October 7, 2023

Sunrise — 7:05.



"Anything that you would put in a salad — romaine, spinach, kale, lemon, cucumber, an apple or a pear, sometimes fennel — I shove into my Vitamix..."

"... with a cup of water, lemon juice and a little bee pollen. You can drink it in about 30 seconds, but if I took everything out of that blender and put it in a bowl, it would take me an hour to eat it. That’s a lot of chewing."

Said Ann Patchett, quoted in "Ann Patchett Isn’t Parting With WordPerfect/The best-selling novelist refuses to yield when it comes to writing software, but she’s had a bit of a change of heart on Barnes & Noble" (NYT).

Is chewing too much trouble? Chewing vegetables is, maybe.

I just ran across that, but I'd already been thinking about vegetables. I was trying understand this sentence from the mid-1600s, a sentence that runs on so crazily that I didn't even try to ge to the end:

"When rescuers reached the couple’s campsite, they found the scientists’ mauled bodies, an empty can of bear spray, and their e-readers still open in their crushed tent."

From "Canadian couple killed by 'desperate' grizzly bear were highly skilled hikers who ‘took every precaution’: friends" (NY Post).

"This nation has long drawn strength from immigration, and providing asylum is an important expression of America’s national values."

But Congress has failed to provide the necessary resources to welcome those who are eligible and to turn away those who are not. Instead, overwhelmed immigration officials allow nearly everyone to stay temporarily, imposing enormous short-term costs on states and cities that the federal government hasn’t done enough to mitigate...."

Writes The Editorial Board of The New York Times, in "The Cost of Inaction on Immigration."

"The country has already seen the consequences of keeping legal immigration artificially low.... The asylum program was never meant to be a vehicle for large-scale immigration and still needs an overhaul, as this board has argued. Then there is the question of how to support those who have already arrived in the United States. It’s also difficult to find political heroes here.... It’s been a decade since Congress has seriously considered immigration reform. Both parties have missed opportunities to do so, the Democrats most recently at the end of 2022.... Until Congress decides to take meaningful action, America will continue to pay a price."

"Iowa Democrats will surrender their first-in-the-nation caucuses next year, party officials said Friday..."

"... while Democrats in New Hampshire — still fighting with the Democratic National Committee — moved closer to holding a rogue primary. Iowa’s influential perch within the Democratic Party formally came to an end in a windowless hotel ballroom here, where members of the Democratic National Committee voted to accept Iowa’s plan to release its presidential preference numbers on March 5, Super Tuesday. Iowa officials said they will lobby for an earlier nominating contest in 2028...."

Hotel ballrooms are always windowless, aren't they? Might as well mention that there were floors and a ceiling, and yet, the word "windowless" made me feel that the scene was terribly dreary. And... in retrospect, everything I've ever experienced in a hotel ballroom feels dreary. 

Why do we accept that these places are called "ballrooms," when "ballroom" — without "hotel" in front of it — calls to mind something like this:

But here's to you, Iowa, for giving up your place in the grand tradition. It was institutionalized racism, and you knew it. Now, back to the farm or whatever it is you do over there. Our years of caring about you (and your damned ethanol) are over... or, oh, no, there are still those miserable Republicans tromping about in that heartland of yours.

Meanwhile, New Hampshire clings to what's left of its once-proud first-in-the-nation tradition, which is so little that to adhere to it is — as Politico has it — to deserve to be called "rogue."

"Cal Calamia is a nonbinary runner who is taking testosterone as part of his transition and was granted an unexpected exemption from the U.S. Anti-Doping agency."

WaPo reports.

There is now a "nonbinary" category in running, and Calamia argued that it didn't make sense to create this division to be inclusive and then to regard "gender-affirming medical care" as "doping."

Despite this victory, Calamia still has a problem with the system. He had to submit a "complete medical history, including psychological records and medical notes, establishing a diagnosis of gender dysphoria." This was, in his view "unnecessarily invasive," because "athletes who use medically prescribed testosterone to treat hypogonadism, a condition where the body does not produce enough of the hormone, are not required to submit psychological records when seeking an exemption."

"We didn't know exactly how big he is. Pot-bellied pigs are more of a common pet so we thought maybe that's what we are looking for. Turns out Fred is not a pot-bellied pig."

Said an officer with Aurora, Colorado Animal Services, quoted "Fred the pig caught after mischief rampage" (BBC).

The pig — probably bought as a "miniature" or "teacup" pig when it was really just a baby pig — is 400 pounds or so.

"After much hand-wringing about slow progress and grim assessments of Ukraine’s prospects through the summer, Ukrainian and Western officials in recent weeks have focused on reshaping the narrative..."

"... to manage expectations and shore up support through the winter. Four months of brutal fighting and steep losses have not yielded the results that Kyiv and its Western backers hoped for. Despite some Ukrainian progress in breaking through dense Russian defenses, fears of a frozen conflict — and crumbling international support — loom.... On Thursday, Putin said that if Western nations stop sending weapons to Kyiv, 'Ukraine will have a week left to live.'..."

"Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said 'we are at war, and we will win it'..."

"... as the country’s air force began striking Hamas targets in Gaza on Saturday, in response to a surprise assault on the 50th anniversary of the start of the 1973 Yom Kippur war. Hamas militants infiltrated Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip — including by paraglider and over the sea — and launched more than 2,200 rockets, Israeli military leaders said...."

October 6, 2023

Sunrise — 7:04.

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And here's some fall foliage in the golden-hour light:



"The Republicans who portray [Biden] as a doddering old man based on highly selective YouTube clips are wrong."

"In my interviews with him, he’s like a pitcher who used to throw 94 miles an hour who now throws 87. He is clearly still an effective pitcher. People who work with him allow that he does tire more easily, but they say that he is very much the dynamic force driving this administration. In fact, I’ve noticed some improvements in his communication style as he’s aged. He used to try to cram every fact in the known universe into every answer; now he’s more disciplined. When he’s describing some national problem, he is more crisp and focused than he used to be, clearer on what is the essential point here — more confidence-inspiring, not less...."

