzzled and had to force myself to think about it. I thought: Oranges ≈ Florida. The Governor of Florida, soundly cupping the orange with one hand and tearing into it with the other, is saying Florida is mine, I control Florida.

But seeing The Daily Mail say that he's "eating" the orange in an "apparent dig at" Trump, I remember that Trump has long been derided as the "orange man." For some reason Trump has colored himself orange — dyed his skin and hair orange — and no amount of pointing and mockery and caricature will dissuade him from his color choice. It's a trademark.

So I'm convinced that Time intends the orange to be seen as Trump's head. The Daily Mail calls it a painting, so I'm going to assume that this is an artist's illustration and they didn't get DeSantis to pose holding and tearing into an orange. Notice the juice dripping down all over his hands. Such brutal orange peeling! Brutal and messy. What man in a suit would handle an orange like that? The idea is that's Trump's head and the powerful, remorseless DeSantis will obliterate the orange man.

But, good for Time. You made me look. You made me write a much longer blog post than you deserve. I don't care what you've got to say about DeSantis. Your text is just filler to back this image.

May 19, 2023

Sunrise — 5:35.


The forest at 5:38 a.m.


AI picks the stars for a present-day remake of "The Wizard of Oz"?

Click for TikTok video:

A strange but intriguing grammatical error in a Supreme Court opinion.

From yesterday's unanimous opinion, Twitter v. Taamneh, written by Justice Thomas:
The plaintiffs (who are respondents) contend that they have stated a claim for relief under §2333(d)(2). They were allegedly injured by a terrorist attack carried out by ISIS. But plaintiffs are not suing ISIS. Instead, they have brought suit against three of the largest social-media companies in the world—Facebook, Twitter (who is petitioner), and Google (which owns YouTube)—for allegedly aiding and abetting ISIS.

You'd think the proximity of "Twitter (who...)" to "Google (which...)" would set off somebody's grammar alarm. They're both corporations and — though it's sometimes said jocosely or not that "corporations are people" — they're not human beings and they don't get "who."

It's an outright error, but I'm interested in why something worked on by so many industrious writers and editors would fail to catch it. I came up with 2 ideas:

I had to mouse over "isqiisi" to get my first (and last) clue what new evil is currently aggravating Jordan Peterson.

Vulnerable, uncomfortable, transformative blog post.

"Ryan Malone, 37, a chemist who has lived on and off in Somerville for six years, said that he knows hundreds of people who identify as polyamorous..."

"... through his extended social circles. Mr. Malone, who has been nonmonogamous since he was in college, currently has a nesting partner, a long-term partner, two long-distance partners and a kink-based relationship with another person. Mr. Malone said he has never felt weird about going on dates with two or more people at the same time in Somerville. 'No one seems to bat an eye,' he said, so he sees the new protections as very subtle. Ashley Kirsner, 33, who has lived in Somerville for seven years, is the founder of Skip the Small Talk, an organization that offers speed-friending and speed-dating events.... Events like these, the support of the community and the city ordinances have helped Mx. Hall feel more seen. 'Every time a new book comes out, or a new protection comes into place, it feels like it’s validating your identity,' they said."

I googled "nesting partner." It's a standard term. I found this creepily illustrated Wikihow article on the subject. Creepily illustrated? I'm judging. The art.

How about "validating your identity"? Is that a standard term? Googling, I'm bombarded with material about ID cards, that kind of identity — are you really the person with the name, age, and address you're claiming? But what about the idea of validating your identity that is wanting your community to make outward gestures that approve of your cluster of personal relationships? 

Standard term or not, what do we make of this need to have the more complex aspects of your identity "validated"? It's funny that's going on at the same time that some people are getting invalidated — cancelled.

"People have realized that workplaces are full of bullies and weirdos and they don't want to deal with them anymore."

Says Esther Walker at 6 minutes and 9 seconds into this week's episode of the podcast "Giles Coren Has No Idea."

They're talking about the post-lockdown phenomenon of refusal to go back to work in the office. 

I enjoy her mode of expression. It's hyperbole, but it's getting at something true, no? It's a subjective matter — what's bullying and what's weird — but the topic is human behavior. It can't be anything but subjective.

"Adidas under fire as biological male models female-style swimming costume/Move has prompted criticism from women’s equality campaigners who argue it creates unrealistic body expectations for women."

Headline at The Telegraph.

No one was talking about Adidas bathing suits before, I don't think. Never heard of them. Have now.

Photos at the link. The caption is the best part: "Adidas has come under fire for advertising a female-style swimming costume using a model with a penis."

I like the British terminology: "swimming costume."

