December 2, 2023

Sunrise — 7:00.


Open thread in the comments... and please support this blog by using the Althouse Portal to Amazon to do your shopping (and thus sending me a commission).

"I used to always hear Democrats saying, 'The election was all just Trump’s racist appeals,' but I actually went to the rallies in 2015."

"He would talk about bad trade deals. He promised to bring back Glass-Steagall, which is the bill regulating finance. He talked about health insurance. He was going to do a plan that actually would cover all Americans and wasn’t going to be like a rat’s maze. And if you compare the ads, his ads were overwhelmingly more policy-oriented than Clinton’s. She was really just attacking him as a bad guy and it didn’t work.

Said John Judis, quoted in "Where Have All the Democrats Gone? John Judis and Ruy Teixeira explain how liberals lost their way" (The Free Press)(transcript and audio)(Judis and Teixeira are political analysts). 

The "Honestly" podcast host asks: "So, you didn’t anticipate that the party that said, 'We are the party of Paul Ryan, we’re the party of tax cuts, we’re the party of Milton Friedman,' would actually start to sound more liberal on economic policy?"

"This phrasing was a terrible mistake, as it implies that until recently Jews have been strangers to persecution...."

We were kicking him, and he moved his ass.

"Pelosi calls Santos a ‘coward’ for leaving chamber before expulsion vote closed" (The Hill).
“This is not a casual vote for us. It’s something you take very seriously and and he should have taken it seriously,” Pelosi told reporters following the vote, adding that he “should have been man about it.”
Be a man — I hadn't heard that in a while.

Was that a one-time pot shot, just for Santos? He's gay, right? On any other day, you'd be canceled for advising the gay man... or any man... to "be a man." But on very special days, there's one person who liberates everyone to say what they really think.

"Is it embarrassing that Santos was elected in the first place? Yes. But that’s democracy. Sometimes voters make mistakes."

"The role of members of Congress is to represent their constituents, not to overturn the will of the voters just because they believe those voters have acted unwisely."

I agree. The man was elected by the people of a small geographic area who have a chance every 2 years to pick some human being to represent them. If they picked a big clown, that's democracy for you. Deal with it. Hope that the other clowns are lesser clowns and can balance things out. Santos wasn't important, and fussing over him was always, as I see it, distraction. Distraction, too, is democracy. I get that.

December 1, 2023

View of the Wisconsin Capitol — with coots — at 7:04 a.m.


Open thread in the comments... and please support this blog by using the Althouse Portal to Amazon to do your shopping. That will send me a commission, encouragingly. 

"We are on Day Five of journalistic insistence on canceling an elementary school student by any means necessary."

"The man’s personality was cyclonic, in that he tended to become unstable in times of low pressure."

"The slightest rise in the barometer outside, and his turbulence smoothed into a whirl of coordinated activity, while a core of stillness developed within. Under maximum pressure Roosevelt was sunny, calm, and unnaturally clear.”

I'm reading "The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt" by Edmund Morris (Amazon Associates link/commission earned).

That passage jumped out at me, because I'd just heard Elon Musk say about himself "My mind often feels like a very wild storm."

"Music, I regret to say, affects me merely as an arbitrary succes­sion of more or less irritating sounds."

Wrote Vladimir Nabokov, quoted in "Who Doesn’t Like Music? Nabokov, For Starters On the Odd Case of the Musical Anhedonic" (via Metafilter).

The article is by Michel Faber, who says:
Musical anhedonics are thought to account for up to 5 percent of the world’s population....  The syndrome is often discussed in the same articles that pon­der the mysteries of autism.

"House Expels George Santos From Congress... 'To hell with this place,' he said after his colleagues ousted him."

The NYT reports.
Representative George Santos, the New York Republican... the subject of a 23-count federal indictment, was expelled from Congress on Friday after a bipartisan vote by his peers. The move consigned Mr. Santos, who over the course of his short political career invented ties to the Holocaust, Sept. 11 and the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, to a genuine place in history: He is the first person to be expelled from the House without first being convicted of a federal crime or supporting the Confederacy....

Who's next? Or is this a one-of-a-kind thing?

