August 5, 2023

Sunrise — 5:52, 5:57, 6:00.




"Summer travel cuts across social class; whether you go to a state fair or Sardinia, you cash in precious vacation days. You suntan, you eat more indulgently..."

"... and reach for your wallet with less angst. Travel helps you hide from reality, or at least pause it for a bit. But even if the idea of a summer getaway remains culturally resilient, is it still practical?...... 'Everything has been geared for that desire to seek the sun'.... Think of the airports, accommodations and other capital-intensive projects erected to serve the visitors of historically sunny places.... Now Italy offers nearly 1.1 million hotel rooms; Finland has fewer than 65,000. Decades of predictable travel have dug deep grooves to popular hubs, complicating the most intuitive solution to a changing climate: simply going somewhere else...."

"In the hours after former president Donald Trump was indicted Tuesday, President Biden dined at a seafood restaurant, stopped by a movie theater to watch the summer blockbuster 'Oppenheimer' and took a twilight stroll on the beach."

"He did not issue a statement on the indictment of his predecessor for allegedly seeking to overturn the last election. America’s other living presidents — Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter — also stayed mum on the matter. Rushing into the void, partisan actors unleashed bitterly accusatory rhetoric that threatens to engulf both the court case and the presidential race. The indictment’s aftermath has showcased how the country lacks a trusted singular voice of moral authority...."

"In the days since Trump’s indictment, Biden has declined to address such allegations. Riding his bike for the fourth day in a row Thursday, Biden ignored reporters’ inquiries about Trump’s indictment and answered brusquely when asked if he’d consider pausing to answer their questions: 'Probably not,' he said, riding by with a wave...."

"Russian soprano Anna Netrebko, one of opera’s biggest stars, sued the Metropolitan Opera... alleging discrimination when the company dropped her after Russia invaded Ukraine."

"The suit... includes claims of national origin discrimination, breach of contract and defamation.... Met general manager Peter Gelb said at the time she 'is one of the greatest singers in Met history, but with Putin killing innocent victims in Ukraine, there was no way forward.' Netrebko had made several statements opposing the war and violence at the time of her ouster, but did not agree to Gelb’s request that she specifically condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to her suit..."

"Casting a 5-foot-11, rom-com heartthrob in a role traditionally played by dwarf actors was what the film’s director, Paul King, called 'a real lightbulb moment.'"

"'You go, 'Hugh Grant’s an Oompa-Loompa! Yes, please!"' he [said]. Or maybe, 'No, thanks,' if you’re a performer with dwarfism who’s been typecast in bit parts your entire career, now confronting a future in which even those can be CGIed to fit the frames of A-listers."

"The strength of the indictment is that it is very narrowly written. The government is not attempting to prove too much, but rather it went for low-hanging fruit."

Low-hanging fruit?

"'If you go after me, I’m coming after you!' Trump wrote in all caps Friday afternoon on Truth Social..."

"The prosecutors said Trump’s post raised concerns that he might improperly share evidence in the case on his social media account and they urged that he be ordered to keep any evidence prosecutors turn over to his defense team from public view. 'All the proposed order seeks to prevent is the improper dissemination or use of discovery materials, including to the public,' [Senior Assistant Special Counsels Molly Gaston and Thomas Windom wrote in a court filing].... 'The Truth post cited is the definition of political speech, and was in response to the RINO, China-loving, dishonest special interest groups and Super PACs, like the ones funded by the Koch brothers and the Club for No Growth,' a Trump spokesperson said in a statement. Smith’s office has not sought a gag order in either of the criminal cases it is pursuing against Trump...."

"Could Trump face prison? 'Theoretically, yes and practically, no,' said Chuck Rosenberg, a former top federal prosecutor..."

"... and counsel to then-FBI Director James B. Comey. Rosenberg served briefly as head of the Drug Enforcement Administration in the Trump administration and notably said the president had 'condoned police misconduct' in remarking to officers in Long Island that they need not protect suspects’ heads when loading them into police vehicles. 'Any federal district judge ought to understand it raises enormous and unprecedented logistical issues,' Rosenberg said of the prospect Trump could be incarcerated. 'Probation, fines, community service and home confinement are all alternatives.'..."

From "If Trump is convicted, Secret Service protection may be obstacle to imprisonment/Donald Trump can keep Secret Service protection for life, even if he were to be convicted and sentenced to prison or home confinement" (WaPo).

