July 8, 2023

Sunrise — 5:15.

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Before blogging, there were proto-bloggers, and I have encountered another example: Rose Kennedy.

I have commemorated proto-bloggers before. For example, something John Keats did in 1816. And, in the first year of my own blogging, I told you about my grandfather, Pop. And though I can’t find where I've blogged about it, there's something I myself used to do in the 1990s. I'd read the paper NYT at the dining table in the morning and if I found something distinctly interesting, I'd tear it out and put it on the other side of the table, where my sons would see it when they eventually came into the room.

Anyway, the proto-blogger I discovered today was Rose Kennedy. As a consequence of reading that Rebecca Traister article about RFK Jr. — blogged here — I started reading his book "American Values/Lessons I Learned from My Family." 

Here's what I consider to be like blogging:

"Unlike a lot of self-help gurus, yogis and crackpot messiahs who rose to prominence in the early-1970s age of weird, Mr. Geller endured..."

"... and his cultural impact proved both singular and lasting. Ikea produced a Geller stool, which had bent, wavy legs. Nintendo made a spoon-wielding Pokémon character, Kadabra, who could cause clocks to run backward. References to Mr. Geller, or mangled silverware, have appeared in songs by R.E.M., Toad the Wet Sprocket and Incubus, and made a memorable cameo in 'The Matrix.' 'It’s not the spoon that bends,' a bald tyke in a robe tells Neo, Keanu Reeves’s character. 'It is only yourself.'..."

"If Mr. Geller can’t actually bend metal with his brain — and civility and fairness demands this 'if' — he is the author of a benign charade, which is a pretty good definition of a magic trick. Small wonder that the anti-Geller brigade has laid down its arms and led a rapprochement with the working professionals of magic. He is a reminder that people thrill at the sense that they are either watching a miracle or getting bamboozled."

Behold the entertainment (from 1973):

"[W]atching the Geller haters now is like watching people run into nursery schools shouting that there is no Santa Claus."

"Zillow... does an analysis of paint colors. Its latest analysis said that a white kitchen, long de rigueur, could now hurt a house’s home price to the tune of $612..."

"... whereas a charcoal-gray kitchen allegedly increases the cost by an average of $2,512. (To get these very specific numbers, Zillow showed study participants homes and asked how much they’d offer for each. Then, the company’s behavioral scientists used statistical modeling to figure out how the relationship between list and offer price changed depending on the room color.) In a news release about the paint analysis, Zillow quoted Mehnaz Khan, a color psychology specialist and interior designer in Albany, N.Y.: 'Buyers have been exposed to dark gray spaces through home improvement TV shows and their social media feeds, but they’re likely drawn to charcoal on a psychological level.' Khan specializes in determining how colors and the built environment impact people’s moods and well-being. Yet when she and her husband built their first house... they fell into the same trap of prioritizing other people’s opinions over their own.... 'I never painted anything. I lived in those white walls and I was always thinking about the next homeowner. Everything was for the next homeowner.'"

That's a big problem with having so much of your wealth in the form of the house you live in. You only want to benefit yourself, but you've got a conflict of interest — the tangible reality of your house or that money out there that you'd realize if you sold. And the thing is, what is good in that tangible reality? What do you actually like and what will you like going forward if you repaint and renovate? Are you really so independent about interior design or are you influenced by what (you think) other people prefer? We like to think we're creative and individualistic, but are we? And if we lean into some notion of our specialness, what horror might we make out of our home? Are you really so special that other people's opinions are not woven into all those personal preferences of yours? Really? Tell me a few things you've done to your house that support your opinion of yourself.

"I’ve worked with far lesser actors who would leave me to read with an assistant when they’re off-camera."

"But Tom does not play that way at all. At one point, his face was literally smashed against the [side] of the camera, to get in my eye line as much as possible, even if I could only see the corner of his eye. He was like, 'What do you need, what can I do, how can I help you?'" 

Said April Grace, about making the movie "Magnolia" with Tom Cruise, quoted in "Tom Cruise is here to help/For more than four decades, the actor has attained near-mythic status by giving us what we want — including seven ‘Mission: Impossible’ movies." (WaPo).

The article, written by Ann Hornaday, a film critic, continues:
It’s easy to be cynical about Cruise’s messianic energy, his zealotry on behalf of an art form that, when he practices it, looks less like a profession than a holy vocation (is it any coincidence that he once contemplated becoming a Franciscan priest?).

Why be "cynical" about "a holy vocation"?! 

"Addiction haunts the recesses of this ancient port city, as people with gaunt, clumsy hands lift crack pipes to lips, syringes to veins."