Isn't everything we wear a costume? Including our genitalia?

Caution: This is not about transgenders. We are told this is a "male model." Or... no, it doesn't say "male model." It says "biological male" and then the verb is "models." I didn't get past the paywall, so I have no idea if there is any discussion of the model's gender identity. What does it have to do with anything? Models are used for the way they look, not for how they feel inside. Often they have big smiles and, inside, they are dying. Sometimes they have a coolly austere pout and their mind is flooded with feelings of starvation and abuse.

ADDED: You might think I'm just trolling by saying "Isn't everything we wear a costume? Including our genitalia?," but I'm genuinely interested. You might not take the question seriously, so I consulted ChatGPT. 

I wrote:

"Being around birds is associated with better mental health."

Says this article in WaPo.
If a participant [in a study] reported seeing or hearing birds at one point, their mental well-being was higher, on average, hours later even if they did not encounter birds at the next check-in.... 
“Listening to birdsong through headphones was able to hit the same pathways that might be beneficial toward mental well-being.... That’s a very, very nice finding.”

One study compared people whose headphones played birdsong with those subjected to traffic noise.  


Lemme guess, they didn't do crows.

What will blue checkers do with this awesome new power?

May 18, 2023

Sunrise — 5:26.

IMG_1465 2

Write about whatever you like in the comments.

(I know some significant Supreme Court cases came out today, but I'll have to leave writing about them until tomorrow.)

"Your baby is a gift to a struggling world, and an inspiring new chapter in your lives. That’s the thing—your lives."

"Not mine. I will not board a plane for your baby.... If you’ve been to a comedy club in the past century, you know about the psychic pain that airports inflict.... If I were a doctor, you’d have to pay me to see your baby. Just to be clear, I’m not an anti-natalist. Unless that gets me out of this more easily—in that case, I’m a fiery anti-natalist. Every day I awake and think of innovative new ways to reduce the population. I write them on the back of a photo of Malthus that I keep in my wallet. It may take a village to raise a child. But I don’t live in your village. Or state. Or time zone...."

From a New Yorker humor piece by Dennard Dayle, "I Will Not Board a Plane to Visit Your Baby."

ADDED: Humor aside, what do we think of the ethics of resisting pressure to come see a baby. I asked ChatGPT:

Is it true, as Greenwald puts it, that "this NYT tech reporter doesn't know or care"?

The NYT tech reporter, Ryan Mac, responds:

"Cross Plains area. Steep hills heavy brush and tons of thorns. Worth it. Find the dying Elms."

Today is a good day
by u/winnar72 in madisonwi

"An Anonymous Source Goes Public/Ali Diercks, who was crucial to a major #MeToo story involving the CBS executive Les Moonves, talks about why she started sharing information."

That's the headline for today's episode of the NYT "Daily" podcast.

We hear the Times reporter Rachel Abrams speaking with a lawyer, Ali Diercks, who chose to leak information about the document review she was doing for CBS after Les Moonves resigned from his position as the company's chairman and chief executive.

Here's the story Abrams co-authored back in 2018, based in part on the confidential information Diercks shared with her: "'If Bobbie Talks, I’m Finished’: How Les Moonves Tried to Silence an Accuser/A trove of text messages details a plan by Mr. Moonves and a faded Hollywood manager to bury a sexual assault allegation. Instead, the scheme helped sink the CBS chief, and may cost him $120 million."

Diercks's law firm, Covington & Burling, unsurprisingly, figured out that she was the source of the leak and she lost her job and her law license.

Diercks to Abrams: "Our career trajectories were thrown in diametrically opposed orbits by the same thing, the same catalyzing event. You know, a scoop like this is going to make your career and ruin mine at the same time."

Abrams, summing up: "She lost her career and struggled in isolation. I got a bigger profile and ended up with a book deal."

"You might think journalists would want to get to the bottom of how they were duped so that they could repair the reputational damage to themselves and their industry. Apparently not."

Writes Marc A. Thiessen in "The Durham report is a damning indictment of the FBI — and the media" (WaPo).
It was the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee that funded the Steele dossier, which relied on a Russian with suspected ties to Russian intelligence. The FBI then included the dossier as part of the materials it used to investigate Trump, paralyzing our country, undermining a newly elected president for two years while costing tens of millions of dollars — all over what ended up being a conspiracy theory.

ADDED: Let me carp about copy editing. This sentence — which I put in the post headline — is miswritten: "You might think journalists would want to get to the bottom of how they were duped so that they could repair the reputational damage to themselves and their industry." The phrase "they were duped so that they could repair" needs rewriting, because journalists were not duped so they could repair their reputation. They should "want to... repair the reputational damage." You might think columnists would want to see these double meanings and eliminate them. Apparently not.

