May 27, 2023

Sunrise — 5:24, 5:26.

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"Flight attendants shouted for help from male passengers and people all around clung to him and pulled him in."

Said a passenger quoted in "Video Shows Inside of Aircraft After Passenger Opened Emergency Exit Door" (Newsweek).

When you really need help in an emergency, you don't add extra words to your statements, so any specificity is highly meaningful.

Here, with the plane door blown open, the flight attendants are said to have specified that they wanted help from male passengers. If you're female and feel called to give whatever help you can, it's a reminder, perhaps bitter, that your well-meaning effort would only get in the way.

ADDED: Here's a WaPo article from February 2022 that got updated yesterday: "No, unruly passenger: You can’t physically open a plane door midflight/Passengers have tried and failed." The reassuring headline is isn't so reassuring anymore.

"Find the Place You Love. Then Move There. If where you live isn’t truly your home, and you have the resources to make a change, it could do wonders for your happiness."

The Atlantic suggests an article for me — from a couple years ago — that's right in my zone. It's by Arthur C. Brooks, The Atlantic's happiness expert, who — I'd noticed — has a new article in The Atlantic that I'd seen but chose not to click on: "Think About Your Death and Live Better/Contemplating your mortality might sound morbid, but it’s actually a key to happiness."

Did the Atlantic somehow see that I looked at the death article but decided not to read it and calculate that I might want to contemplate falling in love with someplace other than home and moving there? 

The "Find the Place You Love" essay begins with an anecdote about a man who grew up in Minnesota, moved to Northern California, and then missed Minnesota. When I read the title, I thought the idea was to cast a wide net, consider everywhere, and fall in love with something. But if it's just look back on your life and understand what was your real home, that's a much more restricted set of options. There's a good chance you already live in what is for you the most home-like place, and if you were to leave, thinking you'd found a better place — Northern California is "better" than Minnesota — you'd become vividly aware of the feeling of home

What's the difference between hiking and walking?

I'm trying to read "Hiking Has All the Benefits of Walking and More. Here’s How to Get Started. Exploring the great outdoors offers a host of mental and physical benefits. But there are a few things you need to know first" (NYT).

Hiking offers all the cardiovascular benefits of walking, but the uneven terrain does more to strengthen the leg and core muscles, which in turn boosts balance and stability, said Alicia Filley, a physical therapist outside Houston who helps train clients for outdoor excursions. It also generally burns more calories than walking.

I'm guessing there's no clear line between a walk and a hike, and it's more of a state of mind. Or does it all come down to whether you wear a backpack?

Every hiker should bring the 10 essentials, which include food and drink, first aid supplies, a map and compass and rain gear — all inside a supportive backpack with thick shoulder straps and a waist belt.

I thought I went hiking just about every day, but if it's all about the backpack, I never go hiking.

I liked this comment over there from Kjartan in Oslo:

May 26, 2023

Sunrise — 5:09, 5:18, 5:26.

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"That’s nice. But many of my generation will not make it to 100 … in fact did not make it to 25 … because of your father. They died in Vietnam."

The top-rated comment — one of many similar and utterly predictable comments — on "My father, Henry Kissinger, is turning 100. This is his guide to longevity" (WaPo).

"Grimes is enlisting free labor - potentially thousands of people, and a lot of them children - to make music with various aspects of her likeness, under the guise of a creative endeavor..."

"... and the chance to 'work with Grimes.' In reality, she's a burgeoning CEO in the midst of building a virtual sweatshop, something companies have been doing for eons, except now it appears this artist wants to give it a try. For example, not long ago she brought up taking 50% of the royalties of some of the more popular songs made with her likeness. And, just now in this article, she's playfully bringing up taking one of the AI-sampled songs someone made, and making her own version. She has all the right in the world to do it, but it's not a revolution I would like to see, and I don't understand why this would be something to praise."

Here's a page full of the labor of artists using Grimes AI and competing for a $10,000 prize.

Here's one example that was embedded over at the NYT and commented on by the true winner of this game, Grimes:


She said: "I love how weird this song is — it sounds really inhuman.... You can hear the technology very profoundly. What I like about the early A.I. stuff is that you can hear the technology very profoundly. I think people will appreciate that more in five years when they realize people only made stuff like this for a couple months."

So don't worry. This seems inhuman, but later AI will seem human. You'll be nostalgic for this in the future. You'll think something like: Remember when what was inhuman felt sweetly and tragically inhuman? We've lost touch with the poignancy that was the inhumanity of early AI. It's all just uniformly "human" now.

"... and I continue my nightly ritual..."