"Authorities are sealing off warren-like alleyways with iron bars and fencing in parks to halt the spread of encampments. A siege mentality is taking root in nearby enclaves of pricey condos and multimillion-euro homes.... On a recent afternoon, an emaciated man in striped pants sleeping in front of a state-funded drug-use center awoke to a patrol of four officers. He sat up, then defiantly began assembling his crack pipe. Officers walked on.... Over the last 18 months, a drug encampment sprung up below a school. More homes have been burgled. One neighbor said she found a person, naked from the waist down, shooting up outside her house gate. Another had her laundry stolen three times. Residents have launched U.S.-style neighborhood watches and hired private security guards — something exceedingly rare in Europe...."

The city is Porto, Portugal.

We're told Portugal's approach to drugs was "globally hailed."

"As a journalist who has been told for decades that my empathy for the female candidates I often cover is probably overemotional and built too strongly on personal identification..."

"... let me just tell you that you should never stand between a white male political journalist over the age of 40 and his feelings about the Kennedys...."

Writes Rebecca Traister, in "RFK Jr.’s Inside Job How a conspiracy-spewing literal Kennedy posing as a populist outsider jolted the Democratic Party" (NY Magazine).

Unlike his uncles and his father, RFK Jr. doesn't have a "brain trust" — doesn't have "protective support from the journalists and politically powerful friends who shined him up, in many cases literally editing his words." He used to, but...
Now his brain trust appears to be the hyperonline, hard-right masculinity influencers who give him the approval he craves and encourage him to do things like post videos of himself shirtless, his chest and arms improbably pumped, doing nine janky push-ups. 

Traister — who just revealed she knows her "empathy for the female candidates" is regarded by others as "probably overemotional and built too strongly on personal identification" — now openly displays her distaste for men who seem afflicted by overemotional attraction to the masculinity of a male candidate. 

July 7, 2023

At the Friday Night Café...

 ... you can talk about whatever you want.

"I think the way she referred to a fellow member was probably not the way we expect our members to refer to other fellow, especially female, members."

Said Freedom Caucus board member Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.), quoted in "Marjorie Taylor Greene booted from House Freedom Caucus/The vote occurred nearly two weeks ago, shortly after the Georgia Republican had called then-fellow Freedom Caucus member Rep. Lauren Boebert a pejorative in a verbal fight on the House floor" (Politico).

Greene had called Boebert a "little bitch." 

Are female "fellow members" treated differently from male fellow members? I don't like the name-calling, but I assume members of Congress call each other names from time to time. I just want to know if the standard is different when the slur is gendered female, when the person slurred is female, and/or when the hurler of the epithet is female. Are the males coming to the aid of the female, paternalistically? Does it not matter when the group is right-wing and perhaps presumably comfy with old-time sex roles? 

"'There is a big secret about sex,' wrote Leo Bersani in 1987. 'Most people don’t like it.' The same might be said of translation..."

"... which many readers secretly consider a necessary evil. Even the very best produces a lingering frustration, an irritable awareness that we didn’t get what we came for. If translation is like sex, it often leaves us with a case of epididymal hypertension, or, in the vernacular, blue balls. One of the worst things about a bad translation is that it’s unforgettable. The Pre-Raphaelite artist, designer, and utopian socialist William Morris took a run at Homer in 1887 and hit the wall hard. 'Tell me, O Muse, of the Shifty,” his translation of the Odyssey begins, “the man who wandered afar,/After the Holy Burg, Troy-town, he had wasted with war.'"

The utopian socialist sounds like a beatnik.

Nice cover:

"Legacy students are just a tiny proportion of the pool of privileged kids who are rich in symbolic, social and cultural capital."

"Even without the extra boost legacies currently get, it would be almost impossible to offset the advantages of wealthy families who can pay for all the experiences and qualities that make their children seem miraculously, naturally, qualified."

Writes Shamus Khan — a Princeton sociology professor, author of "Privilege: The Making of an Adolescent Elite at St. Paul’s School" — in "Legacy Admissions Don’t Work the Way You Think They Do" (NYT).

Ron Johnson said that word that can get you in so much trouble: "purity."

I'm reading a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article that begins: "U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson has one main concern when it comes to the merger of the PGA Tour and the Saudi-backed LIV Golf series: maintaining what he calls the 'purity' of golf."

What? Is that racist?! That's the static I had in my head as I read through many paragraphs before I could see the actual quote that contained that word, "purity":

"Now that they took care of the garden, what are they going to do about that tower at the school’s main entrance?"

That's the top-rated comment at "Exclusive girls’ school called out after drone footage reveals phallic garden" (NY Post).

"Patrick Logue, master dog trainer... said it is a possibility that the animal acted out of fear of the holiday fireworks."

"'When dogs are in distress, when they’re adrenalized, that’s never a good combination... Then you add kids into the mix. Kids bring their own stress as any parent will tell you and their own sense of chaos. And it is just a bad situation, especially when kids are unsupervised with dogs.'...  [Michael Groleau of the Suncoast Humane Society said,] 'Things are happening in the environment that are stressing the dog out and the dog can’t tell you or show you what’s wrong, so the dog’s going to use its mouth and that’s the apex of the situation where something bad is going to happen'...."

