June 17, 2023

Sunrise — 5:27.


"Three days earlier, I had booked Hertz’s cheapest option.... What I did not consider was an electric car...."

"With no forewarning, no experience driving an EV, and virtually no guidance, what was supposed to be a restful trip upstate was anything but. Just a few hours of highway driving would sap the battery, leaving me and my friends scrounging for public chargers in desolate parking lots, the top floors of garages, and hotels with plugs marked for guests only. It was a crash course in EVs for four people who had never heard of CCS versus CHAdemo, the 80/20 rule, and Level 3 chargers. After my disastrous weekend, I talked to three rental-car experts: All of them were familiar with the phenomenon of the surprise EV, a result of how much the industry is leaning into electric cars...."

I'm reading "Car-Rental Companies Are Ruining EVs/Surprise electric vehicles are not ambassadors for change" by Saahil Desai (The Atlantic).

"Years before he said he was running for president to 'defeat the cult of gender ideology,' Donald Trump welcomed and praised the inclusion of transgender women in the Miss Universe pageant."

CNN reports.

Is that necessarily a contradiction? What counts as a "cult of gender ideology"? Could you favor letting transwomen into a beauty pageant without joining the "cult"? One way to be un-cultish is to make practical distinctions and accept one thing — such as, transwomen competing against cis women in beauty contests — and reject another — notably, transwomen competing against cis women in sports. That kind of thinking is characteristic of people who are not ideologues. Ideologues get hold of an abstract idea, run with it, and denounce those who won't take it to its logical conclusion, however impractical. 

"In August 1969, he went to a War Resisters League meeting at Haverford College in Pennsylvania and heard a speaker, Randy Kehler, proudly announce..."

"... that he was soon going to join his friends in prison for refusing the draft. Profoundly moved, Mr. Ellsberg had reached his breaking point.... 'I left the auditorium and found a deserted men’s room,' he said. 'I sat on the floor and cried for over an hour, just sobbing. The only time in my life I’ve reacted to something like that.'  Mr. Ellsberg began to oppose the war openly.... He also resigned from RAND, under pressure. With Anthony J. Russo Jr., a RAND colleague he had met in Vietnam, Mr. Ellsberg, who had a top-secret security clearance, photocopied the 47-volume Pentagon study. Still believing he could work within the system, Mr. Ellsberg in 1970 gave partial copies to Senator J. William Fulbright, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and others in Congress. All cautiously refused to act. Frustrated, disillusioned and aware that he might be committing a crime and could be sent to prison, Mr. Ellsberg approached Neil Sheehan, a veteran New York Times correspondent he had met in Vietnam, with the documents....."

From "Daniel Ellsberg, Who Leaked the Pentagon Papers, Is Dead at 92/Deeply disturbed by the accounting of American deceit in Vietnam, he approached The New York Times. The disclosures that followed rocked the nation" (NYT).

"The liberalization left behind a legal oddity: Marijuana use remains prohibited in public spaces...."

"Yet it’s allowed on private property.... Some have proposed social consumption spaces — 'analogous to a bar or a restaurant,' said Morgan Fox, NORML’s political director — though such sites could pose a nuisance to neighbors as well as workers. Another idea is to rescind the prohibition on smoking in public spaces, which would presumably cut consumption in cramped residential settings. It would also import the smellscape of New York City, where sidewalk pot smoking is legal. 'The number one thing I smell right now is pot,' said Mayor Eric Adams in July 2022. 'It seems like everyone is smoking a joint now, you know. Everybody has a joint.'"

Writes the Editorial Board of The Washington Post, in "A dispute over marijuana smoke raises questions for D.C. — and beyond."


Why did Ted Cruz drag Pat Benatar into this?

Let's read "Pat Benatar roasts Sen. Ted Cruz after he suggests she’s demonic" (NY Post). Ah:
Cruz’s comment may have been a reference to the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer’s 1980 hit “Hell Is For Children.”
It's odd that Cruz assumes people know this song, which I see was the B side of "Love Is a Battlefield." This is a recording from 1980. I'm older than  most Americans, and I remember living through the songs of 43 years ago, but I only knew the A side.

Here are the lyrics. To quote a bit: "It's all so confusing, this brutal abusing/They blacken your eyes, and then 'pologize/You're daddy's good girl, and don't tell mommy a thing.... Hell is for children...."

Of course, the Post headline is silly. Cruz didn't "suggest" that Benatar is "demonic." He created an exaggerated image of Joe Biden — something along the lines of Trump's "shoot a man on 5th Avenue" — as a way to say that nothing would be enough to turn Senate Democrats against Biden. Singing "Hell Is For Children" is a stray detail probably intended to add color and coolness, but of course, Benatar doesn't want her song thought of as celebrating the point of view of the child abuser. 