My spellcheck is questioning the word "reputational." It is a real word, but it's an ugly and unnecessary word. Why write "reputational damage" when you could write "damaged reputation"? "Damaged reputation" looks more natural, and it's more accurate, because the thing to be repaired is the reputation, not the damage. You could leave out "damage[d]" altogether. It's redundant. You can't repair what's not damaged.

May 17, 2023

A Mayapple Café...

IMG_1457 2

... you can talk about whatever you want.

"Exercise demands a lot of our hearts. As soon as we start running or otherwise exerting ourselves, our hearts double or triple the rate at which they pump blood..."

"... to our laboring muscles. Over time, this exertion strengthens our hearts, just as it does other muscles, remodeling the organ, including its atriums, which are the upper chambers of the heart. The atriums deliver blood to the lower chambers, the ventricles, which pump it onward. In general, these changes are desirable and welcome. But for reasons that remain mysterious, years of repeated, strenuous workouts and races may exact a toll on the heart, according to some emerging research...."

"The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 62% of Likely Republican voters would vote for Trump in the primaries..."

"... while 17% would vote for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Several other announced or possible 2024 candidates have single-digit support...."

That's a 45-point lead over DeSantis.

"One of China’s leading comedy show companies has been fined £1.68m after... one of its comedians... told of watching two stray dogs he had adopted chase a squirrel."

"The phrase that came to mind, he said, was: 'Fight well, win the battle' – a punchline based on an eight-character slogan that is associated with China’s People’s Liberation Army. In an audio recording that was shared online, the audience can be heard breaking into loud laughs. But a member of the audience reportedly made a complaint... China’s ministry of culture and tourism bureau said... 'We will never allow any company or individual use the Chinese capital as a stage to wantonly slander the glorious image of the PLA'... Discussing the controversy on WeChat, a messaging and social media platform, one commenter wrote: 'The Chinese People’s Liberation Army is sacred and inviolable! The clown will be severely punished!'"

The Guardian reports.

Such a mild joke, but the audience laughed hard. They must really enjoy the opportunity to experience disrespect for the glorious, sacred, inviolable People’s Liberation Army. 

"The FBI lacked 'any actual evidence of collusion' between the Trump campaign and Russia when it violated its standards and jumped over several steps..."

"... to initiate a full investigation, including probes into four members of the Trump campaign. The pretext for the probe -- a random conversation between unpaid Trump adviser George Papadopoulos and an Australian diplomat -- was so flimsy that FBI agents complained it was 'thin' and British intelligence was incredulous. The FBI opened the probe without doing interviews, using any 'standard analytical tools,' or conducting intelligence reviews -- which would have shown that not a single U.S. agency had evidence of collusion...."

From "Why the Durham Report Matters/It is a damning account of the corruption of the FBI and its accomplices" by The Editorial Board of The Wall Street Journal.

"[T]he Hyksos had a custom known as the Gold of Valor, which involved taking the hands of enemy combatants as war trophies...."

"'The amputations were a safe means to count slain enemies,' said Manfred Bietak, an archaeologist.... 'They also made the dead enemy incapable of raising his hand again against Egypt in the Netherworld.'... 'Dismemberment was anathema to the ancient Egyptians, who wanted their bodies whole for a materialized afterlife existence,' Dr. Cooney said. A relief in the mortuary temple of Rameses III, at Medinet Habu, shows the pharaoh standing on a balcony after a victory not far from heaps of his enemies’ severed phalluses (12,312, according to one translation of zealous army scribes) and hands (24,625). In the temple of Amun at Karnak, a chronicle of a 13th century B.C. battle details prisoners being brought back to the pharaoh Merneptah with 'donkeys before them, laden with uncircumcised penises of the Land of Libya, with the hands of [every] foreign land that was with them, as fish in baskets.' If the tally of fatalities is to be believed, the Egyptians collected the penises of 6,359 uncircumcised enemy dead and the hands of 2,362 circumcised enemies. 'The stink must have been awful, and thus the "fish in baskets" comment,' Dr. Cooney said."

Everybody is an influencer.

I'm reading "For Gen Z, Playing an Influencer on TikTok Comes Naturally/There’s stuff to promote now. The followers can come later" (NYT).
[Gen Z] is increasingly posting on social media in the manner of professional influencers: sharing daily routines, pitching or unboxing products, modeling clothing and advertising personal Amazon storefronts. These videos are often viewed as cool and entrepreneurial by peers (and sometimes by bemused parents)....