[H]e became a Republican Party liability....

"Since college, I have had an 'obese' to 'morbidly obese' body mass index — a measure that is at best inaccurate and at worst racist."

"Created by a Belgian mathematician, its average is based on the height and weight of white European men. I was what some in the body positivity movement would call a 'mid fat.' For a woman, that’s a size 20 to 24. There are differing opinions on how many 'fategories' there are, but they go up to 'infinifat' or 'Death Fat,' which is writer Lesley Kinzel’s term, mocking the also-very-suspect concept of 'morbid obesity.'... I still haven’t escaped my own fat shame.... Nearly everyone, except maybe sociopaths and Peloton instructors, goes through this world with some self-loathing...."

Here's a Fluffy Kitten Party post from 2019: "Fategories – Understanding the Fat Spectrum" (updated in 2021 to "remove[] the 'White Fragility' framework because WOW that did not age well)(original version here).

Sandra Day O'Connor has died.

"Sandra Day O’Connor, pathbreaking woman on Supreme Court, dies at 93/The court’s first female justice was known for her independence on the bench" (WaPo).

"Sandra Day O’Connor, First Woman on the Supreme Court, Is Dead at 93/During a crucial period in American law — when abortion, affirmative action, sex discrimination and voting rights were on the docket — she was the most powerful woman in the country" (NYT).

The NYT obituary is by Linda Greenhouse. Excerpt:
Fifty-one years old at the time of her nomination, she served for 24 years, retiring in January 2006 to care for her ailing husband. As the court moved to the right during that period, her moderate conservatism made her look in the end like a relative liberal.
From the WaPo obituary, by Fred Barbash:
She never went far enough in any area of the law to fully satisfy either conservatives or liberals of the day, Republicans or Democrats....

"A city cannot do 'good works' if it is financially challenged and if property taxes make housing unaffordable for homeowners and renters alike. Sadly, we are already there."

Writes Paul Soglin, the former mayor, in "Soglin: Madison faces ‘unprecedented fiscal crisis’/The former three-time mayor blames the mess on five years of bad decisions" (Isthmus).

Did Elon Musk use the word "blackmail" incorrectly? Jonathan Chait thinks so...

... and makes much of it, in "Elon Musk Doesn’t Understand What ‘Blackmail’ Means/Companies refusing to pay for your ads is not blackmail" (NY Magazine).

We were just talking about the Elon Musk statement — "If somebody's going to try to blackmail me with advertising — blackmail me with money — go fuck yourself" — and I, a law professor, didn't think of going technical on the word "blackmail." Musk wasn't purporting to make a legal argument, and he was speaking spontaneously, and it was easy to grasp what he was saying: You can't use money to control what I do. He wasn't using the word "fuck" literally either. 

Chait writes:
Blackmail is a specific crime in which the perpetrator threatens to release public information unless the victim pays them or performs some service.
But Chait isn't really about what legal terms technically mean. 

At the Newsom/DeSantis debate: feces thrown.

November 30, 2023

Sunrise — 7:07, 7:16.

IMG_4426 2

IMG_4432 2

Talk about whatever you want in the comments, and please support this blog by using the Althouse Portal to Amazon to do your shopping, thus sending me a commission. I can recommend these Carhartt mittens for women, which I just bought for myself.

"If somebody's going to try to blackmail me with advertising — blackmail me with money? Go fuck yourself. Go fuck yourself. Is that clear? I hope it is. Hey, Bob, if you're in the audience."

Said Elon Musk, video at "Elon Musk to Advertisers Leaving X, Disney's Bob Iger: Don't Advertise, Go F*ck Yourself" (Real Clear Politics).

That's the way he says it: "If somebody's going to try to blackmail me with advertising — blackmail me with money...."

An alternative line reading would be "If somebody's going to try to blackmail me with advertising — blackmail me with money...."

An idea that is always there but I don't think he ever stresses is: Don't you understand how rich I am and what it means to me to be this rich?

Makes me think of "Citizen Kane" (who laughs off losing money and can publish his newspaper at a big loss for 60 years):

ADDED: I'm seeing a lot of clips of that Elon Musk interview. Here's the whole thing:

Meade takes a photo at 7:05 a.m.

