November 11, 2023

Sunrise — 6:58, 6:59.

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"When elites pine for a third-party candidate, they usually imagine someone like Michael Bloomberg, a fiscal conservative and social liberal."

"But the sweet spot for a third-party candidate has always been slightly left of center on economics and moderate to conservative on cultural issues — and that describes Manchin better than it does most American politicians."

Writes Ross Douthat in "Should Joe Manchin Run for President?" (NYT).

"The prosecution wishes to continue this travesty in darkness. President Trump calls for sunlight."

"Every person in America, and beyond, should have the opportunity to study this case firsthand and watch as, if there is a trial, President Trump exonerates himself of these baseless and politically motivated charges."

"To be sure, many men are fantastic people and partners, and I’m sure many women are loathsome, creepy, or otherwise disrespectful...."

"But rather than chiding people (mostly women, mostly single moms) to get married 'for the children,' how about a little empathy that we’re living through a juncture where various forces at play have made meaningful companionship hard to find?... [W]e should listen to the experiences of women who are attempting to find partners. We should care about the interior lives, not just the educational attainment or the employment status, of the men who could be those partners.... It requires taking the stories of single women seriously, and not treating them as punchlines.... [S]imply advising people to marry is not only, frankly, obnoxious for the many women out there trying — it’s also just not going to work."

Frost at 7:08 a.m.


Jordan Peterson overwhelms the NYT columnist Pamela Paul and Cruz crushes Bill Maher.

Bill does stand down amusingly.

Watch "Overtime: Sen. Ted Cruz, Jordan Peterson, Pamela Paul | Real Time with Bill Maher":

"When you’re president and you’ve done a good job and you’re popular, you don’t go after them so you can win an election."

"They’ve done indictments in order to win an election. They call it weaponization. But yeah they have done something that allows the next party, I mean if somebody, if I happen to be president and I see somebody who’s doing well and beating me very badly, I say go down and indict them, mostly they would be out of business. They’d be out. They’d be out of the election."

Said Donald Trump, quoted in a Guardian article with a title that seems to have been written by someone pretending not to understand sarcasm: "Trump suggests he would use FBI to go after political rivals if elected in 2024 Trump said: 'If I happen to be president and I see somebody doing well and beating me very badly, I say go down and indict them.'"

"Progressive belief isn’t purely an elite phenomenon, but the Great Awokening has largely wielded influence through what Nate Silver calls the 'indigo blob'..."

"... a center-left network of schools and foundations and media enterprises and human resources departments. It has not really sought power through elections — in part, I would argue, because its project is fundamentally therapeutic and educational, placing soulcraft before statecraft. But also because when it’s been tested at the ballot box, it’s been a loser.... On the right-wing populist side, you have a rather different phenomenon, a political revolution — the earthquake of Trumpism, the similar shocks in Europe — that far outruns any theory of what it’s about or what it’s doing and leaves the intelligentsia rushing to catch up...."
Writes Ross Douthat, in "Conservative Thinkers Didn’t Create Trumpism" (NYT).

Here's Nate Silver's piece from last July, "Twitter, Elon and the Indigo Blob/The line between expertise and politics has become increasingly blurry. The demise of 'Old Twitter' could help to reverse that." ("Left-progressives, liberals, centrists, and moderate or non-MAGA conservatives all share a common argumentative space. I call this space the Indigo Blob, because it’s somewhere between left-wing (blue) and centrist (purple). The space largely excludes MAGA/right-wing conservatives — around 30 percent of the country....")

"She didn’t really like doing certain things.... She appeared to find it cringey the way Jill Biden always seemed to be hanging around Joe..."

"... once telling [Stephanie Grisham, her former chief of staff] that she didn’t need to 'hold her husband up' the same way. Being silent was 'Melania’s armor,' [her friend Stephanie] Winston Wolkoff said. 'It was a way to protect her by not letting anyone fully know who she is,' she said, adding that she and Melania had an 'ongoing pre-approved list' of words to describe her, such as 'confident' 'strong' and 'independent.' 'We discussed how her intentional lack of communication with the media would keep everyone guessing and ultimately maintain the narrative of being mysterious and an enigma,' she said. ... In a recent interview with Megyn Kelly, Trump stuck to the script when asked about Melania’s whereabouts, saying: 'I think part of the beauty is that mystery.'... Trump listens when Melania offers suggestions.... She has, for example, suggested he stop making fun of transgender athletes and refrain from his goofy arm-based dancing he often features onstage. He hasn’t stopped either. 'She said, "Darling, I love you, I love you, but this is not presidential,"' Trump told a crowd recently in Sioux City, Iowa, before later announcing: 'The country’s going to hell in a handbasket. Let’s do a little dancing."'"

November 10, 2023

Sunrise — 6:39, 6:42, 6:43, 6:46.




