December 9, 2023

At the Saturday Night Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want... and please consider using the Althouse Portal to Amazon if you've got some shopping to do. You'll be sending a commission my way.

"Does the shade remind anyone else of a complexion? Specifically, a light one? That gave me pause, for a moment."

"I think about how brands like Fenty Beauty have pushed the cosmetics industry to make shade ranges that include people of color, especially those with dark skin. This color, plus the skin connotation of the Peach Fuzz name, hews pretty closely to the shades worn by white people that there are no shortage of."

Said Callie Holtermann, a member of the NYT "style" team, quoted in "Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2024 Is Peach Fuzz/Will it catch fire the way millennial pink did?" (NYT).

"Not since Bill Clinton was asked about having sex with Monica Lewinsky and replied, 'It depends on what the meaning of the word "is" is,' has there been such parsing."

Writes Maureen Dowd, in "The Ivy League Flunks Out" (NYT), talking about the line "It is a context-dependent decision" spoken by U Penn president Penn’s Elizabeth Magill.

We were just talking about Bill Clinton rhetoric — 2 posts down, here — but that was about "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" and the topic was Biden's denials of involvement in his son's influence peddling.

Dowd is writing about the "pathetic display" put on by the presidents of Harvard, M.I.T. and the University of Pennsylvania "when they were asked if calling for genocide against Jews counted as harassment."

"Petitioners visiting the Executive Office learned to keep talking, because the President usually had an open book on his desk, and was quite capable of snatching it up when the conversation flagged."

I'm reading page 108 of "Theodore Rex (Theodore Roosevelt Series Book 2)," by Edmund Morris (Amazon link, commission earned).

Also, on page 126:

"With a formal House vote on an impeachment inquiry expected next week, President Joe Biden was confronted this week about his knowledge and involvement..."

"... in alleged influence peddling by his son and brothers. An irate Biden seemed to morph into Bill Clinton and — echoing his predecessor’s 'I did not have sex with that woman' denial of an earlier scandal — effectively declared that he did not have relations with 'those people.' As with Clinton, the denial was absurd, even insulting. Roughly 70% of voters (including 40% of Democrats) believe Biden has acted either unlawfully or unethically in the overseas business dealings of his family. More importantly, the House has interviews, documents, photos and even audiotapes contradicting Biden's continuing denial of having any knowledge of his son's financial dealings.... Bill Clinton eventually gave a redemptive-sinner speech and effectively confessed to being a cad. Yet for Biden, after years of categorical denials, it will be a bit more difficult to reveal himself or his family as being corrupt.... Influence peddling... involves the selling of access to or influence on one's public office. Even if you claim the money did not influence your decisions, knowledge of or interaction with such corruption undermines both the office and the public trust...."

By the way, the famous Clinton quote is not "I did not have sex with that woman." It is "I did not have sexual relations with that woman." Does it matter? Substantively, it depends. Formally, yes. The material within quotation marks must be exact, and later in the column, Turley does get the quote right.

If Clinton hadn't lied about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky — and maybe he didn't (if "sexual relations" meant penis-in-vagina sex) — there would have been no "high crimes and misdemeanors" to accuse him of committing. He just lied about sex. But what Biden is lying about — if he is lying — are distinct crimes that undermine his fitness for office.

"The Texas Supreme Court late Friday temporarily halted a lower court order allowing a Dallas woman to obtain an abortion in spite of the state’s strict bans..."

"The [Texas] Supreme Court said that, 'without regard to the merits' of the arguments on either side, it had issued an administrative stay in the case, to give itself more time to issue a final ruling.... [The lower court] judge, a Democrat, found that Ms. Cox, 31... met the criteria for an exception to the state’s abortion bans. Her fetus was diagnosed with trisomy 18, a fatal condition in all but a small number of rare cases; Ms. Cox, who is 20 weeks pregnant, had been to the emergency room several times for pain and discharge during her pregnancy.... No doctors or providers have been prosecuted for performing an abortion in Texas, and only a very small number of civil lawsuits have been filed under a 2021 state law, Senate Bill 8, that allowed for lawsuits against those who assist with abortions. In a few cases, doctors have gone forward with abortions after determining they were necessary and permitted under the law."

"Many people relish the sense of safety and security that can come from sharing a bed with a partner... but in some couplings 'the level of disturbance starts to override the psychological benefits.'"

"A January 2023 survey... found that 53 percent of those polled who had decided to sleep separately said it improved their sleep quality. But a so-called 'sleep divorce' isn’t the only option...."