IMG_5099 (1)

"[U]nlike everyone else, [Melania] was not wearing black...."

"[She wore a] gray tweed coat with a voluminous skirt, structured and tightly belted. It was reminiscent of the protective clothing, as well as the luxury labels, that became her signature during the Trump administration. The color and the style made her stand out, made her look a part of the pageantry but not of it. And they made the choice seem like a symbol — a sign, perhaps, of Mrs. Trump’s historic ambivalence toward the role of first lady and her reluctance to play to the expectations that surround it, as well as her husband’s norm-trampling tendencies...."

Writes Vanessa Friedman, in "Rare Gathering of Former First Ladies Shows Style, and Subtle/Differences United (mostly) in black, their differences were in the details" (NYT).

Notice that Friedman's description is not a criticism of Melania. It's respectful.

"How Did San Francisco Become the City in a ‘Doom Loop’?"

A NYT article by Soumya Karlamangla. Subheadline: "A conversation with Jesse Barron, who wrote about a high-profile attack in San Francisco and about worries over the city’s future." 

Karlamangla asks Barron:

You write about the “doom loop” idea — that San Francisco will spiral downward because all its problems are interwoven. But downtowns across the country have struggled after pandemic lockdowns. Why do you think that narrative has persisted so strongly in San Francisco?

The narrative? Barron answers:

The most obvious answer is that things are actually going wrong.

"In a matchup for the White House, President Joe Biden is virtually tied with former President Donald Trump among Minnesota voters...."

MinnPost reports.

There's a big gender gap: "Fifty-six percent of women polled, and just 35% of men, said they favor Biden. Meanwhile, just 32% of Minnesota women polled, and 53% of men, said they support Trump."

You have to go back to 1972 to find the last presidential election where Minnesota voted for the Republican:

"He advised 12 presidents — more than a quarter of those who have held the office — from John F. Kennedy to Joseph R. Biden Jr."

With a scholar’s understanding of diplomatic history, a German-Jewish refugee’s drive to succeed in his adopted land, a deep well of insecurity and a lifelong Bavarian accent that sometimes added an indecipherable element to his pronouncements, he transformed almost every global relationship he touched.... He was the only American to deal with every Chinese leader from Mao to Xi Jinping. In July, at age 100, he met Mr. Xi and other Chinese leaders in Beijing, where he was treated like visiting royalty even as relations with Washington had turned adversarial. He drew the Soviet Union into a dialogue that became known as détente, leading to the first major nuclear arms control treaties between the two nations. With his shuttle diplomacy, he edged Moscow out of its standing as a major power in the Middle East, but failed to broker a broader peace in that region. Over years of meetings in Paris, he negotiated the peace accords that ended the American involvement in the Vietnam War, an achievement for which he shared the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize...."

Writes David Sanger, in "Henry Kissinger Is Dead at 100; Shaped Nation’s Cold War History/The most powerful secretary of state of the postwar era, he was both celebrated and reviled. His complicated legacy still resonates in relations with China, Russia and the Middle East" (NYT).

With an eye fixed on the great power rivalry, he was often willing to be crudely Machiavellian, especially when dealing with smaller nations that he often regarded as pawns in the greater battle. 

November 29, 2023

Sunrise — 7:05, 7:14.

IMG_4406 3


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"The contradictions of a gay man falling in genuine love with a woman — while retaining his attraction to men — are captured..."

"... in a lovely passage using Bernstein’s score for the ballet 'Fancy Free' (which would morph into the Broadway musical 'On the Town'), turning the dance into a metaphorical pas de deux. (Or is it trois?).... Lenny is the free-spirited, wildly charismatic star of his and Felicia’s lives, but it’s Felicia who grounds him.... When tensions in their relationship reach their apotheosis, [Bradley] Cooper stages the showdown in their bedroom at the Dakota apartment building while the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade tootles by outside. Just as Felicia is hurling the most hurtful, damaging things she can say — warning her husband that if he isn’t careful, he’ll end up 'a lonely old queen' — a giant inflatable Snoopy floats by the window, a sad, whimsically surreal rebuke."