Writes David Brooks, in "Can We Talk About Joe Biden?" (NYT).

"Don't start creating a generation of wimps and weak people... Let's not over-baby people."

"Let's go and teach kids to be tough, to do sports, to study and struggle and go through these kind of painful moments sometimes."

"You turn on the television and there's not a whole lot about 'Boy saves dog as he swims in the lake.' It's about 'Somebody pushed the dog in the lake.' I mean, I get it.'"

Said Joe Biden, quoted in "Biden rambles about TV news being dominated by dogs being 'pushed' in lakes as he blames 'unhappy' reporters for Americans thinking the economy is dire" (Daily Mail).

The analogy makes perfect sense to me. He's saying what people always say about the news — variations on "If it bleeds, it leads." But...
The president's dog analogy comes the same week it was revealed that first dog Commander was removed from White House grounds after a series of biting incidents. On Thursday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre refused to reveal the dog's whereabouts.

So he has dog on his mind. He needs to think of an example, and he thinks of a dog example.

"In view of many extremely online, spiritually unwell conservatives, [Ryan] Carson’s brutal death was a form of karmic justice."

"You see, the young man had advocated for safe injection sites after losing friends to opioid overdoses. And he dedicated his adult life to working on various left-wing causes, above all the promotion of recycling and environmentally friendly approaches to dealing with solid waste. And his girlfriend had advocated for police abolition. Therefore, Carson had reaped what he’d sowed. The far-right provocateur Mike Cernovich disseminated a surveillance video of Carson’s death, beneath the caption, 'Hey bro just like chill out bro I’m on your side bro go attack the magats bro bro bro noooooo.' Other conservatives turned photos of Carson’s dead body into memes about the perils of wokeness.... [S]adistically mocking a victim of violent crime whose politics they did not like... is... morally grotesque.... Gloating over the violent deaths of people you disagree with is... vile and ineffective.... You will not persuade anyone...."
Writes Eric Levitz, in "Don’t Celebrate When People You Disagree With Get Murdered" (New York Magazine).

"The wider public do have the power of citizen’s arrest... And, where it’s safe to do so... I would encourage that to be used" — on shoplifters!

"Because if you do just let people walk in, take stuff and walk out without proper challenge, including potentially a physical challenge, then again it will just escalate. While I want the faster and better police response, the police can’t be everywhere all the time."

Said Chris Philp, the policing minister, quoted by Giles Coren, in "Oi! Drop that strimmer or I’ll use my Taser/We part-time coppers who’ve answered the government’s call to arms have a lot more than shoplifters to worry about" (London Times).

Here's the requisite scene from "The Andy Griffith Show." I've got to get that out of the way first. Now, on to Coren's commentary on Philp's amazing advice:

"East Midlands Ambulance Service will allow staff to take a year of paid leave if they're suffering from 'male menopause.'"

"The condition, which isn't clinically recognised, is caused by a fall in testosterone levels, and can result in symptoms such as weight gain and depression. In addition to paid leave, managers at the trust have also been asked to provide additional uniforms, portable fans and change shift patterns to assist male staff members.... Men's testosterone levels naturally fall by about 1% a year from around the age of 30 to 40.... Behaviours like excessive alcohol consumption, a poor diet and smoking are all known contributors, as are psychological conditions like stress, depression and anxiety. As the NHS website states, 'in many cases the symptoms are nothing to do with hormones.'..."

Comedy, right? Creepy comedy, but comedy... right??

"Generally speaking, innovation is what weaker individuals do in order to overcome their relative disadvantage."

"From a scientific perspective, female primates have more to gain—and more to lose. Most are smaller and more vulnerable than the males. Given that their bodies are the ones that have to build, birth, and nurse children, females also have more urgent food and safety needs than males. So if our female ancestors were also good problem solvers—as higher primates are—then it makes sense for them to have been inventors who adapted around their limitations.... Gynecology is absolutely essential for our species’ evolutionary fitness.... To invent gynecology, protohumans needed to be able to trust one another enough to be around one another at those crucial moments of vulnerability: labor, birth, and early nursing. That’s why the arrival of midwives is one of those moments in hominin history for which we can truly say, 'This is when we started to become human.' It would have required a profoundly cooperative female society and a social structure that rewarded helpful behaviors...."

At the Pink Cloud Café...


... you can talk in the middle of the day.

Photo taken this morning at 6:53.

"Laughter itself has fragmented. Just listen to it: You’ve got your gurgling, impotent The Late Show With Stephen Colbert laughter over here..."

"... you’ve got your harsh and barkingly energized Trumpist laughter over there; you’ve got your free-floating Joe Rogan–podcast yuks; and then you’ve got the private snuffling and seizurelike sounds that you yourself make when you’re watching Jay Jurden Instagram clips alone, on your phone, with your earbuds in. And for most of us, behind all of this, the feeling that we’re whistling past the graveyard: that the sludge is rising, politically; that the bullyboys are cracking their knuckles; that we’re 'just kind of half-waiting,' as Marc Maron put it in a recent HBO special, 'for the stupids to choose a uniform.' How did we get here? How did we arrive at a place where Jordan Peterson, who wouldn’t know a good joke if it ran him over, is instructing us on the importance of comedy as a defense against totalitarianism, while Dave Chappelle—one of the funniest men alive—burns up his comic capital defending his right to be mean about trans people?"

"A Washington Post analysis of federal data found that vehicles guided by Autopilot have been involved in more than 700 crashes, at least 19 of them fatal..."

"... since its introduction in 2014, including the Banner crash. In Banner’s case, the technology failed repeatedly, his family’s lawyers argue, from when it didn’t brake to when it didn’t issue a warning about the semi-truck in the car’s path."