"Mary McCord, who served as acting assistant attorney general for national security during President Barack Obama’s administration and led the department for the first several months under Trump, said Trump presents unique challenges to the Justice Department. Ensuring some penalty for a former president under Secret Service detail would require extensive discussions and potential accommodations, 'because it really would be a pretty enormous burden on our prison system to have to incarcerate Donald Trump.'"

The top comment over there:

"Garner" of the day.

From "Is It Bad to Drink Coffee on an Empty Stomach? Your gut is adaptable, experts say, but there are a few facts you should keep in mind" (NYT):
For many people, enjoying a freshly brewed cup of coffee first thing in the morning is a nonnegotiable way to start the day. But the idea that taking a sip without food could harm your gut — or contribute to other ills like bloating, acne, hair loss, anxiety, thyroid issues or painful periods, as some on social media have claimed — has garnered as much popularity as incredulity.

August 4, 2023

Sunrise — 5:54, 5:54, 5:57.




That last post — about warning Trump not to use the criminal trial to prove the 2020 election was stolen — got me exploring the general subject of warnings...

... exploring with a robot.

Me: "What are some examples in literature of a person being told not to go somewhere, as if it would be dangerous, when in fact it would be beneficial to that person to do what he is being warned against? "


"Former president Donald Trump and some of his legal advisers see an upside to the latest criminal case against him: He can use his upcoming trial to further argue his false claims of a stolen 2020 election...."

I'm reading "Trump plans to use charges to revisit 2020 election, a fraught topic for GOP/Strategists in both parties agree that having Trump talking about election fraud and Jan. 6 hurts Republicans" (WaPo).

Isn't it a "fraught topic" for Democrats too?! This is the sharpest example of concern trolling I've ever seen. It's going to "hurt Republicans" if Trump uses the opportunity of the criminal trial to break open the question of the legitimacy of the 2020 election?

Let's keep reading:

"Dianne Feinstein, 90, cedes power of attorney to daughter — but still serves in Congress."

The NY Post reports.

It's not as bad as the headline makes it sound. You might imagine that Feinstein is so far gone she can't handle her own personal finances, but:
Feinstein handed over power of attorney to her daughter, 66-year-old Katherine Feinstein, in part to help handle legal battles over her late husband Richard Blum’s estate...  In one dispute, Katherine, Feinstein’s only child, is at odds with Blum’s three daughters over the ownership of a luxury beach house owned by Feinstein....

She doesn't want to be distracted by intrafamily litigation that's really about Katherine's interests, not her own. But it's something to pounce on, if you're inclined. Yes, for other reasons, it's apparent that Feinstein doesn't belong in Congress, but this adds almost nothing. 

I'm amused by the combination of the headline and "at least somewhat correctly."

I'm reading "Joe Rogan Irresponsibly Suggests Kari Lake Has a Point About Election Fraud/Joe Rogan quickly veered into conspiracy territory in his most recent podcast" (Daily Beast). It begins:

Joe Rogan on Thursday let loose another doozy of a false claim, suggesting that despite a number of failed lawsuits and months of fruitless efforts, Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake may actually be correct about the wide-scale voter fraud she’s so far been unable to prove.

“It looks like there’s real fraud,” Rogan suggested during an episode of his podcast. “At the very least, there were voting machines that weren’t working properly,” Rogan said, at least somewhat correctly, an apparent reference to an incident in which some printers in Maricopa County voting centers didn’t make dark enough marks on ballots—a technical problem that former President Donald Trump also seized on at the time.

Boldface added. 

Here's the clip that Kari Lake is sharing on Twitter:

"I think you have to understand that there was no business conversation about a cap table or a fee or anything like that."

"It was, you know, just general niceties and, you know, conversation in general, you know, about the geography, about the weather, whatever it may be."

Testified Devon Archer, quoted in "Hunter tried to sell family name but Joe Biden never talked business, says ex-associate/Devon Archer’s testimony to House Oversight investigators included his assertion that Hunter Biden was not able to influence his father’s actions or policy decisions" (published August 3rd in The Washington Post).

August 3, 2023

At the Sunflower Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

Ramaswamy's riposte to Al Sharpton.

"When you look at what's happening, this is a persecution of a political opponent. This was never supposed to happen in America."