Okay. I'm all for such tootling. But is there any of "Radical Chic" in this new movie? (Read Tom Wolfe's great essay here, where it belongs, at New York Magazine.)

Trump's op-ed in Newsweek: "I Will Make America Great Again for Young People."

Link. Excerpt:
Under Joe Biden, we are a nation in decline and rapidly losing the American Dream. But Biden's destruction of the American economy is just the beginning of his war on young people. The Radical Left has also unleashed shocking waves of violent crime and bloodshed...

If I needed to follow John McWhorter's new rule, I would think of "they" as a nickname for the person, rather than a pronoun.

As we discussed here, yesterday, John McWhorter has proposed using the singular form of the verb with the pronoun "they" when it is used to refer to only one person. 

I'm writing a new post, not to repeat the discussion about whether that's a good idea, but because it seems as though it would be quite difficult to force yourself to use "bad" English, and I realized what I would do to make it easier. This is all assuming that I wanted or needed to use "is" and "has" and "wants" with "they." For that person — the singular "they" — I would visualize "they" as a name — a noun.

I once listened to the audio version of a novel in which one of the main characters was named Yuu — "Earthlings," blogged here and here. (Buy it here, and you'll be sending me a commission.) The narrator pronounced Yuu, "you." I got used to hearing things like: "Yuu was the same age as me.... Yuu has been my boyfriend.... Yuu always sticks close to Natsuki...." 

"Elon Musk voiced support Tuesday for Pizzagate, the long-debunked conspiracy theory that... the Clintons and Democratic Party leaders ran a secret satanic child sex ring..."

" a D.C. pizzeria known as Comet Ping Pong. The theory, a mainstay of fringe Donald Trump supporters during the 2016 presidential campaign, was labeled 'fictitious' by D.C. police investigators. Musk’s post was the latest in what has become a string of tweets in which Musk boosted debunked theories and comes just one day after he visited Israel to try to tamp down anger over an explosion of antisemitism on X that has caused a growing number of advertisers to flee."

Writes Drew Harwell, in "Elon Musk boosts Pizzagate conspiracy theory that led to D.C. gunfire/The far-right theory motivated a gunman to fire multiple rounds inside the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Northwest Washington in 2016. Musk boosted the theory to his 164 million followers anyway" (WaPo).

Musk wants action and gets it. WaPo feeds the... I don't want to call Musk a troll, but he's seeking to be fed and WaPo is feeding him. I like to quote my mother: You'll only encourage him.

Meanwhile, I wish these WaPo articles would put the precise text of the tweet in question much closer to vague characterizations like "voiced support." He's not absolved from all blame if he sticks to merely referring to things and expressing wonderment, but I need to know how close he came to saying something false or evil. The harder it is to find the actual text of the tweet, the more likely it seems that the characterization is slanted and inflammatory.

Ah. Here it is. The 7th paragraph:

"Zappa prods at a ludicrous cast of early-’70s hipsters, suggesting that their sense of authenticity is based on thin visions of consumerism."

"'Is that a real poncho?' he asks in a sultry baritone.... During so many of his ad-libs, Zappa sounds like a parody of sleazy TV presenters. Here, we can’t tell whether he’s playing himself or someone trying to gatekeep participation in the counterculture: 'I mean, is that a Mexican poncho, or a Sears poncho?'"

November 28, 2023

At the Tuesday Night Café...

 ... please talk about whatever you want.

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"Might it make the new 'they' a little easier to handle if it were used with singular tense marking?"

Proposes John McWhorter, in "Knowing When ‘They’ Means One" (NYT).
I have often been asked by people over 35 or so, “Are we supposed to say ‘they want’ or ‘they wants’?” I always answer that the proper form is “they want,” but must it be?...

Under the current dispensation, “they want to trim the cat’s claws” can refer to an individual or more than one person. Context usually makes the meaning known, but surely it would make things a little clearer if we could use “they wants to trim the cat’s claws” when referring to just one person.... 