There may be a genuine apology somewhere in this 3-minute video, which is maddeningly verbose.

I gave up halfway through. Too much excess material. 

See for yourself, at "White House flasher Rose Montoya apologizes for whipping out breasts, defends ‘disrespectful’ stunt a moment of ‘trans joy'" (NY Post).

If you're going to apologize, be direct and clear. Don't use the occasion to make various other points that offset what you're supposedly apologizing for. 

June 16, 2023

Sunrise — 5:16.


And — at 5:30 a.m. — 2 cranes:


"The very fact that the age of consent was set at 13 created the societal mood that teenagers starting at 13 can be exploited sexually and be viewed sexually."

"It has created a culture and mood where everyone assumes that teenagers have the ability to make decisions around sexual consent, and therefore people don’t question their sexual exploitation.... In Japan, there is a saying, 'Don’t wake someone sleeping,' which is often used around sex education — meaning that if someone isn’t sexually active, there is no need to teach them about sex and awaken them to it."

Said lawprof Hiroko Goto, of Chiba University, quoted in "Japan (finally) changes a century-old law: The age of consent is now 16" (WaPo).

At 13, Japan had the lowest age of consent among the Group of Seven advanced economies and among the lowest in the developed world. The age of consent is 16 in Canada and most states in the United States; 15 in France; and 14 in Germany and Italy.... 

"6 Reasons DOJ’s 'Get Trump' Documents Case Is Seriously Flawed."

This is a concise article at The Federalist, written by Will Scharf who is a former federal prosecutor and currently a Republican candidate for Missouri Attorney General.

I'll give you the 6 headings and some excerpts:

Is the soul analog?

I'm trying to read "6 analog trends that are good for the soul" (WaPo).
Choosing the less-efficient way of doing something, especially things we do for pleasure, can help us reassess our relationship with time and forgo the constant need for productivity....

Do you have a relationship with time? Would something analog help you restructure it? That's the idea here. Do your high-tech devices cause anxiety about how your life is slipping away as if it's nothing of any substance, and would holding a real book — smelling it, turning the pages and all that — help you reestablish yourself in reality?

Other analog things that might help:

"[A] 60-year-old born in 1936 would feel more like 53 years old, or only about 12 percent younger. But a 60-year-old born in 1956..."

"... would feel like they were 50 years old, or about 17 percent younger.... Researchers are not sure what is causing the trend of feeling younger. One reason could be that a younger subjective age reflects having more resources than stress.... There could also be a less positive possible explanation for this recent shift toward a more youthful state of mind: Ageism. People could be feeling younger because 'they don’t want to belong to the group of older adults... a kind of psychological distancing oneself from the older adults.'... Women reported feeling younger than men of the same age.... People with more education had younger subjective ages.... A study found that if you make adults feel sad, by giving them sad readings or music, they feel older afterward.... Participants who felt older and held more ageist attitudes were more likely to have depressive symptoms on a day-to-day basis...."

I'll just quote Bob Dylan: "She's 68, but she says she's 54."

I was 14 when I first heard that, but I feel like I'm 54 now. I'm 72.

Anyway... I'd just like to say that you know what age you are. And you know how you feel. Rationally, you ought to think the age that you are feels like the age that you are. What better evidence do I have of how 72 feels than how I myself feel? Whence this notion of the inner life of other 72-year-olds — this faceless crowd, averaged out? How absurd and unseemly to imagine their sad decline — compared to me, the ever-young, full of life me! Actually, I myself don't have such absurd and unseemly imaginings. I was just imagining some other 72-year-old who is embarrassingly un-self-aware and vain.

For the truly graceful, a baby's burp is a sumptuous opportunity.

RFK Jr. tells Joe Rogan he's "gotta be careful" — he's "aware of" the danger of assassination, he's "not stupid," but he does not "live in fear, at all."


June 15, 2023

At the Butterfly Weed Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

"President Biden is almost certain to be Democrats' pick for president in 2024, but he might not win the first two contests of the primary season..."

"... if they're in the traditional first-to-vote states of Iowa and New Hampshire — a scenario that seems increasingly likely... Biden's team is indicating he won't be on the ballots in those states if they vote before South Carolina, his choice to have the first primary.... That sets up a scenario in which Robert F. Kennedy Jr. or another long-shot Democrat could win those states — and embarrass the president.... In touting South Carolina to kick off the primary season, Biden’s team has said it wanted voting to start in a racially diverse state to give minorities more of a say in early presidential contests. New Hampshire was about 87% white in the 2020 Census, while Iowa was about 83% white. South Carolina was about 62% white."