It's "viewed as cool" — that it, it's not delusional and embarrassing to behave, in social media, as if you're already an influencer. This is a strange issue, because what is it to be a "real" influencer? What are/were "influencers"? We used to critique them as fake celebrities, fake stars, so why be "bemused" that younger people are faking the fakery? If it was fake to begin with, then faking the fake should be cool. It's savvy and meta.

"I was trying not to think about bad stuff, like 'Twister,' the movie, and I was trying to think about happy stuff."

Said the boy saved from the dust devil.

"The whole work-from-home thing, it's sort of like, I think it's, like, there are some exceptions, but I kind of think that the whole notion of work-from-home is a bit like, you know, the fake Marie Antoinette quote, 'Let them eat cake.'"

"It's like, it's like really? You're gonna work from home and you're gonna make everyone else who made your car come work in the factory? You're gonna make people who make your food that gets delivered – they can't work from home? The people that come fix your house? They can't work from home, but you can? Does that seem morally right? That's messed up.... It's a productivity issue, but it's also a moral issue. People should get off their goddamn moral high horse with this bulls–t because they're asking everyone else to not work from home while they do. It's wrong."

Said Elon Musk, in a CNBC interview, quoted in "Elon Musk condemns working from home as 'morally wrong': Tesla CEO says it's not just about productivity but the unfair notion that service workers still have to show up to get the job done" (Daily Mail).

By "the unfair notion," the marginally literate Daily Mail means "the notion that it's unfair." The notion isn't unfair! It's a notion about what's unfair. Is it unfair for some jobs to be done from home when some jobs can't be done from home?

Let's take a closer look at Musk's rhetoric: "You're gonna work from home and you're gonna make everyone else who made your car come work in the factory?" Who's the "you"? The head of the company, the one with the power to "make" people come into work, or the people who want to work from home and need the company to permit it? There are 2 different "you"s.

Musk is throwing around the concept of "morality," but it's a pompous makeweight argument, I suspect. The real reason is something more practical, isn't it? There's so much talk in the morality mode these days, and yet you look around, and you don't get the feeling it's coming from people who are motivated by virtue for its own sake.

"His films are marmoreal, solid to the point of opacity, with more or less no offscreen aura; his images have a frame around them—one that is, in effect, black, like a funeral portrait."

Marmoreal? It means "Resembling marble or a marble statue; cold (also smooth, white, etc.) like marble" (OED).

May 16, 2023

Sunrise — 5:29, 5:35, 537.




"In the conservative defense of [Daniel] Penny, a pernicious analogy is visible."

"Police instructor and Army veteran David Grossman writes... that 'an old war veteran' once told him about wolves, sheep, and sheepdogs. 'If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen: a sheep,' he continues. A person with 'a capacity for violence and no empathy' for his fellows is 'an aggressive sociopath — a wolf.' To stop them, there are sheepdogs. 'But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens?' Grossman asks. 'Then you are a sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero’s path.'"

Writes Sarah Jones in "The Sheepdog Defense" (NY Magazine).

This animal analogy is awfully facile. Is anyone really thinking about the case by likening human beings to these 3 kinds of animals? It seems to me that nearly everyone regards Jordan Neely as mentally ill. Wolves aren't mentally ill. 

"Is this a bad time to point out that 'moving to San Francisco in the 1940s' almost certainly means being part of the wave of black arrivals who took cheap houses from the Japanese people..."

"... who had been deported to quickly convert Japantown into the Western Addition and Fillmore? Are those black families going to pass those reparations on to the Japanese families they dispossessed?"

The sun watchers.


Open thread in the comments.

No problem with the shorts here: Running, rock-walking. It's the sports exception.

Asked whether we ought to worry about anything in the JFK assassination files, Trump said: "Well, I don’t want to comment on that."

The Washington Examiner is reporting that Trump is saying he'll release all the files if he becomes President again. But what stopped him from releasing everything last time he was President? He released some, but not all, even though the1992 Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act set 2017 as a deadline to release everything. 

In 2018, Trump delayed the full release of the tranche of Kennedy documents until October 2021 amid national security concerns. President Joe Biden later postponed that until December 2022, citing the COVID-19 pandemic.

ADDED: In other JFK assassination news, "Viggo Mortensen, Shia LaBeouf, Courtney Love Board David Mamet’s JFK Thriller ‘Assassination'" (Variety).

Here’s the official synopsis for the project: “1963. During a crucial justice hearing against organized crime, the head of the Chicago mob orders the assassination of President John F. Kennedy Jr. [sic], creating a deadly conspiracy while altering the fate of a nation.”