Ludicrously disingenuous letter to the NYT "Social Q" advice columnist:
My husband was chatting with our new neighbor when the neighbor mentioned he could see me undressing at night through my bathroom window. Our homes are on three-quarter-acre lots, so we’re not that close. My husband was speechless, and I continue my nightly ritual, which does not include drawing the shades. Was our neighbor wrong to say something? Shouldn’t he not look?

How do you "not look" at something that you must first see to know it's there and not to be looked at?

ADDED: The use of the word "ritual" lays bare the performance element of this woman's behavior. But the real question is, why did the NYT publish this letter? I'll bet I could write a blog, posting daily, devoted entirely to exposing the gratuitous nudity in the NYT.

For example — from May 19th — "Naked Stand-Up Comedy: Everything You Imagine, but Oh So Much More/Do you wear shoes onstage? What’s it like to bomb while nude? And, ahem, where do you keep your notes? But the shows often sell out" ("... she is entirely naked...").

And, from yesterday — "Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Over Nudity in ‘Romeo and Juliet’/The actors in Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 film sued Paramount Pictures last year over a scene in which the star-crossed title characters woke up together in the nude" ("The judge dismissed the lawsuit, writing that the claim concerned filmmaking, a protected activity under the First Amendment").

"No violence is legitimate, whether verbal or against people. We have to work in depth to counter this process of decivilisation."

Said President Macron, quoted in "Radical left threatens civilisation in France, says Macron/President speaks out after pension reform protests and attacks on elected officials" (London Times).
Presidential advisers said the term was a reference to Norbert Elias, the 20th century German sociologist who described how self-restraint and social inhibitions had civilised Europe, first in royal courts and then among the rest of the population, in his book The Civilizing Process.

This resonates with me because I once used the word "civilized" in the presence of sociologists and experienced the iciest silence of my entire life. Used it jocosely... I'd thought. 

Macron is said to believe the process has gone into reverse in what one adviser called a “Trumpisation of minds and a denial of reality”. 

Trump gets blame for what the left is doing... in France.  

"This sudden enthusiasm for cottage cheese has been attributed partly to a new generation focused on protein and nutrients and also madly keen on 'bowl' meals..."

"... filled with grains, vegetables and fruit. 'All of these ingredients together make for a super nutrient dense cottage cheese bowl that will have you full for literally hours'...."

We're told there are blogs and TikToks devoted to re-popularizing cottage cheese. One suggestion is to whip it (in a blender, I think) to change the oft-disliked consistency and make it more like the substance that — over the last 50 years — replaced it: yogurt.

"My life goes on... I will go on living in this tiny cabin. But one thing has changed. I am going to dedicate myself to somehow figuring out a way for the women..."

"... who don’t have my platform to hold men accountable. Robbie and I are going to put our heads together. That’s how my life is going to change. I’m a crone. I’m an elderly woman on a mountaintop. But I think we’ve got a few good years left to figure out a way to end the culture of sexual violence. That’s what I want to do."


We're told:
Carroll is seventy-nine. She just adopted a new dog, a Great Pyrenees. “She’s right here, Miss Havisham, Sham for short,” she said, gesturing offscreen.

"Robbie" is the lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, who's quoted saying she considered seeking a gag order when Trump, having lost in the defamation case continued to repeat the defamation. But she didn't want the "First Amendment concerns," and she's seeking additional punitive damages instead.

The dog is named Miss Havisham — that is, the character in "Great Expectations" who devotes herself extravagantly to her disappointment in men. At trial, there was an unsuccessful attempt to introduce evidence that she'd once named a dog/cat "Vagina." 

"Black roof country, no gold pavements, tired starlings/Silver horses ran down moonbeams in your dark eyes...."

"... he wrote for the song White Room, editing the lyric down to three stanzas and a chorus from what was originally an eight-page poem. Other songs such as Sunshine of Your Love were more spontaneous. At about 5am at the end of a long night’s writing session, Bruce had picked out the now familiar 11-note descending bass pattern and said, 'Well, what about this then?' Brown looked out of the window and said: 'It’s getting near dawn when lights close their tired eyes...."

From "Pete Brown obituary/Long-haired poet who wrote the lyrics for the Sixties supergroup Cream, including White Room and Sunshine of Your Love" (London Times).

"... normalcy only returns when we've largely vaccinated the entire global population."

 At 1:08 in this fascinating montage, Bill Gates says that word we were talking about yesterday:

May 25, 2023

Sunrise — 5:21, 5:27.

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The Lincoln Project to Ron DeSantis: "[Y]ou’re going to get absolutely destroyed.... We’re sure going to love watching you crash and burn."