"This is the persecution of the person that's leading by very, very substantial numbers in the Republican primary and leading Biden by a lot. So if you can't beat him, you persecute them or you prosecute him. We can’t let this happen in America."

By the way, he's not leading Biden by a lot. The 2 are approximately tied. But maybe if you look at it state by state and consider the electoral votes, he's got a better shot. When he won in 2016, he lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million.

"CNN Poll: Percentage of Republicans who think Biden’s 2020 win was illegitimate ticks back up near 70%."

A CNN headline that appears just under a warning banner that says "HAPPENING NOW/Trump arrives for arrest and arraignment. Watch CNN."

It seems that 69% of Republicans believe something that — according to the criminal case — is so obviously wrong that Trump's assertion that he believed it must be a lie.

That's a "tick up" from 63% earlier this year. Do you think the criminal charges will cause the poll number to tick back down or tick up even more? I'm guessing up.

"Usually I choose not to respond to false allegations but these are as unbelievable as they sound and too outrageous to not be addressed."

"These sensationalized stories are coming from former employees who have already publicly admitted that they were told their behavior on tour was inappropriate and unprofessional.... I am very open with my sexuality and expressing myself but I cannot accept or allow people to use that openness to make me out to be something I am not.... There is nothing I take more seriously than the respect we deserve as women in the world. I know what it feels like to be body shamed on a daily basis and would absolutely never criticize or terminate an employee because of their weight."

Said Lizzo on Instagram, quoted in "Lizzo Denies Allegations in Former Dancers’ Lawsuit/Three dancers have accused the Grammy-winning singer of creating a hostile work environment, claims that she said were 'as unbelievable as they sound'" (NYT).

That sounds like the most exciting race ever — like a pitch for a thriller movie.

They've cast Trump as the hero.

ADDED: It's aaaaallllll about Trump:

"People are dying, entire patches of Earth are now charred, water is growing scarcer... and Americans’ foremost concern is 'oh no will my boss frown at me for rocking cargo shorts?'"

"The f—k is wrong with you people?... We’re a few years away from everyone wearing buckskins and killing each other for canned goods, and I’m supposed to care what George Will Jr. in the C-suite wants everyone to wear in their cubicles?... If it’s 110 out, and that’s no longer a hyperbolic number, who has the right to tell you that you can’t dress comfortably? What argument of theirs could possibly hold water? Anyone who wants to force pants on your body is just trying to force their morals on others. Are you one such person? Congratulations, you’re a fascist. I hate you. Here’s a picture of my leg hair. Deal with it, tough guy."

I'm reading that rant "Not allowing shorts in the office is fascism" by Drew Magary (SF Gate). Go to link for picture of leg hair. 

I just have one question: "If it’s 110 out"... what temperature is it in? There's air conditioning in the office, I'm sure. Of course, that contributes to global warming. I doubt if you'd want the AC turned off in exchange for permission to wear shorts. So just wear shorts while you're outside and carry a damned pair of pants with you to put on when you arrive at work.

Back up question: If you really think the human civilization is about to collapse, is your little job even worth doing?

True love.

"I see my body and mind transform every day. I love my new me, and never move on to the habits that I used to use."

Said Zhanna Samsonova, known on TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram as Zhanna D’Art, quoted in "Vegan raw food diet influencer Zhanna D’Art dies of suspected starvation: report" (NY Post).
A proponent of uncooked herbivorous fare, [Samsonova] claimed she ate a “completely raw vegan diet” for the last four years, consuming just “fruits, sunflower seed sprouts, fruit smoothies, and juices.”

One way to ensure that rights are not violated is to interpret them as very small.

Get ready for lots of pieces like "The Trump indictment tramples no one’s First Amendment rights."

That's by Ruth Marcus in The Washington Post.

Don't we already know where this January 6th case is going?

Mickey Kaus knows:

I agree with Mickey's devout wish, and I'll add that whoever ends up on the losing side will attribute their loss to outrageous politics.

AND: Here's what the Rich Lowry tweet is linking to:

"[O]nline life today descends from where it started, as a safe harbor for the computer nerds who made it."