From "The final 11 seconds of a fatal Tesla Autopilot crash A reconstruction of the wreck shows how human error and emerging technology can collide with deadly results" (WaPo).

The article quotes former National Transportation Safety Board administrator Steven Cliff: "Tesla has decided to take these much greater risks with the technology because they have this sense that it’s like, 'Well, you can figure it out. You can determine for yourself what’s safe' — without recognizing that other road users don’t have that same choice.... If you’re a pedestrian, [if] you’re another vehicle on the road.... do you know that you’re unwittingly an object of an experiment that’s happening?"

He was "one of those guys who was like Eddie Haskell."

Said a woman who had worked with Joshua Pleasnick at the the Green Owl restaurant on Madison’s East Side. "When the owner was not around, he would talk all kinds of smack about her and other women in general..."

Joshua Pleasnick is the man in "Man with handgun seeking governor arrested in Wisconsin Capitol, returns with assault rifle" (Wisconsin State Journal). 

The shirtless man (shirtless men rarely make history):

"I’m moved the most when people use words in a way that only they can to write definitively about freedom."

Said Banana Yoshimoto, responding to the question "What moves you most in a work of literature?"

Quoted in "Banana Yoshimoto Wants Books to Give Her Insomnia/'I love it when I don’t have any plans the next day and end up reading until daybreak because I can’t sleep,' says the author, whose new novel is 'The Premonition.' 'It’s the best feeling'" (NYT).

"Congressman Jim Jordan... will be a GREAT Speaker of the House, & has my Complete & Total Endorsement!"

Writes Donald Trump at Truth Social.

In case you were getting excited about the wafted possibility that Trump himself would become Speaker of the House. Why he could bring his storied deal-making powers to the woeful institution!

Full text of the "truth," which I'm inclined to quote because it has a reference to the University of Wisconsin-Madison:

"This year’s peace prize also recognizes the hundreds of thousands of people who, in the preceding year, have demonstrated against Iran’s theocratic regime’s policies of discrimination and oppression targeting women."

"The motto adopted by the demonstrators — 'Woman, Life, Freedom' — suitably expresses the dedication and work of Narges Mohammadi."
Over the past 30 years, Iran’s government has penalized her over and over for her activism and her writing.... The last time Ms. Mohammadi heard the voices of her 16-year-old twins, Ali and Kiana, was over a year ago. The last time she held her son and daughter in her arms was eight years ago. Her husband, Taghi Rahmani, 63, also a writer and prominent activist who was jailed for 14 years in Iran, lives in exile in France with the twins....

“I sit in front of the window every day, stare at the greenery and dream of a free Iran,” Ms. Mohammadi said in a rare and unauthorized telephone interview from inside Evin in April. “The more they punish me, the more they take away from me, the more determined I become to fight until we achieve democracy and freedom and nothing less.”

"College professor here. When they arrive to us, skills are lacking. Reasoning is lacking. Writing is lacking. Ability to follow instructions is gone."

"Something is always missing. Don’t even get me started on creative thinking, inferential thinking, problem solving. Just so many problems!"

The top-rated comment is especially interesting:

October 5, 2023

Sunrise — 6:51, 7:14.

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"When I start writing I never feel sure that I will be able to write a new work. I never plan anything in advance."

"I just sit down and start writing. And at a certain point, I have the feeling that the work is already written and I just have to write it down before it disappears."

"Twitter Is at Death’s Door, One Year After Elon Musk’s Takeover."

According to Rolling Stone.
His biggest ideas have all blown up in his face: An $8 monthly subscription fee... the meaningless “X”... hav[ing] headlines stripped from article links... the rancid vibes Musk has cultivated by reinstating right-wing extremists and peddlers of misinformation previously banned from the platform.... Although it has shed millions of daily active users since Musk started tinkering with it, the endgame is more likely to come down to money. Seven banks led by Morgan Stanley hold some $13 billion in debt.... If X can’t keep making its $300 million quarterly interest payments, the financial firms may repossess it in order to recoup a fraction of their losses....

Why would the banks be able to do any better than Musk?  

"President Joe Biden – who, as a candidate, vowed that there will 'not be another foot' of border wall constructed on his watch – has been plagued by issues on the border..."

"'There is presently an acute and immediate need to construct physical barriers and roads in the vicinity of the border of the United States in order to prevent unlawful entries into the United States in the project areas,” [Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a filing].... Among the laws the Biden administration is bypassing to build the wall are several of the same statutes the administration has in the past moved to protect, including: the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act...."

I looked to see if Trump is "truthing" about Biden's wall turnabout, and he is:

"It will be a while before the dust settles from this (to use Karl Marx’s evocative term) 'plastic moment.'"

"Matt Gaetz’s assault will probably not be good for House Republicans. By challenging their complacency, Gaetz may also undermine their authority. That is why Newt Gingrich, among others, was so exercised. The question is, though, whether the Republican status quo is beneficent or just a repackaged, lower-temperature version of what the Democrats have on offer: incontinent spending, foreign adventurism and capitulation to transnational globalist corporatism. Matt Gaetz may have sown the wind. I do not think we’ll know for sure about the whirlwind until November 2024."

Here was Newt Gingrich 2 days ago, in The Washington Post: "Republicans must expel Matt Gaetz." Expel?!

I hadn't seen the old upset-the-apple-cart metaphor in a long time. According to the OED, its first appearance was in reference to American politics, in a letter written in 1788: "S. Adams had almost overset the apple-cart by intruding an amendment of his own fabrication on the morning of the day of ratification [of the Constitution]."

Searching for "plastic moment," I see it's more prominently a structural engineering term. But perhaps Marx used the term more evocatively. And yet, I couldn't find any Marx quotation with the phrase.

"While the runways featured many palettes, there were far fewer body types. Aside from at the Nina Ricci show in Paris, where people of different sizes walked the runway..."