I'm glad to see I'm not the first person to say "Nonapology accepted."

Google shows it's been used 715 times before that time I wielded it this morning, here. 

Art Buchwald had a whole Washington Post column — "Non-Apology Accepted" — in 2005 ("This period in history will be known as the 'Age of Non-Apology.' Politics means never having to say you are sorry.")

I used it here, this morning, in the comments to the post analyzing Trump's Mother's Day rhetoric.

The first commenter said "I seem to recall a pledge to ignore him during the campaign."

I was all: "Have I ever made 'a pledge'? I don't think so. That doesn't sound like me. Link?"

The commenter backed off. He wasn't "sure about literal 'pledge,'" at some unlinked-to place in the archive, but he thinks he "chimed in to endorse the quasi-pledge." He wasn't going to search for a link to the place where that happened (or didn't happen). "Not trying to set any blog agenda," he said. "I'm fine with whatever, for what it's worth."

I said — and I recommend this usage — "Nonapology accepted."

Thank you, everyone. I have received the men-in-shorts alert.

"The brilliance of the Biden team was that it invested the media in this scandal at the outset by burying the laptop story as 'Russian disinformation' before the election."

"That was, of course, false, but it took two years for most major media outlets to admit that the laptop was authentic. But the media then ignored what was on that 'authentic laptop.' Hundreds of emails detailed potentially criminal conduct and raw influence peddling in foreign countries. When media outlets such as the New York Post confirmed the emails, the media then insisted that there was no corroboration of the influence peddling payments and no clear proof of criminal conduct.... Now that the House has released corroboration in actual money transfers linking many in the Biden family, the media is insisting that this is no scandal because there is no direct proof of payments to Joe Biden.... [T]he media’s demand of a direct payment to President Biden is laughably absurd. The payments were going to his family, but he was the object of the influence peddling. The House has shown millions of dollars going to at least nine Bidens like dividends from a family business. As a long-time critic of influence peddling among both Republicans and Democrats, I have never seen the equal of the Bidens...."

Turley illustrates his piece with this fabulous old cartoon:

Here's a discussion of that cartoon at the subreddit r/PropagandaPosters, where we see that it's a 1910 Puck Magazine cartoon by Louis M. Glackens. Here's a page full of work by Glackens (at Wikimedia).

"A year ago, after Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia summoned her fellow Republicans to become 'the party of Christian nationalism'..."

"I began to read books about white Christian nationalists — and discovered that I am one of them."

Writes Kenneth L. Woodward, in "How I became a white Christian Nationalist." 

That's in The Washington Post. I wouldn't click on something with a title like that if it weren't in mainstream media. And Woodward has mainstream credentials. He was once a religion editor at Newsweek. And he's got a mainstream-sounding book: "Getting Religion: Faith, Culture, and Politics From the Age of Eisenhower to the Ascent of Trump."

"'F*** the rich. F*** the police. F*** the state. F*** the colonial death camp we call 'Canada.'"

Wrote Gabriel Sims-Fewer, owner of pay-whatever-you-want café, The Anarchist, quoted in "Go woke, go broke: Toronto 'anti-capitalist' anarchist café where customers 'pay what you can' shutters after a year after failing to make enough money. Owner slammed cops as 'pigs' and late Queen as a 'parasite'/The Anarchist in Toronto, Canada has shuddered after a year in business/The cafe had a 'pay what you can' model and was 'anti-capitalist/Shop's owner cited 'lack of generational wealth/capital seed' as the reason" (Daily Mail).

I love the notion that the café had such depth of feeling that it "shuddered." When capitalist-pig owned places go out of business, they merely shutter.

That's the only reason I'm blogging that too-predictable news. Well, that and the fascinating phrase "the colonial death camp we call 'Canada.'" Canada normally flies under the radar, following the strategy of inconspicuousness that works all too well in this crazy world.

Do pay attention to inconspicuous things. And when you see them, don't be afraid to offset their inconspicuousness by using hyperbole. Phrases like "the colonial death camp we call 'Canada'" can help people think more deeply about things.

Or would you rather bray at obvious things like the way pay-whatever-you-want cafés go out of business?

Let's look at the complaint in Noelle Dunphy v. Rudolph W. Giuliani.

Filed in yesterday in state court in Manhattan. I'm just going to extract some things that stood out to me, so I encourage you to do your own independent reading. My selections are entirely biased, as is this entire blog, toward what catches my attention: 

Giuliani worked aggressively to hire Ms. Dunphy, offering her what seemed like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work as his Director of Business Development with a salary of $1 million per year.... He made clear that satisfying his sexual demands—which came virtually anytime, anywhere—was an absolute requirement of her employment and of his legal representation. Giuliani began requiring Ms. Dunphy to work at his home and out of hotel room, so that she would be at his beck and call. He drank morning, noon, and night, and was frequently intoxicated, and therefore his behavior was always unpredictable. Giuliani also took Viagra constantly.