"Your awkwardness, disdain for people, and general disgust with the process, won’t help while you’re shaking countless hands in distant diners or standing in the middle of a fair posing for pictures with a butter cow. You think you are owed a win, but you’ve never been attacked like Trump will wreck you. Your height, your recent and sudden weight loss, your terrible political judgment, the bad advice from domineering advisors, will all be fair game to Trump. He’s going to go through you like fingers through pudding. You’re too weak and afraid of Trump and his MAGA cult members to fight him to win. It was a brilliant move to announce on Twitter so you don’t have to talk to real people or answer real questions. It’s just you and Elon Musk – a South African who believes that the radical right deserves their own space to scream racist tropes, promote political violence, and push a bizarre culture war.... "

From an open letter to Ron DeSantis from The Lincoln Project.

What the phrase "will all be fair game to Trump" really means is that it's completely fair game to The Lincoln Project. They're the ones saying these things, but they'd like us to imagine that the bad orange man will be saying them and they're only predicting it. They got me looking up DeSantis's height, which they clearly think is an issue, but they'd like us to believe it's not them, it's Trump who has contempt for men of less than above-average height. 

"'The Wrath of Becky'/Rated R for disgusting dialogue and dripping brain matter."

I'm reading a movie review in the NYT. I haven't been paying much attention to descriptions of new movies, but this one caught my eye because of its violently angry young female protagonist. It made me think of school shootings. I sometimes wonder what the entertainment business is trying to upload into the mind of Gen Z. 

DeSantis uses Warren G. Harding's word, "normalcy": "We must return normalcy to our communities."

A couple hours ago, I put up a post that began to go through the transcript of yesterday's DeSantis event. I casually noted 2 things that called to mind former Presidents: 1. The Reaganesque "well," and 2. JFK's favorite word "vigor."

Getting back to the transcript just now, the next sentence I read is "We must return normalcy to our communities."

Normalcy! I can see wanting to resonate with Reagan and JFK — so presidential! — but Warren G. Harding? Here you have one of the famously bad Presidents, and the word is absolutely associated with Harding.

Harding said: "America's present need is not heroics but healing; not nostrums but normalcy; not revolution but restoration."

From the "Back to Normalcy" chapter of the 1931 classic "Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920s":

"I think that free expression is a complicated, broad, nuanced field, and I’m not a free-speech absolutist."

"We make decisions about speech and expression all the time, and that’s the job of a free-expression organization. The question of whether a festival should feature both Ukrainian and Russian writers is a perfectly legitimate one, and it raises all sorts of other questions: is it O.K. for them to speak in the same spaces, or for them to speak in different spaces on the same topic, or in different time slots? But that’s not what happened. What happened was that both Russian and Ukrainian writers were invited. And then, when the Ukrainian writers arrived and said, 'We can’t speak at the same festival with Russians,' the Russians were disinvited. To disinvite them is not just impolite, but it’s also basically saying, 'Look, we thought your expression was legitimate and desirable until other people said it wasn’t.' That, I think, violates the principles of free expression. A free-expression organization can’t be in that business of saying, 'We don’t want you to speak because someone else doesn’t want you to speak.'"

I didn't listen to the DeSantis event on Twitter. I tried, but didn't keep trying, and what little I heard — that flat voice — convinced me...

 ... I'd rather wait and get the transcript. And here it is: The Transcript.

This is my effort to cherry-pick some substance (and style):
Well, I am running for President of the United States to lead our great American comeback....

It's like "make America great again," but with different words. I don't like weakening it by beginning with "Well," but it was a Reagan trademark. You have to do it... well. Can't know from the transcript.

And our president, well, he lacks vigor, flounders in the face of our nation’s challenges, and he takes his cues from the woke mob....

He said "well" again, and "vigor" is a JFK word. "Flounders in the face" has me looking up the old Monty Python fish-slapping dance. But he got his own trademark across: "the woke mob."
American decline is not inevitable, it is a choice. And we should choose a new direction, a path that will lead to American revitalization.... This... means replacing the woke mind virus with reality, facts and, enduring principles. Merit must trump identity politics.

He said "trump"! Maybe he'll say it a lot in an effort to lower-case the ultra-famous name. "Merit must trump identity politics" sounds like a slogan. He's continuing to talk about fighting wokeness. He's said "woke mob," and here is "woke mind virus." We need to re-infect the national mind with something better: "reality, facts and, enduring principles." 

(more later)

"[Gert-Jan] Oskam... said that these stimulation technologies had left him feeling that there was something foreign about the locomotion..."

