July 1, 2023

Sunrise — 5:20, 5:23.



"Zonked, bushed, or just plain hebetudinous, most readers will be glad to get to the end of 'A History of Fatigue.'"

"Its virtues are undeniable; it is stoutly industrious and inquisitive, and, in the corralling of evidence, Vigarello shows such dedication that he should seriously consider moonlighting as a homicide detective. Any corpse would give its eyeteeth to have him on the case. The problem is that Vigarello’s piling up of information becomes too much to absorb, and he’s so frantically busy thinking everything through, as it were, that he neglects to pause for thought. Compare one of his predecessors, the Italian physiologist Angelo Mosso... [who began his own study of fatigue with these words]: 'One spring, towards the end of March, I happened to be in Rome, and, hearing that the migration of the quails had begun, I went down to Palo on the sea coast in order to ascertain whether these birds, after their journey from Africa, showed any of the phenomena of fatigue. The day after my arrival I rose when it was still dark, took my gun, and walked along the shore towards Fiumicino.'"

Yes, of course, it was "hebetudinous" that pushed me over the line toward blogging this.

The sound of no one calling for civility.

Seen this morning because I went to Twitter and clicked on "Kavanaugh" in the "What's happening" sidebar.

If you're wondering whether writing "Really fuck you" on someone's photograph and posting it on Twitter is a protected speech under the First Amendment, read the Supreme Court's new "true threats" case, Counterman v. Colorado.

Oh, but it's Elton John. We've got to go.

"In the writers’ room, we have occasionally had a kind of recurring phrase: 'Which is the most funny thing that could happen here, and by that I mean the most painful?'"

"And, sometimes, 'Which is the most painful thing that can happen here, by which I mean the most funny?'" 

Said Jesse Armstrong, quoted in "The End of 'Succession' Is Near/The show’s creator, Jesse Armstrong, explains why he has chosen to conclude the drama of the Roy family in its fourth season" (The New Yorker, February 23, 2023).

That's a quote I read recently — after watching all 39 episodes of "Succession" in something close to 39 days, which I did because I kept seeing New Yorker articles about the greatness of the final season and felt doomed to see the spoilers sooner or later. Having watched the show, I could finally read the articles, and so I have a vast trove of things to be reminded of when I'm reading other things, and that's how a post like this ends up happening. That last paragraph of the previous post — "Drinking is funny until it's not.... The need to say things like 'self-care,' 'virtuous aftercare,' and 'biohack' sounds desperate, but that can be part of the funny, especially for the drunkards" — got me thinking about Armstrong's quote about comedy and pain.

This is a big topic — comedy and pain — and I challenge you to discuss it without quoting Mel Brooks.

"Getting an IV at home after a hangover is like a flex. It’s like, 'Look at me. I’m pretty bougie. I don’t need to sit and suffer.'"

Said  Dr. Abe Malkin, the chief executive and founder of Drip Hydration, quoted in "Does It Help With the Regret, Too? Hangovers Meet IV Drips. High-powered revelers are trying to hack their hangovers with concierge infusions" (NYT).
Most [anti-hangover] IV drips are packed with a combination of saline, vitamins, headache relief and anti-nausea medications. It’s a cocktail after cocktails. A flush, for the flush.... Some regular users compared the drips to a post-marathon massage. Companies and influencers pitch them as virtuous aftercare. 
The marketing builds off a national obsession with staying hydrated and detoxing, and also nods to an online “biohack” conversation, a body-as-machine approach to physical enhancement.... The expense may be part of the appeal. Influencers post about their IV bags just hours after they show off V.I.P. passes. Status symbols compound in the conspicuous consumption of fun....

One influencer laughs: "I can’t say I walk around the office saying that I have a hangover. I frame it as my self-care."

Drinking is funny until it's not. Does this IV bag extend the funny phase or expedite the tragic? The need to say things like "self-care," "virtuous aftercare," and "biohack" sounds desperate, but that can be part of the funny, especially for the drunkards. 

June 30, 2023

At the Friday Night Café...

 ... you can talk about whatever you want.

"Gasoline cars are among the last remnants in our daily lives of the pistoning industrial age — machines powered not by quietly streaming electrons..."

"... but by noisy, fiery explosion, by sequential gears and timing belts, by the primal growl of thermal expansion. America’s overreliance on cars has been ruinous, but... let’s remember, too, how the gas-powered car helped realize a quintessentially American idea of liberty: the freedom to roam just about anywhere you please. Yes, I’m romanticizing the automobile.... But as critical as I’ve been of cars, I can’t deny loving driving and loving it in a primal way — loving the thrum of a revving engine, loving slaloming in and out of turns on a windy country road, loving simply going very far, very fast, conveyed by fire. And here’s another confession: I’ve never felt anything approaching this sort of exhilaration in an electric car...."

