February 3, 2024

Sunrise — 7:23, 7:39.



"For more than 40 years, our nation’s military leaders have determined that a diverse Army officer corps is a national-security imperative..."

"... and that achieving that diversity requires limited consideration of race in selecting those who join the Army as cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point.... A lack of diversity in leadership can jeopardize the Army’s ability to win wars.... [D]ecades of unaddressed internal racial tension erupted during the Vietnam War...."

Wrote Solicitor General Elizabeth B. Prelogar, quoted in "Supreme Court Won’t Block Use of Race in West Point Admissions for Now/The court rejected an emergency request to temporarily bar the military academy from using race in admissions while a lower-court lawsuit proceeds" (NYT).

The recent Harvard and UNC cases did not determine the outcome. When it comes to the military, there is different potential to articulate a compelling government interest in race-based admissions.

Remember this passage from Grutter v. Bollinger (2003)(overruled in the Harvard and UNC case):

"We are eating predigested food...."

"To manufacture cheap, delicious food that is packaged for convenience, basic food crops such as corn, wheat and potatoes are dissembled into their molecular parts — starchy flours, protein isolates, fats and oils — or what manufacturers call 'slurries.' 'The bulk of what is extracted is starch slurry, a milky mixture of starch and water, but we also have extracted proteins and fibers,' according to a video explanation of the process from Starch Europe, part of the European Starch Industry Association. 'Roughly half of the starch slurry goes to produce starch-based sugars and other derivatives,' the video says. 'Those are created by hydrolysis, a process similar to human digestion.' Next, with the help of artificial colorings, flavorings and glue-like emulsifiers, those slurries are then heated, pounded, shaped or extruded into any food a manufacturer can dream up. Add in just the right ratio of sugar, salt and fat designed to tickle our taste buds, and an ultraprocessed food that’s nearly irresistible is born...."

Donald Trump, the motivational speaker.

Watch the video at Truth Social.

Is that a campaign ad or is he just trying to tell us how to run our life?

Also at Truth Social within the last day, there's this very cutting anti-Biden ad.

Truth Social is working out very well for Trump, I think. You have to intend to go there, but it's a sharp, clean environment, devoid of the clutter of Twitter ("X").

ADDED: Embedded Truth Social video removed, replaced by links. They did not play on my blog. If you click them, you get sent over to the Truth Social website. And they also caused my sidebar to relocate to the bottom of my webpage. So Truth Social is not working out very well for me. I'll link but not embed in the future. Do better.

"The grand perception of psychoanalysis, for the dramatist, is that all actions are performed FOR A REASON..."

"... and that one may reason backward from the action, however absurd or self-destructive, to a cause. The determination may be arbitrary, or indeed wrong, but it may be made. Further, that, for the dramatist, the process may be reversed, the cause postulated first, and its development to a conclusion graphed—at which point (in the tragedy only; and in the drama previously) the cause of the progression is clear." 

I'm interested in the thought processes of psychoanalysts and dramatists, but that discussion of the study of causation made me think of the testimony of Abraham Wyner at the ongoing Mark Steyn trial. 

"During the visit, she noticed that her grandmother kept sending texts to her ex — that is, Ms. Woodard’s grandfather — and grew angry..."

"... when he didn’t reply. The thing is, her grandfather is dead. 'I’m like, "Mimi, you are going to be left 'on read' till your grave!"' Ms. Woodard told the crowd, using a term for a text not responded to. And yet, she recognized herself in that moment. 'Do you ever see your mom or your grandma doing something and you’re like, "that’s messed up"'— Ms. Woodard used a stronger word — 'but then you’re like, "I know I’ve got that inside of me"?'"

From "She’s Not Celibate — She’s ‘Boysober’/The comedian Hope Woodard is spreading the word about her yearlong break from sex and dating. One fan calls it 'this year’s hottest mental health craze'" (NYT)(free access link).

"A big part of the yearlong break from sex and romance is unlearning the unhealthy relationship patterns that often get passed down from generation to generation. 'Maybe we are one of the first generations of women where we don’t actually have to plug into a man for, like, energy and power and whatever,' Ms. Woodard said."