"They were socially awkward, concerned with machines instead of people, and devoted to the fantasy of converting their impotence into power. When that conversion was achieved, and the nerds took over the world, they adopted the bravado of the jocks they once despised.... But they didn’t stop being nerds. We, the public, never agreed to adopt their worldview as the basis for political, social, or aesthetic life. We got it nevertheless. Musk’s obsession with X as a brand... reminds us that the world’s richest man is a computer geek, but one with enormous power instead of none. It calls attention to the putrid smell that suffuses the history of the internet. I’m kind of tired of pretending that the stench does not exist, as if doing otherwise would be tantamount to expressing prejudice against neurodivergence. This is a bad culture, and it always has been. Foul nerddom is part of what invented, popularized, and profited from the internet’s commercial rise. Twitter did its part to hide all that, with its unoffending avian verbs, its adorable birds, even its charming fail whale...."

Where does this intense disgust come from? Is Ian Bogost the sort of man who felt naturally privileged to run the world before those horrible nerds broke out of their cage? Or is he being funny and he's one of the nerds? Wikipedia

"Infections have been trending upward for about four weeks now, according to data gathered from wastewater monitoring, test positivity rates and hospitalizations and emergency room visits."

"Taken together, the figures offer researchers and public health officials the first glimpse of the coronavirus as a post-pandemic, seasonal threat, a permanent fixture of the infectious disease landscape."

Top-rated comment, from a man in Brooklyn: "Donning a face mask should now be like pulling out an umbrella when it rains. As cases rise, reach for your KN95 or N95 when leaving the house. It's an especially good idea when riding an elevator or in public transit. If anything, it protects you from the common cold and other bugs, and it's no longer a socially unusual thing to do."

August 2, 2023

Sunrise — 5:49, 5:54, 5:56.

IMG_2657 2


IMG_2669 2

"When parents had two children of the same sex and went on to have a third, their wellbeing dropped slightly over the next 10 years if that child was of the same sex too...."

"[T]he subjective wellbeing findings are 'driven entirely' by mothers who don’t have a boy after having two girls.... [P]arents who have two children of the same sex are more likely to try for a third.... 'Our data suggests that the disappointment is mostly from mothers with two girls not having a boy, as opposed to mothers of two boys not having a girl.' The study suggests that parents may fare better if they have two children of the same sex rather than going for a third to try for a mix of sexes. Parents that had two children of the same sex experienced a boost to their wellbeing, but this was mostly driven by fathers when the children were two girls...."

The Guardian reports on a study of "the life satisfaction of parents who already had two children of the same sex and went on to have another baby."

"Canadian voters don’t care about that. Once upon a time, they did. But the culture and times have changed."

Said University of Toronto political science professor Nelson Wiseman, quoted in "Justin Trudeau to Separate From Wife, Sophie Grégoire/The Canadian prime minister and his wife have been married for 18 years and share three children" (NYT).

Even though the role of family man was an integral part of Mr. Trudeau’s carefully crafted image, Mr. Wiseman said he foresaw no political fallout from the separation.... Mr. Wiseman pointed out that even Mr. Trudeau’s father, Pierre, did not suffer politically after he separated in 1977 from his wife, Margaret, the current prime minister’s mother.

"Have no doubt, corrupting the U.S. justice system to punish a former president and current candidate nudges the country ever closer to tribalism, chaos and collapse."

Writes Alan Dershowitz, in "For all you Trump haters popping champagne over this dubious indictment, here's EXACTLY why it may collapse" (Substack).
If the attorney general appointed by the incumbent president authorizes the prosecution of the president's chief election rival, the evidence of a serious crime should be overwhelming. His guilt should be clear beyond doubt, so as to avoid any reasonable suspicion that the prosecution was motivated, even in part, by partisan consideration. The paradigmatic 'gun' must indeed be 'smoking'....

Taco John's abandons its "Taco Tuesday" trademark (charmingly).

"He starts way back at the very beginning—Episode 164, on the Velvet Underground, for instance, opens with John Cage going door to door in Santa Monica..."

"... offering to sell housewives lessons in music and art appreciation. Hickey plays no interviews—it’s just his research, painstakingly arranged to make a point. At first, these essays were of manageable length—half an hour for Episode 4, discussing 'Choo Choo Ch’Boogie,' by Louis Jordan. ('In the nineteen-forties and early fifties, the train still meant freedom, still meant escape, and even once that had vanished from people’s minds it was still enshrined in the chug of the backbeat, in the choo choo ch’boogie.') But the transcript of even that episode is four thousand words long, which, multiplied by five hundred, would give you two million words of content, and would best Gibbon by half a million. (Winston Churchill’s six-volume history of the Second World War clocks in at around 1.25 million words; the Bible barely hits three quarters of a million.) And, in any event, Hickey’s ability to control his material has begun to gloriously unravel as he has proceeded. A recent episode—No. 165—is devoted to 'Dark Star,' by the Grateful Dead, and it clocks in at well over four hours and 38,458 words. At this pace, Hickey will eclipse every literary project in history; the current plan is to reach the five hundredth song sometime late in this decade, but that presupposes he can keep writing what amounts to a book every fortnight or so. We shall see."