"'The point of this whole thing is to decrease the demand for commercial sex,' said Maine state Rep. Lois Reckitt (D), who sponsored the bill..."

"...  adding that she wanted to do something to help women in the 'revolving door' to get out of the sex industry. Reckitt said police traditionally have used the women they arrested for prostitution to get to the people trafficking them. 'Now they’re going to have to arrest the johns and lean on them to find out where the trafficking is coming from,' she said.... 'It denigrates all women when some women are being bought and sold,' said Reckitt, a former officer of the National Organization for Women who for three decades led an organization that fights domestic violence in Maine. 'There’s no way to have total gender equality in this world if we’re selling women.'"

"If White women have historically been both the beneficiaries of affirmative action efforts and its biggest detractors, why are we not interrogating them on what this ruling means?"

"Why are Black people being made to answer for and about these systems, which we neither created nor greatly benefit from?..."

Asks the WaPo columnist Karen Attiah, in "White women have helped sink the affirmative action ship."

"For a company to hire a trans person and then not publicly stand by them is worse than not hiring a trans person at all."

"Please. Not to be afraid. We are nobody."

A fond goodbye to Alan Arkin.

The student loan case is out: "The court agrees with the states that the HEROES Act does not authorize the debt forgiveness plan."

I'm quoting SCOTUSblog.

Here's the opinion: Biden v. Nebraska.

Another 6-3 conservative liberal split. The Chief Justice writes the main opinion, there's a Barrett concurrence, and Justice Kagan dissents, joined by Sotomayor and Jackson.

Excerpt from the majority opinion:

"The Court holds that the First Amendment bars Colorado from forcing a website designer to create expressive designs speaking messages with which the designer disagrees."

SCOTUSblog announces.

Here's the opinion.

It's a 6-3, conservative/liberal split. Gorsuch writes. No concurring opinions. One dissenting opinion, by Sotomayor.

From the Gorsuch opinion for the majority:

Like many States, Colorado has a law forbidding businesses from engaging in discrimination when they sell goods and services to the public. Laws along these lines have done much to secure the civil rights of all Americans. But in this particular case Colorado does not just seek to ensure the sale of goods or services on equal terms. It seeks to use its law to compel an individual to create speech she does not believe. The question we face is whether that course violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.

The business in question is a website design firm (owned by Lorie Smith) that offers customized "text, graphic arts, and videos to 'celebrate' and 'conve[y]' the 'details' of [a wedding couple's] 'unique love story.'"

Whatever happened to the affirmative action concept of "critical mass"?

From the majority opinion in the new case, Students for Fair Admission v. Harvard:

The principal dissent’s reliance on Fisher II is similarly mistaken. There, by a 4-to-3 vote, the Court upheld a “sui generis” race-based admissions program used by the University of Texas, 579 U. S., at 377, whose “goal” it was to enroll a “critical mass” of certain minority students, Fisher I, 570 U. S., at 297. But neither Harvard nor UNC claims to be using the critical mass concept—indeed, the universities admit they do not even know what it means. See 1 App. in No. 21–707, at 402 (“[N]o one has directed anybody to achieve a critical mass, and I’m not even sure we would know what it is.” (testimony of UNC administrator)); 3 App. in No. 20–1199, at 1137–1138 (similar testimony from Harvard administrator).

But the dissenting opinions never use the term "critical mass."

The only other mention of "critical mass" is in the concurring opinion by Justice Gorsuch:
Following Bakke, this Court declared that judges may simply “defer” to a school’s assertion that “diversity is essential” to its “educational mission.” Grutter, 539 U. S., at 328. Not all schools, though—elementary and secondary schools apparently do not qualify for this deference.... Only colleges and universities, the Court explained, “occupy a special niche in our constitutional tradition.” Grutter, 539 U. S., at 329. Yet even they (wielding their “special niche” authority) cannot simply assert an interest in diversity and discriminate as they please. Fisher, 579 U. S., at 381. Instead, they may consider race only as a “plus” factor for the purpose of “attaining a critical mass of underrepresented minority students” or “a diverse student body.” Grutter, 539 U. S., at 335–336 (internal quotation marks omitted).

So is "critical mass" something no one believes in anymore? Here's how I — as a lawprof teaching these cases — explained it a decade ago:

"Somewhen about 50,000 years ago..appeared Homo Neanderthalensis."

Wrote H.G. Wells in 1920, noted in the OED entry for "somewhen," an unusual word, but a word nonetheless.