I have one big threshold question about Threads, Zuckerberg's alternative to Twitter.

Can I check it out through my browser or am I forced to download an app?

I usually read Twitter as a website, along with most of my other on-line reading, including Facebook. I like to move around when I'm getting ideas for articles to read, not be trapped in the company's stifling, controlling environment.

It's not surprising for Threads to begin with massive downloading if there's no other way even to glance at it. I don't think the NYT article answers my question, but I bailed halfway in and just googled it.

Currently you can access Threads only via the iOS or Android apps. There is no desktop version at this stage, and Meta could not say when it might make one available.

Bad. Prohibitively bad.  

July 6, 2023

Sunrise — 5:31.


This new Politico poll puts the prosecution of Donald Trump in perspective.

The headline refers to the widely shared desire to see the trial proceedings completed before the election, but I don't think the public's enthusiasm for a speedy trial is going to spur the judicial system on, and once you know that people only support a mild or nothing punishment if he is convicted, you can see the light weight of the interest in giving the people what they want.

"I admit with deepest embarrassment that it was only after what regrettably happened that I learned of the monument’s antiquity."

Said Ivan Danailov Dimitrov, quoted in "Who Knew the Colosseum Was So Old? Tourist Apologizes for Defacement. A man who etched his initials and those of his girlfriend in a wall of the nearly 2,000-year-old monument wrote a letter of apology, and his lawyer says he is hoping for a plea bargain" (NYT).

Il Messaggero, the Italian newspaper, said the apology "defaced common sense."

"Trump, who was at about 44% just before [the first] indictment, shot up above 50%. DeSantis, who had risen to 30%, fell to 25%."

"Trump's lead over DeSantis, which had hovered around 30 points before DeSantis's reelection and fell to around 15 points after, returned to the 30-point range.... On June 8, Trump announced that he had been indicted by Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith.... Trump dipped about 3 points in the RealClearPolitics average after the indictment but remained above 50% the whole time.... Will anything change that? Can anything change that? Who knows? There's no doubt that a number of campaigns, rather than having some clear theory of the race, are simply pushing on in hopes that something will happen. Something will happen to make Trump implode, or Trump will begin a long, slow slide, or something...."
Writes Byron York in "The shape of the GOP race so far" (Washington Examiner).

York seems to be saying the Trump challengers need to get a "clear theory" — other than the theory that Trump is so awful people will have to turn away from him. Trump's problems become his great advantage. He seems like the underdog, but he's also the overdog. One may psychically bond with underdogs... and with overdogs. Trump is both the underdog and the overdog. That's quite a show. And yet so many are counting on people to turn away from that ultra-compelling show. The other candidates are staring at that show, fixated by the grip it has on voters. They can't look away from the failure to look away.

"We were also puzzled by the way American waiters routinely congratulate you on your menu choice, rewarding you with 'Good choice,' 'Excellent' or even 'Awesome.' "

"You want fries with that? 'Awesome!'...  [O]n our way to Houston, we passed a roadside church whose huge hoarding exhorted us to 'Give Up Lust — Take Up Jesus.' I thought that sign might be my most abiding memory, until I’d spent a few hours at the Space Center Houston. I never guessed I’d be so riveted by topics like the geology of the moon and how NASA astronauts train underwater. But the cafeteria! It is astonishing, the best I’ve ever seen anywhere in a public building: brioche or sourdough sandwiches, homemade soups, hot roasts and grills, fresh tortillas, a salad bar to tempt the most die-hard carnivore, and no junk food in sight. It was a long way from the usual NASA fare of freeze-dried food in pouches and tubes...."

"Plant medicines like psilocybin and ayahuasca... they are beautiful because they give you exactly what you need, even if you don’t know what it is you need."

Said Veronica Duron, chief of staff for Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), quoted in "AOC, Dan Crenshaw and the mellow struggle for psychedelic drug access/What do a democratic socialist, a Republican war veteran and a long-haired lobbyist from Montana have in common? They want the government to relax about certain mild-altering substances" (WaPo).
Duron, a user of plant medicines, added that she didn’t know whether her boss would ever personally partake but knows the senator often “hears from his wealthy friends and supporters who micro-dose every day and have these experiences. And he is like, ‘These healing experiences shouldn’t be just for rich White people.’” Booker has co-sponsored legislation with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) similar to Ocasio-Cortez’s amendment to study the medical benefits of certain psychedelics....

It's a racial justice issue — that's good political packaging for Booker (and others). Don't say it so it might be heard as: Let's get more drugs to black people. It has to be: If some people feel completely free and don't worry at all about criminal law enforcement, then let's make it equal. Or: It's a matter that inherently belongs to the individual, who gets to decide which of the possibly beneficial drugs to take. I wouldn't recommend calling psilocybin and ayahuasca "these healing experiences." Leave it to the (supposed) experts in the FDA to determine which which drugs are effective cures for diseases and disorders. You sound anti-science when you say "these healing experiences." You might as well start recommending religions if you're going to talk like that.