Writes Bill McKibben, in "A Music Podcast Unlike Any Other/Andrew Hickey has embarked on a heroic and wild effort to tell the history of rock music in five hundred songs" (The New Yorker). Much more at the link.

I'm thrilled to see a New Yorker article on "The History of Rock Music in 500 Songs," which I've been recommending to you since September 2021, with this post. There are 8 more posts of mine, just click on the "Andrew Hickey" tag.

"Four Nigerian stowaways survived a grueling 14-day, 3,500-mile voyage across the Atlantic while perched atop a cargo ship’s rudder, where they survived by drinking ocean water and their own urine."

So says a caption to a photo in the NY Post article, "4 migrants wind up in Brazil after 14 days on ship’s rudder, where they drank own urine after running out of supplies; 2 decide to just go home"

The migrants, who hoped to reach Europe, were shocked to find out they had actually arrived in Brazil after the roughly 3,500-mile journey sailing on the Liberian-flagged vessel.... The four men — who huddled in a tiny space above the giant rudder — said they ran out of food on the 10th day of the voyage and survived by drinking ocean water that splashed around them....

[One of them] said they rigged up a net around the rudder and tied themselves to it with a rope to prevent themselves from falling off when they dozed off.... and that they could see “big fish like whales and sharks” mere feet below them.

I thought drinking ocean water is well known to be worse than drinking no water at all. We can believe their story, that they did drink ocean water, and we know they survived, but you can't leap to the conclusion that they survived by drinking ocean water.

You might guess that going from Nigeria to Brazil is a much longer ride than from Nigeria to Europe, but look it up — it isn't. It's about the same.

"After nearly a decade of Trump convincing many in the public that all charges against him are politically motivated, he’s virtually inoculated himself..."

"... against political repercussions for deadly serious criminal counts. He’s miraculously seen a boost in support and fundraising after each indictment.... A trial is the best chance to educate the American public, as the January 6 House committee hearings did to some extent, about the actions Trump allegedly took to undermine American democracy and the rule of law. Constant publicity from the trial would give the American people in the middle of the election season a close look at the actions Trump took for his own personal benefit while putting lives and the country at risk...."

It is an egregious abuse of power to criminally prosecute someone for the purpose of educating the public and generating publicity for your political position. 

A "hinge moment."

Is "hinge moment" becoming a common expression? I like that it seems like a replacement for "inflection point," which has always annoyed me.

"Jack Smith acknowledges in the indictment that Mr Trump, like any American, had a right to challenge the results of the election, and even to falsely claim that he only lost because of supposed voter fraud."

It says in "Four takeaways from Trump's indictment for 2020 election interference" (BBC).

That points me to Jonathan Turley's tweets, which I'm reading here:
Special Counsel Jack Smith just issued the first criminal indictment of alleged disinformation in my view. If you take a red pen to all of the material presumptively protected by the First Amendment, you can reduce much of the indictment to haiku... 

"[Y]ou can't have a conspiracy with just one person - you have to conspire with others."

I'm reading "Four takeaways from Trump's indictment for 2020 election interference" (BBC):
The indictment lists six unnamed co-conspirators who allegedly helped Mr Trump carry out his unlawful efforts to overturn the election results. Four are described in the document as lawyers working for Mr Trump's campaign, one is described as a political consultant and the other a Justice Department official.
The prosecution claims that along with Mr Trump, they pushed officials in states where the races had been close to ignore the popular vote, to disenfranchise millions of voters and replace legitimate electors with fake ones. It also accused them of attempting to use the power of the justice department to conduct sham investigations into supposed fraud and of pressuring then Vice-President Mike Pence to fraudulently alter the election outcome as part of his ceremonial role to certify results in Congress. 
Prosecutors included these individuals to back up their conspiracy charges, Aziz Huq of the University of Chicago Law School explained. Basically, you can't have a conspiracy with just one person - you have to conspire with others. However, the six have not been charged in this indictment - and there is no guarantee all will be. There could be many possible reasons prosecutors decided not to name the co-conspirators here, Mr Huq said. For one, these individuals could be co-operating with the government.