"... an alien distance between his mind and body. The new interface changed this, he said: 'The stimulation before was controlling me, and now I’m controlling the stimulation.' In the new study, the brain-spine interface, as the researchers called it, took advantage of an artificial intelligence thought decoder to read Mr. Oskam’s intentions — detectable as electrical signals in his brain — and match them to muscle movements. The etiology of natural movement, from thought to intention to action, was preserved. The only addition... was the digital bridge spanning the injured parts of the spine.... 'It raises interesting questions about autonomy, and the source of commands. You’re continuing to blur the philosophical boundary between what’s the brain and what’s the technology.'"

May 24, 2023

Sunrise — 5:35, 5:38.

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Listening to Ron DeSantis?

 On Twitter... I think it's supposed to be here. Not really seeing it though....

At the NYT: "Live Updates: DeSantis Stumbles Out the Gate With a Twitter Meltdown."

ADDED: At one point I was able to hear some of it, but I think I'd just as soon read about it. 

AND:

"Target said that customers knocked down Pride displays at some stores, angrily approached workers and posted threatening videos on social media from inside the stores."

"Target declined to specify Wednesday which items it was removing but among the ones that garnered the most attention were 'tuck friendly' women’s swimsuits that allow trans women who have not had gender-affirming operations to conceal their private parts.... Target’s Pride month collection has also been the subject of several misleading videos in recent weeks, with social media users falsely claiming the retailer is selling 'tuck-friendly' bathing suits designed for kids or in kids’ sizes...."

The internal link goes to the AP article "Target’s Pride collection features 'tuck-friendly' swimsuits for adults, not kids," which quotes a Target spokesperson as saying "The 'tuck-friendly' swim suits are for adults only." They may be aimed at adults, but if the sizing fits a younger person, there's no enforcing the concept "adults only." 

"I quirled an egg into my instant noodles and it turned gray."

Says someone at Reddit (with a photo of the gray noodle broth), and the discussion is less about why the egg turned things gray than about that unusual verb: quirl.

The OED says the word is a regionalism of the American south that somehow developed out of "curl" and "coil." I would think "twirl" and "swirl" and "whirl" also played a part. And why not "squirrel"? What's up with "-irl"? Why does it suggest a spiraling movement? There's also "furl" and "circle."

Goodbye to Tina Turner.

"Tina Turner, the earthshaking soul singer whose rasping vocals, sexual magnetism and explosive energy made her an unforgettable live performer and one of the most successful recording artists of all time, died on Wednesday at her home in Küsnacht, Switzerland, near Zurich. She was 83."



AND: I'm a new pair of eyes every time I am born/An original mind because I just died:

Sunrise — 5:32.

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"Now and through November 2024, Republicans will be able to say that Biden has 'admitted' he allowed too much spending, which of course they blame for every conceivable economic ill."

"And if inflation subsides and a recession does not appear, Republicans will take credit for that via the debt-limit deal they 'forced' Biden and the shadowy Marxists who control him to accept. It’s fine red meat for the perpetually angry and conflict-savoring MAGA base."

"Nebraskans... watched as she recounted the plot of Penguins of Madagascar. As she made a case for the Oxford comma ('Clarity is key')."

"As she listed her favorite things to put in salads ('Nothing better than a fresh tomato'). As she held forth on the history of the word queue, shared a memory of her mother trying to teach her how to play bridge, and explained, in exhaustive detail, the rules of the legislature that allowed her to take up so much time. She took up more time still by decrying the legislation she opposed — not only LB 574 but also a bill that would ban abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. She filibustered almost every bill that came to the floor, preventing the legislature from voting on almost all of the 812 bills introduced this year, including some she supported. 'I’m not going to discriminate,' she said.... From the beginning, Cavanaugh knew she could lose and probably would. She had accepted that. What she wanted, at a minimum, was to make the Republicans suffer for their victory.... 'If you want to inflict pain upon our children, I am going to inflict pain upon this body,' she promised on the floor in February. 'People are like, "Is she threatening us?" Let me be clear. Yes, I am. I am threatening you.'"

"A perfumier designed the aroma to contain hints of 'pus, blood, faecal matter and sweat' so [Jude] Law could imagine himself as [Henry VIII]...."

"At the start of filming Law said he made sure 'very subtly' to use a dab or two of the stomach-turning scent. However, when he found that the smell aided his performance, 'it became a spray-fest.' "When Jude walked in on set,” the director, Karim Aïnouz, said, 'it was just horrible.' [Alicia] Vikander, who performed sex scenes with Law, gave a look of disgust as the actor [said] 'Even the camera operators were gagging. My memory is that we were laughing a lot.... [I'd] read several interesting accounts that you could smell Henry three rooms away. His leg was rotting so badly. He hid it with rose oil. I thought it would have a great impact if I smelt awful.'"