"Why are they debating? Presidential candidates typically do not debate people who are not themselves running for president."

"Mr. Newsom had challenged Mr. DeSantis to a debate more than a year ago, when the Florida governor had not officially begun his campaign but had long been seen to be preparing a run for the presidency. Mr. Newsom’s participation is likely to further fuel speculation that he has his eye on the White House. But the unusual spectacle reflects the current state of the presidential campaign.... Mr. Newsom has also been eager to further raise his national profile, and Mr. Biden needs powerful surrogates who can help make the case for a second term...."

Is there some possibility that Newsom will perform so brilliantly that there will be a resounding acclamation and the Democrats will turn, en masse, toward him as their 2024 candidate? I don't think he's got it in him. As for DeSantis, I think we know he's dull in debate. But perhaps Hannity is the secret ingredient. What if Hannity works some magic and Newsom and DeSantis are both launched into becoming their party's candidate in 2024?

The best etiquette would be to refrain from questioning the etiquette of Melania Trump's attending the funeral for Rosalynn Carter.

I'm reading "Melania Trump Adds Awkward Touch to Rosalynn Carter Funeral" in New York Magazine:
Some argued that in light of the disrespect Trump has repeatedly shown the Carters, the Trumps had no business attending Rosalynn’s funeral. Others felt Melania was gracious for showing up. And sending Melania alone may have been the least offensive option.... There’s no clear answer here; it seems we’re going to debate whether the Trumps should be included every time there’s a high-profile political event.... Unfortunately, Emily Post doesn’t cover what to do when the former president is a boorish insurrectionist.

You say "it seems we’re going to debate" as if you're some idle onlooker. You're choosing to debate. You could have skipped the debate when the "high-profile political event" is a funeral for a First Lady. 

CORRECTION: The line "Unfortunately, Emily Post doesn’t cover what to do when the former president is a boorish insurrectionist" is from the article and was supposed to appear at the end of the block quote. Unfortunately, I inserted it outside of the quote and everyone thought it was something I wrote! I couldn't understand why the comments were so hostile to me. Sorry for the confusion.

"I have that disorder where when people make noises it hurts me. Like at the movies? That loud popcorn chewing..."

"... or the rustling of the wrappers. I don’t go to the movies for that reason.... Not interested [in men]. I don’t want to sleep with anybody any more. I don’t want to hear somebody breathing."

There are plenty of reasons to avoid relationships. One is that they make noise, even if it's only the breathing.

ADDED: The condition, I've read elsewhere, is called "misophonia," and I blogged about it here, in 2011, and here, in 2015. There's an excellent Reddit group, r/misophonia, here.

"With political sexual fetishes, Republicans and Democrats are reduced to caricatured sexual imagery: the macho posturing of Republican politicians..."

"... is flattened into pure toxic masculinity; bleeding-heart liberal Democratic men become ineffectual doormats. On FetLife, a social-networking site for people with fetishes, there are at least a dozen subcategories of the kink that users can tag in their profiles, such as 'hot conservative girls who make liberals cry.' At least four political humiliation groups, including MAGA Doms/Dommes and Libtard Subs, are also active. Outside of FetLife, BDSM (bondage, discipline, dominance, submission and sadomasochism) sites cater to the taboo turn-on with names such as Triggered Liberal Snowflake. According to those who are active in the world of kink, an appetite for this type of political role-play grew during the Trump administration...."

"So, if you want to be real, tell us what privileges you have received being Jewish?"

 Stuart Rojstaczer gives a brilliant answer (TikTok video):

"I was quite sheltered culturally. My parents listened to almost only classical music, there was no TV, we almost never went to see movies."

"Even restaurants, I realize, we didn’t go to. My stepdad, who raised me, was an economist. He had a schedule that was all about control, and my mom, who was a homemaker, went along with it. He ate the same thing every day. Every night, he would put half a dry fig and a small piece of bread under a glass, and that was his breakfast. And he went to eat lunch at the same spot every day and had the same thing. So it was very self-denying. I wasn’t exposed to popular culture at all, so I drew and read all the time, because that was the only entertainment I had. We lived in the suburbs, so you couldn’t even go out and walk around and see people. It was pretty isolating and very boring."