"... models were as skinny as I’ve seen them in the more than 10 years I’ve been documenting fashion weeks." 

Look at these models. They all look famished and 5 out of 6 seem deeply depressed about it:

That's just part of the photo. I wanted to stress the evident starvation.

The whole photo — at the link — is something that deserves its caption: "Miu Miu’s latest collection included Speedo-style briefs in several colors. Only time will tell if they become as ubiquitous as its miniskirt."

The captions, by the way, are excellent. For example: "Feathers also appeared on the runway at Nina Ricci, where they protruded from this gown like acupuncture needle." And: "Walking with purpose can make a good outfit look even better." And: "Her crouched posture made the tiny bag seem that much bigger"... which I like to think of as small bag the size of a large bag.

Or... minuscule bag the size of a ludicrously capacious bag.

The Nobel Prize in Literature will be announced soon.

 I'm watching the Nobel Prize "twitter" feed and the live-blogging at The Guardian.

I don't know why I'm so interested this year — perhaps because the other news is boring me or the non-boring news isn't being reported — because I expect the name to be virtually unknown to me.

I see Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o is in the running. "His short fable, The Upright Revolution: Or Why Humans Walk Upright, was originally written in Gikuyu and became the most translated story in the history of African literature." 

And then there's Can Xue, Mircea Cărtărescu, Gerald Murnane, and László Krasznahorkai.

I see names I know in the running. For example, Haruki Murakami. But Kazuo Ishiguro won in 2017, so it's too soon to get back to Japan.

Is it time yet for another American? "We" haven't won since 2016. That was the Bob Dylan year. Can't get over that.

ADDED: Watch the live announcement here, at 6 a.m. Central Time. 

AND: The winner is a Norwegian. Jon Fosse — "for his innovative plays and prose which give voice to the unsayable."

BUT:  I was wrong to say that Bob Dylan was the last American to win. 8 days after writing this post, I saw the obituary for Louise Glück:
Louise Glück, an American poet whose searing, deeply personal work, often filtered through themes of classical mythology, religion and the natural world, won her practically every honor available, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award and, in 2020, the Nobel Prize for Literature, died on Friday at her home in Cambridge, Mass. She was 80.

"Apparently, a flight attendant had called ahead with some sort of concern that perhaps my mixed children weren’t my children because they were unresponsive during an interaction with her...."

"So we’re met, embarrassingly so, by this A.A. employee and police officers. They question my kids: ‘Are my kids OK?’ And I wanted to go through the roof. But I did not want my kids to see me handle the situation with anything other than grace and class.... I didn’t (and still don’t) think that a slow or tentative response from a 7 year old on an early morning flight should be enough criteria to have the authorities called... I’ve never begrudged the red flag, I’ve always begrudged the apparent lack of diligence on the part of the flight attendant."

Said David Ryan Harris, quoted in, "Man Says Airline Stopped Him on Suspicion He Was Trafficking His Children/American Airlines has apologized to David Ryan Harris, a Black musician who said he and his biracial children were confronted by an airline employee and police officers after a flight last month" (NYT).

October 4, 2023

Sunrise — 6:49, 6:51, 6:52.

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"My husband and I are white. I bought our daughter several dolls of different races with skin colors..."

"... that reflect the diversity of our community. Her absolute favorite is a Black baby doll. She carries him everywhere. My partner feels uncomfortable with this when we are in public, though. He worries that her doll seems like appropriation or virtue signaling. Your thoughts?"

A question asked of the NYT "Social Q's" adviser, Philip Galanes.

The question got my attention because I had a black baby doll back when I was a little girl in the 1950s. But I didn't have it because my mother (or father) chose it for diversity purposes. I had it because I saw it in the store and enthusiastically requested it. I doubt if "diversity," "appropriation," or "virtue signaling" was anything my parents thought about back then, and it certainly had nothing to do with my request. I didn't even understand who this doll was supposed to represent. It was just something amazing because I'd never seen anything like that before. I've always appreciated that my parents never said anything like, "That's not for you" or "Don't you want a little doll who looks more like you?"

But about this girl whose mother chose the doll and composes the letter? She's displaying pride in her own choice and in her success conveying her message of diversity to the little girl, and she wants her husband to bolster her pride, not be embarrassed. But virtue signaling is embarrassing. Let the poor man be embarrassed. And, of course, let the little girl keep her doll. Too late now! You can't take it away. It's her "absolute favorite." 

"Advisers to the governor... said that Mr. Newsom’s spur-of-the-moment pledges to name a Black woman as an interim replacement put him in a quandary."

"Black women are a key constituency in the Democratic Party.... But California’s electorate features a dizzying array of political and ethnic groups that lobby hard for representation, and satisfying one faction inevitably means upsetting several others. Only about 5 percent of California’s population is Black, a far smaller share than those of Latino, white or Asian American residents. To many Black leaders, including the Congressional Black Caucus, Mr. Newsom’s choice was clear: He had to appoint Ms. Lee, a longtime icon in the Black community. But Mr. Newsom had internal Democratic Party politics to consider as well, and naming Ms. Lee would have given her a significant advantage in the 2024 Senate race. Mr. Schiff, who led the investigation of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, was the choice of Ms. Pelosi...."

From "On Senate Choice, Newsom Was in a Box of His Own Making/Gov. Gavin Newsom of California’s choice of a successor to Dianne Feinstein was complicated by two television interviews that attracted political pressure from many sides" (NYT).

Look how impetuously Newsom made that pledge to pick a black woman — video clip. He was put on the spot by Joy Reid. It seems as though he was just thinking short term, not daring to hesitate and utterly incapable of calculating the broader factors. That makes him seem like a reckless lightweight.

Because Newsom wouldn't pick Lee, that made other black women not want the job:

"Aided by the fact that McCartney is allowed to use Beatles music when almost all other podcasters are not, the appeal is in going deep into material we all know."