Twitter banning Trump was "the right decision for the company, but the wrong decision for the world," said Jack Dorsey.

Dorsey said that he came of age as "a punk." He loved that "ethos" — "challenging the system." He didn't want to become an entrepreneur, but that's where he found himself, and he needed to learn how to grow the company. Learning that, he "learned what [he had] forgotten... about what [he] loved about the internet in the first place," which is that it was decentralized.

Why is this suddenly happening and hitting the top of the front page of the NYT?

Things that make me paranoid:

A delightfully fresh argument from a delightfully fresh Kennedy face.

This is, in my view, partly comic and partly a really good argument that's damned close to something I've found myself close to saying: To see the text of this rant and read about how this video is viral, go to "JFK grandson goes viral for anti-restaurant rant" (KTLA 5).

"If reading opens up a world of imagination and possibility, then speaking and listening opens up a lifetime of empowerment — a chance for those who too often feel invisible in their own country, to be heard."

Labour will announce a review of the national curriculum that will seek to “weave oracy into lessons throughout school”....
Geoff Barton, the general secretary of the Association for School and College Leaders, said: “Oracy should be a core entitlement, and held in the same regard as reading and writing. Indeed, if students can articulate effectively in conversation, they are more likely to be assured readers and able to express themselves well in writing.”

Oracy. I don't remember seeing that word before, perfectly easy though it is to understand. The OED traces it back to 1965 where we see the author coining a set of words:

July 5, 2023

Sunrise — 5:14, 5:22, 5:32, 5:34.

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"Even if there were surveillance cameras, unless you were waving it around, it may not have been caught."

"It’s a bit of a thoroughfare. People walk by there all the time."

Said an unnamed official, quoted in "White House cocaine culprit unlikely to be found: Law enforcement official/Lines may have been snorted and crossed. But it’s possible we won’t know by whom" (Politico).

"But unlike the decision that ended Americans’ right to abortion, these most recent decisions are not as obviously unpopular with the American public."

"And indeed, some of them could even be understood as having popular support."

"Gov. Tony Evers, a former public school educator, used his broad partial veto authority this week to sign into law a new state budget that increases funding for public schools for the next four centuries."

"The surprise move will ensure districts' state-imposed limits on how much revenue they are allowed to raise will be increased by $325 per student each year until 2425...."

The veto power in this state is very intense: "Evers crafted the four-century school aid extension by striking a hyphen and a '20' from a reference to the 2024-25 school year." That is, "2024-25" became "2425."

I'm not seeing this term in the article, but traditionally, we've called this the "Frankenstein veto." The state constitution was amended in 2008 to restrict what used to be even crazier.

ADDED: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has a new article: "Can he do that? Tony Evers followed a Wisconsin tradition when he increased school aid for 402 years." This one uses the term "Frankenstein veto":
At one time, governors could veto individual words to create new words — known as the Vanna White veto — or strike words from two or more sentences to make new sentences, known as the Frankenstein veto. Voters eliminated governors' ability to make such changes in 1990 and 2008, respectively.
So what's left, what Evers used, doesn't deserve the "Frankenstein" disparagement?

"Every time another conservative homeschool mom appeared in a dress I loved, it was [Son de Flor]...."

Writes Bethany Mandel in "Is my favorite dress company the new Bud Light? Son de Flor makes ‘traditional’ clothing — yet decided to use a 'gender-fluid' bearded model" (Spectator).
I really wish I could have been a fly on the wall of the meeting the marketing team had when they made this decision.... For Son de Flor, the target is women interested in timeless fashion and modesty. Overwhelmingly, that is going to translate to religious (read: conservative) women. While a partnership with an individual with over 150,000 Instagram followers might seem appealing on its face, Son de Flor doesn’t seem to understand that an individual is only an influencer for a brand if they actually influence potential customers in a positive way. 

How hot was it?

On the front page of The Washington Post:

Clicking, I get to this headline: "This July 4 was hot. Earth’s hottest day on record, in fact." So... on record. When did the record of the temperature all over the Earth get started?

"As far as I’m concerned, the crown jewel of unintentional ASMR is a 14-minute video that was uploaded seven years ago...."

"In 'Alexander Technique lesson with Diana Devitt-Dawson,' a woman teaches a law student how to sit down and stand up from a chair without causing excess strain on the body. Devitt-Dawson, the instructor, makes microscopic adjustments to her pupil’s posture and movement, all the while issuing an enigmatic catchphrase: 'Allow the neck to be free.'... Boring as it sounds, this video has become a cult object. It now has 5.6 million views.... Fans, some of whom claim to watch the video nightly, have called it 'the "Citizen Kane" of ASMR videos'... What does it mean to allow the neck to be free? (Is that phrase the 'Rosebud' of the ASMR world?) Precisely what modifications is Devitt-Dawson making to her student’s posture? (As one commenter notes, 'Watched this literally 1,000 times and I still have no idea how to do the Alexander Technique.')"