That is one kind of deprived childhood, but it actually sounds excellent. Anyone else have an economist for a father and, if so, did it involve anything akin to putting a half a dry fig and small piece of bread under a glass every night?

"The detour took Easler and her family onto a gravel road that eventually disappeared into a bumpy dirt trail."

"They quickly realized something was wrong as they looked at the line of cars in front of them. 'They’re all going directly into the desert,' Easler recalled. The Google Maps route created a day-long ordeal.... SFGate reported on the incident after Easler posted a TikTok video that garnered more than a million views.... Even as the route got bumpier as it proceeded off-road... they trusted that the large number of cars accompanying them meant they were still on the right track, Easler said. 'Nobody was turning around. So we figured that it led somewhere,' Easler said...."

So did they "quickly realize[] something was wrong" or did they keep "trust[ing] that the large number of cars... meant they were still on the right track"? The article doesn't bother to make sense, even as it shows a vivid example of humans proceeding blindly into the unknown.

Here's the TikTok that garnered:

"The antagonisms between red states and blue cities are all the more notable because the urban areas in the crosshairs are mostly majority-minority..."

"... with many mayors and district attorneys of color. These actions go 'squarely against the Republican philosophy of small government and more freedom,' said Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb, a Black Democrat who has struggled to pass local tobacco and gun control ordinances because of constraints enacted by Ohio’s Republican-controlled legislature.... Columbia University law professor Richard Briffault faults states for hypocrisy: 'They’re in favor of home rule when it’s the feds, but not when it’s states versus locals.' The U.S. Conference of Mayors passed a resolution at its annual gathering this summer 'to undertake an all-out campaign' against state preemption, which it identified as racist and punitive...."

The institutionalized civility of "community notes."

"I love that they became friends because they both played Vegas and neither wanted to cheat on their wives."

Said Judd Apatow, quoted in "Judd Apatow’s 'Bob and Don: A Love Story'/Watch a short film about the lifelong friendship between Bob Newhart and Don Rickles, who were not an obvious match" (The New Yorker).
“What’s so different about them is Bob was a real writer. He wrote those routines, which were, like, one-man sketches. . . . Don came from working really hard playing lounges and strip clubs, figuring out how to do crowd work, doing multiple shows a night into the wee hours in Vegas. Bob just got huge immediately..... [Don] came from a time when his theory was, It’s O.K. to make fun of people as long as you make fun of all of them,” Apatow explained....

The New Yorker writer, Bruce Handy, quips: "Think of it as a very old-school version of D.E.I."

ADDED: I've given the impression that I think "very old-school version of D.E.I." is quite clever, but I don't. It's a variation on the cliché wisecrack: "I'm an equal opportunity offender."

Urban Dictionary has an entry for "equal opportunity offender": "One who bashes and trashes any and every different type of person known to earth; including the basher's own race. Don't call me racist, I am an Equal Opportunity Offender."

"Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year for 2023 is authentic.... A high-volume lookup most years, authentic saw a substantial increase in 2023..."

"... driven by stories and conversations about AI, celebrity culture, identity, and social media.... Although clearly a desirable quality, authentic is hard to define and subject to debate—two reasons it sends many people to the dictionary."

Announces Merriam-Webster.

They call attention to a headline I hadn't noticed and don't feel I even need to understand: "Three Ways To Tap Into Taylor Swift’s Authenticity And Build An Eras-Like Workplace."

That article came out a month ago in Forbes, which tells us: "Swift’s events brim with energy, carried by the thunderous voices – some melodious, others less in tune – of thousands: the opposite of how work feels today. According to recent data, 60% of employees are emotionally detached, and one in five is miserable."

Why would anyone want the workplace to feel like a pop concert? Why would the answer involve the concept of "authenticity"?
Take Hannah Shirley, a 23-year-old tech worker who recently went viral for pointing out that her job was “like a full-time acting gig.” She tik-toked one consequence of this: feeling “drained — especially mentally, sometimes even physically — from the character that …we play at work.”...