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"I’m just saying he has a path to victory. As the former Obama adviser David Axelrod has been saying, Biden has to make this a comparison election..."

"... him versus Trump. And I’d add that he has to make this a prosaic election. It’s not which of these two men do you dislike least, it’s which set of goods do you want to buy: low prescription drug prices or higher ones, some student debt forgiveness or none, abundant infrastructure jobs or few? If Biden can make this about concrete benefits to everyday Americans, I suspect he’ll be fine."

Writes David Brooks, in "Democrats: You Can Chill Out Now!" (NYT).

"With West Virginia off the Senate chessboard next year, Democrats must win every race they are defending — and depend on President Biden to win the White House..."

".... in order to maintain a majority.... With no competitive race [in West Virginia] in 2024, both parties will have tens of millions of dollars to spend on a second tier of battleground races. Last year, candidates, parties and outside groups spent more than $1.3 billion on 36 Senate races, including $737 million in just five states — Arizona, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin — that are also on the ballot again next year. 'I think Wisconsin and Michigan are about to get a bunch of Republican money they weren’t going to get otherwise,' said Brad Todd, a Republican strategist who has worked on Senate races.... There is no top-flight Republican challenging Senator Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin, but the party has been pushing for Eric Hovde, a businessman who ran for Senate in 2012....."

"One of the first questions men ask Angela Liu on dating apps is 'What are you reading?' The question is a softball for Ms. Liu..."

"... a self-proclaimed lover of literature. 'I really care about the human condition and emotions and stuff,' she said. What she has noticed, however, is that many men aren’t into those kinds of books, and a question that may have been intended to screen her often ends up backfiring. 'I can’t stand dudes who just read self-help books or things specifically related to the job that they’re doing and that’s all they read,' Ms. Liu, 27, said on Friday at a book club for singles in Manhattan."

By the way, what are you reading? Is it some self-help or job-specific crap or something that shows you care about emotions and stuff?

Racial sensitivities spell an end to the long history of the political cartoon.

Have you been following the controversy over The Washington Post taking down one cartoon that had appeared on its editorial page?

The excellent cartoonist Michael Ramirez depicted a particular Hamas spokesman — with children and a woman strapped to his body — saying "How dare Israel attack civilians."*

Though this is a caricature of specific person, many readers perceived it as a stereotype of an Arab man or worried that other people would see it as a stereotype and that it might stir up race-based feelings of disgust or hatred. 

"So here’s my question, if as the Republicans claim DOJ is weaponized against republicans, how in the heck did this Democrat get prosecuted? Just asking republicans?"

The top-rated comment at The Washington Post, on "Ex-Baltimore prosecutor Marilyn Mosby guilty in federal perjury trial."

Baltimore’s former top prosecutor, Marilyn Mosby, was convicted of two counts of perjury Thursday after she had been accused of lying about her finances to withdraw money from her city retirement account under a program designed to help people struggling financially during the coronavirus pandemic...

Prosecutors said she falsely claimed to suffer from financial hardships to access $90,000 from retirement funds that she later used to buy two homes in Florida....
The trial centered in large part on Mosby’s travel business, Mahogany Elite Travel....

"In Haley’s eyes, everyone else was a squish...."

"What advice, she was asked, would she give Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, in his war with Hamas? She said that she had already offered it to him: 'Finish them. Finish them.' This wasn’t exactly a surgical performance. Haley is a bludgeon. She is a practiced enough politician that she will often begin with some statement of empathy—'as the wife of a combat veteran'; 'as a mom'—but she is often quickly on the attack. ... Haley’s martial posture was so constant and omnidirectional that it somewhat masked the fact that she is fighting for things (a straightforwardly neoconservative approach overseas, gestures toward entitlement cuts) that Republicans in the Trump era were supposed to have set aside.... Politically, Haley is a loner—that has always been one of her limitations.... She doesn’t really belong to the Christian right or the libertarian extreme, but she isn’t a moderate, either. When I’ve seen her on the trail, she has tended to leave audiences cold—who, they seem to wonder, is this all for?..."

Writes Benjamin Wallace-Wells, in "Nikki Haley Takes On the Scum at the Third Republican Debate/Donald Trump has dominated the primary season, but his former U.N. Ambassador is the best debater in the field—and she would probably be the G.O.P.’s most effective candidate against Joe Biden" (The New Yorker).

November 9, 2023

Sunrise — 6:44.



"I don’t need to read a single word this shooter wrote to know that there are no answers to be found."

Said a parent of one of the murdered schoolchildren, quoted in "Who should see a shooter’s journal? In Nashville, a leak heightens debate" (WaPo).

The right question is not Who should see? — it's Who should have the power to suppress?