"The breakthrough came... when hikers at Borderland State Park... heard Ms. Tetewsky screaming for help."

"Unable to reach her on foot without assistance, the hikers called the authorities.... 'Upon arrival, Easton officers heard Tetewsky but could not see her,' the police said. Three officers waded 50 feet from the shore, through thick brush and swamp, to reach Ms. Tetewsky, and carried her back to land...."

There's no detail on how or why she got that far from shore or how deeply her body was sunken into the mud. I'm having a hard time picturing it.

"Attacks are more common near bodies of water and when a person is accompanied by a pet...."

Said Jay Butfiloski, the furbearer and alligator program coordinator in South Carolina's Natural Resources Department, quoted in "Alligator Kills 69-Year-Old Woman in South Carolina/The deadly attack in Hilton Head Island was the second fatal alligator attack in Beaufort County, S.C., in less than a year, the authorities said" (NYT).
The woman... was found at the edge of a lagoon in Spanish Wells, a residential community in Hilton Head Island. She had left her home around 7 a.m. to walk her dogs, and relatives went looking for her when the dogs returned without her....

You may think your dog will protect you from dangers when you're out on a walk, but Butfiloski implies that the dog attracts the attack — in this case, from an alligator.

Just a couple days ago we were talking about an incident in which a dog running into the forest attracted a bear attack. There, the human being survived, and we learned that the woman intervened in the bear/dog fight. She punched the bear and got bitten. I asked "if a bear were going after your dog, would you intervene?"

Who knows what happened in that Hilton Head incident, but if a 9-and-a-half-foot alligator were going after your dog, would you intervene?

"In the 1990s, I was on some graduate admissions committees... It was apparent to me that... Black and Latino applicants were expected to be much more readily accepted than others."

Writes John McWhorter in "On Race and Academia" (NYT).
I recall two Black applicants we admitted who, in retrospect, puzzle me a bit. One had, like me, grown up middle-class rather than disadvantaged in any salient way. The other, also relatively well-off, had grown up in a different country, entirely separate from the Black American experience. Neither of them expressed interest in studying a race-related subject, and neither went on to do so. I had a hard time detecting how either of them would teach a meaningful lesson in diversity to their peers in the graduate program....

The answer is in the official ideology of diversity, though I don't fault Professor McWhorter for failing to detect it on his own. The meaningful lesson in diversity is supposed to be that black people are individuals and not exemplars of a stereotype. By not being economically disadvantaged and by not choosing "race-related" major, these 2 grad students were teaching other students that black people are not all alike. (It's a very elementary lesson and thus scarcely the sort of "compelling" government interest needed to support race discrimination, but there it is.)

"About two months ago, after another stale Saturday night of binge-watching television at their Brooklyn home, Bill de Blasio and..."

"... [his wife] Chirlane McCray surprised themselves. It began with an offhand remark: 'Why aren’t you lovey-dovey anymore?' Mr. de Blasio, the former New York City mayor, asked, according to Ms. McCray.... It moved quickly, both said, into the sort of urgently searching dialogue that had been necessary for years but avoided until that moment: a full accounting of their relationship, what they wanted, what they were not getting. 'You can’t fake it,' Ms. McCray said Tuesday from their kitchen table. 'You can feel when things are off,' Mr. de Blasio said, 'and you don’t want to live that way.' They made their decision that night...."

"They are not planning to divorce, they said, but will date other people. They will continue to share the Park Slope townhouse where they raised their two children, now in their 20s — the vinyl-sided hub of a thoroughly modern political family whose mixed-race symbolism helped send a spindly progressive long shot to City Hall...."

Were they ever "lovey-dovey"?  

"When the lockdown started... my husband and I decided to quarantine... at our house on Martha’s Vineyard.... A week later... my husband told me he wanted a divorce."

"He packed a bag, got in his Jeep and boarded a ferry. We had been married for nearly 21 years. When he reached New York City, he laid out his narrative: He thought he had wanted our life but didn’t. He thought he was happy but wasn’t. A switch had flipped. He didn’t want our house or our apartment. He didn’t want any custody of our children."

I'm reading "Was I Married to a Stranger? I thought I knew my husband of 20 years. I didn’t — and still don’t" by Belle Burden (NYT). 

For a less poetically written version of this story, read The Mirror: "Wealthy mum says husband 'left for another woman in lockdown and didn't want custody of kids'/Flobelle 'Belle' Fairbanks Burden, 54, from New York, US, said Henry Davis wanted to end their marriage during Covid lockdown at their Martha's Vineyard home in spring 2020." Here, unlike at the Times, the ex-husband is named and we see photos of the couple, plus news that Belle is a descendant of Cornelius Vanderbilt. 