A Taylor Swift lyric is quoted: “Did you hear my covert narcissism I disguise as altruism? Like some kind of congressman?”

November 27, 2023

At the Monday Night Café...

Write about whatever you want in the comments.

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"TikTok Live is an especially chaotic section of the app, where people work nonstop to keep the audience’s attention."

"Livestreams that feature recurring actions done over and over seem to do particularly well. They’re simple and easy to understand.... In some cases, the videos seem to deepen people’s appreciation of the skills and dedication that can go into these jobs. When a user on Reddit posted a TikTok Live recording of an Amazon factory worker grabbing various items to ship, they noted that the video made them more appreciative of that labor...."

"This is the uncomfortable equilibrium the market finds itself in today. Nobody’s selling because nobody’s buying."

"Nobody’s buying because nobody’s selling. Nobody can afford to sell. Nobody can afford to buy. Prices are high; mortgage costs are high. Rents are high, too, and there’s not a huge amount of rental inventory. Everyone’s stuck and paying more than they want to...."

Where is the courage? Where is the leadership?

"President Biden will not attend a major United Nations climate summit that begins Thursday in Dubai, skipping an event expected to be attended by King Charles III, Pope Francis and leaders from nearly 200 countries, a White House official said Sunday. The official, who asked to remain anonymous to discuss the president’s schedule, did not give a reason...."

I'm seeing this immediately after blogging a NYT article about how young people are not supporting Biden. That article didn't even mention climate change. It guessed that maybe young people are more likely to worry about Biden's advanced age or disapprove of his support for Israel. But what about climate change? Don't young people (and other people) want to see Biden take a strong stand on climate? And here he is opting out of an event with Pope Francis and King Charles and many other leaders. 

And he's not even saying why. Is he afraid of looking frail and confused within that group or is worried — are his people worried — about needing to commit to anything at all?

"Could President Biden and Donald J. Trump really be locked in a close race among young voters — a group Democrats typically carry by double digits...?"

Asks Nate Cohn (at the NYT).

There are "dozens" of recent polls, but people are still skeptical, Cohn says, and I find it funny, because it corresponds to the way Trump supporters find it hard to believe the results of the 2020 election. It can't be!

Cohn offers the solace that, though "the polling is mostly right... things might change." I'd say you need to shake yourself out of denial and think about why the polls are the way they are. Cohn says:

"Try 'racial justice.'"

I wanted to search for an article at Vanity Fair, and the search box looked like this:

See the faint print in the box?

I thought it was funny, this idea to just "try" racial justice. The commitment to racial justice is obligatory, not something merely to "try."

This is the same problem I have with the song "Try a Little Tenderness." Just try... and if it doesn't work out for you, try something else? As Otis Redding sang the song — the one where the dress is "shaggy," rather than "shabby" — the tenderness you were supposed to try was "to rub her gentle" and "don't bruise her." And after you've tried that, what? 

In the old days of prominent Alka-Seltzer ads, the catchphrase was "Try it, you'll like it":

"For some strange reason, I always feel incredibly sleepy when I'm dreaming."

"Basically, I would have to struggle to keep my dream eyelids open, and would generally pass out randomly etc. The sleepiness is very extreme, far more sleepy than I've ever experienced in waking life. It's so bad that it's basically my reality check: if you're super sleepy, you're probably dreaming. This is affecting my lucid dreaming. The sleepiness generally becomes worse when I'm lucid, so I'll easily 'fall asleep' into non-dreaming sleep. Even if this doesn't happen, the sleepiness is extremely distracting.... I tried to do things like drink imaginary coffee, but it doesn't really work...."

A Reddit post from 8 years ago, read this morning because I had one of those dreams within which I'm incredibly sleepy. Within the dream I am trying to stay awake, but in reality, I'm trying to stay asleep (to continue the dream). Or is falling asleep in a dream the real-world experience of waking up?

An ambiguous "ought" in The New Yorker's "Why Trump’s Trials Should Be on TV."

This is an opinion column — subtitled "The conduct of the trials, their fairness, and their possibly damning verdicts will be at the center of the 2024 election. Transparency is crucial" — by Amy Davidson Sorkin.