August 1, 2023

Sunrise — 6:13.



"Until it is proved otherwise, I will find it extremely hard to believe that the president was a party to his son’s nefarious schemes."

"But he enabled them. What on earth was Hunter Biden doing on that 2013 plane to China with his father, then the vice president? Why, after all of Hunter Biden’s dealings with Ukrainian energy company Burisma, did Joe Biden countenance hundreds of thousands of dollars in 'art sales' by his son in recent years, art — to my untrained eye — best displayed on the walls of budget motels? Who bought the stuff and why? Why was Joe Biden... so slow to embrace the grandchild that Hunter Biden had fathered? Why, after the younger Biden tried to cop to a plea deal on tax and gun charges, did the elder Biden invite him to, of all places, a White House state dinner?..."

Writes Joe Klein in "How Joe Biden’s compassion for his son blew up in his face" (WaPo).

In the estivant pines.



Trump — indicted again.

The indictment begins with a blunt assessment of Trump’s post-election efforts: “Despite having lost, the defendant was determined to remain in power.” It adds that, for more than two months after the election, he “spread lies” about voter fraud. “These claims were false, and the defendant knew they were false,” the indictment says.

ADDED: I have a feeling most people aren't going to understand that this is something new! Just in the last few minutes, I've heard: "I’ve officially lost track of all his indictments" and "I don’t know how that’s different from the old news."

The NYT seems to recognize this problem. It's also got this on the front page:

Vacation Barbie.


Photo by Meade, from Copper Harbor in the Upper Peninsula. The sign says "Motel."

Let's talk about Devon Archer.

I'm reading "Devon Archer Throws a Curve" by William McGurn (Wall Street Journal). 

"Senior aides to Ron DeSantis oversaw the campaign’s high-risk strategy of laundering incendiary videos produced by their staff through allied anonymous Twitter accounts..."

"... a set of internal campaign communications obtained by Semafor reveals.... The meme-filled videos emerged from a Signal channel called 'War Room Creative Ideas,' screenshots of which were shared with Semafor and whose authenticity was confirmed by a second source familiar with the campaign. The chat in Signal, an encrypted messaging app, offers the first clear look into the 'war room' that has defined the Florida governor’s candidacy, and is presided over by his high-profile and confrontational director of rapid response, Christina Pushaw. The correspondence obtained by Semafor also offers a glimpse of a strategy that mixes digital aggression and (unsuccessful) attempts to keep the campaign’s own activities secret. The messages were set to disappear after one week. Screenshots of the 'War Room' chat reviewed by Semafor included staffers praising a widely-derided and since-deleted video...."

Write David Weigel and Shelby Talcott at Semafor in "This belongs in the Smithsonian’: Inside the meme video operation that swallowed Ron DeSantis’ campaign."

You can still watch the "widely-derided and since-deleted video" at that link. 

"The thing that is more difficult to gauge... is how the American public will process Trump’s legal drama between now and November, 2024."

"Will the accumulation of charges and evidence, and maybe even actual trials, gradually turn opinion decisively against the former President...?... [In] the latest opinion survey from Bright Line Watch, a group of political scientists that monitors threats to democracy... [f]ewer than one in six Republican voters said they believed that Trump had committed crimes in trying to overturn the 2020 election, in his actions before the January 6th riots, or in making hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels. A few more Republicans said they believed that he committed a crime in the classified-documents case, but the total was still only one in four. By contrast, at least three in four Democrats believe that Trump committed crimes in each of these instances, the results indicated. Among self-identified independents who don’t lean toward either party... between thirty-seven per cent and forty-six per cent, depending on the specific cases—said they believed that Trump had committed a crime. And about half of these respondents said that the charges were politically motivated.... [T]here is now at least some evidence that the public at large is more open to reason and evidence...."

The ex-X.

I'm reading "After Investigation and Complaints, Twitter Removes ‘X’ on Headquarters" (NYT).

One complaint described “extremely intense white stroboscopic light” that was “causing distress and nausea.”