Watch Ms. Vikander approach the putrid actor:


I asked ChatGPT, "Can you tell me about other actors who have used smelliness to enhance their performance?" In classic ChatGPT form, I got a list of 5 items:

"... the exact source of deadly outcomes remains 'a big mystery.' A mystery made even harder to solve by the murkiness of the supplement industry."

"The industry has many well-known problems: a lack of scientific evidence for the benefits of certain products, a habit of misleading marketing, a deep reliance on magical thinking. But the recent spate of pediatric melatonin overdoses represents another big one: the products’ maddening irregularity. If no one knows what’s in the supplements, doctors may never understand whether or how they cause serious harm."

We're talking about 3 to 5 year old children eating gummies that are infused with a substance that is believed to promote sleep. Are the kids getting into what seems like candy or are the parents trying to put their kids to sleep? 

"It can no longer be denied"/"Free speech" is right wing.


I'm trying to read "Twitter Is a Far-Right Social Network/It can no longer be denied" by Charlie Warzel at The Atlantic.
Truth Social, a website backed in part by Donald Trump, says it encourages “an open, free, and honest global conversation without discriminating on the basis of political ideology.” This language is indistinguishable from the way that [Tucker] Carlson spoke of [Elon] Musk’s Twitter, arguing that “there aren’t many platforms left that allow free speech,” and that the site is “the last big one remaining in the world.” 
If it acts like a right-wing website and markets itself as a right-wing website, it just might be a right-wing website....

Warzel is hoping for the worst for Twitter, and it's a hope that we've seen since the beginning of the Musk takeover. A free speech policy will drive out the liberals and lefties, and without lefties to kick around, righties won't be happy:

May 23, 2023

Sunrise — 5:43.

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The friend who agrees with everything, Mick Jagger plays, regicide in the bee colony, what did Tolstoy have to say that is this much, raptor in the screen door.

An array of TikToks:

"Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis will announce he is running for president during a discussion with Twitter CEO Elon Musk... "

NBC News reveals.

This is supposed to happen at 6 ET tomorrow.

Why Elon?

The launch will closely tie together the billionaire tech mogul with one of the Republican Party’s rising stars. Musk has been an admirer of DeSantis, who also regularly chides corporate media. Last year, Musk said he would support the governor if he were to run for president.... It’s not clear if Musk will formally endorse DeSantis on Wednesday....

You'd think Elon Musk would want to maintain a position of cruel neutrality. 

Sunrise — 5:37.

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"According to some estimates, more than sixty per cent of people with Alzheimer’s disease will wander away from home or a caregiver..."

"... or become lost when an abrupt bout of confusion propels them from an otherwise familiar setting.... And yet a person with Alzheimer’s can’t simply be locked in at home. The loss of dignity and quality of life would be intolerable, and, as many caregivers discover, people with dementia can quite suddenly outmaneuver even those safety measures adopted with their input and consent. Wandering lays bare a painful truth about life with dementia: risk and freedom are inextricably intertwined...."

Let's read this morning's Instapundit post about feminism and happiness.

Glenn Reynolds writes:

PYRRHIC VICTORY:  Joel Kotkin: Women have won the ‘war between the sexes,’ but at what cost?

Even Vox is wondering why women have gotten everything they said they wanted, but are still unhappy. Their explanation, of course, is that men still aren’t doing enough to make women happy. But it’s interesting that they’ve noticed the problem.

My hypothesis: What we’ve been told that “women” want is in fact what a relatively small percentage of women — 20% at most — who tend to be neurotic and anxious, and largely incapable of sustained happiness anyway, say they want. But even to the extent that’s true, their needs aren’t really those of most women whose interests fall closer to the norms.

Related:  “Actually, it’s very much an open question as to whether feminist interpretations of life make women happier. . . . Certainly, polls such as the General Social Survey suggest that women have become steadily less happy every year since 1972.”

Also:  The Female Happiness Paradox. 

Lots of parts there, so let's take this one piece at a time. 

"If their mom were too sick to make meals or wash or do anything at all, would they just leave her there?"

"Of course not. Instead, they meant that they couldn’t see where neediness fit into their lives, because their lives were arranged to pretend that care didn’t exist. For them — perhaps for you, too, if sickness hasn’t yet rearranged your life — care was something that happened to other people."

Writes Emily Kenway in "Family caregiving should be seen as an expectation — not an exception" (WaPo).