"I had to wear nine different bathing suits. All these people were prodding me and talking about 'the girls.'"

"I have never called my breasts 'the girls' in my life. I hate stuff like that. The whole time, these people were nudging, 'Poke this out, push that in.' I had to put up with that for eight hours. Still, we were shooting in the Dominican Republic and I had a really good time."

May 15, 2023

Sunrise — 5:36, 5:38, 5:39.




"John H. Durham... accused the F.B.I. of having 'discounted or willfully ignored material information' that countered the narrative of collusion between Donald J. Trump and Russia..."

"... in a final report made public on Monday. Mr. Durham’s 306-page report revealed little substantial new information about the inquiry, known as Crossfire Hurricane, and it failed to produce the kinds of blockbuster revelations accusing the bureau of politically motivated misconduct that former President Donald J. Trump and his allies suggested Mr. Durham would uncover. Instead, the report — released without substantive comment or any redactions by Attorney General Merrick B. Garland — largely recounted previously exposed flaws in the inquiry, while concluding that the F.B.I. suffered from confirmation bias and a 'lack of analytical rigor' as it pursued leads about Mr. Trump’s ties to Russia. 'An objective and honest assessment of these strands of information should have caused the F.B.I. to question not only the predication for Crossfire Hurricane, but also to reflect on whether the F.B.I. was being manipulated for political or other purposes,' he wrote. 'Unfortunately, it did not.'"

"What happens when current 3rd and 4th graders turn 18?"

"Coming into this year, I thought that 2nd graders were the furthest behind in terms of social development and academic skills. As a happy surprise, I have seen a lot of growth over the year.... 3rd and 4th grade, however, are an absolute shit show.... There are always a few but in some sections I have like 50%+ of students who are indifferent to learning, unashamed of their antisocial behaviors, and truly unpleasant to spend time with.... [When given free time, t]hey will do play like kindergarteners or 1st graders. I watch them play and just feel sad. They feel like broken kids I cannot fix. I worry about what will happen when they become adults in 2032-33...."

What's the difference between encouraging someone and egging him on?

I'm trying to read "Scoop: How Trump's team egged him on during CNN town hall" by Mike Allen (Axios).

The "scoop" is this:

Backstage during the first commercial break, Axios has learned, Trump adviser Jason Miller — as if psyching up a boxer in his corner or egging on a bully — showed Trump moments-old tweets from Democrats blasting CNN and saying Trump was winning.

"What makes [Bobby] Kennedy most like Trump, though, is the overlay of conspiracy and contempt that tinges nearly everything he says..."

"... the destructive distrust in the electorate he seeks to channel. During the rambling, nearly two-hour, Trump-like monologue in which he launched his campaign in Boston, Kennedy sketched the bleak tableau of a government wholly owned and controlled by corporations, of nefarious powers in both parties hellbent on enslaving people with bureaucratic mandates."

And: "Like Trump, Kennedy is given to skillful demagoguery.... ... Kennedy explained how the covid vaccine — which he seems to regard as a vast societal evil, like opioids, or the War on Christmas — utterly failed to stop transmission of the coronavirus, just as the government secretly knew it would. Of course, the main point of the vaccine wasn’t to stop us from catching variants of the virus — it was to stop those variants from killing us at intolerable rates. Which it did."

"What the f—k happened to this place?"

Said Dave Chappelle, as quoted in "'What the f—k happened to this place?': Dave Chappelle rails on San Francisco at surprise show SFGATE culture editor Dan Gentile saw the controversial comedian's last-minute San Francisco set" (SFGate).
He told a story about eating at an Indian restaurant in the Tenderloin a few nights earlier, only to have someone defecate in front of the restaurant as he was walking in. San Francisco has become “half ‘Glee,’ half zombie movie,” he said, and he remarked that the whole city is the Tenderloin now. “Y’all [N-words] need a Batman!” he exclaimed. 
He wasn’t aware of the incident of a business owner hosing down a homeless person and had to have the crowd explain it. He pivoted quickly, saying he now remembered watching the video on YouTube … a hundred times. The misdirection was followed by a cruel snicker and a trademark slap of the mic against his thigh....

"The ever-controversial former president's lead hasn't disappeared or even diminished in recent weeks, despite being charged with numerous crimes."