Anyone who doesn't "need to read a single word" to know what to think can refrain from reading. As for everyone else, we are entitled to freedom of information, and that should not depend on our motives or what questions we have or how likely it is that we will find answers. One question, which some may find distasteful, is whether the killer was transgender and whether that had anything to do with the shooting spree. The leaked writing seems to make it less likely that transgenderism motivated the murder. It looked as though the motivation was hatred of affluent white people. There may be no absolute answer to be found, but it sheds some light.

Maybe some people feel that caring about the mind of a murderer is wrong and that you ought to shut yourself off entirely from whatever poisonous thoughts lead to murder. I would say make that argument to your fellow citizens. Tell us to turn off our "true crime" podcasts and Dahmer biopics and all the perverse titillation of murder stories: Turn to the light, to what is wholesome and lifegiving. Don't censor.

"Manchin, 76, had previously flirted with the idea of running on a third-party presidential ticket, an idea pushed by the group No Labels."

"When reached after the announcement, Manchin spokeswoman Sam Runyon declined to comment on whether Manchin planned to pursue a presidential run."

I'm reading "Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin says he will not seek reelection" (WaPo).

Somehow, on the same day, "Jill Stein launches 2024 bid as Green Party candidate" (The Hill).

"Rumblings in town had suggested that Gal Gadot, the Israel-born star of Wonder Woman who served in the IDF years ago, was behind the event...."

"The proceedings — ahead of which attendees were required to sign an NDA promising not to record or recirculate the sensitive footage — kicked off with remarks from Rabbi Marvin Hier, the outgoing head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Museum of Tolerance. After noting that it was the eve of the anniversary of Kristallnacht, Hier said that experts have estimated there should be 200 million Jews in the world today but 'there are only 14 million because we are the leftovers of pogroms,' like the one of Oct. 7. He labeled Hamas terrorists 'the Nazis of the 21st century.'... As was forewarned, the footage was gruesome.... For some, it was all too much — a number of attendees could be heard weeping, and some left the theater mid-film, unable to watch anymore. For others, it was not enough... several attendees marched out of the theater and shouted that viewers should not have been spared any of the atrocities that were committed...."

"Today is yet another really rough day in media; dozens of my Vice colleagues are being laid off globally and we just got news..."

"... that Jezebel, where I worked for years, is being shut down.

The New Yorker just published a big article about Jezebel:


I only skimmed it. 

I guess I'm afraid of finding something about me.

Hillary at her best — summarizing the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

On the occasion of Nikki Haley's calling Vivek Ramaswamy "scum," I look into the history of "scum" in my archive.

1. October 23, 2019 — blogged here — Trump called his antagonists "human scum":

2. On October 24, 2019, I wrote "Troubled by Trump's use of the phrase 'human scum,' I decided to trace its usage, over the years..." This post traces the use of the phrase "human scum" in the NYT archive, beginning in 1897. I note: "The epithet rarely appeared until 2003, when it began coming up repeatedly in statements from the North Korean government. The first person called 'human scum' by the North Koreans was John Bolton."

2. In December 2017, according to The Daily Beast, Facebook was banning women who call men "scum" (because it, supposedly, "classifies white men as a protected group"). I wrote: "I don't support what Facebook is doing, but I do think the use of the word 'scum' warrants a historical note on 'SCUM' — The Society for Cutting Up Men. The author of 'The SCUM Manifesto,' Valerie Solanas, wasn't joking....'The Manifesto argues that SCUM [a revolutionary vanguard of women] should employ sabotage and direct action tactics... "If SCUM ever marches, it will be over the President's stupid, sickening face; if SCUM ever strikes, it will be in the dark with a six-inch blade."'" Solanas became famous for shooting Andy Warhol.

3. On December 11, 2020, I blogged about a Wisconsin State Journal headline "Sen. Ron Johnson called 'delusional scum' for considering challenge to election." I asked "why is the fact that somebody hurled one particular epithet the subject of a headline? If the insult-hurler isn't important enough to name in the headline, why put one nasty insult in a headline?"

4. Back in January 2015, I blogged the immortal words of John McCain: "Get outta here you lowlife scum!"

5. On May 24, 2022, I happened to revisit Hunter S. Thompson’s 1994 obituary of Richard Nixon. Thompson wrote: "Some people will say that words like scum and rotten are wrong for Objective journalism — which is true, but they miss the point. It was the built-in blind spots of the Objective rules and dogma that allowed Nixon to slither into the White House in the first place. … You had to get Subjective to see Nixon clearly, and the shock of recognition was often painful."

"The more time Vivek spends around the GOP establishment, the more contempt he harbors for them, and rightfully so."

Ha ha... "two of them." One is Haley. The other is DeSantis in his elevator boots. I thought it was a cheap joke when I heard it last night and started yelling. It's only this morning that I noticed the "two of them" swipe at DeSantis. That's absurd and subtle enough to lift the joke to a new plane and get my respect. 