Where this column goes: "Ultimately, caring for loved ones should be a fundamental, protected right...."
Currently, family medical leave is unpaid and so restrictive that, according to the Labor Department, 44 percent of U.S. employees are ineligible. Instead, we could follow Norway’s example, expanding leave to all workers and sharing the costs between employers and government. If you need a business case, consider the recent Harvard Business School finding that providing caregiver leave can reduce turnover, especially of senior-level employees.

"Our community is concerned with performative allyship, but we believe this is very sincere."

Said Sister Unity, a co-founder of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, quoted in "Dodgers apologize and invite Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to Pride Night" (Yahoo).

I'm concerned with performative declarations of sincerity. 

May 22, 2023

Sunrise — 5:51.

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"E. Jean Carroll Seeks New Damages From Trump for Comments on CNN."

The NYT reports.

She's doing what she obviously should, as I discussed here on May 11th. She has a judgment in her favor, and he is repeating the statements that have been found to be defamatory. 

"Its ineptly modeled internal surfaces—with underpinnings discernible among its contours in some places, and a crumbly finish sure to degrade as thousands of tiny hands touch it—reminded me of nothing so much as..."

"... the Tunnel of Love at the old Willow Grove amusement park near Philadelphia, where I went as an adolescent, a wholly unconvincing pseudo-geological concoction even by pre-Disneyworld standards. With the western hemisphere’s most splendid example of freeform architecture just across Central Park—the concrete whirlwind of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim Museum—the deficiencies of Studio Gang’s design seem all the more glaring...."

"I’d love to be two(ish) blocks from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade in a place with three or four bedrooms, since it’s not a priority for my kids to get their own rooms."

"I’d send my kids to Brooklyn Friends... and I want them to play an instrument or do an activity they’re interested in, like drama. ... [W]e’ll need after-school child care. I want an SUV and a place to park it, and we’d buy groceries from Trader Joe’s and Sahadi’s and do date night at least once a week. And I really want somebody to scrub the life out of my whole house once a month. In my future life, I’d be wearing beautiful vintage designer clothing and buying a new piece maybe every couple of months. I’d also like a membership to a gym that has Pilates classes and a sauna.... I’d be traveling monthly — little trips here and there, maybe a quick getaway with my husband or a solo trip.... and we’d just stay in a nice simple hotel with Wi-Fi. My sister lives in Majorca, Spain, so for two or three weeks, we’d go visit with our whole family. When flying international, I’d fly business, but I’d put my kids in economy...."

The article breaks down what this modest dream would cost in real life. Click through to see it all itemized, but the bottom line is $712,329 a year (after a onetime payment of $1,252,401). More dreams and realism at the link. It makes great reading for anyone who wants not to want to have children.

"A California father died after being struck by a car Thursday night while helping a family of ducks cross a busy road...."

The NY Post quotes a 12-year-old boy, who took photos of the man and then witnessed his death:
"He got out of the car and was shooing the ducks and everyone was clapping because he was being really nice... They were saying, 'Oh, it’s so cute. It’s so nice of him.' And then all of a sudden he was hit by a car.... He was the only person to get out of the car and try and help them and probably the nicest person in the entire area. It’s not fair." 

Columbine at Blue Mounds (yesterday).

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"You said I always lie!"/"I just couldn’t believe it. It just didn’t sound real, until there was proof. It sounds like something you would see in the movies"/"Mom, stuff in the movies can and do happen in real life."

From "His mom got him a $3 slingshot. He used it to stop a kidnapper, police say" (WaPo).
Troopers said they found the 17-year-old suspect hiding at a nearby gas station.... 'He had obvious signs of an injury consistent with those that would have been sustained from the slingshot strikes to his head and chest,' police said.... Maggie said that, at first, she didn’t believe her son had sniped a stranger from some 200 feet away. She thought he was talking big. Then, police informed her of the 17-year-old’s telltale injuries. They said that, as investigators interviewed the suspect, the marble-induced goose egg on his head kept growing....

"Why there’s reason for optimism about girls, women and sports: A Q&A."

Headline for a Washington Post article that contains no mention of a topic that is the main topic in the comments.

"The female orca, whom scientists named White Gladis, appears to have taught the aggressive behavior to other adult orcas, whose children have begun imitating the behavior...."

"In most of the interactions, the orcas strike the rudder or hull, the underbody, of the boat.... Orcas are known to be extremely intelligent and capable of teaching one another certain behaviors, including actions that could be interpreted as violent....."

This post gets the "dolphin" tag, not the "whale" tag.

"The desire to deafen and respond with noise reflects a kind of discredit of the political discourse."

"We are not being listened to, we are not being heard after weeks of protests. So now we are left with a single option, which is not to listen to you either."