"McCartney explains how Eleanor Rigby, from Revolver, was about all the old ladies he knew in Liverpool, many of whom he met while knocking on doors as a boy scout on bob-a-job week. 'So I imagined this lady and I gave her a scenario....' ... She’s cleaning up after someone else’s wedding, she’s putting on cold cream at night from a jar by the door.... 'My mum’s favourite was Nivea,' McCartney says.... 'It kind of scared me.'.... For Beatles nuts this is 18 minutes of pure gold.... An episode on Back in the USSR is also released today, while future instalments — one will be released each Wednesday — will explore Let It Be, Penny Lane and even Mull of Kintyre...."

"Is California headed for a right-wing backlash? This question has hovered over the state’s politics for years now..."

"... as the public’s frustration with homelessness and property crime has escalated.... Last week in San Francisco, London Breed, the city’s mayor, announced a bill to deny welfare benefits to anyone 'suffering from substance-use disorder' who was not enrolled in a drug rehabilitation or treatment program. 'No more handouts without accountability,' Breed said. 'In order to receive resources from our city, you will need to be in a substance-use-disorder program and consistently seeking treatment.'..."

You've got the order of order all out of order.

I imagined saying to myself if I were to make a list of the characters who've appeared on the blog so far this morning and put them in order of order — from order to chaos.

The blog — of its own accord — had a theme of "Order and Chaos," I'd realized, as I was walking toward the sunrise this morning. 


Only one post had that "Order and Chaos" tag — possibly my favorite tag (the other contenders being "Light and Shade" and "Big and Small") — "The man just loves chaos." But was "that man," Matt Gaetz, the greatest agent of chaos on the blog so far? What about Rudy Giuliani? Michael Zack? The man who killed Ryan Carson? Bataa Mishigish?

I knew if I put the characters in order of order, it would be all out of order, but I wanted to make the list anyway, just to see how easy it would be to argue that the order is wrong, and that some of the characters that seem to represent order could be said to represent chaos:

"He was just a toddler when... his father brought him and his twin brother into a room where they and seven other boys were given a secret test...."

"Some of them refused to leave their parents’ sides. Others were drawn to the colorful candy that had been placed as distractions. This boy, A. Altannar, ... picked out a set of prayer beads and put it around his neck. He rang a bell used for meditation. He walked over to a monk in the room and playfully climbed on his legs. 'These were very special signs,' said Bataa Mishigish, a religious scholar who observed the boy with two senior monks. 'We just looked at each other and didn’t say a word.' They had found the 10th reincarnation of the Bogd... the spiritual leader of Mongolia... a symbol of Mongolia’s identity, a position dating back nearly 400 years to descendants of the Mongol emperor Kublai Khan, who embraced Tibetan Buddhism and helped it spread across China and other conquered lands.... When someone sneezes, Mongolians say 'Bogd bless you.'..."

From "The 8-Year-Old Boy at the Heart of a Fight Over Tibetan Buddhism/He may have to defend the faith in Mongolia against pressure from China’s ruling Communist Party" (NYT).

"On some nights when Mr. Giuliani was overserved, an associate discreetly signaled the rest of the club, tipping back his empty hand in a drinking motion..."

"... out of the former mayor’s line of sight, in case others preferred to keep their distance. Some allies, watching Mr. Giuliani down Scotch before leaving for Fox News interviews, would slip away to find a television, clenching through his rickety defenses of Mr. Trump.... In interviews with friends, associates and former aides, the consensus was that, more than wholly transforming Mr. Giuliani, his drinking had accelerated a change in his existing alchemy, amplifying qualities that had long burbled within him: conspiracism, gullibility, a weakness for grandeur...."

You see where this is going: 
Now, prosecutors in the federal election case against Mr. Trump have shown an interest in the drinking habits of Mr. Giuliani — and whether the former president ignored what his aides described as the plain inebriation of the former mayor referred to in court documents as 'Co-Conspirator 1.'... 
What Flegenheimer and Haberman are strongly suggesting: Trump should not be able to argue that he relied on the advice of his attorney, when that attorney was Giuliani, a notorious, conspicuous drunk.

"Zack suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome, the result of his mother drinking heavily throughout her pregnancy."

"When he was 3, he was hospitalized for drinking about 10 ounces of vodka.... [H]is stepfather... forced him to perform sex acts, kicked him with spurs, beat him, ran him over with a car, forced him to drink alcohol, injected him with drugs, attempted to drown him and created devices to electrically shock him if he wet the bed.... When he was a child, Zack’s older sister killed their mother with an ax.... As an adult... [h]e was unable to cook, measure, select weather-appropriate clothing, follow a bathing routine, follow directions, pass a driver’s test or open a bank account.... In 2002... the Supreme Court held that executing people with intellectual disabilities violated [the] constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment.... but courts repeatedly denied him relief, citing Florida’s IQ score cutoff...."

"Donald Trump... is $300 million shy of the cutoff for The Forbes 400 ranking of America’s richest people..."

"... the annual measurement that Trump has obsessed over for decades, relentlessly lying to reporters to try to vault himself higher on the list. His net worth is down more than $600 million from a year ago. The biggest reason: Truth Social, his social-media business.... Trump’s 90% stake in Truth Social’s parent company has plummeted in value from an estimated $730 million to less than $100 million. Also in trouble: his office buildings, which are down by an estimated $170 million. The majority of that decline comes from 555 California Street, a 1.8 million square-foot complex in the heart of San Francisco, where Trump holds a 30% stake.... The problem is not the property’s performance to date... but... its outlook for the future.... The neighborhood around the building is also struggling.... There is a bright spot in Trump’s portfolio. As fewer people spend time in the office, more are goofing off on the golf course...."

Here's the Forbes 400. Nice illustration at the top of the page.

How does Forbes know so much? Trump's on trial — a trial that needs to go on for months — over what he's worth.