I'm reading "So You’re in Love With a Bad Sleeper/Sharing a bed with a restless partner doesn’t have to be torture, experts say. Here are some tips" (NYT).

Goodbye to Ryan O'Neal.

The actor died yesterday at the age of 82.

"I think a lot about the fact that I’ve had the privilege of censorship — that my body would be considered worthy of censoring. There are many people whose voices are not even listened to in the first place."

Said Karen Finley.

Quote in "Conservatives Called Her Artwork ‘Obscene.’ She’s Back for More. Karen Finley, one of the N.E.A. Four, revisits culture wars 25 years after a Supreme Court ruling — amid today’s culture wars — with a work at Art Basel Miami Beach" (NYT).

Testing your commitment to freedom of speech.


"Part of the problem is a simple herd mentality — people screaming slogans whose meaning and implication they know nothing of, or not wishing to be disliked by taking an unpopular position."

Said David Wolpe, a prominent rabbi, who resigned from a Harvard's anti-Semitism committee, which was formed after the October 7 attack

"Rabbi Wolpe praised [Harvard University president Claudine] Gay as a 'kind and thoughtful person,' in a social media post, and said most students were not prosecuting an ideological agenda. But he said that antisemitism was so entrenched that he did not think he could make the kind of difference he had hoped for."

The implication is that Harvard does not function as a university at all. Students are not learning and understanding and working out ideas with other students — experiencing sophisticated and deep education. They are herded — "the problem is a simple herd mentality" — and they are somehow drained of the capacity to resist social pressure to manifest belief in shallow material — "slogans" — that they don't filter through their own brains but merely adopt as a strategy in the foolish, childish pursuit of being liked.

I'm just quoting and paraphrasing the rabbi, who is, presumably, observing the culture at Harvard first hand. Perhaps he is wrong. But Gay and all the others in authority at Harvard should be working continually to ensure that his description of Harvard is not what Harvard is or should ever become. 

December 8, 2023

Sunrise — 7:04, 7: 17, 7:20.

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Open thread in the comments... and please consider using the Althouse Portal to Amazon if you've got some shopping to do. You'll be sending a commission my way.

"Ms. Stefanik’s aggressive appeals to the far right typically delight Republican hard-liners. But in the hearing, Ms. Stefanik achieved the unthinkable..."

"... prompting many Democrats and detractors of Mr. Trump to concede that an ideological culture warrior with whom they agree on nothing else was, in this case, right. Laurence Tribe, the constitutional scholar and professor emeritus at Harvard Law School, said on social media that he was 'no fan' of Ms. Stefanik. But, he added: 'I’m with her here. Claudine Gay’s hesitant, formulaic, and bizarrely evasive answers were deeply troubling to me and many of my colleagues, students, and friends.'... That Ms. Stefanik emerged as the voice of reason in the hearing was a sobering thought for many of her detractors. More than any other member of Congress, Ms. Stefanik represents to Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans the worst of what happened to the G.O.P. under the sway of Mr. Trump...."

Where the university presidents went wrong was not in defending pure speech and distinguishing pure speech from conduct. That was good. Their mistake was the rote repetition of stock phrases in place of real engagement about the line between speech and conduct. There should have been a frank discussion of whether the universities draw the same line for anti-Semitic speech that they draw for speech that is hostile to other groups, such as black people.

I think that by "conduct," the presidents meant the kind of speech that is aimed at individuals and constitutes a true threat or an incitement to imminent violence. These presidents seemed unable or unwilling to talk about freedom of speech and bigotry. I suspect that they didn't dare risk speaking substantively because either they really don't understand the law and philosophy of freedom of speech — a shameful deficiency in a university president! — or because they know the facts are against them and they have not been maintaining the strong free-speech position that they want to take now — now that the offensive speech is hateful toward Jews.

"Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy repeatedly challenged [Nikki] Haley to name 'three provinces in Eastern Ukraine that they [she and Biden] want to send our troops to actually fight for.'"

"Neither have said they want to send troops — Ramaswamy also falsely asserted 'these people want to send your sons and daughters to go die in Ukraine, they’ve been arguing for it for a year' — but Haley eventually mentioned these names. She missed with Crimea, which was illegally annexed by Russia in 2014, though to be fair Ramaswamy asked her to name three provinces, not 'the three provinces' of eastern Ukraine. The third province in eastern Ukraine is Kharkiv — which Ukraine liberated in a stunning counteroffensive in 2022."

Writes Glenn Kessler, "Fact-checking the fourth Republican presidential debate" (WaPo).


"The man who wrote 'Glengarry Glen Ross' knows a thing or two about salesmanship. But what he’s selling comes delivered in rhetoric so broad-brush..."

"... it’s hard to determine the line between truth-telling and hot air. Hollywood is 'flogging nonsense,' populated by 'criminal dolts' in a 'lickspittle racket' policed by 'Diversity Capos' Sometimes the complaint is delivered in the form of tortured metaphors... Sometimes it arrives in the twitterpated grievance patter of the anti-PC crowd: 'We knew [a movie villain] of old by his Black Mustache, or his Black Hat; and today by his white skin.' Often it is laced with very Mamet-ian profanity. Sometimes, alas, it comes in cartoon form.... A depiction of Disney’s 'early attempts at animation' shows a hand lowering a mouse into a film projector. One drawing likens an Oscar statuette to a vibrator. The less said about the ones featuring Cookie Monster, 'Shoah' and Harvey Weinstein, the better...."

Writes Mark Athitakis, in "David Mamet is mad at Hollywood. His new book yells why. In an essay collection, ‘Everywhere an Oink Oink,’ the writer and director spews insults at Tinsel Town, especially at the filmmakers who rejected him" (WaPo).

And here's the book — "Everywhere an Oink Oink/An Embittered, Dyspeptic, and Accurate Report of Forty Years in Hollywood" (commission earned).

I bought it.

"Every two weeks or so, Robert S. Gregg bakes up a batch of chocolate chip cookies and drives them to his son working at a farm near Fredericktown, Ohio."

"He has no plans to stop the tradition any time soon. He celebrated his 100th birthday in March, and had his driver’s license renewed shortly after. His son stops by every day to make sure he is up, and his daughter regularly takes him to medical appointments. Gregg’s daughter Susan Cunningham said her father has always been good at knowing his own limits, so she is not concerned about him living alone. 'In some ways it helps him live longer because he has to cook for himself and do things for himself,' she said."

Large iceberg the size of a small iceberg... I mean, large iceberg the size of the smallest state.

"'It’s a state-sized iceberg. It’s a big, big iceberg, it’s also equivalent to about the size of Rhode Island,' said Walter Meier, a senior research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center."

From "A ‘megaberg’ three times the size of New York City is on the move" (WaPo).

That headline got me. "Megaberg" sounds like it means large mountain, and a large mountain is "on the move."

If you're like me, you thought "Billy the Mountain." 

They left that night, crunchin' across the Mojave desert/Their voices echoing through the canyons of your minds/"Ethel, want to get a cuppa cawfee?"/"There's a Howard Johnson's want to eat some clams?"

"Some users suggest that Grok 'sounds way more intelligent' than other chatbots as a result of its edgy 'personality.'"

"As for this writer, I'm not so sure. Cutesy prose and crassness -- however entertaining or inflammatory -- don't equate with cleverness, necessarily."

From "X begins rolling out Grok, its 'rebellious' chatbot, to subscribers" (Yahoo Life).

I wanted to check out Grok, which required me to sign up for X Premium+ and locate "Grok" in the left sidebar at the X website. (I use X on my browser.) Here's the shocking conversation I had:

December 7, 2023

Sunrise — 7:06, 7:20, 7:22.

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Open thread in the comments... and please consider using the Althouse Portal to Amazon if you've got some shopping to do. It's a way to send a commission my way and thus to encourage me in these daily bloggings.

The "portal" link is always over there in the sidebar....

I had to check the transcript to make sure Nikki Haley said this, which is so stupid I thought maybe some devious A.I. made the video.

From the transcript, here's the full context (with boldface showing the part in the video):

My favorite Ron DeSantis moment: Asked which U.S. President would inspire him, he said Calvin Coolidge.

From the transcript of last night's debate:

One of the guys I’ll take inspiration from is Calvin Coolidge. Now, people don’t talk about him a lot. He’s one of the few presidents that got almost everything right. He understood the proper role of the federal government under the Constitution. We need to restore the U.S. Constitution as the centerpiece of our national life. And that requires a president who understands the original understanding of the Constitution, who has a good sense of the Bill of Rights, and who knows how we’ve gone off track with this massive fourth branch of government, this administrative state which is imposing its will on us and is being weaponized against us. So, silent Cal knew the proper role of the federal government. The country was in great shape when he was President of the United States, and we can learn an awful lot from Calvin Coolidge.

I was genuinely touched.

For the record, Chris Christie, asked first, said Ronald Reagan; Nikki Haley, asked second, said George Washington and Abe Lincoln; and Vivek Ramaswamy, asked last, said Thomas Jefferson.

"On Ozempic, her appetite had practically vanished... She might pick at a few French fries at a lunch with friends, but she never finished a meal."

"After she stopped the medication, she could finish a plate of fries and a burger and still crave dessert. 'I was insatiable,' Ms. Ford said. 'I was like, "Oh, my God, what’s going on? I’m hungry all the time." It shocked me how fast it happened.' Her doctor prescribed additional medications to manage her blood sugar, but she ended up on Ozempic a second time in an effort to shed the weight again."

From "Ozempic Can Cause Major Weight Loss. What Happens if You Stop Taking It? As more patients turn to diabetes medications for other uses, a shortage has taken hold. But doctors say going off these drugs can take a toll" (NYT).

"If you’re skeptical, consider... How many times did you see a photo of her while scrolling on your phone?... Did you double-tap an Instagram post..."

"... or laugh at a tweet, or click on a headline about her? Did you find yourself humming 'Cruel Summer' while waiting in line at the grocery store? Did a friend confess that they watched clips of the Eras Tour night after night on TikTok? Or did you?"

TIME magazine pleads inanely in support of its choice for "Person of the Year."

There are always pop culture stars. You can always select the most outstanding musical performer. But Time has never chosen an artist of any kind as "Person of the Year." Not The Beatles. Not Andy Warhol. Not J.K. Rowling. Not anyone in the arts, popular or lofty.

I'm not counting those who were in groups that were recognized for something other than artistry. Swift herself was included in "The Silence Breakers" in 2017. And Bono was included in "The Good Samaritans" in 2005. I mean, I've been included — in "You" (2006), "The American Woman" (1975), and "The Inheritor" (1966).

The only interesting question in this selection of Taylor Swift is not how many times did I, while scrolling, see her photograph but why did Time pass up all the world leaders and political contenders this time around? I'm thinking they're either mediocre or they're extraordinary people whom Time wishes would just disappear.

ADDED: "Never have the young been left more completely to their own devices. No adult can or will tell them what earlier generations were told: this is God, that is Good, this is Art, that is Not Done." — That was Time, in 1966, talking 'bout my generation.

"Among his favorite parts of the book... are two short lines on the penultimate page: 'First we feel. Then we fall.'"

"The lines are simple and undistorted, Dr. Slote said. 'It’s the plot to every human life.' Other parts, however, are considerably more complex. For example, a sentence on the fourth page reads: 'What clashes here of wills gen wonts, oystrygods gaggin fishy-gods!' Another line: 'bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthur-nuk!'"

"Oystrygods gaggin fishy-gods" — I could only think of male and female genitalia and oral sex, but a quick google tells me also to think of Ostrogoths and Visigoths. Which goes to show, it's not enough to think of one thing. You have to keep thinking. 

"I was fluid. I didn't really have much restraint."

Ramaswamy expresses pleasure with himself. I watched some, not all of it, and I think he did very well.

This morning, I'm seeing he's trending on X, and NYT is likening him to Trump and Alex Jones:

After Megyn Kelly told Chris Christie nobody likes him, Ramaswamy had to rephrase it, more cruelly, with fat shaming.

If you want to watch the entire debate: here.

December 6, 2023

Lake Mendota at 1:27 p.m.


"'I decided that I didn’t want to be a woman before I had ever experienced being a woman. I had no idea what being a woman was like because I was a child.'"

"'Now I feel like I will never entirely know,' [Prisha Mosley] said in the first of a series of YouTube video diaries that drew more than 1,750 subscribers. She started to cry. 'I just took the cure that was handed to me,' she said through sobs. '… I just don’t want anyone else to feel this way. I lost my voice. I lost my chest. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to have kids. I feel like no one wants to date me or love me because I’m ruined.'... In July, she sued the North Carolina doctors, therapists and clinics who provided her with surgery, hormones and other gender-affirming care, alleging fraud and malpractice.... Mosley told The Post that she supports government efforts to expand mental health care instead of gender-affirming care, 'so that individuals suffering from gender dysphoria can have something to reach toward that doesn’t make their condition worse. Whatever the child is experiencing is real — such as mental illness, gender dysphoria, thoughts of suicide. Those feelings should be validated,' Mosley said. 'The trans delusion, however, is not true....'"

Writes Molly Hennessey-Fiske, in "'Detransitioners' wield influence in shaping conservative transgender laws" (WaPo).

"The latest version of the College Board’s A.P. African American studies framework... leaves out critical race theory and structural racism...."

"L.G.B.T.Q. issues continue to be mostly absent, except to mention that the civil rights leader Bayard Rustin was gay. And despite the course’s origins around the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, study of the movement is optional. The curriculum does mention 'systemic oppression' and 'systemic marginalization,' ideas closely related to critical race theory and structural racism — terms that have been banned from classrooms in many states. Those concepts have origins in legal theory, and refer to the idea that racism is embedded in the legal system, education system and other institutions..... The course has been subjected to repeated revisions, tense political negotiations and scrutiny from scholars.... Traditionally, A.P. courses culminate in timed tests, graded 1 to 5, in which students have had to earn 3 or better to qualify for college credit, regardless of their class performance. But given deep disparities in how low-income, Black and Hispanic students perform on those tests, the Board is increasingly experimenting with classes that culminate in projects or presentations...."

"A dearth of charging infrastructure is one of the top reasons Americans say they won’t buy an electric car."

Woefully bland caption under a photograph at the Politico article "Congress provided $7.5B for electric vehicle chargers. Built so far: Zero. The sluggish rollout could undermine President Joe Biden’s reelection messaging promoting electric vehicles."

They've taken us so insanely deeply into debt, but what if we had a brilliant, beautiful, well-functioning, modernized national infrastructure to show for it? 

Did we get anything?!

And look how quickly that headline shifts to the infuriatingly banal question what does it mean for Joe Biden's reelection potential.

Goodbye to Norman Lear.

"Norman Lear, Whose Comedies Changed the Face of TV, Is Dead at 101/As the producer of 'All in the Family' and many other shows, Mr. Lear showed that it was possible to be topical, funny and immensely popular" (NYT).
“You looked around television in those years,” Mr. Lear said in a 2012 New York Times interview, referring to the middle and late 1960s, “and the biggest problem any family faced was ‘Mother dented the car, and how do you keep Dad from finding out’; ‘the boss is coming to dinner, and the roast’s ruined.’ The message that was sending out was that we didn’t have any problems.”

ADDED: I've written about Norman Lear on this blog a few times:

July 27, 2022: I blogged Norman Lear's NYT piece — "On My 100th Birthday, Reflections on Archie Bunker and Donald Trump" — and said: "Lear says Archie, if he were around today, would probably watch Fox News and vote for Trump. Probably?! He also imagines that Archie would have disapproved of the January 6th incursion on the Capitol. But why? Seems to me he'd approve, but Lear doesn't want him to, so okay. "

2 from Glenn Greenwald.

"Even though he has opponents in the primary, the party leadership has ordered that only Biden will appear on the primary ballot."

"And if you want to register your discontent with Biden with a write-in vote, forget about it. Under Florida law, if the party approves only one name, there will be no primary ballots at all. The party just called the election for Biden before a single vote has been cast.... In other states, Democratic politicians and lawyers.... are seeking to bar Trump from ballots under a novel theory... that Trump must be taken off the ballots because he gave 'aid and comfort' to an 'insurrection or rebellion.'...  In a recent filing supporting this effort, figures as prominent as media lawyer Floyd Abrams and Berkeley Dean Erwin Chemerinsky have told the Colorado Supreme Court that preventing voters from being able to cast their votes for Trump is just a way of 'fostering democracy.'... Some national polls show Trump as the most popular candidate for the 2024 election... Yet, despite 74 million voters supporting Trump in the last election, these Democrats are insisting that voters should not be allowed to vote for him, in the name of democracy...."

"George Floyd was saying 'I can't breathe' when he was standing up straight and just being coaxed to get into the car."

"What they were trying to do was take him somewhere to get treatment, because the drugs were severely addling his mind and he wouldn't get in the car. And he starts saying, breathing air, standing up, 'I can't breathe, I can't breathe,' when nobody is anywhere near his neck or anything else. George Floyd was extremely high on fentanyl and meth to an extent that could have killed him sitting in a chair. If you're on fentanyl in particular, you get something called 'wooden chest,' where you can't breathe if you've got that much in you. That's how high he was."

Said John McWhorter, in a discussion with with Glenn Loury, quoted at Loury's Substack, under the provocative title, "Derek Chauvin Did Not Murder George Floyd."

"Trump and the Republicans held leads on... being for working people (a 7-point advantage), standing up to elites (8 points)..."

"... being able to get things done for the American people (12 points), feeling safe (12 points) and keeping wages and salaries up with the cost of living (17 points)... [and] patriotism (11 points), crime (17 points), immigration (20 points) and border security (22 points)... [and] opposing extremism (3 points), getting beyond the chaos (6 points) and protecting the Constitution (8 points)."
Writes Thomas Edsall, in "'This Is Grim,' One Democratic Pollster Says" (NYT), reporting the results of a poll of voters in battleground states and competitive House Districts. The poll was done by James Carville's group, Democracy Corps.

Biden and the Democrats only came out ahead on "women’s rights (ahead by 17 points), climate change (15 points), addressing racial inequality (10 points), health care (3 points), the president will not be an autocrat (plus 2) and protecting Democracy (plus 1)." 

Edsall quotes various pundits, but let me highlight one, Will Marshall, "president and founder of the center-left Public Policy Institute think tank":

December 5, 2023

Snow on the trees at dawn, this morning.

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Write about whatever you like in the comments, and, please, support this blog by going into Amazon through the Althouse portal when you have some shopping to do.

"He was the antidote to the Marvel-led glut of synthetic, bulging muscles that looked like CGI but were real and the brute brand of masculinity associated with that type of body."

"Blended with Chalamet’s otherwise standard-issue heartthrob characteristics (white, cis, floppy ’90s hair, pouty lips), all this led to an explosion of heartthrob idolatry.... But does a horde of die-hard stans anointing someone an Internet Boyfriend make him an actual sex symbol with all the onscreen heat, eye-fucking, and innate ability to seduce an entire audience that comes with it? Now, Chalamet is poised to star as Willy Wonka, perhaps one of the most sexless characters ever put to screen. Any actor who dares to don the chocolate-maker’s top hat knows there is no way to make the character fuckable; the role becomes a stress test of their sexiness.... [Wonka] might just be Chalamet’s sledgehammer to the whole Internet Boyfriend enterprise. If so, I say go forth, Chalamet, and leave your heartthrob days behind."

Writes in Allison P. Davis, in "The End of His Heartthrob Era/An assessment of Chalamet’s sex appeal as he steps into the role of Willy Wonka" (Vulture).

What do we really want from a male movie star... and the female writers who write about them? 

"I've thought a lot about what will happen to Tyler. It seems inevitable that less scrupulous people than the 'This American Life' team will find him..."

"... and want to use him for purposes that he may not competently evaluate. He's a young man and — you won't learn this listening to the podcast — unusually good looking. I can't believe there won't be offers to participate in filming a reality show. Wouldn't people love to see that house he's built out of scraps and wisteria vines and a horse trough? Wouldn't people love to hear him talk with Uncle Jimmy shouting 'Goddam right!' and 'Yes suh!' in the background? What is 'This American Life' doing to protect him? What can they do? What should they do?"

I wrote on April 1, 2017, in a post about the brilliant podcast "S-Town" ("Shit-town").

I'm reading that this afternoon because I see the NYT headline "Tyler Goodson of ‘S-Town’ Podcast Is Shot Dead in Police Standoff/Mr. Goodson, who had been featured in the investigative podcast set in the town of Woodstock, Ala., 'brandished a gun at officers' before he was fatally shot, the authorities said."

Go now.

"Denny Laine has died...," my son John lets me know.

Are you joining me in Burlington, Vermont?

If you're on Spotify, you, like me, got its "Wrapped 2023," summarizing our taste in music based on what we actually listened to. It tells each of us that "one place listened just like you," as an image of the globe rotates and homes in on one place.

I got Burlington, Vermont:

Turns out Meade too got Burlington, Vermont — or "Burlington, USA" as Spotify puts it — even though he didn't have those same 3. 

Then I was watching TikTok and...

In the realm of law school rankings and affirmative action: "There is no subterfuge here."

I'm reading "Law schools love to hate U.S. News rankings. But some can’t let go. Yale law’s decision to stop cooperating with the publication landed like a thunderclap. Records show what other schools thought about the 'revolution.'"

Let me drag this key passage out of the middle:
As schools weighed their decisions, some questioned the purity of the boycotters’ motives. One theory: Some schools, correctly anticipating that the Supreme Court would soon strike down race-based affirmative action, could be planning admissions changes that would hurt them in the rankings but preserve diversity. The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board surmised as much, saying, “The Yale and Harvard announcements look like attempts to adapt in advance.”

When the University of Michigan’s law dean heard this theory from an alumnus, he dismissed it, saying in an email shortly after Yale’s announcement that his school’s decision to withdraw was “100% not connected to any Supreme Court ruling.”

“There is no subterfuge here,” wrote Mark West, dean at Michigan, which ranked 10th at the time.

Why have anti-Trump Republicans chosen Nikki Haley as the one who should beat Trump?

I see, in the NYT, "Some Republicans Have a Blunt Message for Chris Christie: Drop Out/Several anti-Trump Republican donors and strategists are pushing Mr. Christie to end his presidential campaign and back Nikki Haley."

Obviously, it's getting late, and it doesn't seem as though anyone (other than Trump himself) can stop Trump from getting the nomination, but why this convergence on Haley? When I click on my "Nikki Haley" tag to see what I've found notable about her over the course of the campaign, I see nothing I like. She wanted to require everyone on social media to post under their real names. Her idea for the war against Hamas was, bluntly, "Finish them. Finish them." She called Vivek Ramaswamy "scum." He called her "Dick Cheney in 3-inch heels." And she's talked about her heels repeatedly. (She announced her candidacy with the statement: "I don’t put up with bullies. And when you kick back, it hurts them more if you’re wearing heels.")

Googling "Why is Nikki Haley the best choice to beat Trump," I got: "Senate anti-Trump GOP see Haley as best hope to avoid disaster." That was published yesterday in The Hill. The idea there is:

December 4, 2023

Sunrise — 7:11.

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Oh! He's getting credit for sophistication now.

Trump is no longer a wild crazy idiot. Pay attention to the reframing.

I'm reading "Why a Second Trump Presidency May Be More Radical Than His First/Donald Trump has long exhibited authoritarian impulses, but his policy operation is now more sophisticated, and the buffers to check him are weaker" in The New York Times.

"Holy smokes. We've reached a new low. First people wanted to stop interacting in person. Now they don't want to be seen on screen."

"You can't put on 'work clothes' (whatever those are today)? You can't put yourself together the way you would if you went to an actual office? It's pretty simple. Put yourself on camera and don't eat during the meeting unless that's part of agenda (i.e., it's a working lunch). Sure, turn the camera and mic off then. But jump back on as soon as it's appropriate (if you need to check your teeth after you've eaten, go ahead and do that off-camera, too)."

Jump back on... that lingo disturbs me, and I'm retired. Nobody can nudge me about "jumping" on camera. But I understand the problem well enough to find TikTok's #CorporateErin endlessly hilarious.

"Biden was initially ambivalent about the term, then embraced it — but 'Bidenomics' has recently disappeared from his prepared speeches...."

Explains Axios, in "House Democrats ditch 'Bidenomics' messaging."
• The term was seen as tone-deaf to voters still struggling economically and also invoked a president with lackluster polling numbers. 
• One Democratic strategist said the biggest problem wasn't using "Biden," but that the term was too philosophical and required too much explanation.

"Biden is also known to swim naked."

Said the commenter Kevin, at my post about President Theodore Roosevelt wading, naked, in winter, in Rock Creek Park, where passersby might look on.

That made me want to look back at my post on the subject — here it is, February 17, 2021 — because I seem to remember thinking — while others evinced outrage — that it's fine and not sexual behavior to swim naked in your own pool, and if you're stuck with Secret Service protection, it's their job to endure it stoically. I'd quoted Biden:
"[L]iving in the White House.... it's a little like a gilded cage.... The vice president's residence is totally different. You're on 80 acres overlooking the rest of the city. And you can walk out. There's a swimming pool. You can walk off the porch in the summer and jump in a pool and go into work...."

I said: 

The Oxford "Word of the Year" is one of those Gen Z slang words that is just an abbreviated version of a regular word.

It's "rizz" — short for "charisma."

Reported here in the NYT, which offers some detail on the procedure, because you want assurance that the selection is not rigged:

"Cher joins the Rolling Stones with at least one new No. 1 on a Billboard songs chart in each of the seven decades from the 1960s through the 2020s...."

Billboard reports.

Go to the link if you want to see the names of all those #1s in all the relevant decades.

I've always loved Cher, but for me that means the Cher of 1965 (and the Cher of "Moonstruck"). But if she wants to do a Christmas recording, it's pretty much the way I feel about Bob Dylan doing a Christmas album. Go ahead. Do what you want. You've earned it. And I will continue to avoid the annual avalanche of Christmas music.

Anyway, click if you like. It's Cher's #1 Christmas song:

Having created a new tag and added it to 7 posts in this blog's archive, I list the 7 posts in an order other than chronological.

The new tag is "Edmund Morris."

The list:

1. September 4, 2004 — Studying the recent spike in the phrase "barking mad," I quote Edmund Morris's reaction to Maureen Dowd's calling him "barking mad" — "Like all barking mad people, I feel perfectly normal."

2. November 28, 2010 — That time Edmund Morris reamed Bob Shieffer on "Face the Nation," and I compared him to Peter Finch in "Network" and Marisa Tomei in "My Cousin Vinny."

3. December 4, 2023 — President Theodore Roosevelt waded naked in Rock Creek in full view of onlookers, described by Edmund Morris.

4. November 16, 2023 — TR's smelling of arsenic, as described by Edmund Morris

5. June 24, 2004 — Edmund Morris has a theory about how Ronald Reagan came to think the way he did: "Not until he put on his mother’s spectacles, around the age of thirteen, did he perceive the world in all its sharp-edged intricacy."

6. December 1, 2023 — TR's "cyclonic" personality, as described by Edmund Morris.

7. April 25, 2004 — "Edmund Morris gives a pretty bad review to the brilliantly titled book about punctuation, 'Eats, Shoots & Leaves.'"

"On winter evenings in Rock Creek Park, strollers may observe the President of the United States wading pale and naked into the ice-clogged stream, followed by shivering members of his Cabinet."

From "The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt" by Edmund Morris (Amazon commission earned).

I finished reading this 1,162-page book yesterday. The last 2 sentences are fantastic: "As he ate his sandwiches he saw below him in the trees a ranger approaching, running, clutching the yellow slip of a telegram. Instinctively, he knew what message the man was bringing." Teddy, with sandwiches, ranger with telegram.

I was going to say "The last 2 sentences are perfect," but the "As" suggests a precise moment in time and so "sandwiches" — in the plural — is hard to picture/believe, even if Teddy did have multiple sandwiches for lunch. "Below him in the trees" is understood. He's in the mountains. (Here's the drop pin on Google maps).

The natural thing for me to do at that point was to go back to the beginning of the book. Is it wonderful or dismaying to see how many things surprise you when you reread a book you've just read? But there's the President, wading naked into Rock Creek — in winter, to be seen by casual passersby — on page 24. (Here's the drop pin for Rock Creek Park.)

Bob Dylan sang "But even the President of the United States/Sometimes must have to stand naked." But I've always thought of as meaning that the President must, like anyone else, need to get naked to take a shower. Or it's all metaphor, expressing an imperative that the President be fully exposed. But it will never be required that the President strip naked for winter river wading in full view of onlookers. 

December 3, 2023

At the Sunday Night Café...

 ... you can talk about whatever you want.

The NYT headline about Trump's Cedar Rapids speech is so close to WaPo's headline that I was afraid for a moment that I'd mistakenly attributed the NYT headline to WaPo...

... when I put up this post an hour ago.

The WaPo headline you see at that post is: "Trump attempts to spin anti-democracy, authoritarian criticism against Biden."

Will the history of Napoleon's return repeat itself?

I don't know, but let's compare 2 political cartoons on the subject.

First, here is what we get from The Washington Post today:

Second, here is what we got from Puck in 1912:

"Trump attempts to spin anti-democracy, authoritarian criticism against Biden/The former president declared his 2024 campaign as a 'righteous crusade' against 'tyrants and villains.'"

That's the headline at The Washington Post.

Form your own impression. Here's the entire tirade (yesterday, in Cedar Rapids):

I listened to the speech yesterday, a bit inattentively, because it struck me as a typical Trump speech, not any new concept. 

But the Post's idea is that he's responding to recent criticism:

"The leaders of the world have failed. They have failed to master the overriding concepts, the fundamentals and the day-to-day tactics."

"Societies have to find a way to solve their problems without continuously having a series of conflicts. That is the challenge. We have been facing a period of constant conflict resulting in a major wars destroying much of the civilization that has been built."

"We’re looking into finding ways to build a mechanism of coordination between all the swing states so that... Muslim Americans will come out in all of these states, and that Mr. Biden will lose each and every one of them."

Said Hassan Abdel Salam, "a professor at the University of Minnesota and a member of the #AbandonBiden National Coalition," quoted in "Swing-state Muslim leaders launch campaign to ‘abandon’ Biden in 2024/The bubbling anger among Arab and Muslim Americans over the president’s handling of the Israel-Hamas conflict could threaten his chances of reelection" (Politico).