Said the French essayist Christian Salmon, quoted in "France’s Latest Way to Sound Anger Over Pensions Law: Saucepans/Protesters have been harassing the French government in clanky demonstrations that have gone viral in a country with no shortage of kitchenware" (NYT).

The noisemaking — "casserolades" — is over raising the age of retirement from 62 to 64.

Pan beating dates back to the Middle Ages in a custom, called “charivari,” that was intended to shame ill-matched couples....

A website created by a union of tech workers now ranks French regions for casserolades based on the level of cacophony and the importance of the affected government official....

Wikipedia has an extensive article "Charivari." It begins:

"It’s not you telling your mom, 'Don’t take the torn recliner.' It’s someone else saying, 'Maybe another chair would work better."

Said Donna Surges Tatum, chair of the Certified Relocation & Transition Specialist Certification Board, quoted in "Moving Is a Monumental Task for Many Older Americans. These Organizers Can Help. Senior move managers may spend weeks or months helping seniors and their families sort through belongings, pack and move into a new home" (NYT).
One woman who hadn’t cooked for 20 years insisted that she needed to hold on to a particular roasting pan, Ms. Bjorkman recalled. The woman also argued that, as someone who remembered the Depression, a freestanding freezer was a crucial source of comfort — even if it was full of expired food. The roasting pan could be disassembled to fit under the bed in the new apartment, Ms. Bjorkman said. The freezer — still packed with food — served as a living room side table....

From the comments over there:

5 years ago the brilliant, compassionate move manager my family hired to move my elderly aunt from a big house to a small condo did what nobody in the family could do -- persuade my aunt to relinquish some of the seven -- seven == precious bundt cake pans that she insisted she needed in her new home. As someone else here said: Worth. Every. Penny.

May 21, 2023

Sunrise — 5:20... and — added the next morning — at 5:27.

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"People who publish novels can be generally sorted into furtive daydreamers and pragmatic careerists. Comey goes in the second camp."

"This is not an aspiration he’s held close, or for long. He dismissed it when his agents initially pitched him on co-writing a book with James Patterson, and when the editor of 'Saving Justice' (his second memoir, after 'A Higher Loyalty') suggested he might be good at writing fiction.... But writing fiction was 'something that I think was tickling the back of his brain,' said Comey’s wife, Patrice. 'It would come up every once in a while, and at some point I realized that maybe he’s taking this seriously.'... Comey’s novels — plural; he’s already finished the draft of a sequel — are a family affair: The heroine of 'Central Park West,' Nora Carleton, includes aspects of all his daughters but owes a particular debt to his eldest, Maurene, who like Nora is tall, in her early-to-mid-30s and a prosecutor in the Southern District of New York. Comey first thought of the protagonist as a younger version of himself but found it more fun to write using someone else as his inspiration — though the method has its hazards: 'The kids are a little creeped out,' he said. 'Well, "creeped out" is a strong word — it’s just that they know that they’ll be asked about it.' (Asked about it, the Comey children declined to be interviewed.)"

The wife goes on record about what she thinks tickles the back of Comey's brain, but the daughters don't want to talk about whatever it is that made their dad say he'd creeped them out.

"Dylan Mulvaney is exemplary of the new queer order: a femme gay man who had to take female hormones to stay relevant."

"(Compare and contrast with disco icon Sylvester’s view of gay liberation: 'I could be the queen that I really was without having a sex change or being on hormones.' We are going backward, not forward.)... If a Christianist hospital was busy changing the sexes of overwhelmingly gay kids, so that they became straight, what do you think the gay rights establishment would say? But when a queer facility does exactly that, all the worriers are bigots.... So many potentially gay children were being sent down the pathway to change gender, two of the clinicians said there was a dark joke among staff that 'there would be no gay people left.' 'It feels like conversion therapy for gay children,' one male clinician said. 'I frequently had cases where people started identifying as trans after months of horrendous bullying for being gay.... Young lesbians considered at the bottom of the heap suddenly found they were really popular when they said they were trans.'..."

Writes Andrew Sullivan in "The Queers Versus The Homosexuals/We are in a new era. And the erasure of gay men and lesbians is intensifying" (Substack).

"If you’re faced with all these challenges, you have to remain calm. What’s the point of worrying about something..."

"... worrying is not going to make your problems disappear. I attribute this to my father and grandfather. They are very very stoic."

Said Daniel Penny, quoted in "Daniel Penny, charged in Jordan Neely death, breaks silence: 'I am not a white supremacist'" (NY Post).

Asked about something Al Sharpton said about him, Penny said he wasn't sure who Al Sharpton was: "I don’t really know celebrities that well."

Celebrities.

And he doesn't know what's going on in social media: "I don’t follow anyone, and I don’t have social media because I really don’t like the attention and I just think there are better ways to spend your time. I don’t like the limelight."

"Many poets make us smile; how many poets make us laugh – or, in that curious phrase, 'laugh out loud' (as if there’s any other way of doing it)?"

"Who else uses an essentially conversational idiom to achieve such a variety of emotional effects? Who else takes us, and takes us so often, from sunlit levity to mellifluous gloom? And let it be emphasised that Larkin is never 'depressing.' Achieved art is quite incapable of lowering the spirits. If this were not so, each performance of King Lear would end in a Jonestown."

Wrote Martin Amis, in the introduction to "Philip Larkin Poems: Selected by Martin Amis," which I've been reading lately.

I bought this book after listening to the Larkin episode of "Frank Skinner's Poetry Podcast," but that Martin Amis introduction did not spring to mind when I was reading the Martin Amis obituaries this morning, though I was trying to remember what small part of his writings I may have read.

"In order to stay relevant, you have to make sure your skills are valuable. Everyone is going to need to learn how to use AI and to apply it to their role."

Said Jared Spataro, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of modern work and business applications, quoted in "Many AI tools are a distraction, but you’d better pay attention/Google, Microsoft and a slew of other companies are touting AI features in their apps for work. Here’s what workers need to know" (WaPo).

AI is eventually going to change how everyone works, he says. In terms of time spent learning the new tech, Spataro compares it to the process of learning how to ride a bike: You may fall a lot, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll go farther faster.

"We had a guy pull in the other day towing a big boat. He asked us how to get to the launch ramp to the lake. I don’t think he realised he was looking at a lake of solar panels."

From "How solar farms took over the California desert: 'An oasis has become a dead sea'/ Residents feel trapped and choked by dust, while experts warn environmental damage is 'solving one problem by creating others'" (The Guardian).

What solution is not also a new problem? The question is whether the solution is worse than the problem.

These western deserts are vast and contain few residents. Isn't there plenty of space to go ahead and screw up with seas of solar panels?

"It’s a pity, it’s a tragedy, but for today Bakhmut is only in our hearts," said Volodymyr Zelensky, in a remark that a spokesman "later clarified."

Reported in "Russia-Ukraine War/Live Updates: Biden Pledges Commitment to Ukraine; Zelensky Denies Bakhmut Has Fallen At the G7 summit in Japan, President Biden said world powers 'will not waver' in supporting Ukraine. The Ukrainian leader, Volodymyr Zelensky, rejected Russia’s claim it captured Bakhmut and said Kyiv’s forces were still fighting for the eastern city" (NYT).

"Mr. Amis’s talent was undeniable: He was the most dazzling stylist in postwar British fiction."

"So were his swagger and Byronic good looks. He had well-chronicled involvements with some of the most watched young women of his era. He wore, according to media reports, velvet jackets, Cuban-heel boots, bespoke shirts. He stared balefully into paparazzi lenses. His raucous lunches with friends and fellow writers like Ian McEwan, Julian Barnes, Salman Rushdie, Clive James, James Fenton and [Christopher] Hitchens were written up in the press and made other writers feel that they were on the outside looking in. He seemed to be having more fun than other people. His detractors considered him less a bad boy than a spoiled brat.... 'He was more blond than [Mick] Jagger and indeed rather shorter,' Mr. Hitchens wrote, 'but his sensuous lower lip was a crucial feature,' and 'you would always know when he had come into the room.' Mr. Amis wrote his first novel, 'The Rachel Papers,' published in England in 1973, on nights and weekends. He gave himself a year to complete it. If it hadn’t panned out, he said, he might have considered academia."


"I feel I’m only going to write short stories and novellas from now on. Chekhov said, toward the end of his life, 'Everything I read strikes me as not short enough.' And I agree."

"In the old days it came quicker, the prose. Now it’s a battle. It’s not about coming up with striking adverbs, it’s more about removing as many uglinesses as I can find."

"What makes you a writer? You develop an extra sense that partly excludes you from experience. When writers experience things, they’re not really experiencing them anything like a hundred percent. They’re always holding back and wondering what the significance of it is, or wondering how they’d do it on the page."

AND: From the London Times:

Some thought him misanthropic, but it would probably be truer to say that he was disappointed and depressed by traits in society that, in his opinion, more and more held sway. He could see beauty and virtue lurking jointly in the shadows. He could also appreciate the rich comedy of life and the poignancy of its pretences. Yet, in the end, his was a pessimistic outlook, holding that personal progress was necessarily finite and insignificant while the universe itself, unmoved by any guiding hand, moved ineluctably towards chaos and destruction.

President Loon.