Another wrote that the sign looked “really unstable,” adding that “a decent earthquake is going to send that thing down on the street!”

"Restaurants across the United States are opting for red lighting as a way to sell intimacy, danger and, sure, food."

That's the subtitle of the NYT article "Meet the Latest Dining Aesthetic: Darkroom-Core" — about restaurants lit entirely with red lighting, making it hard to read the menu and hard to see what the hell you are eating.

We're told "spinach could look more black, because there’s less energy reflecting off it." And to keep the food from looking bad, it is "plated cheekily."

This gets my "redness" tag, and for the first time, I'm noticing that sounds like a symptom.

"Freedom of expression is not absolute in nature but is nonetheless a highly important right that cannot be lawfully restricted without the requirements of legal certainty and proportionality being met."

Said Judge Anthony Chan, quoted in "Judge Rejects Hong Kong’s Bid to Ban Pro-Democracy Song From Internet/The authorities sought a court injunction that could have pressured Google and other tech firms to remove 'Glory to Hong Kong'" (NYT).
Judge Chan also said that it would have been wrong to grant the injunction because existing criminal laws already gave the authorities the power to prosecute people for spreading the song, and that this ban would have been difficult to enforce, and unnecessary. Numerous people in Hong Kong have been arrested or charged for playing the song in public under an expansive national security law that Beijing imposed on the territory in 2020.... 
The “Glory to Hong Kong” case had risked “muddling” the city’s reputation as a place where the internet is open, he said. In China, the authorities block content and websites they don’t like, a system called the Great Firewall....

"I can’t put myself in the unisex Crocs of a young person exploring classical music for the first time, but Apple Classical strikes me as an oddly clumsy point of entry."

"An array of playlists called Composer Essentials is adorned with dour, sickly portraits that, according to Apple, were 'commissioned from a diverse group of artists.' (I envisioned a studio of talented girls and boys at an orphanage in rural Romania.) Composer Essentials are greatest-hits assemblages of movements and arias—rush-hour classical radio without traffic and weather. This approach defeats the point of listening to, say, Gustav Mahler: if you have time only for the Adagietto of his Fifth Symphony or for the last seven minutes of his Eighth, you might as well skip him altogether. And who qualifies as essential? Apple Classical gestures toward an expanded canon, with Clara Schumann and Florence Price prominently featured. At the same time, it promotes white-male purveyors of soothing sub-minimalist noodling.... Music history is more than a procession of names and faces: it’s a multiplicitous stream of styles, forms, and techniques with an ever-shifting social and political context... I couldn’t decide whether a section titled Music by Mood was generated by humans or machines. Is it an arcane joke that Meredith Monk’s 'Early Morning Melody' appears on the Classical Late Night list? Why does Classical Dinner Party feature Branford Marsalis playing a saxophone arrangement of Mahler’s 'Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen' ('I Am Lost to the World')? I couldn’t argue, though, when I saw Classical Commute fleshed out with a movement from Adès’s 'Dante': 'The Thieves—devoured by reptiles.'"

"Hey, look! It's my giant underpants!"

Previously blogged, here, in August 2008.

Funnily, the first commenter is Meade, whom I did not know at the time but would be married to a year later, in a real-life instantiation of the oft-repeated Pee Wee question, "Why don't you marry him?" 

Meade's comment: "Ah. Now I can die."


"Pee-wee’s television stint ended in infamy when Reubens was arrested on a charge of indecent exposure in a porn theater. Late-night hosts pounced..."

"... and so did the news media. CBS took reruns of his show off the air. The controversy now seems preposterously overblown. That happened just one year before Sinead O’Connor’s career suffered a blow from her protest on 'Saturday Night Live' against sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church — an episode that has come under new examination after her death last week. It’s clear that dopey moralizing scandals are far from a hallmark of our age alone...."

That awful arrest took place in 1991, O'Connor's tearing of a photograph of the Pope happened in 1992. If you lived though that era — the NYT considers it an entire "age"! — do you remember with any specificity the kind of "moralizing"? I remember the Robert Mapplethorpe photographs and the obscenity case against 2 Live Crew. I remember "Pornography is the theory, rape is the practice." If the "age" that is 1991-1992 is expansive enough to go back to 1985, I remember when 11-year-old Karenna Gore activated her mother by playing Prince's "Darling Nikki."