"Republican presidents have accepted the canard that the D.O.J. and F.B.I. are — quote — 'independent.'"

"They are not independent agencies. They are part of the executive branch. They answer to the elected president of the United States."

"There are editors who will always feel guilty that they aren’t writers.... I can write perfectly well..."

"... anybody who’s educated can write perfectly well. It’s very, very hard, and I just don’t like the activity. Whereas reading is like breathing.”

Said Robert Gottlieb, quoted in "Robert Gottlieb, Eminent Editor From le Carré to Clinton, Dies at 92/At Simon & Schuster, Alfred A. Knopf and The New Yorker, he polished the work of a who’s who of mid-to-late 20th century writers" (NYT).

"My brother, who is 12 years my senior, witnessed my mother repeatedly slapping infant me, not stopping til my father restrained her."

"He told me some 30 years later, with visible guilt. I was appreciative. I had always felt fearful and alienated by my mother from an early age, but without knowing about that incident, thought it was due to some defect in my own character. Truth is a disinfectant, even if it hurts, initially."

The columnist, Kwame Anthony Appiah, concludes "To insist on disclosure when the knowledge would only cause long-term distress would be acting on that old maxim fiat justitia, ruat caelum — let there be justice, though the heavens fall. That, I fear, would be a kind of moral fanaticism."

There's a Wikipedia article on fiat justitia, ruat caelum. I'll just quote some of the famous examples of the use of the Latin phrase, which The Ethicist used to warn against doing something for the sake of justice. Is that the way it always goes, or is it often — more often? — used to mean put justice first and let the chips fall where they may?

How to argue, powerfully, in the court of public opinion.

"[M]ost people believe that spontaneous sex is more satisfying. In part, this is because that’s how sex is portrayed in the movies..."

"... hot, passionate, and spur-of-the-moment. Additionally, people can remember a time when their romantic relationship was new, sexual desire was high, and spontaneous sex was the norm.... In the current study...  each participant indicated whether they’d had sex that day and whether it had been spontaneous or planned.... [T]hese respondents reported that their planned sexual encounters were just as satisfying as their spontaneous ones...."

How spontaneous can it be if you know you're part of a study and you're going to be filling out a survey?

The sound of Jonah Goldberg not getting a joke.

Here's the Know Your Meme article to help anyone who doesn't get it, but here at the Althouse blog we enjoyed it in real time on January 28, 2020. 

And I said it in the comments:
This is so squarely in my zone of humor. 
I love stuff about size — big and small. I have laughed 10 different times reading and rereading "Large boulder the size of a small boulder." 
Just laughed again writing that. 
If you ever want to get me to laugh at your jokes, just remember "Large boulder the size of a small boulder." That's my style.
And I was just saying yesterday...
As I've said many times on this blog, I love humor that plays with size, and my "big and small" tag is perhaps my favorite....

June 14, 2023

Sunrise — 5:23.


"Working as a grade school teacher in Waubeka, Wisconsin, in 1885, Bernard J. Cigrand held the first recognized formal observance of Flag Day...."

"From the late 1880s on, Cigrand spoke around the country promoting patriotism, respect for the flag, and the need for the annual observance of a flag day on June 14, the day in 1777 that the Continental Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes. He moved to Chicago to attend dental school and, in June 1886, first publicly proposed an annual observance of the birth of the United States flag.... On the third Saturday in June 1894, a public school children's celebration of Flag Day took place in Chicago at Douglas, Garfield, Humboldt, Lincoln, and Washington Parks. More than 300,000 children participated, and the celebration was repeated the next year.... Cigrand generally is credited with being the 'Father of Flag Day,' with the Chicago Tribune noting that he 'almost singlehandedly' established the holiday."

From "Flag Day" (Wikipedia).

"Just remember, we are all tiny, inconsequential bits of matter in a vast, unforgiving universe and our brief, ultimately meaningless, lives are over in the blink of an eye."

A man writes in the comments section to "The summer of the BKB (that’s big-knickered bikini)/They’re back this year and, yes, they’re flattering. What a revelation, says Charlie Gowans-Eglinton" (London Times).

"As puberty transmuted me into a character I had no interest in playing, my isolation, insecurity, and unknowing grew."

"I desperately needed to anchor myself. In new cities, with no friends, alone in hotel rooms, it was not hard for someone to prey. I’m sure they sense that."

Wrote Elliot Page, quoted in "Elliot Page Says He Was 'Groomed' As a Teen" (NY Magazine).

"Some of the explanations for why astrology is on the rise now are deeply tied to the skepticism about science and individualistic thinking."