"The man just loves chaos."

Said Rep. Greg Murphy (R-N.C.), quoted in "GOP tensions explode after McCarthy bows out of speaker race" (Axios).

"The man" = Matt Gaetz.

So much depends on hating chaos. What are chaos-haters to do in the presence of someone who doesn't put the fear of chaos first?

"[Ryan] Carson was also a published poet – who once penned a poem called 'Anxiety' about fears over his own death – namely about the 'inconvenience' his passing would cause others."

"'That it could come while someone waits for me, that I couldn’t call to let them know I was held up,' he wrote in the poem."

From "NYC man, 32, fatally stabbed by unhinged suspect was do-gooder activist and poet" (NY Post)("'He’s really… like the epicenter of an entire community that he created, that he brought together'... the roommate said. 'He was the guy that bent over backward time and time again to be there with his friends'").

See also, "Disturbing video shows moment beloved activist, poet is randomly stabbed to death in front of girlfriend on NYC street" (NY Post)("Suddenly, the unhinged man turns to Carson and seethes: 'What the f–k are you looking at?' The beloved community activist – who replied that he wasn’t looking at anything – then stepped between his girlfriend and the irate stranger....'").

From the comments at the second link, the kind of victim-blaming that is, at its core, self-soothing: "Who sits on a bench on a street in Bed Stuy at 4:00 am."

October 3, 2023

Sunrise — 6:59, 7:00.



Jamaal Bowman.

I haven't said "Jamaal Bowman" yet. Everyone else has said "Jamaal Bowman" before I did, so I feel listless and unhelpful. And yet the pressure of not saying "Jamaal Bowman" is too much to bear.

"In all four films, the stories’ characters recite Dahl’s texts on camera from beginning to end (with certain modifications) while enacting the events that they describe amid dazzlingly elaborate stagecraft..."

"... that reveals its own artifices and the sort of exquisitely confectionery décor and costumes that are a hallmark of Anderson’s refined art. (Dahl himself comes in as a character, too, played by Ralph Fiennes.) The four stories are, essentially, dramatized audiobooks, something like music videos for literature. The characters deliver their narration into the camera, addressing viewers head on, and then, with deft timing and theatrical precision, turn their heads (or even just shift their eyes) to address one another."

Writes Richard Brody in "Wes Anderson’s Roald Dahl Quartet Abounds in Audacious Artifice and Stinging Political Critique/Four new short films make clear how crucial the author’s work has been in the development of Anderson’s art" (The New Yorker).

I've watched the longest of the 4, "The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar," and recommend it. Of course, I must watch it at least once more. There's far too much going on to fully take in the first time around. And I did not realize I was hearing the entire Dahl text. I need to watch again with the full benefit of that knowledge. 

"There is some stomach-turning stuff on the soles of your shoes, to be sure, likely including an array of fecal matter."

"But the grossness we track into our homes is not necessarily a health hazard for most of us.... 'Children need to be exposed to a variety of organisms.... The bulk of organisms we know are not pathogenic, and they go to help our immune response… You don’t want to live in a bubble."

"[W]e are dependent on a vast array of interconnected social institutions, especially expert institutions, which involve 'faceless commitments' to those we do not (and usually cannot) know personally."

"It is characteristic of these abstract systems that we cannot opt out, at least not entirely. Sustaining trust in them therefore becomes a basic requirement for the functioning of modern societies. Essential to this process [are]... interactions between lay citizens and individual members (or representatives) of abstract systems — think of experts such as Dr. Anthony Fauci or even your family physician. Such interactions provide opportunities for experts vested with authority not only to exemplify the requisite skills, but also to exhibit the character traits — rectitude, professionalism, disinterestedness — needed to generate and sustain the trust of those lay individuals who depend on them.... A politics suspended between radical skepticism and uncritical trust would become unmoored from common reference points.... Experts would be either angels or demons.... Restoring public trust... is therefore necessary for not only expert institutions but arguably democratic society itself...."

Writes M. Anthony Mills, in "Why Science Is Losing Americans’ Trust" (NYT).

ADDED: I think people realize this but the hare-brained solution seems to be to accuse those who are mistrustful of destroying democracy: You must trust or there will be chaos.

"[Karine] Jean-Pierre couldn’t read until the third grade. Her parents—consumed with multiple jobs—had assumed she would learn in school."

"She did not. Determined to help her siblings avoid the same fate, Jean-Pierre set up a classroom in the basement when she was in middle school. Her brother remembers her teaching him not just how to read and write, but 'how to articulate emotions, how to speak.' When her sister took dance classes, Jean-Pierre handled drop-off and pickup.... [H]er parents started handing her bills to decipher. 'I was like the third parent,' she says.... She records instances of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of a cousin. She didn’t tell her parents.... She describes a suicide attempt in college: Her sister found her in her car with the exhaust on and shook her awake. Jean-Pierre threw her urine-soaked khakis in the trash and never discussed the incident—or what drove her to it—with her parents. She had known she was gay since childhood, but the book recounts only one agonizing attempt at coming out to her mother. ('I could see the revulsion on her face,' Jean-Pierre writes.)..."

After her makeup artist died, Pamela Anderson decided "it’s just better for me not to wear makeup."

I'm reading "Jamie Lee Curtis 'floored' by Pamela Anderson going makeup-free at Paris Fashion Week: 'Courage and rebellion'" (NY Post).

It's not the most stunning show of courage in the history of the world, but it's something a lot of us will love. Here is Pamela Anderson — famously beautiful when seen in her youth through heavy makeup  — showing up now at glamorous events without makeup and openly old — 56 years old.
Yes, her eyebrows look radically plucked, the roots of her hair indicate somewhat recent bleaching, and there was whatever plastic surgery there was, but she's bold to present herself so differently. People will talk about how she looks, and it's nice to see her getting positive attention, especially to the extent that people are saying she looks great like that, and not just that she's displaying "courage and rebellion."