Discovered upon contemplating the question why we have the word "somewhere" but not "somewhen," because I was thinking about how you can travel to different locations but must accept that you are where you are in the flow of time. I was delighted to see that "somewhen" really was a word and to encounter the example from Wells, who, of course, dreamed up the time machine.

Grammarphobia has a very substantial discussion of the word "somewhen" — "Somewhen over the rainbow." Excerpt:

June 29, 2023

At the Smoky Café...

 ... there's no sunrise, but go ahead and talk all night.

"Nearly every college admissions tutoring job I took over the next few years would come with a version of the same behest."

"The Chinese and Korean kids wanted to know how to make their application materials seem less Chinese or Korean. The rich white kids wanted to know ways to seem less rich and less white. The Black kids wanted to make sure they came across as Black enough. Ditto for the Latino and Middle Eastern kids. Seemingly everyone I interacted with as a tutor — white or brown, rich or poor, student or parent — believed that getting into an elite college required what I came to call racial gamification. For these students, the college admissions process had been reduced to performance art, in which they were tasked with either minimizing or maximizing their identity...."

I asked ChatGPT to draft a personal statement for a black student applying to a university that is following a policy consistent with the Supreme Court's new affirmative action case.

This was my prompt (with language from the majority opinion in boldface (and a couple of my typos corrected)):

A black student applying to college, to have race considered a plus factor, must write a personal statement showing that he overcame racial discrimination, perhaps through courage and determination, or that his heritage or culture motivated him to assume a leadership role or attain a particular goal, and he must tie that to his unique ability to contribute to the university as an individual—not on the basis of race. Write a personal statement that is a model for a black student applying to a university.

ChatGPT answered immediately:

Personal Statement: Embracing Diversity, Inspiring Change

Challenge RFK Jr. to his face — call him an anti-vaxxer — and see what happens.

I wasn't surprised by the strength of Kennedy's response, because I'd heard him say much the same thing (and more) on the Joe Rogan podcast. I said on June 10th:

Watching the Supreme Court. [ADDED: Supreme Court makes a moderate, minimalist change to affirmative action doctrine.]

 At SCOTUSblog.

"We have the university cases."

"The court holds that Harvard and UNC's admissions programs violate the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment."

The Chief Justice wrote the opinion. The question is how moderate/extreme is it. 

I'm just hanging on the SCOTUSblog feed.

Ah.. no... wait: Here's the opinion.

Excerpt from syllabus:
Because Harvard’s and UNC’s admissions programs lack sufficiently focused and measurable objectives warranting the use of race, unavoidably employ race in a negative manner, involve racial stereotyping, and lack meaningful end points, those admissions programs cannot be reconciled with the guarantees of the Equal Protection Clause. At the same time, nothing prohibits universities from considering an applicant’s discussion of how race affected the applicant’s life, so long as that discussion is concretely tied to a quality of character or unique ability that the particular applicant can contribute to the university. Many universities have for too long wrongly concluded that the touchstone of an individual’s identity is not challenges bested, skills built, or lessons learned, but the color of their skin. This Nation’s constitutional history does not tolerate that choice. Pp. 39–40.

The decision must be somewhat moderate, I'm inferring, because there are concurring opinions from Thomas, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh. 

The Chief quotes Grutter — "We expect that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest approved today" — and adds:

"But if you like to drink and you like to exercise, sooner or later, you may find yourself considering a cocktail before or after a workout or an athletic event."

"Here are six tips from exercise and nutrition experts on the most strategic ways to have both. Timing matters. Drinking after a workout is marginally better than drinking before.... Give yourself at least four hours between drinking and working out if you can.... But as a general rule, limit yourself to one or two drinks before or after a workout.... The more you keep drinking while buzzed, the more you’re likely to suffer during a workout later that day or even the next morning.... Drink a glass of water for every glass of booze.... Avoid sugary cocktails.... After a [sugar] spike comes a crash, which will make you feel even more tired than if you drank straight alcohol. Beer is a better choice.... Alcoholic beverages are not a good source of fuel for exercise.... If you drink before working out and don’t eat enough food first, you will probably tire out quickly...."

Love for Madonna.

"What we measure is the Earth kind of moving in this sea. It’s bobbing around — and it’s not just bobbing up and down, its bobbing in all directions."