Trump voters are more about liking Trump, not disliking Biden, and Biden voter are more about disliking Trump, not liking Biden.

From "Swing State 2024 Polling: Biden Trails Trump in Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, Leads Trump in Michigan" (Emerson College Polling).

"Minnesota Supreme Court dismisses effort to block Trump from state's primary ballot/A group of voters has been trying to ban Trump from the 2024 GOP primary and general election ballots based on 14th Amendment grounds."

NBC News reports.

This litigation was based on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which says "No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same...."

"Each subsequent decade has gotten the hyperrealist sculpture it deserves. Right now we’re living in a moment defined by an erosion of trust in what is and isn’t real..."

"... whether that’s a former president’s election fraud claims or the proliferation of deepfakes and artificial intelligence software. The uncanny valley has transformed from a horror film trope... into a more quotidian concern, as Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos propose a fleet of humanoid robots to address the U.S. labor shortage.... Over time, hyperrealism  incorporated elements of extreme exaggeration, which only seemed to heighten the shock of the uncanny. That effect is palpable in, for instance, the Australian artist Ron Mueck’s gargantuan child made of glass fiber, 'Boy' (1999)... the child is nearly 15 feet tall, even crouched in an almost fetal position, and all his details are rendered with excruciating precision. The Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan... has contributed to the hyperrealist tradition for more than 20 years. His funny and disturbing 'La Nona Ora' (1999) shows Pope John Paul II in his papal regalia, writhing in pain on the ground after being struck down by a small meteor. The pope retains an odd dignity, still clutching a staff with a crucifix on it, as if that might help him through this encounter. Two years later, Cattelan made 'Him,' a dreadfully realistic sculpture of Adolf Hitler, kneeling like an altar boy, hands clasped as if in prayer...."

I was looking for the "eerie new relevance," but I got caught up in things that were made 20+ years ago — before "deepfakes and A.I. images" took over. I had to re-skim the article to search for this eerie new stuff, and now I suspect that hyperrealism will become less eerie and relevant as it becomes ordinary and incapable of inspiring us to wonder how it was achieved. 

"Scientists in Japan have identified a virus that selectively kills males — and it happens to be inheritable, creating generation upon generation of all females."

Don't worry (yet). It's happening at the insect level.

"He was talking quickly and kind of oscillated in his words."

Said spokeswoman for Vivek Ramaswamy, who had said, in last night's debate, "Ukraine is not a paragon of democracy... It has celebrated a Nazi in its ranks. A comedian in cargo pants. The man called Zelensky. That is not democratic.”

The spokeswoman said, as the NYT paraphrases it, "he was referring to an event in September in which Mr. Zelensky visited Canada’s Parliament and joined a standing ovation honoring a 98-year-old Ukrainian Canadian war veteran."

But "the veteran, Yaroslav Hunka, had served in a division that was under Nazi control during World War II."

I'd like to see the full transcript of the debate. I've looked for one and think it ought to be available within a few hours of the event. I'd like to check the context of quotes like this, which make Ramaswamy sound either inept or invidious.

ADDED: The context (which makes it quite a shame that his words awkwardly bunched together right around "Nazi"):

November 8, 2023

At the Wednesday Night Café...

 ... you can talk about whatever you want.

A new Marquette poll shows Nikki Haley would be the strongest Republican against Biden in Wisconsin.

Details here

Haley is also the best choice in Georgia (according to the new AJC poll):

"Hamas leaders say they waged their Oct. 7 attack on Israel because they believed the Palestinian cause was slipping away, and that only violence could revive it."

 The NYT reports.

It was necessary to “change the entire equation and not just have a clash,” Khalil al-Hayya, a member of Hamas’s top leadership body, told The New York Times in Doha, Qatar. “We succeeded in putting the Palestinian issue back on the table, and now no one in the region is experiencing calm.”...

“I hope that the state of war with Israel will become permanent on all the borders, and that the Arab world will stand with us,” Taher El-Nounou, a Hamas media adviser, told The Times....

The dentist is going to clean your mind and your soul.

A TikTok video, so I'm putting it after the jump:

"I love YouTube, and I want to be famous on YouTube, because I want a lot of money..."

"... said camper Chloe, 7, a second-grader who said she has dreamed of being a YouTuber since age 4. As a YouTube star, 'I could buy whatever I want,' she added, including 'an iPhone and a computer, AirPods and a Barbie Dreamhouse. A real Barbie Dreamhouse, that’s big and has walls. It would be in Paris because of the Eiffel Tower. I would go see the Eiffel Tower every day, and I’d have my room in front of the Eiffel Tower every morning and make videos about that.'"