1. What do you think of the efficacy of 1-year breaks? If generations and generations have programmed a tendency into you, what are the chances you could "unlearn" it in one year?

2. What "generations of women" do you think she is referring to?

I suspect that Trump, on his own, is pleased that he inspires Biden to splutter dirty words.

I thought nothing of it when I saw — in Politico — that Biden, speaking in private, has called Trump a "sick fuck" and said "What a fucking asshole the guy is.” There is nothing the slightest bit surprising about this. I remember half a century ago, when people were surprised and censorious about Nixon's dirty words on the Watergate Tapes. But is there anyone sentient who didn't already know Biden says "fuck" in the White House?

But this morning I'm reading "Trump tells supporters 'Biden just called me a sick F-word!' in fundraising email" (NY Post). So Trump is making something out of it:

"[Dean] Phillips has accused the DNC of working to obstruct the presidential primary process by changing the Democratic primary schedule, refusing to hold debates..."

"... and preventing the engagement of delegates from New Hampshire. 'I don’t know how to better articulate these efforts than, yes, a threat to democracy by undermining it and suppressing it,' Phillips told The Post last month."

From "Wisconsin Supreme Court orders longshot Dem candidate Dean Phillips be added to primary ballot" (NY Post).

Here's the court's unanimous opinion. Excerpt:

February 2, 2024

At the Friday Night Café…

 … you can talk about whatever you want.

"Judge Tanya S. Chutkan said that she would set a new date for the proceeding in Federal District Court in Washington 'if and when' former President Donald J. Trump’s immunity claims are resolved."

Photo caption in "Judge Scraps Trial Date for Trump Election Subversion Case/Judge Tanya Chutkan removed the planned March 4 start for the trial from her calendar, formalizing a delay that had become increasingly unlikely in recent weeks. It remains unclear when the trial might start" (NYT).

ADDED: "The 'runt' of Trump cases now likely to be his first criminal trial/A trial about 2016 hush money will be the first criminal charges to test Trump in 2024" (WaPo).

"A teacher should never do your thinking for you. She should give you texts to read and guide you..."

"... along the path of making sense of them for yourself. She should introduce you to the books and essays of writers who disagree with one another and ask you to determine whose case is better. Many college professors don’t want to do that today. They don’t want to 'platform' a writer they think is wrong; they don’t want to participate in 'both sides-ism.' The same thing is true for the students who pound on the doors of lecture halls and pull fire alarms and throw garbage cans down hallways to protest the 45-minute speech of a visitor. They believe in sympathetic magic. They believe that words—even those spoken within a lecture hall—will damage them and their classmates. The truth is that they’re scared. They don’t think their ideas can outmatch those of the hated speaker...."

Writes Caitlin Flanagan, in "Colleges Are Lying to Their Students/They aren’t teaching them 'how to think'" (The Atlantic).

Here's the Wikipedia article "Sympathetic magic." Excerpt:

"Trans activists often cite low regret rates for gender transition, along with low figures for detransition. But those studies..."

"... which often rely on self-reported cases to gender clinics, likely understate the actual numbers. None of the seven detransitioners I interviewed, for instance, even considered reporting back to the gender clinics that prescribed them medication they now consider to have been a mistake.... Garcia-Ryan is gay, but as a boy, he said, 'it was much less threatening to my psyche to think that I was a straight girl born into the wrong body — that I had a medical condition that could be tended to.' When he visited a clinic at 15, the clinician immediately affirmed he was female.... 'You’re made to believe these slogans,' he said. 'Evidence-based, lifesaving care, safe and effective, medically necessary, the science is settled — and none of that is evidence based.'... Garcia-Ryan, 32, is now the board president of Therapy First.... 'When a professional affirms a gender identity for a younger person, what they are doing is implementing a psychological intervention that narrows a person’s sense of self and closes off their options for considering what’s possible for them,' Garcia-Ryan told me...."

"While the allegations raised in the various motions are salacious and garnered the media attention they were designed to obtain, none provide this Court with any basis upon which to order the relief they seek."

Said Fani Willis in a new court filing, quoted in "Prosecutor in Trump Georgia Case Admits Relationship With Colleague/But the prosecutor, Fani T. Willis, said there wasn’t a relationship with Nathan Wade before she hired him and argued that it should not disqualify her" (NYT).

"Holy Week constitutes precisely the expression of a Christ away from the codes of male power."

"The Christ we love, before whom we prostrate ourselves and who is our example, does not look like an All Blacks rugby forward."

Said the columnist Chapu Apaolaza, quoted in "'Homoerotic Christ' on posters for Holy Week divides Spain/Artist defends painting used for Easter celebrations in Seville" (London Times).

From the artist, Salustiano García: "Those who see something dirty in the painting are only projecting their own internal dirt on to the image.... [They display] a lack of culture, of not knowing anything, of never having been in a museum or a church, because I haven’t invented any element that appears in the painting."

"To block the necessary amount of solar radiation, the shade would have to be about a million square miles, roughly the size of Argentina...."

"A shade that big would weigh at least 2.5 million tons — too heavy to launch into space, he said. So, the project would have to involve a series of smaller shades. They would not completely block the sun’s light but rather cast slightly diffused shade onto Earth.... Dr. Rozen said his team was ready to design a prototype shade of 100 square feet and is seeking between $10 million and $20 million to fund the demonstration. 'We can show the world, ‘Look, there is a working solution, take it, increase it to the necessary size,' he said.... 'I’m not saying this will be the solution, but I think everybody has to work toward every possible solution,' said Dr. Szapudi, the astronomer who proposed tethering a sunshade to an asteroid."

From "Could a Giant Parasol in Outer Space Help Solve the Climate Crisis? Interest in sun shields, once a fringe idea, has grown. Now, a team of scientists says it could launch a prototype within a few years" (NYT).

"Grocery prices have jumped by 25 percent over the past four years, outpacing overall inflation of 19 percent during the same period...."

WaPo reports... with predictable efforts to support Biden. 

Americans are finally getting a break from inflation, with prices for gasoline, used cars and health insurance all falling over the past year, relieving families and buoying President Biden’s 2024 reelection bid....

Stubbornly high grocery prices represent a critical drain on the finances of tens of millions of people and remain, along with housing, perhaps the most persistent economic challenge for the Biden administration as it tries to convince Americans the economy is back on solid footing....

February 1, 2024

Sunrise — 7:09, 7:15, 7:21, 7:22.





"... The Messenger... is a new publication to me. It's been around since May..."

"... and was started by the former owner of The Hill. I'll keep an eye on it. Here, it seems focused on protecting President Biden.... [And to judge from a second article] here too, The Messenger is assisting institutional insiders who need distance from more radical voices."

I wrote that last June, and I don't think I ever wrote about The Messenger again, not until now, as I see this morning, in The Washington Post, "The Messenger closes down after blowing millions on ill-fated news site/Employees learned of the collapse from a news report, then found themselves abruptly kicked off the company messaging system."

The NYT article "Taylor Swift, Travis Kelce and a MAGA Meltdown" is a tad disingenuous.

The politics writer, Jonathan Weisman, informs us that Taylor Swift "is driving the movement behind Donald Trump bonkers" and then tries to explain why.

Just 3 days ago, I was blogging about a NYT article that went on and on about how fervently Biden supporters hoped for a Taylor Swift endorsement. I thought it was embarrassing and pathetic that the Biden people were resorting to stirring up hope for their failing candidate by touting the prospect of a pop star endorsement.

But now, here's an article about how Trump supporters are getting out in front of the potential endorsement with an effort that seems fine-tuned to serve either of 2 entirely rational goals: 1. Persuade Taylor Swift to withhold her endorsement, or 2. Minimize the value of any endorsement.

If the endorsement is as valuable as the NYT portrayed it in the article on January 29th — "Inside Biden’s Anti-Trump Battle Plan (and Where Taylor Swift Fits In)" — then there's nothing "bonkers" about the Trump preemptive strike.

I'd be inclined to advise Swift to stay out of politics. I'd quote Bob Dylan: "I think politics is an instrument of the Devil. Just that clear. I think politics is what kills; it doesn’t bring anything alive. Politics is corrupt; I mean, anybody knows that." You're an artist. Preserve your artist power. Don't squander it.

But there must be those much closer to her who are saying that another Trump presidency will destroy the world, and she could, perhaps, simply by saying one sentence, push Biden to victory. How can you not say that one sentence? How can you hold yourself aloof when you have the power to save us and all the world is crying out for you to say that one line?!

"I’m going to have to say it, and I’m sorry because I know UFO people roll their eyes at the word balloons."

"But they need to get over it because balloons of various kinds — high-altitude weather balloons, cosmic-ray research balloons, sound-detecting balloons, thunderstorm-study balloons, aerial-reconnaissance balloons, 'rockoons' that shoot missiles, propaganda balloons, toy balloons, and, most secret, crop-warfare balloons — are at the heart of this high-altitude adventure we’ve been on as a culture. None of it is paranormal, but it’s still strange.... The effect on the U.S. of all this Cold War balloonery is pretty obvious. The Air Force, the Navy, and the CIA seeded the sky with helium ghosts and made us crazy. The country was, and is, suffering from a paranormalization of the plastic bag."

I'm reading "No, Aliens Haven’t Visited the Earth/Why are so many smart people insisting otherwise?" by Nicholson Baker (the novelist/essayist), in New York Magazine.

"What’s up with all these dudes painting their nails nowadays"/"That’s like someone asking what’s up with all these dudes getting tattoos. Self expression."

From "'Gotta keep your hands fresh': why male athletes are wearing nail polish/Men’s sport can be a hard place. But a rising number of stars are choosing to express themselves even if it annoys those with more old-fashioned views" (The Guardian).

Using the impeachment process "as a political weapon" is a "dangerous precedent," a "pointless sideshow."

While our broken immigration system is a serious matter, this impeachment push is not. There is no legitimate basis for impeaching [Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro] Mayorkas, and House Republicans have not presented any evidence that he has violated the law. Instead, they are on the verge of abusing one of the most powerful mechanisms of government to score political points, potentially setting a dangerous precedent.... Any proceedings against him will only be a distraction from the humanitarian crisis at our doorstep and the lack of leadership in Congress.... The impeachment process is not intended to be used as a political weapon. The move to impeach Mayorkas is a pointless sideshow and deserves to fail.

"Many nurses admit: They feel repulsed by our bodies and do not want to touch us. Doctors are..."

"... more likely to view us as a waste of their time and have less desire to help us. We are hence, unsurprisingly, far more likely to die with serious health conditions that have gone undiagnosed. We are people who live in larger bodies. And the discrimination we face is incredibly harmful....I have come to believe that we need to work on changing not our bodies but the world that unjustly down-ranks us.... The truth is, fat people aren’t failing. It’s the system that is failing fat patients."

January 31, 2024

Lake Mendota — 11:37 a.m.


"Even though it's hard, you're never alone."

"No one should have to listen to a few people – standing bravely behind fake names – lob racist or misogynistic taunts at them, or others."

"And a forum for ideas should not involve running debates on whose mother does what to whom. Allowing that only elevates bad behavior and only empowers bullies. Now, I know, there are many who use the comment function in a genuine, thoughtful way and will truly miss the opportunity to engage with others about the latest vote in Madison or latest Bucks move.... I am sorry that others have ruined it for you. In some ways, this is the inevitable end of a progression. We have long blocked comments on stories we know are magnets for vile, demeaning and often racist comments.... Several years ago, we blocked comments on all news stories, as the comments often devolved into bickering, name-calling and libel-slinging accusations.... [I]f you are upset about the decision on comments... please take it elsewhere."

Writes Greg Borowski, the executive editor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, announcing the end of the comments function in "Journal Sentinel to end commenting on stories, seek new ways to connect with and serve readers" (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).

"The visibility out the back of many cars is pretty constrained. And then the second you have a large passenger in the back or any luggage, you can’t see anything out of it at all."

Said Jonathan Goodman, the head of Polestar in the UK, quoted in "First car without a rear window coming to Britain’s roads/A car manufacturer promises drivers a far greater field of vision by replacing the rear-view mirror with a video feed said to be particularly effective at night" (London Times).

"People recognize Blinky on sight because it zooms around faster than the other bots."

"Everyone knows the drive number of it, and people are like, "Oh s -- , not again. It's him again"'.... 'I'll either get a text with a picture or I'll get a phone call and they'll say, "Hey, your robot's over here on such and such line, can you come get it?"' [said Scott Samples, the 'robot wrangler']....  When Samples gets a call about a robot wandering off, he pulls up that particular bot on his computer and looks out of the cameras and sensors attached to the device to try to figure out where the android is within the 1.4 million-square-foot facility. He then goes out, manually finds the robot and guides it back inside its boundaries...."

From "Companies Brought in Robots. Now They Need Human ‘Robot Wranglers.’ Lost and confused automatons create work for people. Bots wander off ‘like a child’ and irritate workers by following them or ‘trying to get under their desk'" (Wall Street Journal).

To what extent are people going to perceive robots as behaving the way they do because they are the equivalent of human persons? Should they be programmed to communicate as if they are humans? We're told of one "robot wrangler" who needed "to plug in the charger underneath": "As I was doing that, one of them just kind of made this crazy sounding scream. And then it said, 'Whoa, whoa, we have rights you know'... I just died laughing."

That's basically a rape joke, intruded into the workplace. Did you think it was funny the first time you heard it? The wrangler — a female, by the way — found it hilarious. But I see a sexual harassment lawsuit in the future if this approach to integrating robots into worklife continues

"Mr. Biden did not specify what the U.S. response would be. Some Republican lawmakers have urged him to attack Iran directly..."

"... although Mr. Biden emphasized again on Tuesday that he was determined to avoid a broader regional conflict, telling reporters: 'I don’t think we need a wider war in the Middle East.' In an apparent sign that Iran was trying to tamp down tensions, Kata’ib Hezbollah, one of the most powerful regional militias linked to Iran, and the one the Pentagon says was most likely responsible for the deadly attack in Jordan, made the surprising announcement on Tuesday that it was suspending military operations in Iraq, where it operates...."

From "Iran is ‘not looking for war,’ the head of the Revolutionary Guards says" (NYT).

Time for anti-Trumpers to up the anxiety: It's the new shocker poll of 7 swing states.


In all but Arizona, Trump's lead has increased since the last Bloomberg poll, which was taken in late November/early December. In Arizona, Trump lost a point. He was up by 4, and now he's up by 3. In Georgia, Trump has gone from being up by 6 to being up by 8. In Michigan, from up by 4, to up by 5. In Nevada, from 3 to 8. In North Carolina, from 9 to 10. In Pennsylvania from 2 to 3. In Wisconsin, from 2 to 5.

"If it turns out it was racially motivated, then obviously that is a deeper societal issue and it certainly would make this a much more concerning theft."

Said Bob Lutz, director of League 42, a youth baseball group named after Jackie Robinson's jersey number, quoted in "Jackie Robinson statue found burned, dismantled in Wichita trash can" (WaPo).

The statue, which had stood in a park, was cut off at the ankles, toted away in a pickup truck, subjected to a fire, and left in pieces. It appears to be a bronze statue, so I don't think it's accurate to say it was "burned."

I hope this incident was not an expression of racial hostility. On the "bright" side, I remember an attack on statue here in Madison carried out by people who did not seem to understand the significance of the person depicted in the statue. 

"Chayka, a millennial, is nostalgic for... the images he once shared on Tumblr; an earlier, jankier World Wide Web of illegal file-sharing, blogs and and massive multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) forums."

"He first heard 'My Favorite Things' not in 'The Sound of Music' but the John Coltrane version, listening to an indie station as he wended his way back from a friend’s house in the suburbs in the early ’00s. Boomers and Gen X, with more years logged algorithm-free, might find 'Filterworld' unduly bleak; Zoomers, hopelessly naïve. Or, as they say on the internet, YMMV."

I'm reading that this morning after searching the NYT archive for "MMORPGs," a very annoying set of letters that I'd never noticed before, but ran across as an answer in a crossword, clued as "RuneScape and World of Warcraft, for two: Abbr."

My reaction was: If that's the way it's going to be, I'm not doing your crosswords anymore.

Overreaction? My test of whether this is something I should recognize, because it comes up in real life, is whether it's in the NYT archive. This was not the NYT crossword. And, yes, I'm a Boomer.

You can see that the recent appearance of MMORPG was in parentheses, after a spelling-out of what it abbreviates. Before that, it hadn't appeared since 2019. But back in 2013 and in 2005-2006, the annoying letter combo appeared a handful of times. I see the phrase "the wonderfully named MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role-playing games)."

I guess I won't boycott that puzzle, but I can see how puzzle publishers risk alienating their audience. Puzzles are full of things that are easy for Boomers like me and that must be very annoying to Millennials and Zoomers. But when I see something like MMORPG, I just think it's a pathetic play to get young people to think this thing is for them. And please don't say YMMV either. 

And yet MMORPGs are among the things the "Filterworld" author is nostalgic for. It's not new. It's old. Mid-level old. Like blogs. I'm nostalgic for blogs too, of course, but I'm still here in mine, and I presume there's this other group of people — who the hell are they? — who are still out there in their MMORPGs.

January 30, 2024

At sunrise.



“Justice Sonia Sotomayor said she’s 'tired' and 'working harder than I ever had'.... 'And to be almost 70 years old, this isn’t what I expected.'"

Bloomberg reports on an appearance at UC Berkeley law school. 
"Cases are bigger. They’re more demanding. The number of amici are greater, and you know that our emergency calendar is so much more active. I’m tired,” she said. “There used to be a time when we had a good chunk of the summer break. Not any more. The emergency calendar is busy almost on a weekly basis."...

It's not just the amount of work. After a prompt about how law students feel discouraged, she said:

"I live in frustration. Every loss truly traumatizes me in my stomach and in my heart. But I have to get up the next morning and keep on fighting."

"Mr. Trump’s wing is, by a comfortable margin, the largest and most dominant force in his party."

"No power center in the Republican Party can exist without the blessing of his movement, and we have yet to see a national political figure who can survive even the slightest bit of conflict with it. If there is any remnant of a pre-Trump Republican establishment, the trajectories of the campaigns headed by Ms. Haley and Mr. DeSantis illustrate its imminent fate."

From "Trump Has Devoured the Republican Establishment" (NYT). 

Useful graphs:


"There is no threat to humans from wolves. I live in northern Minnesota wolf country, and wolves avoid people like the plague."

"I've come across them when walking in the woods and they always run away. The two most dangerous animals for me are very large and very small: a bull moose during rut, and deer ticks which spread Lyme's disease. Deer are more dangerous because of car accidents. When Wisconsin reintroduced wolves, car-deer impacts went down. I'm a retired farmer, and farming is a high-risk business. You can't eliminate all risk from it. As for wolf attacks on dogs, the problem is small ankle-biter dogs who don't know when to back off. I had huskies, and they never received any attacks from wolves. But then, huskies speak fluent wolftail and know when to submit."

That's the top-rated comment on "What Can Americans Agree on? Wolves" (NYT). That's a free access link. The article is by Erica Berry, author of  "Wolfish: Wolf, Self, and the Stories We Tell About Fear."

"Cities are no longer filling with vaulting, flowing, gooey, non-orthogonal buildings engineered through advanced computing power."

"Architecture has been hit by a new sobriety. Tradition, apparently, is back.The reaction against ultramodern architecture arrived slowly at first, but accelerated with the financial crash of 2008, as the world economy and many political systems became increasingly unsteady. Amid this apparent chaos, the stability of neoclassical architecture was advocated from the very top. In 2020, the United States president Donald Trump signed an executive order advocating 'classical' architecture, including 'beautiful' traditional styles such as Greek Revival, Gothic, Georgian and neoclassical. This followed the British Conservative government appointing the late philosopher Roger Scruton to head a 2018 commission ensuring that new housing would be 'built beautiful,' which Scruton made clear meant 'traditional.' Even earlier, in 2014, the Chinese president Xi Jinping issued an edict demanding an end to 'weird architecture' in China.... And in the European Union, particularly Germany and Poland, projects of historical reconstruction – the kind that, in a previous decade, might have involved ultramodern non-orthogonal CGI-optimised arts centres – now feature new traditional-style buildings with gables and pitched roofs, set along winding lanes...."

Writes Owen Hatherley, in "The new architecture wars/Traditionalist and modernist architecture are both mass-produced, industrial and international. Is there an alternative?" (Aeon).

"The United States believes Iranian-backed militants were behind the drone strike, and Biden is ramping up a reelection campaign against a leading Republican opponent who boasts of his toughness against Iran, making any option politically perilous as well as militarily fraught."

A deeply disturbing statement.

Please note the word "believes."

I'm reading "Biden faces treacherous political choices in answering deadly attack/Republicans demand that Biden attack Iran. Some warn that risks a wider Middle East conflagration" (WaPo).

Now would be a good time for Biden to deliver a speech modeled on LBJ's 1968 withdrawal speech:
... I have concluded that I should not permit the Presidency to become involved in the partisan divisions that are developing in this political year. With America’s sons in the fields far away... I do not believe that I should devote an hour or a day of my time to any personal partisan causes or to any duties other than the awesome duties of this office–the Presidency of your country. Accordingly, I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President.

"Who cares. Didn't read it. This is not news. Do better"/"Why do I feel like these characters are being forced on us? Nobody cares."

"Who cares?"/"Congratulations - this might be the most vapid article the Washington Post has ever published"/"Thanks for explaining this, WaPo. Now I won't be tossing and turning tonight wondering"... etc. 

These are the comments on what is the second-most-read article at The Washington Post right now:


Sample text: "With the internet swirling with theories about Megan’s lyrics, Minaj took to X (formerly Twitter) to voice her displeasure with the song and announce her follow-up 'Big Foot,' which she released on Monday. The title appeared to be a reference to Megan’s 5-foot-10 height and the fact that she was shot in the foot...."

It took 2 reporters to write it... these 2...

I would watch a movie about those 2 reporters trying to collaborate to fulfill this writing assignment. A bit like another remake of "The Front Page," you know, that sort of thing.

January 29, 2024

Early afternoon — lakeside.



At the bobdylan subreddit this morning, somebody asks "Why doesn't Dylan speak out more about politics?"


And somebody quotes something that I track down to this 1984 Rolling Stone interview:
Do you follow the political scene or have any sort of fix on what the politicians are talking about this election year?

I think politics is an instrument of the Devil. Just that clear. I think politics is what kills; it doesn’t bring anything alive. Politics is corrupt; I mean, anybody knows that.

"In 1924, the artist Nancy Cox-McCormack recounted her experience sculpting the bust of Benito Mussolini..."

"... in an article for The New York Times Magazine, 'When Mussolini Poses.' While posing, Mussolini was surrounded by opulent gifts, she wrote, including a music box that 'played only the Fascisti marching song.' The verb 'to pose' was first recorded in the mid-14th century. Its earliest definitions, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, include to propose a theory or question, to arrange an object or, like Mussolini, to assume a position for a portrait. When someone poses for a portrait, he or she presents an 'idealized' version of him or herself, 'often as a person of culture, fashion or erudition,' the lexicographer Grant Barrett said. But people 'posing' in life may be pretending to be someone they’re not to impress or deceive others. A character in a film reviewed by The Times in 1943, for example, was 'posing' as a millionaire’s long-lost daughter...."

Writes Sarah Diamond, in "A Pop, Dip and Spin Through the History of ‘Pose’/Though the word 'pose' is associated with voguing, it is less a part of the vocabulary and more a part of the movement" (NYT).

"After months of languid buildup in which he held only a single public campaign event, Mr. Biden has thrown a series of rallies across battleground states, warning that democracy itself is at stake in 2024."

"He sent two of his most trusted White House operatives to take the helm of his re-election campaign in Wilmington, Del., after Mr. Trump seized control of the Republican primary race more rapidly than Mr. Biden’s advisers had initially expected. And other Biden aides are drafting wish lists of potential surrogates, including elected officials, social media influencers and the endorsement of their wildest dreams: the global superstar Taylor Swift."

What insipid puffery! Biden has not done enough. He never had to justify his death grip on the Democratic nomination, and it's outrageous that the country is left with the Trump-or-Biden choice once again. But 4 New York Times reporters toss out the name Taylor Swift as a sop. Disgusting!

But it's not as though the 4 reporters generated the Taylor Swift plan themselves:
The chatter around Ms. Swift and the potential of reaching her 279 million Instagram followers reached such intensity that the Biden team urged applicants in a job posting for a social media position not to describe their Taylor Swift strategy — the campaign had enough suggestions already.

I guess all the job applicants were saying here's my brilliant idea: Get Taylor Swift to endorse him.

Conspicuous confusion at The Washington Post.

At the top of the WaPo website right now... note the photo caption:

Text of caption: "Protesters rally against U.S.-led airstrikes on Yemen."

Yes, we're all very concerned that surging Red Sea violence could imperil a fragile Yemen.

January 28, 2024

Sunrise — 7:07.


"To the annoyance of his neighbours, he let off steam by running around the flat or jumping up and down on the bed..."

"... making a noise that reverberated through the building’s flimsy walls. It was this, Béatrice recalled, that led her to learn what was really going on in flat nine. Seeing him walking past one day, she told him off. 'Doesn’t your mother tell you to stop jumping all the time because it makes the building shake?' she demanded./ 'No, I live on my own,' he replied./'How’s it possible at your age?'/'It’s just like that,' he told her."

Quote from the mayor of the village (in southwestern France),: "He really was good at school.... He did his homework, he was well dressed, he was clean and he was always on time. Kids like that fly under the radar. We don’t worry about them."

"Bill Hayes, an actor and singer whose 2,141 episodes of 'Days of Our Lives' over five and a half decades constituted the daytime drama version of an ultramarathon..."

"... and whose top-selling 1955 single, 'The Ballad of Davy Crockett,' remains seared into the memories of the baby boom generation, died on Jan. 12 at his home in Studio City, Calif. He was 98" (NYT).

He went off to Congress an' served a spell/Fixin' up the Governments an' laws as well/Took over Washington so we heered tell/An' patched up the crack in the Liberty Bell....

"House Republicans on Sunday released two articles of impeachment against Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the homeland security secretary..."

"... charging President Biden’s top immigration official with refusing to uphold the law and breaching the public trust in his handling of a surge of migration at the U.S. border with Mexico.... The charges against Mr. Mayorkas... are all but certain to fizzle in the Democratic-led Senate.... But the process would yield a remarkable election-year political spectacle...."

What's the "high crime"/"misdemeanor" bringing this policy disagreement within the constitutional power to impeach?

"George Carlin’s estate is suing the creators of an online comedy special that claimed to imitate the late comedian’s voice and sense of humor using artificial intelligence."

"'George Carlin: I’m Glad I’m Dead,' an hour-long video supposedly written, voiced and illustrated by an AI model trained on decades of Carlin’s comedy routines, constituted copyright infringement, according to the lawsuit filed this week in the Central District of California."

WaPo reports.

George Carlin's daughter Kelly said: "The ‘George Carlin’ in that video is not the beautiful human who defined his generation and raised me with love. It is a poorly-executed facsimile cobbled together by unscrupulous individuals to capitalize on the extraordinary goodwill my father established with his adoring fan base."

How is it different from a live human being who does a George Carlin impersonation? We've accepted impersonators for a long time. They "capitalize on the extraordinary goodwill" of beloved performers. Is it that impersonators need to work hard and we respect human labor? Or is it that they are human and we can imagine being an impersonator but we can't imagine being A.I.?

Here's the discussion at the George Carlin subreddit: "In case you needed more proof that AI is fucking monstrous garbage."

"Please blame it on me."

From the front page at The Washington Post website:


Biden's offer reveals that securing the southern border is something he does not want to do. He's willing to give in on it to get something else, something he wants, Ukraine funding.