"We need to take people who use astrology seriously, in order to understand how people live in the world, either in the past or in the present."

Said Lauren Kassell, a professor of history of science and medicine at the European University Institute and the University of Cambridge, quoted in "Young people are flocking to astrology. But it comes with risks" (WaPo).

The article quotes a 38-year old actress named Caroline Kingsley, who (like so many other people!) reads her horoscope every day:

"[T]he prosecutors seemed to go out of their way to demonstrate that they did not want the case to restrict Trump in any way."

I'm reading "Is Donald Trump Scared? At the former President’s indictment in Miami on Tuesday, it was impossible to say whether his fate was more likely to be a return to the White House—or prison" by Eric Lach at The New Yorker.

[T]he judge, the prosecutors, and Trump’s lawyers hashed out a plan wherein Trump agreed not to discuss the facts of the case directly with anyone whom prosecutors put on a list of potential witnesses....

He can still talk, just not directly to those who may be witnesses at trial. 

Trump is running for President, after all.

That's a cute way of gesturing at the fact that an overt effort to muzzle the candidate would be too obviously overreaching. 

Anyway, you see that question in the article title: "Is Donald Trump scared?" This is just something to guess about, and here's how the article ends:

On Wednesday, Trump will be seventy-seven years old. He might end up President again, or he may face a terminal prison sentence. It remains impossible to say which is more likely.

Once you've made it to 77, you're aware that only a small stretch of living remains for you. If you're going to be fearful, that's already scary enough. But Trump is running for President, he's hurling himself at life. Something will take him down, soon enough. He's 77. Why should he be unduly distracted by his enemies pursuing him, straining, as ever, to topple him? He's in the race and he's running.

"This acceptance of the value of cosmetic work is not limited to zoomers. When I brought up this story... hands flew to necks, foreheads and eyes."

"Fingers pinched at sags, wrinkles and droops. Their owners — people in their late 20s to their 50s, mostly women, but some men, too — made clear-eyed assertions about all the things they planned to change as they got older or when they had more money and time to spare. At no point in these conversations did anyone suggest that we were fine the way we were, or that aging was a privilege instead of a humiliating process of degradation that is to be resisted at all costs. These were, as [one Gen Z influencer] puts it, 'supportive' conversations: We were supporting each other’s aesthetic aspirations. Supporting our bodily autonomy. Supporting our right to use our time and money to bend reality to our will."

"If the communists get away with this, it won’t stop with me. They will not hesitate to ramp up their persecution of Christians, pro-life activists, parents attending school board meetings, and even future Republican candidates. I am the only one that can save this nation."

Said Trump, in his post-arraignment rally yesterday.

"A grim Donald J. Trump leaned back from the defendant’s table inside a jammed 13th-floor courtroom in Miami on Tuesday, jaw set, arms crossed, his back muscles tensing visibly under his dark suit jacket."

I feel like I'm reading the first line of an old dime novel.

But, no, it's the first line of the NYT front-page story, "In Court, a Tense Trump and a Poker-Faced Smith Finally Cross Paths/The former president and the special counsel were 20 feet from each other. But they exchanged not a word during their first, nearly hourlong encounter" (by Glenn Thrush).

Does Trump — a 77-year-old overweight man — really have back muscles that do things that are visible through his suit jacket?

Isn't it wonderful that cameras are banned in the courtroom forcing journalists to paint a picture in words?

"Mr. Trump’s body language in the courtroom suggested he understood the gravity of the situation. A former president who thrives on being in control seemed uncomfortable with having so little as a defendant...."

All you can do is imagine how he feels. How does any criminal defendant feel? Is it unseemly to dwell on such things?

"When samples of the bag arrived a few months ago, they were so small... the team lost some of them."

"But at least one bag that survived will be on display later this month, affixed beneath its microscope, during Men’s Fashion Week in Paris. On June 19, it will be auctioned off online to a buyer who Mr. Wiesner hopes will not treat it with too much reverence. 'I almost hope somebody eats it,' he said."

Mr. Wiesner = Kevin Wiesner, the chief creative officer of MSCHF, which must stand for mischief, I'm just guessing.

Last February, the NYT had an article about another product of MSCHF's, The Big Red Boot, which where very big and bulbous boots: "Big Red Boots are REALLY not shaped like feet, but they are EXTREMELY shaped like boots."

As I've said many times on this blog, I love humor that plays with size, and my "big and small" tag is perhaps my favorite (along with "light and shade" and "seen and unseen").

June 13, 2023

At the Spiderwort Café...


... you can write about whatever you want.

"We lived in total poverty. We were bathing in the lake. Someone would call up and offer him $2,000 to come speak at a university about his books."