"In the most recent poll reading, Trump stands at 55% support, up from 47% in April and 51% in March. His nearest challenger, Ron DeSantis, claims 17% of the GOP's voters, down from 23% in April and 21% in March. Do the math: Trump has extended his lead over the popular Florida governor to 38 percentage points, versus 24 percentage points last month and 28 percentage points in March. No other Republican candidate reaches double-digit support."

From "Even Amid Trump's Legal Troubles, His Lead Widens: I&I/TIPP Trump leads DeSantis 55%-17% in the GOP Primary" (TIPP Insights).

The quote in the post title is grammatically bad — the "former president's lead" was not charged with crimes — but I'm using it anyway.

Biden has only 39% support on the Democratic side, and that's exactly the same as last month and despite his lack of a serious challenger. 9% of Democrats are for Bernie Sanders, but last I looked, Sanders has endorsed Biden. That's his closest competitor.

That puts Biden up by only 30 percentage points compared to Trump's 38 point lead over DeSantis. And Trump is gaining month by month, while Biden is losing ground. He was up by 34 points in March. 

"To people in power and to people who can make change, please criminalize harmful content. Please eradicate harmful content. We don't want it. We want our children back."

That's Kate Winslet, accepting a BAFTA Award, and she's talking about the "unhealthy world" of social media and the effect on the minds of children. I don't know what she's including in the category "harmful content," but it must (or may) refer to the TV show for which she's receiving the award. I'll look it up.

Okay, the show is "I Am Ruth." From the Guardian's review:

I just spent 40 minutes sucked back into yesterday — Trump's mangled Mother's Day message.

I'm trying to go forward on a Monday morning. Admittedly, I despaired at the front-page collage of headlines in the NYT and WaPo — the debt, Turkey, Ukraine — and felt blocked. But I needed to go back to respond to what I was told was an apt criticism of a post title of mine from last night — "Donald Trump has a Mother's Day message for the 'Lunatics and Maniacs' — the 'Mothers, Wives and Lovers of the Radical Left Fascists, Marxists, and Communists.'"

You can go there to see the 5 paragraphs I ended up adding to a post that was just that title on top of Trump's tweet/"truth." To figure out the extent to which I'd misunderstood him, I had to untangle multiple ambiguities and then, acknowledging the intended meaning, critique that. Then I got into an in-person debate about my reaction to Trump. Do I just continually react emotionally to his weirdness — his abnormality — or am I genuinely engaged in textual interpretation and earnest devotion to copy editing? This conversation took a long detour into the analogy of Trump's writing to Dylan's singing.

Now, Trump probably took something like 20 seconds to dash off his light-heavy shot at mothers of left-wingers, and here I am, the next day, putting 40 more minutes into receiving his message. His taking less time requires me to take more time. I know, I'm probably in the smallest group of the 3 sets of people who read that tweet/"truth." There were the people who get Trump and like what they're getting, and they had fun in the real time it took to skim Trump's 2 sentences. There were the people who loathe Trump, saw the nasty, rough words, quickly thought "I hate that guy," and continued on their righteous way. And then there was Group 3, my group, who got sucked into parsing the whole thing, sorting it out, looking at the unwound entrails, and writing and talking it to death.

He's not writing for me. He's writing for those other 2 groups, playing them off each other and scampering off with delight, and he will communicate again when something new momentarily crosses his mind. Meanwhile, I need to choose my distractions well. In this case, I think I did!

"The two sides can posture all they want, but in the end, Congress and the president have to reach an agreement. That is not a bad thing."

"It is a good thing. The Constitution does not permit a unilateral solution on either side.... Article I, Section 8 lists the powers of Congress. The first clause of Section 8 provides that Congress may 'lay and collect taxes.' The second clause provides that Congress has the power 'to borrow money on the credit of the United States.' These clauses are absolute.... The debt ceiling is not a restriction on what would otherwise be the president’s ability to borrow; it is an authorization for the executive branch to borrow up to that ceiling.... Nonetheless, Mr. Biden’s advisers reportedly are contemplating violating the congressional debt limit based on a far-fetched interpretation of Section 4 of the 14th Amendment propounded by some academics...."

Writes lawprof Michael W. McConnell in "The Case for Violating the Debt Limit Is Dangerous Nonsense" (NYT).

May 14, 2023

Sunrise — 5:41, 5:46.



Donald Trump has a Mother's Day message for the "Lunatics and Maniacs" — the "Mothers, Wives and Lovers of the Radical Left Fascists, Marxists, and Communists."