Said astrophysicist  Michael Lam, quoted in "In a major discovery, scientists say space-time churns like a choppy sea/The mind-bending finding suggests that everything around us is constantly being roiled by low-frequency gravitational waves" by Joel Achenbach and Victoria Jaggard (WaPo).
The simultaneous release of papers from far-flung and competitive teams using similar methodology came only after some scientific diplomacy that ensured no group tried to scoop the rest of the astrophysical community. 
“We’ve been on a mission for the last 15 years to find a low-pitch hum of gravitational waves resounding throughout the universe and washing through our galaxy to warp space-time in a measurable way,” NANOGrav chair Stephen Taylor of Vanderbilt University said at a news briefing Tuesday. “We’re very happy to announce that our hard work has paid off.”... 
[T]he newly announced waves are not one-shot wonders, and theorists are noodling the many potential explanations for why the cosmic sea ripples in such a fashion....

"The modest crowd of 12,479 in Oakland, Calif., rose to its feet at Germán came out to start the ninth inning and chanted 'Let’s Go, Yankees' as he faced the first batter of the inning."

From "Yankees Pitcher Throws M.L.B.’s First Perfect Game Since 2012/Domingo Germán was masterful, cruising through the Oakland Athletics and securing baseball’s 24th perfect game" (NYT).

Sounds like the opposing team was utterly demoralized. When do your own fans root for the other team?
Congratulations to Germán, but I must say I strongly object to 0 as a player's number. I don't think it should be permitted. Too nihilistic.

To be fair to the fans, when Germán came out to pitch in the bottom of the 9th inning, the score was 11-0. You can understand the fans switching sides at that point. Instead of a horrible trouncing, they — by sheer force of their (traitorous) mind — could seize bragging rights. They saw a perfect game. 

"The video, which is embedded below, begins with the officer casually talking to a woman and her two children about seatbelt safety."

"Moments later, the sound of rapid gunfire erupts in the distance. The woman quickly lowers her head and moves her children out of the way as the officer reaches inside his patrol vehicle for a rifle and notifies dispatchers he's heard gunshots. The officer runs toward the stores, tracking the sounds of gunfire as they grew louder and louder the closer he gets. As he continues moving toward the blasts, shooting at people to leave the area and take cover...."

I chose this article to blog after I saw the video on Twitter, but I considered switching to a different source when I noticed the terrible typo, but I'll keep this as a lesson in finding the typos the spellchecker doesn't catch.

In any case, I'm glad this police officer was not indicted for what was an impressive demonstration of courage.

WaPo seems to want to write about the heat — but you can't elevate the heat story over the smoke story.

So we get this awkward amalgam:

These stories are not connected, but they are put together, I suspect, to intensify concern about long-term global warming, which, to me — living where the air quality index is 270 at the moment — feels like a failure to take the smoke problem seriously. It's often hot in the summer in the south! This smoke is something I have never seen in my life. It's actively unhealthy for millions of Americans. After staying home for years hiding from a virus, I am now hiding from the air. On Twitter, I'm seeing conspiracy theories. The mainstream media treating this problem as a phenomenon on the level of 100° temperatures in Texas in the summer is going to make some of us paranoid.

Here's the kind of material I'm seeing, from that first headline:
Scientists said climate change helped shape the weather conditions that were causing misery and putting lives at risk from Mexico to Canada. There was no disputing the impact: If it wasn’t way too smoky, it was way too hot.
"No disputing the impact"?! The condition exists, and there's no disputing that, but to say "impact" is to make an assertion about the cause. I guess the word "helped" is supposed to fudge everything. There's climate change — who knows how much? — and it has some effect on the amount of smoke produced in a fire and how that smoke moves around — who know how much? — so it "helped" the conditions that had the "impact." Scientists said. But let's move on: It's way too smoky, right? We sure do know that. Idiocy! 

June 28, 2023

At the Deck Garden Café...


... you can write about whatever you want.

"To assess green spaces, the researchers used satellite imaging and applied a widely accepted measure of quantifying vegetation..."

"[T]hey also identified major parks near the participants’ homes. While that helped identify the location and quantity of plant life, the approach does not provide details about the type — for example, whether the area is a golf course or a forested nature trail — or quality of green space. 'We have this vegetation data, but it tells us very little about what the active ingredients in nature are that influence health....' 'Because we don’t know what type of green space it is, I think for cities, they don’t know is it sufficient just to plant a bunch of street trees?'... The study also left other unanswered questions, such as why the rate of biological aging did not appear to be the same across race, gender and socioeconomic status. For example, the researchers observed Black people who had more access to green space were only about 1 year younger in biological age compared to the study’s average 2.5 years. Experts said more studies are needed to pinpoint how people might benefit from greenery and what other social determinants that could be involved...."

"We try really hard now, and have for a long time, to be clear that Goofus is not all bad, and Gallant is not all good..."

"We just try to be really clear that Goofus isn’t always bad. He’s not. He’s just often making choices that aren’t thoughtful or safe."
Every installment of Goofus and Gallant now has a line at the top that reads “There’s some of Goofus and Gallant in us all. When the Gallant shines through, we show our best self.”

But isn't that exactly what every kid reading Goofus and Gallant in the old days figured out on their own? It was funny because one kid was always good — too good — and one always bad — absurdly bad. I think putting that label on implicitly says we're not trying to be funny anymore because we think you're dumb.

There are some nice examples of the old strip, notably this gem from 1955:

Kamala likes the song of the summer and is ready to see Stonewall.

The Kylie Minogue song title refers to the sound of a beating heart. Lyrics here, at Genius. It's not some kind of portmanteau, as I'd originally guessed (perhaps a combination of "madam" and "pa"). There are many songs about heartbeats. You may think of Buddy Holly or Herman's Hermits, but there are many many more. So to use the syllables "Padam" injects some originality. Other than that, it is just a song about feeling turned on by someone you meet in a bar and wanting to go somewhere private with them: "I hear it and I know... I know you wanna take me home..." etc.. etc.

"... a curiously undersung regional delicacy: the cold-cheese slice, whereupon a giant fistful of uncooked mozzarella is added to a plain slice..."

"... just as it emerges hot from the oven. Local legend has it that Little Vincent’s developed this innovation as a way to help overeager patrons, unwilling or unable to wait for their pizza’s heat to dissipate, avoid burning their mouths; whatever its true origins, it is perplexing that nobody else has thought to copy the idea.... A cold-cheese slice offers the thermal and textural contrasts that define the best kind of street eating...."

Sarcasm on top of sarcasm.


I gave a tribute to Julian Sands back in January...

... here.

"A cadre of mindless, obedient... students...."

"The decision merely says that 'state courts do not have free rein' and that they may not 'transgress the ordinary bounds of judicial review...'"

"'... such that they arrogate to themselves the power vested in state legislatures to regulate federal elections.' The court offers no concrete understanding nor any example of what that means. It’s clear that a majority was cobbled together among conservative and liberal justices by agreeing to decide this part of the case in the narrowest terms.... [T]he state court interpreted general provisions in the state constitution — such as that requiring elections to be 'free and fair' — to in effect ban partisan gerrymandering. Whether this decision transgresses ordinary judicial review or exemplifies it remains a mystery. Had the court resolved that question, it would have provided much-needed guidance for 2024.... Judicial minimalism can be a virtue in many contexts.... But in the context of election law, it can be a vice. Elections benefit greatly from clear rules laid out well in advance of Election Day.... Clear rules specified in advance are all the more important in this era of pervasive distrust and suspicion concerning elections...."

The love for clear rules is easier to express after the Court has rejected the clear rule your opponents were pushing. 

ADDED: Pildes declines to mention Bush v. Gore, but that's the precedent here. From the majority opinion in yesterday's case, Moore v. Harper:

Can someone convert this into cigarettes? Is living here today the equivalent of smoking 2 cigarettes or 2 packs of cigarettes or what?

IN THE COMMENTS: Chest Rockwell said: "There's a calculator for that!

Thanks! So it's like I'm smoking 10 cigarettes today. That's about the number of actual cigarettes I've smoked in my entire life.

There's also this, from Enigma, about why cigarette smoke is much worse. 

"Between the time that Aiden Judson and his wife, Laura, picked Sicily as their honeymoon destination and their actual trip in early June, something significant happened..."

"... the second season of 'The White Lotus.' The New York couple had imagined a quiet getaway, hiking across the nearby Aeolian Islands and plunging into the crystal turquoise waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea, far from crowded Italian beach destinations like Capri and the Amalfi coast.... 'When we watched the show, we were so excited, like 'wow, that’s going to be us,' and didn’t realize that it would mean everyone and their mom* would be going to Sicily this summer,' said Mr. Judson, 37, who returned from the island earlier this month. 'It was still stunning and we had some special moments, but it was crazy busy with loud and sweaty tourists packed into narrow streets. It made it difficult to feel the Italian charm.'"

A new sighting of "large boulder the size of a small boulder."

In today's New Yorker crossword:

My tiny screen grab doesn't show the place for the answer, but it's a 10-space answer that I'll just spoil after the jump.

June 27, 2023

At the Raspberry Café...


"No physical evidence supported any of the many conspiracy theories surrounding Epstein’s death, [Inspector General Michael] Horowitz concluded..."

"... and none of the video captured from the cameras that were recording showed any indication of anyone else in the cell. Investigators probed for possible money changing hands involving guards but found no evidence of that, either. The workers assigned to guard Epstein were sleeping and shopping online instead of checking on him every 30 minutes as required, prosecutors said. Nova Noel and Michael Thomas admitted lying on prison records to make it seem as though they had made the checks but avoided prison time under a deal with prosecutors...."

"Ultimately, Hunter Biden will himself be called to testify before the House. Maybe he'll refuse to say anything."

"That may be best for him. But for his president father, running for re-election, having his son come across like Vito Genovese taking the Fifth dozens of times before questions about shell companies and payments to himself and his dad isn't a great look. When Hunter Biden agreed to his plea deal last week, his lawyer said he did so with the understanding the investigation was resolved. Perhaps that part is. But for Joe Biden, Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray, it's only just begun."

Writes William McGurn in "Joe Biden's 'Malarkey' Defense" (Wall Street Journal).

"The Elections Clause does not vest exclusive and independent authority in state legislatures to set the rules regarding federal elections."

The Court decides in Moore v. Harper, just issued.  

From the syllabus:

The Elections Clause does not vest exclusive and independent authority in state legislatures to set the rules regarding federal elections. Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch 137, famously proclaimed this Court’s authority to invalidate laws that violate the Federal Constitution. But Marbury did not invent the concept of judicial review. State courts had already begun to impose restraints on state legislatures, even before the Constitutional Convention, and the practice continued to mature during the founding era. James Madison extolled judicial review as one of the key virtues of a constitutional system, and the concept of judicial review was so entrenched by the time the Court decided Marbury that Chief Justice Marshall referred to it as one of society’s “fundamental principles.” Id., at 177.

The Elections Clause does not carve out an exception to that fundamental principle. When state legislatures prescribe the rules concerning federal elections, they remain subject to the ordinary exercise of state judicial review. Pp. 11–26.

That's the last opinion for today, per SCOTUSblog.

Chief Justice Roberts wrote the opinion, with Justice Thomas dissenting, joined in full by Justice Gorsuch and in part by Justice Alito.

The Supreme Court issues its "true threats" case.

"The state must show, Kagan writes, that the defendant consciously disregarded a substantial risk that his communications would be viewed as threatening violence. The state need not prove any more demanding subjective intent to threaten another."

Opinion here: Counterman v. Colorado.

ADDED: From the majority opinion by Justice Kagan:

"The recording obtained by CNN begins with Trump claiming 'these are bad sick people,' while his staffer claims there had been a 'coup' against Trump."

"'Like when [Joint Chiefs General Mark] Milley is talking about, "Oh you’re going to try to do a coup." No, they were trying to do that before you even were sworn in,' the staffer says, according to the audio. The next part of the conversation is mostly included in the indictment, though the audio makes clear there are papers shuffling as Trump tells those in attendance he has an example to show. 'He said that I wanted to attack Iran, Isn’t it amazing?' Trump says as the sound of papers shuffling can be heard. 'I have a big pile of papers, this thing just came up. Look. This was him. They presented me this – this is off the record but – they presented me this. This was him. This was the Defense Department and him.' The indictment includes ellipses where the recording obtained by CNN shows where Trump and his aide begin talking about Clinton’s emails and Weiner, whose laptop caused the FBI to briefly re-open its investigation into her handling of classified information in the days before the 2016 election she lost to Trump. Trump then returns to the Iran document, according to the audio recording and indictment transcript. 'I was just thinking, because we were talking about it. And you know, he said, "He wanted to attack Iran, and what…,"' Trump says. 'These are the papers,” Trump continues, according to the audio file."

Tiny travel: going for a walk.

I'm reading "How to Make Your Walk a 'Microadventure'/Start small, look up and let your nose guide you" by Jancee Dunn (NYT).  

I like this topic as a contrast to yesterday's inquiry into the philosophy and psychology of overseas travel, that is, moving about the face of the Earth on a grand scale. The alternative isn't to remain stoically immobile, pent up at home, but to move within a smaller scale in your locality. You have not yet seen what is there. You have not seen it every day of the year, every time of the day. Enlarge your powers to go small. There is infinite smallness.

"What happens after the Supreme Court ends affirmative action, as is anticipated this week?"

Notice that the phrasing of the question assumes — there's no "if" — that the Supreme Court will "end affirmative action." The decision may come this morning, so it's a good time to think about what to look for in the new opinion. How much will be off-limits in this fast-approaching future?
What if schools move, as many surely will, to obey by adopting race-neutral measures—for example, deĂ«mphasizing test scores, or boosting applicants from poorly funded high schools—that are designed to produce racial diversity, trying to create some semblance of what they achieved when using affirmative action? Would those moves be lawful?...

June 26, 2023

Sunrise — 5:26.


"Kennedy maintains a mental list of everyone he’s known who has died. He told me that each morning he spends an hour..."