"Federal judge orders President Biden to stop censoring his critics including me."

From the article: 

July 4, 2023

Sunrise — 5:04, 5:17, 5:24, 5:26.




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"The lawsuit compares the DEI-statement requirement to Red Scare–era loyalty oaths that asked people to affirm that they were not members of the Communist Party."

I'm reading "The Hypocrisy of Mandatory Diversity Statements Demanding that everyone embrace the same values will inevitably narrow the pool of applicants who work and get hired in higher education" by Conor Friedersdorf (The Atlantic).

"Adult friendship is touchy.... Everyone wants to be effortlessly surrounded by loved ones, so putting work into making friends can be embarrassing."

"While the search for romance feels normal, and even noble, actively seeking friends as an adult — and saying that openly on apps or social media — still carries stigma, friend-seekers said.... Making adult friends requires work and vulnerability, which is a lot to ask from people who are lonely, different or tired, [31-year old, self-described loner Greg] Walton said, blinking back tears.... You won’t make a friend the first time you show up [to a group meetup arranged through an app], Walton said, or even the second, because friendship requires revealing yourself over time. But real friends are out there, and the fear and ambiguity are worth it. 'Yeah, you might feel like a creep, but hopefully somebody will help you,' they said. 'First, you have to show that you’re trying.'" 

"Asian Americans, the group whom the suit was supposedly about, have been oddly absent from the conversations that have followed the ruling...."

"During the five years I spent covering this case, the commentators defending affirmative action almost never disproved the central claim that discrimination was taking place against Asian Americans, even as they dismissed the plaintiffs as pawns who had been duped by a conservative legal activist. They almost always redirected the conversation to something else—often legacy admissions...."

"I'm not doing this. Enough is enough. Leave me alone. Period. I'm not doing this. Fine me if you want. I don't care. Catch the car thieves and check-washers first."

A comment, at the NYT, on the article "New York City Residents Will Soon Have to Compost Their Food Scraps/The City Council passed a bill on Thursday requiring New Yorkers to separate their food waste from regular trash, with mandatory composting coming to all five boroughs by next year."

From the article:

"Seems like you're avoiding me."

"And now, we are all thinking about the kitten. Wish I hadn't read this"/"I stopped reading a quarter of the way in"/"Wish I had."

"Same. Ruined my morning. And a picture on top. There’s nothing cute or funny about this story, though the author tried. It’s just horrible"/"It wasn't entirely clear what the author was doing. Some of it seemed like he was making the horror into a cute story...."/"Wonder if they ever took those pups out walking - get them tired so no running around crazy in the back yard"/"I'm mostly against trigger warnings in general, but I resent this story being presented as some sort of whimsical travel tale. I also didn't need to see the picture of the dead kitten, adorable as he was. I don't think I'll ever want to revisit this dude's writing"/"This was an awful article, made worse by pictures of the angelic, deceased kitten. Who continued to be mentioned for the rest of the article. I’m reading this with my cats on my lap. WTF, WaPo??!!"

The comments section is reviling this WaPo travel article: "They arrived to housesit amid 2 dogs and 16 cats. What could go wrong?"

"A month ago, the Southern Poverty Law Center declared Moms for Liberty an 'extremist group' devoted to spreading “messages of anti-inclusion and hate...."

"The 'extremist' label is justified, said Esther Prins, a professor at Penn State University who has studied the intersection of education advocacy and Christian nationalism in America. Prins said the activities of Moms for Liberty chapters — especially efforts to remove books nationwide, many of which are led by group members and which overwhelmingly target people of color and LGBTQ+ authors, a Post analysis found — are consistent with groups that promote a hierarchical social order in which 'men are over women, straight people over LGBTQ people.' Prins said, 'That’s why they don’t want children learning about racism or about the existence of people who are not straight or the existence of families that aren’t the heterosexual nuclear family.'..."

The post title is the first sentence of the article, and the next part I quoted is very far down in the article. The SPLC's designation takes prominence over any explanation of what this group is and why it deserves denouncement, and the explanation isn't convincing at all. These are the parents who object to sex-and-gender-themed books in schools? The article says "efforts to remove books nationwide"... remove books from where? Schools? Or more? 

July 3, 2023

At the Sunrise Café...

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... you can write about anything you want.

"The mandate for audience recognition has pushed artists to take increasingly desperate measures—including scrounging up plotlines from popular snacks."