I agree that the trials should be televised, as I wrote in "The ACLU sides with Trump: The gag order is unconstitutional" (October 26, 2023) and — quoting Trump's lawyers — "The prosecution wishes to continue this travesty in darkness. President Trump calls for sunlight" (November 11, 2023).

Here are the last few sentences of the column:
There is apprehension about what [Trump] might say, and what his supporters might then do if they heed him.... Yet to believe that allowing the country to watch as Trump takes the stand would be more of a threat to the Republic than it would be to his defense is to accept his own myths about himself. The evidence against Trump ought to stand up to scrutiny far better than he will. Everybody should see that. Trump isn’t camera-shy; prosecutors have no reason to be, either.

Now, I know very well which of 2 possible meanings of "ought" Sorkin intended.

November 26, 2023

Sunrise — 7:03.

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Write about whatever you want in the comments, and, please, support this blog by entering Amazon through the Althouse Portal when you're doing any shopping. May I recommend the Yangbaga rolling plant stand and Philosophy vanilla birthday cake shampoo and shower gel and an Inevifit bathroom scale. Using those links will bring me a commission, so: Thanks!

"We love what we take care of, and we take care of what we love. Instead of groaning at the task of treating my cast-iron skillet..."

"... I now treat it as a fulfilling act of service; I know that my time seasoning it with salt and oil will affect its life span and the palate of future generations. I scrub away at the hand-me-down dinnerware from my father-in-law, and I’m connected to him. In an unexpected way, pride has seeped into my kitchen work. Cleanliness is a matter of principle.... Carl Jung once said, 'Modern man can’t see god because he doesn’t look low enough.' Will you find God in your kitchen sink?"

A sense of profundity attaches to one of my cast-iron pans — the one that I grew up hearing called the "spider." It is, I believe, older than I am. I use it all the time and can't imagine what one might do to it that would make it need any more seasoning. Is that low enough?

Before sunrise, I had the honor of making the first footprints in the snow.

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"What would life beyond Earth mean for Christians?"

A question explored by BioLogos President Deb Haarsma.

There are 5 subquestions, but let me focus on one: "Would meeting aliens change our understanding of the cross?" ("At the core of Christianity is the death of the incarnate Christ on a Roman cross, bringing redemption for humans. Is redemption unique to Earth?")

Haarsma identifies 4 theories:

"For SETI experts, two arguments grounded in science bolster the conjecture that aliens are surely out there somewhere: Big Numbers and the Copernican principle."

"The Big Numbers argument notes that our galaxy, the Milky Way, has something like 400 billion stars, and it’s just one of untold billions of galaxies in a universe that might be infinite.... With so much turf out there, even the most frowny-faced skeptic must admit it’s hard to run the numbers in a 13.8 billion-year-old universe like ours and wind up with just one self-aware, technological, telescope-constructing species. The Copernican principle... suggests that, in the same way that Earth is not in a privileged place in the universe, humanity should not presume itself special, or unique. The universe is not about us...."

"Going to watch that movie 'The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming' in 1966 diverted my entire life in a wrong direction."

Writes Mike Sylwester, in last night's "Sunrise — 6:50" open comments on this blog. (Life story at the link.)

How about you? Did any movie divert your entire life in a wrong direction? Did any movie divert part of your life in an unfortunate direction?

"The world is in a permacrisis currently with the COVID-19 aftermath, the war in Ukraine, climate change issues, political instability, the energy crisis in Europe, recession and the cost-of-living crisis."

That's a quote that appeared in the Millennium Post Newspaper (Nexis) on 18 December 18, 2022 and that is one of 3 quotes the OED chose to exemplify the word "permacrisis," which, it announces today, it has just added to its dictionary.

The definition is obvious: "A situation characterized by constant and significant turmoil or instability; (now) spec. one that is widespread across a society and caused by an ongoing series of events such as war, economic recession, a pandemic disease, etc."

I think of "permacrisis" as as a political strategy to make people feel that we are always in special dire circumstances, justifying unusual emergency measures, and warranting the sacrifice of our personal pleasure and freedom.