"The National Zoo’s giant pandas will board a flight to China on Wednesday, ending an era that spanned half a century...."

"Soon, their compound at the zoo in Northwest Washington will be empty, and the joyous decades of pandamania will be over, at least for the time being.... China owns and leases all giant pandas in U.S. zoos. The National Zoo’s current lease expires on Dec. 7.... The zoo’s giant panda story began in February 1972, when President Richard M. Nixon and first lady Pat Nixon made a historic Cold War visit to communist China. At a banquet in Beijing, Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai promised Mrs. Nixon that China would give some giant pandas to the United States as a friendly gesture.... It is not clear when, or if, the zoo will get giant pandas again...."

Just bring back that Nixon magic.

If "resign" is trending on X, does that mean it's about the person you want to resign?

I'm seeing several names, including Netanyahu, but I think this is the one:

"I turned into a dolphin/I rang Maud, told her the latest...."

I don't think you can buy "Chapters" in the U.S. yet, but you can read just about everything at Instagram, here, including this:

What would it take to get us to notice this once much-talked-about topic that had fallen entirely out of the news?

The topic is NFTs.

"The Supreme Court seemed ready on Tuesday to rule that the government may disarm people under domestic violence orders...."

"Justice Neil M. Gorsuch... asked a series of questions sketching out a minimalist ruling upholding the law, suggesting that the case before the court was an easy one. 'We actually have a finding of a credible threat,' he said... ... Justices Barrett and Brett M. Kavanaugh — made similar comments.... "

"Twenty-two Democrats voted with 212 Republicans to censure Tlaib, and four Republicans voted with 184 Democrats against the resolution..."

"Tlaib was not required to stand in the well of the House and be rebuked by the speaker, as is traditionally the case.... [T]he resolution mentions Tlaib’s Nov. 3 video post on X, which included the first portion of the phrase 'from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,' a call for the eradication of Israel.... Tlaib responded by saying the phrase is 'an aspirational call for freedom, human rights, and peaceful coexistence, not death, destruction, or hate.'"

ADDED: "White House denounces Tlaib's use of controversial pro-Palestinian slogan" (The Guardian)("We strongly disagree with using that phrase – it’s been said by many people at the White House").

"Ohio voters approved a constitutional amendment on Tuesday that ensures access to abortion...."

AP reports.

I'm glad to see this response to the Supreme Court's rejection of its long-held notion that the federal Constitution implies a right to abortion. That left the matter to the state, and the strongest move a state can make in response is to add the right to the state constitution in express, explicit terms. And that leaves the matter to the individual, where it belongs.

ADDED: The vote was not close — 56.6% to 43.4%.

November 7, 2023

Sunrise — 6:42, 6:46, 6:47, 6:48.

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"When Trump was president I started every morning by reading the New York Times, followed by the Washington Post, and would track both papers’ websites..."

"... regularly throughout the day. To be less than vigilant was to fall behind.... My friend Mike likened this constant monitoring to having a second job. It was exhausting, and the moment that Biden was sworn in to office I let it all go. When the new president speaks, I feel the way I do on a plane when the pilot announces that after reaching our cruising altitude he will head due north, or take a left at Lake Erie. You don’t need to tell me about your job, I always think. Just, you know, do it. It’s so freeing, no longer listening to political podcasts—no longer being enraged...."

Wrote David Sedaris, in "Happy-Go-Lucky," which came out in 2022 (I earn a commission through that link).

I recalled that passage as I was listening to Monday's NYT "Daily" podcast, "Swing State Voters Are Souring on Biden/A new Times/Siena poll finds Donald Trump leading President Biden in five of six key battlegrounds."

"Women, it’s all your fault there aren’t enough children any more. They’ve disappeared, according to the Tory MP Miriam Cates...."

"Cates is convinced that young women are desperate to have large families but have been put off by the prohibitive cost of childcare and housing.... Where once the Tories spent their time chastising feckless young single mums for being irresponsible enough to get themselves up the duff, now they are telling them off for being too cautious and wrecking the economy.... If the Tories want more babies they need adequate maternity facilities, as well as more comprehensive childcare provision for mothers and fathers, while encouraging partners to pull their weight. What they don’t need to do is demand a culture change to relegate women to the role of sows...."

"Problems arise if the drug slows down the stomach too much or blocks the intestines...."

"While the medications helped Webster slim down quickly.... Webster’s husband allegedly found her unconscious with a brown liquid seeping out of her mouth.... 'It was just pouring out.... If I knew that could happen, she wouldn’t have been taking it.... I never thought you could die from it.'... [T]he manufacturer of Ozempic, Novo Nordisk, said ileus [intestinal blockage] was only reported after its 'post-marketing setting,' suggesting the drugmaker only became aware of the problem after the drug was released...."