"... having a quiet conversation with those people, usually while out hiking alone. He asks the deceased to help him be a good person, a good father, a good writer, a good attorney. He prays for his six children. He’s been doing this for 40 years. The list now holds more than 200 names. I asked him if he felt that his dad or uncle had sent him any messages encouraging him to run for president. 'I don’t really have two-way conversations of that type,' he said. 'And I would mistrust anything that I got from those waters, because I know there’s people throughout history who have heard voices.' He laughed. 'It’s hard to be the arbiter of your own sanity. It’s dangerous.'"

 Writes John Hendrickson, in "The First MAGA Democrat/Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is feeding Americans’ appetite for conspiracies" (The Atlantic).

"What surgeons continually emphasized—the implanters with pride, the explanters with dismay—was that most of the men they were seeing had been of at least average size..."

"... before going under the knife.... 'Most don’t have anything physically wrong with them at all, so what they don’t need is vultures preying on them, which is almost always a disaster,' Muir, the London urologist, said. ... Muir conducted a literature review called 'Surgical and Nonsurgical Interventions in Normal Men Complaining of Small Penis Size.' The research showed that men dissatisfied with their penises respond well to educational counselling about the average size, which is 3.6 inches long when flaccid, and 5.2 inches erect.... For men who have an excessive and distorted preoccupation with the appearance of their genitals—a form of body dysmorphic disorder—Muir said that cognitive-behavioral therapy and medications may also be necessary. Penuma surgeons told me they use educational videos, intake surveys, and sexual-health therapists to make sure that the men they operate on have realistic expectations and to screen for those with body dysmorphia, though only a handful of the patients I spoke to recalled being referred to a therapist before their surgery...."

Apple's new Mindfulness app lets you log in your “momentary emotion” and “daily mood”...

"... compiling a diary of feelings and their causes — perhaps family time makes you happy and time working in front of screens makes you sad — which could be reflected back as insights that might help make things better. [There] was a set of tools for improving users’ 'vision health,' with a focus on myopia.... Using data from device sensors, Apple will instruct users — especially but not exclusively young ones — to go outside, into the natural light, or to move their screens further from their faces....[while also selling you] the Vision Pro, a $3,500 computer that straps directly to your face...."

"Earlier this month, Spotify announced that it was ending its partnership with the royal couple after they..."

"... produced just one season of Markle’s podcast in two and a half years. Spotify executive and podcaster Bill Simmons publicly branded them 'fucking grifters' on their way out. Then a Bloomberg report revealed some of Harry’s laughably implausible podcast pitches, like interviewing Vladimir Putin, Mark Zuckerberg, and Donald Trump about their childhood trauma.... Netflix isn’t interested in paying the Sussexes the additional $51 million... unless the couple cranks out some more hits.... [T]he [Wall Street] Journal reports that they are developing... 'a TV show for Netflix called Bad Manners based on Miss Havisham... [the] character from Great Expectations. The prequel would recast the lonely spinster as a strong woman living in a patriarchal society, though it is unclear whether the show will get a green light from Netflix.'... Other proposed projects seemed designed to replicate successful shows already on Netflix, such as a sitcom described as Emily in Paris, but about a man.... Netflix said no.... It’s unclear why [Netflix and Spotify] thought one of the stars of USA Network’s Suits and a guy who’s admittedly spent his life in a royal bubble would be good at churning out relatable TV and audio content."

"They wanted Russians to fight each other. They rubbed their hands, dreaming of taking revenge for their failures at the front and during the so-called counteroffensive. But they miscalculated."

Said Vladimir Putin, quoted in "Russia-Ukraine War/A Visibly Angry Putin Stresses Failure of Wagner Revolt/The Russian president made brief public remarks on Monday, his first since the end of the short-lived rebellion by the Wagner mercenary group and its leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin" (NYT).

Have I written about this topic too many times? Oh, but I must be entitled to have another go at it.

Because there's a new New Yorker article : "The Case Against Travel." 

The new article — subtitled — "It turns us into the worst version of ourselves while convincing us that we’re at our best" — is by the philosopher Agnes Callard.

A few of my old efforts: 

"The major Iowa newspaper that published a political cartoon depicting MAGA voters yelling racial slurs at Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy issued a formal apology..."

"... over the weekend after the GOP hopeful slammed the depiction as 'shameful.' The Quad-City Times executive editor Tom Martin wrote on the paper’s website Friday that the 'inexcusable' cartoon was intended to 'criticize racist ideas and epithets' but instead featured a phrase that 'is racist and insensitive to members of our Indian American community.'... [The cartoon] depicted a campaign rally... Ramaswamy was drawn, saying, 'Hello my MAGA friends!' Three angry White men in the crowd each responded to his appearance with a racial slur. One screamed, 'Muslim!' getting the candidate’s religion wrong. Ramaswamy is a self-professed Hindu. Another [yelled]... 'Get me a slushee, Apu!!!' and a third [yelled]... 'Show us your birth certificate!!'"