"And he would tell them that everything he had to say was there on the page. So we would eat beans for another week."

Said Anne DeLisle, the English pop singer who married Cormac McCarthy in 1966 and lived with him for "nearly 8 years in a dairy barn outside Knoxville."

Quoted in "Cormac McCarthy, Novelist of a Darker America, Is Dead at 89/'All the Pretty Horses,' 'The Road' and 'No Country for Old Men' were among his acclaimed books that explore a bleak world of violence and outsiders" (NYT).

"Why is my chest now deemed inappropriate or illegal when I show it off? However, before coming out as trans, it was not."

"All you are doing is affirming I’m a woman. All you're doing is saying that trans women are women, because, for some reason, people like to sexualize women's bodies and say that they are inappropriate. My transmasculine friends were showing off their top surgery scars and living in joy. I wanted to join them. And because it is perfectly within the law in Washington, D.C., I decided to join them — and cover my nipples, just to play it safe, because I wanted to be fully free in myself. I had zero intention of trying to be vulgar or be profane in any way. I was simply living in joy — living my truth and existing in my body. Happy Pride!"

I transcribed the quote, only some of which appears at The Messenger, which is a new publication to me. It's been around since May and was started by the former owner of The Hill. I'll keep an eye on it. Here, it seems focused on protecting President Biden, who invited Montoya to a White House event and apparently needs distance from this kind of exuberance.

"Trump is still in Florida. But at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., where he is set to speak later tonight and where..."

".... reporters have already gathered, the sound system just briefly played a clip of Johnny Cash singing, 'Ghost Riders in the Sky.' The song, according to the website Ballad of America, is a 'cautionary tale warning a cowboy that if he doesn‘t change his ways, he will one day join the damned cowboys doomed to try to 'catch the Devil’s herd across these endless skies.'"

From "Trump ArraignmentTrump Pleads Not Guilty in Documents Case/Donald J. Trump, the first former president to be charged with federal crimes, appeared in court in Miami on charges related to his handling of classified documents. He faces 37 counts after an inquiry by the special counsel, Jack Smith" (NYT)

"At Bedminster, in the parallel universe that will serve as a political rally of sorts, club workers have set up bunting, American flags, roughly 150 white chairs for attendees and the type of blue podium that Trump used as president. The work is going on under blistering sunshine and to the dulcet tones of 'Bennie and the Jets,' by Elton John, over the speaker system."

Hey kids, plug into the faithless, maybe they're blinded, but Bennie makes them ageless... we fight our parents out in the streets to find who's right and who's wrong....

"The nation witnessed two years of red-hot 'revenge spending,' the name economists and corporate executives gave to a spike in recreational spending..."

"... and vacation splurging that followed coronavirus lockdowns. As demand rose, so did prices for airfares, hotels and other sought-after services. But many of those price categories are now cooling. Hotel prices have recently climbed much more slowly on a year-over-year basis, and airfares fell in May, a report on Tuesday showed.... 'We see some slowing in so-called revenge categories,' said Yelena Shulyatyeva, senior U.S. economist at BNP Paribas...."

"The minute someone is, like, 'Hey, we're going to take these nerdy white guys and hire them a staff of thirty people,' you’re no longer sympathetic."

Said Nate Silver, quoted in "What Was Nate Silver’s Data Revolution? Silver, a former professional poker player, was in the business of measuring probabilities. Many readers mistook him for an oracle" (The New Yorker).

The article is by Jay Caspian King, who writes:

"When people were asked about the morality of people close to them or who lived before they were born and they didn't know, 'the perception of moral decline was attenuated, eliminated or reversed.'"

From "Many people believe morality is declining — but it may be an illusion" (Axios), summarizing "The illusion of moral decline" by Adam M. Mastroianni & Daniel T. Gilbert (in Nature).

ADDED: You have to realize what these researchers were talking about when they talked about "morality." As Axios put it:
The study... focuses on "everyday morality," the kindness, respect, and honesty that most people agree are a reflection of morality.

The researchers also surveyed people in January 2020 and asked them to compare whether people were "kind, honest, nice, and good" in 2020, 2010, and 2000, as well as at various times in the past, including when they turned 20 years old and the year they were born.

Most people agree that "kindness, respect, and honesty" reflect morality? But then we're told that people were not asked about "kindness, respect, and honesty" but "kind, honest, nice, and good." Did the researchers equate respect and niceness? I don't think niceness is a reflection of morality. Do "most people"? Niceness is superficial behavior that may arise from genuine beneficence but could just as well come from a desire to get along and fit in or to manipulate others. 

"I think the biggest misconception is that we are making fun of gender, or somehow romanticizing gendered clichés."