"But who knew (other than paleontologists) that there was a time in Earth’s history when it rained for a million years?"

"Or about the forty million years when moss dominated the planet? Or about how plankton, by inventing photosynthesis and thereby giving off oxygen in the course of some two billion years, transformed Earth’s yellow methane-filled atmosphere into blue skies, and the lifeless landscape into forests of green? In William Steig’s book 'Rotten Island,' illustrations show erupting volcanoes and creepy sea creatures and thorny plants and vicious land animals. One day, a jealous battle starts over a new life-form: a flower. Violence, destruction, giant insects, and ice and fire ensue, and lead to a mass extinction. I used to think that 'Rotten Island' was about the disastrous pettiness of human wants and behaviors, and about how much better life might be without us. Now I see it as a reasonably accurate visual history of our planet, with extra polka dots and stripes, in watercolor...."

From "Reinventing the Dinosaur 'Life on Our Planet,' a new Netflix nature documentary, renews our fascination with our most feared and loved precursors" (The New Yorker).

We watched the first episode of this series last night. I wasn't going to continue, but now that I know that moss and plankton will get their due — that it won't be all lumbering CGI dinosaurs and Morgan Freeman speaking ponderously about who's fighting and winning dominion over Earth — I might give another episode a chance.

Where are all the articles saying Trump's trial testimony was a disaster?

I feel rather sure that headlines like that would be everywhere if it was at all possible to spin it that way, so I'm going to assume he did — at least — reasonably well.

The testimony isn't even the top story at the NYT. Israel is the top story....

Thanksgiving food is getting more promotion — not to mention home elevators and a "male-killing virus" in insects.

If I go to the next screenful of NYT homepage, there is some Trump, but it's not about his trial testimony. It's about the election:

"How much is abortion still motivating votes?/How much of a drag is President JOE BIDEN?/Do Democrats have a Black and suburban turnout problem?/Does any of it matter for 2024?"

It's Election Day, and those are — according to Politico — "Four big Election Day questions."


ADDED: I was going to create a new tag for Musk's new AI project, but typing in the letters, I saw that I already had a tag "grok" — lower case "g" — so I just used that, even though I knew the existing posts with that tag had to be just about the word "grok." I wasn't going to create a second "grok" tag, with an upper case "G." I don't like tag proliferation, but — more important — I wanted to publish this post with the old tag so I could click on it and see what I'd done in the past.

I see that last January I used "grok" in a post about an article about thinking about thinking:

Now that we can read (some of) the Nashville shooter's writing, can we understand why the parents of surviving students wanted to suppress them permanently?

I'm reading From "Excerpts From Nashville School Shooter’s Writings Are Published Online/The publication of the apparent excerpts by a conservative commentator enraged the parents of surviving students, who have been fighting to keep the writings from ever becoming public" (NYT).
“The damage done today is already significant....” said Brent Leatherwood, a parent of three Covenant students.... He called whoever had leaked the photos “a viper” who had allowed someone “who terrorized our family with bullets to be able to now terrorize us with words from the grave.”... 

So, the NYT forefronts the parents and the idea that to get information about the criminal's thought process would be to "terrorize" the children. On this theory, we ought to be protected from all hate speech. There should be no news reports of terror attacks. I would have thought the main reason not to publish a criminal's writings would be that the promise of publication might spur on other killers. 

November 6, 2023

The woods at 2 p.m.


Write about whatever you want in the comments.

Compliments are loved, even in New York City... especially when they are so beautifully articulated... by a man who might look like Errol Flynn.

After the jump, because it's TikTok:

David Bowie through the ages.

A brilliant impersonation, after the jump, because it's TikTok:

The NYT is live-blogging Trump's testimony at the civil fraud trial.

Let's check in, here

"The people call Donald J. Trump" and "Trump plods to the witness stand."

Questioned by Kevin Wallace, a lawyer for the attorney general, Trump answers "in monosyllables."

The NYT writer says Trump "took the bait" when he answered a question about the legal trust that holds some of his assets: "You and about every other Democrat, district attorney, A.G., and U.S. attorneys, etcetera, were coming after me from 15 different sides, all Democrats, all Trump haters." I note the use of freewheeling language in "15 different sides." That's not monosyllabic. He's dabbling in hyperbole.

Now the judge is warning: "Please, just answer the question. No speeches."

"This girl wanted life! This girl wanted love!"

We watched that movie last night. "Three on a Match" — selected from from The Criterion Channel's collection, "Pre-Code Divas."