"Pope Francis has suggested there could be ways to bless same-sex unions...."

"In his new letter, Francis reiterated that matrimony is a union between a man and a woman. But responding to the cardinals’ question about homosexual unions and blessings, he said... priests could not become judges 'who only deny, reject and exclude.'... '[W]hen a benediction is requested, it is expressing a request for help from God, a plea to be able to live better, a trust in a father who can help us to live better.' He said there were situations objectively 'not morally acceptable' but the same 'pastoral charity' required that people be treated as sinners who might not be fully at fault for their situations. [He said]... the issue could be dealt with on a case-by-case basis 'because the life of the church runs on channels beyond norms.'"

"A senior member of the Department of Defense communications staff has been arrested and charged with participating in a dogfighting ring in the D.C. area for more than 20 years..."

"... federal authorities disclosed Monday. The ring regularly trained dogs for fights, ran thousands of dollars in bets on the outcomes, and executed dogs that didn’t die during matches, court records state. Frederick Douglass Moorefield Jr., 62, of Arnold, Md., was a deputy chief information officer for command, control and communications for the Secretary of Defense’s Chief Information Officer...."

They're hungry.

That was my instant answer to the question in the headline of a NYT fashion article, "Why Do Runway Models Always Look So Grumpy?"

But the NYT fashion writer, Vanessa Friedman, says it's because runway models are under so much pressure that they can't smile convincingly. It's been tried, but they just look weird. If, as sometimes happens, the designer instructs the models to look happy, "it turns, very quickly, into a frozen rictus that doesn’t reach the eyes — a facial disjunction that can be very disturbing to watch."

"Tonight the touch points are going to include your hand holding another hand, your back against somebody’s back, your hand on someone’s heart space..."

"... and their hands on your heart space, and you’re going to take turns leaning in and out of two long-held hugs."

When it was time to touch each other’s “heart space,” some laid their hands directly on the left side of their partner’s chest while others made contact with just the tips of their fingers. Somatic practices like meditation and eye gazing have long been incorporated in relationships.... The innovation here is attaching this mindfulness style to first-time romantic meet-ups....

I can't imagine volunteering (let alone paying) for this kind of thing. Here are the first 2 associations that sprang into my head.

1. In the James Whale movie "The Old Dark House" — which I watched on October 1st, the first day it became available on the Criterion Channel, part of a collection called "Pre-Code Horror" — the owner of the house suddenly lays her hand on her hand on the bare upper chest of the young Gloria Stuart:

October 2, 2023

Sunrise — 6:59.


Mary Katharine Ham crushes Bill Maher and Sam Harris. Great job — pithy and theatrical!

"Trump is sitting, arms folded, as he listens to Kevin Wallace, a lawyer for the attorney general, deliver his opening arguments."

"Trump is occasionally shaking his head in disagreement and at times looks angry, and also bored. As I write these posts about 'generally accepted accounting principles' and 'materiality' it occurs to me that this opening statement is already deep in the legal and financial weeds where most of this trial will take place. Were this a jury trial, we might be getting a glossier, more exciting version of this opening statement. But perhaps because [Judge] Engoron is the arbiter of fact here, Wallace seems to feel no qualms about a far more detailed, less flashy presentation...."

End of December! And a journalist doing the moment-by-moment commentary is already antsy and bored — projecting that boredom onto the jury that doesn't exist. Deep in the weeds... on Day One? You'll need to trek a thousand miles into those weeds.

"He wore what he always wore: a wrinkled T-shirt and cargo shorts. His bare knee jackhammered up and down at roughly four beats per second..."

"... while his eyes darted left and right and collided with his interviewers’ gaze only by chance. His general demeanor was that of a kid pretending to be interested when his parents hauled him into the living room to meet their friends. He’d done nothing to prepare, but the questions were so easy that it didn’t matter. Crypto Wunderkind, read the Bloomberg chyron, while the numbers on the left of the screen showed that, in just the past year, bitcoin’s price had risen by more than 500 percent. That first TV show Natalie watched from her own desk, but later, during future interviews, she’d walk around behind Sam to confirm that, yes, his eyes moved around so much because he was playing a video game. On live TV!"

It's a long article, and Lewis has a whole book: "Going Infinite: The Rise and Fall of a New Tycoon." — #CommissionsEarned.

"Often, on live TV, Sam would not only play a video game but respond to messages, edit documents and tweet. The TV interviewer would ask him a question and Sam would say, 'Ahhhh, interesting question' — even though he never found any of the questions interesting. And Natalie knew he was just buying time to exit whatever game he was playing and reenter the conversation. Natalie didn’t know how a person was supposed to behave on live television, but she suspected it wasn’t like this.... Sam was odd on TV, but he was also odd in real life.... She decided against media training — or anything that might make Sam seem less like Sam...."

"The Nobel Prize in medicine was awarded Monday to two scientists whose research laid the groundwork for messenger RNA vaccines that transformed the threat of the coronavirus pandemic."

From "Nobel Prize in medicine awarded to scientists who laid foundation for messenger RNA vaccines" (WaPo).
Early in her career, Katalin Kariko, 68, a Hungarian-born scientist, saw mRNA’s medical potential and pursued it with ferocious and single-minded tenacity that exiled her to the outskirts of science. After a chance meeting over the photocopier at the University of Pennsylvania 25 years ago, she worked closely with Drew Weissman, 64, an immunologist who saw the potential for the technology to create a new kind of vaccine.... Together, Kariko and Weissman’s complementary knowledge helped to unravel a way to chemically tweak messenger RNA, turning basic biology into a useful medical technology ready to change the world when the pandemic struck.

"Barack Obama... restricted his outfit choices mostly to gray or navy suits, based on research into 'ego depletion'..."