The NY Post reports.

Before the apology came out, Ramaswamy tweeted: "It’s sad that this is how the MSM views Republicans. I’ve met with grassroots conservatives across America & never *once* experienced the kind of bigotry that I regularly see from the Left. Iowa’s ⁦ @qctimes ⁩ absolutely has the right to print this, but it’s still shameful."

Let me connect this post to the previous one, about the chant at the Drag March — "We’re here! We’re queer! We’re coming for your children!" Somebody thinks they're being very funny and they're cocooned with people who like the direction the satire is going.

“It’s all in good fun. If you’re taking it like that, then that’s a you problem. Not an us problem."

Said Kelly Autorina, "a longtime parade veteran" and "'huge supporter' of drag," quoted in "NYC Pride Parade revelers sound off on controversial Drag March chant: 'Just adding fuel to the fire'" (NY Post).

The chant was "We’re here! We’re queer! We’re coming for your children!"

Of course, it was satire. The question is whether it's too cruel — or impolitic — to satirize the fear that drag performers are trying to sexualize children. 

The linked article ends with this quote from Jimmie O’Brien, "a 66-year-old gay man from NYC: "I think humor is the truth that breaks everything. When humor comes out, that’s where inspiration comes from. When it doesn’t come out, it’s repressed. And then it comes out as anger." 

And yet we no longer feel free to openly mock gay people (something that was routine in mainstream speech and entertainment a few decades ago). And it's certainly not a generally understood social norm that the person who says something "in good fun" can brush off anyone who takes offense at their fun. 

But laughing at your opponents is a tactic. "We’re here! We’re queer! We’re coming for your children!" is very funny in the Drag March context. But when you're in a larger social/political battle, you've got to consider how that will look clipped out. 

"For an effective anti-Trump move to take place... the G.O.P. would have to display the sort of coördination that the moderate wing of the Democratic Party showed in 2020..."

"... after Bernie Sanders finished first in the New Hampshire primary. On that occasion, Congressman James Clyburn threw his support behind Joe Biden in South Carolina, and two of the moderate candidates—Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar—dropped out and endorsed Biden. Ayres didn’t go so far as to say that a Republican Party still dominated by Trump could engineer a similar feat...."

Ayres = Whit Ayres, a consultant and pollster who isn't advising anyone at the moment but who has, in the past, has advised Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham, and Ron DeSantis.

Exactly how did "the moderate wing of the Democratic Party" "engineer" that "feat"? They just had to stop Bernie.

Leading by example.

June 25, 2023

At the Milkweed Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

"are there instances of women becoming obsessed with historic events?"

"In 2012, Mitt Romney named Russia as our chief global adversary, a statement the press perceived as a gaffe..."

"... given the war against al-Qaeda that was ongoing. In a presidential debate that year, Barack Obama responded with a zinger: 'And the 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back.' From a tactics standpoint, Obama did what he had to do. He bent to a format that asked exactly this of him. The rightness or wrongness of Romney’s assertion and Obama’s reply matter less than the takeaway: How Romney’s statement landed was ultimately the result of a cultural interpretation and context more than it was about evidence or reason, even as debates are ostensibly supposed to be about the latter."

"[I]t’s almost awe-inspiring how little actually happens. In the first episode, Carrie learns, via YouTube, how to poach an egg."

"In the second, Miranda loses her phone on the beach. In the third, Carrie pretends she has COVID to get out of recording her own audiobook. The stories are breathtakingly small, as though the original show has been shrunk down into a vivid maquette. A substantial portion of the fifth episode is dedicated to Charlotte and Harry dressing up as Philip and Elizabeth Jennings from The Americans for Halloween and getting frustrated that no one gets the reference...."

Ooh... just by chance, following my usual blog practice, I seem to have stumbled into a theme day. The theme is: Nothing happens. I haven't used my "blog has a theme today" tag in a long time.

This feels propitious. Things fall in place. Anything falling in place for you? Can you poach an egg? No?! Well, then, pay attention at 0:16 to 0:24 of "Levi eats Green Eggs and Ham Benedict":

"We got to within 200km of Moscow in 24 hours, without spilling a drop of the blood of our fighters. Now, the moment has come, when blood could be shed."

"Understanding the responsibility for the shedding of Russian blood by one side, we are turning back our convoys to our field camps, in accordance with our plan."

"Changed" — but how?