What a crazy movie! I'll avoid spoilers and just say: 1. Fantastic example of a woman who cannot be satisfied with conventional married life (even with wealth and a fine lawyer-husband), 2. Shades of "Reefer Madness," 3. Only 63 minutes long, 4. Who knew there was a boy version of Shirley Temple? 5. Don't expect to see much of Bette Davis, 6. Brief but great shots of Humphrey Bogart, 7.  Loved the sad piano playing in the girl's reform school, 8. Don't reveal the shocking ending! 9. Inventive method of communicating with the police, 10. I love the pre-Code era, 11. Made me want to watch more Ann Dvorak movies.

"The former president believes he can fight or talk his way out of most situations. "

"Frequent visits to the courtroom have also given Mr. Trump familiarity with the unwieldy proceeding, where he projects control, often whispering in his lawyers’ ears, prompting their objections to the attorney general’s questions. Yet Mr. Trump is deeply, personally enraged by this trial — and by the fact that his children have had to testify, several people who have spoken with him said — and he may not be able to restrain himself on the stand. The testimony will push Mr. Trump far outside his comfort zone of social media and the rally stage, where he is a master of mockery, a no-holds barred flamethrower who relishes most opportunities to attack foes. He leveraged that persona during his days as a tabloid businessman and fixture of New York’s tabloids and found that it worked just as well in the 2016 presidential race. He has since taken control of the Republican Party, and his style has become a defining influence in contemporary politics. The witness stand is a different venue. It’s a seat that requires care and control, where lying is a crime and emotional outbursts can land you in contempt of court.... Mr. Trump, 77, has been showing signs of strain and age on the campaign trail.... The test of the former president’s credibility, coherence and self-control could supply his opponents with ammunition on the campaign trail...."
I'm reading "Trump’s Credibility, Coherence and Control Face Test on Witness Stand/The former president will testify Monday in a trial that threatens the business empire that created his public persona. He will be out of his element and under oath" in the NYT.

I read that passage out loud here at Meadhouse. Lots of laughter. I said the NYT is milking this for all its worth, really straining to make testifying seem as dangerous as possible. Meade said: "Hey, NYT, this is your one chance to write that purple prose."

By the way, NYT should have edited out the phrase "supply his opponents with ammunition on the campaign trail." Remember when the NYT was involved in blaming Sarah Palin for causing a political shooting because her campaign used a map marked with an image that looked something like crosshairs?

Anyway, the idea that Trump will lose his cool and become enraged on the witness stand is funny. Sometimes he seems like a fictional character, but you sound naive and absurd imagining that he's going to behave like a character in a courtroom drama. I know there will be movies about him some day, but I bet there won't be a single one with anything about this New York case about puffing the value of his real estate.

But go ahead, now's your big chance to act as though Trump will Al Pacino it up....

"I normally bring nice clothes to travel, but this time I brought my worst, items I could chuck in the trash — where they belonged three years ago."

"Having Marie Kondo’d these rags, I had more room in my bag and could either dress normally en route home, or carry all the souvenirs I’d buy with the $128 I saved being my own suitcase."

I'm blogging this not because — as you might think — it shows how second-rate the travel experience really is but because it uses "Marie Kondo" as a verb and that's something I'd encountered only yesterday — when I blogged that essay about  "once-fabulous tits" that had "transmogrified into a bosom" — and because I thought it would be fun to write this sentence.

"Does even this trigger-happy Supreme Court want to be seen as stripping from women in mortal danger from their intimate partners whatever safety this 29-year-old law has provided?"

Asks Linda Greenhouse, in "Will the Supreme Court Toss Out a Gun Law Meant to Protect Women?" (NYT).
Research shows that the presence of a gun in the hands of an abuser makes it five times as likely that a female victim will be killed. That inconvenient fact will remain a fact even for a court more attentive to life in 1791 than death in 2023.
The Supreme Court is reviewing a 5th Circuit opinion that that struck down a federal law that criminalized possession of a firearm by someone subject to a domestic violence restraining order.

November 5, 2023

The rest of the sunrise — at 6:35, 6:38, 6:40, and 6:41.

IMG_4154 2

IMG_4160 2



Sunrise — 6:19.

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Talk about whatever you want in the comments.

"It would resemble a banana republic if people came into office and started going after their opponents willy-nilly. It’s hardly something we should aspire to."

Said conlawprof Saikrishna Prakash, quoted in "Trump and allies plot revenge, Justice Department control in a second termAdvisers have also discussed deploying the military to quell potential unrest on Inauguration Day. Critics have called the ideas under consideration dangerous and unconstitutional" (WaPo).

"Honestly any poll that shows a preference for Trump over Biden should be understood as an indictment not of Biden, but of Americans."

"That after all this time, anything even approaching a majority of voters see Trump as even a remotely sensible option, can no longer be viewed through the lens of a traditional political calculus. This is now a failure of education, of culture, of common sense."

For Trump haters, the answer to everything is "an indictment."

You can see that Wedge is actively distancing himself from reality. He wants none of it. He won't try to find the sense of it. What's the use?! It's pointless. Chaos. 