If only there were blogging back then! The "dopey moralizing scandals" — is that the right phrase? — of the time had to do with fearsome sexuality. I don't think it's wise to explain them as transitory dopiness. We can always predict that 3 decades later we will look back and think we were dumb, but it's also dumb to think that there's no worthy morality, just "dopey moralizing."

By the way, the opposite of "dopey" — which means stupefied by sleep or a drug — is "woke."

July 31, 2023

Copper Harbor, Michigan.

A little trip 6 hours north got us cool weather — 50s and 60s — and the clear water of Lake Superior.


Lots of rocks and the occasional flower:


"Everyone I know has a big but...."

Goodbye to Pee Wee. Goodbye to Paul Reubens, who died yesterday at age 70.

"The new laws have introduced a ban on the funding of diversity, equity and inclusion programs at Florida’s public colleges and universities, withdrawn a right to arbitration..."

"... formerly guaranteed to faculty members who have been denied tenure or face dismissal, and prohibited the teaching of critical race theory, which contends that inherent racial bias pervades many laws and institutions in western society, among other changes. In the face of that and other legislation backed by DeSantis and Republican lawmakers that has rolled back the rights of Florida’s LGBTQ+ community, many scholars across the state are taking early retirement, voting with their feet by accepting job offers outside Florida or simply throwing in the towel with a letter of resignation."

"Gender stereotypes don’t hurt only women — they often hold men back too."

"Economists find that headstrong girls grow up to earn less money at work … and so do needy and dependent boys. This is true even after accounting for occupation, education and self-esteem. And just as women are liked less if they’re seen as arrogant and disagreeable, men are liked less and paid less if they come across as too modest and too agreeable. The solution to this problem isn’t to urge meek men to become arrogant. It’s to normalize 'weak language' as a strong way to express concern and humility. If we do that, we won’t have to keep encouraging women to communicate more forcefully. Instead, we’ll finally be able to recognize the difference between assertiveness and aggressiveness."

"Worried about over-dependence on Mr. Musk’s technology, Ukrainian officials have talked with other satellite internet providers..."

"... though they acknowledged none rival Starlink’s reach. 'Starlink is indeed the blood of our entire communication infrastructure now,' Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s digital minister, said in an interview. At least nine countries — including in Europe and the Middle East — have also brought up Starlink with American officials over the past 18 months, with some questioning Mr. Musk’s power over the technology, two U.S. intelligence officials briefed on the discussions said. Few nations will speak publicly about their concerns, for fear of alienating Mr. Musk, said intelligence and cybersecurity officials briefed on the conversations. U.S. officials have said little publicly about Starlink as they balance domestic and geopolitical priorities related to Mr. Musk, who has criticized President Biden but whose technology is unavoidable."

July 30, 2023

"I believe."


Photographed today.

Talk about anything you want in the comments.

"The major take-home message or summary of this discovery is that it is, in principle, possible to stop life for more or less an indefinite time and then restart it."

Said Professor Teymuras Kurzchalia, "Worms Revived After 46,000 Years Frozen in Siberian Permafrost/Scientists want to understand how the worms survived in extreme conditions for extraordinarily long periods of time" (NYT).
The worms, which were buried approximately 130 feet in the permafrost, were revived simply by putting them in water, according to a news release from the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Germany....

The creatures, which have a life span measured in days, died after reproducing several generations in the lab, researchers said.... The roughly millimeter-long worms were able to resist extreme low temperatures by entering a dormant state called cryptobiosis.... Researchers identified key genes in the nematode that allow it to achieve the cryptobiotic state....

If only they could engineer those key genes for us, the humans, then perhaps one day we could moisten our dead and bring them back to life for a little while. 

"Fifty times as powerful as heroin, fentanyl sets off a high that 'human brains have never seen before.'"

From "Fighting for Anthony: The Struggle to Save Portland, Oregon/The city has long grappled with street homelessness and a shortage of housing. Now fentanyl has turned a perennial problem into a deadly crisis and a challenge to the city’s progressive identity" (NYT).
The search for answers points in many directions — to city and county officials who allowed tents on the streets because the government had little to offer in the way of housing, to Oregon voters who backed decriminalizing hard drugs and to the unrest that rocked Portland in 2020 and left raw scars. But what has turbocharged the city’s troubles in recent years is fentanyl, the deadly synthetic drug, which has transformed long standing problems into a profound test of the Portland ethos....