April 13, 2024

Sunrise — 6:19, 6:20.



"The strain that runs really deep in the court in the last 10 years is a concern about prosecutors over-prosecuting."

"The court is very focused on ensuring that criminal statutes are not construed too broadly."

Said Roman Martinez a former law clerk to Chief Justice Roberts, quoted in "Supreme Court to weigh if Jan. 6 rioters can be charged with obstruction/Defense lawyers say prosecutors improperly stretched the law by charging hundreds with obstruction of an official proceeding" (WaPo, free access link). 

"I’m testifying. I tell the truth. I mean, all I can do is tell the truth. And the truth is that there’s no case. They have no case."

Said Donald Trump, quoted in "Trump Says He Intends to Testify in His Manhattan Criminal Case/Jury selection begins Monday in the prosecution of Donald J. Trump on charges of covering up a sex scandal. He said he would try to sway jurors personally, though he has backed away in the past" (NYT).



Open thread in the comments.

"Judge Maryellen Noreika denied all five of [Hunter] Biden’s motions, keeping the case on track..."

"... for a June trial in Delaware. Biden was indicted in September on three counts tied to possession of a gun while using narcotics. Efforts to have the case thrown out included arguments of selective and vindictive prosecution and that special counsel David Weiss was unlawfully appointed to oversee the case. The judge also rejected Biden's contention that a pretrial agreement, which would have nixed the indictment and upcoming trial, was in effect...."

"But from the start of her career as a cartoonist, she said she felt shut out by her male peers, who excluded her from parties as well as comic anthologies..."

"... that helped draw wider attention to their work. 'There are very few fields as heavily male,' she once told the Los Angeles Times. 'Maybe the only equivalent is the fire department.' Ms. Robbins became a fierce critic of peers such as Crumb, calling out pieces like a three-page 1970 story in which Crumb imagined himself strangling a female television interviewer. 'I think that a lot of these guys simply were misogynist,' she told the pop culture website Vulture in 2018. 'It turned out what a lot of these guys, what they had in their head was very vicious stuff, very violent stuff.'"

From "Trina Robbins, cartoonist who elevated women’s stories, dies at 85/She put out the first American comic book created entirely by women. Years later, she chronicled the history of female comics artists, writing books that excavated the stories of overlooked writers and illustrators" (WaPo).

Trina Robbins was also a clothes designer of the very coolest kind: "For much of her 20s, she designed clothes in Los Angeles and New York, where she befriended Jim Morrison, dressed folk and rock musicians including Donovan, Cass Elliot and David Crosby, and inspired a verse in Joni Mitchell’s song 'Ladies of the Canyon.'" It's the first verse. Listen here.

And here's some video of Robbins, talking about women comic artists:

"To better accommodate diverse gender identities, some Spanish and Portuguese speakers are increasingly using the -e suffix for some nouns..."

"... such as using 'todes' in addition to 'todos,' both of which mean 'everyone.' Even some government offices in Latin America have adopted using the -e suffix as part of a wider movement for inclusive language. Using Latine (sounds like 'la-TEEN-eh') in the U.S. 'makes sense as an internationally used way of speaking and writing in a less gendered manner,' says Monica Trasandes, director for Spanish language media and representation at GLAAD.... More than half of those polled from states along the U.S.-Mexico border or in the Midwest said the term Latine makes them uncomfortable, and more than 60% of respondents aged 65 and older said the same. There's also pushback in Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries, with people arguing the term is unnecessary or that it distorts grammar rules...."

From "Latine is the new Latinx" (Axios).

It's hard to imagine how this feels to someone whose native language envisions every noun as either masculine or feminine. I've spent time learning French and Spanish, and I have my feelings about the masculinity and femininity that permeates everything, but these are an outsider's feelings, weighed down by effort it takes to learn a lot of extra and seemingly arbitrary information. If it's your native language, you know what's masculine and what's feminine. Isn't it natural and fluent to you? Isn't it disturbing to be pressured to speak differently and to use made-up words in service to someone else's ideology? Do you feel a sense of loss when the world is not enlivened by the masculinity and femininity of inanimate objects and abstract concepts? I don't come from that world, but from a distance, it feels beautiful, and if I were you, I would want to believe it is beautiful.

April 12, 2024

Sunrise — 6:24, 6:25, 6:26.




Another look at that Berkeley dinner party violence.

I'm reading "At Berkeley, a Protest at a Dean’s Home Tests the Limits of Free Speech/Pro-Palestinian supporters disrupted a dinner for law students. There was a tussle over the microphone and conflicting claims of harm" (NYT).
In a viral video, Erwin Chemerinsky, a noted constitutional scholar, can be seen shouting "Please leave our house! You are guests in our house!" as a third-year law student, Malak Afaneh, interrupted the event on Tuesday, speaking into a microphone to the students gathered in the dean’s backyard in Oakland, Calif.