"Eva Longoria recently directed the Cheetos dramedy 'Flamin’ Hot'; Jerry Seinfeld is at work on 'Unfrosted: The Pop-Tart Story.' I.P.-based filmmaking has become so commonplace that [Greta] Gerwig—who made her name acting in tiny mumblecore projects—was caught off guard by complaints that she’d sold out. (One viral tweet: 'i know this is an unpopular opinion but i feel like . . . completely repelled by the barbie movie. branded content with a wink and movie stars is still branded content!') Gerwig told me that adapting Barbie felt as natural as adapting 'Little Women,' though she did use a toy metaphor to describe the process: creating 'a story where there hadn’t been a story' felt like solving 'an intellectual Rubik’s Cube.'... 'Barbie' is somehow simultaneously a critique of corporate feminism, a love letter to a doll that has been a lightning rod for more than half a century, and a sendup of the company that actively participated in the adaptation...."

I learned the word "toyetic." Here's the Wikipedia article, "Toyetic":

Wave your arms to show that you are human.

How far would you go to protect your dog? For two 60-somethings in Maine and Connecticut, doing so involved fighting a bear.... Wildlife authorities say that dog owners should walk their pets on a short leash that doesn’t retract, and that people should remove all sources of food, including bird feeders or bird seed, from outdoor spaces because they can attract bears.... According to the National Park Service, if you surprise a bear and it is not acting in a predatory way toward you, you should wave your arms to show the bear that you are human and then "slowly and calmly back away while avoiding direct eye contact."...

By the way, if a bear were going after your dog, would you intervene? Keep your dog on a short leash and you won't face that test of dog love, like that 64-year-old lady who punched a bear in the nose.

ADDED: They're discussing the Maine incident at the subreddit Dogfree: "Woman has her dog off leash and it goes and harasses a bear in the woods. She then attacks the bear for chasing her dog and gets bitten. Of course now they are putting out traps for the bear."

Pay attention to what Joy Reid actually says here: It's not that she got into Harvard on lesser credentials!

I think Ramaswamy is distorting (or, less likely, not hearing and understanding):

She says she got high grades and test scores in high school, but she wouldn't have thought to try for Harvard if Harvard hadn't come out to her small, majority-black town and recruited. She was strongly encouraged to apply. The Supreme Court hasn't changed the power of schools to recruit in places like hers. Reid never says her scores and grades wouldn't have been enough if she were not black.

"Clothes I dress my daughter in versus clothes her grandma dresses her in."

Lots of commenters over there (at TikTok) vote for "team grandma."

That video has over 5 million views, and the audio track is being used for other videos with their own variation on mother's clothes for daughter — utilitarian playclothes/tomboy style — and grandma's clothes — pink with frills.

#FranceHasFallen is trending on Twitter.

I don't want to embed anything I'm seeing here because I'm afraid of elevating something random, so go over there and scroll, but there is a good deal of calling people to nationalism and self-defense.

"The assassination was 60 years ago. What national security secrets could possibly be at risk? What are they hiding?"

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. tweets.
It’s not about conspiracy – it is about transparency. In a midnight Friday night announcement the White House has delivered the bad news that President Biden will be maintaining secrecy indefinitely on some JFK assassination related records.... 

July 2, 2023

Sunrise — 5:28, 5:30, 5:36.


IMG_2175 3

IMG_2186 2

Sunrise — 5:14.


The narrative that Asian-American students were just used by white people who wanted to end affirmative action.

"In April, President Biden told a group of children that he had 'six grandchildren. And I’m crazy about them. And I speak to them every single day. Not a joke.'"

"But the president has not yet met or publicly mentioned his other grandchild. His White House has not answered questions about whether he will publicly acknowledge her now that the child support case is settled."

From "Hunter Biden’s Daughter and a Tale of Two Families/The story surrounding the president’s grandchild in Arkansas, who has not yet met her father or her grandfather, is about money, corrosive politics and what it means to have the Biden birthright" (NYT).

5 out of 6 of the most popular comments over there are critical of President Biden: 

"[H]is older brother 'messed up' his university entrance exam, became depressed and as a result has never had a job."

"Then... his older sister struggled to find the right career path. When she didn’t get a job she wanted, she took her own life. Witnessing his siblings try and fail to find their place in the world of work must, I say, have informed his decision to turn his back on conventional employment. He considers this. 'I can’t quite tell myself how what happened to my siblings influenced me,' he says. 'But what happened, I think, is that they couldn’t really go into society. That’s what we say in Japan: ‘go into society’. It means that you are becoming a proper grown-up. In modern society, in Japanese society, you have to be a proper adult to be acceptable, but my brother and sister couldn’t work, so they weren’t accepted. They were rejected by society. And that just made me determined that I don’t want to be in a world where my siblings weren’t accepted... I went to university. I made a great effort... I got a job and I wanted to get on with people, and I wanted to be like other people. I tried harder and harder, but I just couldn’t do it. However hard I tried, I wouldn’t be able to be like the others... [I feel] an anger... towards... the atmosphere of society, that you’re not worth anything if you don’t do anything, and that you have to be productive. And I just want to say, "No. Everybody is worth their existence."'"