"In my experience, drag is mostly about emotion, story, and beauty. The gendered aspect is simply a stage, a gesture that helps free the performer and the viewer from the supposedly realistic limitations on the world 'as it is,' helping us step into the realm of fantasy. Sometimes, the character we create in drag is more authentic, more personal, more real that what we are allowed to be in our day-to-day.... I first created Sasha Velour as a comic character, and slowly became that illustration in real life, too. Comics and drag share the same idea: you take a good story, clear character design, and put in lots of hard work.... Both comics and drag come from strong independent traditions that enable artists and performers to develop a more unique and recognizable style, and to address a wider range of political and personal topics. All you need to make art is your own self."

"My husband and I both do the shopping, but I’m the one who usually goes to the big grocery store. I kind of like it."

"I like to look at the packaging and the strange products—like the 'outer-space-flavored' soda that Coca-Cola released last year."

From an interview with the cartoonist Roz Chast, interviewed — at "Roz Chast’s 'Fireworks Megastore'/The artist discusses stumbling across surprises while shopping, and rebelling against efficiency" — about her new New Yorker cover.

Have you ever done artwork based on the visual stimulation of shopping? This was based on Chast's encounter with one of those big fireworks stores:

New term learned: "Sunday scaries."

I was surprised to see this childish locution as a serious answer — clued "Feeling of dread heading into a workweek." It would be a spoiler to say where, but it was in a highly respected puzzle and presented as an established phrase.

I googled and got over a million hits:

This morning on Twitter, Alice Cooper is trending....

ADDED: I think Alice Cooper is trending because "Johnny Depp was mobbed by fans as he and Alice Cooper stepped out in Istanbul, Turkey ahead of their gig with their band Hollywood Vampires as part of their live tour on Monday" (Daily Mail).

"When, after almost five hours, they opened the coffin to change her clothes ahead of the funeral, the woman gasped for air."

From "'Dead' woman found breathing in coffin" (BBC).

The view that it's "morally acceptable... to change one's gender" has declined from 46% to 43% in the last 2 years.

And the view that it's "morally wrong" has increased from 51% to 55%.

According to Gallup, reported in "More Say Birth Gender Should Dictate Sports Participation." 

I was surprised that such a large proportion of Americans were ready to speak in terms of morality. Only 3% in 2021 and 2% in 2023 resisted framing the question as one of morality: "Those who volunteered that it depends on the situation or that it is not a moral issue and those who had no opinion are not shown."

I would have expected most people to be put off by the demand to see it as a moral question, to say something more like: It's not for me to say, it's a question for the individual. Or: This is a medical issue, so this is up to the doctors. But 98% of the people jump right in and judge the morality.

June 12, 2023

Sunrise — 5:20, 5:26, 5:27.




Silene at sunrise.



"Frankly it lies beyond science to prove the matter one way or the other. Science will not collapse..."

"... if some practitioners are convinced that occasionally there has been creative input in the long chain of being."

"Imagine you're a G.O.P. operative or campaign manager. What’s your elevator pitch for a Trump candidacy?"

The NYT asks a panel of political writers (along with other questions), in "He Has Nothing Else': Our Writers on Trump and the 2024 Election." From the answers:
David Brooks He makes the right enemies. He brought us peace and a good economy. 
Frank Bruni It’s an age of rage, and no candidate will tap into that as shamelessly and with as little regard for the consequences as the madman of Mar-a-Lago.... 

Not the "Pride Month" kind of pride.

 I'm just noticing that the previous 2 posts have the "pride" tag.

"As a successful white woman who served for many years as a judge for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York..."

"... I feel it is incumbent upon me and other white women in my generation to reaffirm the policies that helped us secure our positions in political institutions, academia, business, medicine and law. If the Supreme Court overturns or neuters this well-settled law, every one of us who proudly bore the title 'the first woman' must work to ensure underrepresented communities maintain access to elite educational institutions.... White women must leverage the privilege and positions they have achieved and stand alongside communities of color."

She's asking for oddly little. She speaks of those who were called "the first woman" in some area and then only the ones who "proudly bore the title." I don't think I was ever the first woman anything, and if I were, I wouldn't have regarded it as my "title" and vaunted it in any way. I don't get this "proud bearing" of a "title." I would have wanted to believe I was the best candidate, not someone chosen ahead of anyone else so that the employer could express pride in its accomplishment, finding one of those who'd do well enough in the position. 

And then even within that category of proud bearers of the "first woman" title, Scheindlin is only asking that they ensure "access" for "underrepresented communities." Access? What does that mean other than to have an open system of application and selection? That's exactly what we'll be left with if and when the Court bans affirmative action.

Finally, white women are called on to "stand alongside communities of color." What is that? What good does it do? 

"The four children found alive after surviving for 40 days in a Colombian jungle were told by their mother to leave the site of a plane crash and seek help..."

"... their father said. According to the oldest child, their mother lived for about four days after surviving the impact of the crash that left the group stranded in the wilderness.... Fidencio Valencia, an uncle, told reporters... that the siblings initially sustained themselves on cassava flour known as fariña, which was being transported aboard the aircraft.... 'When the plane crashed, they took out a fariña, and with that, they survived.... After the fariña ran out, they began to eat seeds.'... [R]escuer Henry Guerrero said the children also found one of 100 emergency supply kits scattered by the military — as well as wild fruits and plants in the jungle."

From "Mother told kids to leave Colombia plane crash site for help, family says" (WaPo).

Here's a tweet from Colombia’s military showing a drawing from the 2 oldest children. We're told: "This drawing represents the hope of an entire country":

"My parent friends routinely post proud images of their newborns in Ramones onesies or their sixth-graders dressed up like Margot Tenenbaum from 'The Royal Tenenbaums.'"

"I like all the pics genuinely, but I think to myself, I know what you’re doing. And then I think and Godspeed,' because the odds are just as likely that if you try too hard to tip the scales of your kid’s coolness, it will backfire. You’ll be the liberal hippie parents on 'Family Ties' and your kid will resemble Alex P. Keaton. It is utterly normal to want your kid to like what you like, just as it is normal to instill them with your values, sense of community, ethics, or flair for vintage Swatch watches. There are jokes about this in the culture, such as the still-shared Onion headline, 'Cool Dad Raising Daughter on Media That Will Put Her Entirely Out of Touch With Her Generation.'"

I think the important point here is not what "cool" is or whether it matters or how to get there. It's not about coolness at all but vanity. Don't use your children for your purposes — to boost your pride, to make you feel right about everything. You can expose them to plenty of things that you think are good, but if they're only adopting your ideas and your tastes, something's missing. And it isn't coolness. It's independence of mind.

"Now, the fact that a judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned doesn’t mean that the judge is partial."

"The public may simply not trust the impartiality of the judge. Because public trust in the work of the court is a value as important as the work itself, the rule says that the judge should not sit when we can’t fairly ask the public to trust what the judge does. That rule is especially important in this case. One thing the prosecution can do is move to recuse Judge Cannon on the ground that, in light of her experience in the search-warrant case last year, her impartiality might reasonably be questioned. And who would make that judgment if the government does push for this recusal? The judge herself gets to make that decision in our system. If she denies the recusal, the government could go to the Eleventh Circuit and ask it to order her to recuse herself... a process called mandamus.... Mandamus efforts are rarely successful...."

Says lawprof Stephen Gillers, interviewed in "Will the Judge in Trump’s Case Recuse Herself—or Be Forced To?/Federal law requires a judge to step away from a case in which her impartiality 'might reasonably be questioned'" (The New Yorker).

The judge — Aileen M. Cannon, assigned the case through the routine and random selection process — is a Trump appointee.

If the random selection had been a Biden appointee, would that judge also have to recuse herself/himself? If Cannon were to recuse herself, and she is replaced by a Biden appointee — or an appointee of any Democratic President — wouldn't Trump's demand for recusal be at least as strong as the prosecution's demand that Cannon recuse herself? We'd be talking about fairness to the accused. 

"The public may simply not trust the impartiality of the judge" — the public doesn't trust the impartiality of anything here. That's the problem with the pursuit of political goals through the criminal process... or the appearance that's what you're doing. The argument for recusal in this case is an argument about the appearance of partiality, but the appearance of partiality is baked into this case. Can anyone suggest how to unbake it?

June 11, 2023

At the Bird's Next Café...


... you can write about whatever you want.

(Meade took that photo this afternoon. No sunrise photo today: It was raining.)

"Republican primary voters say they're far more concerned that Donald Trump's indictment is politically motivated than his alleged conduct being a national security risk..."

"... and there's no evidence it's hurt his status as the clear front-runner for the 2024 nomination, at least not yet. He remains well ahead of rivals in both consideration and vote choice. In fact, most Republican primary voters would not generally consider him keeping the alleged documents with nuclear systems or military plans to be a national security risk, in and of itself. Most explicitly ruled out the charges announced in the indictment changing their views about Mr. Trump. Rather than being disqualifying in their eyes, even if he's ultimately convicted of a crime in the matter, they overwhelmingly feel he should still be able to serve as president again."

AND: Here's an ABC poll:

"Scientists in Wuhan working alongside the Chinese military were combining the world’s most deadly coronaviruses to create a new mutant virus..."