Mr. Chemerinsky’s wife, Catherine Fisk, also a Berkeley law professor, can be seen with her arm around Ms. Afaneh, trying to yank the microphone away and pulling the student up a couple steps. 

"The mythological couples provided ideas for conversations about the past and life, only seemingly of a merely romantic nature."

"In reality, they refer to the relationship between the individual and fate: Cassandra who can see the future but no one believes her, Apollo who sides with the Trojans against the Greek invaders, but being a god, cannot ensure victory, Helen and Paris who, despite their politically incorrect love affair, are the cause of the war, or perhaps merely a pretext. Who knows? These days, Helen and Paris represent us all: each day we can choose whether to focus solely on our own private lives or whether to explore the way our lives are entangled with the broad sweep of history...."

Said Gabriel Zuchtriegel, the Director of the Archaeological park of Pompeii, quoted in "Pompeii: a dining room decorated with characters and subjects inspired by the Trojan war has emerged from the new excavations" (pompeiisites.org).

But election denial is reprehensible, no?

"There is a booming market in tests of biological age.. Partly they are for people who want to study ageing. Mainly they are for curious consumers."

"Perhaps the most famous adherent is Bryan Johnson, a 46-year-old tech entrepreneur with the sheeny face of a shop mannequin, who is spending millions to reverse his ageing clock to 18....  GlycanAge looks at a process known as glycosylation... Studies of population levels have shown an association between glycosylation patterns and disease ― often before other signs of illness appear.... On its website, GlycanAge identifies this as a root cause of ageing.... The test was just meant to be a bit of fun. In the days after receiving it, I oscillate between dismissing it and thinking I’m an idiot for dismissing it...."

I'm reading "What’s your biological age? We had a shock when we found out ours/What happened when the Times science editor Tom Whipple and two of his colleagues, James Marriott and Robert Crampton, took the ultimate age test (price, £289)?" (London Times).

Whipple is 42 and was told his "biological age" is 71.

He goes to a regular doctor who administers various tests and says, “You don’t seem to be 71.”

I just ran into this article while scanning the London Times, but I'm realizing that Bryan Johnson is the guy in a Tucker Carlson interview that Meade was nudging me to watch.

"I confess, I had sometimes imagined my assassin rising up in some public forum or other, and coming for me in just this way."

"So my first thought when I saw this murderous shape rushing towards me was, 'So it’s you. Here you are.'"

Said Salman Rushdie, quoted in "'So it’s you. Here you are': Salman Rushdie describes moment he was stabbed/In first interview since his stabbing, writer tells how knifeman was 'last thing my right eye would ever see'" (The Guardian).
"One of the surgeons who had saved my life said to me, 'First you were really unlucky and then you were really lucky.' I said, 'What’s the lucky part?' and he said 'Well, the lucky part is that the man who attacked you had no idea how to kill a man with a knife'"....

"The anxiety that’s been ricing my lungs turns steely and sharp when I see a pale wooden door built into a hillside, framed by lava rock."

"It looks like the entrance to Bilbo Baggins’s house. I go in. A stairway tumbles down to a windowless, 300-square-foot room with textured walls, a bathroom, and a wooden bed that smells like sage. A single low-wattage bulb hums faintly overhead. It’s controlled by a switch covered with a hard plastic guard, which makes it difficult to turn off and on. That’s the point. This room and two others like it in these secret woodlands are the heart of what might be the country’s only established commercial dark retreat. This is a spiritual place, where visitors pay good money to spend long periods of time in crypt-like blackness, devoid of all light and most sounds, in an attempt to uncage their minds and, they hope, discover something deeper within... I flip the switch to see just how dark the dark is, and terror presses into me like 13,000 vertical feet of seawater...."

Writes Tim Neville, in "The Darkness That Blew My Mind/Embarking on four days of total blackout, inside the sensory equivalent of a tomb, our writer went on a dark-cave retreat, the same one that quarterback Aaron Rodgers did" (Outside).

"One of the books that I find myself tapping on repeatedly—without ever getting past forty per cent, somehow—is Richard Brautigan’s novella 'Trout Fishing in America.'"

"I’m not being compelled by an algorithm. But there’s a surf spot in Marin County that I used to go to which is very near the house where Brautigan, in 1984, died by suicide. Over the years, I told a handful of other surfers about the links between Brautigan and this spot, and later, whenever I would make it back out there, I would see the cropping of little houses on the hill overlooking the ocean, many of them with chicken runs and ruined vegetable-garden projects, and I would think to myself, with a great deal of embarrassment, that I still hadn’t actually finished 'Trout Fishing in America.'... What’s particularly distressing to me is that, although I can imagine a world in which careful regulation and avoidance of algorithms makes phones less addictive, I cannot imagine myself freed from such stubborn vanities."

"I was initially startled in early 2020 when... a 16-year-old girl asked, 'How come boys all want to choke you?'"