"... or the concept that one might exhaust a given day’s reservoir of decision-making energy. When, in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, Obama was told that money 'framed' as income was more likely to be spent than money framed as wealth, he enacted monthly tax deductions instead of sending out lump-sum stimulus checks. He eventually created a behavioral-sciences team in the White House.... But as these ideas began to intermingle with those in the adjacent field of social psychology, the reasonable notion that some small changes could have large effects at scale gave way to a vision of individual human beings as almost boundlessly pliable.... [A] researcher at Cornell, reported that an attractive wire rack and a lamp increased fruit sales at a school by fifty-four per cent, and that buffet diners likely consumed fewer calories when 'cheesy eggs' weren’t immediately at hand... [A] Harvard Business School... purported to show that subjects who held an assertive 'power pose' could measurably improve their confidence and 'instantly become more powerful.' In advance of job interviews, prospective employees retreated to corporate bathrooms to extend their arms in victorious V’s...." "

From "They Studied Dishonesty. Was Their Work a Lie? Dan Ariely and Francesca Gino became famous for their research into why we bend the truth. Now they’ve both been accused of fabricating data" (The New Yorker). There's much more in that article obviously. I didn't choose a representative clip, just something that struck me as interesting and that didn't overlap with the NYT article on the topic of dishonest behavioral economists, which I blogged here yesterday.

I'm glad to see I have a tag "Obama's clothes," and of course, this post gets the tag "The Fly," because under the secret rules of this blog I am required to compare Obama's dressing methodology to Seth Brundle's:

2 things at The New Yorker this morning resonated, and I took these screenshots.

That first article, the one about Trump (I'll get to the second article in another post):

The 4th clue in in today's "Name Drop" game:

Gavin Newsom fulfills his promise and names a black woman — Laphonza Butler — to replace Dianne Feinstein.

The NYT reports.

Butler, the president of Emily’s List, "has been a fixture in California politics for nearly 15 years as a former leader of the state’s largest labor union and an adviser to Vice President Kamala Harris."

Newsom didn't pick Barbara Lee, who is a black woman and who is running to win that Senate seat in the 2024 election. He'd said he didn't want to have an impact on that race. Presumably, Laphonza Butler is committed to completing Feinstein's term and not attempting reelection. Lee is behind in the polls, so by declining to boost Lee, Newsom helped Adam Schiff, who's been leading.

October 1, 2023

Sunrise — 6:52, 6:55, 7:00.

IMG_3627 2

IMG_3634 2

IMG_3642 2

"I think we need to rip off the Band-Aid. I think we need to move on with new leadership that can be trustworthy.... Nobody trusts Kevin McCarthy."

That's Matt Gaetz.

In an interview that aired on CNN on Sunday, Mr. Gaetz, Mr. McCarthy’s main tormentor, said he would do just that. By bringing up a measure called a “motion to vacate,” he can call a snap vote on whether to keep Mr. McCarthy in his post.

I like the phrase "main tormentor." Seems like the writer wanted to say "arch nemesis" and knew she needed to tone it down for NYT standards. 

"When I see a surprising finding, my default is not to believe it. Twelve years ago, my default was to believe anything that was surprising."

Said Daniel Kahneman, who won the Nobel Prize for his work in behavioral economics, and who now says the effects of "social priming" "cannot be as large and as robust" as he had assumed.

Quoted in "The Harvard Professor and the Bloggers/When Francesca Gino, a rising academic star, was accused of falsifying data — about how to stop dishonesty — it didn’t just torch her career. It inflamed a crisis in behavioral science" (NYT).

The bloggers are the Data Colada bloggers, who have been checking the evidence and finding problems.

Why was Kahneman so credulous in the first place? He seems to be admitting that he wanted to believe cool stuff, so he just did. 

How screwy was this field?

"I needed to come back to the city. A lot of it for me has to do with not having to drive."

"Because not driving when you live in the suburbs, or being a quasi driver — I have a lot of anxiety about it, and when I’m in the city I can go anywhere I want. I feel free. I feel like an actual grown-up. [What is it about driving?] Ugh! There’s the car itself: tires falling off, a blow out, a car exploding. One time I was driving and the front hood started rattling and the whole drive I pictured the hood of the car flying up and then my crashing and not only killing myself but killing tons of people. I hate it! I hate changing lanes. I hate merging. I hate trucks. Everything about it is hateful. Also, you’re going so [expletive] fast! A slight miscalculation and it’s disaster."

Said Roz Chast, quote in "Roz Chast Knows You’ll Always Regret Leaving the City for the Suburbs" (NYT).

That's an interview with David Marchese, published a few weeks ago, noticed today because it was linked at the bottom of the new David Marchese interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger, blogged in the previous post. 

Roz Chast has a new book: "I Must Be Dreaming."

"First of all, I know Bobby from the time I met Maria. I always liked him. But when I look at him being suspicious of certain things, I ask myself..."

"Can anyone really judge him in a fair way? Because here’s a guy who has had an uncle assassinated, a father assassinated. No one wants to open up the files. So you must say to yourself, What is the reason for that? You start not trusting governments. I don’t live with this kind of suspicion, because nothing ever happened to me that makes me feel like that. But a lot of things happened to him, so this is where he is coming from. I’m not saying rightfully or wrongfully. I’m just saying I can see why someone like him is the way he is."

Said Arnold Schwarzenegger, responding to a NYT interviewer, in "Arnold Schwarzenegger Is Here to Pump You Up (Emotionally)." 

Schwarzenegger is promoting a new book (which has a Jordon Petersonesque title: "Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life").

The interviewer, David Marchese, had asked "what do you make of R.F.K. Jr.’s anti-vax, conspiracist turn?"

Marchese follows up — evoking the Moynihan meme you are not entitled to your own facts — "But we can be sympathetic to someone and what happened to them and also say facts are facts." 

Schwarzenegger seems unaware  of the old meme. He says: "His facts are different. I understand what you’re saying, but there’s people out there who have their own facts."