I wrote about this man last year — here — but I'm calling attention to him again because he has a forthcoming memoir (paid link) and because the Times is interviewing him.
“As Rental Person, I have only the flimsiest connection with my clients,” he says in his memoir. “I am practically transparent. They have a story they have to tell and it’s my role to be there while they tell it. In one of Aesop’s fables, a character longs to tell a secret and so tells it to the reeds. I’m just there, like those reeds.”... 
At best, Morimoto is an impassive confessor. He does not advise or commiserate or look people in the eye and tell them he understands. Usually, he says, the people telling him things don’t even want this of him. They just need him there, doing nothing, while they speak. Those who have never used him often think he is motivated by benevolence. He wants to be clear that he is not.

There's an excerpt from his book. An excerpt of the excerpt:

We’d been chatting for quite some time when, finally, in a very off-hand way, he started talking about his hidden past. “I was in a young offenders’ institution when I was a teenager,” he said. “Oh yes?” I said, nodding as I normally do. “Well, yes,” he said quietly. “Actually, I… er… killed someone.”... Somehow it really took me aback to think that a person who cooked so well, who gave an overall impression of competence, could have such a dark past. 

The incongruity had a real impact on me. In a way, I was very moved. Since then, I think I’ve looked at people in a different way, realizing that even the most ordinary, upright-looking people are not what they seem....

By the way, there was a blogger who heard there was an Aesop fable with a character who tells a secret to the reeds. The blogger searched the complete text of Aesop's fables for "reeds" and "secret" but found nothing. And the moral is: 

The moral is...
pollcode.com free polls

"The scale rates every applicant from zero to 99, taking into account their life circumstances, such as family income and parental education."

"Admissions decisions are based on that score, combined with the usual portfolio of grades, test scores, recommendations, essays and interviews. The disadvantage scale has helped turn U.C. Davis into one of the most diverse medical schools in the country — notable in a state that voted in 1996 to ban affirmative action."

It should work better on a national scale, because the pool of applicants will be more diverse if top schools are not filtering out applicants based on race. It's very hard to predict, though, especially since we don't really know what schools were doing before this new case — surely, not simply obediently adhering to the prior caselaw — and what they will do now. It wasn't permissible before to attempt to achieve racial balance — the superficial look of a class, with the different races meeting target percentages. But to the extent that was done, affluent, privileged minority applicants were used to meet the school's goals. Those students would not get a high "adversity score" in the U.C. Davis approach... unless "taking into account their life circumstances" ends up taking account of their race.

And why wouldn't it? Those on the inside of the admissions process are outraged by the new decision and adamantly believe it's wrongly decided and actively evil. Now, they will be trusted to apply the new rules, whatever they are (and they are vague enough to manipulate). Some years down the road, we'll have the next round of litigation, and who knows who will be on the Court when that happens? It's an ongoing experiment, and it's never going to end.

"Ann! I saw video of naked bike riders down by the State Capitol bldg. True?"

Writes Dave Begley in last night's open thread. Of course, it's true. And thanks for asking. You caused me to go back into my archive to find the time I was at the Capitol, wandering around something called the "Silent Majority Walk" when the Naked Bike Ride suddenly whizzed by. That was in 2011, the year of the Wisconsin protests.

It's a long video, so I provided time stamps. Excerpt:
4:38 — "That's brand new. I'm shocked as shit," says a black man, laughing. I ask him some questions about why he's shocked [by the Silent Majority Walk] and try to find out if he might perhaps actually be a Walker supporter himself. 
5:54 — We hear a hubbub and I realize "These are the naked bike riders!" They ride by chanting "Less gas, more ass." I continue my discussion with the shocked-as-shit guy, who declares "That's America! That's America! That's the freedom!"

What a great memory! I like that I spontaneously brought up the questions people are still asking about the Naked Bike ride today: 1. What if children saw nakedness? 2. Do these people have a special privilege to be naked because they're in an organized, expressive demonstration? and 3. Is it a white thing?

If you manage to stay tuned to 8:18, you'll hear me ask the man at the Madison Objectivists table how Ayn Rand would react to the Naked Bike Ride. He thought she'd disapprove and that she was "old school" about "sexuality." Oh, yeah? That's not what I heard. Anyway, I don't think nudity is sexuality. 

"A 'Cage Match' Between Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg May Be No Joke/Talks over a matchup between the two tech billionaires have progressed and the parameters of an event are taking shape."

This is an article in the NYT, and I'm annoyed at myself for spending the time to try to understand what is going on. These 2 showboats want our attention, and now I'm checking to see just how old, tall, and heavy each of them is and what that means in a "cage match."

Ugh. I don't like thinking about either of these men's bodies, but now I know Musk is 6'1.5" and Zuckerberg is only 5'7". Zuckerberg weighs 155 and Musk is anywhere from 30 to 70 pounds heavier, so he's something like 2 weight classes higher than Zuckerberg. Musk is 12 years older, and maybe Musk is less in shape: