January 27, 2024

7:31 a.m. — the Wisconsin Capitol, the spongy ice, the ice fishermen....


Open thread in the comments.


"The collection kicked off with reinterpreted naked dresses... before quickly taking a turn into extreme shapes that hinted at body modifications and prosthetics..."

"Fabrics were tattered and gray, part-Dickens and part-surrealist fantasy. Next came translucent dresses in sheer washes of blurred, rainbow colors revealing corsets underneath, the models’ forms obscured by layers of intensely light fabric.... What does it mean to go from a naked dress to a tattered broken creature—and back again to a youthful, doll-like figure?... [T]hose heavy, tattered pieces were actually featherlight, constructed through milletrage—'a filtrage of a mille-feuille of organza and felt under a wool crêpe printed with a trompe l’oeil of the texture of a classic gentleman’s cloth'....  'Seamlace'... refers to garments constructed entirely from encrusted fragments of lace, while 'emotional cutting' is 'a new form of cutting which imbues a garment with the unconscious gestures that shape our expressions.'"

From "Maison Margiela Closes Couture Week With a Transcendent Artisanal Collection/John Galliano put on a runway show filled with fantasy" (W).

Many striking photographs at the link. Super arty!

"When I ask my patients if they have any concerns or questions about the Covid vaccine... ... [t]here’s just a vague hedge..."

"... or an abashed, 'I don’t know, I just don’t.' As I try to suss out what’s on my patients’ minds, I can feel their own slight sense of surprise that there is no specific issue causing their discomfort about getting the updated Covid vaccine. It’s as though they have a communal case of the heebie-jeebies. Health professionals everywhere are hearing this kind of hesitance.... It can be a revelation to some patients when they realize that they may be reacting to a sense of the waters being muddied rather than specific information or misinformation."

From "My Patients Used to Be Gung-Ho About the Covid Vaccine. What Changed?" Danielle Ofri (NYT).

Is this tattoo artist violating the photographer's copyright?

The case went to trial and the tattoo artist won: "Kat Von D Wins Copyright Trial Over Miles Davis Tattoo/The photographer who took the portrait of the jazz artist Miles Davis, which inspired the tattoo, had filed a lawsuit based on copyright infringement" (NYT).

Notice that there's a copyright question about the tattoo itself and about the photograph posted on Instagram (showing the tattoo and a copy of the original photograph). I read the NYT article and I still don't understand why the photographer lost.

"A year before I was first diagnosed, my husband had joked, 'Hey, why don’t we cash out our retirement and follow Motörhead and the Damned on tour through Europe?'"

"When I got the diagnosis, I thought, 'We should have done that.' My mantra is to leave the damn house, because you never know what’s going to happen if you do. No interesting story ever started with, 'I went to bed at 9pm on a Tuesday.'"

Said Arabella Proffer, 45, who has myxoid sarcoma that has spread to spine, lungs, kidney and abdomen and who, we're told, "plans her life two months at a time."

And, from Amanda Nicole Tam, 23, diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS): "I wish I had gone out more with my friends. I wish I had gone to parties and stayed out late. Living life free-spirited is something I feel I missed out on, and I regret that I didn’t take advantage of that when I was younger. Life is short and you should live it how you want, regardless of what people think. Don’t hold back. Say what you want to say and do what you want to do."

I think this "person close to Trump" is trying to lure Joe Biden into undercutting his capacity to denounce Trump for his lowly insulting rhetorical style.

Biden's "Be Best" jibe shows Biden (or whoever writes Biden's tweets) understands the risk and is keeping his sly distance.

"The justice department found [Andrew] Cuomo 'repeatedly subjected' women in his office to non-consensual sexual contact, ogling and gender-based nicknames...."

From "DOJ says Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed 13 women/The former governor’s lawyer says he was never interviewed" (Politico).

I read the entire article because I wanted to see what "gender-based nicknames" were regarded as sexual harassment. Names are generally gender-based. When does a nickname go wrong for being gender-based?

But the article does not tell us any particular names that crossed the line.

ADDED: It occurs to me that my puzzlement is a consequence of the present-day penchant for saying "gender" when you mean "sex." If it said Cuomo subjected women to sexualizing nicknames, I would easily understand. My mother would call me "Miss Ann" or "Suzy Q" — both gendered, neither at all sexual. 

"Donald J. Trump might one day have to pay E. Jean Carroll the $83.3 million she was awarded, but that day is not today...."

"Mr. Trump can pay the $83.3 million to the court, which will hold the money while the appeal is pending. This is what he did last year when a jury ordered him to pay Ms. Carroll $5.5 million in a related case. Or, Mr. Trump can try to secure a bond.... It would... require Mr. Trump to find a financial institution willing to lend him a large sum of money at a time when he is in significant legal jeopardy.... He has enough cash to cover the verdict in various accounts, a person close to him said. In recent years, Mr. Trump has unloaded several assets, including his Washington hotel, which sold for $375 million.... The New York attorney general is seeking a $370 million penalty from the former president and his family business as part of a civil fraud trial that wrapped up this month...."

Meanwhile: "Rudy Giuliani targets Donald Trump for ‘unpaid legal fees’ in new bankruptcy filing/Mr Giuliani filed for bankruptcy last month after he was ordered to pay $148m to Georgia election workers he defamed" (Independent). The filing lists a "possible claim for unpaid legal fees against Donald J Trump" in an amount that is "undetermined."

"Despite all this, and regardless of whether 'Rhapsody in Blue' is the worst masterpiece, it’s also the best cheesecake, or something else attractive yet unhealthy. "

The fourth-to-last sentence of "The Worst Masterpiece: ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ at 100/A jazz musician considers the legacy and unfulfilled promise of George Gershwin’s catchy — or you could say corny — repertory staple," by pianist, composer and writer Ethan Iverson, in the NYT.

Top-rated comment: "Jesus, did Gershwin kill this guy's dog? What's next: a screed on how The Beatles 'Love Me Do' has ossified harmonica playing and kept serious jazz harmonica players with classical chops from bringing to the fore the instrument's atonal properties? I'm not sure what the writer hates more: that Rhapsody is so popular or so much fun."

"Limerence is a state of overwhelming and unexpected longing for emotional reciprocation from another human, known as a limerent object..."

"... who is often perceived as perfect but unavailable.... The LO is most often a friend, colleague, or stranger met in passing... 'It’s often not romantic or sexual in nature. It is very much about wanting to feel loved and cared for.'... We begin to mistake anxiety for excitement and excitement for joy.... One strategy... to de-idolize their LO is listing reasons the LO is not perfect... [or the] ways in which the LO and the patient are not compatible. Name it to tame it: You can deliberately interrupt the habit by calling it out — 'Hello, limerence' — and paying attention (for example, through journaling) to what it feels like when you’re in that state of longing.... You should also believe you deserve more...."

The article says the word "limerance" was coined by the psychologist Dorothy Tennov, and the OED finds her first use of it in print in 1977. 

That first quote denies any etymology: "I first used the term ‘amorance’ then changed it back to ‘limerence’... It has no roots whatsoever. It looks nice. It works well in French. Take it from me it has no etymology whatsoever."

So if you were seeing a connection to "sublime" or "limn," just forget about it. If you can't forget it, make a list of things that are rootless, nice looking, and well functioning in French.

January 26, 2024

At the Friday Night Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.

"Drivers who park on the street have found novel ways to charge their vehicles, using extension cords running over the sidewalk or even into the branches of a nearby tree...."

"Car companies advise drivers not to use extension cords to charge their vehicles.... Charging with an extension cord also means only Level 1, or the slowest form, of charging. But... for most Americans, who only drive 30 to 40 miles a day, that’s perfectly acceptable...."

From "You want an EV, but you don’t own a house. Here’s how to charge it. It’s possible to charge an EV even if you don’t live in a single-family home with a garage. Here are the options" (WaPo).

"Jury Orders Trump to Pay [E. Jean] Carroll $83.3 Million for Years of Defamation."

"The United Nations on Friday fired 12 of its employees in Gaza and began an investigation of them after charges by Israel that they had helped plan and participated in the Oct. 7 terrorist assault...."

"The workers, all men and all employed by the U.N. agency that aids Palestinians and known by the acronym UNRWA, are subject to a criminal investigation, two U.N. officials said. A U.N. official, briefed on the accusations, called the allegations 'extremely serious and horrific.'... UNWRA has been the principal agency overseeing the distribution of aid to Gazans amid a growing humanitarian crisis resulting from the war launched in the wake of the Oct. 7 attack...."

From "U.N. Aid Agency Investigates Claim That Some Workers Were Involved in Oct. 7 Attack/The United States temporarily cut off aid to UNRWA, the agency that aids Palestinians, citing allegations that 12 of its workers were involved in the Hamas-led assault" (NYT).

"Everyone who knew him before I did knows him as Bill, and everyone who met him after I did knows him as Michael. He looks like a Michael."

Wrote Nikki Haley, quoted in "Not Feeling Your Partner’s Name? Just Change It. When Nikki Haley decided that her future husband, Bill, looked more like a Michael, a Michael he became. How unusual are name-change proclamations in the world of love?" (NYT).

The quote is in her 2012 memoir, "Can’t Is Not an Option."

She says she didn't think the man who would become her husband looked "like a Bill," but Michael wasn't a name picked out of the blue. His name is William Michael Haley, and she decided to go with the middle name. If I'd done that with my first husband (which I might have done because his first name is the same name as my father's first name), then both my husbands would have the same name (albeit with different spellings), not that either of them looked like my idea of what a person with that name would look like.

What's the big deal about calling your loved one by his middle name (or last name or a nickname)? It's a really minor issue. And why was this story printed in the New York Times yesterday? I think they're seeing Nikki Haley about to drop out of the news and they're dumping the best of the stories they'd generated to be dispersed over a period of months if she'd continued as a candidate.

Read the old memoir and see what can be made into something... eh... don't bother.... But if she'd become the candidate, this could have been big. This arrogant monster — out of some frivolous delusion about how men named "Bill" are somehow supposed to look — deprived a man of his name. And he just took it. So emasculating! 

What's the more masculine name — Michael or Bill?

Let's listen to Episode 7 of "Climate Change on Trial" — "Mann & Ann."

"Our record is forty-three miles in a single day—ninety-one thousand steps, according to our Fitbits."

From "How to Eat a Tire in a Year/Walking and talking with my friend Dawn," the new David Sedaris story in The New Yorker.

Dawn is, essentially, Sedaris's wife. She was his college girlfriend, in the days before he admitted he is gay, and they spend so much time together that when he returns from his long trips, his life partner Hugh asks "How's your little wife?"

Or so it says here in this story.

"Notably, the court has not ordered Israel to cease its attacks, but only to take actions to ensure its soldiers and citizens adhere to the Genocide Convention."

From "U.N. Court Declines to Demand That Israel Stop Its Military Campaign/The International Court of Justice ruled that Israel must take action to ensure that its military doesn’t violate the Genocide Convention, and to let more aid in to Gaza" (NYT).

With Jon Stewart's return to "The Daily Show," I was going to say it's fine, because Generation X did not get its full and fair chance to make its mark on the culture.

But Jon Stewart is 61. He was born in 1962. He's a BOOMER!

Boomers, Boomers, Boomers. We were born to dominate the culture forever. I say "forever," because without us... well, it's all always been about us. What is anything without us? 

Generation X is and was always in our shadow. Eventually, we'll pass on, but it will be too late for them. The Millennials — The Generation Created by Us, the Boomers — have always overshadowed Gen X, and as the Boomers vacate cultural space The Millennials will seize it as their rightful entitlement.

Now, let me cherry-pick from news articles about the return of Jon Stewart to "The Daily Show":

"One image shared by a user on X, formerly Twitter, was viewed 47 million times before the account was suspended on Thursday."

"X suspended several accounts that posted the faked images of Ms. Swift, but the images were shared on other social media platforms and continued to spread despite those companies’ efforts to remove them.... Researchers now fear that deepfakes are becoming a powerful disinformation force, enabling everyday internet users to create nonconsensual nude images or embarrassing portrayals of political candidates."

From "Explicit Deepfake Images of Taylor Swift Elude Safeguards and Swamp Social Media/Fans of the star and lawmakers condemned the images, probably generated by artificial intelligence, after they were shared with millions of social media users" (NYT).

Combining a photo of the head of a famous person with a photo of someone else's body is an old trick. I remember when Jon Stewart did it to the Supreme Court Justices in his book "America (The Book)." From 2004:

I thought it might be satire — Trump's request that the RNC not make him, right now, its "presumptive nominee."

But it's real... and Trump was for it before he was against it. CNN:

"There is a sense in which young people have forgotten what faces look like."

Says psychology professor Renee Engeln, quoted in "Why Does Gen Z Believe It’s ‘Aging Like Milk’? Some say they fear their generation is aging more quickly than others. But as Gen Z-ers enter their late 20s, it’s more likely that they are simply getting older" (NYT).
Gen Z grew up endlessly scrolling through idealized versions of their own faces and the faces of others, Professor Engeln said. They have encountered more imagery of people with anti-aging cosmetic procedures and fewer examples of faces that have naturally aged, she added....

January 25, 2024

At the Frozen Lake Café...


... you can talk about whatever you want.


These kids today take communism seriously....

Taylor Lorenz tiktoks the news about news.

"'Imponderabilia'... requires two nude performers to stand opposite each other in a slim doorway that visitors are encouraged to squeeze through to enter an adjoining gallery."

"According to his lawsuit, [the performer John] Bonafede was sexually assaulted seven times by five museum visitors.... Mr. Bonafede said in legal filings... that MoMA officials 'turned a blind eye' to the assaults and created a hostile work environment where performers were expected to submit to the actions of unruly audience members.... [T]he exhibition was grueling for many performers. Some participants reported fainting in the galleries.... Others complained that guests were inappropriately touching their bodies and making rude remarks about their appearances.... If visitors were uncomfortable passing between a naked man and woman, they were allowed to walk through another entryway to the left and skip the experience...."

From "MoMA Sued by Artist Who Performed Nude in Marina Abramovic Work/The artist, John Bonafede, says museum officials failed to prevent visitors from sexually assaulting performers in the 2010 show" (NYT).

"[T]here are literally two Americas. One America is beautiful... overflowing with the milk of prosperity and the honey of opportunity."

"This America is the habitat of millions of people who have food and material necessities for their bodies; and culture and education for their minds; and freedom and human dignity for their spirits. In this America, millions of people experience every day the opportunity of having life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in all of their dimensions. And in this America millions of young people grow up in the sunlight of opportunity. But tragically and unfortunately, there is another America. This other America has a daily ugliness about it that constantly transforms the ebulliency of hope into the fatigue of despair. In this America millions of work-starved men walk the streets daily in search for jobs that do not exist. In this America millions of people find themselves living in rat-infested, vermin-filled slums. In this America people are poor by the millions. They find themselves perishing on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity."

Said Martin Luther King Jr., in the late 1960s, in a speech title "The Other America."

John Edwards also had a "Two Americas" speech when he was a presidential candidate in 2004 and 2008.

I'm reading the Wikipedia article "Two Americas" this morning to escape from reading — in the NYT — "The Looming Contest Between Two Presidents and Two Americas/The general election matchup that seems likely between President Biden and former President Donald J. Trump is about fundamentally disparate visions of the nation."

I don't know how much of this sort of thing we can stand:

"This is why we cheer for Rocky. Rocky is not supposed to win, but he wins. And that’s to me America. And Hunter is not supposed to win."

"He should be dead. And he faced a crossroad in his life, which we all do when we’re all struggling with things in our lives. And he could have chosen the easy path, which is to keep going and die, or do the hard thing, which is to change."

Said Georges Bergès, the owner of the gallery that sold Hunter Biden's artwork, testifying before House Judiciary and Oversight committee, quoted in newly released transcripts and reported in "Hunter Biden’s paintings have sold for a total of $1.5 million/Gallery owner, a Trump donor, has sold the work to 10 buyers; some bought multiple paintings" (WaPo).

The biggest buyer of the art — who bought 11 paintings for $875,000 — was Kevin Morris. Morris, we're told, "has become one of Biden’s closest friends while also acting as an attorney and financial benefactor."

Goodbye to Melanie.

January 24, 2024

At the Wednesday Night Café...

 ... you can talk about whatever you want.

"The University of Wisconsin-Madison is at the center of another controversy this week over its diversity training program...."

"The controversy could not come at a worse time for the university, which recently agreed (after considerable debate and pushback) to cut down on its diversity-related materials in exchange for $800 million in funding from the state. The board originally refused the money rather than cut back on the training before finally yielding to the pressure. The immediate responsibility for the training material falls on the shoulders of [law school dean Daniel Tokaji] whose staff approved this mandatory training and presumably reviewed the material in advance. If they did not, they are equally at fault...."

Writes Jonathan Turley, in "Wisconsin-Madison Under Fire Over Mandatory Anti-Racism Training."

I've written about this controversy a couple times already — here and here — but I'm blogging it again for 2 reasons:

"Of course, the [New York] Times is still competing for White House scoops with its traditional print and digital rivals and dispatching correspondents to war zones."

"But the company is also vying for people’s attention against every app on their home screen. So it’s developed products in recent years to satisfy the lifestyle needs of its audience: cooking, shopping... sports... and audio, building on the success of The Daily with a slew of podcasts. The products and the journalism coexist under what the Times calls 'the bundle'....  'A lot of people are actually buying the bundle through our Games product... And that is what is so powerful about games as a funnel.' People who engage with both news and games on any given week have the best long-term subscriber retention of any product combination in the bundle, and it isn’t lost within the Times newsroom just how integral Wordle, Connections, and the rest have become to the bottom line. As one Times staffer puts it: 'The half joke that is repeated internally is that The New York Times is now a gaming company that also happens to offer news.'"

Lots more at the link, including detail about the producing Wordle and Connections.

"[Ryan] Gosling created a breakout role that engaged audiences and served as a refreshing reset button when the film became oversaturated with milquetoast feminism."

"Whether [Greta] Gerwig intended it or not, Gosling’s performance as Ken proved more memorable and entertaining than anything [Margot] Robbie could’ve produced with the material she had to work with. Compared to Barbie’s pretty standard character arc, Ken’s story made audiences ponder the complexities of the male experience in a world that penalizes their inherent maleness.... Compared to nominees Emma Stone, who portrayed Bella Baxter in 'Poor Things'... or Lily Gladstone as Mollie Burkhart in 'Killers of a Flower Moon'... Robbie’s heartfelt performance as Barbie proved not 'Kenough' for the Academy...."

Writes Elise McCue in "Don’t Blame The Patriarchy For Ryan Gosling’s ‘Barbie’ Oscar Nomination" (The Federalist)(Gosling got nominated, and the female director and lead actress did not).

I saw "Barbie" and blogged about it (here): "Last night, we actually watched 'Barbie,' which just started streaming on Max. 'Barbie' is one of those movies where I had one favorite line (and one favorite character)...." The line is in this Ken highlights reel:

"To be honest, when I found out the patriarchy wasn't about horses, I lost interest anyway."

"Biden has nothing to say about the future. The future is beyond his imagining...."

"If the Republicans are offering right-wing populism, the Democrats can’t just continue to offer grievance agendas, especially since most of those grievances have been dramatically meliorated. The dirty little secret of Diversity, Equity and Identity (DEI) programs is that they’re indicative of past-thinking, not the future. Indeed, when someone like former Harvard President Claudine Gay—a product of the DEI-industrial complex—blames her firing on racism, not lunkheaded Congressional testimony and plagiarism, the traditional Democrat identity-rhetoric begins to seem laughable.... At this point, the Dems need to offer an anti-identity agenda, an American unity agenda...."

Writes Joe Klein, in "It's Not Just Biden/The Democrats are Senescent, too" (Substack).

But Klein is 77 (the same age as Trump) so he says it's not for him to say what belongs in the Democrats' future-looking agenda. He wants "some fresh young genius" to tell us what to do, someone who understands... what? Video games and A.I.! 

"Why Trump isn’t on the GOP primary ballot in Nevada."

The Nevada Sun has a hard-to-read explanation, but I'm linking to it because what I saw elsewhere was even harder to read. I'd like a straightforward, clear account of what the hell happened.

"I gotta tell you guys, I went to a Donald Trump rally a couple of nights ago.... Met probably 50 Trump people waiting in line."

"Every single one of them: thoughtful, hospitable, friendly. All of them so frustrated that they feel nobody is listening to them, except Donald Trump. A diverse crowd, people that have never been to a Trump event before. My party is completely delusional right now!"

Said Dean Phillips, a Democratic Party candidate for President (who got 19.6% of the vote on the Democratic side of the New Hampshire primary). I love this. This is what Democrats need to do, not spend the next 9 months expressing contempt for what might be half of their fellow citizens.

Are you listening to the podcast "Climate Change on Trial"?

I am! Highly recommended. Here.
Prominent climate scientist Michael Mann is suing writer and broadcaster Mark Steyn alleging an article by Steyn defamed him and his research. Mann is perhaps best known for producing the Hockey Stick graph alleging that global temperatures were basically stable for 1500 years until human industrial activity led to an ongoing spike in temperatures. Steyn claims the graph is fraudulent. Climate Change on Trail is a verbatim podcast using re-enactments based on trial transcripts. Tune in every day to hear the clashes, the lies, and the truth.

I started with Episode 3, and that one is especially good, with reenactments of the opening statements (and Steyn is acting as his own lawyer, so his unique style is on display).

"The White House has its own pharmacy—and, boy, was it shady under Trump."

Headline at ArsTechnica.

Subheadline: "It wasted $750K during the Trump years and freely handed out Ambien and Provigil." The article links to a recent report from the Department of Defense’s Office of the Inspector General, which covered the years 2009 and 2018. 

Read the report to see what it has to say about whether things were worse during the Trump administration. It looks as though the main problem was the failure to substitute generic drugs for name brands, which seems to resonate with Trump's own business, so heavy on the name brand.

This story made me think about the JFK conspiracy scene in the movie "Slacker":


"But a Smiths song — 'Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want' — was played at a Trump rally in Rapid City, South Dakota on Tuesday..."

"... and at other Trump rallies recently, including in Laconia, New Hampshire on Monday. That’s angered one of the song’s authors, Johnny Marr.... 'Ahh…right…OK. I never in a million years would’ve thought this could come to pass. Consider this shit shut right down right now.... It’s not yet known what Morrissey — who co-founded The Smiths with Marr and who has veered sharply to the right since the end of the band — thinks about Trump using his music. Morrissey’s increasingly right-ward pronouncements have caused many a Smiths fan to recoil in horror...." (Politico).

Is it possible that the "increasingly right-ward" Morrissey might like Trump? Well, there's this from a year ago (in Page Six):

"She was a blank canvas, and we had a bucket of paint."

Said senior Trump adviser Chris LaCivita, quoted in "How Trump crushed Haley’s momentum — and came closer to clinching the nomination/The former president and his allies trained their attacks on the former U.N. ambassador in the week before the N.H. primary, which Trump won easily on Tuesday" (WaPo).
Behind closed doors, Trump’s team had long viewed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as the bigger threat.... They quietly agreed to allow Haley to surge.... But now it was time to train Trump’s full arsenal of attacks.... In what senior Trump adviser Chris LaCivita described as a “pincer” movement, Trump bombarded Haley from both ideological sides....

[Nikki Haley had been] a guarded candidate who was reluctant to fully engage with voters and the media, and whose tight, streamlined stump speech offered prescriptions for multiple problems — but without a clear sense of what her top priorities would be....

“She was a blank canvas, and we had a bucket of paint,” LaCivita said....

And here's something Governor John Sununu said Haley said to him, as she was (successfully) seeking his endorsement: 

"Man, this 'live free or die' thing is real — like you can feel it. I want to carry that to the White House."

How free are you if you're "guarded" and "reluctant" and reciting a "tight, streamlined stump speech"? You keep yourself free to be a blank canvas onto which others can project what they want.

Meanwhile, Trump isn't tight. He's very loose. I've been listening to his rally speeches. He's not guarded. He's freely expressive. But he's facing 91 felony charges, and his antagonists (some of them) picture him in prison. You can't "live free" there.

Ah, but you can, and he's already thought it through. He said this in Concord, New Hampshire last October:

"I don’t mind being Nelson Mandela because I’m doing it for a reason. We’ve got to save our country from these fascists, these lunatics that we’re dealing with. They’re horrible people and they’re destroying our country."

January 23, 2024

At the Tuesday Night Café...

 ... you can talk about the New Hampshire primary or anything else.

The Oscar nominations are in.

 Here's the full list (at Hollywood Reporter).

Notable: "Robbie Robertson Earns Posthumous Oscar Nomination for ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ Score."

I don't see how "Steve Garvey became a punchline."

I'm reading "How Steve Garvey became a punchline at the first California Senate debate/The Republican and former Dodger was an easy target for House Democrats on Monday night" at Politico.

And I'm watching the full debate....

I don't see anything to laugh at. Start at 36:34 to see Adam Schiff pressure him to say whether he'll vote for Donald Trump. Garvey stays perfectly calm and speaks rationally, even as he deprives his opponents of a video clip of him saying that he'll vote for Trump. And notice how the moderator breaks in repeatedly as he's answering. He never loses his cool. He seems to have studied and adopted the demeanor of Ronald Reagan. 

By the way, Politico credits Katie Porter with delivering a "zinger," when she said "What they say is true: Once a Dodger, always a Dodger." But Dodger fans won't want to hear their team name used as an insult. Anyway, there were lots of references to baseball, including from Garvey. 

"It's totalitarian indoctrination, of course, and it's meant to be."

Writes Glenn Reynolds, about the mandatory DEI training for first-year law students at University of Wisconsin Law School (where I was a lawprof from 1984 to 2017).

Reynolds observes: "This sort of thing also creates a pervasively hostile educational environment on account of race, as courts are starting to notice."

He links to TaxProf Blog, which copies the text of Alan Rozenshtein at Volokh Conspiracy: "Mandatory DEI Trainings and Academic Freedom":

"... I’ve watched a trend on parenting TikTok and Instagram in which parents claim to be 'making core memories' for their kids."

"These captions typically accompany vacation or holiday content, or pictures and videos of kids playing in nature. The core-memories narrative is a roundabout way for parents to congratulate themselves for giving their children happy childhoods. This trend has held my attention because it strikes me as both openly corny and subtly malignant.... Today’s parents are famous for their instincts to control and engineer outcomes for their children, but it’s supremely hubristic to assume that you can stage-manage the content of your children’s memories.... Kids are mysterious, which is part of what makes them cool. What’s important to them is not what’s important to us. (I highly doubt either of my parents noticed the apple jelly that transfixed me in New Orleans.)..."

Writes Kathryn Jezer-Morton, in "Why Are Parents Fixated on Core Memories?" (NY Magazine).

"After six months or so in the womb of the cave, Flamini succumbed to its rhythms. She stopped trying to track time..."

"... because doing so had only added to her anxiety. She became neither hopeful nor despairing. 'In the cave, the line of time disappears, and everything floats around you,' she told me.  'A while ago I was born. A while ago I was going to visit Mongolia. There is no past, there is no future. Everything is present, everything is a while ago, and it’s all brutal and strange.' One temporal marker remained. After five defecations, she would carry her waste, in plastic pouches, up to the exchange point, and then hurry back down.... There came a moment, she told me, when she thought that she was dying. It felt like an act not of suicide but of release: 'There was no difference between what I was feeling then and what I understand as death.'"

From "The Woman Who Spent Five Hundred Days in a Cave/Beatriz Flamini liked to be alone so much that she decided to live underground—and pursue a world record. The experience was gruelling and surreal" (The New Yorker).

"To witness the show itself.... is to sit directly before a fire hose of frank postulation about sex..."

"... that’s as scholarly as it is X-rated, nimbly invoking the works of the Greek mythologists, of Philip Roth, of Sharon Olds and Tony Robbins and Nietzsche. She narrates an early episode of teenage experimentation in an unfinished basement as Nabokov would. The advice commonly given to young women to “take it slow” in a dating situation where there’s hope for a real relationship? Novak condemns it with a flourish: 'No. No! The hubris astonishes. Death is coming.'"

Key line: "Oh, and: It’s a 90-minute show about blow jobs."

And I like "a fire hose of frank postulation about sex."

I didn't think I'd find an occasion to use that so soon. I'd stumbled across it as I was writing the first post of the day — "Trump defeated Ron DeSantis. We all know that. But how gendered was it?" — and quoting DeSantis saying "If Donald Trump can summon the balls to show up to the debate, I’ll wear a boot on my head."

I said: "I like 'summon the balls.' Oh, balls!"

But I wanted to convey a comic inflection in calling out "Oh, balls!" — as if you didn't have balls but needed to summon them into your presence. All I could think of was Olive Oyl summoning Popeye: "Oh, Popeye!" You know, how she calls out to him when he's far off. I never found that GIF, but I made a mental note of Popeye and the firehose. 

"Alabama, unless stopped by the courts, intends to strap inmate Kenneth Eugene Smith to a gurney and use a gas mask to replace breathable air with nitrogen..."

"... depriving him of oxygen needed to stay alive, on Thursday in the nation’s first execution attempt with the method. The Alabama attorney general's office told federal appeals court judges last week that nitrogen hypoxia is 'the most painless and humane method of execution known to man.'"

"[Tim] Scott rarely mentioned a significant other during his decades in politics, and in the ’90s he declared himself a 'proud' adult virgin."

"When Scott launched his presidential campaign last spring, the media noted that he would be the first bachelor president since the 19th century. He tried to shut this down by alluding to a girlfriend in May, then sharing some details about his Christian, pickleball-playing partner with the Washington Post’s Ben Terris in September. This only raised suspicions that Scott had invented a ladyfriend for political purposes...."

From "Tim Scott’s Mystery Girlfriend Is Now His Fiancée" (New York Magazine).
“As a guy who is mostly an introvert and on the quiet side, having to have a conversation about the engagement is a little, you know, uncomfortable in a way, but it’s the most exciting thing I’ll do with my life besides making Jesus my Lord,” Scott said in an interview Sunday....

Why is Scott “having to have a conversation about the engagement” if it makes him uncomfortable?...

Is Scott running for VP? Is he in the running? I don't think Trump will pick him. Isn't he needed in the Senate? 

Meanwhile, yesterday, Doug Burgum: 1. Announced he's not running for a third term as Governor of North Dakota, and 2. Spoke at a Trump rally. But it can't be Burgum, can it? It's got to be one of the women, don't you think? Elise Stefanik, Kristi Noem, Sarah Huckabee Sanders....

Trump defeated Ron DeSantis. We all know that. But how gendered was it?

I'm reading a NYT "Political Memo" by Michael C. Bender and Nicholas Nehamas, called "The Emasculation of Ron DeSantis by the Bully Donald Trump."

Emasculation? Really?
The former president’s brutal, yearlong campaign of humiliation.... Donald J. Trump plumbed new depths of degradation in his savage takedown... a yearlong campaign of emasculation and humiliation.... 

... Mr. Trump painted Mr. DeSantis as a submissive sniveler, insisting that he had cried and begged “on his knees”....

January 22, 2024

Sunrise — 7:21, 7:34.



"Ethics Ratings of Nearly All Professions Down in U.S."

Gallup reports.

"Minutes after Trump arrived in the lower Manhattan courthouse — where he’d been expected to testify later in the day — US District Judge Lewis Kaplan sent all of the parties in the case home."

From "Donald Trump defamation trial live updates: ‘COVID exposure’ cancels proceedings in E. Jean Carroll’s $10M case, moments after ex-prez arrives."
The juror in “seat No. 3” reported on his way to court that he was feeling hot and nauseous, and was advised to stay away and test himself for COVID, the judge said.

Trump’s personal attorney, Alina Habba, also reported having a fever within the “past 24 hours” and having dinner with her parents — who recently tested positive for COVID — in the past few days....

"Biden seems bright, tough and bold. Also very, very scary. One might even say terrifying. He has Rod Serling's upper lip..."

"... which is no shortcoming, but suggests maybe he should only be president of the Twilight Zone.... The candidate appears to be overadvised and suffering from excessive consultitis. Worse, he comes across on TV as someone whose fuse is always lit. Unless we ditch television for the remainder of the campaign, Biden will never be president...."

Wrote Tom Shales in a July 3, 1987 Washington Post piece called "The Diverting Democrats."

I'm reading that today because I was rereading parts of Richard Ben Cramer's book, "What It Takes" (commission earned). We were talking about plagiarism and trying to remember the details of Biden's problem internalizing the rhetoric of Neil Kinnock, and I knew the answer was in that book.

"'The F.B.I. invented the conspiracy; identified the targets; manufactured the ordnance,' Judge McMahon wrote, adding that officials had 'federalized' the charges..."

"... ensuring long prison terms — by driving several of the men into Connecticut to 'view the "bombs."' ... [The judge wrote that] what undermined respect for the law in the case was sending a 'villain' like Mr. Hussain to 'troll among the poorest and weakest of men for "terrorists" who might prove susceptible to an offer of much-needed cash in exchange for committing a faux crime.'"

From "Judge Rebukes F.B.I. and Orders Release of Man in ‘Newburgh Four’ Case/The judge said James Cromitie, like his co-defendants, should be freed because he had been duped into an 'F.B.I.-orchestrated conspiracy' by an 'unsavory' informant" (NYT).

Things not said by Winston Churchill.

The Daily Beast is pretty snarky about it:
The Ron DeSantis large language model appeared to hallucinate on Sunday, with the campaign running an apparently fake Winston Churchill quote as the title of the candidate’s drop-out announcement video....

Winston Churchill tends to get statements misattributed to him. His name on a statement is already a red flag that it might be a mistake. Please check first, especially if you are going to use one of these quotes in an important statement, as Ron DeSantis did.

Here's the Wikiquote page for Churchill. It's really long. It includes a section labeled "Misattributed." That section is really long too. Long, but entertaining. For example, Churchill did not say "A joke is a very serious thing." It's actually a line written by Charles Churchill — in 1763 poem called "The Ghost."

"He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord."

Said Tim Scott, quoting Proverbs 18:22, quoted in "South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott proposes to girlfriend who was revealed during his brief presidential run" (NY Post).

Tim Scott is 58 years old and has never been married. The engagement is politically convenient, and what is an engagement? The Bible doesn't say "He who finds a fiancée finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord." 

Things maybe not said by Albert Einstein and Martin Luther King Jr.

I'd like to be more of a good sport about this column by Anne Lamott, "Age makes the miracles easier to see." But it begins with a quote and it ends with a quote ascribed to a monumental man and, in both cases, I don't think the man is the source of the quote.

Maybe if I were older, I'd "see" some essential truth in ascribing this to Albert Einstein...

"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as if nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle."

... and this to Martin Luther King Jr....

"Don’t let them get you to hate them."

These lines sound less like something the man would say than like something that would get passed around on the internet by people who like what it says and extra-like it because of the grand name that got attached to it.

The Einstein "quote" is discussed at Skeptical Esoterica:

January 21, 2024

At the Sunday Night Café...

... you can talk about the retirement of the "DeSanctimonius" nickname and anything else you want.

The James Austin Johnson impersonation of Donald Trump is so good they must be worried it will...

... transcend the defenses of the "SNL" audience and cause them to bond with the man they think they need to hate.

"The New York Times presents this piece as some kind of Pentagon Papers-esque exposé."

"But I guarantee you that a majority of Americans - including probably most Democrats -- believe that DEI/Anti Racism went too far post George Floyd and we need to get back to aiming for a color blind society."

That's the highest rated comment on the article "'America Is Under Attack': Inside the Anti-D.E.I. Crusade" by Nicholas Confessore (NYT).

The next 4 highest rated comments are similar:

"This is not his first rodeo. He is going to be quite careful and thoughtful about how he handles this situation."

"I’m sure he’s thinking about when he draws lines, how he draws lines, what the lines mean and what agenda it plays into."

Said Katherine B. Forrest, a former federal district judge, about Lewis A. Kaplan, federal district judge in the ongoing E. Jean Carroll trial. She's quoted in "As Trump Treats Trials Like Rallies, Judges Study How to Rein Him In/One judge was reluctantly permissive. Another came down hard. Their contrasting approaches may inform the jurists overseeing the former president’s criminal trials" (NYT).

I don't think Trump is treating his trials "like rallies." Have you seen his rallies? He's far more restrained in court. But he is using something of his own style and is finding ways to take what has been thrown at him and turn it into useful political discourse. What should a judge do? If he cracks down too hard, he's giving Trump new material. 

How do you like the expression "This is not his first rodeo"? I try not to let it annoy me. I try to be amused. I picture the 79-year-old judge on a bucking bronco. 

Even Michael Caine — even as he pronounces "rodeo" ro-DAY-oh — says "ain't." 
BONUS: Warning: language:

"Once you get to a certain point, you have to make that choice to continue or turn back. And he was never really a turning-back kind of kid."

Said Christopher Roma's mother, quoted in "Experienced Hiker Found Dead on New Hampshire Trail/Christopher Roma called for help late Tuesday, telling rescuers he was 'very cold.' An experienced hiker, he had completed the triple crown of America’s major trails" (NYT).

He had completed the arduous “triple crown of hiking,” which includes the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail and the Continental Divide Trail, the country’s three major long-distance trails. He had also set up a business, North East Trekking Company, that helped others prepare for their own thousand-mile endeavors, according to the company’s website.

"You can't beat something with nothing," the wingless plane, and the deleterious effects of athletic awards for girls.

I was researching the saying "You can't beat something with nothing" — I wanted to critique the Biden campaign strategy — and I came up with this wonderful page from the New York Times archive.

It's page 17, from November 10, 1934, just after the Democrats' massive victory in the midterm elections:

In the upper right corner, you see Will Rogers, saying that "the Republicans lost because they had nothing to offer but criticism" — "No plan, denounce, but don't suggest." But Will Rogers didn't invent "You can't beat something with nothing." Even back then, it was an "old saying."

X is bad and we're not X ≠ a winning strategy.