"In a different class, a 15-year-old boy wanted to know, 'Why do girls all want to be choked?'... Another sophomore confided that she enjoyed being choked by her boyfriend, though it was important for a partner to be 'properly educated' — pressing on the sides of the neck, for example, rather than the trachea. (Note: There is no safe way to strangle someone.) A male freshman said 'girls expected' to be choked and, even though he didn’t want to do it, refusing would make him seem like a 'simp.' And a senior in high school was angry that her friends called her 'vanilla' when she complained that her boyfriend had choked her.... I’m not here to kink-shame (or anything-shame)...."

Writes Peggy Orenstein, in "The Troubling Trend in Teenage Sex" (NYT).

"I’d been a part of the pro-life movement my entire adult life... But now I’m left wondering how much of the movement was truly real."

"How much was it really about protecting all human life? And were millions of ostensibly pro-life Americans happy with pro-life laws, only so long as they targeted 'them' and imposed no burden at all on 'us'?

Writes David French, in "The Great Hypocrisy of the Pro-Life Movement" (NYT). He's looking at the reaction to the Alabama Supreme Court decision that treated IVF embryos like in utero embryos under the state’s wrongful death statute.

Pro-lifers "caved, almost instantly, on a core philosophical element of the movement — the incalculable value of every human life no matter how small — and the movement is now standing by or even applauding as Trump is turning the Republican Party into a pro-choice party, one more moderate than the Democrats, but pro-choice still...."

"It was hard not to interpret these recent offenses within the broader context of a roving and seemingly ever-more-insidious misogyny."

"In 2022, the most recent year for which there is available city data, women were killed by intimate partners at a rate 30 percent higher than the previous year. Reports of domestic violence also increased during that period, and nationwide, between 2018 and 2021, incidents of domestic violence involving guns went up by more than 7 percent. According to a survey from the Pew Research Center, a third of women under 35 report having been sexually harassed online. And this is to say nothing of the less manifestly aggressive if pervasive abrasions — the distillation of any middle-aged woman who complains about anything to the favored signifier of oblivious bourgeois entitlement, the 'Karen.'..."

Writes Ginia Bellafante in "Sexism, Hate, Mental Illness: Why Are Men Randomly Punching Women?/Conversation about the attacks on the streets of New York have centered on mental illness, but the offenses seem to have their roots in hatred of women" (NYT).

"I wouldn’t trust her farther than I can spit. She’ll say whatever..."

"... she’ll say something to you, and something else to you, in the same day — if she thinks it’s going to help her, whether it be money, whether it be fame or power."

Said Ellen Doughty, about Stormy Daniels, quoted in "The horse wars of Stormy Daniels/As she tangles with a former president, the adult-film actress also plays a starring role in a drama that has rocked the world of competitive English riding" (WaPo)(long article, free access link).

Before Stormy Daniels came forward to attack Donald Trump, she attacked Ellen Doughty. Doughty is suing Daniels for defamation after Daniels accused Doughty, a horse trainer, of mistreating horses.

"I think in the barbershops today, Black people are saying, 'he got away with it, but the police got away with killing a lot more of us.' That’s the mentality."

Said politics professor James Lance Taylor, quoted in "What O.J. Simpson meant to Black America" (WaPo).
Taylor... remembers the day that Simpson led police on a car chase and how tens of thousands of people, including many White people, lined the streets and highways yelling, “Go, O.J., Go.”... 
Local police prepared for riots if Simpson was convicted, Taylor said. “But Black people didn’t love O.J. like that. This wasn’t about O.J. the person,” he said. “O.J. was just an extension of the general polarization between Black America and law enforcement.”

“The sympathy for O.J. is not as deep as we think it is” in the Black community, Taylor said.

April 11, 2024

Sunrise — 6:32, 6:35.



"In sharing her preferred title and pronouns, Ms Wood celebrates herself and sings herself – not in a disruptive or coercive way, but in a way that subtly vindicates her identity, her dignity, and her humanity."

Wrote federal district judge Mark Walker, quoted in "Florida can’t ban teacher from asking students to use her preferred pronouns, judge rules/Katie Wood, a transgender algebra teacher, has long gone by ‘Ms Wood’ but the law required students to say 'Teacher Wood'" (Guardian).

The judge was using Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself," which famously begins:
I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

"It's a rare verdict - she is one of very few women in Vietnam to be sentenced to death for a white collar crime...."

"Truong My Lan was convicted of taking out $44bn (£35bn) in loans from the Saigon Commercial Bank.... The habitually secretive communist authorities were uncharacteristically forthright about this case.... They said 2,700 people were summoned to testify.... Vietnamese law prohibits any individual from holding more than 5% of the shares in any bank. But prosecutors say that through hundreds of shell companies and people acting as her proxies, Truong My Lan actually owned more than 90% of Saigon Commercial.... Her loans made up 93% of all the bank's lending.... According to prosecutors, over a period of three years from February 2019, she ordered her driver to withdraw 108 trillion Vietnamese dong, more than $4bn (£2.3bn) in cash from the bank, and store it in her basement. That much cash, even if all of it was in Vietnam's largest denomination banknotes, would weigh two tonnes."

From "Truong My Lan: Vietnamese billionaire sentenced to death for $44bn fraud" (BBC).

"I myself have long been skeptical of the value of increasing turnout, and am also a longtime opponent of mandatory voting...."

"I think most people do not have a duty to vote, even in high-stakes elections. And I have argued that relatively ignorant citizens can often do more good by abstaining from voting than by casting poorly informed votes (though I am also skeptical of arguments that government should try to weed out ignorant voters, primarily because I doubt that it can be trusted to do so in an unbiased way).... I held those views back when increased turnout was generally believed to benefit Democrats, and I continue to hold them today."

Writes Ilya Somin, in "Increased Voter Turnout Now Benefits Republicans/Survey data shows relatively infrequent voters are significantly more likely to support the Trump-era GOP than those who vote more often. Will this change traditional left and right-wing attitudes towards mandatory voting and other policies intended to increase turnout?" (Reason).

ADDED: I've declined to vote a couple times, and I strongly defend the right to abstain. I responded to critics on November 3, 2020, in a post titled "I'll just say this once, Althouse. Abstaining from voting is neither courageous nor principled."

"In Sudden Reversal, Harvard To Require Standardized Testing for Next Admissions Cycle."

The Harvard Crimson reports.

The decision comes in the face of Harvard’s previous commitments to remain test-optional through the admitted Class of 2030, a policy that was first instituted during the pandemic....

"Liberal Justice Opts Out: Wisconsin Supreme Court Race Heats Up."

Tweets Grok, with the disclaimer, "Grok is an early feature and can make mistakes. Verify its outputs."
In a significant development for the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Justice Ann Walsh Bradley has announced she will not seek reelection next year, with her current term ending on July 31, 2025. This decision has stirred up the race for control of the court, as it could potentially shift the balance of power from the current 4-3 liberal majority. The announcement has improved the odds for conservatives to regain the majority they lost last year. The race for her seat is already heating up, with conservative and former Attorney General Brad Schimel announcing his candidacy. This news has far-reaching implications for the state's judicial landscape and political dynamics in the swing state.

I blogged many, many words about Ann Walsh Bradley, back in 2011, the days of the Wisconsin protests, e.g., "No criminal charges against Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser or Justice Anne Walsh Bradley in the so-called 'chokehold' incident," "I've finally waded through the 'chokehold' investigation file," and — sorry this is coming up on the morning of the obituary for O.J. Simpson — "Attacks upon the neck."


"It is not an accident that on the first day of the Japanese state visit, Dr. Biden greeted Mr. and Mrs. Kishida in a black Armani dress with a keyhole neckline that she had worn several times before. Re-wearing clothes has been one of Dr. Biden’s signatures, part of the conversation around sustainability, which nods to her husband’s climate policies (not to mention the economic realities of the country). She has done so consistently over the course of the administration. To do so again at such a moment of ritual display was to double down on the point. Nor it is an accident that, in the last month, Mrs. Trump has been... stepping out at strategic moments in the luxury brands that are shorthand for the financial success her husband has made part of his selling point, as if to shrug in the face of the civil penalties that have been levied against him...."

Writes Vanessa Friedman, in "At the Japan State Dinner, Jill Biden Makes an Entrance/The first lady was glittering in crystals — four days after Melania Trump stepped out in pink at a Palm Beach fund-raiser. Together, the pictures offer a harbinger of what is to come" (NYT).

For some people, the re-wearing of clothes can be counted as a "signature." And I love this idea that the political wife is a walking symbol of her husband's achievements.

"Three men who were stranded on a remote Pacific island for more than a week were rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard after spelling out 'HELP' on a beach using palm leaves."

The NYT reports.

Just like in a TV sitcom from the 1960s, except in a TV sitcom, they'd never be rescued.

O.J. Simpson has died.

Here's the NYT obituary, "O.J. Simpson, Athlete Whose Trial Riveted the Nation, Dies at 76/He ran to football fame on the field and made fortunes in movies. Then a trial in which he was charged with killing his former wife and her friend changed everything" (free access link).

They have a comment section opened over there. No comments yet.

What can we talk about here? Maybe: Where were you when the verdict was announced? I was on campus, in a room full of students. Everyone focused on one little TV, and when the verdict came in, many black students leapt out of their chairs and cheered. The rest of the crowd sat in stunned silence. I left the building, and as I was walking down the sidewalk on Bascom Hill, a young man on a bicycle coasted by, chanting "Not guilty! Not guilty! Not guilty!" It was a solo celebration. Or did he fancy himself the town crier?

ADDED: The third-highest-rated comment over at the NYT is: "He now stands before a Judge who can’t be swayed or swindled by a clever defense attorney."

"This is my home!"/"I had a home in Palestine too."

I'm watching the video at "'Please leave!' A Jewish UC Berkeley dean confronts pro-Palestinian activist at his home" (L.A. Times).

The headline says "his home," but it is the home of the law school dean Erwin Chemerinsky and his wife Catherine Fisk, who is a law professor. It is their home, and is Fisk who physically engages with the person the headline calls a "pro-Palestinian activist." The "activist" is a law student, one of a large group of law students who were assembled — outdoors — for a dinner. The activist student — Malak Afaneh — is female, which may explain why it was Fisk who took the lead in attempting to oust the student from the premises. It's a very disturbing video, with the student standing her ground and calmly claiming a First Amendment right, and Fisk staunchly asserting "This is my home." 

This morning, I attempt to take the gentlest possible approach to getting past the puffed up, hyper-vigilant turkey.

April 10, 2024

Sunrise — 6:30.


"There are, like, 8 people down there today. Is that normal?"

Said a woman returning from what is my sunrise vantage point.


My answer: "Maybe after the eclipse, there's more interest in the sun."

Mother wants to share her ridiculous dream with her gay son.

I laughed out loud at this letter to the New York Times advice columnist:
My gay son and his partner are getting married. They plan to wear themed outfits. I support their union and their choices. They identify as male and wear traditional male garb. But secretly, I’ve dreamed that one of them, preferably my son, would wear the traditional white wedding gown that I wore. Its elegance contrasts sharply with their planned outfits. Should I share my desire?

The way she framed the question — "Should I share my desire?" — makes it sound creepily Oedipal. The fact that it's her old wedding dress makes it sound like she's inserting herself as the bride. The fact that she thinks gay men want to be — or seem like — women is presumptuous (and stupid). The idea that someone else's wedding is a place to act out your dreams is mundane but lamentable.

And why are we not told the theme of the "themed outfits"? We're told her old dress, by its elegance, is a sharp contrast, so what could this "theme" be? Is it just "traditional male garb"? Maybe this lady has drunk so deeply of the current cultural brew, that she thinks everything is a gender performance and so when 2 gay men go to their wedding they are only going "as" 2 men. They are 2 men in the guise of guys. And they might alternatively go as a man and a woman or a man and a man in drag.

Or maybe the lady is really, underneath it all, quite old fashioned, and her dream betrays the traditionalist's belief that marriage is between a man and a woman.

"It sounds like a dream for some working parents: school for 12 hours a day, starting bright and early at 7 a.m. and ending after dinner, at 7 p.m...."

"... all completely free. One elementary school, Brooklyn Charter School, is experimenting with the idea as a way to tackle two problems at once. The first is a sharp decline in students in urban schools. Families are leaving city public schools around the country, including in New York City, which has led some districts to consider merging schools or even closing them. The second is the logistical nightmare many parents face as they try to juggle jobs and child care...."

From "An Elementary School Tries a ‘Radical’ Idea: Staying Open 12 Hours a Day/A Brooklyn charter school is experimenting with a new way to help families by expanding the school day. Students can arrive at 7 a.m. and leave any time before 7 p.m. For free."

We're going to need to do things like this as the birth rate drops. We can't expect the parents of the world to do all the work and cover all the expense, while the childless enjoy living cheaply. We need people to choose parenthood, and just hoping to impose it on people who stumble into it as a side effect of sexual activity and abortion denial is not enough. Whether the days are short or long and whether we pretend or openly admit it, school is child care. Make it good.

"You didn’t like the 'Seinfeld' finale? Well, here it is again times ten! Larry David is not about to cower."

Writes David Remnick, in "No Kaddish for 'Curb'/Larry David bows out" (The New Yorker).
And yet, as I was watching, something felt out of kilter. It wasn’t the occasional comic misfire that was bothering me. Nor was it the sense that the end of “Curb” signalled the end of something more than the show itself; the immigrant and children-of-immigrant Yiddishkeit version of Jewish humor has been on the wane for a long time.... No, what was off was the timing, the misery of the moment. It was hard to think about the finale of “Curb”... amid the cruelty and carnage of the past six months. The comedy of manners plays with the mores of civilization; it can lose its charm when civilization succumbs to barbarity. In life, as in comedy, timing is essential.

Did Larry David ever intend charm? Did Larry David ever purport to fit with the times? He went looking for where he did not fit and leaned into his own repugnance. But it is always possible to demand an end to comedy because it is unseemly in a world where people are suffering and dying. Here, Remnick is making a special complaint, based on Jewishness ("Yiddishkeit"): A Jew should not do Jewish humor at a time when Jews are conspicuously killing people. (Remnick himself is Jewish.)

Take the Althouse personality test: What's your first reaction to this screen shot of the top of the NYT website?

My first reaction was...

April 9, 2024

We experienced the longest darkness in Indiana...


... in Vincennes, Indiana (a place named after François-Marie Bissot, Sieur de Vincennes, who was burned at the stake in 1736, "during the French war with the Chickasaw nation").

His name glows on a vibrant mural:


I don't know if this is the town's official motto, but we talked a lot about it: "Where everyone fulfills their God-given purpose!"


It seemed to be a grandiose claim, but I said maybe the people interpret God's requirements narrowly, so that it's not understood to be terribly difficult. My son Chris, texting, said, maybe God does not give them any particularly challenging purpose. I contemplated whether Chris was saying something different from what I'd just said and decided he certainly was. My idea was that people are self-serving, and his idea was that God was easy-going and pretty darned nice. Hearing that, Meade noted that "fulfills" could mean that citizens are simply wherever they are in a process of fulfilling.

We walked through the festival atmosphere on historic Main Street, by the Wabash River, but given the hubbub and live, loud rock music, we kept moving until we arrived at the memorial for the men who died in the War of the Union....


We set up on the lush grass by the county courthouse, which looked like this at 3:01:51 — 3 minutes before the beginning of the total eclipse:


And here it is, at the very beginning of the totality:


Thanks to Vincennes for hosting us and many others. The show was free and the number of dollars we spent was equal to the number of minutes of the totality of the eclipse. Meade bought a pulled pork sandwich at a food truck:


The text at the pig silhouette in the lower right corner of the truck deserves contemplative comparison to the aforementioned "Where everyone fulfills their God-given purpose!" It says: "Every butt loves a rub."

This American streetscape is a mood test.


Photographed from an F-150 at 8:21 yesterday, in Terre Haute, Indiana.

It may express delight or despair. I won't impose the photographer's intent on you.

"One of us didn't understand..."


Have you ever understood implications of the meaning of a book that perhaps the author did not intend? Is the author the supreme interpreter of her works? Do you adhere to originalism in the interpretation of novels? Do you think that anyone who doesn't is a laughable fool?

ADDED: There are 2 dimensions of understanding here.

"Throughout Monday afternoon, Trump raged at Graham in post after post on the social media platform after Graham said he 'respectfully' disagreed with Trump’s conclusions about abortion policy."

"Graham, in posts shared on X, argued that the court’s ruling on Roe 'does not require that conclusion legally.' 'The states’ rights only rationale today runs contrary to an American consensus that would limit late-term abortions and will age about as well as the Dred Scott decision,' Graham said. 'The science is clear — a child at fifteen weeks is well-developed and is capable of feeling pain.' Graham has been a staunch proponent of federal limits on abortions. Most recently, he has pushed for a ban after 15 weeks of pregnancy....  'The Democrats are thrilled with Lindsey, because they want this issue to simmer for as long a period of time as possible,' Trump said. In another post, Trump argued that by allowing states to make their own abortion laws, 'we have taken the Abortion Issue largely out of play.' 'We cannot let our Country suffer any further damage by losing Elections on an issue that should always have been decided by the States, and now will be,' Trump said...."

From "Trump rages against [Lindsey] Graham on abortion in rare break between allies/The posts from the former president came after the senator said he ‘respectfully’ disagreed with Trump’s stance on abortion Monday" (WaPo).

Graham's support for a federal statute limiting abortion undercuts an argument that abortion opponents will want to make if Congress ever creates a right to abortion in the form of a federal statute. But if protecting the life of the unborn is your highest priority, that's where you go as a matter of principle. The idea of leaving it to the states seems like a pragmatic compromise.

"[T]he burgeoning Nads were young Republicans. They had gathered at the Capitol Hill Club to drink cheap beer..."

"... in a room decorated with porcelain elephant statues and photographs of President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Sen. John McCain, and listen to a well-built man with a five o’clock shadow and an Australian accent tell them that '"nasty women" are coming for two things: your mind and your testicles!' In some ways, Adams’s shtick is conventionally conservative: He’s Christian, he’s very concerned about there being only two genders, he rails against 'woke.' In other ways, his version of MAGA manhood is so over-the-top, so uncanny that it almost seems like performance art.... He writes about how if your wife is 'high-maintenance' then you’re a 'loser' no matter how hot she is. And about his love of steak. 'Alpha males don’t care about time changes, we wake up at 4AM every single morning regardless of the circumstances,' he wrote on X last month, a few days after the clocks sprang forward for daylight saving time. '64oz tomahawk ribeyes aren’t going to eat themselves!' Is Nick Adams serious?... 'You remember Andy Kaufman?; Adams’s hired security guard told me, referring to the late comedian who was famous for never breaking character.... 'This is not a character,' Adams told me. 'This is not a bit. It’s not trolling. Anyone who thinks this is not me, that I don’t eat steak, that I don’t drink ice-cold domestics, that I don’t repel woke beer, they’re wrong. They’re absolutely wrong.”

Writes Ben Terris, in "The deeply silly, extremely serious rise of ‘Alpha Male’ Nick Adams/Meet the Trump-backed raconteur who is teaching America’s young men the art of being hard to deal with" (WaPo, free access link).

"Nads" = Nick Adams Disciples.

I hadn't heard of Nick Adams until this article. The issue of when a comedian is "serious" is kind of intriguing. I don't think the point of reference should be Andy Kaufman. It should be Andrew Dice Clay. I already lived through that. Another thing I lived through was the TV show "The Rebel." Don't reuse a name that already means something to some people who still roam through the west.

ADDED: As pointed out by William in the comments, there's also Nick Adams, the Hemingway fictional character. I don't have a problem with this new Nick Adams adopting the name in a reference to those stories from a century ago, just as I'd accept a comedian who called himself Hamlet or Captain Ahab. "Nick Adams" was taken as a showbiz name back in the 1950s, and I don't like seeing it reused. 

"Just found out i’m not hot. Please give me and my family space to grieve privately and uglily at this time."

Said Sarah Sherman, quoted in "'SNL' star Sarah Sherman has hilarious response to TikToker who said the show has never hired a ‘hot woman'" (CNN).

The quote became quotable by Althouse blog standards with the use of the word "uglily." I note that it is difficult to say, it draws attention to itself — if you ever happen to say it — and it contains — in defiance of ugliness — a word that expresses loveliness, "lily."

Here's the TikTok Sherman is responding to. It's a lot meatier than the headline makes it sound:

The sun got eclipsed in the middle of the day yesterday, but it also rose and set. Did you see that?

We did. From the front seat of the F-150, in Covington, Indiana, at 7:27 a.m. Eastern Time:


From the back door of the camper in Farmer City, Illinois, at 7:29 p.m. Central Time:


There is the rare peak event but also the beauty of the everyday.

As I'm writing this, searching for the right way to frame the profundity that feels just out of reach, Meade suddenly bellows, comically, "Well, what's next on our bucket list?"

I ask his permission to quote him, and he says yes and "You know I said that ironically."

"Yes, I wrote 'comically.' Don't worry. I won't let them think you said that seriously."

We're anti-bucket-list people, but we put a lot effort into doing a bucket-list thing. It was the last chance for the experience of a lifetime, and we drove 6-and-a-half hours each way to grab it. The sunrise and the sunset were captured spontaneously. And I'm only seeing that bird just now, symbolizing all those things that we see and don't really see.

ADDED: I had a few typos in the original draft of this post. Talk about seen and unseen. Corrected. And now I'm seeing the ghostly, spontaneous bird in the sunset clouds.

April 8, 2024

Where were you when the light went out?

Did you experience the totality? We did. But there's been so much driving that I'm not in the state of mind to discuss whether it was life-changing and so forth. I have some more pictures, not serious pictures of the actual corona, which I leave to professional photographers with special equipment. This is just a picture I happened to take where we were. Tomorrow, I’ll show you the cool little town where we witnessed the celestial spectacle. Now is the time to cuddle up and watch Purdue beat UConn.

Enforcing retrograde standards for the conservative politician’s wife.

If she were meeting those standards, she’d be mocked for that too.

I’m reading “Melania's Appearance With Donald Trump Sparks Mockery” (Newsweek).

“Vatican Document Casts Gender Change and Fluidity as Threat to Human Dignity.”

The NYT reports.

Free access link.
The sex a person is born with, the document argued, was an “irrevocable gift” from God and “any sex-change intervention, as a rule, risks threatening the unique dignity the person has received from the moment of conception.” People who desire “a personal self-determination, as gender theory prescribes,” risk conceding “to the age-old temptation to make oneself God.”

Trump announces his position on abortion.

April 7, 2024

Sunrise — 6;14, 6:27, 6:30, 6:30.





"I’ve always tried to say yes to the voice that tells me I should go out and do something now, even when that decision seems wildly impractical."

"A few years ago, with very little planning, my family and I got in a car and drove 600 miles to a goat farm in central Oregon, where we camped out for four days to watch a solar eclipse. I once jetted off to Germany on two days’ notice, spending a week exploring Dresden and hiking through the Black Forest...."

Wrote Amy Ettinger, last August, in "I am dying at age 49. Here’s why I have no regrets. Life is all about a series of moments, and I plan to spend as much remaining time as I can savoring each one" (WaPo).

I'm reading that today not because it happens to contain a reference to a solar eclipse, but because it is linked in "My dying wife hoped to inspire people with her essay. They ended up inspiring her. Not everyone has moments of clarity when they find out they are dying. My wife did" (WaPo, free-access link).

"Evelyn, half-Native American and half-Black, with curly, sandy brown hair, felt internally broken as the weight of unmet expectations..."

"... and the fear of the unknown seemed to overtake her when she accidentally became pregnant. While Evelyn struggled academically, Whiteman had degrees, a community of friends, and a supportive, boisterous Grenadian family. But after struggling to find a Black sperm donor, she would stand in the entryway of the empty guest bedroom in her newly constructed home, praying and longing for a baby. Now Evelyn and Whiteman were bound together, by a child...."

From "After abortion attempts, two women now bound by child" (WaPo)(free-access link, so you can discern the abortion and racial politics for yourself).

Background: "America has a Black sperm donor shortage. Black women are paying the price. Black men account for fewer than 2 percent of sperm donors at cryobanks. Their vials are gone in minutes."

"The story takes place from 2011 to 2027 in an alternative America where... the Mental Parity movement holds sway."

"In the novel, the so-called last acceptable bias — discrimination against those considered, um, not so smart — is being stamped out.... Barack Obama, in this alternative America, is doomed to be a one-term president because, by 2012, 'the whole notion that one might want to look up to anyone in a position of authority had become preposterous' Instead, the 'impressively unimpressive' Joe Biden steps in, after which, in 2015, the Democratic Party seizes on Donald Trump as their 'shoo-in' candidate for, among myriad other reasons, the fact that 'he never reads.'...."

Writes Maureen Corrigan, NPR's "Fresh Air" book critic, in "Lionel Shriver pokes fun at woke culture, again/The controversial writer’s new novel, ‘Mania,’ is a funny and occasionally offensive satire of groupthink" (WaPo).

"The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (Dart) slammed a spacecraft into Dimorphos, an asteroid 160 metres wide, at 14,000mph to validate techniques and technologies..."

"... that might one day be needed to stop potential 'city killer' space rocks by modifying their orbital path. The mission exceeded expectations, demonstrating the extent to which kinetic energy can be harnessed to deflect asteroids. But it also provided important lessons about the potential for unexpected consequences, according to a study that reveals 37 boulders blasted off Dimorphos by the shockwave could be go on to create meteor storms on Mars — though not for at least 6,000 years...."

From "Nasa mission to blast asteroid off course has unintended consequences/Debris from the Dart mission on Dimorphos, a test for a future ‘Deep Impact’ scenario, is set to slam into the surface of Mars" (London Times).

Follow my long sunrise shadow....

The male is so enthusiastically puffing up that his wing feathers (audibly) scrape the pavement.


"After I mentioned that I was a writer—though I presented myself as a writer of teleplays instead of novels and articles such as this one..."

"... the husband told me his favorite writer was Ayn Rand. 'Ayn Rand, she came here with nothing,' the husband said. 'I work with a lot of Cubans, so …' I wondered if I should mention what I usually do to ingratiate myself with Republicans or libertarians: the fact that my finances improved after pass-through corporations were taxed differently under Donald Trump. Instead, I ordered another drink and the couple did the same, and I told him that Rand and I were born in the same city, St. Petersburg/Leningrad, and that my family also came here with nothing. Now the bonding and drinking began in earnest, and several more rounds appeared...."

Writes Gary Shteyngart, in "Crying Myself to Sleep on the Biggest Cruise Ship Ever/Seven agonizing nights aboard the Icon of the Seas" (The Atlantic).

Shteyngart is well aware that David Foster Wallace already wrote “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again” — AKA "Shipping Out" — and much as I'd rather read a Gary Shteyngart novel than a David Foster Wallace novel, he has no hope of besting Wallace in what, after Wallace, became a genre — the author-on-first-cruise-ship-voyage genre:

"She was hanging from a rope on the side of Mt. Everest, four hours from the summit. The night was frozen...."

"She focused on exactly where to put her foot, her hand, alongside her fellow climbers. Then, peripherally to her right, she saw an orange flash. 'I see this sunrise that I will never forget as long as I live,' she reflected. 'The colors — it is just red, and then it is orange, and then it is yellow, and then the blue is coming. It was so incredibly spiritual for me, and beautiful.'"

So begins a NYT article that is not about going all the way to the top of Mount Everest or about taking the tiny trouble of gazing at a sunrise. It's about tomorrow's solar eclipse and the elusive human capacity to achieve awe:
“The whole thing is very awe-ful. A-w-e,” she said, meaning full of awe.
Ah, yes. Thanks for the sledgehammering. We might not have figured it out, just as we might not have experienced the spiritual dimension of the sunrise unless we were hanging from a rope on the side of Mt. Everest.

The article must mean for us to laugh at her, no? Or is it sincerely attempting to maximize the deeper benefits of tomorrow's celestial event? Here's the article — by Elizabeth Dias, the NYT religion correspondent: "Gazing Skyward, and Awaiting a Moment of Awe/Millions of people making plans to be in the path of the solar eclipse on Monday know it will be awe-inspiring. What is that feeling?"