FROM THE COMMENTS: Sean Gleeson said:
I think your headline is wrong. The Mothers Day message was not for the Lunatics and Maniacs, it was for the mothers of the Lunatics and Maniacs. His request to "Please make these complete Lunatics and Maniacs Kinder [etc.]" was directed to the mothers.
On reflection, I agree. But I also I see why I read it the way I did. The text is subject to 2 interpretations. The second sentence introduces the term "these complete Lunatics and Maniacs." You have to figure out which of the 2 sets of persons in the first sentence are the lunatics and maniacs. The first sentence stresses the mothers, so it's natural to assume that the second sentence has the same stress. I was also influenced by the stereotype of mothers, that they are or should be kind, gentle, and soft. But once I think about the other possibility — that DT wants more kindness, etc., from the offspring of the mothers — I see that meaning makes more sense.

The first sentence is also ambiguous. He could be saying the mothers are trying to destroy America.

It really is badly written! Notice the all-caps "ALL." That's the most important word. Why he's saying Happy Mother’s Day to all — the way you'd say "Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!" — I don't know. Just extract Mother's Day and it makes sense: To ALL who are doing everything within their power to destroy and obliterate our once great Country, please become Kinder, Gentler, Softer and, most importantly, Smarter.

The first sentence doesn't address just the mothers of left-wingers. It addresses "ALL," including one subgroup, the mothers of lefties. Then the second sentence — I agree with Sean Gleeson — makes a superficially polite — "Please" — request of the these mothers.

But it's not polite to ask people to do things that can't be done. How are mothers supposed to "make" their offspring into something different? Apparently, the offspring are old enough to have their own ideas about politics. What is mother supposed to do about that? Maybe have rational conversations. But that's not "making" anybody into something else. And, ironically, it's not kind, gentle, and soft to "make" someone into something. 

ALSO: I see I've been blind to the words "Wives and Lovers"! It was Mother's Day, not Wife's Day or Lover's Day. Noticing these words, at long last, I'm more irked than before at the sexism of Trump's tweet/"truth." He thinks it's women's work to fix the young. I know "lovers" could be men, but following the principle of ejusdem generis — and my understanding of the Mind of Trump — I think he meant female lovers. 

Trying to come to terms with my switching off of the movie "Days of Heaven" when Richard Gere throws soup at a guy....


... I start a conversation with ChatGPT:

What are some movies where someone throws food at somebody?


Here are some movies where someone throws food at somebody:

It's raining right now, but let me show you this from 4 days ago.

IMG_1297 3


Closeup on death.

Biden on Ketanji Brown Jackson: "And, by the way, she’s brighter than the rest. (Laughter.) She is one bright woman."

Isn't that a microagression?

I'm reading "Remarks by President Biden at the Howard University Class of 2023 Commencement Address."

It's my subjective experience — disagree with me if you want — that "bright" is a patronizing word. It's used for children, and when it's used on an adult, it's looking down on the person as if they are something like a child. It expresses vague surprise that the person stands out and can do reasonably difficult tasks, but it sets them apart as not able to do the most sophisticated things that the speaker imagines himself to be doing. Older men in superior positions have said it through the years about younger associates and, especially, women. And I think it's what a racist would say about a capable black person.

Here's the context at the speech (in which Biden is openly pleading for black people to vote for him):

Prime Minister of what?

I'm reading "Remarks by President Biden at the Howard University Class of 2023 Commencement Address." 

This is near the beginning, where he's acknowledging various people on the stage:
And it’s truly special — special to join fellow honorees. Prime Minister Rowley of — (laughs) — Prime Minister — Prime Minister, I didn’t know you were so talented. (Laughter.) I just thought you were foreign policies — you know, Latin American guy. I — you know, I — we got to talk. (Laughter.)

You know, Latin American guy. 

I had to look it up. Keith Rowley is the prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago.

"Don’t be too smart. Always let somebody else think that they are smarter than you."

"Don’t give somebody too many choices. If you have an entire alphabet of letters, just give somebody the A and the B."

Writes Bob Dylan, in "The Philosophy of Modern Song" (discussing the Johnny Cash song, "Don't Take Your Guns to Town").

Embarrassing bust.

Art and politics.

When Obama was a slang term.

Looking for something else — whether I'd ever blogged a particular video (I had) — I found this discussion, from 2009, of the use of "Obama" as a slang term:

August 22, 2009

Sorry. I don't believe it was *ever* cool/hip to call something/someone "Obama" to mean it/he was cool/hip.

But the NYT nevertheless has this style piece:
LAST week, if you wanted to use the latest slang to tell a friend he was cool, you could have called him “Obama,” as in: “Dude, you’re rocking the new Pre phone? You are so Obama.”

This week? Best not to risk it.