"... just as the pandemic began. Investigators who scrutinised top-secret intercepted communications and scientific research believe Chinese scientists were running a covert project of dangerous experiments, which caused a leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology and started the Covid-19 outbreak. The US investigators say one of the reasons there is no published information on the work is because it was done in collaboration with researchers from the Chinese military, which was funding it and which, they say, was pursuing bioweapons...."

The London Times reports.

The (dubious) outdoor-bathtub trend.

I'm trying to read "Ready for a Nice, Soothing Bath? Just Head to the Backyard. Cheaper than pools and more private than hot tubs, the bathtub is leaving the bathroom and has designs on your garden, or even your treehouse" (NYT).

We're told that "wellness" is a big "concern of homeowners" and that includes "intentional outdoor features, like bathtubs." These are not "hot tubs," which, we're told, are "social features" — associated with multiple users and drinking. These are for "one person just being with nature, being with themselves, having that detox from devices and daily life."

Cheryl Hines, the wife of RFK Jr., "has done hundreds of interviews throughout her career, and as a seasoned improv actress, is known to be quick on her feet."

"She cut her teeth in the Groundlings, a Los Angeles-based improv troupe; 'Curb' is outlined but unscripted. In some ways, answering questions from a stranger is just another form of: 'Yes, and.' With improv, 'it’s challenging because you don’t know what’s coming next. You don’t know what the audience is going to shout out,' she said. '"Where are these two people?" "They’re scooping poop in the lion’s den at the zoo!" Lights go down. Lights go up. You have to commit 100 percent... or it’s not funny or interesting.' But here’s a scenario... You are beloved by fans and peers, and have managed to steer clear of controversy your entire career, but fall in love with a man who touches it off regularly with his often outlandish claims — a man who was kicked off Instagram along with his anti-vaccine nonprofit, Children’s Health Defense, for spreading misinformation during the pandemic.... Who just this week suggested 'S.S.R.I.s and benzos and other drugs' might be responsible for America’s school-shooting problem...."

Is it really that different from what any other political spouse must do? Seems to me, she's better prepared than most and less likely to try to use drugs as the solution.

There's too much confusion...


"It’s the leaning tower of San Francisco. The Bay Area’s Millennium Tower has only continued to tilt further..."

"... and sink deeper west in spite of architects’ best efforts to steady the ritzy building. The multimillion-dollar-per-unit tower is now leaning more than 29 inches at the corner of Fremont and Mission streets — a slant over half an inch deeper than previously revealed.... The half-inch tilt was reportedly gained while engineers dug beneath the sinking condominium earlier this year to support the weight of the tower — which was built atop a former landfill — along its two sides...."

"I grew up in South Korea, where there are two words that can roughly translate as 'laziness': geeureum and gwichaneum."

"Geeureum’s connotations are more or less identical to the English—the word bears the same condescension. But gwichaneum lacks the negative valence. There’s even a kind of jest to it. To feel gwichan... is to not be bothered to do something, not like it, or find it to be too much effort. The key to understanding the term, however, is how it fits into Korean grammar: You can’t say 'Bob is a gwichan person'; you can only say something like 'Doing laundry is a gwichan endeavor for Bob.' The term describes tasks, not people. It places the defect within the act. Errands that are gwichan induce laziness in you.... Gwichan nails what’s wrong with the litany of errands that plague our everyday existence: Many of them don’t merit our devotion.... Gwichanism (a popular neologism in Korea) is not an apologia for anti-productivity or anti-work, and the gwichanist will still fulfill their vital life obligations. You see, gwichanists aren’t unproductive; they’re perhaps meta-productive, interrogating the merit of every undertaking.... [E]mbracing gwichanism allows me to assert the primacy of my preferences, however esoteric...."

In this view, as I understand it, it's not that you avoid all chores. It's that you differentiate among chores and you view the chores as the source of the laziness. It's interesting to think of the activity itself as producing the feeling and to relieve yourself of a moral burden in feeling lazy.

Is English lacking the words for this distinction between 2 types of laziness? I can see that I have a tag for "laziness" and a separate — and important! — tag for "idleness." There are also many English words in the general area: "apathy," "inertia," "lethargy," "sluggishness," "sloth," "lassitude," "loafing" (I loafe and invite my soul, I lean and loafe at my ease...)....

But perhaps none of these words expresses the difference between the general resistance to work and the resistance only to a particular type of work. And yet, let me suggest "irksome." We speak of the "irksome task." That does seem to blame the task itself and not our own laziness. It makes sense, in English, to say I am not a lazy person, but that is an irksome task.

Driving through fire.