Wouldn't it be ironic if the reason "Why Biden Is Behind" is that the people who might support him are shrinking away from political engagement? It's just completely crazy — they may think — I'm not going to disarrange my fragile mind attempting to understand what cannot be understood. 

No, it won't.

I have a problem with this NYT headline: "How to Make the Most of the Morning Light/When the clocks fall back on Sunday, it’ll be dark much earlier. But if you embrace the extra early morning sunshine, your mood doesn’t have to suffer."

In the morning, it's light much earlier.

Morning-oriented people don't make this mistake. And we certainly don't need advice on "how to make the most of morning light." Just get up, year 'round, based on the coming of the light and the problem of moving the clocks around disappears.

But here's something I love about the article. It calls attention to someone I was going to bring up on my own:

Too much of a bad thing.

I'm reading "Headwind Cycling Race Called Off Over Too Much Wind Storm/Ciarán, which has battered Western Europe this week, proved too much for a quirky Dutch cycling competition" (NYT).

Even in a country where cycling is one of the most popular modes of transportation, many might wonder why anyone would submit themselves to cycling through such treacherous weather conditions. “I wonder that myself sometimes,” Mr. Stoekenbroek said. “There’s a group of people that likes to suffer.”

The country is the Netherlands. 

"Anastasiya Nigmatulina, 28, a beautician in Vinnytsia, a city in central Ukraine, said she had watched the show over and over since the war started."

"'It helps me to feel better,' she said. Her husband is a soldier, and she worries about him often.... There were many times when Ms. Nigmatulina 'felt scared and stressed, but this series supported me,' she said. 'And particularly Chandler Bing, played by Matthew Perry,' she added. 'I feel like I lost a close friend.' 'Friends' also helped some in the country learn Ukrainian, just as it has aided people around the world in learning English. 'I talk and hear how I am using the words from specific episodes, from that brilliant Ukrainian translation we had,' said Yulia Po, 38, a Crimea native who grew up in a Russian-speaking environment and said she had learned Ukrainian thanks to 'Friends.' As a 13-year-old coming home after school, she recalled, she would have just enough time to fry herself potatoes and get comfortable with a plate in front of the television before the show aired. She left Crimea after Russia occupied it in 2014, now refuses to speak Russian on principle, and has not been home or seen her parents since leaving, she said.... 'This is just a humane emotion to feel sad — there is always a space for it,' Ms. Po said. '[Matthew Perry] was with me for a long time and gave me many reasons to laugh.'"

Wisconsin, the outlier.

Discontent pulsates throughout the Times/Siena poll, with a majority of voters saying Mr. Biden’s policies have personally hurt them.... 

"The night before my surgery, feeling perhaps a bit of sadness at losing my identity as a 'large-breasted woman'..."

"... I took a last look at my breasts in the mirror and—on the advice of a friend—Marie Kondo’ed them. I thanked them for their (purely cosmetic) service, and bid them, in their current iteration, farewell. At the hospital, the surgeon twisted each of my breasts up as if he was about to cut bangs and marked them with a Magic Marker. This was, he explained, a French technique...."

Writes Xochitl Gonzalez, in "Me and My Bosom/I wasn’t ready for the 'Doña Body'" (The Atlantic).

After the surgery:

"Once a thinker begins to conceive of politics as a pitched battle between the righteous and those who seek the country’s outright annihilation, extraordinary possibilities open up."

Writes Damon Linker, in "Get to Know the Influential Conservative Intellectuals Who Help Explain G.O.P. Extremism" (NYT).
A coalition of intellectual catastrophists on the American right is trying to convince people... that the country is on the verge of collapse. Some catastrophists take it a step further and suggest that officials might contemplate overthrowing liberal democracy in favor of revolutionary regime change or even imposing a right-wing dictatorship on the country.... If Mr. Trump manages to win the presidency again in 2024, many of these intellectual catastrophists could be ready and willing to justify deeds that could well bring American liberal democracy to its knees.

Who's the catastrophist here? The writer of this article or the people he's writing about? 

Who is he writing about?

Obama is doing something now, in saying that. Does it "move" anything "forward"? Is this, too, "complicit"?

We're not given the full sentence with the phrase "complicit to some degree," just the phrase. It appears in the opening sentence to the article:
Barack Obama offered a complex analysis of the conflict between Israel and Gaza, telling thousands of former aides that they were all “complicit to some degree” in the current bloodshed.

If we are "complicit," what did we do? What could we have done? But Obama, who was President, doesn't even know what he could have done:

“I look at this, and I think back, 'What could I have done during my presidency to move this forward, as hard as I tried?' But there’s a part of me that’s still saying, ‘Well, was there something else I could have done?'"

He's doing something now, in saying that. 

He goes on: